Month: September 2014

Mick and Rickey

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I had the opportunity to hang out with a couple of my old professors from college today.

It was a nice time to get a chance to chat. The first was Michael Durham (Mick) and the second was Eric Atkinson (Rickey).

This happened because I had done a favor for one of them and was doing another favor for another friend today too.

I picked up my buddy Knoal at 4 and we got a 32’ ladder tied it to the top of my Saab and dropped it off at Mick’s house. We then picked up Mick and went shopping at Home Depot for some construction materials for a few of his apt’s. We got 3 counter tops, a bunch of ¼ round trim and a couple tap sets. Then set off to where I picked Knoal up originally to drop off 2 counter tops. the trim. and a tap set. That’s when Knoal noticed his purse was missing. (I call it a purse. He calls it a bag. I use pockets my…) It had his ID, a Ipod and a bunch of other stuff in it. So Backs to Home Depot where we found his purse on a pile of 6×6 posts. Then back to the other address to drop off the 3rd counter top and last tap set.

I left Mick at the last place and Knoal and I were off to get another ladder from one of his job sites (Rickey’s) and bring it to the 2nd counter top place.

It was at Rickey’s house and he came out to chat while I strapped it to the roof. We had a good chat and caught up a bit. It’s been 20 years since Rickey retired and I finished art school. That went fast!Rickie and I 003

After I finished hauling things around and visiting I went to fix my lawnmower that isn’t working properly. A friend has it as I use a reel type. I just need to get a new spark plug to make it go again.Rickie and I 004

Rickey has a show on at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton NB right now.

Mick has a show coming up at the St Thomas- Elgin Art Centre Michael Durham March 7 – April 18, 2015
When I got home later I found my little girl sporting a new hair cut! Rickie and I 007And raspberry muffins!Rickie and I 006


Crab boil.

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What a lovely time at the Fanshawe Yacht Club we had today. That of course after we had worked hard on our yard most of the day.

This wasn’t the normal cut the lawn stuff. I did cut the grass but we also dethatched the whole yard by hand with a steel rake! That’s not fun! I had a big blister on my hand that is just a big raw spot now. Heidi weeded the back flower bed and I planted a mix of all purpose grass seed and white clover all over the bare spots. There are a lot of bare spots too.crabs 005

I don’t really care if we have grass or clover. I’d really rather work on a boat then the yard. I’ll cut whatever is there green or not.crabs 018

We went out about 4 this afternoon and brought our dinner to cook at the club. It was meant to be a kind of picnic overlooking the lake from the north of the club from the top of the bluff. I figured we may as well picnic at the club because their was absolutely no wind.

Well the mosquitos were very hungry today and because their was no wind they were everywhere. (I thought that they had been fed by us on friday night at the pot luck we were at. I must have got bit 10 times and Jasmine about 50.) So we decided to eat in the club house. I really wanted to eat on the edge of the bluff but Heidi’s common sense prevailed. We also forgot the bug spray. (The one one the boat is empty too…)

The kitchen is new last winter and has a big center island that has stools at one end. It worked perfectly for what we were  eating.

Our dinner was a crab boil.crabs 042crabs 037crabs 041

I picked up a bunch of rock crab from the supermarket today and some corn on the cob. Threw both in a big pot with some Old Bay and steamed.  crabs 035

While they were steaming we walked around the club grounds. I even showed Hiedi the tree that Jasmine and I moved the week before. Just a perfect relaxing time after our day of yard work.

Great eats too. Those little crabs are really tasty!crabs 054

I love it when things like crabs or any seafood is available fresh in London Ont. A few years ago fresh fish only came into the city twice a week! Now it’s daily with different ethnic grocery stores all over town. I love that!

Ghost orchard apple picking.

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I almost picked apples today. We went to the orchard where I grew up and walked in to find this eerie emptiness. \nothing on the ground…? Nothing in the trees…? Where were the apples? Last year you could barely take a step without stepping on one and this year I saw 4! 4 apples in the whole orchard of about 20 trees!Almost apple picking 018Almost apple picking 019

Something has changed. I know the trees are old. (About 80) But their should be some fruit other than 1 tree with 2 apples on it and 2 on the ground! I don’t know if the area had a killing frost this spring when the flowers were out. That makes the most sense. They all can’t just stop producing at once. Can they?Almost apple picking 022

Well we had a nice walk through the now mixed woods that was the orchard.

I say mixed woods because there were a lot of walnut trees amongst the apple trees. Some had even choked out the apple trees. The walnut trees were introduced to the orchard by simple mistake. We and our neighbors had walnut trees in the back yard and used to take the leaves and nuts back to the orchard to burn them. (Can’t burn leaves now a days..) Well the nuts didn’t all burn and the squirrels took and buried them in the rows of apple trees. No one attended the orchard for the last 25 years and… Walnut trees taller than the apple trees. It’s a kind of sad site now. (See pictures and video attached.)

After the ghost orchard we went to my moms and brought along a new bread maker for her. She told me yesterday that hers had died after 10 years of bread making. So I popped out last night and picked up a new one for her. She loves it! She is quite happy that we got her one that makes big 3lb loaves.Almost apple picking 081

While a mom’s she had Jasmine and I take the garbage out with the golf cart. Whenever we get on the golf cart we go for a bit of a tour around. Today I went into the woods that I used to play in when I was about 10 years old. I told Jasmine that we used to catch salamanders from under the old logs that were laying around in the woods. Well the first log I stopped at I lifted it up and found 2!Almost apple picking 092 So I caught them and gave them to Jasmine to hold. She loved it! getting to hold these tiny delicate lizards. A tree frog hopped beside me and I picked it up and gave it to Jasmine to hold too.Almost apple picking 097 We had a great few minutes with our new friends in the woods before we put them back by the log from where they came.

After lunch we went to Sheldons Blueberries and picked raspberries. It’s too late in the year for blueberries.Almost apple picking 118 We also picked up some jam, gourds and decorative corn to hang on our front door. (I said the corn is to feed the squirrels. Which will probably happen.)Almost apple picking 136Almost apple picking 143

After the visit to their bee hives we were off to Wildwood Conservation Area. it’s part of the Upper Thames Conservation that Fanshawe is. We let Jasmine play on the really fun climbing and slide structure that is exactly the same as the ones at Pittock and Fanshawe. She played with another little girl for a while until we decided to go check out the rest of the grounds. We took a drive through and I think we may come back with the boat some day. I’m not keen that they have power boats on the lake but the grounds are really kept well.

Then the 30 min drive back home to have a nap. Heidi and I anyway. Jasmine played with the new gourds and corn… She and CoCo, one of her teddy bears, were playing harvest. Cute!

Tomorrow I plan to have dinner out at the yacht club. Blue crab is on sale at  a local supermarket and I think we need to eat a bunch. I want to anyway!


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Our little family and all the little families from my daughter Jasmines class got together today for a potluck dinner.

It was held at one of the other parents home in Wortley Village. (A mystical place also known as Old South in London.) I really like that part of town. The people are laid back and down to earth. The area has a really welcoming feel to it. (Just like a marina or yacht club.) We live in Old North. A community kind of like Wortley Village but not as tight knit or cool.

It was a really good time getting to chat more in depth with the parents of the kids from her class. It’s nice to get to know each other a bit more than the idol chat of the school yard at pick up time. Everyone is quite interesting.Potluck 003

I chatted about sewing machines for a bit with the hostess. She was quite surprised that I owned a sewing machine. (I actually have 2 but didn’t tell her about the other one. The ladies at the sewing shop go all googly eyed when I tell them what it is… And I can’t remember off the top of my head and have to look for the picture of it on my phone. They all give me that look of ‘ He doesn’t even know what he has…’.) I’m not going to go through my photos now either.

The kids had a blast climbing the trees and bouncing in the trampoline. I say in it because there is a big net around it to keep them from falling off… I didn’t have a big net when I was a kid around any trampoline I ever came across. I don’t even remember the springs being covered with a nice foam filled cushion thing…

I recall jumping out of trees and onto the trampoline then flying across the lawn to land in an uncontrolled heap. Then going to do it again. But their were this things called Lawn Darts back then too. Today the closest thing to a lawn dart is a bean bag… ( Now, don’t aim that at your friends head Billy… It may not leave a bruise. Use the lawn dart. It’s guaranteed to puncture.)

All the food was delicious and varied from the spring rolls (Empty white casserole dish on the table!) that we brought to vegan lentil casserole. (It was really good.)Potluck 002

We stayed until the kids started to turn into monsters because they were exhausted from a week of school and full of natural sugars like honey.

Tomorrow we plan to go visit my mom at her trailer in the woods. Also go apple picking in the old orchard where I grew up. With all that I plan to do some wild mushroom hunting as well.

I have a gift of my mom tomorrow. I got her a new bread maker. (She must be the only one in the world that actually used and wore out her bread maker.)

I look forward to firing it up tomorrow. I love that homey fresh baked bread smell. It gives a sense of family and closeness.

Preparing for next summer.

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One of the things I like to do other than sail is BBQ. I have a charcoal wood smoker in my backyard. It is amazing! We use it about once a week most of the year. Yes even in the winter!

Have you ever gone for a walk around the city in the winter and you come across that nice wood smell of someones fireplace or wood stove? Well if you are in London near my place it probably will smell like that fire place with a hint of whatever I’m smoking that day. (Pork, turkey, fish, vegetables, anything!)

Well today someone gave me a crab apple tree. All cut up into perfect size pieces for my smoker.  They even split the big pieces! I just had to pick it up. Which I did this afternoon. It’s a freshly cut tree so it has to dry out before I can use it. (Wet wood makes whatever you are smoking black. I found that out the hard way many years ago.) I love the taste that apple wood gives when I use it. The fact that it is crab apple wood doesn’t matter. It will work perfectly.

I brought it home and stacked a bunch of it under my smoker and the rest behind the garage to dry.Wood 003 It needs air circulation to dry properly so I stacked it loosely. I expect that it will be OK to use by mid July. I have a bunch of other wood tucked away in the garage to carry me over until then.Wood 002

I just did some quick math and compared the total weight of the wood (400lb) to the amount of chips you get in a bag of smoking chips and figure that the tree was worth about $225. That’s a lot of smoking! I don’t just the wood to smoke but I use it as the fuel too. So I will get about 4 years out of this tree if I combine it with charcoal.

I’m going to try and come up with a few recipes that can be smoked on a rail mount grill/ BBQ for the boats. Propane grills are not the best thing to use. (Propane gives off water as it burns! That coats whatever you are smoking and doesn’t let the smoke penetrate properly.)

It will work well enough in a pinch for me if I’m on the boat and want a smokey burger or anything.

I plan to have a recipe book on each of the charter boats for Finding Peace Sail Charters. I’ll put the recipes on the website too for those that are interested.

First to last. I won by loosing.

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I won by quitting. I did it first. I’m practicing for the Pumpkin Regatta…

I was racing boat #3 the Siren 17 tonight at Fanshawe Lake. We all got off to a OKPumpkin Regatta 001 start and then the wind stopped. Really stopped. Only 3 boat’s had rounded the first mark when I decided to go the other way. The water was like glass near the first mark and I was in a spot that had little ripples. So I aimed for the other end of the lake and went to the mark that was next in the race plan.

Originally I was out in front! (Remember I won because I quit first.) So in the race to the second mark I was doing well for about 5 min then 2 Lasers passed me. Then a keel boat… My spirits were good and I didn’t care. I just wanted to sail. And I was doing that. Not as fast as I would have liked but I was moving. Unlike the fleet I left at the first mark.

I made it around the 2nd mark before the keel boat and proceed to go back to the start area as one of the start markers was the next mark.

After the sun got low I fired up the Elgin 2hp and motored back to my dock to pack up. That little motor runs great!

My dock mate’s boat was back on the dock so he is home from Cuba.

After the races a bunch of us get together in the clubhouse and have coffee and chat for a bit before heading home. I missed a bunch of these get together s this summer so I sat in tonight.

We have a fall regatta coming up at Fanshawe Yacht club. The Pumpkin regatta is on Sat Oct 4 and 5th this year. I will be in attendance sailing with Heidi. we had such a good time last regatta We don’t see any reason not to take place in this one.

Once again I’m going to contact the SIren 17 owners from the club and ask each to come out and play for the weekend. Link:

Above is the poster I saw today for the regatta. Follow the link here to get to the correct sailing from.

A visit to Pittock Conservation Area.

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I went to Woodstock Ont. today for an appointment and decided to visit the local sailing club (Oxford Sailing Club) while I was their. The lake is called Pittock Lake. It’s really a man made flood control reservoir like Fanshawe where my home yacht club is. It is also part of the Upper Thames Conservation Authority so the vehicle and boat pass I have for Fanshawe works there too. When I arrived at the conservation area I asked for a map of the place and was given one and some directions to the club. The conservation area is hard to find without a map or GPS. I didn’t see any signs for it while driving through the city or even when I was at the nearest cross roads. I mentioned that at the front gate and the ranger lady said that she knew of only one sign… Yikes!)

When I got to the club the place was deserted.Pittock 021 All the boats were on trailers except for one dinghy that was at a dock. It looked like the water had dropped about 3’ or more from what I would figure were the normal levels.Pittock 014

I saw 3 Siren 17’s and a Mac 24 and a bunch of other boats that I didn’t recognize. I was kind of hoping to talk to a member or two while I was there.Pittock 013

Their club doesn’t have any security like Fanshawe does. So I just walked in past the rope locked between two posts over the entrance. (I don’t know how they keep their outboards without a fence around the club. At our club we have a 8’ fence with barbed wire on top to keep the campers out. A problem in the past with OB motors disappearing has always been targeted at the campers at Fanshawe. Last year one disappeared from the RowBust safety boat and they came back the next week and left a note about how much a piece of junk it was and that they wanted to steal a better one! That’s a local.)

I like the dock system that they have set up for their club. It looks like all the boats have a finger dock.Pittock 003 I didn’t see any mooring balls on the lake. But they may have been removed before the water dropped.

I asked at the gate house on the way out about the water level being so low. They told me that they start letting water out after the Labor Day weekend. They do it every fall in preparation for the spring flooding.

I grew up near the other conservation area that is part of the Upper Thames. That conservation area is called Wildwood. Same goes for the lake/ reservoir. When I was a teen I would go every year about this time and collect the fishing lures that had been snagged on rocks or man made fish habitat things such as piles of old tires or logs that had been attached to the bottom. I always came home with at least 20 new to me lures. I only looked in the areas that had easy access to the water from the road. So mostly around the 2 bridges and along the berms that led to them.

While I was at Pittock I took a self guided tour of the rest of the conservation area. It’s small. Allot smaller than Fanshawe and Wildwood. It is almost totally surrounded by the city’s suburbs.

There  is the normal stuff to do like hike and picnic. There’s also a Frisbee golf course consisting of 18 poles.Pittock 024

I took the major highway to get to Woodstock today and wanted to come home via the back roads. Going there the 401 took me about 40 min to get there with good flowing traffic. Coming home I found a newly paved county road with no traffic. It took less than 30 min to get home. Saab’s are really fast.