Monday, November 14, 2016

Two Leaves

My walk today was extra long. My heart was burdened and I thought the workout would clear my head and change my perspective.
I have been plagued with a lot of pain recently and my ability to work has been diminished. I should not find this troubling at my age, but it is. I walked 7 Km. and as I walked, I counted and recalled the homes, along the route that I took, that I had worked in over the years. There were seven, on this little route (mostly through a park) and I began to wonder if what I did, really made a difference in the grand scheme of things.
I know that at the time, my clients were very happy to have the work done and happy to have me do it. Did it make a difference? I suppose temporarily it did.
I eventually needed to sit a while and do some stretches so I could make it back to my home. I was sitting on a high curb, trying to shut out the drone of the heavy traffic while thinking about my life and what I had accomplished and what I could do with the rest of it.

My mind was a muddle as a sudden small gust of wind whipped a leaf from the tree above me, right to my feet. It was unremarkable and then another small gust turned it right side up, and I was struck by the incredible beauty of the gold tinged with brilliant red, the veins and stem, blood red yet outlined in yellow, and the perfect Maple leaf shape.  

Ah, yes. The autumn of life. And as I stared at the leaf, I realised that it had a purpose from the day it sprouted as a bud in the warm spring breezes. It worked hard photosynthesizing sunlight so the tree could be nourished, so it could thrive and grow. Without the leaf, the tree would eventually shrivel, dry up, and die. It hung on tenaciously as it was tossed by storms, pummeled by rain, clawed at by squirrels and birds, and yet it did its job to the end.

And now, it was no longer needed, its value was gone....but wait, it had one more purpose. Its creator, almighty God, in one of his strokes of creative genius, decided that a dying leaf should be brilliant and beautiful, a delight to the eye, singly or by the millions. It was a last chance to show God's glory before returning to the soil to nourish the next living plant.

But I am not brilliant like that leaf! There are those who are, who let their light and beauty shine and everyone can see it and appreciate it. It was uplifting and discouraging at the same time. I felt right then and there that I had no brilliance, nothing left. And as I mulled this thought about in my mind, what did I see but another leaf that was right in front of me the whole time. It was an Oak leaf, with no beauty, no brilliance, only a drab shade of brown, lying on the sidewalk, wet and crushed.
But did that leaf not also have the same purpose and value in its lifetime? Did it not also feed and nourish its own tree, the Oak?  Had I not persevered and worked hard to provide for my family? Had I not done some good for those around me and for mankind on a broader scale. I realised that I had and that my work was just as valuable, if finish with brilliance, or with a bit of pain and dysfunction. I was mistaken to think that only the brilliantly coloured  leaves give glory to God in their dying moments. Every shape, size and colour are a testament to a life of purpose and endurance.
The fresh air invigorated me, the brisk walk eased the pain somewhat, but it was the leaves, fluttering down from the almost bare branches, that inspired me.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Designer's Own

We have done much work for one of the leading architectural and interior designers of our area. It is always high end and always of the best quality. This time, we did his own home. This is not the first time, but this is the latest time.  

Cole and Son's is the only wallpaper company I have personally contacted and told how much I appreciated and enjoyed their excellent product.

The flamingos went up in the laundry area. Very unique and interesting.

And then there were the bamboo shoots in the powder room. I actually quite liked this too. So different from what we usually do and the product was excellent to work with.

We were just packing up to leave when the builder discovered that there was more for us to do. The owner was on vacation and had not told anyone about the mural in his daughter's room and it was discovered quite by accident.

It too was a wonderful product and took very little time even though we were told very late in the day that it was to be done. I love doing this kind of work!

Thursday, September 15, 2016


I do not ever display a bad job on this blog because we never, or at least very rarely, ever have one. But here is an example. We have had two of these this summer and in both cases I have pointed out the problems to the customer and given them the option of leaving the paper up or taking it down right then and there. With 40 years of experience, I know every trick in the book for getting the seams to lie down on wallpaper. There are rare cases where nothing works. This is one of them. The customer assured me he was OK with it. The customer is always right so I did not argue but had it been mine, I would have demanded my money back for a bad product and chosen something else. I asked him very nicely to never tell anyone who hung the paper. It reflects badly on me even though I could do nothing about it. The critical observer does not know that and would tend to only judge the workmanship which looks very bad on this paper. I am thrilled that new technology in the wallpaper industry is making this scenario a thing of the past. There are still a few hold-outs in the industry who insist on making these inferior products. When I do consultations, I always steer my customers to those brands and manufacturers who 'getting with the program'.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Exclusive Riverfront

We managed to get a really nice job out at Harrison Mills. It was a very long commute but the work was very enjoyable and rewarding and the people we wonderful to work for and get to know. Here we did no paper hanging, only painting. The colour scheme was predominantly grey with a few feature walls.

The weather was very warm but there was air-conditioning in the house and the property was on the banks of the Harrison River. This was an exclusive gated community, far from anything remotely resembling city life, and a delight to experience. These folks have three other personal residences so there may more work coming.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


The South Asian (East Indian) community is known for building some of the largest houses in our city. If you have ever driven past one of them and wondered what it was like inside, here is a glimpse. We work in them quite often and they are mostly characterized by bling, the latest and greatest of ideas and materials, and having something just a bit better than what their neighbour has.

The powder room must have a chandelier, and the sink must be above counter and unusual. Of course, wallpaper will make it just that much more special.

The living room and family rooms are showcases of fancy features.

And more wallpaper.

Columns, candelabras, and chandeliers in the master bedrooms are a must. Most have more than one master suite. The recessed blue lighting behind the crown moulding is something that is becoming more popular. These LED strips are also put in the bathrooms under the counter tops and running under the vanities as night lights.

The kids rooms are getting some attention now too.

These folks are good to work for, not demanding, easy to please, and they mostly pay on time. When the word gets out that you do a good job for a fair price and are dependable, they pass your name around and soon the phone rings day and night. But if one thing goes wrong, it takes a long time to start over again with them.

Friday, June 24, 2016


One week after I did a small job in a dining room for this customer, she called back and said she had some paper for her master bedroom.

This kind of repetition happens quite frequently. The homeowner discovers the impact of a small amount of wallpaper, and the relative economy of having it installed, and they choose to have more of it. I thoroughly enjoy watching the excitement it brings to the customer's face as a room is transformed. On the other hand, I showed this photo to someone and they said it looked like 'chicken wire'. Well, you can't please all the people all the time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Room With a View

The Abby in Mission owns a lot of land, most of it used for some sort of agriculture or other. A new subdivision has been built on the edge of one their hayfields and the house we were working in today has this view. There are no neighbours in sight as long as you look straight east. When we arrived, there were two deer wandering through the small back yard.

It is a serene and beautiful view that will probably not change for many years to come.

Back on the other side of the Fraser River, there is this view that is nothing short of spectacular, looking east all the way to the Cheam range east of Chilliwack.

I would love to wake to this view every morning. The lighting is dramatic as the weather rolls back and forth across Matsqui prairie. I certainly enjoyed working here and had a difficult time keeping my eyes on my work.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The World in Two Hours

One of my earliest and best customers recently moved from her farm into town. She bought this older but newly renovated home in a very nice area of town. The dining room needed something and she found the perfect solution. She is a world traveller so what would be better than a world map wall mural.

After searching many websites, she found this replica of an old world map, illustrated with Latin titles and names, and by the look of the details in geography, quite old. It was a wonderful product to work with and went up like a charm.

It is most interesting to see the world through the eyes of the early explorers, who had not even discovered or mapped a good portion of North America, as I noticed when I looked for my own location. It was completely missing as you can see in the photo below.

When I called her in from the garden to say that's I was done, I told her it was great except something was missing. Showing no concern whatsoever, she told me that she knew what I was talking about. On the website from where she had ordered the mural, there was a magnification tool and she knew ahead of time that western Canada was nowhere to be found on this map. It will forever be a conversation piece for her dinner guests.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Peaceful Setting

As a city develops and grows, properties with a peaceful, green, and isolated setting become more and more difficult to find. This wonderful home in Mission is a gem in that regard. There is a ravine behind the house and the property extends to the other side of it. It will always be green, peaceful, and isolated. We have worked for this customer numerous times over the years. She is continually upgrading her home and property.

As we re-decorated her living room, we had this wonderful scenery to gaze upon through the many windows in the large room.

The formal gardens and statuettes gave the impression we were in a different country. What a ideal property for a garden party. We may be back here in the Autumn as she pointed out some areas in her home that she thought needed attention.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Lights Out

We had to paint the kitchen ceiling as well as the entire suite, so we dropped the light fixtures. We have done this hundreds of times without incident. Until now. I must admit it is not the first time I have broken something on the job. But this one was not my fault. The wiring is attached to a small transformer under the metal housing against the ceiling. The transformer is attached to the housing with double backed sticky tape, something I had never seen before. When the lights were dangling, the customer flicked the switch for light. No problem, except the heat from the extremely hot halogen bulbs melted the adhesive and one of the fixtures crashed into a sink of cold water.

The shade broke onto three pieces and the hot halogen light was siting under three inches of water. It was glowing. The bulb did not shatter. The wiring did not short out. I still have not figured that one out. I did burn two of my fingers retrieving the fixture out of the water.
I offered to replace the fixture but there was not one to be had like it and there were two. No parts to be had either. The customer bought two new ones and when I offered to pay for them, they insisted that they were going to buy new ones anyway. If I wanted to help all I had to do was install the two new fixtures. All done and everyone is happy. The new lights are LED, very nice looking and the light is better.