Sunday, February 25, 2007

The First Signs of Spring

Finally, there's some evidence of Spring. I'm not sure how anything grows in the front yard, but it does. The efforts of a resident long since departed.... not dead, just moved away.

Last Saturday Evening ( I posted Friday), we went to a neighbours for dinner and a few glasses of wine. A very enjoyable time. (Wine review[s] below).

Sunday, while the sun was shining, we went on a short hike to Eagle Rock and the view point to Chrome Island. It was the first time we'd been there since the windstorm in December. The damage was extensive as several of the eagle perch trees were snapped in half, mid-height. The old Arbutus tree at the look-out has literally been blown apart. For those of you that have been there... this is the tree where many people have carved their initials over the years. The trail itself is (mostly) passable, as a chainsaw crew has cut a path through the windfall.

Thursday was the first meeting that I've attended at the Fire Hall. They wasted no time fitting the newbie with the full gear. OK, so the size 13 boots will have to go... but we'll deal with that later. The crew there made me feel very welcome and wasted no time including me on the pumper truck operation training. The "old" pumper is coming up on it's 30th birthday and must be replaced, (it has all of 17k clicks on it) and some scouting has been done on a pretty new truck. There was lots of drooling when pictures were shown of the truck after practice. The Chief told me he was very happy that someone "younger" was joining. I like him a lot. I now have two fire-fighting manuals for night time reading. (ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz) There is a 6 month probation and new recruits must take first aid and attain a class 3 Driver's license.

On Saturday, Kari & I attended the morning session of a community meeting relating to the expected budget shortfall of our Community school, (thanks to the new Provincial Budget cuts). The community school is the hub of the majority of community education, sports, cultural events and much, much more. I was quite impressed with the insight and creative input by the local residents.
This is your last chance to take part in the POLL (right column) on Rural vs. Urban. The 3 votes cast so far are a good representaion of the world population, with each vote representing appoximately 2 billion people. A new poll will be posted in March.

The wild turkeys have been extremely vocal over the last week. Although they are out of our sight line, (on the corner of the block), they can be heard gobbling, starting around 6:30 am. Could this be another sign that spring is on it's way? We've also noticed that the herring are beginning to arrive in the sound and can be seen jumping out of the water.

Dave's (Cheap) Wine Corner
Last Weekend, we took a bottle of Funky Llama, Shiraz to our neighbours, who had invited us to dinner. I was mildly disappointed with the lack of fruit and a fairly short finish. This is likely what you get, on average, for a $10 wine, but I have done much better for the same dough. The package is selling this wine, not the contents. Cheap Dave says: Passss.
The Stump Jump 2005 From Australia, touted to be a great Pizza wine was put to the test on Friday, (pizza night on Denman). I opened this wine while doing all the slicing and chopping for the pizzas and was pleasantly surprised by the fruit bomb that it is. Light in texture but heavy in Jammy notes. By the end of the evening it had evolved into a smooth, smokey, cigar finish. It really was like tasting two different wines and both were enjoyable. The next time I have this wine, I will definitely decant for 2-3 hours. $14.99 @ LCB and at the top of Cheap Dave's budget.
QOTD Here's what the Wine Diva had to say about The Stump Jump... "Classic upfront Oz fruit, jammy and bright, oozing crushed blackberries, fruitcake, eucalyptus and a liberal sprinkle of spice. Rich, smooth and creamy on the tongue with a warm and smoky spiced finale".

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wider is Better

First off, you may notice that the blog column size has been widened for enhanced reading pleasure, the result of a minor html code adjustment

OOOHHH Baby.... we've had it with this weather.... (this time last year we were packing for Mexico).... we had the Trip advisor out and were searching for a Mexican destination earlier this week..... It's just not going to work. Kari is busy through March and Ashley has school. Maybe next year.... but I'll post this picture to remind me of 80 cent Coronas at Andreas Cantina.

Our 5 acre lot purchase has been an off-again; on-again affair, as the (well) water source, and who should bear the cost of attaining it was in question.... At this time it's been sorted out, and all I can say is: thank-goodness we had it in writing!
A well drilling will commence in due course.

Valentine's Day! As Ashley was attending her very first school dance on Wednesday evening, it gave Kari & I a chance to venture out to Courtenay for a nice (however, non-romantic) pub dinner and pleasant conversation. We have learned to cherish our adult time together. Ashley has been vibrating with excitement for the week prior to the dance. At times like these, she's always slow to report on the "goings-on" after the fact. However, car-pooling is a necessity here, and we also drove one of Ashley's friends home from the dance. Emily couldn't keep a secret in a paper bag, so all the dancing details were available on request.

After my (mini) rant last blog, (about how the island depends on volunteer efforts), it seems fitting to find a way to contribute. I've been asked to accept a nomination as "tresurer" of the Kir-Nel Water Society......and another opportunity arose when speaking to a local contractor about a septic field. He is also the local Fire Chief and the next thing I knew, I was invited to attend a few fire dept. practices to see if this a good fit for me. Kari also likes the idea, as the lumberjack / milkmaid thing was getting a little tired. I'll keep you updated.... (on the fire dept part...)

The weather has improved.... still rainy for the most part, (with Thursday being the only spectacular day), but much warmer (9-12c) during the day. I expect my forgotten, windblown, dear-eaten, winter rye will resume growing soon. The time between showers allowed for a quick foray down an old logging road near the 5 acres, which I had been wondering about for some time. There are dozens of such trails and roads that always lead somewhere interesting. This one led to yet another marsh with several unknown species of waterfowl, which Sienna promptly flushed. I may have to leave her at home on occasion if I want any decent photos.

Further to my comments last post regarding the development proposal for the northern part of the island.... things are heating up somewhat. The local paper is now twice the size as usual because of all the inserts submiited by residents expressing their opinion. The developer will be distributing a survey ballot to all the residents, so that they may state their preference of the three proposals put forth.... to date it seems that none of the options are acceptable by the most vocal on the subject.

Dave's (cheap) Wine Corner
Have you ever been in a supermarket checkout and bought something on the spur of the moment? Likely it was something you could do without and maybe you thought later..."man, that was clever marketing, to have that crap there right where I had to stare at it while I was in line." C'mon be honest now, you know you have. Perhaps it was a National Inquirer, pack of gum, comb or elastic bands.....But you bought it....Now; have you noticed the same marketing game at your local LCB? So, there I was, in line with my "proven" cheap wine, (DeBortoli-Petit Syrah... - more on that later) and off to my right, was a large stack of cases.... Hmmmm Auzzie Cabernet @ $7.99 " Can't go wrong, right? WRONG! "Bruce Murray" is the brand label. The nose was pure medicinal Benilyn cough syrup. Colour- Think Hawaiian Punch watermelon flavour. Ever heard the term "length"? It means the time the flavours linger on your pallet, doing little tap dances and pirouettes on your tongue. This wine needed a fast thumb on the stopwatch, as length could be measured in milliseconds. Be warned... Your day-old home made wine is better than this crap.
As Bruce was promptly refrigerated destined to become a spaghetti sauce additive, out came the good ol' Cono Merlot. Yup, I'm a Cono fan... pick one...., Cab (good), Merlot (great), the Vionier is heavenly... the Gewurtzraminer, 89 pointer ... say Gismondi: "If this were a Canadian Wine, it would be twice the price and sold out!" I know I'll be cheesed this summer when it's all sold out, (already S-O in Courtenay) and I'm sitting on the deck wishin' I'd bought more! Cono wines have to be the best value in the market @ $10.... Hands Down. It makes me want to visit Chile. Stock up while you can, it's going fast, but stay out of the Courtenay store eh.
DeBortoli - Peteit Sirah, now sports post market labels stating: Wine access-89 and Wine Spectator-88 points. It's flattering to see they read my review and decided it was worth a try, but it also likely means another sell-out.
BTW- if anyone would like to send a wine for my review, I'd be pleased to oblige, please package it well.
QOTD: Source: Vancouver Magazine
Yellow Tail still rules. Last year we drank $10.6 million of the Shiraz, more than twice as much as its nearest competitor, the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Shiraz, and 11 percent more in dollar terms than we did the year before. And we drank another $7 million of the Yellow Tail Merlot and Chardonnay. After that our taste went from Down Under to generic Canadian wines, the big sellers being Jackson-Triggs Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc and Sawmill Creek Barrel Select Merlot and Barrel Select White.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wetter Than An Astronauts Diaper

It's wetter than an astronauts diaper, the rain has been almost non-stop for the last three days, with another weeks worth forecast. I can't even take pictures. What's the world coming to?? Huston, we have a problem. Since moving to Denman Island, I rarely watch the news, listen to the radio or read the paper.... then I watch one day and all hell breaks loose. Prince's porno half-time-shadow-puppet show, Princess Anna Nicole completing her Marilyn carbon-copy life, The Queen of the North really did go down with a bang! This stuff is better than any fiction you could possibly read. OMG, it's time to build the bunker.
Then there's the Guy in Williams Lake (my hero) that decides (in protest) to pay his property taxes in pennies. The courier shows up at the Gov't office with a 75 pound package. The clerk freaks and calls the cops, who evacuate the civic building including the courthouse just in case this package turns out to be a bomb. So, they get that sorted out after calling the return addressee. The kicker is; they have no mechanical change counter or coin roller, so 18,000 pennies have to counted and rolled by hand (i assume) by union labour... which takes a couple of days, effectively eating up any net revenue.

Sometime over the last week, I hit the 1000 milestone for blog hits. Strange, but true.

Excerpt from CJ in NZ email #1"Sweet as..weve made it to hastings and have been staying at the Rotten Apple backpackers...weve successfully run out of money...well very close anyways...and for awhile today it seemed as though it would be weeks until we found work..but we finally found someone who wants us full time picking pears and apples..and we will be camping in the orchard...everything is good here..."
email #2 "Denise and I have a sweet new job with a place to sleep now...were staying on the orchard that we now work for in Hastings, NZ..we were offered a Caravan/Trailer to stay in for 65 a week...good deal considering were making more than a hundred each a is very roomy with working stove, fridge, tv w reception...everything is on the up and up and were not broke anymore...yay"

I hardly feel entitled to an opinion on the contentious issue of the Denman North lands Development. There are many people that have dedicated endless hours of community building here. They are the depth and breadth of Denman Society, a society that is genuinely built on volunteer commitments. Aside from the things that an increased population base would bring, (that nobody wants), eg: increased ferry traffic and permanent police presence, there is an unarguable risk of a diluted Denman social fibre. The reason that draws people here is the endearing properties of a low-density community, the very thing that is eroded, as the population increases.
A knock on your car window while on the ferry is a common occurrence, as the success rate is high for hitching a ride to & from the island while on the ferry. So when there was a knock on my window last Sunday while leaving the Island I galdly offered a ride to a fella whose flight from Comox had been fogged in. He turns out to be the facilitator (PR Guy) for the developer of the North Lands. It made for an interesting hour of conversation and exchange of views.

Dave's (Cheap) Wine Corner
When I get a few moments, I'll edit my cheap wine links, cause let's face it, some don't tout cheap wine. If they can't come up with a few winners for under $15 bucks, they just don't deserve the privilage of links from my blog! So, what's your fav cheapie? <$15 Submit it under comments....and please; NO Yellowtail. Some time ago, I picked up a bottle of "CARMENERE". I'd never had this variety of wine from Chile. The brand is "Morande". It's been available at LCB for the last year on a speculative basis - $13.99 (private wine stores for more) It's now on phase out at $9.99 (LCB) Here's what Gismondi says about this '04 vintage...."It looks as if the '04 is carbon copy of the delicious 02. The fruit is again ripe and juicy with flecks chocolate and pepper. Very carmenère but ripe and the finish is smooth and dry with earthy peppery flavours. Still great value but available in government liquor stores at prices well below what the private stores were selling it for." Ya, what he said, I concur! This was a very nice wine and even better the next day! I must learn to decant! The sku# is 7418 should you want to search at the LCB site for a supply near you.
You've gotta check out Gary on Wine Library TV. He's a beaut. Although most of his tastings are not available here (some are) ... do check the archives on segments about "educating your pallet" , Wine & Food Pairings or other wine subjects of interest. May I suggest uncorking an "04 Morande and watching a little Wine TV. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I'm in a fog

Everyone seems to be saying that this is an unusual winter. There is very little we haven't experienced over the last three months. Torrential rain, snow dumps, freezing temperatures, hurricane force winds; and now fog! This lonely heron is grounded, as all flights (in and out of Denman International) have been cancelled for birds for the last week. The ferry fog-horns it's way across Baynes Sound twice an hour from six am til eleven pm. One crew member stands at the front of the ferry on "fog watch" peering ahead, and I assume, will jump up and down and wave their arms frantically should some obstacle appear in our direct ramming path. This should allow us ample time to brace ourselves for impact.
Our little replacement ferry remains a contentious issue as there are missed sailings a-plenty. All islanders will be rejoice upon the return of our old rust bucket, er, I mean, beloved vessel, the Quinitsa.

All is quiet on the home-selling front. We've had a couple of viewings on Nelson, but I don't expect any serious contenders until the weather warms and the lookyloos come out of hibernation. One last open is scheduled for Cedar this weekend... if no action, she gets blown-out on the realty network.... no reasonable offer refused. I learned some lessons here....
1) buy mainstream price point . 2) buy mainstream house style. 3) repeat 1&2
One must apply the 80/20 principle... buy what 80% of people can afford, in a style and location where 80% of people want to live.

Kari, going boldly, where none have ventured before, approached our neighbor about the shed (with the volcano mural) facing our driveway..... it was agreed that we could paint the side facing us. Not taking any chances that they would change their mind; and armed with a roller, in sub-zero temperatures, she rolled her way to relief. I expect the paint should dry some time in April. To add to the blockage of said eyesore, she convinced a local nursery that they should dig up some eight foot cedar trees for us to plant between the properties to further provide some visual blockage.
Monday; we were able to walk out into the frozen fields of the nursery to pick out our 6 new trees. We were told that they would be dug up and would be ready the next day for pick-up. Tuesday; Arriving at the nursery with trailer in tow, the boys said they would be right back with the trees. They arrived shortly after in a front-end loader, with our trees in the bucket. Each tree sported a substantial root ball, weighing in at something around 300 lbs. Needless to say, after loading the first three trees, the fenders of the trailer were firmly riding on the tires. Ropes and dollies were required to finagle the brutes into the trench dug into the frozen ground.
Wednesday; repeat Tuesday.

The Denman Cougar, ("DC") which we generously donated to our sister Hornby, had not been heard from since November; everyone here had assumed that he had headed back to the big island for some nooky. Not so; he had indeed been helping himself to a local livestock smorgasbord and living the high life over there on Hornby. He found himself on the wrong end of a posse earlier this week. A sad end indeed.

Dave's (Cheap) Wine Corner
First, I fixed the link to Vanmag... it should work now, just follow the links to the cheap wine awards.
As this blog is a little late, it gave me just enough time to taste two wines on the "best of" list.
#1) de Bortoli Petite Sirah, $11.99 (Australia)
I'm not sure just what a small Sirah is, but well worth the twelve bucks! A very nice mid-body red that apparently is not related to the syrah/shiraz. I say get off you yellowtail and try something a little less commercial!
#2) Finca Los Primos Malbec. $9.99 (Argentina) Malbec is the new shiraz... you heard it here... a similarity but with some black fruit punch. Two thiumbs up.

Here's a great stat for you... oh my, how far we've come! This quote is from Nat Decants (check out her (cheap) wine pics):
"In the early 1970s, Canadians preferred sweet “pop wines”; one of every 24 bottles consumed in Canada was Andre’s Baby Duck sparkling wine. The menagerie of other pop wines on the market at that time included Gimli Goose, Pink Flamingo, Baby Deer, Baby Bear, Little White Duck, Fuddle Duck and Luv-a-Duck and Pussycat."
If you order her book, can I borrow it?