Wednesday 30 October 2013

Down on the Dock with the Great Big C

 "What would I do with it?"
                  -Tim Mcgraw

    *Warning- profanity follows.  Deal with it*

     Gutcheck time:

     I have met some tough bastards this season.
     I have known some of them for a long time, but never knew what kind of tough sonsabitches they were.

     I am not sure I could be as strong, as full of grace and quiet good humour, as these gentle men around me have been.

    Cancer came to play this season.

     Those on the field for the showdown didn't step aside.
     They stepped up.

     It hasn't gone easy, but Cancer is, so far, getting it's ass kicked.

     Fuck Cancer.


     My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer early this year.  He was lucky, if "lucky" can describe anyone tapped on the shoulder by the Big C-  A biopsy, surgery, infection, surgery, medication, too many checkups and consults and too much time spent in doctor's offices, he and his oncologist are cautiously optimistic.
    The coast is clear.
    For now.

   My dad has golfed for most of his life.  On October 3rd, 2013, after almost 6 decades of chasing a little white ball, and months of cancer treatment...

.... my father scored his first hole-in-one.

    Hey, Cancer?

    Fuck you.

      Closer to the Dock, we were all floored when, at the start of the season, in his quiet unassuming way, Jack slipped into a cockpit conversation that he was undergoing chemo.


      And, as he does every season, he sailed his ass off.  No holds barred, no concessions, other than to make sure the CVC in his arm stays dry.

      Think you're tough?

      Throughout months of chemo, Jack has not taken any time off work, and has sailed his Tempest at least once a week.

      THAT'S tough.

      Hey, Cancer?

      Fuck you.

      For those of you new to the Dock, Jack is second from the right, beside his daughter, Melanie.

      The guy on the far left is John,  the greenhorn.

      Cancer brought John to the Dock.

      Last winter John was diagnosed with throat cancer.  Off work from his job in Hamilton, he'd spend time walking the docks, drinking coffee, and looking at boats.  One night in May, he walked past and we got talking.

   He had never sailed before.

   He loved the idea, though.

   We get a lot of that down here.  Lots of dreaming, not a whole lot of doing.

    Lots of folks walk the docks and ask questions and get enthused, and....

   We never see them again.

    Life gets in the way.

    John bucked the trend.

    He backed his own play:  A couple of weeks after our first conversation, John comes strutting down the Dock, beer in hand, and announces, "I've got a slip."

    Now he just needs a boat.

   A week later he owned a Sirius 22.
   Which he proceeded to sail.
    A lot.


   He even started racing.

   Yeah, he's all in.

   His doctors say he is looking good.

   Hey, Cancer?

   Fuck you.

   Get off my Dock.




Saturday 26 October 2013


      "But now I think I'm able to carry on..."
                                  -Sam Cooke

Hey, Constant Reader,  long time, no see.

     Miss me?


      Robert F. Kennedy once said, "There is a Chinese curse which says "May he live in interesting times." "

      Times have been interesting as hell around here lately.

       Since I last added a post  to this venerable archive,  there have been some big life changes around here for SWMBO and I.

       In September, we made the decision to put   Stately Jones Manor on the market.


       It is more house than we need, or want, at this point in our lives, and the time and money we have to devote to maintenance and upkeep and mortgage payments and property taxes is time and money that can't be spent on the boat.

     Or rum.

      So, we had a confab with the most amazing Realtor I know, signed the listing paperwork, and then did something very, very stupid.
   We asked for recommendations on work that should be accomplished around the house to maximize the value and minimize buyer's objections.

   The list was long.

    SWMBO and I realized we had about 5 years worth of unfinished, half-finished, unstarted and unplanned renovations to accomplish...

   ...  in three weeks.

   Remember those home decorating "challenge" shows on TV, like Trading Spaces , where ham-handed amateurs accomplish an astounding amount of transformative work to an old home in an amazingly short period of time?

     Bull.  Shit.

     Here we are, a month on, and the house photographed well, but there are still a ton of little jobs to do, like replacing old light switches and tuckpointing  brick and repainting trim.
   Inside and Outside.


  It is a bittersweet decision.  We have a lot of good memories here, and we love Stately Jones Manor.  But...   it doesn't float.

    Friends, relatives, co-workers have been asking the same question, "Where are you moving to?"

   When we answer  "Dunno.  Haven't had to worry about it yet."  There is some consternation.

    "Well, you need to move somewhere!"

   Whoa, let's get Stately Jones Manor sold first, then we can worry about the next step. It might sell in a month, or it might be on the market for three months with no action, in which case we take it off the market and continue to live with it and in it.  We don't need to sell SJM.  But, it would be nice not to have to mow the lawn we never use and paint the trim we never see and clean room we don't use and...

... it is a little frustrating always having to keep the place in "An agent has a client who wants to see the house can they come over in 15 minutes?" -level readiness.  We're not total slobs,  but now the laundry has to be folded and put away straight out of the dryer and shoes are always in closets and the bed laways has to be made and the kitchen sink has to always be dish-free and the bathroom sink has to be toothpaste blob- and whisker-free and....

   ...Okay we might be total slobs.

   What is really frustrating is that it puts any winter boat building projects on hold.  I don't want to start building something and then get confronted with a no-conditions, full-asking-price offer asking for a 30 day closing.

   (Although, now that I think about it, maybe that is one way to guarantee a quick sale- start building something that will be a royal pain in the ass to move.  )

      I've also undertaken a bit of a serendipitous career change.

      I wasn't looking to change jobs.
      I wasn't actively beating the bushes or trolling

      But an opportunity was offered, and I saw the chance to be one of the rare lucky few who are able to work at something that they really love to do.
     The money isn't huge- it's not a whole lot different than what I have been earning.

     But, it's an interesting challenge.
       And, for the first time in almost 20 years, I will have weekends off.

        That's huge.

        In fact, it's difficult to explain how huge it is, to have a schedule that fits your spouse's, and your social circle.

        This season, due to our work schedule, SWMBO and I sailed together far less often.

       Hell, the reason we started sailing in the first place was because it was something we could enjoy together.  I know it sounds sappy, but when we're not together, sailing is a little less enjoyable.  Whiskeyjack did not leave the Dock as often as she has in seasons past.

      So, it's been a crazy busy few weeks, but the worst is past, so now, instead of coming home from work, changing clothes, picking up a hammer or a drill or a paintbrush, I can get back to scratching my head and trying to figure out how to  fill a blank screen woth something worth reading.

    Thanks for sticking around.

   and remember to...
"Talk the Dock!"



Monday 14 October 2013

Stories from Behind the Beach: Low-Buck Breakfast Quest

     "Never seem to get a lot..."

     Port Dover is not lacking in eating establishments.   Within two blocks of the beach one can find hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, ice cream, onion rings, onion chips, onion soup, burritos, nachos, perch, pickerel, clam strips, steaks, chicken, ribs, salad bars, salad carts, Salada tea...

    But breakfast?

    Not so much.

   For breakfast you have to get Behind the Beach.  This season SWMBO and I set out to try the regular breakfast joints in town, and compare the fare.

    Our testing criteria was simple- Eat the same meal at each establishment and compare...
    Portion size
    ....To determine which joint offers the best overall value.

      Our recon of the Port resulted in a Best Breakfast Challenge shortlist that is really short.  
       Total breakfast joints in town: three....
      ...and a half.

     The Dover Dairy Bar, The Coffee Shop, and Angelo's/ Angelo's Side Door Bistro were the contenders.  The "half" is the Brant Hill Inn, which serves breakfast only on weekends, only during the summer months.  In the interest of being able to provide accurate useful information year-round, we left the Inn off the test roster.

You're welcome.

     To keep the playing field level, we ordered the same meal at each restaurant, opting for the BCB ( Basic Complete Breakfast):  Two eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes, coffee.

     Here's the results:

     Third Place:  Dover Dairy Bar

       For years, the Dairy Bar has been our go-to breakfast joint.   The grub was cheap, and the scruffy furniture and carpet was overshadowed by the dozens of historical photos of the Port that adorn the walls, giving the place the feel of an informal archive of  Dover back in the day.   The service was always friendly, and while not quick, you usually got a meal that was tasty and hot.
     This summer, though, we found ourselves underwhelmed.  The breakfast and the service and the decor aren't suddenly horrible, but the Dairy Bar is slipping.    A paint job and new carpet wouldn't go amiss, and the service could be a little more polished...I'm not expecting waitstaff to recite a mouth-watering array of specials  from memory  and my water glass to never be empty, but make sure that  tables are served and coffee topped up before retreating behind the counter to text.  The portions are smaller in subtle ways- the eggs are medium, not large and the bacon is thinly sliced, for example.

    There are better options for breakfast.

   (Having said that, the DDB remains the best choice in town for ice cream-  lots of flavours of hard ice cream served in generous portions that overwhelm the cone underneath,  cheaper than anywhere else in town.)

Second Place:  Angelo's

    This was a tough call.

    Angelo's wins on price- $4.95 all in.
    Angelo's wins on portion size- there wasn't any room to spare on a large plate packed with big eggs, a heap of homefries and slices of thick cut bacon, all cooked perfectly.
   Angelo's wins on service- our meals were served fast and hot, and our cups never went empty.
    Angelo's is a bar, and it feels like a bar, even at 9 am, UNLESS you wander around the corner into the aptly named "Side Door  Bistro,"  which feels like a stripped down version of the Dairy Bar- less history on the walls, more history on the floor.
   And, Angelo's is only open for breakfast on weekends.

 which means that...

    First Place goes to The Coffee Shop.

     The Coffee Shop is small and comfy, clean and brightly lit.  The food is good, portions large and SWMBO and I both agree they have the best toast in town.  The only quibble is that the hash browns are sometimes a little undercooked.   Service is efficient, and when you see what goes on behind the counter you may be amazed at the results.
    This place has no fryers, no broilers, no ovens, no flattops, none of what you would expect to find in a restaurant kitchen.  There are two countertop electric griddles.  You may have a similar one at home, that you may also cook breakfast on.  That's it, as far as cooking gear goes. It's unorthodox, but seems to work just fine.

     The Coffee Shop is a little more expensive than Angelo's, but breakfast for two will still come in under $15 with tax.  You won't go away hungry, and you will come back.

     Come on down and join us for breakfast some time.  Coffee's on me.

  "Talk the Dock!"