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Keeper of the flame.

So today I’m the keeper of the flame. We knew that when we got to the lake, our brother-in-law Gordon would want to see The Big Green Egg at work since he is an excellent cook. I said “No!” as I didn’t want to unload the car. A few glasses of Keeper of the flamewine later we had it set up under a nearby tree. Apparently this wasn’t close enough to the action so we had to haul all 167lb’s of it closer to the cabin. 

The day of the party they had laid on a huge BBQ rented from the Co-op, to cook two 13 lb roasts. Unfortunately the darn thing refused to cooperate. We couldn’t light it and the rotisserie wouldn’t turn all the time and when it did, it made an awful noise.

“Let’s roast them on the Egg” some fool (not me) suggested. I grabbed the bag of charcoal (remember the one I wanted to leave behind?) and topped it up. We got the two roasts and somehow managed to stuff them in, each in an aluminum foil pan to catch the juices.

The chefs wanted to start off with a temperature of 400F for an hour. Not having a lot of experience, I had to watch it constantly. The guys would walk by once in a while and told me what a good job I was doing, then wander off in search of another beer. 

I watched and waited. The temperature slowly rose, but just as it reached 400F someone wanted to take a look so I lost temperature and had to start over. After an hour I dropped it to 350F and inserted the thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. 

I sat back with a glass of wine and waited. After another hour or so, I checked again. The internal temp was starting to rise. The excitement grew. I grabbed another glass of wine and waited some more. The chefs loaded the roasts up with slices of garlic and onion. I readjusted the temp, grabbed another glass of wine and waited with some trepidation for it to get to the final temperature.

After a heated discussion as to what temperature was best to remove it at, we decided that they were done…well one was. Strangely, the smaller one hadn’t reached full temperature yet. Because of the size of the roasts there wasn’t a lot of room for the air to circulate so that may have had something to do with it. We let the first one rest while various birthday celebrations we’re going on. We removed the second one and the carving began.

It wasn’t as good as we would have liked but considering that this was our first try with a roast, we didn’t do too badly.  So ended my first day as keeper of the flame.

The following day we tried chicken and that was delicious. I still need more experience though. A how-to manual would be handy but that will have to wait until we get home.

Hail to The Egg

I haven’t posted for a while and the first thing I’m going to share is that we bought an egg: a Big Green Egg. For those like me, who had no clue what that is, it’s a charcoal BBQ.

We were in Fort St John visiting Valerie, a friend of Rosalie’s, when I found out that I was the designated BBQer. So I was introduced to the BGE. When

Egg

The Big Green Egg

I first saw it I thought it was a weird looking regular BBQ. How wrong I was! Valerie wanted to sell it so after a few times cooking on it, I wanted to buy it. Rosalie and I went into a huddle and agreed it would be ours.

Valerie said she could arrange for it to be dropped off in Prince George where we would be visiting in September. This was a bit of an inconvenience for her so I wandered out to the car for a serious think. Seconds later I popped back into the house and announced that we would take it with us.

You have to understand that we were camping with our tent and the car was already overloaded. Now I had to dismantle and stow a 167lb Egg in it as well. Sometime I think I’m nuts. (Rosalie nods vigorously).

I got up early in the morning and started to dismantle it. It went a lot easier than I thought considering I had no wrenches and only a can opener and piece of string to work with. I had arranged for help to load it into the car but after taking the lid off I found that it wasn’t too heavy and I could do it by myself. Okay, that’s in, now for the rest of the stuff.

I huffe, puffed, measured, weighed and prayed and after about an hour I proudly proclaimed success. At this point Rosalie stuck her head out the door and told me I’d forgotten the cooler and one more bag. I don’t understand how she starts off with one bag and ends up with two. Probably another of those women things we guys will never understand.

I pulled the car apart and started again. I told them that the very large bag of charcoal that came with it would have to stay behind. However, the look of disappointment on Rosalie’s face inspired me to try harder. At this point she and Valerie were starting to give me advice. The more they gave the hotter I got. Eventually I said “Too many cooks, Ladies!” (not at all what I was thinking) at which point they slunk off to do women”s things.

So why go to all this trouble for an Egg? Well, this is no ordinary BBQ. You can cook anything from steaks to lasagna to bread. I cooked hamburgers right over the hot coals without burning them. The tempurature can be adjusted from 600f to 200f and back again in minutes. The secret is that it’s in  a contained environment and the temperature is controlled by airflow through the ceramic body.

 We strapped it in the back seat and covered it with a blanket. Because The Egg is a nice egg-shape (well duh!) If anybody asked about it we were going to say it was Grannie or, that it was her urn with her ashes and that she had been a very large lady. Or “Mind your own business” depending on our mood at the time.

Our little car is awesome. Even with all that additional weight, it just purrs along and hopefully we will get it home safely and produce some culinary delights. Rosalie says it’s “eggcelent”

 

 

Test run.

Having got the boat safely to the trailer, we now had to make a test run. We hadn’t owned a motor boat before so didn’t know what to expect when I launched it.

test runThe great day came and Peter and Suzie called to say they wanted to be in on the fun. Great, Peter was coming, now I had someone to blame if things went sideways.

We loaded the boat. I found it interesting that when guys get in a boat we take a fishing rod and a pack of beer. Women, on the other hand, think of food first. This involves a lot of planning. We ended up with two or three coolers, a bag of buns and several packs of chips. 

My troubles began when we got to the ramp at Horn Lake after paying $6.30 launch fee. I wasn’t used to backing up a short trailer so had some fun lining it up which involved lots of neck twisting. I finally got the boat in the water and hoisted Peter and Suzie aboard. Rosalie, in her new wellies, held on to the boat while I went to park the truck and trailer.

 The motor started without too much trouble and away we went. We cruised for a while and then dropped anchor to have lunch. After we had eaten, we wanted to do some fishing but some idiot (me) had left P and S’s rods in the truck. Back to the launch ramp.

 I had developed a nasty headache from twisting and turning to see how I was doing during the launch so wasn’t in the mood for fishing. It was a disappointment to P and S but I wasn’t in good shape so we went back. We loaded the boat on the trailer with no problems and returned to the RV lot. The day ended with good food, wine and Tylenol. So ended our test run.

I think it was a great day as I learned a lot about the boat and the technique of launching and retrieving it. I also learned to not leave things in the back of the truck. A bit more practice backing up is needed but that will come with time.

My next problem is that with all the extra stuff we got with the boat our little shed was over crowded. We got: down riggers, survival suits, crab traps, prawn traps, life jackets, extra bumpers as well as lots of extra parts that all needed storage space. So we decided to box in the area under the front of the fifth wheel. Another chore for my list.

No boats, ever!

Since we got the RV lot we thought it would be a great idea to get a small boat. We could see ourselves drifting on the ocean drinking champagne and eating lobster we had just caught. It didn’t matter that we can’t afford champers and can’t catch No boatslobster on this coast. We had our weird dream and we wanted to go for it. We tried the experiment with the canoe but that didn’t work out as the darn thing was too heavy. Since then, every time I mention it, Rosalie says “no boats!” So much for dreams.

I would often see a boat for sale but when I show it to her I would still get: “no boats!” Until one day we were driving to Qualicum and we saw a boat for sale at the side of the road. “Wanna look” I ventured. ” Sure”,  she says. She was hooked! We didn’t buy that one but my evil plan finally paid off. Until this time I hadn’t taken it too seriously as I knew she was adamant about not getting one. But suddenly, we were looking for a boat.

I went to my usual source’s Kijiji, Craig’s list and Used Nanaimo. There wasn’t a lot but we tracked one or two down. First, we went to Port Alberni. Rosalie liked that one, but it was too small and over priced. It also needed a lot of cleaning up. Next stop Comox! This one was a better size and had an inboard motor but no canopy. We decided to give it a miss.

I finally found one in Cedar, with all the things we needed, and a lot more. We made an appointment and looked forward to checking it out. When we saw it we went over the whole thing, asked all the questions and told the guy we were going to go for a coffee to discuss it and would get back to him. We got in the car and Rosalie said: “I want it.” I said, “Me too.” We got out of the car and made the guy an offer, less that what we expected to get it for (of course.) He accepted so we got a deal.

The next thing we had to do was get it to the RV lot. We had the truck but it wasn’t insured and I didn’t know if the wiring for the lights was up to the job. We took care of the insurance and Peter and I went to the trailer park to fetch the truck to bring the boat home. I had problems doing the electrical hook up because the wiring was old and tarnished and wouldn’t solder well. I thought all looked good and the following day went to pick up our new boat.

When we had loaded the boat with all the extra stuff the guy gave us, I hooked up and found that only the left blinker and stoplight worked. Nothing to do but go for it. As it turns out, we only had to make left turns on the way to the RV lot anyway. I drove carefully and we arrived safely.

The next thing we had to do was give it a trial run.

 

The Book

There has been confusion regarding the price of my book “A Crazy Idea”. I wanted it to be $2.50 Canadian but it was published in US dollars. This has now been corrected and the new price is $1.99 US.

You can find it anywhere you download your ebooks: Kobo, Smashwords, Chapters etc. For some reason, it’s not on Amazon yet.

Archery

After saying that I don’t like groups, I joined one! Wanting to find more to occupy myself through the winter I Joined the Parksville Archery club. Taking up archery is something I have always wanted to do. I did live in Nottingham for a few years so it must be in my blood.

Archery

Robin Hood at Nottingham castle.
When I lived there people were forever stealing his arrow.

The Nanaimo Archery Club, where I went initially, taught me a few of the rules. they showed me which way the arrow should point, what weight of bow I should use etc. stood me on the firing line and then ran for cover. I didn’t do too badly so I decided to sign up. When I got home I started to investigate the Parksville club as it had a range close to the trailer and their indoor range wasn’t much farther from home than the Nanaimo one.  It was also a lot cheaper, a prime consideration!  

I went there for a free night of practice. They loaned me their equipment and I shot some arrows for about an hour and became hooked. Next came the task of buying my own equipment. Both the guys at the Nanaimo and Parksville clubs recommended that I should go to ‘Buckey’s’ in Duncan as he would help me with what I needed. Also, he wouldn’t sell me stuff I didn’t need. 

I took Peter as my able assistant and someone to blame things on if I got the wrong stuff. We got there and dealt with Richard the archery expert/owner. He’s a very knowledgeable guy as well as patient with a newb like me. First, we selected a reasonably priced bow. This is a very technical sport and you have to have the equipment that fits you.

I needed a 35lb, 66″ take-down recurve bow. My pull length was 27″. Next came the arrows! He selected three for me and cut them to my correct length of 30″; they had a spine of 500, a 7.3 GPI and a 100-grain point. I asked him what the fear factor was but didn’t know what I was talking about. It took hours of research on Google to find out what all that meant. I selected an arm guard, a bow stringer, an archery glove and I was set. However, we got out to the car and I decided to get another three arrows as I was sure to lose the first three.

On the way home, we stopped for a pint so that I could face Rosalie when I got there as I went way over my budget. “If Robin Hood had to pay as much for his equipment the poor would have starved,” said Peter.

That evening I went to the indoor range in Nanoose to show off my prowess. The first thing they told me was that I had my arm guard on the wrong way round. (dummy!) 

I had been shooting for a while when one of the other members came over and pointed out that my shooting was good but my range protocol wasn’t. Not only is archery very technical, it’s also full of rules and regulations. Most are for safety so I guess they make sense. He also gave me some really helpful tips and soon I was hitting the target.

Archery is good exercise, you fire three arrows and then walk sixty feet to the target to retrieve them. You do this over and over. Also, climbing the ladder to get the ones out of the ceiling is quite energetic as well.

Published!

So the great day has arrived. I finally published my books with Smashwords, yes books). They took a while because I had to create the Covers from scratch. As you will see, should you choose to buy one, I’m not too good at graphic art. I did contact someone online,

published

Click image to find book

probably in a third world country, to do the work. The problem was that I had a hard time communicating exactly what I wanted. The guy was using standard images and I needed something more specific. I finally gave up and decided to do the job myself. 

Being asked to fill in a quality survey for the guy, I mostly gave a four out of five. He then filed a grievance with Fiverr, the company I contacted him through, demanding that I give all fives on the survey. He needs this, he said, so that he could get a better rating and help feed his kids. Not one to be emotionally blackmailed, I promptly ignored him.

Why two books? Well, I had so much fun with the first one that I just had to do a second. Which, by the way, is free. What I did was, I cleaned up all my old blogs from the Europe trip and published them. Reading through them brought back a whole lot of memories.

published

Click image to find Free book

The titles of the books are “A Crazy Idea” ($2:50 US ) and “A Crazy Idea Too!” (Free) They can be downloaded from wherever you buy your ebooks. “A Crazy Idea” has a release date of 14th April but can be pre-ordered at any time. “A Crazy Idea Too!” is available now.

I was thinking of doing both for free, but then I remembered all the months I had spent writing, all the supplies I had gone through and all the moderately heated discussions Rosalie and I had endured. Not counting the ridiculous price of $15 to feed my online graphics guy and his family for several months. So I came up with a low priced book. I wanted to charge $39.99 but Rosalie laughed at me so I backed down.

A group of one

I’ve noticed recently that people seem to need to be in some sort of group. We’ve joined several groups: Chair yoga, circuit training, healthy diet seminars, monster truck mechanics for seniors and much more.

GroupMaybe group culture started back in the cave man (or cave people to be politically correct) days when we hunted in packs The men hunted while the women sat around talking about babies and kittens and how to cook them; the kittens, not the babies.

I can see the women sitting down as a group after the hunt, gutting, skinning and hacking at the kill. (Thoughts of their hubbies giving them inspiration.) Or doing the laundry as a group, arguing about who gets what rock to bash their loin cloths on. Again using their hubbies as inspiration. (“Take that you *%#&*@!!!”) In the meantime, the hubbies are sitting around the fire B-S-ing about boobs, fermented mare’s milk and who’s got the biggest spear.

Personally, I don’t like being a member of a group. Except of course the Beer and Book club. I tend to join up full of enthusiasm and then fade away after a couple of visits. We joined chair yoga to help get Rosalie back into shape. I didn’t need it of course as I am a perfect specimen. (?)

In the end, I stopped going as I was the only guy there and couldn’t take the stares of all the little old ladies. I thought they might do Rosalie some sort of damage trying to get to me. Once again it reminded me of the scene from “The Birds” where they all sit around staring at you. One little old lady (my age) almost fell off the perch on the back of her chair. You’d think they’d never seen a man before.

I’ve noticed that all of these groups consist mainly of women? Perhaps guys are more introverted and would rather not be involved. Or perhaps they don’t like mixed groups, preferring their own company. Mixed groups somehow don’t seem to work anyway. In any social situation, the men and women tend to drift away from each other; somewhat like oil and water, or Trump and the Republican Party.

It’s probably that our interests are different. Women like to talk about babies and kittens and guys like to talk about beer, boobs and who’s got the biggest deck.

I once went to group therapy for depression. Again I was the only guy there. Seeing that course through was tough but in the end, I realised that I was just fine. All the women were far worse off than I was. I tried to bring on a few tears to keep up, but it just didn’t work.

Women in their group will touch and hug each other. Men, on the other hand, will say, ” You can sit with me but don’t get too close.” But there is always that one guy!

 

Spring has Sprung

Has Spring final sprung or, are we just kidding ourselves? We know spring will soon be here as the Beer/Book Club guys are starting to come back from warmer places. They remind me of crocuses popping up at the first hint of warmth.

Spring

The guys returning from down south and down under.

We had an interesting winter. Things started getting weird in the late summer with Rosalie’s ‘coronary event’ and ended with us not going to Mexico. In between, we had two funerals, decision made to go on the Camino walk, snow storms, a treadmill, new flooring, new window coverings, writing an e-book and a few parties. For us, this winter was far from boring.

In a few weeks, we will head up to the trailer to open it for the season. As soon as it gets a bit warmer we’ll have us a party. I have to do some work first as our windbreak for the fire pit collapsed. It was due to me being lazy and the unexpectedly heavy snowfall. We have been up a few times over the winter just to check things out. All seems to be well. We had no critter invasions this year, so that’s good.

So what are we doing during the summer? Who the heck knows? Now that we’re retired, we think we’ll get bored and start throwing things at each other for fun. It never turns out that way. Something always seems to crop up to keep us amused. In the meantime, we always have Rosalie’s training.

I decided to support Rosalie in her walk when she explained that I didn’t have to do it. What she very slyly left out was that I would have to support her in her training walks. So now, I will be doing my least favourite pastime of hiking. I need it though as I’m a little overweight and starting to feel a bit sluggish after the winter.

There are all kinds of trails around here so we’ve selected a few to try out. We have been walking a local route almost three kilometres long.  It may be time to push it a little more as Rosalie handled it easily. I manage to crawl home eventually. I found one 6.5 kilometres long and as soon as it gets a little warmer we will try that out. Maybe, by that time, I’ll able to walk a little faster so Rosalie doesn’t have to keep stopping and frowning at me as I try to catch up.

She gets on the treadmill most days. I stand and watch thereby getting my own exercise. Treadmills are great but not the same as an actual walk, so we have to get out there soon. (heavy sigh!)

The Book

Okay, you asked for it! A few people said that, after reading my blogs that I should write a book. Well, I have done and I’m hoping to publish it in the next month. It will be an ebook as regular publishing costs too much. (Look out for the hit movie soon after that! Starring Donald Duck as me.)

bookNot having a clue what to write about, I picked a time in my life that was somewhat the foundation for the rest of my time as a Canadian. I spent just over a year in Wawa Ontario. While there, I was head foreman of a Junior Ranger camp. So I decided to write about that.

It’s not a big book, only twenty-two thousand words, but I think it’s a neat story and so do the other four people who have read it. When I originally started, it was going to be a series of blogs so I had some of the info handy. The problem was that it all only amounted to about five to six thousand words and I needed a minimum of twenty thousand.

Encouraged by Rosalie I started to write. The more I got into it, the more I remembered. The word count started to creep up. My daughter Lisa contributed with some of her memories and jogged my mind to write more. I’ve kept at it for several months and now have a finished work of art. I had to have it heavily edited by Rosalie and the final polish was put on by Peter.

I knew that somewhere there was a bunch of photos from the Wawa days but had no clue where they were. While at Lisa’s house, she told me that her Mum had given her some old family albums. I looked through them, and there were all the photos I had been looking for. It was at that point that I knew that this was meant to happen.

One of the central people in the book is Freddie. He taught me a lot and without him, the book wouldn’t be as good. Freddie and I haven’t spoken or seen each other since I left Wawa forty-four years ago. Putting social media to work, I found him on Facebook. I got lucky as he had just got an account. I contacted him and the first thing he asked was: did I remember moose hunting. Yes, I did! It’s in the book. From what I know, he and his wife Inez still live in the same house.

We’ve been texting back and forth all morning. I got his email address and brought him up to date on what I’ve been doing. Now I am waiting for the answer to “What happened to the bus?”

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