Archive for June, 2018

Good Tomatoes

We eat a lot of tomatoes, or at they previously called… love apples.

With modern green house production, we are able to buy tomatoes at our grocery store all year round.  They are Okay.

In a sunny protected spot next to the house we grow small tomatoes.  Grape and cherry.  We have tried the bigger varieties but for whatever reason we only have success from the small ones.

Does not really matter because next month and through until November we will have more tomatoes than you can imagine.  I use them in pasta sauces and in salads and my famous Brouchetta.

A few years ago I read a column that if you really want a good pasta sauce, look for canned San Marazano tomatoes from Italy.  We eventually found some at the local high end food store and they were right.  Absolutely the best pasta sauce I have ever prepared.

We were shopping at the grocery store this week and they were featuring mini San Marazano tomatoes on special.  We had to buy them and used them for a salad.

Companies should be arrested for making these claims.  Nothing like the original, and no where near as good as the cherry tomatoes that we will start to harvest next month.

You would think by now that I would be immune from marketing quality claims, but I am a sucker.  Even paid a premium.

Good news is that at least these were not tomatoes from Trump Country.  ( I hope none of you have Heinz Catsup in your pantry)

A Tragic miss in my Music Education

I have to admit I missed something in my music listening education.

Last year when Gord Downie was dying and took his group Tragically Hip on a cross country tour with all the crying etc, I did not know what the big deal was.  Did not watch the special.

If you asked me at the time I could only name two songs by the TH.  New Orleans and Bobcaygeon.  Granted I only listen to the radio when we are driving somewhere so do not always get to keep up with hits and do not connect songs to the artists.

Now this is so different than when we were young and we listened to the radio all the time and could name all the hits and the artists.  Later on the new music was played at dances and parties we went to.  Disco was hot and we played all the hits at our parties and dances.

Then the kids started to grow up and we had to listen to entirely new music.  James introduced us to Heavy Metal (Alice Cooper and Mettalica)  and the girls brought on all the pop songs of the time.  Spice girls and Madonna.  Still I could connect songs to an artist.

But as we moved into retirement we do not listen to the radio very often.  We play music from the 11,000 songs we have on our Sonos inventory and unless one of the kids give us a CD,  not a lot of new new entries.  Of course lots of softer songs.  Lois just gave us two CDs of chamber music for example.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, our favorite device to access the Sonos system is now gone.  I am now having to learn how to do the simple searches using my IPAD.  A bit complicated…

I happened to hit on New Orleans is Sinking, and whatever button I pushed, we had a number of Tragically Hip songs in the queue.  I think from an album downloaded as a gift.

The more I listened, the more I recognize the songs I have heard while driving, and the more I realized that I like them.  Kind of sorry now we did not watch the special on their last concert.

Love Bacon

As I am a male person, I love Bacon.  My wife, of course, says this is an evil food.

So I have to slip bacon into my meals that I prepare for her secretly, sort of like I also slip in onions.

The problem is that if I cook the bacon on the stove while she is away at church, she will smell it when she comes in.  Now this is despite the fact that her father, Fred, cooked bacon every Sunday after they came home from church.  It should be a flashback to her childhood but she tells me “you are only cooking this because you like it!!!”       Dauhh why would I do it otherwise?

So for the last few years I buy the pre cooked bacon at Costco and add chopped up pieces to the breakfasts I make for brunch on Sunday.  I occasionally, when Pat is not watching, make myself a BLT sandwich for lunch.   Evil food.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a package of real bacon and cooked it on a cast iron pan on the BBQ side burner outside.  Pat was at church and was not there to admonish me.

I added a few pieces of the real bacon to the omelettes I made.  Pat says these were really great.

The next day I add chopped real bacon to the Caesar salad.  Taste far different than the Bacon Bits and the chopped Costco precooked bacon.

Now here is a side story.  When we were in Calgary, Meagan, Andra and Bronte took Pat for a fancy high tea based on the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan.

One of the sandwiches is based on Harry’s favorite.   As every RAF or Army air pilot knew, going back to WW II, if they were heading off on a mission they would be given bacon sandwiches.

So Harry’s favorite sandwich is with bacon.  There you are with the girls being served fancy crust less sandwiches on a tiered platter with one of the options the kind of bacon sandwich that all guys love.  Bacon…

Apparently they consumed them as if they were ravished…..

Bacon… Love it



Pat and I went Dragon Boating

We have a busy week going on.  So many activities, it’s hard to get my nap in each day.

Today we joined a group for a Dragon Boat excursion out into the Comox Bay.  Our club has some members who Dragon Boat weekly, and they annually invite those who are not weekly members for a day excursion to test it out and see if they want to join the regular club.

The day was perfect.  Beautiful skies, mountains in clear view, lots of seals and eagles to be seen, and calm seas.

We cruised to the end of the bay and back where the drummer and the leader had us go through a series of drills.

Now Pat and I spent many, many hours paddling canoes back in our time in Ontario, but the stroke is different for Dragon Boating.  In canoeing you hold the paddle at a 45 ° angle and carry through the stroke, in Dragon Boating you hold the paddle vertical and it is much more of a chopping motion.  We both picked it up very quickly.

A drummer at the bow sets the paddling pace and Dave on the steering oar at the stern gives us direction.

Granted this is a crew of our club members (ie seniors), so despite my calls we never once went into Battle Speed, let alone Ramming Speed, but still a good workout on the upper limbs.

Then follows why it is nice to be retired.  We pull in and decamp to the park where we enjoy a couple of hours of conversation with appies and wine and beer.

The picture is our group coming into the dock.

It is a good life.

Snow Art

It is a rainy cool day, so I was down in the workshop working on The Model.

I have a TV in the corner where I watch or listen to programs while engaged in little details on the model.  I have the luxury of watching pre-recorded programs often from other parts of Canada.

So anyway, this afternoon I was watching a program when an ad came on for some artists in Quebec producing Snow Art.  I could not look up at the time because I was clamping tiny pieces together, but it brought back a memory.

When I was quite young, living in Regina, our house did not have indoor plumbing.  We did live in a civilized community, so at the end of the yard was a privy shack on the back alley.  A city worker came around in a honey wagon weekly to replace the bin under the seat.

Great for the spring, summer and fall, but way too cold to visit in mid-winter in Regina.  So our parents had hand dug a basement under the house where it was warm and had installed a “facility”.

My brother and I were encouraged to only use the basement facility for certain solid functions, and to go out to the back shack for, well, let us say the liquid options.

It would be minus 20, and my little brother and I would head out to try and stump through the packed snow to the back facility, when we realized we could instead do snow art.

I suspect it started with trying to write, but little brother was not good at spelling, so we we would try art.

It is apparent, as I came up and checked the internet, not the same kind of snow art.




Stress in Life

I thought I was beyond this.

We are retired, and, while not rich, not poor.  No issue on the cost of our next meal or paying a mortgage.

Even in golf it does not really matter for me anymore if I shoot 120 or 80 (well actually it would be nice to shoot an 80) but whatever..  I even went through open heart surgery a few years ago without really worrying about it that much.

I took on the position as the President of the Vancouver Island Miata club because no one else would.  Again no problem.  The Secretary of the club, Wendy does everything.  I just have to show up at meetings and follow her agenda with smiles, tell a few jokes and glad hand and chat with everyone.  My skill set.

But last summer, at a run in Oregon, I was approached by the president of the Boise Idaho Miata club asking for me to organize a joint run when they visit Vancouver Island this June.

No big problem I thought.  Surely as the President I can delegate this to one of my underlings.  Well as it turns out, aside from Pat (and let us not even thinking of going there) I have no underlings.

The club from Idaho is bringing 20 cars for a holiday.  Somehow, Julie, the president of the Idaho club, has commitments from 20 cars for a 3 week run 9 months ago.

I sent out messages to all our club members asking them to help in hosting a BBQ at the group hotel in Nanaimo on June 20 and joining us for a large joint run to Tofino the next day

All these people are showing up from Idaho.   I want a good number of our members to participate.

Problem is that aside from a small group of friends, most are saying… “well we will see how we feel that morning.. maybe…. maybe not”    if they reply at all.  Frustrating.

It is getting down to the crunch.  I am so worried that when Pat and I meet the Idaho group at the Inn in Nanaimo to host a BBQ and then the next day lead a run on the highway to Tofino, that no one shows up.

For the first time in 10 years I have stress and have actually lost sleep.

Then tonight I phoned Wendy.

She is one of the founding members of our Miata club, and for some reason is always involved in our group activities.  Bruce, she says… not going to be a problem.  This is the west coast Vancouver island Miata club.  No one commits, but everyone will all be there.  And she has experience on this.

Aww stess.  I do not miss it.





Now I suspect a whole bunch of people will hit on this subject line,  but move along.  Problem with my Blog it is in the internet whelm.  So if you are not part of the family… nothing to see here.

Anyway the purpose for this blog.

Many, many years ago I learned to use chopsticks properly.

1977 and I had been temporarily transferred by GE for a position in Peterborough while we were still living in Markham.  Pat had a good job and we had a house and the kids were in school.  The position in Peterborough did not have the promise that would justify selling the house and moving.

I had just obtained an MBA and General Motors of Canada did not know what to do with me.  So they sent me to experience a position in Purchasing at the plant, which at that time, had 10,000 workers.   Not a great decision on the part of the company.

I realized this was not a great opportunity.  For the next 3 months , I slept during the week at a motel (think of a Bates motel) on the outskirts.  During the week I had to find my own dinner at cheap dining spots (the GE company only gave me a minuscule reimbursement for my meals).  (By the way when I eventually moved to Gulf Oil… what a difference)

I was having meals by myself and heading back to my motel room to watch the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  As I was dining alone I was wolfing down the meal so quick it was a non event.

Up the road from the motel was a Chinese restaurant.  I decided to try and learn to eat with chopsticks only to extend the time I spent over the meal.   I became very good at it.

This turned out to be a great skill, as I traveled to Japan and China and Korea and did not have to look like a tourist at dining.  I could pick up a single grain of rice while holding my chopsticks at the top end.  Pretty good…

However… Over the years I have tried again and again to show Pat how to properly hold chopsticks. She holds them about an inch above the food.  The same as she holds a pen.

Tonight.  I prepared a stir fry using the ingredients left over from my failure the other night.  Great success.  Good dinner

We were using long chopsticks and at the end of the meal I tried again to show Pat how to hold them properly.  Well you should not try to train someone after she has spent 30 years of holding the sticks at a tiny angle and particularly after she has had two glasses of wine.

Pick up a grain of rice I would challenge her.  Fine, she would eventually say, and picked it up with her fingers.  Apparently adding another glass of white wine did not help her dexterity.

Still I love her for trying.  And she only yelled at me a little bit.