Author Archive for Lang


All in a summers’ work

Alder down. Its a lot of work moving the logs away

Doug been at it all summer long, cutting down trees, clearing it away getting ready for the guys with heavy machinery to come in. Finally I took 2 weeks off in September to check on my lot and get some work done myself.

Wooden boats on display at Point Hudson

But 1st, let us enjoy the annual highlight of the year in Port Townsend. The Wooden Boat Festival fleet is in town at Point Hudson marina, and we have front row seats and parking space by Calliste. We feel so privileged….

Watching the schooner race

After 3 days of watching boats, its back to working on the prop. Only 1 tree that needs to come down was still standing. It was too large for Doug to handle safely, so it will be one for the guys with equipment.

The Hitachi 120 posing with the doomed Hemlock.

And there it goes. No sawing, what a pushover with that Hitachi 120. It wasn’t that easy actually. took some digging and pushing and digging again… cycles, until it finally come down.

Sewers properly installed.

After 1.5 days of pulling stump, levelling the ground and installing the sewerage pipe, I think the RV site is ready for occupancy.

Ta da! My new RV site is ready

Looking good isn’t it? Levelled, log wall by the side and trees in the back. Next year I hope to construct a deck, put up 2 easy chairs, plant a garden.

Sitka tree farm. My own Sitkas!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the log wall  is my little Sitka tree farm. I am honoring my commitment to nature that provided Sitka timber for Calliste bowsprit. I promised to replace this wood. Here are my starts… ordered from Amazon, how amazing that is. I wonder if Amazon sells pot starts too… 🙂 That’s next on my garden plans.

Hurricane ridge.

Man and machine made quick work on my property, leaving us a free day to go up Hurricane Ridge.

View of San Juan de Fuca and Victoria, BC

It was a nice clear day, a bit too chilly for me as I wasn’t dress for the chill winds. But I am glad we came up when we did. Got a great view of Victoria across San Juan de Fuca and tour the little visitor center to learn about the Olympic mountains.

And after a productive and fun vacation, its back to my desk in Malta NY…



Want more Singapore food!

Goodie from SG day.

In upstate NY, you just have to cook it yourself … or if you are lucky, there are just over 500 Singaporean here who might be a neighbor 🙂

But ok, so I am 1 of those who can cook, just need a little motivation sometimes. This Singapore proud packaged noodle that I got in a goodie bag from Singapore Family day is a inspiration …. I guess…

We all know that what you see on the packaging is not what you gonna get. There will not be prawns, sliced fish cakes, sprouts .. etc. But the way I make it, I will get more than what is on the packaging 🙂 … and it says ready in 7 mins… yeah right..

Isnt that better than what was on the packaging?

Start a pot boiling, add dried shrimp and slivers of dried abalone, sliced garlic and onions. Let it boil at low heat for 1 hr, while I prepare the other ingredients… like peeling shells off real prawns and slicing the best fishballs  (in place of fish cakes) that I can get at the local Asian market.

To make it more nutritional, I slice up carrots, mushrooms and French beans.

After an hour of boiling the stock… maybe 2 hrs … I was tending my virtual city so lost track of time… add carrots, shrimps and fishballs to the pot. Open the package, follow the instructions on the back. From this point, it will take only 7 mins to complete the cooking. Add mushrooms and French beans only 1 minute before turning off heat.

The verdict, the stock was fabulous. Really do taste like Laksa from back home in SG. The noodles are good, I like the texture, it goes well with the stock… but real SG Laksa will be thick bee hoon noodle, not wholegrain wheat LaMian. Overall, it was good and easy… and it was my choice to take all that time to make it better. Yeah, I will pay US$3 for that package noodle again when I have the next Laksa craving attack. 🙂



A Singapore gathering in upstate NY

My Singapore day feast in upstate NY.

Well, I couldn’t be further away from home than being in NY, but I am not alone 🙂

A real paper and leaf wrapped Nasi Lemak! … but its missing my fav fish….

I know, I go back to SG every year, sometimes twice, I get my fill of real authentic hawker foods and carry with me lots of canned food and special ingredients, so I really don’t miss much, but still it is nice to meet people who share my heritage and love for native Singaporean foods half the world around.

This is the weekend before Singapore’s 52nd National Day, and I guess there is enough Singaporeans here in upstate NY to come together, organize this gathering and cook up a feast!

Most fresh ingredients are locally sourced, and some packaged foods came in by freight of course…. yes, the popiah skin isn’t as nice as those fresh in SG ones, and there is no “kunning” fish in my Nasi Lemak… but that pandan cake is phenomenal, so is that satay and peanut sauce!

Oh yes, lots of Singapore National day music in the background and lots of Singlish all around… Actually I felt a little out of place … for not wearing red…. good thing nobody wanted a group photo …

And a bag of goodies… my favorite Kong Guan biscuits, Prima packaged noodles … not sure what to do with the flag and red/white longish floats …. Singapore shaped Singlish post its? … hmmm…..

So I am not a missing Singaporean anymore. I been logged…. by the Overseas Singaporean Unit. I guess this 1 reason for me to like being in NY…. for 2 years I lived in SG isolation in a little remote town Port Townsend…


Separate summers

Doug’s summer

I am not enjoying the long days and great weather that much this year…. well, I am stuck in upstate NY (yes I am working, and I do enjoy my work), while Doug gets to go enjoy our cabin in the woods. The only consolation is that we are both getting so much done on both ends.

Site marked for container workshop

I hear that 20 trees have come down already, and that we are almost ready for the excavation guys to come pull those stumps and level out the workshop and camp site. Yep, I drew up some plans for a container workshop for us, a outhouse and camping deck that I could rent out to campers to cover property maintenance when I retire again.

My little summer project.

On my end, I’ve been making the dough that pays for the excavators, creating design automation solutions that I so enjoy doing anyway…. Long weekends like this 4th July weekends, I get to revamp my little blog. Yep its time to revisit some of those side panel links and catch up on whats going on around the world… when I work, I ignore the news…

I think better laying down.

And oh BTW, made a little phone holder for Scootz. My very own design, using scrap lumber leftover from the door project. Yep, I wanted to be able to use it standing up or on the side. Definitely on the side is better, IMO. The rubber coated wire tie is to hold it down so that it don’t flop out when I jump on the brakes or turn a hard corner too fast…


Another 48hrs on the train

22 Apr 1400hrs: We had a 4hrs layover at Chicago Union station, that gave me the chance to do a walking cruise downtown Chicago and had lunch.

Bright and cheery gallery car.

Then we board the #7 Empire Builder. We are doing this ride from the originating station to the destination station… I think we are the only passengers that will be on it for the entire journey, not counting the crew of course. Even then, some crews get on/off at various points along the way too.

I would love to own acreage with flat grassy farming soil and a cliff on the back.

On the Empire Builder, cabins are exactly like our last train, but there is a gallery and lounge car that is such a treat. I guess it doesn’t make good sense to have a gallery car on a overnight train like the #49. Whereas the Empire Builder is going cross country and in daylight everyone would want to hang out and mingle. Again, I am happy that the ridership is about 30%, such that the gallery and dining car were never so full up.

Heading into the cascades.

I am a happy patron of the lounge, no queue, and my beer is nicely chilled. Its surely double what I pay for at the supermarket, but its about the same when I buy it from a pub. So nah, I dun have a problem with buying 2 bottles a day for 2 days. Poor attendant was not getting enuf customers nor tips to make his trip worthwhile, and train passengers are not really the generous tipping kind… sigh… guess why the grumpy lounge attendant was happy to see me? 🙂

Our view from the dining car. A moment of peace as we finish our last bites.

Oh yes, I must say that I am very happy that we have our own kettle, especially on this longer leg where we are stuck on board for 48hrs. We certainly saved money from not buying lousy coffee or cup noodles (chicken flavored only!) from the lounge car. We brought our own coffee mixes, tea bags, cocoa, instant cereal and “hot and spicy shrimp” cuppa noodles 🙂 … I have 1 each morning 🙂 Also on the Empire Builder, cabins have a drinking water spigot and small disposable cups that were very handy. So its less yucky to have to get water for the kettle than from u know where.

23 Apr: We spend all day on the train passing thru flat farming lands as far as the eyes can see, stopping at little towns with train stops where some passengers get on/off or just a cig break. I am happy that we had AT&T network connection most everywhere so I kept up with my little people games on my iPad 🙂

Was difficult to get a good picture in a moving train.

Altho the seats are not as comfortable as beds, it seems we slept quite well and frequently doze off during the day too. I think we are definitely getting 8hrs each day… if not 10 🙂 . The train does rock a fair bit, making it hard to write a diary or draw a house plan, but I manage to do a little work on the computer while at the lounge car. Reading is really quite popular…socializing otherwise, only few people are playing phone games.

Morning in the Cascades.

By 1700hrs, the terrain changed from rolling farming plains interlaced with lakes and rivers to one that is woody and rocky. Seeing the Cascades in the distance with the setting sun in the back is a treat.

Getting a 1800hrs dinner car reservation for us, having a great steak (for me) and salad (for Doug), as we enter the Cascades was the highlight of this ride. Our experience was only slightly marred by the mother and kid that we shared our table with, and other diners near us who ruined my expectation that dining passengers are well heeled high society types…. I guess not on this trip… Well, I was thankful that most diners ate their small meals and left quickly, leaving us (the last 2) to eat up our expensive bigger meal in peace.

Kings Street station in downtown Seattle.

24th April 0700hrs: By now, we have changed time zone for the 2nd time. Morning in the Cascades was beautiful and we are in good spirits nearing the end of our long journey. I mean we go on long journeys all the time, but we are always in the driver seat and its just us in Calliste, or us just in Fordie as we drove east last fall. Sure, we cant wait to step off the train and be in control of our immediate environment again.

My daisies! Planted last summer, survived winter without me.

I am more of the veteran passenger than Doug as I have had been on cruising, flying and train riding vacations in so many countries from childhood…. so I did learn to make the most out of each riding experience. In many ways those things that I pick up makes my next journey more comfortable and interesting, mostly with regard to timing when to do what kind of things when bound in a cabin with other people 🙂

1000hrs: We arrived almost an hour ahead of schedule, in downtown Seattle. Got our checked in bags, they arrived unscathed 🙂 . Leaving Doug to watch our bags at the station, I walked 1 mile, guided by my trusty phone and Google, to Budget car rental.

Got the car that I prepaid for and got Doug and our bags before noon. Back on our home run route, stopped at Walmart to restock the cabin. We are home by 4pm, unloaded the car, and with still a good amount of daylight and energy left, we walked the grounds and smell the flowers 🙂 . Oh cabin, we’re home!



65hrs train ride (part 1)

Yup we must be going somewhere 🙂 … slowly

Just us and few others.

Its spring, time to head back to Port Townsend to check on my cabin… and to get summer projects rolling for Doug. Yeah sure we could choose to fly, but with all that luggage that Doug is bringing, taking the train is cheaper and less security hassles. Plus we get to see all that scenery and feel touristy for a change.

Flying feels rushed… there is a very business feel to it…

Arriving at Chicago. So many tracks.

Where taking the slow train seems kinda fun and relaxing to me …. maybe its the novelty, maybe its the wide seats and huge leg room and less than 25% ridership vs 100% on most flights…

Remember seeing this place on the big screen?

21 Apr 1800hrs: A great friend came to transfer us from our apartment in Malta to Schenectady. Car ride 40 mins. Its nice that there is no check in 2hrs early requirement :)… so in fact we were there way too early … yeah, but we didn’t want to be held up by rush hour traffic and miss the train, so it worked out.

Looks that maintenance is a daily chore around here

Me! At Union Station, Chicago, IL.

21 Apr 1930hrs: We start off with #49 Lake Shore Limited from Schenectady, NY bound Chicago, IL. 15hrs overnight train ride, not much to see, but we are just excited to be on our way home. Our mood was light and happy as we settle down into our seats and ate the dinner that we prepared back in the apartment. We brought a travel kettle and instant hot beverage packs so we could have a steaming hot beverage anytime and right at our seat … not to mention we save $2 for each cuppa that we don’t buy from the lounge car :). Yes, we got the water on board… from the bathroom…. yikes? Yep, that’s how I felt about it, but Doug was unfazed.

This almost could be Singapore River.

After hours of eating and talking, we laid our seats fully back and pulled out the foot rest to seat height. To be stuck for such a long journey in a seat, the chair must be a lot more comfy than a plane, otherwise who would put up with it?

I like that globe at the foot of that tower. Wonder what is the significance.

Then I notice the more veteran train riders brought their large swooshy pillows. The real thing, not the travel type. That and a travel fleece blanket made so much sense. I guess on our next trip, we’ll have a few tricks of our own…. nevertheless, I slept most of the night away and maybe was just a little sore in the morning. Doug did pretty well too.

River taxi going by.

Thru the night, the train made quite a few stops. Passengers came and went. Nobody, we learned, was going our distance …. 🙂

Chinese not open.

22 Apr 1015hrs: Arrived at Chicago on schedule. Our next train is 4 hours away…. its so nice to have unlimited mobile data and not lose network throughout this trip, maybe we did but I wasn’t constantly needing data, anyway pre arrival, I google mapped Chicago Union Station surroundings, wondering where can I go to get us some good bites for the next longer leg. Only then did I realize that the station is right downtown in Chicago! How convenient. Unlike airports which is always bus rides away.

Japanese not opened too!

Doug prefers to sit with the bags in the lounge while I go check out the city. We both like this arrangement 🙂 … except that he warns me about the gangs that are everywhere in Chicago, especially in Chinatown … well we just have to trust my guardian angel when I am out there walking myself 🙂

Robinsons it is!

So there I went, checking out the historic Union Station, then walking towards the riverfront, crossing the little bridge into downtown Chicago. Its a Saturday, not many people around… tall building line the river… a river taxi goes by… felt just like Singapore on a Saturday.

Surprisingly real and tasty food.

Oh NO! Just like Singapore, food places that I was so looking forward too were not opened, because its a weekend!

Drats, just have to get whats in Union Station. Well, there is a food court with the usual suspects… then I saw this Mom n Pop shoppe that I just must try because its not everywhere and everyday that I see honest real people behind the counter. And for $8 it was honest real food. Simple and yet very tasty!

1 hour walk, 1 hour to eat, 1 hour to find the boarding platform to #7 the Empire Builder. Time pass quickly, but it was enough time for me in Chicago on a Saturday…


Last snow storm for the year?

Hello beautiful.

Just when we start to get 65’F weather and I was thinking the worst is over… I returned Fordie to the leasing co and got ourselves a cute little VW Golf …. we get slammed again. 12 – 18″ of snow fell and was blown around by huge winds that is prevalent this time of year. Meaning that snow that would normally settle on roof top are blown around and settles on ground finally, making it 18″ at least everywhere.

Good looking butt.

Only days before the storm, was a clear sunny weekend when I had all that energy to cut out a full suit of “decal armor” for the little redsy. A tad too much contrast, IMO… I didn’t have a good supply of light grey, so I used white against my better judgement.

The works!

It was a state of emergency and we are advised to not go anywhere unless it was in a snow plow or emergency response vehicle. Look, less traffic, less accidents, less need for emergency responders and snow plows work more effectively. So yes we are not going anywhere in Fordie in these conditions, and much less in this lightweight little scoot of a car…. we haven’t settle on a name for this little reddy… nothing we think of seems to suit him/her… yes, we are not sure about that too…

Yikes, snow banks taller than me.

Since the forecast sounded really bad, the kind of storm that gobbles up little cars… I move our new little red car into the garage, something I vow to never do after I broke the back window of the Fordie doing so 3 months back. This time, I had help from Doug… phew… Only inches to spare in the front and back.

Banks of snow everywhere in the hood.

Ok, we out lasted the 36 hours storm. We were snug, cozy, warm, well fed from foods that we stacked in the fridgy, little reddy is in a heated garage, what more comfort can we ask for 🙂 . No wonder people in affluent societies get fat in winter…

And look! Right in front of the garage door is where the plows deposited the snow from the cul de sac… Little redsy would have been buried in 18″ of snow and then crushed by 8′ snow bank. Lucky girl (I guess that’s pretty much decided after all that flowers eh?), and lucky us, we don’t have to dig her out … phew.

Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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