Archive for July, 2017

A Evening of BBQ

I am sorry about the title but if I mentioned Great Chicken BBQ  I would have thousands of hits.

We seldom do BBQ chicken breasts  (skin on) at home because it is so easy to just buy the fully cooked BBQ chicken at Super Store or Costco.  But tonight we did our own.

Cooking bone in, skin on chicken breasts is actually more difficult than any steak.  You have to get it crisp on the outside but not over cook it.  And you have to avoid burnt outside and raw inside.

That does take me back.

When I was 12 or 13, our parents took Blaine and I to visit friends they had from the war years who were then living in Swan River, Manitoba.

Dad’s friend had discovered this new cooking concept called bar-be-que.   He was cooking chicken breasts on this metal fixture with a grill and charcoal.  No matter how much lighter fluid they sprayed on the coals, they  never turned grey.   So we eventually ate chicken burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.

Blaine and I did not have a problem with this as we actually had an exciting day (another story) and were just hungry, but Dad swore he would never adopt BBQ as a means of meal preparation.

I eventually got married and moved out but Blaine tells me that Dad did eventually adopted BBQ.  I doubt if he ever did chicken but who knows.  Maybe he learned the secret.

In any event we were sitting on the patio, with BBQ chicken, fresh corn on the cob and a salad (with the little surprise of dolmades).

The chicken was perfect, crispy on the outside and juicy and white inside.   And the view from the patio was perfect.  This is paradise.

Opera Trivia

Pat and I were sitting out on the patio finishing our supper, sipping some wine, watching golfers go by and listening to music.  By the end of the meal I am browsing through the inventory of songs playing on Sonos and selected some opera.   Now I admit I do not follow a lot of opera but there are some arias that we love.

Some of you may know that we belong to a group that meet monthly to sing popular songs.  My role in the group is to find some trivia or interesting detail about the song we are about to share.

Did you know the Johnny Cash’s song Ring Of Fire is not about his visit to a Mexican restaurant.  He did not write it his wife June Carter wrote it while she was married to another man and had a brief affair with Johnny and felt horrible about it.  Fire and Brimstone for her future if you follow the words.

Anyway that kind of trivia.

So we were listening to some Opera and one of my favorite numbers came on.  La Donna e Mobile by Pavarotti.  Look it up and you would recognize this tune immediately.

Verdi had written the opera Rigoletto and everyone from the orchestra and singers had been practicing all the songs and the arrangements but Verdi was holding back one song.  Opera rehearsals were open to many people and everyone knew the hits, but Verdi held back this number.  Finally the day before the opening he took the tenor and certain parts of the Orchestra and trained them on the song and swore them to secrecy.  On opening night the audience was amazed by the song and it became a hit.  Number 1 on all the radio channels (if they had radio)

It is actually a bit of a comedy song.  Women are Fickle… Like a feather in the wind.

Put it on and listen.  Good music

A Hike Today

Now when Meagan set up this site for me it allowed me to philosophize about life here in Comox Valley.  It did not really matter if you read my blog through or not, I just enjoyed the opportunity to express myself.  Unfortunately I do not have the writing chops that Meagan has (which took her into a journalistic career)  but I try.  Anyway… enough, already.  It was a Paradise day today.

When we came to the Valley, we soon joined Probus, a club which had a hiking group which I signed up for.  Over the years I have followed this guy, who turned into a good friend, on many hikes up and down the Island.  Tim is a tall guy who strode out and had to stop many times for the rest of us to keep up.  I prided myself that I was one of the guys who could keep up with him.

Tim’s wife is a wonderful lady who keeps slowing down the pace of the hike because she wants to take photos of the fabulous scenery that we almost take for granted on our trails.  Tim always complained that Jill was slowing down the group (a mix of seniors from our club).  Nevertheless, he always sourced out trails that took us to awesome sights, such as a Comox lake viewpoint or an ancient Cedar tree 2 meters in diameter.

Our club does 2 hikes a month (except in the really snowy winter)  and Tim would always test the route a few days before by himself to make sure that there was no issues with it.

This winter Tim was diagnosed with cancer…..  it happens.   So another guy and I agreed to try and take over leading the club hikes.  Problem is that all the hikes I would take with him I just followed him and chatted with the friends.  Not necessarily paying strict attention, or charting the trails and the turns.

A couple of years ago, Tim gave me a Garmin trail GPS unit (he is a retired banker and could never figure out how to use it).  So I have been recording hikes led by members who knew routes, so that I could follow them in the future.  Imagine me in the future walking along a forest trail with a GPS unit in front of my face, tripping over roots.

Last week I decided to lead the group next week on what should be an easy trail, following Rosewall Creek.  This an 8 km trail through the shaded woods that culminates with a waterfall view.  Actually a complicated trail with roots and scrambling over downed trees, but not a lot of vertical.  I decided to do what Tim would always do and test the hike today.  We were at a golf function last night and I asked Tim if he would like to join me today, as he seemed to be feeling great after his round of golf.

Beautiful day today, and the trail was a little more difficult than I remembered, but not that bad.  Tim and I were making good time but I realized that he was struggling a bit.  Now he is not yet taking chemo or radiation but it was obvious that he was not the guy I have known for the last 7 years.  So we just enjoyed a hike through a rain forest where you could easily pause just to enjoy the gorgeous view of a river and the trees.    Granted, even I had a problem scrambling over the rocks and limbs at the end of the hike to view the falls which he insisted we try.

I will be leading maybe a dozen members next week on the same hike but I think today was the best.

Future of Golf

There was an article in the National Post yesterday about new trends in Golf, featuring a new golf course NE of Toronto in Pickering called Bunker Hill.  A 12-hole course that has only 3 par holes.  But this is not the cheap par 3 courses we know.  Each hole is a challenge with bunkers and elevation changes, but no holes that invite the modern 350-yard drives from the tee.

Apparently an exciting course that you can play in 2 1/2 hours instead of the normal 5 hours, and popular with good golfers who do not have a day to take off.

Golf as a recreational sport is dying (except in China).  It is a sport for old people,  sorry that is wrong; it is a sport for the Boomer generation.

Now is that not a great title for a generation?  As you well know Pat and I are Boomers.  Born in houses that did not have indoor plumbing, and guaranteed high paying jobs if we made it to University, with big houses and backyard pools as years went on.  Golf was just one of the luxuries that Boomers could enjoy.

But golf is being abandoned by the next generation, and even more so by their kids (granted you can understand that last generation because how would you keep them from their video games).

In the last 10 years, 10,000 golf courses have closed down in the US and Canada, and only 1,000 new ones have been built.  Even Glen Abbey in Oakville is about to turn into a very highly priced housing development.

The Nike brand, after losing many millions on their golf equipment business over the last 20 years  (granted, a lot of it lost sponsoring Tiger Woods) has closed the business down.  Adidas, which owned Taylor Made, Adams and Ashworth, sold off the brands.  The big companies are baling out.

The industry is trying desperately to save itself by making the game more interesting.  The Bunker Hill course in Pickering is an example.  Tests are being done in California to make the golf hole        8 ” in diameter (which would have improved my personal score over the years by hundreds!)  There is even talk of trying to change the professional game by softening the ball so they can only drive 250 yards.  The game is just too time consuming and too expensive for the next generations.

However…  As Pat and I sit in the backyard tonight enjoying our BBQ rib dinner and look out over the golf fairway behind us (that, incidentally, extends our yard to 200 meters), golf has been good for us and we assume this vista will remain.  Golf courses still make for some beautiful parks.


Our Lava Field Miata Drive

I am sorry for the bland title, but I have learned if I put details in the title it will be hit by many Muggles that I do not want to share this blog.

Pat and I just came back from 2017 Explore Oregon Miata run.  Run is such a difficult title but think of it as a convention of Miata owners of our age meeting together to participate in some drives on interesting roads to interesting locations.

We love these events in Oregon and Washington states because they have such fascinating topography.  This trip was typical.  We were centered in Pendleton Oregon which is a small city on the prairie of eastern Oregon surrounded by wheat fields and rolling hills.  But with short drives you can be in deep canyons and forests.

Unlike most of north america where the foundation is either granite or sedimentary rocks, eastern Oregon, Washington and parts of Idaho are built on lava fields.  In fact the largest area of lava field in the world.  Approximately 160,000 square miles of lava flows.  The volcanos are long since gone and moved west to Mount St Helens and Mount Baker.  Millions of years of lava layers built  up to where it is over a kilometer thick.

Makes for interesting landscape.  Long before man stood upright, the Columbia river started to drain from Canada through this lava field to the ocean with lots of feeder streams.  With the addition of some glaciers and you have a deep valley cut to the ocean.

The first picture is a bluff that shows millions of years of lava layers.   That bluff is about 400 meters high.  The water in the foreground is the Columbia river about 40 km west of Walla Walla Washington.  Shows the many layers of basalt.

Nearby are lava flows that are much more recent.  The second picture shows a field of lava from the last 1000 years (ie a recent event)

We love the drives in this part of Oregon and Washington.

Perfect Golf Swing

A buddy of mine told me about this on-line golf instruction course that could add 30 yds to my drives.

Now when I play with this guy I can normally out drive him but it is often 30 yds into the woods on the left or right.  Distance is not my problem it is hitting it straight.

Anyway I agree to take the online course for a test.  Then I realized the problem.  The Pro instructor is about 30 years old and at best weighs 140 lbs.  He shows a twist in the body that I have not been able to do without spine injury for the last 30 years.  I mean if I could actually stand in one spot and turn around to look at my right butt and then finish up with me looking at my left butt… well it has been a long time, and furthermore why would I want to do this.

In any event I did not purchase the course.  I am still content to play with the guys my age and occasionally banging one out there on the fairway where the guys go wow.  As we say in golf, putting is where you make the money, but the drives impress the crowd.


A Wedding Song

It is Sunday evening and we are sitting on the patio enjoying a meal of steaks and a pitcher of my great Sangria.  We have the Sonos on playing easy listening songs when one of our wedding songs comes on.  These are the songs that were either wedding dances for our kids or the Father/Bride dance.  Over the years we have augmented the playlist with several famous wedding songs.

Anne Murray’s “Could I have this Dance” is an example.  At one time the top-rated first dance for a couple at weddings in Canada and US.

Then there is the Heartland song “I Loved Her First”.  We first heard it when Enez danced with her father.  This is a specific song about a father dancing with his daughter at the wedding and telling the new son-in-law that he better take care of his little darling.   While not in the words but implied is the message  I HAVE A BASEBALL BAT WAITING IF YOU DO NOT DO THE RIGHT THING FOR MY PRECIOUS.

Now we realize that the Father and Bride dance is a tradition that goes back many eons.  Quite often these days, they are joined by the Groom and his mother… but there is actually no specific song for a Groom and Mother dance.

I can just imagine the words… “you had better double boil his undies” … “you should cut up his meat fine as he is delicate” … “I will be checking up on your housekeeping”  etc.

Heartland made millions on their father-daughter song.  Surely there is an opportunity for a popular Mother/Son song.