Wednesday, May 23, 2007

As Clear As Mud

The weather has been trying it's best to improve. We've been posting 15-17c all week with some very nice sunny days. Ever notice it's easier to make friends when it's sunny? Record temperature to date is 19.5c.

We went to the local potluck on Sunday. The vegan sushi that I made was a hit. You can only eat so much tofu, don't you think? The guest speaker(s) were the lasqueti Island Mud Girls that specialize in alternative building, mostly Cob, which is a mixture of clay, sand, water and straw. (basically mud)There is one beautiful cob home here on the island and there is a rumour that a straw-bale home will be built here this year.

We're now re-re-thinking our building plans as we would like to utilize some of these natural building techniques. We're only going to get one crack at this so we don't want to rush it. We now have a floor plan that we like, but we'll wait and do some more research before committing to working drawings. We frequent the lot often, to imagine where the gardens, fruit trees and workshop will go.

This pic is from the Blackfin Pub in Comox at 9:30 AM Thursday... no, I'm not at the pub, it's from their webcam. Denman is the little slip of land at the top-left of the picture (past the spit with the trees). It's going to be a great day with temps over 20c

Our Mason heater should be arriving in Vancouver late this week. Now I just have to figure out a way to get the (one ton plus) pallet somewhere closer to home. I'll be on the mainland for a short time this week, just long enough to pack Curt up and move him to Vancouver island. It'll give me a good excuse to drop into the warehouse and size up the fireplace. I'll also be able to check out Curt and Denise's new digs in Oak Bay before I bolt back to the island. We don't miss the lower mainland, but we do miss the kids there.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner: SHIRAZ - CONCHA Y TORO CASILLERO DEL DIABLO 2004 (Chile) $13.98 This shiraz had a bit of a weak entry up front, with nice fruit on the mid pallet and a medium finish. It had a little peppery smoke flavour, but it didn't really come together for me. Maybe I was just spoiled last week. Gismondi: "Very peppery, spicy, smoky, rosemary, sausage meat nose with black cherry and chocolate mixed in. Smooth, dry and round with light tannins. Ripe black cherry fruit with chocolate, minty, rosemary, gamey, spicy, licorice flavours. A bit warm and acidic on the finish but continued fine effort at an excellent price."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The 2007 Hummer

I know, I know.... I just haven't had time to blog over the last week. Curt & Denise arrived last Friday, fresh from New Zealand and had to experience everything on Denman in six days. Of course, this last weekend is the only weekend in recent history where nothing was going on at the hall. However, we went on multiple hikes and beach forays. Picture #1 is taken on the railway grade... note the Sienna smile. The second shot is a lovely bay that I had never hiked to before. I think it's called Metcalf Bay. Today, Sienna has taken the day off to rest her her barnacle cut feet, but I suspect she'll be very excited to see Curt & Denise back here in June.

On the weekend we attended a tour of residences on the island which rely on some form of alternative energy. Three of the four homes were totally off the grid and relied entirely on wind or solar energy. We returned thinking we must find ways to reduce our "grid" energy reliance. Although we still have not finalized a floor plan for the new house, we have ordered a mason heater which is capable of heating a home for 24 hours with a single one hour wood firing. The heater burns very hot and much cleaner than efficient wood stoves and uses much less fuel.

Humming birds have arrived in abundance and we invested in a hummer-feeder. These ballistic little creatures are a riot to watch. They have replaced the TV as the feeder is right outside our patio window. They are very aware of the glass deck and windows and have not smacked into them. They are however, quite territorial and there is the odd aerial skirmish.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner: Southernmost Red (2006), Argentina $12.99 Last week, my homeless brother in law, Bill, told me about a wine that had a rave review from Gismondi, the wine critic from the Vancouver Sun. I had heard this wine was going to be launched in March and had read the distributors press release, but had not seen the product in the local LCB yet. As a wine critic Gismondi carries a lot of weight. With a few words and a good score from him, wine sales can skyrocket. A wine scored in the high eighties, say "88", and priced at $13 bucks will sell very well. The same wine with a score of "90" would fly out the door, and with a lot more hype. "We ordered a coupla cases" Bill said, so we tracked down a bottle in Parksville. This is an exceptional bottle of wine for the money. Tons of cigarbox and black fruit with a finish that doesn't quit. Buy it, if you can find it and put it away for a few years. But wait, here's my point about wine critics... can a wine tasted and scored "88" on April 20th become a "90" on April the 28th? Yes, it can! Below is the review on Gismondi's website along with a picture of his article in the Sun a week later. Hmmmm.

"88/100 Southern Most Red 2006Patagonia, Southern Region, Mendoza, Argentina2Produced By: Bodega del Fin del MundoDistributed By: Rocky Mountain Wines Ltd.
I really like this Argentine blend from Bodega Del Fin de Mundo. The end of the earth winery has employed global wine consultant Michel Rolland and he's paying early dividends. The mix is merlot, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon. It has the smoky savoury Argentine notes on the nose and the earthy peppery fruity mid-palate with just enough acidity to keep it interesting. This is a serous contender for the barbecue red of the summer. The price is incredibly sensible for a simple red that over delivers and is so natural it is all but certified organic. Hamburgers, grilled beef, casseroles and stews will all fit the bill.
Last Tasted: 2007-04-20 by AG-ST"

Monday, May 07, 2007

Check Your 710

There were so many things going on this weekend but I ended up just chillin. Missed the Garden Party and Annual Hall Cleanup, not to mention the conservancy walk to Tree Island and the infamous Martini Lounge... but some relaxation was in order....Fireweed, if you read this, I've stolen a pic from your site of the last Garden Party. (sorry and thanks). The shot on the left was taken from my front porch. Sunny on Denman Island while raining in Buckley Bay. This is quite typical as we get significantly less rain here than Comox or Courtenay (where it poured rain on this day). BTW, It's Monday, May 7th and the temp is 17.4c in my woodshed.... summer's a 'comin.

A few days ago I was having some work done at my local garage. A blonde came in and asked for a seven-hundred-ten. We all looked at each other and another customer asked, "What is a seven-hundred-ten?"
She replied, "You know, the little piece in the middle of the engine, I have lost it and need a new one.." She added that she did not know exactly what it was, but this piece had always been there.
The mechanic gave her a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to draw what the piece looked like.
She drew a circle and in the middle of it wrote 710.
He then took her over to another car which had its hood up and asked "is there a 710 on this car?"
She pointed and said, "Of course, its right there."
If you're not sure what a 710 is Click Here

This is Sienna's friend, Charlie....(yes, she's biting his butt) they play great together and Sienna can use the exercise as she's gained a few pounds over the winter. (as have I)...

Curt and Denise are making their way here via Victoria and should arrive late next week. I'm looking forward to seeing them and hearing all about their seven month adventure in New Zealand.

A few real estate transactions are coming up this week as we close on the 5 acre parcel here on Denman. Now comes the task of designing, and sourcing materials and labour for the building process. The house in Cedar also completes this week. We still have no hard bites on the house on Denman, but we're not too stressed about it, as it's nice to have a place to live while we build. We have an initial plan from the designer and now we just have to tweak it to fit our priorities. I must admit, getting the initial concept down on paper was very creative and makes the best use of the setting. I'll have to check on any more copyright infringement before I start posting floorplans.... but, I will say that the house has a small footprint and energy efficiencies are a top priority.
I dare say that by the time my next blog rolls around the hit counter will have reached 2000, (before the site is officially 6 months old on May 26). WOW.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner: I know, I know, I was slacking off last week and didn't open a bottle of wine.... Here's a red for this week... Trivento Reserve Syrah (2005) Argentina ($12.98) A very nice looking bottle... Very smooth and soft with a medium finish... and not really my style. However, this would be a fine wine to introduce someone to reds. or for sipping on the patio. Here's what Gismonde has to say: "Very spicy, blackberry jam, minty, peppery, coffee aromas with a hint of game and sausage, very fragrant. Soft, round, smooth and dry with minty, peppery, coffee, smoky, black cherry, licorice flavours and a touch of vanilla. Suave and ready to go. Great value."