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.

 

Museum Chat Live! E004

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

Museum Chat

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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).

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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

 

Foot steps into the Wind: what we are all about!

To me traveling, or a better term to use would be “the traveling spirit” is more than just about going to see different places. Having the spirit of a traveler or adventurer, is about many different things rolled into a single package.

Being an adventurer does not always mean that you have to climb the tallest mountain, or swim to the bottom of the deepest ocean. The spirit that I speak of can be found right outside your front door.

Foot Steps int the Wind is about fostering that adventurous spirit. It about traveling for sure, however it is also about history, good food, its about people, art and culture. Its about enjoying life, learning a thing or two and staying safe while doing so.

My vision of a traveler is someone that is well rounded and conscientious of how and where they are traveling. It is of a person that is knowledgeable, about the current facts of where they are going as well as the historical context and why that is important. Foot Steps into the Wind is about enriching and enjoying life.

Why is Understanding History Important?

One of my passions is history. I love reading about it and learning about it. I love those old dusty things that are taken for granted in the modern world. I am always drawn to the old stories, I love speaking with people who have a different experiences than my own.

One of the best things that a traveler can do to improve their trip, is to educate themselves on the place that they are going to. I think this is especially important if it is a place that they have never been to before. When traveling I think that it is important to be a conscientious traveler when it comes to understanding the place that you’re going to see. Looking at historical items prior to your trip will give you insights into why things are the way they are in the places that you are going to visit. It will help you understand local customs, attitudes and points of view on various topics that may be different from your own.  After all when we travel it is to experience the place, the people, the life and customs of the location we are going to.

I believe, just like people, places have a soul and a spirit that is hidden from view and only the adept and knowledgeable traveler will be able to see it. The soul of a place becomes bare when we look beneath the surface of what is presented to us. Also like people, places change over time, and the historical context of a place or thing can be lost to the point where it is no longer relevant. To me, because a place or thing is old, doesn’t mean it has less value, or that it has diminished. In fact to me it holds more value because some time in the past someone gave the place or thing value by creating it in the first place. I have the same opinion of historical events.

Another item that I think travelers should keep in mind is that not knowing your history, could make the difference between a great holiday and a really bad holiday. For example if you find people being rude to you and you’re not sure why that is, it may be your attitude or your ignorance of local laws and costumes. Laws and local customs usually arise from events or conditions that existed in the past. To not understand societal norms in the place you’re traveling to is, to me, very disrespectful.

So my little piece of advice for the day is, if you are going to travel to some far away location, do yourself a favor and do a little bit of reading into the history of the place you are going to. Go to your local library and crack a book or two.

 

Making Changes

image (24)I have undergone a few changes in my life in the past couple of months that leave me reflecting on what the next steps will be for me in my adventure of life. I have left the army after nearly 30 years. Although it was part time career, if one can call it that, it still took up a great deal of my life. Couple this with having a full time job, being a father and husband, and add to all of this another nearly full time job of being a Union activist, my plate was nearly full. I have also relegated to the past my activities with respect to the union to the younger and more energetic crowd. My children for the most part are now grown up and for the most part are making all of their own decisions. So needless to say I am faced with a dilemma that all parents, and people of my generation face, what the hell am I going to do now.

Well with any situation like this I suppose that people in my position reflect on the time that is in the past and the time that is left in the future. What I find myself saying is, what’s next, what is around the next corner, where do I go from here? Well I find myself in my office, looking at the numerous maps and wondering about my roots and where it is that it all started. The faraway places nestled between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, to the tiny country in Europe where the people where the wooden shoes.   I have come to realization that the story of me really does span the entire globe. I find myself thinking more and more about the place my mother considered home, and often spoke of, even to the point of returning to one day. There was a constant pull upon her heart to return.

I also hear that call. Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada the country where I live and where I was raised, but I feel that much of the context of my life is somewhere else. My wife and I have often discussed moving to Europe and what the ramifications of that decision would be. How would we do it, how would we live, and what would our quality of life be? I guess the big question is, where do we start?  These are just some of the questions that we asked ourselves. I am not saying that this is going to happen, but it is something that I would like to consider as a possibility for our future.

image (23)My military mind tells me that (as well as my wife) with any successful operation, it starts with a good solid plan. So I guess we need to at least start creating a plan, if what I’m thinking about is going to have any chance of success. With anything like this there is a lot of apprehension a lot of things will have to happen, like the liquidation of assets, to generating capital to make any of this even possible is also a big question. In reality any journey starts with a first step. My first step in even making this idea a reality will be to regain my Dutch citizenship. Even if I never return to Holland our Europe for that matter, regaining my Dutch citizenship is also a personal goal that I have wanted for quite some time. The Dutch rules on citizenship have changed considerably over the last couple of years, so this option may not even be possible any longer.

In the short term there will be a considerable amount of research that needs to be done to compile the information that is needed to fully understand this kind of undertaking. For me personally the hunt for information has begun. My ability to collect and correlate data will now finally be used for my own gain and for my own purposes.  Maybe  it will happen maybe it won’t, however we will never know unless we take the first step to making the change.