In the first couple of years after you acquire a cottage, you spend a lot of time adding stuff to it. Since fewer and fewer things come pre-assembled, and if they did you wouldn’t want to take them on the boat put-together, that means you have to build them. This Cottage Life piece is, weirdly, mostly a plug for a barbecue-maker’s publishing talents; but there are some pretty pictures, including a failed eagle.

I’ve already plugged the products of The Bear Chair company; assembly is time-consuming even with a cordless power screwdriver, and there are quite a few chances to go wrong. The good news is that errors are recoverable.

Speaking of hand-assembled wooden things, here’s our dock in the last few horizontal rays of dusk. When they built this they didn’t have a little set of illustrated instructions and I bet they didn’t have cordless anything, either. It’s magnificent — old and much-rebuilt and creosoted and barnacle-encrusted (not a figure of speech) and strong — they tell me it’s good for another few decades.

Keats Island dock in the sunset

What happened was, the gas barbecue we inherited from the previous owners went up in flames and if my ten-year-old hadn’t been alert — “Daddy, there’s fire coming out the back!!! — might have taken the cottage with it.

I tweeted a question about which barbecue to buy, saying it didn’t need to be that big, since the family isn’t and we’re not there that often. The overwhelming consensus was in favor of the Weber Q-series “portable” models, specifically the top-of-the-line Q300 (the Q320 is the same with some electronic fripperies, don’t pay more for it). So we picked one up, and it may not be take-it-to-the-beach portable, there was no problem getting it to the island on the water taxi, boxed up.

Building it was a dream — easily the best self-assembly instructions of any product I’ve ever bought anywhere.

Hmm, I offered a picture of the dock as an analogue of the Bear Chair; in a similar spirit here are two much larger metal objects which were built by professionals not amateurs. Incidentally, both are operated by BC Ferries.

BC Ferries’ “Queen of Surrey” and “Stormaway”

Back to the barbecue. Each and every piece would only fit in the right way. Despite that, each step was copiously illustrated; my favorite touch was the picture of how you install the plastic thingie that the propane tank sits on, with an auxiliary picture showing which legs to look in between to get the same view as in the picture. That’s extra-special.

Oh, and it cooks things great.

I’ll close with a picture that’s a blurry miss but I can’t not run. There are a few bald eagles that fly back and forth across Howe Sound on a regular basis; there’s one tree on our property that they’re fond of settling in. I was down on the dock with the big Tokina on the camera and wondering whether yet-another photo of a black-and-white eagle against a blue sky was worth the work; then he spotted something good to eat, dived onto the water just a hundred feet away, then climbed furiously toward the treeline.

But I blew it; this thing doesn’t auto-focus and doesn’t auto-expose and I just couldn’t pull things together fast enough to get a good shot. But I got this bad one, which I’m going to run anyhow because let me tell you, that was a cottage-life moment.

Blurry shot of bald eagle climbing from the water


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Robert Hahn (Aug 04 2009, at 06:11)

If you're hoping to get a better picture of a bald eagle, try switching the camera to manual focus, manually focusing to 'infinity', stopping down to f/32 or thereabouts, and shoot at whatever shutter speed the camera picks for you.

What you want is to make your camera as much like a pinhole camera as possible so that all you need to do is point and shoot.


From: Bob Monsour (Aug 04 2009, at 09:41)

I'm thrilled to hear of the greatness of the Q 300. Mine arrives via UPS today. Can't wait!

Enjoy the balance of your cottage season!


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August 03, 2009
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