Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Old Hedley Road

In my last post, I expressed a desire to get back to 'normal'. I am beginning to feel that today. The last month has been both a trial and a blessing as we watched my dad pass away, and at the same time experience tremendous support from friends and family.
Just before my dad took a turn for the worse, busylizzy and I took an impromptu trip to the interior. The above photo was one I took on the Old Hedley Road as we detoured of off  the # 3 Highway eastbound.
We may be heading that way again in the next few days as we resurrect an old family tradition, that of taking a day trip to Keromeos for cherries in early July. It is not only a great little distraction from the everyday routine, but this time there are health reasons.
I mentioned a while back that I, for the first time in my life, was having an attack of gout. To mitigate the symptoms and their accompanying pain, I doubled my efforts to keep well hydrated and I began to eat cherries, twice a day. Since I have been doing that, I have not had any further attacks and the gout has completely disappeared. We will bring home enough cherries to eat fresh for many days, but also to can, in order to keep healthy during the winter months when cherries are not in fresh supply.
I feel so fortunate that cherries are one of my favourite fruits, so in this case, taking the medicine will be all pleasure. And did I mention, it is a great opportunity to indulge in cherry pie!

Friday, June 21, 2013


Looking forward to getting engaged with life again. Everything is on hold right now. This too shall pass.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day '13

Today I wish my father a Happy Father's Day for the last time. His hours are limited, his life is coming to an end. It was only a few short years ago that he was enjoying a rousing game of Crokinole with his grandson and two great-grandsons on his 88th birthday. In a few weeks he would be 91, but he will not reach that milestone.
So it is "Happy Father's Day" and goodbye, 'till we meet again.  

Friday, June 14, 2013


We recently spent two weeks sprucing up a beautiful home on Matsqui Prairie. The original home was built in 1945 and about 8 years ago it was added on to and totally refurbished, but in a way that kept the old farmhouse heritage feel. This stairway was a transition from the old to the new, leading to the upper level of the expansion over the double garage.

We prepped and painted all the walls, doors and trim including this three-way banister and stairwell. It had originally been all white, 8 years ago. This time, the dark brown rails and posts were added as an accent. (after we painted the spindles and base plates white) My partner loves detail work, the more finicky the better. I lost patience for this kind of thing a few years ago. I can do it, but I get antsy and impatient, and it shows in the quality of the workmanship.

I was asked to do this paint job when the house was renovated 8 years ago, but turned it down because we do not do 'new work'. The reasons are many. But when it comes to re-decorating a home like this, we really excel if I do say so myself. It has always been our specialty. We take care of the detail, and are clean and tidy. These qualities are lost on new construction. When we are done a job like the one above, no other sub-trades come in and ruin our work. It is the customer's to enjoy and take care of.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Repeat Business

A few months ago, we worked for a wonderful couple in Walnut Grove. I used to, reluctantly, commute longer distances than Langley, but my limit is now Walnut Grove. We had done a house for this couple's daughter, and she recommended us to her parents.
There were a number of feature walls in this townhouse and they were all purple. In the above photo, you can see that the living room is in upheaval, and there were many patches on the walls. The banister was scarred and dirty and badly in need of paint also.

 A few hours later, the purple was replaced with 'Stanley Park Green' and the rail was new and shiny. We also worked in other rooms and were there for about three days.
That was then, and today we were back to do more. Two bathrooms, a bedroom, and the kitchen all got makeovers. Not only has the appearance been enhanced, but definitely, value has been added to their home.
I like my work. It makes people happy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Scandals , Red Hair, and Disguises

Royalty comes to Sherlock Holmes in this short story. The King of Bohemia has been caught in a scandalous affair with a beautiful opera singer and somehow a photograph was taken. The king cannot marry into royalty until the photo is found and destroyed and that is not going to happen because the opera singer is determined to use it as blackmail to prevent any such wedding.
Sherlock meets his match when he tries to dupe the lady into revealing where the photo is hidden. The cleverness of both of them becomes a battle but in the end it all works out. Dr. Watson takes a bit of time out from his honeymoon to assist Sherlock and gladly engages in some questionable antics designed to assist his detective friend.
It is a fun but short read.
3 1/2 stars
A red-headed pawn broker is duped into joining the 'Red-Headed League' with the incentive of doing much of nothing for four hours a day except copying the encyclopedia. He is well paid for his relative inaction. He is suddenly dismissed as the League has become defunct with little notice. He goes to Holmes to get to the bottom of it. And get to the bottom he does. The clue here is that the pawn broker's business is next door to a bank.
We discover in these two stories how Sherlock makes his money. He is rewarded handsomely in both cases, first by a king, and then by a rich bank. It certainly keeps him in cocaine.
3 stars
A young woman is left standing at the altar on her wedding day. Her fiancé has disappeared and she comes to Sherlock Holmes to seek his help in finding the missing bride groom.
Sherlock first establishes motive and then discovers through keen observation that the groom is not who he purports to be, but is actually the woman's stepfather. It seems that the mother and stepfather were living off the inheritance of the daughter and if she married, she would take her money with her. The stepfather then disguises himself and pretends to be one who is interested in and indeed wants to marry the daughter. By then going missing, he hopes the daughter will continue to look for years for her fiancé and thus stay at home where her money can continue to be used by her mother and stepfather.  
Sherlock puts a magnifying glass to good use as he observes that the fiancé's letters written to the daughter were written on the stepfather's typewriter. There, I have given everything away. You will not have to read this one as you now know all about it.
3 stars

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Birds of Paradise

I like most of the wallpaper that I am asked to hang. Every so often, I get to work with a stunning pattern. When I first opened one of the rolls of this paper, I was amused and thought it belonged in a kids room and not in a guest powder room in a lovely home on Orchard Drive.
By the time I was done all the walls in the L-shaped room, I was in love with it. Of course, the photo does not do it justice. I have never felt the freedom to take photos in other people's homes without their permission, so I did not take a photo of the completed room. Besides, the vanity and other fixtures had not yet been installed so it would not have looked complete. The clients absolutely loved it and were genuinely excited to complete the little project.
This was one of those new non-woven fabric backed wall coverings that I really enjoy working with. They are forgiving, manufactured accurately, and go up fast and easy.
Perhaps close to forty years of experience doesn't hurt either.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Peg Leg Strikes Again

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his second adventure of Sherlock Holmes, uses a similar literary device as in the first novel. A mystery is presented by a distressed lady, a crime is committed, Sherlock and Dr. Watson come hot on the trail, Sherlock figures it all out pretty quickly, the perpetrator is caught, and then Old Peg Leg, a convict and accomplice to a murder, tells all. In both novels, the confession of the felon brings one to have compassion for the killer and an understanding for why the crime was committed. There was an injustice and things were made right by taking the situation into one's own hand and creating a just ending to a sad story.
This story involves south sea islands, penal colonies, double crosses, jewels, and in a round about way, a love interest which results in a fiancé for Dr. Watson. It also reveals the cocaine addiction that Sherlock has. It seems that when he is not using his vast brain power solving a complicated crime, he gets extremely bored and needs the stimulation that he finds in coke. I assume that in that day, this was not as frowned upon as it is today.
As for the story and the writing, I was not as taken with this narrative as I was with The Scarlet Thread. Sherlock allows the inept police officials to take the credit for solving the crime and apprehending the criminals, as he did in the first novel. So how then does he get his famous reputation and how does he earn a living? I hope these questions will be answered in future stories.
3 stars

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I have been meaning to read this book for a long time. It is an easy read, a quick read, and a profound read. After reading this book, there are only two conclusions that one can make. Either it is totally made up and somebody is trying to cash in on a topic that most are fascinated with, or it is real and mind blowing. Of course, for the Christian who believes in the promise of Heaven, this is only confirmation of what we have learned from the Bible. For the unbeliever, it will be disturbing.
A young boy, Colton Burpo, has a misdiagnosed burst appendix and is on the verge of death as the surgeons try desperately to save his life. He miraculously survives and then over the next months and years reveals snippets of information as to his journey to Heaven as he was on his death bed. The two most amazing aspects of his story is that he met a sister there, who was a miscarried baby that his mom had had a few years back. Colton was never informed of this incident and yet described his sister and got huge hugs from her. He also met and described his dad's grandfather, Pop, and had never been told about him either.
There are many other interesting stories and observations that are revealing and convincing, not the least of which is his description of Jesus.
I highly recommend this book. It is from the heart of a little child, innocent, with no agenda, and with a renewed concern for people that they understand that Heaven is for real.
Check out the video on the website .
5 stars

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wasting Water?

It is very uncharacteristic for busylizzy and I to run away at a moments notice. We are too agenda driven and responsible to do such things. Until last Saturday. We had a chance meeting at home at lunch time. I had my afternoon planned so I was a bit miffed when busylizzy insisted, quite out of the blue, that she needed to get of town. She seemed deadly serious and it was going to be the both of us or only her, but she was going to get out of town.
Being the protective husband that I am, and wanting to escape also, except with a bit more planning, I threw my toothbrush in the bag with hers and off we headed. We did not even know where to, when we hit the freeway. This happens when there is no plan. You come to a fork in the road and you go left or right or straight ahead. We headed east because straight ahead would have meant we would run right into a giant raspberry plant. Those of you who live in my city know what I am talking about.
After much meandering, we ended up in the town of Merritt, not the most exclusive or romantic spot in BC, but there we were. This happens when there is no plan. It was getting to be late evening so we decided we had better find a place to bed down for the night. I was attracted to the "15% seniors discount" sign on the billboard. I am still new to this discount thing and I am willing to try it out any time, anywhere, even in Merritt in the Ramada Inn.
For some reason the hotels were all looking a little full that night, and when I inquired about a room, indeed there were only three left. The first one was a smoking room. We would have sooner slept in the car in the MacDonald's parking lot that lick an ashtray all night. The second room was a "pets allowed room". The decision was made for us when the night clerk stated that it was "not very nice". The final room was the honeymoon suite. With the senior's discount, it would not break the bank, so, the honeymoon suite it was.
We have stayed in hotels and motels a lot in our lives, but for some reason, we have never had a room with a Jacuzzi. In the living room!
The rest of this story shall remain unwritten.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bird Watchers

Does anybody know what kind of bird this is? The photo was taken at the Gold Pan campsite on the Fraser River just this side of Spence's Bridge.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Three Years Ago

This weekend was the third anniversary of the death of our dear friend, Erv Doerksen. We drove up the TransCanada Highway through the Fraser Canyon, just past Lytton, and stopped beside the road where Erv's family has set up a modest memorial. It is at the edge of a pullout, directly across the highway from where Erv died. There is a cross, some flowers, and an engraved rubber placard with some beautiful words written about the circumstances that day, and about Erv.

Since we were there last, the Department of Highways has erected a massive set of netting and barricades to catch any falling rocks that might come down, thus preventing another tragedy that may befall some other driver on this beautiful road.

Just beyond the memorial, one can look over the edge of the bluff and see the railroad tracks below. While we were there, two full length trains powered their way westward.
I stood at the edge, looking down, admiring the river, almost at flood stage, and the powerful rapids, swirling around the huge submerged boulders in the river bed. I felt the warm breeze on my face, the hot sun on my back, and I inhaled the wonderful aroma of sage. This is truly a beautiful spot, but there was something else there. I could feel Erv. I realise that my mind was occupied with memories of him, our discussion was about Erv, and as I looked at the mountains around me, I again realised that this was the last sight that Erv saw with his eyes this side of Heaven. But still, it was as if Erv was saying to me, " As beautiful as this scene is, it is only a foretaste of what I am experiencing now. Observe, take it in, marvel at it, but do not hold too tightly to it, or to anything in this world. It is all fleeting."
I would have loved nothing better at that very moment than to sit with Erv, on the edge of that bluff, watch those trains go by, and have a deep conversation about hanging on. It would have been the thing to do were he there with me in person.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Not This Time

  A while back, I published a post regarding a contract I had that turned out to be one of the largest and lengthiest jobs we had ever been involved in. It was two years ago that we did a complete re-make, involving a huge amount of preparation and detailed work. I was glad when it was over because I have never liked being on one job too long.
    On Monday, all our work went up in smoke as you can see here .
It is the house on the left, with all the exterior rail banisters. The neighbour was storing gas powered tools as well as gasoline in a shed that also contained a swimming pool and hot tub natural gas heater. The open flame on the heater ignited fumes, the shed blew up, the resulting fire engulfed a cedar hedge adjoining two houses, and my customer's house was engulfed in flame almost immediately. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the damage has now been assessed and the house will require a complete restoration.

    As I expected, the owner contacted me today and asked me if I would do the work when it was ready for my expertise. I was prepared for her call and had my answer ready. "No."  This is a huge job and I am winding down in my business, not gearing up. It will be "new construction" and I do not handle that as I have concentrated on re-decoration for the last 25 years. I appreciated her offer and her confidence.

     I go back a long way with her family. I have worked in every home her parents ever built or lived in. I have done two houses for her. I have done her sisters, and at the present time I am working for her brother as we re-decorate his home for the second time.

     And this is the struggle I have. I have built relationships through and because of my business. I have become friends with so many of my clients over the years. And now I have to entrust the work they require to someone else. It is the saying "no" that also probably means saying "goodbye". I never thought I would struggle with that. I suppose it is the sense of being useful to people and at the same time becoming their friend. It has been so rewarding over the years that I am not having an easy time turning my back on something so valuable.
    I sit here tonight, after a hard week, with a sore back, aching knees, a nagging Charlie horse in my right leg, and too tired to go out on a Friday night. And yet, I cannot say goodbye to this life? Call me crazy, but it is true.