Sufferin Succotash

Our kids may remember cartoons with Sylvester and Tweety bird where the cat, with a lisp (no idea why a cat would have a lisp) would exclaim “Sufferin Succotash” No idea what that meant.

But apparently it is based on a veggie dish often made in the south of the US.

I was preparing my famous South Carolina BBQ back ribs tonight. Pat thought she would augment with another traditional side dish. Succotash.

A bit of background. We like Lima Beans, and often had them on the side in the years past. But apparently this particular bean is not popular on the West Coast. So we cannot find it often at the grocery store. Earlier this week I managed to find a supply and we had them with my steak (and Patty’s tuna). We had leftover lima beans and, as I said, Pat went looking for a recipe to use them with our Sunday night Rib dinner.

Succotash is a mixture of corn kernels and lima beans and peppers and many other things.

The succotash went perfect with our South Carolina ribs.

A Pee Area for Reese

With the major snow event we have had over the last week, Reese has had an issue with her toilet routine. This girl was born in New Mexico, and has not experienced many days with nothing but snow.

In years past Reese and Jacques would play on the snow when they had snow events like children. Doing snow angels and rolling around. Never an issue for toilet procedures.

But Reese is now an older lady and when, at the height of our recent snow dump, she had an issue on going out in the backyard to do her business we were concerned. So even with the snow building up I went out and dug out a stretch of grass for her. It took many trips to keep the area clear as the snow coming down. But she did appreciate it.

The snow is melting and the pee area is now better defined, but she likes it. One benefit is that I no longer have to roam the back yard to clear the solid waste.

Our February Snow Issue

Here in Paradise we have been able to avoid the winter this year. A couple of days of light skiffs of snow that melted away. But then came the major event of the last week. It is crazy time when we are warmer here on the west coast of Canada than Houston Texas. A major weather system that brought deep freezing temperatures on the other side of the Rockies.

But we were not saved from this North American wide condition. Starting Friday we had snow coming down in torrents. No wind just snow. Unlike that light dry fluffy snow on the prairies, this comes with 40% humidity. Beautiful to look at (see the bird house) but destructive to the trees and bushes. We had at least 18 inches of snow in the back yard.

I know there is little sympathy from those in the frigid interior. I think the worst we got to was – 7 C one night. No power failures and a couple of days of clearing driveways and sidewalks. Then temperatures came back to normal. Huge piles of snow but going to be gone in a few days. But the final picture is unique to the snow condition here that we have seen in the past.

It is a warm 7 deg and the sun is shining. Looking out on the back yard and the golf course we see this field of dimpled snow. Kind of pretty.

Progress on the Model

I am in the final stages with the model of Le Sphinx with the rigging. I have always enjoyed this part but admit that I am struggling this year. Threading small lines through blocks at the end of long calipers is no longer fun with hand tremors. Older age is catching up.

This will be my last warship. The intricate details is no longer my forte.

I will probably be finished this in another 2 months and then will take a break. Maybe a fancy birdhouse or two.

I will continue to build ships but I will go for something simpler. Starting to search for ideas and plans.

A Walk with Reese

Reese is truly an enlightened creature that believes that you should appreciate life and not rush through it. She is a firm believer that you should occasionally stop and smell the roses… and all bushes… and all trees and fireplugs and stop signs along the way.

We do not make haste as, for Reese, a walk is an odiferous adventure.

Reading of Frozen Adventures

Over the last few years I have been given books by my kids for Christmas or my birthday about Arctic and Antarctic explorers. From the Franklin expedition, the search for Franklin, to Shackleton’s dramatic escape from the frozen southern continent.

I just finished reading Alone on the Ice that features the 1913 solo 40 day crawl by Douglas Mawson back to the base after his two teammates had died. There is little inspiration about reading where extreme freezing and near starvation forces you to eat all your dogs and eventually your frozen finger tips.

I was reading this last part while lying in bed with a warm comforter on me after a hearty dinner earlier in the evening but still shivered. Hard to imagine the eternal blizzards and desperation in search of … well nothing.

I am not sure why this particular genre has struck the fancy of my children as suitable for me. I suspect they are reacting to my often quoted stories about how harsh it was when I was young and how hardy we had to be and they want to demonstrate that there was a time when my upbringing would have been considered luxury.

But it also raises the question about why would men do this. Risk horrible death for little reward aside from some fleeting fame. No one ever got rich from it. But then I think of all the idiots that climb Everest or K2 with a strong possibility of freezing and dying, I guess it is just the nature of some people. Why for example go to the moon? Not much there.

However as I sit in my nice warm house, contemplating our meal for the evening I realize I am no longer one of those that risk it all for adventure. Bad enough that I have to risk my life going into Costco with only a mask to protect me.

Our New Orleans Meal

That is not the title I would have chosen, but if I put Gumbo and Cornmeal in the title, I would be inundated by people looking for my recipe.

Like many of our inspirations for a meal, I was reading a book where the character was in New Orleans and had a great Louisiana Gumbo. We decided to make it the feature meal of the week. A gumbo made with chicken, shrimp and chorizo sausage. I should have been Andouille sausage, but Chorizo is what we had in inventory.

We have made New Orleans Gumbo in the past, but rarely. One of the problems is obtaining the required ingredients. As it happens we have a jar of Creole File (ground sassafras) We chose shrimps instead of crawfish and, as I said, subbed the sausage. But where do you get Okra?

Now when we lived in Ontario there were so many food stores that carried unusual or ethnic foods. Here on island with all the old white people from Alberta, the selection is less diverse. Cannot find Catfish no matter how much you try. Anyway it took three grocery stores but we found Okra, and not frozen but fresh. Very nice Gumbo and enough for a repeat on Saturday.

With the meal I made cornbread. I do not do this often because I find cornbread good for one meal but too dry for the next. As it happens I was searching on UTube and a lady in the Appalachians was demonstrating how she makes cornbread 3 days a week. I did not use the pig lard that she used, but otherwise followed her directions and it turned out great.

I guess that part of isolation life, is where preparing an interesting and time consuming meal becomes the highlight of the day.

A New Train

You may remember that I made two trains for Ryan and Corrie’s boys for Christmas. Ryan contacted me and said “Uncle… two trains and three boys… do something” Or words to that effect.

So I made another train. Same scale with cars that can be interchanged. Did not have another rolling bin for the boiler so had to make my own. I made an oil car because it seems every train in Canada is hauling crude oil.

Pat suggested the car carrier built to hold hot wheels. You may notice it looks different because I used the Brazilian cherry from pieces left over from our floor. A very hard and therefore hardy wood.

The crane car may not last long as a toy but I had fun making it, and that is the main point.


Noisy Woodpecker

When it rains here, and lets face it, it rains a lot in winter here in Paradise, we get a visit from a Pileated Woodpecker that chooses to ply its trade high up under the eaves above our bedroom.  No idea why, as it pounds on the hardy board where there are no insects.  But it taps away on the wall.  You lie in bed in the morning and hear this tapping on the wall.  

I get up and go out on the patio into the pouring rain and shout “shoo” and it flies away.  Later it comes back to bug me when I am having my afternoon nap.  

It only does this when it is pouring rain, and it is too wimpy to get wet while working on a tree.  Ratta tatta tat. 

Nature.  Some people like it.

Adult male Pileated Woodpecker 

Tiny blocks

I had the opportunity to join Pat in a zoom meeting with her sisters, but quickly removed to myself to go to the shop to build blocks (pulleys). The picture is the result of 3 hours of work.

Even I realize that this is crazy, but I needed many small blocks for the upper rigging. These are 3 mm which at the scale would be blocks about 9 inches.  This scale is much more difficult to make than the larger blocks.

I have always expressed negative opinions to model ships that I see where the lines and the blocks are way over scale.

Believe me this has become much more difficult for me to make these than it was.  I have about a 50% failure rate in the production line.  Hence why I do not do this for a living.  By the way in the picture you will see one of the pieces of wood that I start with.  Good old Swiss Pear wood.