Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

We were fortunate to have another Merry Christmas...lots of family, food, friends, and fun. Overall, Christmas conjures up such vivid thoughts, feelings, memories, and emotions, but I wouldn't miss any of it for the world. The only thing I really often miss at this time of year is immediate family. It's sad that we can't get together more, but there's always next year...below are some photos of what we did get up to...

I guess I shouldn't be so hasty to put Christmas in the past. After all, today is only day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas. Again, my old High School motto must prevail: Carpe Diem !! Merry Christmas everyone !!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Christmas Story

I guess I must confess I'm a bit devoid of "culture" and by most estimates, don't get "out" much. For example, I've been living in Halifax for over 25 years yet I've never gone to Neptune Theatre. All that changed Saturday night when we took in their presentation of "A Christmas Story". I wondered how one of my favorite movies would translate to live theatre and I was not disappointed. They did a wonderful job and it was so enjoyable...I may have to go back...Motorists wise...Simoniz !!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christ in Christmas?

Ok it's December 1st, time to begin unleashing the Christmas revelry. Unfriend me now while there's still time :)
Not trying to be controversial, and I realize that speaking your mind is also a 2-edged sword...the tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison yada yada yada...
First up; I have to confess, the cliche phrase "Keep Christ in Christmas" makes me want to vomit. I don't know much, but I'm pretty sure that the real, true "Christ" will not be "kept" in Christmas or in any other day. Chase him down, and you'll likely discover he expects not to be "kept", but to be distributed, widely on the other 364 days as well. As a matter of fact, he might just chase you down, and me too. What if folk followed the many of Jesus' real admonitions and instructions throughout the year with the same zeal with which they unleash the overtly annoying "It's not Happy Holidays, It's Merry Christmas" drivel. (yuck!). Any day off is a Happy Holiday in my book, but I digress...Here's three of his instructions to get ya going:
1. "Do unto others...
2. "Come unto me, and I will give you rest". 
3. "Feed my sheep".
None of this seems too unreasonable so far does it? Charles Dickens summed it up much better than I ever could with the scolding of Ebeneezer Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas present: "So it is true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men's hearts one day of the year, but in all days of the year. You have chosen not to seek Him in your heart. Therefore, you will come with me and seek Him in the hearts of men of good will."
We shouldn't wait for a Ghost to shock us into accepting the gift of Christ...it probably won't happen...Food for thought ? Oh yeah, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas, &/or a Happy Holidays...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance...

It's always good to remember the sacrifice of others. War is a repugnant and despicable thing and though it seems we'll never learn, I'm thankful for life in Canada. My Father fought in WW2 as a soldier in the British military, as Newfoundland did not join Canada until 1949.
Details about his time overseas are scarce. He died when I was 18 and never discussed it much, at least not with me. I found this photo online and have identified him (I think)...
 As far as I can tell, he was in the 21st Battery of the 59th Royal Heavy Artillery Regiment...

Monday, September 29, 2014

BeerButtBBQ Chicken...

We just finished up a really nice 25c warm weekend here in Halifax. on Friday night I spied in Walmart a package of 2 nice plump Maple Leaf Prime fresh chickens that I had to have. On Saturday I cooked one on the Propane BBQ using that Beer Butt idea. My BBQ is of the 3-burner variety so I lit the 2 outside burners and place the chicken on the gizmo in the middle. The results were nice...
On Sunday I decide to cook the second one (our household has no problems getting rid of food). Just for experimentation purposes, I tried using my new Coleman Oven. These have been around for decades but I just recently bought one...
Here it is, sitting on my 1962 vintage 3 burner Coleman Stove. Notice I am not using the white-gas tank that originally came with the stove, but a lazy propane converter gizmo. Click Here for more on that.
Here's the chicken starting to cook. To temper the direct burner heat a bit, I added a small pizza stone.

While it turned out nice, this method is much messier than using the big BBQ. I probably won't do it t his way again. The instructions for the Beer Butt Rack said to not light the burner directly underneath the chicken, and therein lies the problem. The direct heat from that burner below the oven caused all of the grease and juice from the chicken to spit and smoke, causing quite a mess inside. However, it's nice to know that the oven can be used if necessary. Honestly, I bough this oven more for baking bread than chicken, so I'm not disappointed  :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Adulthood...

Legally, both boys can now be tried as adults, with James' recent 18th birthday...a milestone indeed.
Here he is, at 18...

The younger and the eldest...quite the pair !!
The fun never ends !!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Solo Holiday 2014

I managed to sneak away by myself for a week or so for some downtime. It was quite enjoyable and relaxing. I always measure the success of these things in terms of how many nights I get to sleep in my Camper. This time it was 6, with another 2 nights of Ferry punishment and another one spent at my brother's camp/cabin. Overall a bit short, but 9 nights is better than 1 or 2. Overall, I drove about 2500 kms...
It was good to touch base with family as I had not been "home" in over 2 years. also, in spite of some minor issues, my 28 year old van was again up to the task.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Graves Island 2014

After 12+ years of Volkswagen Camper ownership, lurking on various internet forums and mail lists, I finally got an opportunity to rendezvous with 30+ other vans for a 3 day relaxing get together. It was good to rub shoulders with people who in some ways, are as strange as me...while not quite...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cell Phone Sanity

I love technology, but the present Cell Phone regime in this country is a little disturbing with its seemingly mercenary approach to milking us all dry. My work phone comes packaged with several annoyances. Firstly, it's a Blackberry (need I say more?). Secondly, it's on the Rogers network (need I say more?). Thirdly, it's paid for by you the taxpayer, so overly personal use comes with associated tinges of guilt. Finally, it's dying a slow death and the bureaucratic hoops associated with getting a new one are too much for even me to hurdle. My chosen if not clandestine solution had to meet the following requirements:

  1. Unlocked, i.e. not tied to any particular Service-Monger.
  2. Android, just because.
  3. 2 SIM card slots.
  4. Not too expensive.

 I found a solution on Amazon and took the gamble, $139 or so for a BLU Dash 4.5
It arrived in a few days and I sneakily inserted the SIM card from my Blackberry...and it worked ! Well, not 100% but I could live with it. Then I trundled off to the Bell Store to get a "personal" SIM card. That's where the fun started. First off, the Sales guy told me the phone would not work with Bell. This began my indoctrination into the bizarre world of 2G 3G 4G HPSA+ LTE etc. and the associated protocol Hell !!
I'll skip the details, but after some gnashing of teeth, I now have a single device with 2 phone numbers, and I love it. The phone is not perfect, but I give it a 9 out of 10 and the things I learned will help me greatly down the road. The service from Amazon was impressive. At one point I thought it was not going to meet my needs; clicking on "Returns" on their site provided me with a Shipping Label and return authorization in just seconds. Stubbornness and perseverance meant that I didn't need it. A shout-out to my friend Simba since without his help, I would not have gotten data to work properly...

From the details above, you can see that it's not exactly the latest greatest, and Android snobs will scoff at the paltry 512mb spec. For me, however, the dual personality trumps everything. I now have a single device that rings when someone calls my work number, and rings when someone calls my personal number. Texting is similarly divided into two categories, as is everything else. It's wicked i tell ya !!  :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

More Robins...

It's that Blue Egg time of year again. This time, Mrs. Robin squeezed through some lattice into my carport/shed and started to build a nest. I caught her half-way through the construction and ripped it out of there, hoping she'd take the hint. Then the next time I looked...
and then there were 3 eggs, and then...
They don't seem to mind nesting near humans...she came back and caught me photographing her chicks. All she did was watched and waited patiently until I left...
There are three in there, but one seems shy or buried. They are growing really fast...I expect they will be gone soon...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

If we were dogs...

If Debbie and I were dogs, I'd be "Cooper"...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring is in the air

Finally seeing some sunshine and accompanying warmer temperatures. With the prospect of additional licensed drivers in the household, plus my own wishes, I decided to enhance the fleet a little...
Let's see where this goes...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dreaming of summer...

As a rule, I try to live in the moment instead of longing for something yet to come. Now that it's almost the middle of March, it seems everyone is bemoaning the cold, heading south, wishing for summer, etc. Overall, that's a poor way to live in eastern Canada. Granted, this has been a long cold winter, with plenty of snow and associated irritants, but as the wise old saying goes: "This too shall pass". I've noticed that most of us could use a better attitude. "Working for the weekend" might sound harmless, but given our mortal timetable, is it really wise to slog through 5 days of agony just for 2 days of "fun"? I don't think so. Nevertheless, I must confess that I too am longing for spring & summer, and yes I'm even sick of the frigid freezing temperatures. Bring on the BBQ, the camping, the coffee on the deck...bring on summer !! May God help you and me both to balance the here and now with the sweet by and by...

BBQ, Malawi, Oct 2013

Actually, it's not a bad idea to start thinking now about how to make next winter more bearable. For me, it's about stacking the deck in favor of making the winter more enjoyable. For some, that means going somewhere warmer, but that's not much of an option for many of us. Often, we overlook the simple things. For example, how you dress will often impact the possibility of enjoying the cold. I find that too many times, I go outside in winter, poorly prepared, and quickly return to the house, belly-aching about how cold it is. However, if I dress warmly, it's much easier to embrace the cold. Many winter activities sound daunting, but snowshoeing, skiing, even a simple walk can be enjoyable with the right attire. Give it a try !

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Centennial Dad

Just a placemark, but my Dad would have turned 100 today...
See HERE...
How time flies...I was only 18 when he died...


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Good things come to those who wait

For about 25 years or so, I've been eyeing the Optimus line of vintage white gas stoves. Two models in particular have been in my sights; the Svea 123 and the 8R Hunter. I've pretty much given up on them, as they are a hotly coveted items on Ebay, often fetching $100 or even $200 in some cases. Surprise surprise, one showed up on Kijiji last week for $10, and I managed to snag it. It's very well-used but they clean up very nicely, and are awesome units.
Above photo shows a couple of examples, one a little dirtier than the other.
I just had to test mine out as-is to see if it was ok. The guy told me he bought it at Sears in 1970.
As suspected, it fired right up...see the video below...
video
It's a noisy beast, but I'm so glad to finally get my paws on one...now that I know it works, I'm going to try and replace a couple of parts, paint the case, and shine up all of the brass. Hopefully it'll look like this when I'm done...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pulk Sled Testing

Finally got out on snowshoes today for a trial run, towing my Pelican sled. -3c and sunny. What a great day...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Retreat...


I'm an expert at procrastinating. It seems I talk, plan, speculate, anticipate, all with good intentions but then don't seem to pull the trigger and follow through. This is especially the case in winter when it often ends up much easier just to stay home, particularly on weekends. I always say I'm going to be less sedentary "this winter" but before I know it another winter has slipped by. This is where its good to have friends, especially ones who have it more together than me. For example, a friend of mine invited me to a men's retreat last February, but I hesitated and ended up declining. This year, he invited me again and thank God I conjured up the gumption to actually show up this time. The irony in all of this of course is that the Camp where it was held is only about 20 minutes from my house, so you'd think it would be easy. Anyway, I threw a bunch of gear in my van and showed up Friday night...so glad I made it. There were about 50 guys there and I scarcely knew any of them. Ages ranged from teens to almost 82 years young. The weekend was custom designed for me. The guest speaker's main topic was JOY...be still my heart. I think we're all prone to grumpiness, discontentment, and complaining, so I soaked it all up like a dry crusty sponge. Additionally, there was a great bunch of musicians, lots of tasty food and snacks, a frozen lake, snowy woods, and plenty of Saturday sunshine. Debbie was working a 12 hour shift on Saturday, so I even sneaked home to check on the boys, not to mention the wood-stove. The first night, I slept one of the nicely outfitted cabins, but some of those Baptists snore like the proverbial dirt-bike, "consumed with inner peace" as it were. I'm exaggerating; nevertheless I jumped on that as an excuse to sleep in my van on the second night. It only got down to -3c so it wasn't much of a cold weather test. I enjoyed it anyway. I found it really refreshing to meet some new people, and make and reacquaint friends, new and old. It's always good to take time to take time. What ?  :)

The photo above shows the main dining/meeting complex with one of the cabins in the background.

Another shot of the complex from the cabin area.

I even got to dust off my skis and go for a jaunt.

Snowshoeing of course, is mandatory...

Ice was not too smooth. BroomBall anyone ?

Sitting around the fire is also mandatory...

So, all in all a great weekend.If God spares me, I'll be back next year too...




Thursday, January 9, 2014

First deal of the New Year...

Sometimes, I'm "forced" to abandon any budgeting guidelines and succumb to an exception, case in point:
Canadian Tire has been selling a pretty mediocre or substandard propane hot water heater for a few years now. It' the infamous now seemingly defunct "Trailwood" brand, as is my previously mentioned stove/oven.
First of all, here's the trigger for the impulse purchase...


Secondly, I already have a similar unit so I'm pretty familiar with its shortcomings. It requires 2 D Batteries to fire the piezo-electric ignitor, and the burner is temperamental. Nevertheless, I felt it was worth $40, so add another item to my arsenal.


An illustration of the unit from Canadian Tire's Web Site.


I stole this photo from their review site, where a customer has attached a water jug to the unit. This is probably a better idea than the stupid plastic bag that it comes with.
While these things are not perfect, the price resulted in me getting one, and I'm sure I'll put it to some sort of use. My other similar unit is on loan to a friend, so redundancy is in order  :)
Remember the old prepper adage: two is one, and one is none...