McCharles family

RUBY XL HD Handheld Video Magnifier

My Mom is using this product. Recommended by the Canadian Institute of the Blind.

It’s not perfect. Battery life is surprisingly short.

She doesn’t think she’ll use it all that often.

It’s expensive, too. Right now USD $700 or more. But there are similar less expensive competitors available.

I saw one as low as USD $18.

You can magnify materials up to 14 times.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

kayaking, McCharles family

Kayaking Spider Lake on Vancouver Island

Spider Lake Provincial Park near Qualicum Beach is is popular for canoeing, kayaking and swimming.  Especially for families.

It’s stocked with small mouth bass and rainbow trout — but catching them is another matter.

On one of the first hot weather days of the summer, my brother took me out on his excellent sit-on-top kayaks.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

food, McCharles family, product endorsements

Our NEW gas stove / convection oven

My brother installed the same new stove in his house and my parents house.

  • GE’s Profile series
  • stainless steel knobs
  • 5 different sized burners
  • large LED display
  • extra-large integrated reversible cast iron grill and griddle

Profile 5.6 cu. ft. Smart Slide-In Gas Range with Self-Cleaning Convection in Stainless Steel

We like it so far. It simmers at every possible temperature.

We locked the electronic screen so you can’t accidentally start or stop something.

The app — SmartHQ — is hilariously poorly done. 😀  Don’t bother.

Not many people would use an oven app, even if it worked.

Click PLAY or watch a review on YouTube.

food, McCharles family, product endorsements

Inexpensive home delivered meals

We joined a service called Better Meals out of Vancouver, Canada.

They offer free delivery with $30.00 minimum order to my parent’s house from an extensive menu. Cost is only CAD $7.50 / meal. Unbelievably inexpensive for what you get.

Main course with two side dishes. Soup. And dessert. 

sample $7.50 meal

Everything arrives frozen in recyclable containers. You can heat in the over or microwave.

You’d need trial and error to find the dishes you like best. 

For example, my Mom liked the Turkey dinner but did not like one of the chicken dinners.

For those not going out much, Better Meals saves shopping. Cooking. And cleaning. 

You could store some of the meals in the freezer, only pulling something out when it turns out you don’t have time to cook for yourself.

I’d recommend Better Meals. It’s available to anyone.  They deliver only certain days of the week depending on where you live in B.C.

Note that the food comes without seasonings. You’d add those to taste. 

related – In our town you can also get hot meals for CAD $7.50 from Meals on Wheels. But you have very little choice in menu.


humour, McCharles family

I didn’t actually BUILD this house

Cleaned, sanded and painted the trim of my parent’s place in Parksville.

After all, at the end of the world as we know it WHY NOT invest in your home.

Well … my brother Rob did help a bit. Supplying the tools, paint and expertise.

But the unskilled labour — that was all me.

Pro tipIf looking for a tradesman count the fingers. Any with all 10 probably aren’t very quick at their job.  😀


cycling, health & fitness, hiking, McCharles family

My 14-day quarantine is over

Returning to Canada from Bermuda (zero positives at the time) I was asked at the Toronto airport to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. And watch to see if I developed a fever or other symptoms:

Stay home for 14 days from the time you returned home from international travel.

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  2. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
  3. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares.
  4. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).


Since that time I’ve only had one encounter I considered at all risky — a hotel check-in clerk near the Toronto airport.

When I got to the room I washed my credit card, the room key and my hands very thoroughly.

Physical distancing at my parent’s place in Parksville went well. Just 5 of us in contact. And one friend.

We had no thermometer but it was clear I had no fever — only my usual Spring allergies.

I’ll continue with the physical distancing, minimizing contact with people. But I do feel freer now to spend more time outside running, hiking and cycling in the wilds of Vancouver Island.

As far from people as possible.

McCharles family, travel

Brant Geese in Parksville

Brant can be distinguished from Canada Geese by their smaller size; dark brown body with a black head and shorter neck and white collar. …

Brant breed in the north, in coastal Alaska and the Canadian Arctic on tundra and coastal islands. During winter, they are found along the Pacific coast and further south into Baja California, Mexico. Brant geese form long-term, monogamous pair-bonds and family units migrate together. …

First morning in Parksville, B.C. I headed to Rathtrevor Beach at dawn to see and hear the mob of several hundred. They are noisy.

Brant feed on coastal mudflats and only rarely come inland.

The Brant Wildlife Festival in Parksville/Qualicum Beach runs from March 5th to April 28th, 2020 — but some of the events have been cancelled due to COVID-19.

about Rick, books, McCharles family

Saturday mornings when I was in High School

If I wasn’t watching Saturday morning cartoons, we would catch a bus to downtown Calgary because pool was free from 9am – noon at one hall.

What hall was that?

At noon I’d head over to Jaffe’s Book & Music Exchange to spend most of my $1 / week allowance on used comics.

It was located at 225 – 8th Ave. S.E.

Here’s Sam Osherow, manager. 

books, McCharles family

Murder in Mazatlan by Randy McCharles

The 3rd book in my brother’s Peter Galloway Murder Mystery series is set in my home-away-from-home in Mexico.

I had a condo there for 20 years. Randy’s had a condo there since. So he’s got a very accurate depiction of the Golden Zone in this novel.

In fact, tourist have been murdered there in similar ways to what happens here.

While in Mexico searching for his fugitive father, Peter Galloway chances upon the murder of a Canadian tourist.

What should be a pleasurable working vacation in an exotic destination becomes a desperate struggle to understand and survive the dangers of an unfamiliar culture.

Criminals, police, and politicians all hinder Galloway’s investigation, bringing their own brand of danger, and turning upside down his understanding of justice.

Even RCMP Sergeant Angela Ford is helpless to keep Galloway out of trouble.


Check Randy’s full list of books.

Book 4 in the Galloway series will be set in Niagara Falls.