Archive for September, 2019

An Appreciation for Cider

Yesterday the wife and I went on a group trip down to Cowichan Valley (north of Victoria) for a wine and cider tasting tour.  There were about 40 of us from our Probus club so we knew them all.

Visited 2 wineries (out of the 14 in the area) and 2 cideries.  This was an idea to do something different.

Over the years we have done many dozens of wine tours and tasting visits.  I have probably sampled hundreds of wines over time.

I remember 32 years ago I was on a business trip to San Francisco where I had a Sunday to spare.  I rented a car and drove up into Napa Valley to do my first wine tastings.  In those days you could drive up to a winery and have a tasting where, for $2, you have samples of all their great wines and kept the glass.  And there might only be 4 -5 people in the room.

Of course I always felt guilty and bought at bottle at every winery.  A guilt trip that I still try to overcome.  I mean someone spends time expressing the beauty of the wine they are sharing with you and if you are so rude you can walk away without buying a case or at least a bottle.  Particularly when you are the only one at the tasting. Still when you are travelling with carry on, you only have so much room to bring back bottles.

It is much easier to travel in a large group so if you do not like the sample, you can step back and let the rest of the group have their guilt trip and buy.

After the two wineries we visited a couple of places that only produce cider.  Over the years I have tried cider a couple of times and basically thought of them as apple juice with alcohol.  However Cider is now becoming a big business with a vast array of flavours and have facilities that rival the fanciest winery tasting rooms.  The first location makes what are referred to as Traditional ciders where they use bitter apples that you would not eat.  The second location specialized in Modern Cider which uses sweet apples.

We tasted 8 ciders with a vast array of flavours. One was delicate very much like a light white wine.  Another had hops with a sweetness that you could smell but not taste.  All of them tasted completely different from Strongbow.  We bought some bottles and I think in the future ciders are going to be part of our inventory when we have guests.


Hey Reese

When we visit our techy kids they have this system that allows you to say HEY SIRI and ask for anything.  Well anything that a mindless robot with no arms can do.  Turn up the music or turn down the lights.  Kind of limited.

I have been trying to train our own smart assistant to respond to HEY REESE.  Hey Reese turn up the volume.. hey Reese fetch me my sandals.. hey Reese define ameliorate.   To limited success.

Granted she is mostly deaf, but still when I say HEY REESE I am cutting up peppers do you want to come?… not even finished and she is there.  Do not even think about how fast she shows up when I say HEY REESE I am chopping Bacon… she is there.

Everyone loves SIRI but does she cuddle with you on the Couch?  Well neither does Reese with me. She will cuddle with Pat, but I think this is only a matter of more training.

So far I have succeeded to when I say HEY REESE… golfers going by on the course, protect us.  She is on that immediately with lots of barks.  She is doing well on that skill.

Lots of hope for future assistant roles.

My Ring of Iron

We were out for dinner on Saturday.  A fund raising event with a pig roast at the church.  We were at a table of eight people, where I knew no one.

The woman next to me noticed my Iron Ring and asked about my Engineering background.  Apparently her husband (deceased) had been an Engineer.  Another couple also commented that as I had the ring, I was an Engineer.   This is a Canadian thing because no where else in the world do Engineers wear Iron Rings.

In theory I should not be wearing the ring any more because last year I stopped paying my dues to the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario.

I am no longer a registered Professional Engineer.  But I still wear the ring.  I have been wearing the ring for 48 years and even after the MBA degree and a career that seldom required an Engineering background, I always thought of myself as an Engineer.  Granted I also think of myself as a pretty good Model Shipwright and a sire of great children.

The reason for this blog tonight is because we were in the process of clearing out files in the basement, and I came across the plasticized card with the Obligation Ritual from my Iron Ring ceremony from 1971.  I will not go into details, but the obligation that we all had to swear to, while holding onto a rusty iron chain in a room where the doors were locked by the chain, is kind of…. emotional.  The Obligation was written by Rudyard Kipling for Canadian Engineers.

Over the years I had hoped that one of my kids would become an Engineer because, as a relative, I could attend the Ritual with them and give them the ring.  Did not happen but giving that up I hoped for one of my nephews and then my grandchildren might take the honored profession.  Did not happen…  but there is always a faint hope in the next generation.

I am an Engineer…

Unfortunate Photos

I sometimes wonder if I could have made a successful politician or famous male person.  I mean I have the ability to talk in front of crowds and am not repulsive looking, but I suspect the secret is not to have photos or have a string of ladies come out with stories later in life.

We are all seeing the photos of Justin these days.  Granted I am not a Justin fan and all of this just proves my theory that he is a immature dilettante who rose from high school teacher to Prime Minister of Canada purely based on being pretty and the son of a famous PM.  He loves to dress up.  (India trip for example!)

Anyway that is not the point.  So he put on a costume with brown face.  Obviously he had money for the costume because in 2001 I would have loved to have been able to afford the outfit he could put together for a party.  But even if I had no aspirations of politics, by 2001 I probably would not have chosen that particular image.

Now granted, is my background clear?  I admit that I did dress up as a first nation / Indigenous person in a costume.  Granted I was 8 years old and it was Halloween.  I suspect there are no photos so I am probably clear.  There are pictures of me as Sir Percy Blakeney (the Scarlet Pimpernel) but again I cannot see that as an issue.  Justin also probably thought the same thing at the time.  Lets face it.. good costume.

Then there is the Prince Andrew picture with his arm around a 17 year old.  I will admit that there are pictures of me with an arm around a 17 year old, but as I was 17 at the time, and it was a high school dance, probably, again not an issue.

So it comes down to my writings and blogs.  I have done a complete archive of my published material… I think I am pretty clear. Some opinions… but nothing that could get in the papers (well as long as the kids go along with the story).

So maybe I should stand for Prime Minister of Canada.  Good looking wife and great kids (none with drug related arrests that I am aware of).  The whole nine yards with a yard and a dog.

Better educated than Justin, maybe not as pretty, but better lifetime judgement and more important, NO HISTORY OF A SCANDAL… Whadda you think?

A Higher Form of Life

Tomorrow night we are hosting a Launch Party for HMS Themis.  Kind of a big deal.

We are providing wine and beer and appetizers for 20 guests to celebrate the completion of my frigate model Themis.  Even though everyone is a guest and will get free drinks and food for the sole purpose of honoring me, Pat has been busy cleaning and sterilizing the house.  Heaven forbid one of the lady friends show up and find some dust somewhere.

This afternoon I am downstairs working on the next Model and Reese was sent down to keep me company while Pat scrubs the floor.  I do have a mat for Reese to sleep on but, she is not keen.

I have a bag of small treats for her, and Pat is adamant that I should not spoil her.

I admit I have a big bag of peanuts in the shell that I treat myself to in the afternoon.  Bit messy.  File some frames and have a couple of peanuts.

Reese realizes this.  I had given her a couple of little treats early but as the hours go on, she sees me having my little treats and starts to beg.  Never going to give her peanuts.

There I was sitting on my chair working and she is on her haunches looking at me with her big brown eyes asking why I get treats and she does not.

I explained patiently to Reese that if she is a Buddhist, she should realize that in her next life she could come back as a higher form and then she would get more treats.

Not sure if she understood.  She eventually lay on the mat until Pat allowed us to come upstairs.

Another Model Completion

I issued a blog some time ago about completing the Model of HMS Themis.  It was a bit premature as I have added some details but it is complete.  The Launch Party is later this week.  We have invited the local dignitaries, but I expect only 20 of our friends will show up, including Sean Russel the author of the book that I based the model on. (I am giving the model to him after the party)

It has been almost 3 years in building and the last year I realized that my hand coordination may mean I cannot take on a model of this complexity again.  Not that there are mistakes in the model, it just took longer to make the details that I used to whip off.

For the first time in 30 years, I completed a model without plans for the next project.  I have spent hours looking through my books and plans to find a project that would excite me and fit my newer skill ability.  I thought for awhile that I would make a model of the Kootenay Lake sternwheeler Moyie.  Pat and I even drove to Kaslo to visit it and I took hundreds of pictures.  Ordered the plans.  But when they arrived I realized that this was basically a metal project and did not fit with my 40 years of wood skills.  My bad… but we did have a nice drive holiday.

In my collection was a 1970 book by Vincenzo Lusci.  A model builders’s handbook translated from Italian.  Not sure if I used the handbook a lot, but it was there.

On the cover was a picture of a model he built in the 60s of a French early steam side wheeler Corvette from 1829, Le Sphinx.  Great looking model.  A different twist to the models I have made in the past but a wooden hull and ship rigged with side wheels.  I became infatuated with it and sent off a search through the internet for plans.  They have apparently been out of print for 40 years.  But I fired off emails to various Italian maritime museums in the hope.

I had decided to look for another project.  Meagan visited and I was discussing model plans for her.  Meagan and Jorg have a model of a Chinese Junk I made for them years ago.  Nice model but not as dramatic as the models the rest of the kids have.  With some persuasion I suggested they contract a newer, more elaborate model.

Meagan wanted something older and I suggested The Mathew.  This is the model I made for Ryan and Corrie.  I already have the plans.  I am not necessarily keen on repeating a model, but I remember this as a nice project.

So I have spent the last few days in the workshop looking through the plans to organize how I get started.  Keel laying etc.  Got kind of excited.

But this afternoon I got an email from the Italian Maritime Museum telling me (in broken English) that they have the plans for Le Sphinx and for 30 euros plus shipping I could order them.  So I did.  No idea if this is a scam, no idea if these plans are any good, could be a mistake, but I have to take the chance.

We shall see.  Anyway here is the Themis in the backyard this evening…. and as you notice, it is Paradise outside