WAFO-4 Picnic Coffee

Among my favourite patio spaces in the downtown core, at 1021 Fort Street.

Great eats and coffee beverages, plus much more if you check out the menu! A very creative gang is at work in the kitchen. Have you tried the charcuterie boxes? I digress….!

This space has WIFI from the Picnic coffee shop, #TELUS wifi, and various other networks seem to be around here. If you’re a Shaw customer, then I gather you would have plenty of WIFI access all over the downtown core, so keep that in mind.

The bathroom is available to customers only.

Note the portable umbrella I’ve got popped up, that cuts down glare on the screen. The umbrella is in my portable kit, for situations just like this.

The location in the patio is basically right on Fort Street, so there is quite a bit of traffic noise. If you’re having a busy day of Zoom meetings, you might want to pick a quieter spot, depending on the quality of your mobile audio headphones / microphone / noise-cancellation setup.

WAFO-3 Home patio

All the convenience of home, in this location on the back patio!

This is a fair-weather location only, as there is no overhead canopy to keep the rain off. I use the portable umbrella on the table to keep the glare off the screen.

I’ve got a WIFI network in the back half of the property, that works really well back here. I also have a power-outlet just next to the sliding door, so no worries about packing battery banks to this location.

WAFO-2 Macchiato Café

The café is located at the corner of Blanshard and Johnson in downtown Victoria. I came over for a late lunch, and grabbed a seat out on the Johnson Street side of the patio. The WIFI network called “Mac Guest” is available out on the patio.

Working outside is often a challenge due to the glare on the laptop screen. This seat was next to a planter that has a ledge that cast a shadow at the time I day I was there (between 2:30 and 3 PM Pacific).

The coffee, sandwiches, salads, and snacks are all good – and competitively priced. The washroom is available to use for customers. I don’t believe there is a power outlet on this patio, so keep that in mind.

Patio table at the Macchiato Cafe in downtown Victoria.

WAFO-1 Market Square courtyard

I came downtown on a rainy afternoon to grab a coffee at MOSI on Lower Johnson, then park somewhere out of doors and undercover to avoid the raindrops.

This bench is down on the courtyard level of Market Square. I grabbed WiFI from #TELUS, although there are many WIFI networks down here that you (or your laptop) may already know.

Many coffee options are nearby, including Hey Happy, and Shanzee’s Biscuit Cafe (serving Drumroaster Coffee at time of writing).

Yah, ergonomics of sitting on a bench for a while aren’t the best, but I like to do a change of scenery to re-charge the brain-waves, and to support my own notion of flow. I eventually finished the coffee, and got chilly on this rainy afternoon, so headed away after a couple of hours of work.

seasonal fermentation project

Was at the James Bay Market last weekend and noticed some great looking pickling cucumbers available at the Saanich Organics booth. I’ve never done a cucumber fermentation project, but I know people that have, and it doesn’t sounds all that difficult!

I decided to take a first crack at this project, so picked up some more pickling cukes while at the JB Market this morning, and headed home to begin the adventure.

We had all the supplies and ingredients on hand at home, which included:

  • mason jars / lids
  • coarse Kosher salt
  • clean water
  • local garlic
  • local dillweed
  • carrots / tea bags

We also had a copy of The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz on the kitchen bookshelf, a great reference to learn about fermenting all sorts of things!

Justine and Robin got pretty stoked about the cuke action so pitched in to clean the jars, peel the garlic, and surface fermenting advice from our reference material!

Justine had past experience with making yogurt at home, so learned to clean the jars by baking them in the oven for a short time.

Robin has experience with fermenting kombucha, kimchi, cucumbers, etc. so had the wise eyes to help the newbs in the kitchen today! She surfaced a tip from the book about keeping your cukes crisp while under fermentation by adding grape leaves, oak leaves, a carrot, or a tea bag. We decided to include carrot slices in all the jars, and a tea bag in another.

I prepped for the fermentation by:

  • gently scrubbing the cukes
  • soaking them in an ice-water bath
  • prepping a 5% brine by mixing 3 tbsp. coarse salt in with 1 litre water. We needed just over 2 litres for the 58 cukes that we had to ferment today
  • rinsing the dillweed, and peeling the bulbs of garlic

After the jars were clean, we stuffed them with 5-8 cukes, a few bulbs of garlic, some dillweed sprigs, and a carrot stick. Topped with the brine, and then put the lids on, not too tight. Apparently we’ll be releasing the buildup of CO2 gas over the next little while, as we observe the fermentation activity unfold.

We ended up getting 9 Mason jars loaded with our cucumbers. Let the fermentation begin!

Mobile IT worker kit

working remotely

Working from home over long periods of time isn’t really my jam. As a subscriber to agile methodologies, I figured I would embark on an experiment to see if I could find ways to work out of doors in these challenging times!

Working away from home does have its challenges, so here are some notes I took along the way. Getting through the day may have these considerations:

  • Have a face-mask (or 2) for those times you may be unable to keep your physical distance from others
  • Hand sanitizer – stick a small, highly-portable bottle in your kitbag, for easy access!
  • Find a well-ventilated work-space
    • outdoors is ideal
    • if indoors, then make sure a door is open to the facility (or 2 doors like at some local cafés I have noted elsewhere)
  • What about electrical power
    • Leave home with a full charge in your laptop
    • If possible you may be able to find a plug on a wall somewhere, but this is a challenge!
    • Portable power-bank for USB device charging (like a RAVPower portable charge bank) 
    • Portable power-bank, for battery boosting, construction sites, etc
      • Heavy duty power-bank
      • note that you may need a power-inverter if you don’t get the right sine wave out of a unit like this!
  • Network connectivity
    • Proximity to a WIFI source at a public building (City of Victoria, BC Govt., GVPL), coffee shop, restaurant, etc.
    • consider use of a device like a Rocket Hub, which gives you a monthly subscription to wireless data services
    • Use ShawOpen, if you are a Shaw customer
    • Telus Wifi may be available – though not as ubiquitous as Shaw 
  • Refreshment
    • bring a snack pack, and consider your needs for all-day coffee / tea / kombucha
  • Bathroom 
    • this can be a challenge!
    • many places of business are take-out only, and bathrooms are not available
    • make sure you know where public bathroom facilities are!
  • Screen visibility
    • laptop viewing can be hard out of doors
    • find a position where you can reduce glare on screen
    • an umbrella can help 
  • Clothing
    • I tend to dress in layers, so can layer up or down as needed given the ambient conditions
    • Hat – always pack a hat of some sort, I would say!
  • Seating
    • outdoor patio seating at some establishment to keep you comfy
    • conside a portable camp chair, or some sort of folding chair if you are parked on a sidewalk, as in the photo above
    • a cushion for outdoor use may come in handy

What I did on spring vacation

  • Dates: May 29 – June 7, 2020
  • Location: Victoria, BC
  • Activity: Staycation

Ok, so here is what I have been up to on the last few days off, poking around the house…

Backyard weeding

backyard weeds

The back corner of our lot attracts a lot of growth over the fall and winter. We picked up a lot of buttercup and comfrey this time. I got rid of the buttercup, and kept the comfrey for a soil enhancer, as it aggregates nutrients.

weeds weeds

Check out all the sun streaming down into that section of the yard. This calls for a new project to spin its way up!

Veggie gardening

We lucked into some veggie starts from the good folks at the growing-together project, so sourced some dirt, and threw them into large pots for them to begin their growing season with us!

Raised garden planter bed

Decided to embark on a project to build a raised planter bed for that space in the back corner of the lot. I went onto the YouTubes, and found some great resources to learn from, including:

Oh yah – 4’x10′ and about 2′ tall. Had my neighbour deliver 2 yards of Garden Blend Soil from Victoria Sand & Gravel Mart, and filled the bed. Should be great for growing veggies back there!

Patio refresh

We actually have a nice brick patio somewhere under all the weeds. A couple of seasons (or more?) of grass and weeds have gotten into all the cracks!

I got a trowel and a hoe out to do some scraping, and actually found that the grass was easy to pull off in large sheets. A project that I thought would take several days of effort was actually quite easy! What a reveal!

International Donut Day

Friday, June 5 was the big day, so me and the kids hopped onto bikes, and headed over to Empire Donuts in Cook Street Village to grab a box of donuts. We went back over to Beacon Hill Park to enjoy our bounty under cloudy skies next to the baseball park.


I tried out a new cinnamon bun recipe authored by the folks down at the Model Bakery in Napa Valley. The dough chilled in the fridge before rolling, proofing, and baking.

The recipe calls for cream cheese icing, but without any cream cheese on hand, and not wanting to try a “quick” dash to the store, we had them plain – they were quite lovely!

Small home demolition

The neighbours are embarking on some property development this season. The demolition of the old cottage took place last week, so that provided some interesting activity to keep an eye on. The cottage itself is squeezed in between our home, and the multiplex next door. The fellow operating the excavator, from Dr. Hoe, used a steady hand to tear down the home over about 6 hours, with no damage to neighbouring properties.

Father’s Day 2019

Father’s Day came and went this past June. I think we were at a swim meet with the kids. I was thinking of my Dad, of course. Although he passed on in 2008, I continue to dream about him frequently. We’re often working at the store together, up in Duncan.

I decided to re-publish one of my favourite blog posts, in my Dad’s honour. It’s called last day at Reggie’s.