Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mandy's Amazing Wedding

This is about about a wedding that took off in a new direction.

My grand-niece Mandy got engaged and then began the intricate wedding planning, a feat that took months of serious study and negotiations.

They live in the interior of B.C.

Mandy’s best friend’s family owns a winery and the family offered their grounds for the wedding. Beautiful manicured lawns, vines in neat rows and a breathtaking view of the nearby mountains.

They would have two enormous tents set up  for the reception, sit-down dinner and dancing.
They knew where to go for the wine.

It was the most meticulously planned event in the family and it was going to be a smash. And it was, but not what they planned.

On the day of the much-anticipated event, B.C. had the storm of all storms--high winds, driving rain, power outages everywhere and it lasted all day.
First to go was the power, then the tents. 

My information is all second hand since I live three thousand miles away but this is what I gathered: Phone calls went out to all able-bodied  friends who raced to the scene, armed with anything that might help them with heat, light and sound.

The nearby enormous storage barn (it stored wine barrels on their sides) was pressed into use as the entire-event site. Mercifully that barn had never sheltered animals so the cleaning was quicker. Chairs were hastily set up for the ceremony and they would later be pressed into service for the dinner.

Tables were set up in another area and beautifully set, as originally planned.
Tapers and votive candles blossomed everywhere—there is a candle concession somewhere that found their sales zoomed astronomically that day.

Instead of the bride serenely strolling along the lawn on the arm of her father, he escorted her through the dark barn to the entrance where the minister waited.

Mandy and Jordan, here's to a happy lifetime together. You've already survived the storms.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Awesome's Culinary Adventures

This is Laddawan, my daughter-in law. Her family calls her Aw and we call her Awesome.

This shot was taken this past summer in an elevator somewhere in Chicago,. She began with a visit to her home country Thailand, then Wisconsin, Vancouver, B.C.,  and finished with a week-long Alaskan cruise before returning home to Kitchener, Ontario.

She had hooked up with a couple of family members who wanted to see a bit of everything and they did very well.

During that almost three-month long trip last summer, she took pictures this way:
Tourist sites—2%
Food 98%

She is a superb cook. In Bangkok, during  her teens, her entrepreneur aunt, who owns a couple of restaurants, put her to work  during school vacations cooking  for the noon-hour crowd. You have to be fast, colorful and gifted for that crowd.

The population in Bangkok varies from sixteen to 20 million in a day and the lunch hour is a mad blur of activity.

She cooks mostly Thai although her North American food is wonderful. She brushes up on her English watching all the cooking shows and taking massive notes.
We love being invited for a meal at her place.

She can take her food many notches hotter than most of us but we’re slowly working our way up the scale. It’s worth it—she makes fabulous tiny crunchy spring rolls like you’ve never tasted and she does amazing things with fat, juicy shrimp and the ribs—they look dry and overdone and then you bite into one and you’re in food heaven. I’m salivating now.

She took tons of pictures of food in Thailand recently. They rely on seafood, noodles in various forms and loads of veggies. Everything seems to revolve around what  she calls "noodle".

Here’s a look at the Thai portion of her recent trip. 


                                          A lot of cooking is done at the table and everyone automatically                                                         shares.

She's holding a large local oyster

It's beautiful and she can whip up any of these beauties in minutes. Just stay out of her way--she moves fast.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hot Tub Makeover

A couple of years ago my son Steve bought a second-hand hot tub for his wife
There was a certain amount of mirth watching this safely hauled  in a small  truck all across town

My daughter-in law didn’t seem all that interested, so the tub languished for a couple of years in the back yard, collecting snow and leaves.

The ah- ha moment came when Steve got interested in having an attractive back yard as opposed to—well, he’s my son so let’s say it was unfinished.

The tub was cleaned out, all  outlets closed off , water added and voila,  a fish pond was born.
He added  some interesting rocks, a couple of aquatic plants from his sister and then it was fish time.

The best thing to do  is to go to the pet store and ask for a dozen “feeders.”

It’s also best not to know what they were going to be fed to.

I brought over the first batch and within a couple of days there was one fish left.
Not too so difficult to figure out what happened—aside from the muddy footprints on the deck there were more signs on the top of the nearby trampoline.

Raccoons, that’s what.

Now I can think of a couple of aesthetic ways to solve the get-outta-my-pond dilemma, but Steve went for the prison compound look and here it is.

In his defense, he’s a busy guy and this had to be quick and dirty. For now.
Still I can't help imagining tiny little gold fish with rifles slung across their backs, patrolling back and forth.
Despite the  penitentiary look, of the fifteen fish we added, there are eleven left and we think the lost ones died of natural causes.

It’s pretty raw around the edges but this has been an experiment of sorts—does a hot tub work as a fish pond? Yes. Will fish survive in the new pond? Yes, once we consider how to thwart overhead birds in search of sushi (this is helped by floating a small log on top-- it provides shade and safety).

Next year, there are plans for a pergola covering the pond and part of the deck and the pond siding will be covered for a unified look.

And as for the coming winter—we keep the pump going so they have an air hole and those cold-blooded little sweeties will hunker in like the rest of us.