Off The Menu in 2023 – That’s My Order !

As the year draws to a close I feel a huge amount of appreciation for the encouragement and kind words from the readers of this blog.

Many readers never leave comments and then will surprise me in person by saying “I read your blog, and …” – for me those moments are like sticking my hand in my coat and finding a $5 bill I didn’t know was there.

So hugs to those people who surprise me in person with feedback

Hugs also to those who leave their comments and directly encourage me. Those spur me on to write my next post and to try to find something worthwhile of your kind words. ♥ Dave


That’s me cooking a hot dog in the white coat – smoke in my eyes!

Off The Menu – Expect a Surprise !

In Vancouver BC there is an area downtown called Chinatown and many years ago I went there for dinner with my parents and an interesting friend of theirs, Gary. Gary wasn’t so much a friend, as an adventurer or maybe a wanderer at that point.

We met Gary at a campsite, our family was next to his at a campsite and Gary was hard to miss. Gary drove a VW camper and he had customized the outside. It was painted with hearts, and slogans that he liked. It was the early 70’s and the slogans were along the lines of Peace and Love.

It was the times for peace signs and Walter Cronkite, and the first moon landing. At the time I had a tshirt I remember that on the front had a bare foot but the big toe and the first two were in a V to say Peace using toes instead of fingers.

The VW van was customized with a horn that sounded like ” Ah-Oooo-Ga” – of course, it was. I loved it!

Maybe you had to be there, but trust me – It sounds way better than “beep beep”♥

Gary was cruising around in his VW van in the Northwest. For a few days he crashed at my parents house after we met him camping.

Obviously I digress, at dinner in Chinatown (it was Gary’s treat to say thank you for his visit at my parents home) – the waiter brought us our menu and Gary chose the one without English and told my parents he would order for all of us.

When the waiter came to take our menu Gary pointed at various items on different pages – they were all in Cantonese or Mandarin.

The waiter wrote it down and left. My parents and I wondered how Gary knew Mandarin.

Gary said – I don’t. I have no idea what I just ordered. Let’s just see what we get.

“When Gary did that blind ordering – I don’t think my parents were looking forward to dinner, except for the not paying part. I am sure their expectations for the meal were low, but they were pleasantly surprised after all.”

All I can remember now is that mostly it was delicious, but spicy! and the octopus was really chewy! So chewy but not like gum, and tasted like curry.

But I don’t regret it at all and though it was 50 years ago – it remains in my memories. Positive!


Off The Menu – Be Positive

This is the time of year that people are looking forward and there are many pearls of wisdom and predictions, and reviews.

I think those things are probably appropriate but should be taken with a grain of salt.

I guess thinking about the last couple of years for me and all the surgeries and things I am just feeling happy that life brings unexpected surprises along with the other things.

I am going to be positive about whatever the waiter delivers in 2023! – and I believe they will be fun, and I will be smiling!

I think people in general like predictability, that’s why menu’s exist and why many of us order the same foods every time when we go to restaurants.

We like it when we plan things and they go the way we expected BUT it’s the unexpected that is often the most fun and memorable.


Off the Menu – Travel

I admire people who travel but those who go alone and take on work overseas are really opening themselves to Off the Menu special experiences.

As in the case of G.

My amazing Summerland friend, G., he took a job in Japan years ago to work on a ski hill. I am sure his plan was to have fun, gain experience working on a ski hill, and learn some Japanese.

But he ended up enjoying something unexpected, he fell in love and it all came about because he went beyond the predictable, he travelled to Japan, and welcomed the off the menu experiences he would Not have had in Canada.


It was not on the menu, my broken heart that is, but after my heart was broken twice I was ready for change…

In the late 70’s I decided to take a job outside Vancouver. I applied for a job I had no experience for. It was in a small city in BC I had never visited and only had a vague idea where it was located. I knew no one there, and had no contacts. I was going off menu.

I got the job.

My job started November 1st, 1978. On October 31st I headed east on the highway towards the mountains, and of course it was one of those days that was blue. Low clouds, and drizzly rain – I remember listening to a Christian tape of Amy Grant. It was safe for me to sing along because I was alone, but not for long.

Somewhere between Vancouver and Hope, BC – a wet hitchhiker stood along the ditch – and though I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, I picked him up.

He sure was happy to warm up in the front seat of my car – maybe less so happy about my music choice, or that I still sang along (occasionally).

I asked him where he was going, he said “Kamloops”.

I said “Perfect!” and do you know the way?

He said “Yup”

I had my guide to Kamloops and someone to talk to. We had a pleasant drive and I dropped him off at the top of the hill that lead down into Kamloops.

I parked my car downtown on the street where I would be working, it turned out to be in front of the sole Christian bookstore in Kamloops in 1978.

My work was 5 doors down from the store and the young lady who worked there was my first friend I made in town. By 7 pm that night she had introduced me to another person, and in 24 hours I had a small furnished basement suite to rent for myself.

Off the Menu – who knows what can happen?

In Kamloops? I met my future wife there in about 9 months, and six months later we were married!

I certainly was not planning that when I headed down the highway on October 31, 1978.♥

(This blog post was inspired by my experience that day – )


Off The Menu – Can be Small Experiences also –

Last week standing in freezing gale winds pumping gas I totally enjoyed myself!

As I stood there hoping my fingers would not freeze to the gas pump I had a wonderful off the menu surprise.

A bald eagle flew by slowly in front of me at a Shell Gas Station. He was 20 feet off the ground, pumping hard against the wind and going slowly as the wind was not in his favour.

But that brutal wind was in mine because I could enjoy the view of that eagle slowly cranking into the wind !


Next year is going to have some Off the Menu amazing, fun and memorable experiences for me, I expect most of them to be great, special and opportunity filled!

Those off the menu events I hope will be filling my face with stories and smiles, maybe new friends! I am planning to order off the menu next year – I hope you will give it a try!

About dfolstad58

I live in the South Okanagan. BC. I enjoy reading, exercise, toastmasters. spending time with my son, my daughter, & her husband , and my patient wife. I try to respond personally to every comment on my blog, and in this way I hope to get to know my readers a little bit and and am able to thank readers for their encouragement on what they liked and suggestions on what they would like to see me try in order to improve.
This entry was posted in Off the Menu !, okanagan related, Thinking Out loud and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Off The Menu in 2023 – That’s My Order !

  1. Darlene says:

    This an uplifting post, perfect to end the year with and start a new one. I love folks who are brave and step outside their comfort circle. One has to do that from time to time. All the best for 2023! I look forward to more posts.


    • dfolstad58 says:

      Thank you Darlene, I certainly like the imagery of your word choice “uplifting” – I appreciate your encouragement this year (hug) and your suggestions and feedback are certainly welcome always. – David

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cindy knoke says:

    Wonderful. Happy & Healthy New Year! ⌚🔢🕛🎊


  3. quiall says:

    I love your attitude! Cheers to off the menu.


  4. Wishing you the best of Chef’s choices and looking forward to your off-the-menu reflections!


  5. Joni says:

    That was very interesting reading!


  6. Jane Fritz says:

    This year-end post is a real treat, David. I love each of your Off the Record tales. I hope you will separate them out and highlight each one in its own post in the coming year. May it be a happy one for you and your family.


    • dfolstad58 says:

      Thanks Jane! (hug) I had to stop because I started to write another one and it was getting too long. Yesterday a buddy failed to meet me for coffee but it turned out great because of something that happened “off the menu”. I like your idea here called “Off the Record” – can you share more what you mean in an email to I think that would make a nice new category. – David


  7. heimdalco says:

    What a delightful post. To me it speaks of losing the ‘sameness’ & taking a chance or two. While ‘sameness’ may be safer, Off the Menu is certainly more exciting.

    Today is my birthday. Being a breast cancer survivor I am ALWAYS so grateful for EVERY birthday, regardless of how old I get … getting old is definitely a privilege. Following the breast cancer I took many Off the Menu chances. I realized we aren’t guaranteed second chances so I tried doing all those things I’d always thought I wanted to do but never had the time. My Off the Menu experiences post breast cancer have been the best parts of my life & made a really frightening experience into a blessing.

    I agree with you … take those chances, enjoy the experiences … check out your full potential. The surprises & rewards are unexpectedly BEAUTIFUL.

    Happy New Year!!!


    • dfolstad58 says:

      My Mom had breast cancer and eventually she did die from cancer in 2018. I appreciate you sharing and hearing that you resonated with this post today. When I hear you sharing about Off The Menu experiences and they are enriching, it makes me smile and happy. I invite you now to write a guest post here – for a new category here called Off the Menu and I will post it. You can email me at

      Liked by 1 person

  8. An Audience of One says:

    I can’t heart this enough, David! Your attitude is such an inspiration, and your story about ordering off the menu really opened my eyes to welcoming new experiences. Then the other examples sealed the deal. Like meeting your future wife! Thank you, and Happy New Year!


  9. Wynne Leon says:

    I love the “Off the Menu” metaphor. It’s so perfect for enjoying life as it’s served instead of how we want to order it to be. What an uplifting and inspiring post. Thank you, David!!

    Wishing you and your beautiful family a wonderful 2023!!


  10. heimdalco says:

    Thank you SO much for the invitation. I a honored. Will send you an email now & THANK YOU again

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy New Year Dave and good health my friend!


  12. Happy New Year! 💥 Good health and happiness to you and your loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. lghiggins says:

    David, this is the most meaningful New Year post I have read this year. “Off the menu” now has a place in my attitude and I’m going to try this more–and not just in restaurants. Gary sounds like an unusual person and someone I would like to know. Taking that carefree attitude has been good for you and your wife in your life choices and in your response to your medical situation. Along with trust, hope, and love!


    • dfolstad58 says:

      Thank you Linda for your high praise. I think I am not a carefree person naturally and that leads me to try harder in that aspect. When we were first married we were carefree for sure. I had an old car with fenders so rusted you could poke your fingers through, true! My Dad did it. I said it was a great feature because I could check the tire tread without bending over. Starting with nearly nothing had it’s advantages. When I left home I bought a stereo before I bought a bed and slept on the floor in my rented apartment, and bought a table and chairs on instalment, along with an ironing board. Ravi in this story is actually me –
      I would love to know how you plan to go off the menu this month – and hope you will consider doing a guest blog post on this topic. – David

      Liked by 1 person

      • lghiggins says:

        David, the story of “Ravi” is wonderful. I love your phrase “the courage of the oblivious.” As I watch my oldest granddaughter prepare to spread her wings after graduation from high school this spring, I think those words describe even the smartest teenager. I know I was very naive at that age. God took care of you and me, and I know He will do the same for my granddaughter as she trusts in Him.
        As for what I will do to go off the menu this month, I don’t know. I have had a rough time getting my mind around this new year. Everyone has an opinion–resolutions, goals, a word. I wanted to have that mentally all ironed out by midnight Dec. 31. It came and went and it dawned on me that I don’t have to have it all worked out. I have been praying about it, and the Holy Spirit is refreshing my tousled brain. I have learned with the lockdowns and their repercussions over the last few years to hold my plans loosely. It seems like going off the menu for me would be a spontaneous event rather than planned. I am at home a lot, so it may mean looking around my home, my family, and my neighborhood to see what it might be fun to “change up.” I expect some belly flops, but also some good results. I’m going to count on God to continue to refresh my mind with new ideas. Thanks for the impetus!


      • dfolstad58 says:

        Thank you Linda. I am glad you liked the story which I created around the actual event of when I moved away from home. That phrase is perfect I think, lol. I am looking forward to what the Holy Spirit brings to your mind, and in his timing. – David

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this Off the Menu post, Dave. It’s inspiring to see how trying different things can lead to some wonderful moments. All the best for 2023! Can’t wait to see where further Off the Menu adventures take you.


    • dfolstad58 says:

      Thank you Debra – I am sure it has happened to you where things have not gone as usual and you ended up having an amazing and unexpected outcome to the day. – Thank you for following me Debra! – David

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Pooja G says:

    I tried something “off menu” moving to Canada and it was amazing. Lots of experiences I never would have had in Kenya. Great post.


  16. Hi David,
    I love the message here of embracing the unexpected! I also enjoyed all your memories.
    Maybe one day I will tell you in person.
    May 2023 be an amazing year for you! Many blessings!


    • dfolstad58 says:

      I have been very pleased with the kind responses to that post and I am glad you liked it also. I have decided that will be a new category and welcome my fellow bloggers to share their stories from off the menu here and link to their own blog of course. Hugs! – David

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Off The Menu, Outside The Box, The Road Less Travelled | Life and Random Thinking

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