Hurican Dorian – A Personal Reflection

Canadians of Wave 2

It’s hard to know how to feel about being in a place like Abaco Island, Bahamas. For me, it was definitely a place of contrasts. From beautiful sunsets to total and complete destruction of everything. My plan was to be at ground zero on the first wave but I couldn’t make that happen, so instead I prepared myself to be on the second wave of volunteers. What set in quickly for me when I got on the ground was the realization that everything people have, can be taken in an instant, and there really isn’t anything you can do about it at the time.

Saw maintinance

When the second wave got on the ground, we built upon the excellent work done by our first wave. They established a FOB, for us to work from, and from there we moved out into the community of Marsh Harbour.. We began doing Rapid Damage Assessments, and creating work orders, doing route clearance work. We were fighting into the chaos, fighting to help create order out of disorder.

As a Strike Team leader, your watching your team, to make sure they are ok, eating, drinking, staying safe and working safely. So you sometimes look past your own discomfort to ensure your team is functional, and cared for. You try to be  the first one up and that last one to shut it down at the end of the day. So it wasn’t until I got home after my deployment to Abaco that I started to process some of the things I saw and did. I did have a sense of guilt that I was no longer at the tip of the spear. I had a sense of guilt and futility when I went to a grocery store to buy supplies for a late Thanksgiving dinner I was going to have with my wife. I felt embarrassed that I was going to a store that had so much food, when I just left a place where they had literally nothing.  I also had a feeling that the Mission was not complete and when was the earliest I could go back. I was not surprised at some of the feelings, but some caught me totally by surprise. 

Last night in Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island Bahamas

Upon reflection of my time on Abaco, one of the things that will stay with me for the rest of my life and that gives me the greatest sense of pride, is the fact that I was allowed to help lead an inspiring group of Canadians. Most of them had never been on a Deployment before let alone a deployment to a Cat. 5 Hurricane. I was humbled by their willingness to volunteer for difficult tasks, and their willingness to find solutions to difficult problems. It was their subdued determination, and a sense of purpose that made it an absolute pleasure to work with each and everyone of them. They are, what Team Rubicon Canada is all about.

Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers – The Sipping Society

For a good part of my childhood I had the privilege of living in Jordan Station. One of the things that I loved the most about the area when I was growing up was the amount of fruit trees that were present in the area. We always had fresh fruit, from local farms, except of coarse in the winter time. However as I grew up there was a time when, many of those same trees were being pulled out, to make way for subdivisions and other uses. It was very sad to see.

Dillon’s Sipping Society Fall Shipment.

So fast forward to 2018. Thanks to my wife, she knows that her husband, is somewhat of the adventurous sort, she put me on to a small local business that I see big things for in the coming years. While she was checking her social media feeds as well as looking for a potential Christmas gift for me, she stumbled across Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers. She thought I should check them out, and as they say, the rest is history.

Dillons Bitters

Dillon’s Bitters

So going out on a limb, and at the encouragement of my wife, I decided to go heavy and jump right in and become a member of the Dillon’s Distillers Sipping Society. Up until this point, I have had a total of Zero experience with any of Dillon’s products, so I was taking a chance. I Liked the fact that the distillery is local and conveniently situated between Vineland and Beamsville Ontario. I really liked the fact that they use locally sourced fruits and products for their wide array of adult beverages. One of the products that caught my eye was the Pear in Bottle Eau De Vie. That was one of the clinchers for signing up for their Sipping Society, it had the appearance of something that had to be tried. As part of membership there are perks that are well worth the price, like quality locally produced products shipped right to your door four times per year. The promise of members only events, advance notice of new products and the chance to be the first to try new items. The personalized journal and Sipping Society T-shirt are also great additions as well. . The price for a yearly membership is 500.00 for the first year, and 400.00 for follow on years. To me when you include a great quality product with a group of people, that clearly love what they do, then the price is well worth being paid.

Speaking of great people, I also had the opportunity to visit Dillon’s Distillery, my wife and I thought we would take a road trip out to my old stomping grounds and see what all the hype was about. I got the opportunity to me some of the staff, as well as Natalie, who is the Sipping Society contact, or Concierge would be a better term to describe the position that she holds. By all accounts they were great, friendly and answered all of my questions. I got a bit of a crash course on “Bitters” and their uses. To be honest I have never used bitters, so my knowledge of them was absolutely zero. However my lack of knowledge was not a problem, because of the attentive staff. At our visit we sampled and purchased some Cherry Gin, tried out some Peach Schnapps, as well as some Lemon Chelo, and while there I took the opportunity to purchase a book about the creation, history and uses of Bitters.

I believe this is the first year that Dillon’s has had its Sipping Society, but I don’t think its going to be the last.

 

Facer Street European Festival 2018

Facer Street European Festival 2018

Today I had the opportunity to visit the area, during the annual Facer Street European Festival. It was a hot day, but my wife and I, with hats and sun screen, braved the temperature and ventured out to the historic community. We weren’t sure what to expect, as we had never been to this festival before. We were pleasantly surprised.

The festival was a mixture of Polish, Ukrainian and Italian heritage and this was reflected in the music, food and festivities that ran the length of Facer street. Everything from Pirogies to Pizza and Ice Cream to Sour Kraut Soup could be found. There was an abundance of good food that left an abundance of full stomachs and broad smiles.

There were two stages set up for various forms of entertainment. There were a couple of venues that were licensed for the sale of alcohol, The event was well attended even in the stifling heat, nothing can prevent a great party.

For my wife it was a little walk down memory lane, it had been quite some time since she had walked the streets that she had lived on as a little girl. She showed me the “swear” corner, the place at the corner of a church no less, where as a child she got into trouble by her mother for using less than savoury language. She is still not really sure how her mother found out about it though. We strolled past where she used to live and she pointed out where here friends used to live, and then passed her old school. She showed me how she and some of her friends used to walk to school. It was a little look back into her past.

A place like Facer Street is a community unto itself. Even thought it is part of a larger city, it is the parts that make the whole. It is the small places that contain the stories and creat the memories that make the reality of the place.

Rum – Glazed Pear Slices

I made a wonderful little discovery with this quick easy and healthy  recipie. These little tasty guys are good on their own or with some Vanilla icecream. This little taste of heaven is made with simple ingredients, and definitely worth a try.

Rum – Glazed Pear Slices

Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 15 min

• 3 Pears, red Anjou Pears

• 1 Tbsp Butter

• 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar

• 2 tsp Rum, Sailor Jerrys 

• 1 tsp Lemon Juice

• Nutmeg, pinch

Preparation Steps

1. Peal and core the pears, cut into thick wedges

2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pears and cook until browned on bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until brown on top and softened through out, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Timing may vary depending on ripeness of pears. Remove pears to dish.

3. Add the Agave syrup, rum, lemon juice and nutmeg to the pan and cook until bubbly all over about 1 to 2 minutes. Return pears to the pan and cook, tuning until the pears are coated. 
Serve and and enjoy. Can be served on its own or over ice cream.

Museum Chat Live! E004

I am looking forward to this evening.. Should be very informative !!

Museum Chat

cropped-blog-cover-photo-october-21-2016.jpgE004

On this special episode of the Museum Chat Live! podcast we’ll be focusing once again on our very cool book club: Books & Brews. As a part of the book club series, we are delivering three podcast episodes that accompany our discussion.

This podcast focuses on the March selection for Books & Brews: In the Skin of the Lion by Micheal Ondaatje. Please note that the 2017 Winter Books & Brews session is sold out – but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate from home. Pick up the book, listen to the podcast, and join in the discussion via Twitter.

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This podcast features a special conversation with labour historian and Brock University History professor, Carmela Patrias. Take a listen to find out more about how Ondaatje’s book and fictional themes relate to Niagara’s own labour history, including the construction of the Welland Ship Canal (1913-1932).

Make…

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Awesome tasting Mexican Rice

Any one that knows me will be able to tell you that I love to eat. One item that I like to make for my family is Mexican Rice. It takes a little bit of prep time but the result is oh so worth it. You can get all of these items for less than twenty bucks and it fills you up. I hope enjoy my video, and please let me know what you think.

Mexican Rice
• 12 ounces tomatoes, very ripe and cored
• 1 medium white onion
• 3 medium jalapenos
• 2 cups long grain white rice
• 1/3 cup canola oil
• 4 minced garlic cloves
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste (may omit if using canned tomatoes)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
• 1 lime
Preparation Steps
1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350.

2. Process tomato and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. Discard excess.

3. Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos and discard. Mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno. Set aside.

4. Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes.Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick. IF YOU OMIT THIS STEP YOUR RICE WILL NOT BE DRY AND FLUFFY.

5. Heat oil in heavy bottomed ovensafe 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over low-medium heat about 2 minutes. (The recipe is very specific about this but I used a 10 inch dutch oven and it worked out fine.) Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful that the oil doesn’t get too hot too fast or the oil will splatter.

6. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and 2 minced jalapenos and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.

7. Stir in broth, pureed mixture,tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

8. Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.Stir well after 15 minutes.

9. Stir in cilantro, minced jalapeno to taste, and pass lime wedges separately

 

Books and Brews: Chapter One

A good time was had by all …

Museum Chat

Book Club PicksThe first meeting of our new “Books and Brews” book club was held this past Tuesday, July 19. Not only was this our inaugural session, but also my first foray into the world of book clubs, so I thought I’d share my experience and impressions here for those of you who are book club pros and those who might be thinking of joining in! For our first session, we discussed Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road.

It’s not as intimidating as you think.

Full disclosure, I’ve shied away from book clubs in the past because I’ve been worried that I wouldn’t have anything to contribute, but discovered that fear was unfounded – the other participants and our moderator created an environment where everyone’s opinions, no matter how varied, were welcomed. Our moderator, Museum Curator Kathleen Powell, had a good mix of discussion questions addressing “big picture” themes and connections to our…

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Night at the Museum – Books and Brews

My wife went out on a limb and purchased tickets for the Books and Brews Book Club event as a Father’s Day gift.  As it turns out it was a perfect gift as I like to read and drink beer. I had never been part of a book club before so I didn’t know what to expect, I have to say that I was very pleased with my first experience.

As the name of the event suggests it was a combination of  some beer, wine and light snacks provided by Mahtay Cafe and Lounge located here in St Catharines , and books that have a consistent theme. This was the first event of this type that was put on by the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canal Center and from my limited knowledge of book clubs, this event  appeared to be a wonderful success.

The first reading selection for this club was a great book written by Joseph Boyden called the Three Day Road. It is a story of war, tragedy, and in the end some redemption. It is a story of diversity and of the hardships faced by indigenous peoples of Northern Ontario in the early part of the last century.  Mr. Boyden does an excellent job in drawing the reader into the lives of the main characters Xavier and Elijah  as they enlist and head off to the First World War to fight fight as warriors for King and country.

Our first meeting took place on July 19th 2016 and the chosen location for this meeting couldn’t have been better.   The setting for this meeting, of our freshly minted book club, was in the museums exhibit entitled “Doing Our Bit: WWI from St. Catharines to the Western Front”.  For me, discussing this book surrounded by artifacts of the era in which this story takes place served to reinforce the enormity of the conflict and the hardship the main characters had to face. I have to thank the Museum Curator Kathleen Powell for an informative curators tour of the exhibit  prior to our book discussion, accompanied with some wonderful tasting craft beers. The exhibit itself gives a good cross-section of what life was like for those Canadians that went off to fight an empires war. If you haven’t seen this exhibit yet I highly recommend that you do so.

I found, as I’m  sure most in attendance did, the question and answer discussion very insightful specifically with the answers that were given by participants. I found that discussing this book was for some, a window into a history they had never known or knew even existed. I am not speaking of the history of the war itself but of the treatment of indigenous peoples, while in the service of Canada.

I am looking forward to the two follow on meetings in August and September where we will be discussing Emancipation Day written by Wayne Grady and The Danger Tree written by David Macfarlan. I think a book club in the museum is a great idea and whoever came up with the idea should get a pat on the back for a job well done.