Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Hard Parts

 
There are many 'do it yourself' people out there who know their limits. That is when they call us. Case in point is this curved staircase and stairwell. The customer did not feel confident enough to paint the upper part of the stairwell so called us. They absolutely did not want to tackle the tricky paper hanging in the curved staircase, cutting around the Maple stair treads and the end caps on the inside curve.

 
The wall covering was exotic and expensive, with a wonderful creased texture and a shimmer to the background. But it was a heavy non-pasted and we had to develop a technique that we had never used before, something we made up as we went along.

 
In the end, it turned out pretty good, and was an all day job.

 
We painted around the routered stair caps with the paper's background colour because cutting the cardboard like wallpaper into all the little nooks and crannies was not going to be 100% accurate.  

 
Even the straight forward Maple stair treads were a real challenge.

 
This kind of work separates the men from the boys. One slip of the knife and we throw away $50.00 worth of wallpaper.

 
The finished product and another happy customer.
But here is a most amazing thing. While we were working away in this stairwell, the customer was outside washing my truck! That is a first and so greatly appreciated. It freed me up to blog about it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Paradoxy

 
I have been coming across G.K. Chesterton quotes for many years now, and finally decided that I had to read some of this man's books. I loaded two of them onto my Kindle and have now read the first, "Orthodoxy" which is a companion to the second, "Heretics".
 
Some call him an apologist, a defender of the Christian faith, but in this book, he does not so much defend the faith as explain how he came to faith. From an early age he had been struggling to make sense of the world and began to build his own religion, or orthodoxy. As he matured and did a lot of thinking on the matter, he discovered that all of his ideas fit into orthodox Christianity. It quite surprised him and he became known later a great defender of the faith.
 
Chesterton is an intellect, as is more than evident in this book. I found it amusing at times, insightful where I understood his reasoning, but generally speaking, way over my head. I had several frustrations as I read. He continually refers to his peers or contemporary events, and me, not knowing my historical facts from the early 1900's that well, let alone British localities and contemporaries, got lost on those occasions. He also employs a habit of continually creating paradoxes in his writing. He forever turns things up-side-down, in-side-out, and changes the words to reverse the meaning of the thought he is discussing. It was often done in such an obscure way that he totally lost me.
 
On the rare occasion when I would fully grasp his point and understand his argument, I would do a little fist pump and then pat myself on the back, assuring myself that I was not a total dolt.
 
It is said of the man that he was a joy to be with, had a great sense of humour, and thoroughly enjoyed his wine and food. He was a sever critic of his friends but they always remained friends and indeed many of them came to faith because of him , C.S. Lewis being one of them.
 
In his forward, Matthew Lee Anderson, himself an author, states that it is probably the most important book of the 20th century and that the profundity of it would not hit the reader until the 3rd or 4th reading. I will not be doing that. I will take Anderson's word for it.
 
In the end, I was a bit disappointed because I had always thought the quotes of his, I had read, were wonderful. And they are. It is just that the rest of the book is too obscure. I will read "Heretics" and then call it a day on Chesterton.
 
2 stars 
 
 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Room With a View

 
On Wednesday, we travelled into the hills behind Whonock and found our customer's house at the end of an obscure dead end road.
The first thing we did was to check the view and it was fabulous. You would think that with a view like that, they would not need another great view indoors, but there was a mural to hang.   

 
After much ruminating about the exact location and spacing of the graphic, we finally got to hang it. It did take longer to plan it than to hang it.

 
And in the end everyone was happy. The lady of the house is an airline hostess based out of Phoenix Arizona and is rarely home, so the husband was very excited about her next trip home to see the mural and he to watch her excitement.

 
It fit beautifully into the room, and at night, with the soft lighting on it, and the outer darkness hiding the real view, this scene will soothe the soul.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Second Time is Best

 
We were called in to fix somebody's mistake. Before the crown mouldings and chair rail were installed, the previous paperhanger attempted to install this very expensive non-pasted flocked wall covering, but used a product he only thought was adhesive. It was an adhesive activator so it did not stick the paper to the wall. By the time the mistake was discovered, the mouldings were already on and were the only thing keeping the paper from falling on the floor.
 
We pulled off the paper, just barely managing to get it out from underneath the trim, and then when I hung the new material, I was just barely able to slip it under the mouldings. This time I used real adhesive and this paper is not going anywhere. My charge for fixing the mistake was 1/4 the charge for hanging it the first time. This resulted in a dispute between me and the previous hanger. I stated the facts and told him he was inexperienced and was overcharging, even if he would have done it properly. Needless to say, he is very upset with me. The customer not so much. The previous paperhanger accused the paint store of selling him the wrong product, so it is them, the paint store, that is paying my tab.
 
The customer, who is in the business of 'flipping' houses, says she will just call me next time. Now, that makes sense!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Classic

 
'David Copperfield' is Charles Dickens' 8th and most autobiographical novel. It was published in 1850 and, as some of his other stories, was first published in a series.
The story follows David from his birth into his mid-life and even his golden years.
I found the story very engaging and I have become quite a Dickens fan. There are 37 characters in this novel and I think it is quite a feat to develop these characters to the point where the reader not only remembers them, but takes on a keen like or dislike for each of them. A case in point is a fellow by the name of Uriah Heep. I do not recall ever having had such a visual image of a villain as I have of this ingratiating, slimy, falsely humble excuse for a man. And as for a paragon of  virtue none can compare with Agnes. Peggoty is a model for a doting, loving, nursemaid, and David's stepfather, Murdstone is creepy and manipulative to the point of literally sucking the life out of those around him.
The life and times of David Copperfield are interesting because they portray life in London during that period. The locations, the dialects, the lifestyles of the various strata of society are all described in detail and in very artistic and literary ways. 
One can get completely absorbed into the world of David and his peers, and coming back to the book after a brief absence is like looking up an old friend. 
Although there are a few scenes of action and suspense, the real tension in the novel is the interplay between characters, and the tension that may or may not be resolved. 
The many characters keep appearing and disappearing, always relevant to the situation at hand, and in the end, we get a good synopsis of each character and his or her fate. And as in other Dickens' novels, the good and virtuous people win out and continue onward and upward, whereas the villains and the treacherous, mean-spirited characters play out the end of their lives in misery and sorrow. 
 
Dickens was a prolific writer, and that in the day when there were no word processors or spell check. His writings are the result of a lifetime of pen and paper, but also talent and creativity. I will be reading another of his novels soon, "Bleak House". I have been warned by the reviews that it is another lengthy novel. One has to have a bit of patience reading Dickens, but the effort is well rewarded.   
 
4 Stars 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Last of Seabird Island

 
We were fortunate to stay dry on this day. The heavy clouds were threatening and indeed, as we left it began to sprinkle. The green rows above will by now be full of colour.

 
I do not know who these children were but the scene reminded me of the 'Sound of Music" and thought it might make a nice photo.

 
I noticed that the rows were not straight. Is this done for visual enhancement or did somebody not have GPS on their tractor?

 
I have always been drawn to Tulips with their intensity of colour and clean lines. In this setting, they are even more stunning.

 
On the way home, we took the South Parallel Road and came across this Daffodil field. It is past its prime but with the back light it still photographed OK.

 
Spring can now resume. I have had my annual Tulip fix.

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Seabird Island Tulip Festival

 
With one eye on the weather forecast and the other on the looming clouds, we ventured to Agassiz yesterday to check out the Canadian version of a tulip festival. Having been to the La Conner festival many times over the years, I had expectations that this would not be as good.

 
The walk from the parking lot to the fields is about 1 km. one way, but on a paved road. The advantage over La Conner is that the fields here are all in one location, and they are quite large and diverse.

 
There is a large variety of tulips and as in La Conner, they do not all mature at the same time. Some of the fields were still green with promising buds but no blooms.

 
The backdrop is mountains no matter which way you point your camera. There were hundreds of people there, mostly Orientals on bus tours. Because nobody is allowed in the rows, it is easy to take a photo without people, and only blossoms.
 

 

 
The rains held off and the paths were dry enough to keep our shoes from getting too muddy.

 
Overall, it was better than I expected. No traffic congestion and continual entrance fees, but plenty of tulips.
 
I have two more small sets of tulip photos so stay tuned if you like this sort of thing.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen

 
He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
Matthew 28:6
 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Taken Advantage Of

 
So you can relax your powers of deduction, I will inform you at the start that the photo above has nothing whatsoever to do with my post today. It is simply a Bucerias, Mexico street scene, where frogs not only eat flies, but are also musicians.  
 
In the last three weeks I have been taken advantage of three times. Being a self-employed tradesman, I give free estimates. Three times I was called on  to give an estimate and in all three cases there was absolutely no intention to have me do the work.
 
Case 1: A very pleasant young mother whose husband works in Ft. McMurray and has no time to do the re-decorating, wants me to give her a price on basically re-doing the main floor area in her home. This always involves a trip to the location, a consultation, and then a period of time to work out the figures for labour and materials and then putting it in a email or a hard copy that gets mailed. She called back a day or two later, and then four more times, revising the amount of work to be done and wondering what this or that aspect of the job, by itself, would cost. In the end, there was no work, but they were simply trying to figure out what to pay the friends and relatives that ended up actually doing the work.
 
Case 2: An old neighbour calls and says his daughter bought a home and he would like me to give an estimate for re-doing the whole house. As I ask questions and want the address so I can come take a look, he begins to get evasive. He is a really good guy and honest as the day is long and I sensed that something was going on. He finally admitted that he and his family were going to paint the whole house but wanted to amortize the cost of the paint job into the mortgage and the bank needed to see a written estimate. Because I like him and I did not need to be too detailed or accurate with the estimate, I consented but it still cost me time and effort.
 
Case 3: I get a call from an apartment manager who needs an estimate to get a vacant suite ready for renting at the end of the month. I spend the time to go there, question him on what exactly he wants, do a colour match, and then go back home where I work out a price, print it off, and hand deliver it back to him later in the day. (he has no computer to which I can send an email with estimate attached.) As the deadline for the work approaches and I have not had the 'go ahead', I call and discover, by reading between the lines of his comments, that all he needed was to know how much to charge the building owner if he did the work himself.
 
A friend suggested that I charge a minimum amount for estimates, in other word, no more free estimates. My friend is not in the trades nor is he self-employed and does not get it. If I do that, I get zero work and zero jobs. Even refunding the fee if I get the contract will not work. Potential clients refuse to pay for an estimate as long as there are free ones 'out there'.
 
The cost of doing this is either absorbed by me, or I raise my prices and pass it on to the next job. Both ways are unfair. The old axiom is true. "Whenever someone gets something for nothing, someone has to give something for nothing".     
 
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shock and Outrage

 
There was a headline that caught my eye on my internet news page, this morning, that has since been removed. It is the discovery of the remains of 7 dead babies in the garage of a home in Utah. Apparently, the woman vacated the house and her estranged husband was cleaning out the garage when he found a dead baby in a box. Upon calling the authorities, they discovered six more young bodies. Yes, this is horrific and the reaction of the news announcers on the CBC clip were appropriate, as you can see here.
 
I was wondering if these women announcers were pro-life or pro-choice in their stance on the abortion issue. As I did a quick internet search for an appropriate image for my blog post, I was sickened and horrified at the images I found and could not look for more that a few seconds, but quickly found the above image and got out of there.
 
There is no difference between seven dead babies in a garage and 20 dead babies in the garbage can at an abortion clinic except for the number and the age of the babies. And yet this daily occurrence does not seem to shock too many. This murderous practice has been sanitized by its proponents with twists of the English language and most people are immune to what is really going on.
 
If the woman from Utah had aborted her babies shortly before their birth, there would no repercussions and no news headlines. But she chose to let the children go to full term and now she is a murderer.
 
Our society is sick!
 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Passing

 
Today I attended the memorial service of my son-in-law's grandmother. Over the years I have become acquainted with some members of his family, and his grandmother was one of those people. She was in her late nineties and had virtually wasted away from Alzheimer's disease, similar to my own mother's last years.
 
When she was still of sound mind and body, I met her many times at my grandson's birthday parties, as those boys were her great grandchildren. She was an attractive and well groomed lady, classy, kind, loving, compassionate, and full of many other virtues that were expounded upon by my son-in-law in his wonderful tribute at the memorial.
 
Keith and I had a similar experience, both of us holding our loved one at the moment of death, he his grandmother and me my father. It is a profound experience, one that a person never forgets.
 
We fight death all our lives. Death is the enemy and we do everything in our power to fend it off, even though we know it is inevitable. Everything from wearing seatbelts to eating healthy and exercising, is all done with the goal in mind, that of fending off this relentless foe. We do this because life is a precious gift, something to treasure and enjoy, and partly because we know it can be taken from us in a heartbeat.
 
When we are in the presence of a dying person, we witness the triumph of the enemy, the final defeat of the very thing we have fought against all our lives. We reluctantly give in to it because we know it is, in the end, inevitable no matter what we do. But here is the profoundness of it. At the very instant that life slips away from the body, it enters another dimension, and continues on. It is only the death of the body, but because that is what is tangible and seen and touched, we have this strong sense of loss and finality. In fact, it is not the end at all, but the beginning of something entirely different for the soul.  
 
In both Keith's and my case, we witnessed something unseen. It is not a contradiction. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" is a promise that we have, so we know that our loved one is immediately in the presence of the Lord as they sigh their last breath. Suddenly, we are only holding a shell, a flawed vessel that contained our loved one, but will now no longer be needed. Our loved one has broken the bonds of this earth and has entered a realm that we can speculate about, but also one which we have some information from God's word.
 
And herein lies the great comfort that Christians have regarding the loss of loved ones. The parting is not final. The reunion is coming when it is our turn.     

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring in the Valley

 
Only a few more days and all the trees will be a solid green. The winter look will be gone for another year.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Action and Suspense in Christian Fiction

 
There is something very comfortable and familiar about reading sequels. "Dangerous Illusions" is a novel that picks up where "Castles in the Sand" leaves off. Having read 'Castles' a few years ago, it took a while for me to become familiar with the characters and story line once again, but there are enough references to the past that soon it fits like a pair of comfortable shoes.
It is several years later and Tess returns to her home town, from a missions trip, where she finds things not quite the way she had left them. Her adoptive parents are out of sorts, her church is struggling out of a slump, and there are strange and unexplained things happening to her, quite randomly, or so it would seem.
There are two themes running through the novel, one of which admits it to the genre of  'Christian fiction', and one which fits it quite nicely into the mystery/intrigue/suspense genre. As new characters are introduced and developed, you just know they are going to be connected somehow, but the reader must be patient.
The questions buzz through the reader's mind as he wonders what the ice-cream truck is all about, is Tess going to fall for the slick new preacher, just who is that nun, what is that greasy biker doing in the story, will the church board ever get their act together, and what is up with Ezekiel the hobo?
The pace to the writing is good, and I found it difficult to put down at times. It was evident that there were two authors, a male and a female and both perspectives were apparent at different times in the story. The loose ends were neatly tied up at the end and all things were explained in a very satisfying way, making the reader feel very happy for the main characters of the story.
There is one thing though, apart from a few plot gaps. I recently reviewed another book in the 'Longbow' series and stated how difficult it was to wait for the next book to continue the saga. There is one little detail in "Dangerous Illusions" that left the reader hanging .... or not. Do I have to wait with bated breath to see if this little detail is significant? It certainly smells that way.
I enjoyed the journey that this book took me on so I give it an above average rating of  4 stars.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Runoff in the Rainforest

 
This is the final collection of over 250 images I took on our waterfall photo tour. It was not easy narrowing it down to the top ten, in fact I have eleven.

 
It is still surprisingly cold in the rainforest, yet the greenery is in full swing.


 
We visited three falls in close proximity to each other. Two of them we had to hike to, and the third was beside the narrow gravel road on the way to Silver Lake.





 
The water is in continual motion and using the slow shutter speed captures it in motion.

 
What a great day it was, and what a joy to take the experience home with us, and share it with you. We will re-visit these sites in the Fall when we can put some orange and yellow into the photo. I can hardly wait and I hope there will enough water cascading down the rocks to get photos like these.