Friday, November 30, 2007

For My #1 Fave Cousin (currently)

Cure for the Winter Blues

With the forecast for cold and snow this weekend, I am getting a yen to head south again. This was our Palm Springs home for two weeks almost two years ago. We shared accommodations with friends and had a great time with relatively little cost. Do I have volunteers to shovel my driveway in my absence?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pure Gold

I believe the colours this fall lasted longer than usual. Perhaps the trees were healthy and strong with all the moisture and were reluctant to shed their leaves. Eastern Canada can boast amazing fall colours only because their forests consist mainly of deciduous trees and there is so much colour. We have the same thing here but only in patches. The big Maple tree at Dunach school is always spectacular, as you can see here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Growing up in Sask.

It does not take a long time to find and make friends in a small town. There are only a few kids your age and if it is not them, it is nobody. When all concerned come to this realization, the process is quick and efficient. At that time, there were only three boys to choose from, two from my end of town and one from across town. There were kids older and younger, kids who were siblings of friends, and the odd visitor. We only all came together for school or for impromptu sporting events, namely road hockey, softball, and tackle football. The warm summer evenings saw kids congregate for 'Kick the Can' which often lasted well into the darkness of the evening, but only the west end kids participated because it would be too dark for the others to make their way home after sunset. The street lights were few and far between, and not all of them worked all of the time. A kid can't just play all day. There comes a time when the introduction of work has to take place. It was a foreign concept to my friends, but my parents, having been raised the way they were, were determined to instil within me a strong work ethic at a very early age. Had we lived on a farm, I would have been mucking barns, weeding gardens, chasing pigs and cows around the barnyard or doing some other such activity to contribute to the smooth management of the farming operation. But operating a retail grocery store presented countless opportunities for my Dad to put me to work. I have to admit that most of the time I really enjoyed it.
My duties became numerous and as I worked alongside my Father, I was relieved that I did not have to do household chores at the beck and call of my Mother. She was more of a slave driver and a perfectionist and the little rewards at the store could not be had at home. My Father had a sweet tooth and at all times had a stash of goodies on the go somewhere in the store. As I discovered these secret places over the years, I would sneak a bit for myself, taking care not to pilfer too much or the game would be up. I was naïve to think I could fool him. He knew, but he was a soft touch. He had a weakness for Liquorice Allsorts and Chocolate Macaroons. Being his son, I did too. How convenient.
The work of keeping the shelves filled became my duty. As the products disappeared from their places, I would make my way into the warehouse at the back of the store, find the appropriate box, and bring back enough items to fill the blank spaces in the shelves. The larger, more durable goods, such as soaps, cereals and paper products were kept in the big spooky barn-like warehouse, while the canned goods and more perishable items were kept in a hidden aisle between the two main shelves that ran the length of the store. The height of the shelves was around six feet so if I stood on a box and peered over the top of the shelf, I could not only see what was required to replenish the stock, but I could also spy on the goings on in the store.
That leads me to another important task. I was to ‘keep an eye on certain people’ when they were shopping in the store. It seems they had sticky fingers and my Dad would not say that they were not welcome in his store, but he believed if they were watched, they would be discouraged from stealing and would pay for most of what they came to get. This was a favourite pastime of mine and I soon got to know which people could be caught in the act. My instructions were to let my Dad know and leave it at that, but my detective juices would begin to flow and I found it to be a great adventure to catch people in the act of stealing. I constructed various blinds and hiding places with peep holes and soon felt I was spying on the whole world. This was supposed to be an activity that was to occupy my spare time only, but I managed to integrate the Dick Tracy side of me in almost all I did in the store. One thing it did for sure, and that was to instil in me a strong ethic of "Thou Shalt Not Steal".
There were several memorable occasions when customers were caught red handed doing their evil deed. The first one I caught was George Sharp. He was an elderly gentleman who was known all over town as a cigarette thief. My Dad pointed him out to me early in my detective career and told me to never take my eye off him. He was tall and gaunt and wore a dirty black trench coat, no matter the season or the weather. The great black folds and oversized pockets were perfect for his intentions. He would saunter into the store, hoping it would be busy and we would be distracted. I don't remember him ever buying anything, but come he would. I did not want to make it too obvious that I was watching him so I would pretend to be straightening things out in the display cases, all the while using my peripheral vision to scope out his tactics. Almost everyone smoked in those days and there was a large display case containing every cigarette brand imaginable. The back of the case was facing an aisle and as I was looking at the case, knowing he was behind it and knowing his yellow stained fingers were craving a fresh new pack of smokes, there it came. The bony skeletal hand reached over the back of the shelf and so quickly, I almost missed it, gripped several packages and withdrew immediately, probably plunging into the dark recesses of the trench coat pocket. I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. I actually saw someone breaking the law, stealing from my Dad, and sinning against God. Wow! He actually did it. I was frozen with fear that he had seen me witness his misdeed. I walked around to the side he was on, just in time to see him innocently squeezing some ripe bananas, deciding not to buy any today, and then making a hasty retreat to the door. I ran to my Dad and told him what I had witnessed and he must have taken some action because although I saw George around town many times after that, I don't recall him ever coming into our store again.
Another incident that was a little devastating for me was catching my own friends in an elaborate scheme to get some free chocolate at my Dad's expense. It started out innocently enough when Vernon Guenther wandered into the store one summer afternoon and strangely did not go for the candy counter but made his way to the baking section. It did seem strange that an eight year old boy, whose only knowledge and interest in baking consisted of eating it, would gravitate to that particular section of the store. I followed him, asking what it was he was looking for. He told me his Mom had sent him to get something for baking and he was just checking out the price. His Mom, I knew, did not shop at our store, so I thought it strange except for the fact that word was going around town that we had better prices than the other stores in town. He seemed so unsure and undecided that I eventually left him alone and went to do other things. After several minutes he left, out the front door, and never did buy anything. As I made my way to the back of the store where I had been sweeping the floor, a movement caught my eye and I spotted a hand reaching in through the back door which had been propped open for ventilation. I raced to the door just in time to catch a glimpse of Vern's buddy and my best friend running away from the store, clutching a bag of chocolate chips which had been conveniently dropped there. I didn't even bother trying to catch them but told my Dad. He then had the difficult task of phoning the parent's of both boys and arranging for restitution and hopefully, retribution. Neither parents shopped at our store so it was not a great loss in terms of Public Relations.
By far the most memorable detective adventure was the day my Dad took me aside and told me, with a wicked grin on his face, to, "Watch this!"
The perpetrator was near the back of the store when she did the deed, unawares that my Dad had just witnessed a not so subtle shoplifting event. That was when he hatched a plan and made me privy to it. He went to the phone and with the technology of the day, or lack thereof, he made the phone ring. He had a brief but phoney conversation, before calling the lady in question to the front of the store.
"Mrs. Nash. That was your husband Joe on the phone just now. He just called from across the street at the Lumber Yard and he asked me to tell you that he is in a big hurry to get home and to finish your shopping right now and get over there."
My Dad knew this couple and had seen Joe park his farm pickup across the street and walk into the lumber yard while his wife ambled across the street and into our store. He also knew that she had stolen from him many times before but he had never confronted her. He also knew that when Joe said "jump", his wife jumped, or there would be a price to pay.
The shoplifter came slowly to the front and my Dad had only to say "Joe said RIGHT NOW!"
The next few seconds gave us the biggest laugh we had ever had. She began to walk quickly out the door, seeming to pinch her legs together. There was muffled crackling of cellophane coming from under her dress, and as she descended the steps onto the sidewalk and across the street, she began to run. She ran with her knees locked together, but you could easily tell that the prize was rapidly slipping downward. This in turn made her pinch her legs together all the tighter. By the time she managed to stumble across the street to her husband's truck, the bag of crushed Christie's Chocolate Wafer cookies was very much exposed and she nervously looked back to see if there were any witnesses. There were. But they were laughing so hard they could barely see through the tears. I couldn't help but wonder who would eat those cookies now, knowing where they had been. What a waste?

Mascot Rant

I just cannot help myself, I feel a rant coming on.
Didn't you just know that the 2010 Olympic Mascots choosen by VANOC would stir up controversy? I apologise if you like them. You can stop reading now.
I find this to be the height of political correctness, one of my pet peeves of this generation. Are the mascots not supposed to be representative of Canada, something that will identify the 2010 Olympics with things Canadian? Well, it does, really. It shows our greatest national identity marker ... lack of identity.
There is nothing real about Canada, according to these choices, because all three are fictional. Canadian identity is fictional. We have Sumi, an imaginary spirit roaming the forests, supposedly of aboriginal origins, then there is Quatchi, a sasquatch (and we all know how real these guys are) and then Miga, a fish/bear who is perhaps a missing link in the evolutionary myth.
All three are sort of Oriental looking, and although there is nothing wrong with looking Oriental, I don't think the Chinese are going to have Caucasian looking mascots.
If the appeal was strictly to children then they hit the jackpot imitating Pokemon, but looking back at other Canadian Mascots I think we could have done better. The '76 Montreal Olympics had the cute little flag bannered Beaver named Amik. And who could forget the endearing Polar Teddy Bears of Hidy and Howdy of the Calgary winter Olympics of '88? These were mascots representative of things Canadian.
It is too late now but I would like to have seen something like a lumberjack dressed in a red plaid shirt with an Olympic sized ax over his shoulder. Now that is not only Canadian, but British Columbian as well. Besides, our forest industry needs a big shot in the arm right now.
Oops, I just thought of it. That would be politically incorrect because that would be a representation of deforestation which is leading to global warming etc. etc.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rain Forest

A warm August day was driving us to the cooler spots in the garden, but even here, the breezes were pushing the heat into the shade. A sunshine shower, or an irrigation sprinkler inadvertently left running? Either way, it was being in the right place at the right time, and but for the sensitive electronics of the camera, the photographer would be sitting on the bench.

Monday, November 26, 2007

In Loving Memory

Mika Bergen, who loved to grow Dahlias
February 3 1921 - November 21 2007

For Henry and Heidi: When the sunshine of God's love meets the showers of our sorrow, the rainbow of promise appears.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Rose

We were out for a walk today, enjoying the sun, but noticing how low it is in the sky. Two months from now, it will be thus. For the next two months it will be darker and the days shorter, the landscape dull and colourless, the sky mostly drab and grey, and I will find colour and cheeriness where I can, in my photos.
We have one rose left in our garden as of today. Not bad for November, but before you are too impressed, this is not it. Our lone winter rose is frost damaged on the edges and needing sunshine to show off its true beauty. This rose was photographed and slightly altered in summer. I have a vast collection of rose photos, to hold me through the winter.

Country Church

Those who travel Highway #3 have seen this church many times. To drive off the main road and get a closs-up photo seems like it might be trespassing so I resorted to a telphoto lens. The church I attend is a bit larger than this one, but God's light shines on it just the same

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Miss Thompson

Two comments on the photo of my old school got my juices going and I have written a little description of my first day of school with the legendary Miss Thompson, the Grade one and two teacher, in Lanigan, since the invention of wheat.

Miss Thompson

I was clutching my mom's hand tightly as we both stood in the doorway at the top of the steps. On either side, young students and their mothers were jostling for position as Miss Thompson was about to open the door to the one room school house. It was with fear and anxiety that I was about to embark on my 12 year journey through the school system.
My older sister had survived Miss Thompson, in fact, had survived two years of her before I even arrived on the scene. That gave small comfort as I saw and heard the door handle turning. I had seen this woman before, but only from a distance, and was glad for the distance because she looked austere and threatening.
She was referred to at my home as 'Belle' Thompson, but I was instructed to only call her 'Miss Thompson'. The penalty for breaking this rule was sure death, or at least I thought so. Rumours abounded regarding the unusual torture and punishment this woman could mete out and my sister's run-in with her proved it. She had come home with 'wet pants' after having been 'shook up' by Belle, er, I mean, Miss Thompson.
These 'shake ups' were legendary and there was not a student she ever taught, with the exception of her all time favourite 'pet' Marion Rode, who was not on the receiving end of at least a mild one of these. For the slightest misdemeanour, she would grab the child by the shoulders and violently shake back and forth, as if to drive some sense into the kid. Fortunately, whiplash had not yet been invented or law suits would have abounded.
I had expressed misgivings about attending a class with such a cruel taskmaster at the head, but my mother assured me that she was really a nice lady and a very, very good teacher and all her students did really well. Just behave and everything will be fine.
Just behave, just behave, became my internal mantra.
The door suddenly swung open and there she was. From my perspective, that of a 6 year old, she was a large woman, both tall and thickly built. Her hair was silver, almost blue somehow, and I wondered how one got blue hair. She had a stern face but was wearing a big smile, looking rather fake, probably just trying to impress the parents and infuse some confidence in the children. Her navy cotton print dress was a little snug on top and I could see that she was a bit top heavy. Her face had a powdery look, her lips were too red, and she was a pioneer when it came to blue eye shadow. She was not exactly what I had expected, but what choice did I have, but to accept her for what she was. I would have sooner rejected her, but by this time my mom was pushing my hand out of hers and steering me toward one of the three left handed desks in the classroom. She put us to work right away and after a very brief talk with the parents, they were shooed out of the building and she had us to herself.
The smile suddenly disappeared! We then got 'the lecture', regarding boots, coats, hats, books, pencils and behaviour. It was a no nonsense attitude she was displaying and I knew what was good for me. I was not going to be the first one to try out her patience or her tolerance level. The test came soon enough as the Funk twins started fooling around. What was this? A strapping on the first day of school? No problem. It set an example, a precedent, a level of behaviour, beyond which there was no turning back. The rest of us huddled in fear as the awful noises came from the cloak room.
I had been strapped by a belt at home often enough to recognize that dreaded sound. But there was no whimpering or crying out to follow. Just silence. All eyes were on the cloak room door as Miss Thompson stepped out, red faced and obviously very agitated. Behind her sauntered Donald Funk, a big grin on his face, displaying to the whole class who was the toughest kid in school, as if we hadn't just found out.
He plunked down at his desk, staring down at the large red and growing welts on the backs of his hands. Miss Thompson sat at her desk too, but got out a large bobby pin and began picking in her ears.
I just knew I had a story to tell at the supper table that night!

PhotoShop Fun

I manipulated this ordinary photo about 30 different ways until it 'grabbed' me. Over the edge? Maybe, but so much better than the original.
White Rock trains are everbody's favourites. Just jump off the track in time! More PhotoShop playing here for the lighting effects and imagination for the sound effects. Did you remember to put your penny on the track?

Indian Pipe

We were hiking on the southern shores of Hayward Lake, the sun was all but hidden by the dense forestation, when we came upon a knoll covered in small shrubs and plants that only grow in low light conditions. There, at the base of a filtered shaft of sunlight, something caught our eye. They were very fragile and reminded us of mushrooms, but were albino-like flowers. I took a few photos and later searched the internet for a clue as to what they were. I had no luck, so went to a university botanical sight. I up-loaded the pictures to one of the experts who would respond to my email. He was quite enthusiastic and told me I had come across a very rarely seen variety of 'Indian Pipe'. Very unusual to spot because only very rarely are the conditions just right for them to bloom and when they do, they come up very quickly and then deteriorate and fade just as quickly.

More Barns

This is one of the prettiest barns in the area and I caught it on a bright and sunny day when I happened to have my camera with me. If you cannot guess where it is, you need glasses. :-)
This is a small after thought on a rather larger barn very near Chilliwack. I find old and weathered barn boards very attractive and wonder why anyone would ever paint a barn.
Oh, OK. Maybe this is why someone would want to paint a barn. The only barn that looks better than an old weathered one is a freshly painted red one.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mt. Baker

A 'good real estate view' is always one that includes Mt. Baker. The mountain itself is in the USA, but the best views by far are from Canada.

Grassy Hillside

Here is my younger Grandson, about the age when I first began registering memories. Will he remember running out into the grassy meadow and trying to be patient while his Grandad set up his camera?

Sumas Prairie Barn

Do I like barn photos because we live in an agricultural community, because my friend's dad built so many of the barns in this area, or because they represent low tech? It is pretty basic, being a shelter for animals and for their food. Straightforward, simple, and efficient. They look good to me even on a grey day.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


If you were an American and you had never crossed the border but only seen this view from 0 Ave., what would you think lay beyond? Does all of Canada look like this? You might think so because the ridge of high ground all but obscures the great land beyond. We are more than this, but this is a good start.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It is still November so here is a poppy in remembrance, much more fragile than the ones we pin on our lapels.

Driver Education

Here is the first little story of my boyhood recollections in Lanigan Sask.

Chapter 1
" I heard that there are several boys your age living very near by. Would you like to meet them?" my mother asked one day over lunch.
I thought I had seen one just that morning. He was in the street riding a tricycle and looked friendly enough. My Mother was eager to get me out from underfoot and the best way to do that was to get me going with a friend or two. My older sister and I did not get along well and besides, playing with girls was something I refused to do.
I sauntered out the back screen door into the side yard where the big old green Plymouth was parked. It was not used much these days, except when my Dad would deliver a load of groceries to someone who did not have their own transportation. This was usually done in the evenings, after work, and I would often get to ride along. It was a hot day and as I walked past the car, I noticed that the windows had been left open. The doors were very big and heavy and I had great difficulty opening them, but with the windows open, it was an easy task getting in. I had never been specifically told that the car was off limits, but still a little pang of guilt hit me as I climbed in the driver's window. It was my great dream to one day be at the controls of a car and actually drive it. Until that day, which always seemed so far off, I would be content to pretend. I was unable to see through the windshield, but that did not prevent me from cranking the wheel one way and then the other, racing down the highway, swerving around the corners, and raising billowing clouds of dust behind me as I flew through the countryside. The foot pedals had always been a mystery to me, I could never quite see what Dad was doing when I would detect a flex of his knee but I knew it had something to do with braking and also with moving the lever on the steering column, something called changing the gears.
So, to be true to my fantasy, I too had to change gears. I strained body and legs to reach the pedals and, almost sliding off the seat, managed to press both pedals to the floor simultaneously. With a mighty push of my right arm, the gear shift lever slid upwards and clicked into a new position. That wasn't so hard, I thought. But wait. I had a sensation of movement. I couldn't really be driving because the engine was not running. The keys were not even in the ignition and I knew that was a prerequisite. But I was definitely moving, very slowly, but creeping backwards down the slight decline to the street. My first concern was the trouble I was going to be in when Mom saw that the car was not parked where she had left it. But a much larger concern soon overcame me and fear coursed through my body as visions of death and a totally demolished car filled my imagination. For there, just up the street, came the town grader, straight for our place, blade down, engine growling and it seemed to me to be an unstoppable beast, bearing down on all in it's path. I gauged by my direction and speed and the speed of the grader, that it would only be a matter of a minute or less and my world would come crashing in. I struggled with the door, but must have pushed down the lock knob in my efforts to climb in the window. But my greater concern was for the car. I had no idea how to stop it. And if I did not stop it, my Dad's car would be no more. He could not deliver the groceries, his business would fail, and we would become poor and destitute, starving to death in our ratty old house. I resorted to the old tried and true thing to do when panic sets in. I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Whether anyone heard me or not was irrelevant, for two things happened. They were both miracles in my estimation. The back end of the car was just beginning to protrude onto the street, when suddenly it came to an abrupt halt. The street was slightly raised and halted the momentum of the car. At almost the exact same time, the grader stopped, the hard packed dirt ceasing its curl off the end of the polished steel blade. The engine wound down and actually stopped. I was frozen in terror and could not let go of the steering wheel. I don't know who came to the window first, the grader operator or my Mom, but there they were, both staring down at me.
"Son, you had better get this car off the road so I can finish my job," he said, as if it was totally in my control to do so.
"Move over, Terry," my Mom gently said. "I'll drive it back up the driveway."
I do not recall her saying much beyond that, but it came to my attention that when we left the car, the windows were shut tightly and the doors locked securely. In my mother's wisdom, she must have realized that I needed no chiding, as I had just had a terrifying experience that would have taught me much more than any words she could have said. I am sure she and Dad had a good chuckle over it as they discussed the day’s activities later that evening.
The next day when I did meet the neighbour boy for the first time, we were kicking dirt and wondering what to do.
“How about we go for a drive in your car?" he suggested.
We all discovered how quickly news spreads in a small prairie town.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another Morning Glory

In my collection of pictures, there are a handful of favourites. This is one of them. This Morning Glory vine was creeping up my neighbours chimney. The brick was not exciting me as a backdrop for so lovely a pair of blossoms, but I clicked away anyway. I did a bit of PhotoShop work to somehow change the drab grayness of the brick and this is what I came up with. The darkened background has a warmth and depth to it that actually enhances the twin blue blossoms without distorting the true beauty of the flowers.

"Anywhere But Here"

What follows is an introduction to a collection of stories I have written about growing up in a small dusty prairie town. Everything is true and accurate to the best of my recollection. I started these stories a few years ago, afraid that I might soon forget them, as older folks sometimes do. So far so good. The school house in the previous post is where a lot of 'stuff' happened and I also have a photo of my Father's grocery store and a photo of the new house he built 'on the hill'. (To be posted later) As I read the intro, I realised there are a lot of things I would change now, not so much content, but phrasing and words. It will have to do for now because I am in the middle of watching a hockey game. :-)

“Anywhere But Here”

A collection of stories about growing up in Saskatchewan


We slowly drove past it. There was no concern about holding up traffic. There was none. It was a hot July day and I was not sure if everyone was staying indoors because of the heat, or if the town was always this sleepy. If this was the usual pace, things sure had not changed much in the last 25 years. The town was much larger now, a rare thing for a prairie town, but it still had that laid back ambiance of yesteryear.
I strained to see how things had changed, or stayed the same. The modest bungalow had earned a reputation as being the house on the hill way back then, but try as I might, I could not see much of a rise in the long driveway as it stretched up to the front door. Strange how your perspective changes as you grow larger, and older. It was the same house all right. But it almost fooled me. There were neighbouring houses now, and the colour of the house had been changed, probably many times over the years. But, the basic shape and structure were identical to the image I had stored in my memory all these years.
I stopped at the base of the driveway. I studied the lie of the land. I looked at the houses across the street, up the street, and down the street. The trees. Had there been trees? If there had been, they could not have been very large the last time I was here. They were everywhere now, providing the wonderful shade that we longed for way back then. Everything was much greener, a testament to modern irrigation. I drank it in, absorbing every detail and letting the images wash through my mind so I would not lose track of this place if I came back in another 25 years. I was lost in thought and drifting through time, back to my childhood. This is where it began. It was a wonderful emotion that overcame me at that moment, but mixed with a sadness too.
It would have been nice to have my Mother and Father here with me now, so we could fill in the blanks of each other's recollections, but their health did not allow it. I would tell my Dad all it about when I got back home. My Mom, well, she would hear but not comprehend. She was in the clutches of Alzheimer's Disease. Looking at her now, it was hard to imagine that she was once such a strong and vibrant person and was capable of doing what she did. She, more than anyone, was the center of my universe, here in this dusty little prairie town called Lanigan.
Not all people growing up in the prairies were farmers. My Mother's family were, but my Father's family were business people. And so it was, in 1952, with a business agreement in hand, and title to an established grocery store in Lanigan, he packed his few belongings, and together with his wife and 2 small children, left their familiar surroundings, and struck out for the unknown. It took courage for him to overcome his fear of change. It was a part of his personality. He told me many years later that after he had committed himself to the deal, he stepped outside and threw up his lunch, the apprehension was so great.
He had very little money and no guarantee that he would even be able to earn a living, but needed a roof over his family's head, so he rented the only house in town that was vacant at that time. I never realized until years later just how small and derelict that house was, but for a child of 5, everything is an adventure and I remember running into the house that first day to explore every corner.
It was on a large corner lot, full of Quack Grass and Chick Weed, about three or four blocks from his new store and he would be able to walk to work and even come home for lunch. There was plenty of room to park the '48 green Plymouth that had brought us to this place. The house had a front door facing the larger of the two streets and a side door facing the other street, a door which opened to a narrow hall which doubled as a toilet room in the cold winter months. The hall was only a few feet long and there was the kitchen. Off to the left was what was supposed to be a living room, but we used it as a bedroom in the winter months. It was much too cold to sleep upstairs where there were two bedrooms. Off the living room was another room, so small there was only a bed and a small chest of drawers. This was where Mom and Dad slept. At the time, I was not aware of it, but my Mom was very upset. This was a big step down from her home as a child and even from the house she lived in during the first few years of their marriage. She would have to endure the hardships of this house for the next 3 years.
And there were hardships. My Dad's first priority when he started his business venture, was to dress up the old building on Main Street. It was very old and was leaning over. He took off the second story which was serving no purpose other than to house mice and spiders, and put on a new corrugated tin roof. New shelving inside, together with modern signage and newer refrigeration units made it by far the best of the three grocery stores in town. But this all came with a price tag. He was doing business during renovations and earning money, but it was all going back into the structure. At home, Mom was coping with raising her family in a house with no running water or indoor plumbing and winter was coming and it became quite evident that there was no insulation in the walls of the house. The oil heater in the middle of the kitchen was barely adequate to heat the lower floor and the fuel bills were mounting. She was pregnant, helping in the store, nursing two small kids who always had colds and flu, and trying to make friends in the neighbourhood so she could determine who would provide a safe environment for her kids as they made friends. Yes, it was even a concern back then, although she was a bit ahead of her time. One of her fortes was worrying.
I have vivid memories of our life before Lanigan, but this is where it started, my adventure called life. This is where I began to stray from home and explore my world, both physically and intellectually. It was in this setting, away from the familiar, away from extended family, in a new town, whose boundaries were my playground, whose residents would be my teachers, where I would discover who I was.

Monday, November 19, 2007


In the next few days I will post the first of many stories of my youthful days in Saskatchewan. They were happy days for me, but as I recall, not for my mother. She actually hated that little town of Lanigan and as a young boy, I could never figure it out.
This is a photo scanned from a 35mm slide I took back in the 90's just before these buildings were demolished. This is the Lanigan Public School. I attended Grades 1 and 2 in the small building on the right, and later, grades 3-8 in the larger, more imposing structure, built in 1905. Believe me when I tell you it was yesterday!

Window Box Geraniums

Here is one more picture I took at Evita's farm. As we were being led through the barn to the hay loft, I stopped and turned around. I let the rest of the group go ahead as I studied this scene. The lower part of the barn is a working barn, a home for a horse and perhaps a few other critters. I was washed over with nostalgia as the odours and sights that surrounded me stimulated my memory banks until I was once again a boy of 6, standing in my Grandfather's barn in Osler Saskatchewan. The heavily beamed ceiling was barely above my head and crisscrossed with cobwebs and ancient wiring for the dim overhead incandescent bulbs. Odours of manure and hay permeated the stagnant air, a smell, strangley enough, I was relishing at that moment. A small window set low in the wall, just above a hay manger was reluctantly allowing enough light in to allow me to avoid stepping in anything unpleasant. The irregular barn grade glass on the window was distorting the view, but not as much as the accumulated dust and cobwebs. It was a perfect effect as the bright reds and greens of the geraniums in the window box were muted just enough to blend in with the drab brown and roughness of the interior barn boards. The new and fresh life as seen through the old and decaying frame of the window was not really captured in this photo as it was, but close enough to conjure up the old memories everytime I look at it.

Gulag Letters Movie Location

This morning, I went to visit Evita's farm where the Gulag Letters project is filming its final scenes. It was a pleasure to meet Jennifer and her dad and speak to them briefly about the letters and the stories that are being portrayed in the movie. I got a real sense of their passion for the project and their hard work and sacrifice to see it through. Their enthusiasm is infectious. I encourage you to click on the link on the sidebar to see for yourself what this is all about.
Today, the story of escape from arrest was being portrayed in the old army barracks building that was hauled onto Evita's property, from the airport, after WWII. The windows and the old door latch are only representative of this old building and I am sure it will be perfect for the scene. The other two photos were taken in the warmth of summer and beckon me to revisit this haven once again, next summer.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another world

This is another of many delightful spots found on Evita's farm. When you enter the property off a busy main thoroughfare, you immediately feel the serenity envelope you. The traffic snarl is muffled by the mountainous hedges and is easily forgotten and never seen. There is a quiet peaceful charm at every turn, surprises around every corner and behind every stand of shrubbery. It is a labour of love and Evita is the most sharing person I have ever met. The farm was willed to her and in exchange, she shares it freely with all who need a little tranquility in their lives.

Movie Set

This is one of the charming spots on a wonderful farm property that belongs to a family friend. Recently, I was contacted regarding a movie that was being filmed and the production crew were having a difficult time finding a location for the last two scenes of the movie. I suggested they contact Evita and to make a long story short, I just received an email saying that on Monday and Wednesday of this week, the filming will take place. It suited their needs perfectly and Evita was thrilled to have a part in the production. It is about a box of letters that was found in an attic in a small Saskatchewan town, documents that had been smuggled out of Russia during the reign of Stalin. The letters told of the suffering and hardships of some of the families that were placed in Gulags in the Ural Mountains. My wife's grandfather was one who was so placed, but in Siberia, never to be heard from again. I will probably post more on this in the days to come.

Japanese Anenome

The sweetness in my life and I spent a day at Minter Gardens in Rosedale this summer and much to my amazement, discovered that there were only a small handful of floral varieties that we did not have in our own garden! I will be posting many flower photos and by far the majority of them will have been shot in our own garden. No big production field trips required.

Early Rising

Rising early on a Sunday morning, I was hoping there would be fog in the prairie. I guessed right and was rewarded with layers of the stuff catching the sunrise. I believe I live in the most beautiful part of the world in terms of variety and sheer spectacular nature. I have heard this from people who have travelled the world and there is ample evidence that it is true.
Tansy Ragwort is a weed, but, there is beauty in all of God's creation. Click on the photo to catch the dew drops on the spider web. Again, early rising can have its benfits. The sun was trying very hard to burn through the fog at Willband Creek Park but as long it was not having any success, I was getting great pictures.


Rising early, especially on a holiday, has to have a big payoff for me before I will even consider it. A walk along the beach as the sun rises, does it for me. Here, the peachy glow of the early light infuses the sky, the clouds, the water and the sand with its warm glow. The reflection off the wave curl and the couple walking in the distance were a true bonus. Look familiar? It is Banderas Bay on the west coast of Mexico, just south of the village of Bucerias.

Fort Langley Barn

By request, another barn photo. The stroll along the Fraser River, south of Ft. Langley is inspiring. Only minutes in every direction, the hustle and bustle of Valley life is thrumming incessantly. Here is peace and quietude, and a step back in time, an opportunity to collect ones thoughts and calm the spirit. I was attracted by the glowing light above the ridge line of the roof and was fortunate that it was captured as it really was.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Before the winds

My favourite time of year has just passed, only days ago. But, like summer, I can revisit the beauty of Autumn any time because of photography. The scenes around Mill Lake are everchanging, season to season and even hour to hour, as the light changes. Many of my favourite pictures were taken at this old saw mill site and I am always grateful that our city fathers had the foresight to preserve and enhance this rare jewel.

Roman Soldier

Is there anyone out there who knows what this is and where it is? A special gift awaits the first person to guess correctly.

Another chapter from "Painting to Learn"

Here is another chapter from my collection of work life experiences. Last time, I broke it into segments, but it is a little confusing because the last post should be read first. This time, the whole story is in one post, top to bottom, as it should be. Don't be intimidated by the length, it is not that long. :-) I wrote this in 2001

Family Ties
When I became a grandfather, I began to be enveloped by a profound sense of family legacy. This was quite different from the realization of fatherhood and parenting that overwhelmed me when our first child was born. I began to think of the influence of past generations and how the traditions and behaviors of our forefathers had such a direct bearing on the shape and texture of our present generation. How did this come about and how could I influence the direction that our little family would take as a result of things that I would do as a father and now as a grandfather.
My first grandson had just been born and I was pondering these issues when I had the timely opportunity to work for an elderly couple that not only told me, but modeled to me, a very important lesson. I was not really expecting anything profound to come out of a simple two day job, redecorating a kitchen/family room with new wallpaper. The couple were the parents of a young family down the street and around the corner who had recommended me. The elderly gentleman had always done his own work but recently had to go on kidney dialysis and was not feeling up to fulfilling his wife's wishes for a new look in the kitchen.
I found them quite pleasant and down-to-earth people and knew I would enjoy my short time with them. Mid-afternoon came and there were suddenly 2 adolescent boys at the door and they just walked right in. I was a little taken by surprise until I recognized them as the 2 boys from down the street and around the corner. These were the grandsons who obviously felt comfortable enough with Grandpa and Grandma that they could just walk right in on them. They were immediately welcomed and Grandma, seeming to have sensed that they would be there exactly at that time, got out 2 large glasses of milk and a plate of home made chocolate chip cookies. I knew the boys would enjoy these because I had sampled them earlier that morning with the coffee break that was so graciously provided for me.
Working in the same room, I could not help but observe and listen to the proceedings. I was immediately impressed with the fact that these boys really cared for their grandparents and that the grandparents were very interested in all that the boys had to say. I sensed a genuine loving and caring relationship and was surprised because I had rarely seen this before in the thousands of homes I had worked in. Later, when the boys left, I couldn't help but start a conversation regarding what I just witnessed. The grandfather was quite willing to talk about it and share a few lessons with me that he had learned.
I discovered that these two boys would never go to their own home directly from school, but everyday would first go to Grandpa and Grandma's. Had they been latch-key kids, I would have understood, but their own mother was a stay at home mom and was always there for her kids. I had never sensed any strain in their household so the boys were not delaying their trip home for any ulterior motive, but simply because they loved their grandparents so much that they wanted to spend some time each day with them.
This surprised me because I had never experienced this and I always thought that the generation gap would be so great that all you could expect from a Grandparent/Grandchild relationship would be a little kindness and lots of respect. Needless to say, I asked how this precious bond had been developed over the years and told him how I was getting a fresh new start as a Grandfather and I wanted to do things right. He thought for a while and then told me how easy and how difficult it was. Knowing what to do was the easy part. Doing it was the hard part.
It started with simply being interested in everything that they do. Really listen when they talk to you. Don't judge their comments or their actions. Don't let anything distract you when you spend time with them. Tell them that you love them. Encourage them. Go to their soccer games, even in the rain. And always have cookies and milk on hand.
We have all heard that before, have we not? But I began to think about each one of those things and I now realize just how difficult each one of those points is to carry through. As my grandson grows and develops, I try to do all of those things but there are times when my own selfishness gets in the way. Yes, it is easy to say that I have more important things to do than to sit down and read a story, or play Snakes and Ladders. The work in my office beckons, but there is a little boy who wants my time and attention and if I am serious about that relationship that I coveted, then I should be able to postpone the important things in life to concentrate on the really important things in life. In my travels through people's homes over the years, I have seen every refrigerator magnet ever made and the one that comes to mind now is one I saw just very recently. It said "Never sacrifice the future on the altar of the immediate."
I must now tell a story about the opposite end of the spectrum. It is something that so impacted me that I have never forgotten it and it plays in my mind like it happened yesterday, even though it was in the early years.
Again, it was for an elderly couple and I was in their suite for a number of days. I enjoyed hearing the man's experiences and found them quite amazing because he was a WW I vet and related to me stories of the trench warfare and mustard gas and all the horrible things that I had only read about. The last day I was there, he was sitting in his easy chair, reading the newspaper and she was in the kitchen busily preparing lunch for him. The phone rang. I was right there and hearing only one side of the conversation, I could never have guessed what the call was all about.
" Oh."
" Oh, that is very interesting. Thank-you so much for calling. Bye now."
Like me, her husband was only mildly interested, and could not guess what it was all about. So he inquired.
" It was the Florida State Highway Patrol. They called to say that our daughter was killed in a motor vehicle accident last night."
My heart skipped a beat and I froze. I turned to him to see his reaction and have never been more shocked and amazed in my whole life. He never even put his paper down or paused his scanning down the page. He said in a very calm and almost detached way," Is that right? That's very interesting."
Thinking that at any moment the reality would hit home and he would have a different reaction, I kept silent and tried to work out in my mind what I would say to them. To my utter amazement, they both just carried on with what they were doing.
I finally was able to blurt out a few words and said how sorry I was and if they wanted to be alone for a while and did they want me to pack up my tools and finish another day. At that point, he put his paper down and addressed me. He assured me it was OK to keep on working. It didn't matter that she was dead because they had not seen her in 30 years and had no intention of ever seeing her again. He simply said that there had been a falling out many years ago and there just wasn't anything there between them any longer.
I could only stand there and stare at the two of them. Never had I ever imagined that a father and daughter, or a mother and daughter could ever become so estranged as to come to something like this. I finished the job in stunned silence and at the end of the day bid my farewell and left. Stepping out into the fresh air was like waking up from a bad dream. Did I really just have that experience?
Since that time, I have come to realize that situation I have just described is not all that uncommon. I have since met many people who have not seen parents or children or siblings for most of their lives, and say that they really don't care. I don't really believe them, but I do believe that they have woven such a web of pride and unforgiveness that they do not know how to extricate themselves. What a contrast to the couple who spend quality time with their grandsons everyday.
We build or destroy relationships one comment at a time, one act at a time, one thought at time. The harvest we reap in the end, will depend entirely on the seeds that have been sown from the beginning.

Much Needed Sunshine

I left the friendliness of my computer desk to venture out this afternoon. Where is the joy in a day like today, dismal, wet, and gray. In midsummer, we see the dazzling yellow of the garden flowers and think nothing of the reflected warmth and glow of the sunshine from their blossoms. Appreciation for flowers is greatest when there are none to be had. But wait! There is always photography. My busylizzy, the sweetness of my life, plants and nutures them, and I take pictures of them. The joy they bring is thus multiplied.

Set Apart

An abandoned house is all that was left of this homestead. I gave it the colour treatment I did because this scene invoked in me some sadness. I wanted so much for the house to once more be a home, full of laughter, children, hopes and dreams. The colour, against the black and white, gives it just bit of the life I am sure it once had. When we see abandoned old folks, will we still see some of the colour that was once their life? Maybe a little 'PhotoShop' treatment on our part will help to bring it out.

Pioneer dwelling

There is a clever little route to the USA through a border crossing called Nighthawk. The turn off is between Cawston and Osoyoos and is easy to miss if you are not aware of its existence. The narrow and roughly paved road takes you through some very historic and interesting country until it comes out past the Oroville Golf Course and eventually into downtown Oroville. There are a number of structures similar to this one, scattered throughout the hills, but this log cabin/animal shelter is close enough to the road to avoid trespassing if you want a good closeup photo. The logs are rough hewn and the roof is sod, intriguing for me because my maternal great-grandparents pioneered in Saskatchewan in sod houses, not too different from this one. On this particular day in late May, the air was alive with honey bees, attracted to the fresh sweet clover blossoms.

Not Really Barns

This is the beauty of north central Washington state in Late summer. This country is serene, historical, and very different from the mantles of green we are used to. Ancient weathered wood, winding country roads, and wide vistas of dry pastureland draw me here. I can still hear the soft warm wind sighing through the dry sage as I admired the ageless beauty of these old structures.


I have collected a number of barn pictures over the last few years. I am by no means a farmer at heart, something I discovered about myself many years ago when I spent my summers on my Uncles farms. I always had a great time, however, so perhaps there is an element of nostalgia when I spot an old barn and I am maybe trying to capture a bit of my youth. On the the hand, I think I see a rustic charm and beauty in rural scenes, nature tamed by man without spoiling it. This scene captured my imagination as I was driving through south Langley.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I am on a 'yearning for summer' binge right now and to me this represents summer like little else can. Juicy, succulent, ripe, bursting with flavour, and a perfect melding of tart and sweet. Pity the poor soul who has never had the opportunity to eat these delightful morsels fresh off the vine and stained their fingers with summer.


Here is something of what I was referring to in my introduction to this blog. I enjoy manipulating my photos in a program called PhotoShop. Even without the special effect that was created, I love the reflections in this scene. I think we all have a built-in PhotoShop program in our heart. We sometimes manipulate the way we really are so there is a nice reflection on the outside. Alas, the true picture will eventually come to the surface and reflect who we really are, so we had better make sure it is a good one.

In Rememberance

Autumn brings out the melancholy in most of us. Did I realise when I took this picture at Minter Gardens this summer that I would soon be looking longingly at it, wishing for summer to return? In a matter of months, I will look at this photo and no longer wish for summer to return but wish for summer to hurry up and arrive. How quickly the year flies by and how soon the pictures we take become items of nostalgia. Today in remembrance, tomorrow in hope.

Morning Glory

As you will see, I photograph many flowers. They are pleasant subjects, never objecting, always smiling, and so very photogenic under almost every light condition. I will be posting several pictures of Morning Glories and in every one you will see the marvelous inner light that emanates from the centre of the blossom. They are new every morning, and dying off by evening, as if they knew their life was short and they were giving their very best while they could. As our lives should be.


My favourite place to observe the rhythms and patterns of nature is at our lakeside property on Lake Osoyoos. Like the cottage residents, the Geese only show up in early Spring and by late Fall are in their 'V' formations pointing south. The regimented alignments are rigidly practiced, even in the water. I would like to know how the leaders are chosen and who gets to be in fifth or seventh position. Who makes these decisions? Do jealousies arise? Are families kept intact? There is an order and decorum there that we can learn from.

Part 3

I jabbered for a few seconds about the situation, quickly gave him the address and then said that I needed advice in order to give Stan CPR. I was not trained in CPR but had paid attention whenever I saw it demonstrated on TV. I was unsure as to how many times I should breathe into his mouth and how many times to pump his chest. I laid the phone beside Stan's head on the steps, with the volume turned up, and the 911 operator guided me through the process. I was in an adrenaline induced haze and found myself doing things I never knew I was capable of. I cleared his passage way and found not one, but two dental bridges coming loose in his mouth. As I breathed life into him, I tasted his breakfast and could only wish that he came out of this alive because then he would 'owe me one'. I was hyperventilating and suddenly found myself being very tired, to the point of exhaustion. I was pleading with God to send the ambulance faster and to keep Stan alive. Still no breathing. Still no pulse. Then, as if an angel had arrived, there was a woman at my side, explaining that she had seen the commotion out of her front room window and after watching for a while, realized it was Stan on the floor and maybe her neighbourliness and her experience as a nurse might be needed. She explained that she was a practical nurse, but she had training in CPR. Much to my relief, she pumped Stan's chest while I breathed into his mouth. Minutes later, the ambulance arrived, and I gladly let the paramedics take over.
As they were wheeling the stretcher to the ambulance, Stan was looking blue and the nurse commented that she was sure he was gone. With no pulse or breathing for that length of time her assessment did not surprise me. Donna arrived at that moment and all I could do was very briefly tell her what had just happened and console her. As the ambulance pulled away, not in any great hurry, and the neighbour lead Donna to her house, I retrieved my ladders and planks, loaded them onto the truck and drove away. I was a basket case. I cancelled the rest of my appointments for that morning and went for a long walk. I relived the whole experience over and over again, trying to reassure myself that I had done the right thing, and always chastising myself for having lost so many valuable seconds in the beginning. But more than anything, I was praying for Stan. If by some miracle he was still alive, I pleaded that he would not have brain damage from lack of oxygen and that Donna would be comforted no matter the outcome. I had asked Donna as I left to call me when she had a chance and when she could tell me what the outcome was.
I could not wait by the phone all afternoon, even though I was desperate to know Stan's condition, whether dead or alive. I was in a fog the rest of the day and when Donna had not called by 5 pm, I was resigned to the fact that he was dead and I could have saved him.
Hours later the phone rang. I recognized Donna's voice and instantly wondered why she was sounding so cheerful. Was she glad he was dead? Did I comprehend the words I was hearing? Stan was in intensive care. He was hooked up to every machine conceivable. He was stable. The Doctor had said there would be no brain damage. His heart was beating on its own and he was breathing on his own. Could this be? The relief flooded over me and was overwhelming. Thank you God! What more could I say?
Stan's ordeal was not over for some time. He picked up a blood infection in the hospital that caused his kidneys to fail. After many weeks, he was stable enough for a pace maker/defibrillator implant. Six weeks later I got a call from Stan. He was home and wanted me to come right over so he could personally thank me. I needed no coaxing and was there in 10 minutes. As I stepped into the entry of their home, the panic struck me in the pit of the stomach as I relived the event in a very condensed period of time. I soon recovered as I saw Stan, a shadow of his old self, but nevertheless, alive. I took great pleasure in relating the whole story to him, for he had absolutely no recollection of anything, including what he had eaten for breakfast that morning. His eyes were big and incredulous as I related all the gory details.
As I drove home that evening and recalled Stan and Donna standing arm in arm at the door, waving good-bye to me, I experienced a profound sense of relief and accomplishment.
We never know when we will be called upon to accomplish an impossible task. Maybe some of us will never have that experience. When it does happen, what a relief to know that we are not alone, but our great and all powerful God is there beside us. Had I been late for the appointment that fateful Saturday morning, or had I just turned and walked away after dropping off the ladders, the outcome would have been so much different. If God timed it perfectly, than there is no doubt that he was also there beside me, helping me get the job done. Why did it happen at all? Stan said to me that he does not know why he is alive today or why he had the heart attack. Even the Doctors would agree with him there. But he says, "God must have a purpose for me being alive, and I am listening."

Part 2

"How could he do that?" I asked myself as I ran to his aid. I fought back the first feelings of panic that were beginning to well up inside of me. His head was twisted to one side as it was jammed against the lowest rung of the large extension ladder leaning against the wall. I kneeled down at his head and much to my amazement heard him gasping for air, unsuccessfully. I was convinced that his air passage was being restricted because of the angle of his twisted neck. If I could only straighten his neck, he would be able to breathe once again. But why could I not move him. He was not that big a man but I was not able to budge him until I realized that he was as stiff as a board and his feet were pressing firmly against the door frame, forcing his neck against the ladder. I got up and with all my strength, kicked at his feet until the pressure was released and I could straighten his neck. As I did so, the pressure against the ladder was release and it started to fall outward, sure to twist his neck even further and perhaps break it. Crouched in the position that I was, there was no way I could catch the ladder in its fall forward and all I could do was to utter an audible " Help me God". At that instant, the ladder caught itself in the bottom of the handrail that was just beneath it and it hung there precariously, but safe for the moment.
It was quite evident by now that Stan was not breathing and was either seriously injured or had just had a stroke or heart attack. I had to do something because I was the only one there, but I also needed help and realized that before I do anything, I had to call 911. I did not know where the phone was in his house and did not want to waste precious moments searching for it, or worse yet, finding that for some reason I would not know how to operate it immediately. My own cell phone was only a few steps away in my truck so I opted to dash for the truck and make the call from there. As I picked up the phone, I remembered that one of the features was an instant dial for 911. All I had to do was hold down the #1 key and it would dial automatically. I did that and nothing happened. I did it again and feeling the precious moments slip by panicked when the phone seemed to be dead. Almost in anger, I dialed 911 and again, nothing. Adrenaline gives you strength, but apparently not smarts. In desperation, I jabbed at the send button and immediately, there was a voice at the other end.

The first story

The Ultimate Challenge Part 1

The Ultimate Challenge

There are going to be times in everyone's life when he or she will be called upon to do something so out of character and so above and beyond everyday experience that when the dust settles, there will be a profound sense of relief and, if the task is done well, a sense of accomplishment that is unsurpassed. One of those challenges came my way in the winter of '02.
I had known Stan in a casual sort of way for a number of years, so when we met in church one day and he asked me if I could do some work for him, I did not hesitate. A few days later I was in his home discussing a paint job that would include his entry. There was a wallpaper border along the ceiling in the entry that was a considerable distance off the floor and I offered to strip the border before we did any painting. He assured me that he and his wife Donna could do that themselves. When I asked him how he was going to get up there, he indicated that he was not sure but they would find a way. I immediately offered him my planks and ladders and he accepted. I would bring them on a Saturday and that would give him a chance to get the job done before I came the following Monday.
The appointed Saturday arrived and having a number of other things to do that day, I phoned and asked if I could be a few minutes late. He said that he too had a full day and if I could come at the appointed time it would be better for him. I always try to be as accommodating as possible so I arrived on time and proceeded to unload the planks and ladders from my truck. It was all sitting on his front step as I rang the doorbell. He came to the door and offered to help me but I thought it would be much quicker if I did it myself. Two ladders and a 10' plank were all leaning on the wall in his entry and I was about to leave when I asked him if he knew how to set up the 3-way ladder on the stairs. He had never seen one so I proceeded to show him. There was no room inside the house so I brought the ladder outside and did my demonstration on the steps leading to his front door. I had no sooner started than I heard a crash behind me. I turned and saw Stan laying on the floor of his entry and making no attempt to get up. I immediately thought he had somehow tripped on the ladder and had fallen. He appeared to be stunned or even unconscious

An introduction to a writing project.

I suppose there is no time like the present to reveal something that has been hidden for a few years, but was always meant to be shared with others, if they were interested. The following is an introduction to a collection of stories, all true and factual. The intro speaks for itself. I will begin with random selections, dividing the stories into mangeable chunks for those of us who have short attention spans.

The greatest lessons we can learn are from life itself. In our everyday routine, our jobs, our family life, in fact in all we do, we would do well to keep our eyes open to the wonders of life and the lessons we can take from it. I have spent most of my life in a self-employed business called 'Contract painting'. On the face of it, one might assume that all there is to learn is the techniques of painting and how to do a bit of book-keeping. If that would be all that there is to it, I would have pursued other avenues years ago. The real joy and challenge, as in many other occupations, comes with the everyday interaction with people.
People can be an absolute joy, an utter frustration, or an amazing revelation. We strive for 'things' in life, but when we lose those things or lose our health, or find ourselves in the midst of struggles, we turn to people.
So, because of the great treasure that people are, and the valuable lessons we learn from each other, I have made an effort to focus on people in my life's work.
Often, while working in someone's home, the occasion will arise when I can share a story or experience with my customer. Many times I have heard the comment " You should write a book". Writing has always been a pleasure for me so I began to collect and write down my experiences. I hope you enjoy them, and like me, learn some lessons from everyday life.
P.S. Don't try painting it yourself, call an expert.

Centre Line

So, I just learned something. This photo is supposed to be part of the previous post. Consider it so. Thanks.

Seeing it a bit differently.

Lying face down in the centre of a busy highway, trusting my ears to detect traffic approaching from the rear, all to get just a bit of a different perspective on a very common scene, is just how I feel sometimes, about my life. Striving to be unique in a world full of sameness is not unique. Achieving the objective, however, is unique. Questioning common knowledge is not easy as we are relentlessly being pressed on all sides to conform.
When I see the world through the lens of my camera, there is nobody telling me how to see, how to compose, or how to frame the object or scene in front of me. Post production efforts on the photo only tend to bring more of that out in me.
My son is an excellent photographer and his objective is realism, making the photo as natural and as real as possible. He gets amazing results and his photos are like looking at a scene with 5 years of cataracts having just been removed.
I go for just a bit more of the artsty look. If some of my photos look a little 'off the wall', realise that others may find them attractive. Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder. Too bad that is not a unique saying because I would love to take credit for it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brave New Worlds

A first post should be an attention grabber, however, until I feel my way around this brave new world, the only thing grabbing my attention will be the settings and templates of this blog. It will be a quick study, I hope, so I can get down to the objectives I set for terryography, the blog.
Why terryography? As some of you know, that is the logo I use on my photos, many of which I intend to post right here. So, the 'ography' will be photography, but will also be a bit of biography. As there are not enough 'ographies' in the English Language Dictionary to cover all my bases, let me warn you that there will also be rants, opinions, and probably many excerpts from my years of writing on various subjects.
No doubt, the majority of you will be bored to tears, but perhaps you should check back every so often because sooner or later I will be writing about you!
And finally, because my life is so wrapped up in my Christian Faith, there will be many posts referring to that aspect of my life, sometimes affirming that faith, and sometimes posing questions which may appear to be on the borders of doubt.