Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1000 Posts

Today I reach a milestone in my blog, post number 1000. It has been a little more than 2 1/2 years since I started 'terryography' so that means that I have been averaging more than a post a day. Because I can 'post date' the posts, I am able to write a whole whack of them at once and then have them publish the day I want them to. I have had as many as 12 in the wings, awaiting the day of publishing, so I do not really have to take time every day to write a post. I can write them and lay them out quite quickly now with all the experience so they are like brushing my teeth every day, something necessary but not that time consuming. 
Somebody asked me a few weeks ago when I was going to write my book. I found a site on the Internet that will publish my blog, for  a small fee and send it to me in a beautifully bound coffee table book. If I did that, I would have a book of more than a thousand pages because some of my posts are quite long. If I edited out all the 'garbage posts' and the time sensitive posts, I would probably have at least 300 pages and there would be my book. My childhood stories and my "Painting to Learn" stories alone would fill a volume. So, you might say that I have written my book. I just have to edit it.   

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Piece of History

My Uncle from Saskatchewan sent me this photo the other day, taken only a few days ago. In light of the following article, it is an interesting  piece of history for our family on my mother's side, the Boldt's. J.J. Boldt is my great grandfather.
Click on the photo to make it large enough to read the story which was written in 1975.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stick it to the Pensioners

And now this from the New York Times: " This year the US Social Security will pay out more benefits than it receives. Accumulated revenues will slowly start to shrink as outlays start to exceed revenue. By law, Social Security cannot pay out more than its balance in any given year."

Just in time for the baby boomers! All those who have paid into the system all their lives cannot be guaranteed anything now that this threshold has been reached. It was expected, but not for another six years. Here in Canada, we are being warned that the CPP will be tweaked in the near future. There have already been changes such as a disincentive to take the benefit early. There are just too many elderly needing pensions for the number of workers to support the system. This mass of humanity moving through the time continuum is problematic and those of us who are of this 'boomer' age had better get used to some pretty severe discrimination in the near future. We have built the nation, but now will be seen as nothing more than a drain on the economy and health care services.  We will be done away with, at least those of us who have nobody to advocate for us and are not wealthy enough to fend for ourselves. But hey, we still have voting power and statistics prove that more of us vote than of the younger generation.   

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Popeye's Abandoned Boat

I grew up on the prairie and had no experience with boats, let alone ever saw one. Where then does this intrigue with boats come from? I must have had the odd ride on a small boat when my dad would take me fishing in the Saskatchewan lakes, but I only had my first experience in a real boat when I move closer to the west coast. The idea of sailing is appealing, but only insofar as I am accompanied by an experienced sailor. Sailing the waters of Georgia Straight in a ferry does not count as there is no connection with the sea. Travelling up the north coast in the freighter, the Northland Prince was only slightly more adventurous as we would encounter gale force winds and high seas on a regular basis. I think living on an old tug, or a house boat, or a larger cabin cruiser would be a great experience. I believe I know the answer as to why I have not pursued this longing. If I get seasick and/or broke doing it, my dream will be dashed. If it turns out to be the greatest thing I ever did, there will be no turning back. I might turn out to be like the fellow who said that the second happiest day of his life was when he bought his boat. The happiest day of his life was when he sold it.   

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Pipe Man

Many years ago in the days of wallpaper on all the walls, busylizzy and I papered this entire house from top to bottom. It had been newly renovated and was quite a sight to behold. The design and layout of this home as well as the decor is very classy and professional. What you cannot see is the swimming pool, the golf greens, and the automotive hobby shop where vintage cars are restored. We got to know these people very well and a few years ago I was called to come and modernize the decor, throughout the entire house. The quality wallpaper was in amazingly good condition and it was not only a huge job removing it all, but it hurt to tear down our good workmanship. We spent many weeks here but the end result was a totally modernized home and very happy client. We were treated royally with regular coffee breaks and good visits. The man of the house was recovering from some very serious throat cancer and we noticed a distinct change in his personality, for the better, since the first time we worked for him. Many homes we have worked in over the years bring fond memories but this one is in the top ten.  

This photo belongs to the post of a few days ago. It is the front view of the home with the ice arena in the back yard.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hidden Away

A few days ago we did a small job in Glenn Valley and we took 56th Ave, the scenic route. It had been a while since I had been down this road and I was delighted to see this little display put up by one of those farmers who has plenty of money and time. The home we worked in was at the end of a very long, steep driveway and I took a video of us going up and then after, going down. I will have to work out a way that I can display the video on this blog. A little old lady lives in the dense forest at the top of the drive, all by herself, surrounded by 20 acres of wildlife and trees and there is not a neighbour in sight. She is selling it this summer and needed a bit of an up-grade so we hung some wallpaper in her bathroom that she had purchased 15 years ago. :) The house is west coast design with 7 or 8 levels, tall and narrow, with vaulted ceilings, narrow stairwells, and all clad in dark rough cedar in the interior and the exterior. I am thinking that if somebody buys her home it will be for the property and not the house although I am sure it was very nice in the day when such architecture was popular. We were surprised at how warm the day  was when we exited the dense forest at the bottom of her driveway.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Feel A Rant Coming On

There are many leech organisations in our society and one of them is a consumer protection agency called CSPI. Centre for Science in the Public Interest. This is the marvelous stuff they come up with.
"MacDonald's is the stranger at the playground handing out candy to the children."  These people have very little to do to justify their existence so they are targeting MacDonald's advertising that sells toys with 'Value Meals'.
The CSPI says that "MacDonald's use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children's developmental immaturity - all this to induce children to prefer food that may harm their health. It is a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction" 
Creepy? I'll tell you what is creepy. A government agency assuming that every kid who eats a value meal is doing so because he has usurped his parents authority over him and is dictating everything in his life including what he eats. Oops, hold on. I think they are onto something. I am sure you have witnessed it in a public place, where the kid rules his parents and uses threats, coercion and blackmail to get his or her way. This sort of thing is rampant in society as parents are afraid to exercise authority over their kids because they might damage his self esteem, his self determination, or his right to exercise his free will as per the UN charter of rights and freedoms for children. Discipline is cruel and unusual and spanking is physical abuse beyond the pale. So, the kids are taking over, but not in all cases. There are still parents who will buy the value meal on rare occasions as a reward or treat and the rest of the time the child will get a healthy and nutritious diet.
This is something that will only be solved by education  and not by some faceless bureaucracy slapping an injunction on a business trying to market a legal product. So, CSPI, go after the negligent parents and not MacDonald's 
The photo is of some elderly guy going for a Value Meal, or is it the toy he gets with it? (Taken on the Pitt River Dyke)   

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Massage With a View

It was more that a year after I gave these people a quote on re-painting their house, that they called and gave me the go ahead. I knew them from church and busylizzy had a connection with the lady of the house and her sister. Apart from being a well built home, the best feature of this residence is the fabulous view from both floors facing east. (the back of the house) Very few neighbours make this a very quiet and peaceful area with a lot of room for entertaining or kids to run around in. One of the rooms I did was the exercise and massage room on the lower level. I discovered that she was a qualified masseuse so I booked a massage, in fact I booked two massages. For the record, busylizzy was with me both times. I gave back some of the profit I made on the job but it was worth it. Both times I was limber for the rest of the day and slept like a baby at night.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Icecream Anyone?

When little boys are good and eat all their vegetables, they get a reward.
Sometimes it tastes so good you just can't get enough in your mouth at one timeAnd then Grandad gets out the camera and here come the 'cheesy grins'. Nothing beats hamming it up for the camera. Will this get on your Blog, Grandad? And then it is time for the mother to test her little son's love for her. Liam passed the test. And so ends another Monday night dinner at Nana's house. Smiles all around and full tummies.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I can be doing the most routine things when suddenly and unexpectedly, it hits me. For example, this morning, while singing in church, I was suddenly, struck with a wave of sadness as I looked to my left, to the spot where I would see Erv and Delores, if his work schedule allowed him to attend the Sunday morning service. It struck me that he would never be there again. He would never listen intently to the sermon with the thought in mind that we would all be discussing it later in the day during our Sunday evening meeting. Never. The finality is what strikes me. Would we have known the future, we could have savoured the last moments, but as it turned out, the last moments were just what they always were. 

How does one go through life treasuring every moment as if it were the last? One hears of this from those who have had a near death experience. One's perspective and priorities are changed dramatically and forever. Can a person function with a renewed perspective like this? I believe we must say yes to that question. Having a renewed gratitude for life itself, is life changing. Treasuring the small blessings in life makes a person fun to be with as nobody likes a person with a continued negative attitude. Loving those around you as though they might be taken from you at any time would have a profound effect on relationships, for the good. 

I have lost friends over the years, but none have had the effect on me that Erv's loss has had. I honestly think I speak for many others too when I say that, and in that, I can find consolation and even a reason for his death. I am beginning to see some changes being brought about and it is comforting to know that one can influence others in life and in death. It gives meaning to the fact that loved ones are sometimes taken tragically and suddenly and with no apparent immediate reason. 

It is said that time heals and it is true. Those that are left, process the new reality, and other thoughts eventually fill in where only grief lived before. But also, it becomes apparent with time, that there is a reason for everything. God does not make mistakes, nor is he surprised by anything, but it often takes Him a long time to convince us that He knows what He is doing. We are slow learners. And in understanding, and finding a reason, comes healing.   

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Would You Like That With Ice?

This is a cute little (did I say little!) country home in which I hung a lot of wallpaper. I was impressed the minute I walked into this house and saw all the classy original ideas that obviously took a lot of money to implement. At that time, these people were young with small children. There were horses and then there was something for the boys. Behind the house is an ice arena. Yes, you read right. I could not get the angle of shot I wanted due to privacy rights, but there is an old Amish buggy in the driveway. A delightful place in which to work and delighful people to work for.                                            

This is a property next door and I have no idea who owns it and I have not worked here. I just thought it was kind of pretty so I took a photo of it. These homes are on a high ridge overlooking a prairie valley and the views are magnificent.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ditch Digging 101

This is another mansion on an extraordinary property. There continue to be upgrades made to the home and what accompanies the home in the 'back 40'. I have worked extensively in this house and not only have there been changes made to the decor and the structure, but also to the family. What was originally a young couple with children, has evolved into into a second marriage with a blended family. It was a little strange working in the same house with the same husband and same kids but a different wife. This home and property were built with a successful excavating company. What one can achieve in life with a label such as "Ditch Digger" is truly amazing, but all with skill and hard work to be sure. I have a story about breaking something in this house that I may tell some day.
Besides the gorgeous pool, gardens, and tennis courts, there is this equestrian centre on the property. That beautiful structure in the background is the horse barn, much nicer looking than many houses I have worked in.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Gray Day in the Park

It was a few days after Erv's death that one of the men in the Care Group suggested that just the guys get together to remember Erv. We wanted to do it in a pretty spot near some water so we chose Macdonald Park, a central location for us all. We found that last night was a convenient time for us all and we met there around 7 pm. 
We walked along Sumas River dyke for 6 Km. reminiscing and telling stories all the way. It was a cool gray evening, but there was  no wind and the water was calm and reflective. It was quite a beautiful evening as we made our way back to the picnic shelter where we shared some refreshments and again, in a more formal way, remembered Erv. Ian and I each read some scripture and recalled how Erv was somewhat 'outside the box' except for his faith. There he was rock solid and quite orthodox. It was cathartic for us all and it became a valuable tool which has helped us all to heal from the pain of such a great loss. 
It really was a perfect evening in everyway, except one. Our friend Erv was missing and would so have enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stone Mansion

This little stone mansion is only visible from afar. To get to it, one needs to take a round about drive and enter through a Kiwi Orchard and a big steel gate. It looks abandoned but is still in a bit of a construction mode. I hung a few rolls of wallpaper in the powder room and I knew these people's relatives. It is always interesting to find out where my work comes from. I sometimes have no clue as to the source even after the customer tells me who gave them my name. Thousands of people and nearly 35 years of business will do that to you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who's Hurting Who?

I have not had very much contact or experience with Hispanic/Mexican people, but what little I have had has not made me in any way prejudiced against them. I am neutral, but not so, many of our neighbours to the south. Many see them as a blight upon society and a drain on the social security system. There has been a big movement of late to stop illegal immigration of Mexicans into the USA but so far it has had little effect. In light of this, I found this little piece interesting:

"A newspaper from Victoria, Texas, reported that the Hispanic community decided to voice its displeasure with upcoming immigration law changes. How? By boycotting businesses owned by Caucasians. They then announced that the boycott was a success - reducing sales by 19%. The business community, however, claimed success too. It said shoplifting had gone down 77%.If those figures are correct, it suggests that Hispanics in Victoria buy 20% of goods sold but steal 3/4 of those that disappear from the shelves."

No doubt, both sides are putting a bit of 'spin' on the figures. If the business allegations are true, they will be hoping for a continued boycott, not something you hear from business too often.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mansion On The Hill

This is one of the many large estate homes that are popping up like mushrooms in the rural areas of our part of the valley. These properties were sought after when the valley was first being developed and recently they are being purchased by the wealthy and the original homes, which were mostly very modest in nature, are being replaced with what I call mansions. They exude wealth and success, are always gated and often are somewhat isolated and hard to get to. I knew the owners of this home before they built it. Soon after they moved in, they asked me to hang some wallpaper in the study. It is the only work I did here, but I was certainly impressed with the quality of the house. I like these people. They do not flaunt their wealth, but are down to earth and personable. I got a good lesson in raising Rottweilers while here and found it quite interesting. One needs a guard dog living like this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Out of Africa

I can't seem to get Africa out of my mind these days. About a month ago, I treated myself to a book by one of my favourite authors, Wilbur Smith. I have now read every book he has ever written, and I think it totals close to 30. He is a South African and writes about Africa in a most vivid and exciting way. It is always fiction, but is laced with African history and tribal culture. When I finished the last one "Assegei" (a native stabbing spear) I felt like I had been on a big game safari in the Great Rift Valley. This was all fresh in my mind as we had our Mwanza Orphanage Garage Sale, raising money for the boys in Tanzania, Africa. This last week I picked up a book titled "The Book Of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill, and after not being able to put it down until I was finished, I am now practically an African. You would think that now I would want to go there in the worst way. Well, not so much. It is a little like Bungee Jumping. Seeing pictures and hearing people talk about it is quite fascinating, but to actually do it is not for everybody. I am not that keen on visiting Africa. It is not all that fun of a place, and besides, after reading all these good books about it, it might be a big disappointment, especially when I actually go there, and get bitten by a Tse Tse fly or a snake. For now, at least, I am content to read about it. I wonder if they have lilacs in Africa. If they do, it smells better there than I think.

For even more about Africa, check out my friend Ian's Pics on the sidebar of this blog. He was on safari not that long ago and used his Pentax to capture all the action. He has posted some great photos with more to come.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Early Days

It was in the early days that I became familiar with this house and its owners. The couple was newly wed and they were in their mid sixties. The home was getting an up-grade for the sake of the new bride. There was too much about it to remind them of the now deceased first wife. It was here that I met a couple, Irwin and Margaret, who were the top wallpaper hangers in town. It was before I was doing a lot of it and I marvelled at how they worked together. Little did I know that one day busylizzy and I would be doing the same thing.
The newlyweds were very kind and friendly folks but only had eyes for each other and let us 'workers' alone most of the time. It was a few years later that the husband passed away and his wife sold the house and moved into a condo. She remained my customer and we are like long lost friends every time we meet. She never did re-marry but gave her life to working for a para church organisation. She is still at it, although only part time these days.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Can You Tell The Difference?

When I read this in the morning paper, I just had to post it. In fact, I had to create a new label just for this kind of thing, called 'Stupidity'.

Apparently, two young fellows were driving down the road right here in our little city and several people called 911 to report that a man was brandishing a gun or "perhaps a replica gun" out the window of a passing car. The police apprehended the would be criminals and gave them a good talking to, a warning you might say. So what was it, actually, the young man was waving out the window of the car? A banana! Hey, I don't make this stuff up. This is the new reality when paranoia rules. I am confidant that the police officers involved have had adequate training in determining the difference between a gun and a banana. If not, somebody could have got shot, and not with a banana.

Please study these two photos very carefully. I am providing a vital public service here in that I am showing all my readers what the difference is between a gun and a banana. For those of you who are not sure, the photo ABOVE is a gun. The photo BELOW is a banana. Oh, and don't go waving any fruit out of your car window or you may get taken down by the SWAT Team.

Pitt River in the Rain

We drove into Pitt Meadows on Friday to estimate a job and then we did something unusual. My son, Andrew, and I, both enjoy photography and always talk about going and shooting some pictures, but rarely actually do it. Well, in light of the fact that either of us could get hit by a rock, we just went and did it. We took a leisurely morning off work and had a blast, even though it was threatening rain and eventually did. Here is Andrew with his 400mm lens mounted on his Canon trying to zoom in on a couple of finches flitting about in the bushes.
The light was grey and flat, almost not bright enough to get decent shutter speeds and apertures.

There were Cranes everywhere and they did not mind posing for us. Unlike the gaily dressed Mexicans we photograph in Puerto Vallarta, they did not put out their hand after the shutter snapped.

It is a beautiful and peaceful spot we found on this cloudy and cool morning.

The grass seed heads were leaning over, laden with moisture.

I had not ever seen a Cedar Waxwing in BC, and there he was, right at the end of my 200 mm zoom range.

The remnants of old pilings show that this was at one time a commercial river.

I wanted to get closer to this fellow, but there was a big swamp between him and me. I may have to get a bigger lens or a pair of hip waders.
Leaving the urgency of business once in a while is good for the soul.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sand Box Blues

"Oh boy. First they plunk me down in this sand box, and then they want me to smile for another photo. When will they ever quit with those cameras? I'm not smiling until they offer an appropriate bribe. That's it. I've made up my mind."

" Chocolate! Did you say chocolate? Sure! Here is my best smile for you. Anything for you, Granddad."

It's genetic!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Getting Ready

The brakes were checked, fluid levels topped off, tire pressure topped up, and all the other systems were checked during the 24 point inspection. It was declared roadworthy, but more importantly, safe. The cholesterol was checked, the heart monitored for any abnormalities, blood pressure taken, and medications added or adjusted. All systems go! Everything is ticking along fine and we should be good for a long while yet. Who says?

Our lives are always on a fine thread, no matter who we are, what age we are, or how healthy we are. It is presumptuous for any person to assume that they will live beyond the next moment. We can even weigh the odds and yet they mean nothing. How many people do you know who died instantly and unexpectedly? I have known many in my lifetime. Why I am I still here? I would not dare to say "Because of God's grace". The expression "There but for the grace of God go I" bothers me a great deal because where was God's grace for the person to whom we are referring? Does not God "allow the rain to fall on the just and the unjust"? We are all susceptible to God's laws, the laws of nature as some would say. God is perfectly capable of suspending those laws at any given time or place, but I suspect he does not do it that often.

We are all born to die. The statistics are that one out of one will die. We do not usually choose how or when, but it is inevitable. So then where is the comfort or where is there an answer to the big question of timing. I believe that if we are ready at all times, it does not matter when or how it happens. The pain and suffering of loss is only for those who are left. We feel a big hole in our lives and it hurts. But this grieving is for ourselves only, if the person we miss was ready for his death. We certainly do not have to grieve for him or her. The troubles of this world are over with and the joys, well the joys that we think a person might have missed out on do not compare for one moment to the joys of being in God's presence.

So next time we come home from the medical checkup and gloat, it would do us a great service to read something like John 3: 16 and take it to heart just in case a rock falls on us when we least expect it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Erv's Memorial Service

I sit at my keyboard tonight and I feel drained. Drained of energy, and drained of emotion. It was a day of highs and lows. It was a day I was looking forward to and a day I was dreading. I was not sure what to expect when we entered the church today for Erv Doerksen's Memorial Service. It is one of those things that you can only take as it comes. As we were ushered to the front of the church, I found it bittersweet to see Erv's kayak and boots displayed front and centre, in the midst of a beautiful floral display created by Erv's good friend Jan Martens, one of our Care Group members. Jan knew Erv longer than any of us, even before he married Delores.

One is remembered by what his interests were and by the people he touched during his lifetime. And so we were reminded that Erv was an avid adventurer and outdoors man, and a man who loved Jazz and The Blues. The service was predominantly a recitation of memories of Erv, starting with his two sisters Laurene and Valerie. It was a warm, humorous and emotional journey they took us on as they recounted Erv's early life, born in Alberta and then moving to Ontario before his adventures "out west" began. I was laughing one moment, crying the next as the ladies poured out their admiration and love for their big brother. I have heard so many stories of Erv's life but never in chronological order like this. It made more sense this way and gave me an insight as to how he became the man that he was.

Then Ernie, Erv's "forever buddy" gave a long dialogue about Erv's adventures and his characteristics of friendship. I could have listened to that man all day. He gave a very intelligent and articulate account of his friendship with Erv and as he was speaking I said to myself over and over that what he was saying was so true, and yet I could never have put it quite like that. I could see why he and Erv were such good friends for all their lives. They are similar in many ways, on the same wave length, one might say. Erv had spoken to me of Ernie several times, but I had never met him.

In the program, there was a tribute given to the company that Erv worked for. They were described as "the best company in the world". That is high praise! When the president of the company stepped to the podium and spoke of Erv, I came to understand why that accolade was given. Jay Campbell gave an impassioned account of how he met Erv, how Erv impacted him, and how Erv also impacted the company for the better. In a personal chat with him later, he recounted how Erv was such a large part of their success. He was the second driver from outside the family that they hired and it was the best thing they ever did. Erv was known throughout the company simply as #1. Jay told us all the employees and drivers would be wearing lapel pins henceforth, as a tribute to Erv, with #1 imprinted on them. They will also be naming a lane into the property 'Erv Doerksen Way'. They just recently gave a donation to the Children's Hospital in Erv's name. How wonderful to see a large successful company give such accolades to one of its employees.

It was then time for Erv's kids to take the podium. His son, daughter, their spouses, and their children stood by as Peter, the son, spoke for them all. What a difficult task, but so well done. Peter has large shoes to fill, but I can see that happening. During the slide show of Erv's life, there were some photos of a young Erv when I was sure I was seeing Peter. Peter's wife Sherena, a wonderful photographer, put the photos together and did a masterful job. Later during the reception, the slide show was playing and it was difficult to take one's eyes off of it. I discovered later that she had help from Ian, Erv's kayaking buddy and sometime member of our Care Group. Ian's passion is also photography and you can see some of his work from the link on the sidebar of this blog.

Our Pastor Vic tried to make sense of Erv's death by giving us a few word pictures which for me, at least, were helpful. Heidi, another one of our Care Group, played flute, as only she can, as the guests were dismissed and ushered to the reception. It was there that I connected with many people, some I had not seen for many years, but we all had Erv in common. Again there were tears shed, but also some laughter as we recounted stories.

I really had no idea that Erv had impacted so many lives. Some would have said that he had missed his calling, that he should have been a teacher, or a pastor, or an academic, but I can see that he did not miss his calling at all. We spoke of that on the beach in Mexico not long ago. He told me that he had not pursued goals and dreams but found it an adventure to take life as it comes and make the best of it. It had been a great lesson to me that no matter who we are or what we do, we can make our lives count. The faith that he lived out in such practical terms touched everyone he met. He was authentic and as Jay, his boss said, virtuous, and in such a consistent way, that everyone at his memorial felt exactly the same way about him.

Will they say that about me some day? I have learned something valuable from my friend Erv both from his life and in his death.

What now remains is a trip to the location where Erv took his last breath, a gathering of some of his good guy friends to reminisce and share stories, and of course, to help Delores in what ever way we can to re-invent her life. We will wait for time to heal the wounds and the hurting hearts, and as that happens, we will always recall, with a smile on our lips, our good friend, Erv. His constant theme in life was joy, so we can do no less.

Monday, June 7, 2010

On Hold

As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
Psalm 103: 15 - 18

In remembrance of Erv, my usual blogging is on hold for a few days.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Erv, I Remember You

I spent about an hour on Saturday afternoon writing this post and was half way through when the whole piece just disappeared. There is an automatic save feature that 'saves' what has been written every few minutes just in case something crashes. It did not work and all was lost. Everything. What I am I to make of this? Perhaps I was being too long winded. In any event, I will begin again, with a condensed version.

For the last three days I have had an opportunity to talk to many of Erv's friends at length and it has been therapeutic. On Friday evening our Care Group convened to remember Erv, to laugh, to cry, to pray, and to try to make some sense out of his passing. We all die, not one of us knowing the day nor the hour, but the random accuracy of Erv's death is what I struggle with the most. I find it helpful to concentrate on my many good memories of a most remarkable man, Erv Doerksen.

I first met Erv in 1986 when I sat in on an adult Sunday School class that he was teaching. I was quite taken with his intellect, his 'turn of phrase', his vocabulary, and his unique insights into Biblical truths. It was not until at a wedding a few years later when we were formally introduced to each other. He recognised me from church, was pleased to meet me and made me feel like he was genuinely interested in me. Erv was good at that. He was the poster boy for Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People". I felt as though he would be willing and pleased to get together with me sometime later. Little did I realise that it would happen a short time later when two orphan Care Groups from church amalgamated and we became the group that met on Sunday nights. I was thrilled that he offered to be our study leader and with his communications and teaching skills and his wife Delores's gift of hospitality, we had a really good thing going right from the start.

I began to appreciate Erv more as the years went by. We seemed to enjoy each other's company and would go for long walks where we would have fantastic discussions and debates and we were able to stimulate each other's thinking. I always looked forward to any time I could spend with Erv, alone, and uninterrupted. Our walks would take us for miles, both of us oblivious to time or distance. We would get home exhausted and then continue over a cold drink or a cup of coffee, depending on the weather. I always parted company with him wanting more.

He was a cohesive force in our care group. We scheduled our studies around his driving time table. He worked 4 days and then four days off, so his time off did not always co-ordinate with a Sunday evening. We always somehow muddled through the times he was not there, but would appreciate him so much more when he returned. He was such a great discussion leader, able to draw us out with his comments and gentle questions. His commentaries on the subject of the night were always interesting and you knew he had spent time preparing and thinking about what he was going to say. He had a way of giving value to everything that was said in the group. Nobody ever felt that their contribution went ignored or was inferior. This is what endeared Erv to so many people, to the many who call him 'their best friend". He gave value to everyone he met and would never talk behind one's back. If he had a slightly negative comment to make about someone, it would be tempered with grace and a corresponding positive statement. The only thing that I recall that really irked him were the "bad drivers out there". Coming from a consummate professional award winning driver, it was understandable.
In February of this year, I found a deal on a one week vacation to Mexico and called the members of the Care Group to see who wanted to come with busylizzy and me. When I talked to Erv from the travel agents desk, he jumped at it and gave his credit card number over the phone. As it turned out, he and Delores were the only ones that came with us. We had vacationed with others in the group before, but never with Erv and Delores. We were pumped and really looking forward to it. We were not disappointed. We spent the next week together and had the most memorable time. We lingered at every meal, morning, noon, and night, we sat for hours at the poolside or on the ocean beach, or we walked for miles on the shores of Banderas Bay with our bare feet in the sand and surf. All the while, we were bonding. Erv and I had endless discussions about legacy, the influence of parents and grandparents, politics, our faith, the future of our Care Group, our church and its wonderful leadership, retirement, and just anything else of value. There was not time for small talk, and that is another thing I liked about Erv. It was always meaningful conversation but spiked with good doses of humour. I saw Erv's tender side many times as we talked about our kids and grand kids. We gave each other insights as to how God has lead us throughout our lives. We found that despite our different life experiences, we had a lot in common, but we also explored the differences. We talked late into the night, and would pick up again at the breakfast table, warmed by the tropical sun. As the days progressed we both became more relaxed and were quite undone when the week was over. We vowed that the next time it would two weeks or nothing at all.

When we returned, it was evident that our relationship had taken a good step forward. I knew now that even if the Care Group disbanded, I had a good friend for life. The following months were difficult ones in which to schedule regular Care Group meetings, but we did have some very good ones. The last meeting was only three days before Erv's death. Every member of the group was there. He was happy and relaxed and as usual did such a great job. When he would arrive at the home where we met, he would always ask each one of us how our week was. He really wanted to know. On Sunday, we reviewed the sermon of that morning and he had each one of speak to the topic which was legalism. He wanted to know the environment of each of our up-bringings and if there was legalism or a perception of legalism in our homes and how that impacted or did not impact our thinking on grace, today. It was interesting and we all learned a bit more about each other. I found his story about his grandfather's advice to him insightful and helpful. We prayed after and he closed, as usual, with a wonderful prayer, articulate and inspired. It was a wonderful evening, particularly so. He usually rose at around 3 am on his first day back on the road and Monday was the start of his rotation. We all left and said our goodbyes. I waved to him as we backed out of the driveway, never to see him again, in this life.
What I wouldn't give for just one more time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Erv's Tribute From His Company

A Tragedy Beyond Words

I have let a day or two pass before attempting to put any kind of words to a tragic death on Wednesday morning at 6:30 am in the Fraser Canyon. My very good friend, Erv Doerksen, who has been a professional truck driver almost all his life, was killed on the road, doing what he loved doing. An oncoming witness described what happened. A 400 lb. rock fell off the face of the cliff and struck Erv's cab squarely. The fuel tanker truck he was operating slowed as it angled toward a shallow ditch against the cliff face. The witness stopped and ran to the truck and saw immediately that Erv was dead, killed instantly.
I cannot describe the incredible sense of loss we all feel. We went to his home Wednesday evening and Delores, his wife, was surrounded by family and friends and the tears were flowing. Having been in their home countless times, I could not help but listen for his voice and watch for his friendly face to appear miraculously to welcome all the unexpected guests. He would have loved the big crowd and would have got another pot of coffee going. There is a huge hole in my heart. I miss him incredibly already even though I just saw him on Sunday.
I will pay him tribute on this blog spot in the near future.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another Doctor 3

This is the same neighbourhood as the last three or four homes and yes, another doctor lives here, but not any ordinary doctor. There is a very good reason these good folks are on my top ten picky list. He has been trained to see detail and pick out the tiniest flaws, anything out of the ordinary and anything that is not as it should be. You see, he is a radiologist and studies x-rays and scans all day long. People's lives depend on his ability to spot the flaws, so, naturally, this attitude extends to his daily life, away from work. He HAS to be a perfectionist, or he would not be able to do what he does. I always felt honoured and a bit lucky when I finished a job for these people and they did not find fault with my workmanship. Not they never did, but it was always fixable. About two years ago, I was called back for the umpteenth time to do a complete makeover of the entire home. They needed a contractor to look after some structural changes and then I could come in and do my 'thing'. It just wasn't happening and then about six months later they finally called and apologised profusely. The contractor, it seemed, only worked with 'his' sub trades and he did not know me so I was out of the picture. I was not disappointed at all, in fact I was relieved and had lots of other work anyways.
As I get older, I have less patience for perfectionism as I realise it should not be a priority in any body's life. It does not matter if it is not perfect. Very good, yes, but perfect is not something you can take with you. Having said that, if I were to have an x-ray, I would prefer it if this good doctor read my negatives.
One other thing. This couple is childless so they have time for a very interesting hobby. They are gourmet chefs and their dinner parties are renowned. They also spend a lot of time in the Caribbean, sailing. Even though I have never been invited to sail or dine with them, I like them a whole bunch.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Didn't I just Say It?

Yes, I did. Safety rules. Now we get the final estimates for the security costs of hosting the G8 and G20 meetings here in Canada. The costs rival the tab for security at the Winter Olympics. It will be about $1 Billion when is all is said and done. All this "just in case something happens". Well, guess what? If they did this meeting by video conferencing, nothing would happen and we could spend all that money on something worthwhile. And then think of all the savings on meeting facilities, food (read caviar and $200 bottles of wine), lodging, transportation, etc. And what do they talk about at these meetings? These days it is mostly about the world economy. They just don't get it. The world is in trouble because it spends money it does not have. Canada is running deficits too so we are spending money we do not have to hold a meeting to discuss spending money we do not have. It is really and truly INSANE!
PS My bicycle photo is meant to calm and restore order to my frazzled and stressed out mind from all the insanity in the world. It is not working right now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another Doctor 2

This is a really great home immediately behind "The House That Teeth Built". It is a doctor's home and I only did a one day job here, and hardly even met the good doctor. I worked for his contractor who was renovating the home.