Thursday, November 27, 2014


I’ve been procrastinating about writing this particular blog piece for a while now. I think it may have something to do with what I’ll call the “Glory Days” principle.

That’s reference to a Bruce Springsteen song that was popular about 30 years ago when I was finishing high school. It’s all about a guy whose best years are behind him. He peaked in high school, and 30 years later has morphed into somewhat of a barfly itching to tell whoever will listen how great an athlete he’d been in high school.

I don’t want to write an entry expounding how much better things were 30 years ago, because in truth all cycles of life have their peaks and valleys. I simply want to explain what spurred me to dig out some old photos of my first car. Modifying that car was a defining part of my youth. I’m probably recalling that car in my mind’s eye through rose-coloured glasses to some degree, but that’s my prerogative.

This past year we took the plunge to hire an outside party to finish a couple of rooms in the basement. I’d started drywalling about 2 years ago, but progress had all but shuddered to a halt. When we bought our house we’d loosely laid out a plan to finish renovations in 10 years. Upon the eleventh anniversary of our residency here, a re-evaluation became necessary. After re-directing a few hard-earned paycheques towards our handyman contractor we now have a functional space in the basement for our home office.

That lead me to the next (former) disaster area; the storage room under the deck. In all honesty I hadn’t planned much for the space besides cleaning it up enough to be able to take a step inside the room, outside the area of the door swing. But once I got going I got a bit more creative and had the brainwave to display a few VW Beetle engine lids I’ve had hidden in the rafters of the garage since we moved here.

One thing lead to another, and incrementally I found myself using up leftover building supplies that had been in my way for ages as interior finishes in the storage room. I paneled one wall in plywood sheets for instance. That became the display area for the deck lids. I actually got the idea from a display at the Vancouver Art Gallery. We went to see Douglas Coupland’s work (everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything), and one room was completely paneled in raw plywood.

Once I had the deck lids mounted I realized that I had the perfect canvas for license plate display. License plates were always offered for sale at the automotive swap meets I attended years ago and I accumulated quite a few of them. Strangely enough, the ones I most wanted to display weren’t the collectible ones. During some random search through my stashes of building supplies and car parts I came across the license plate from my first car. These days you have to give them back to the insurance company for recycling if you sell the car, so I had forgotten I’d kept my first pair. Upon further investigation I found another plate I’d mounted on the front of that Beetle for a trip to Seattle in 1989 for the Bug-In. It’s a 1962 BC plate since my Bug was a ’62 model.

Now I have my own “Glory Days” display in what my wife has labeled the “Man Cave”. I thought a Man Cave was supposed to have a gigantic flat screen TV in it and maybe a Harley, but that’s a discussion for another time.

This is what my first car looked like shortly after I bought it in 1984.
This is the result of about 1-1/2 years of modifications.
This was the pinnacle event I drove it to; the 1985 Seattle Bug-In at SIR.
Another event that weekend was the VW Vintage Meet at a naval station close to Seattle.
Again at the Vintage Meet.
Again the Vintage Meet. Note the BC 1962 license plate.
This was a car show in 1985 at the Abbotsford fairgrounds.
"Glory Days" in the "Man Cave". The deck lid on the left is the very same one pictured in the first photograph. I kept it for some reason after being rear-ended in 1984. Sounds pretty absurd to admit that now. The deck lid on the right is also original from that car. I replaced it with a fibreglass "W" decklid visible in the previous photo.


Last weekend began as a culinary quest and ended with the unexpected purchase of a half-price pre-Black Friday Christmas tree. Plus of course, as has been our ritual these past few months, we took our dog Tannah for a walk through a park; Fraser River Park (aka Angus Park). We hadn't been there in ages.

Bakeries are the new black these days in Vancouver. You really can't swing a croissant without hitting a new one every coupla weeks. Late last week I read about a new one close to Gastown, so we hopped a bus to check it out. I actually knew exactly where it was just by the description of its location; Flack Block. I'd done some work in the Woodwards development a while back, and in my discovery of Meat and Bread (sandwich shop) one lunch hour I encountered the restored facade of the heritage building in which Purebread has set up shop. The amount of detail in the Flack Block's arched doorway is quite extraordinary when (if?) one really stops for a moment to appreciate it. Can you imagine what it would cost in today's wages to carve a design like that?

After an unbelievably tough selection process (how to narrow it down to only one item?) we explored a bit of Gastown.
Shouldn't everyone's Christmas list contain at least one item with one's own name on it?
This was the view through one heritage pane of clerestory glazing as viewed from a Gastown vendor.
Isn't this a bit extravagant to be labeled merely as "graffiti"? Although I probably wouldn't want to discover such a tableau on my garage door one Saturday morning. Just saying.
This is what I call "Painting with light".
To me nothing sounds like Christmas like Vince Guaraldi. Sorry Bing.
We even took in a film shoot.
Tannah indulged us in our bakery excursion as long as she got to go for a trot in a park. All parties win!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Fall of the Wall

This is one of the historical photos we saw in 2013 when we visited Berlin.

Former Chancellor Kohl at Brandenburg Gate 25 years after the collapse of the Wall.
Twenty-five years ago today I watched the Berlin Wall come down on TV with my Dad. He left East Germany just before it became impossible to do so. Obviously it was quite an emotional experience for him to see it dismantled; something he never really expected to see.

The above photo of Former Chancellor Kohl is all the more powerful for me because my Dad was a paraplegic. He saw the wall come down, but he died 2 years later. It's easy for me to imagine it's my Dad sitting there in quiet contemplation.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Disney Mushrooms

On my daily lunchtime walks lately I've seen the strangest mushrooms ever. If I hadn't seem them with my own eyes I'd think they were photoshopped. They remind me of an image from a Disney cartoon. They've popped up after (and during) the heavy rains we've had recently.

Something tells me the red colour is probably Nature's warning label not the eat these ones.
Every time I see these things all I can think of is Dopey, Doc or Sneezy diving for cover under one of these red polka-dotted umbrellas.
This one was at least 10 inches in diameter!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Burnaby Lake Park

Another weekend, another park.

It's true; dogs are good for people's fitness. If we weren't dog owners I don't think we'd be out so often exploring new parks. A few weeks ago it was Deer Lake, this weekend it was Burnaby Lake.

I hadn't been there in several years despite working practically next door to it for 7 years. The last time I was there was over 5 years ago when our SunRun training group did a 10K jog around the lake. Today we took Tannah on  an approximately 4K walk along the east side of the lake. She had a blast! Even though she wasn't allowed in one area that juts out into the lake itself.

Tannah was not impressed she wasn't allowed to follow Shauna down the jetty to the lake. But I bet the ducks were breathing a sigh of relief! 

Tannah was much more intrigued by squirrels and birds than mushrooms.

The metropolis of Burnaby appears to be sprouting from the tops of the lake shore trees.

Wood ducks must spend hours in front of the mirror every morning.
At first I thought this was a dove, but I think it's actually a white pigeon. White certainly seems to be the colour of authority in this tree.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tall Shadows and Tall Trucks

I completed my first business trip with the new job. They sent me to Wild Rose Country: Clairmont, Falher and Vegreville.

The following is my photo essay. It was actually the perfect time of year to go to central Alberta. The leaves were still on the trees and the snow hadn't yet fallen. Well, OK, there has already been a big dump of snow in Calgary a couple of weeks ago, but it didn't stick, and I don't think it's snowed yet in the region in which I was traveling.

An aerial view of the Richmond Olympic skating oval.

This is the puddle-jumper I boarded to go from Calgary to Grande Prairie.

The Fall colours form quite an impressive pattern from this height.

I thought this region was known as the "Oil Patch", not the "Mud Patch".

Tall trucks and tall shadows.

Dawn as viewed from the 9th floor of the Paradise Inn in Grande Prairie.

Sunrise at 8:15 along on my way to Falher, Alberta.

That's my Hyundai rental car heading North along Highway 2 to Rycroft.

My assignment was to review a tire store in Falher. Lots of farm equipment gets re-tired here.

Little House on the Prairie?
This structure reminded me of Medicine Hat.
Morning sun reflecting from the dew delineated the high voltage lines against the dark clouds.

They're not exactly roaming the prairie wild and free, but this still scores as a buffalo sighting in Elk Island National Park on my way to Vegreville.

Frequently I saw this type of bird in and around the Edmonton/ Grand Prairie region. I think it's a variety of Jay. I'll have to look it up. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Extra Low Tide from June - part 2

I finally got around to photoshopping a few photos from June's extra low tide at Spanish Banks. I had wanted to level the horizon in many of my shots before posting, but it wasn't supposed to have taken this long. What's that old saying about life getting in the way?

Better late than never. I was having difficulty with my Elements program in June. After upgrading from Version 5.0 to 12.0 I'm now on the right track.

Below are Tannah's exploits out on the open sand, leash free!

I love the perspective of this shot. At first I didn't like that there were two tiny people in the background, but now it strikes me as rather Lilliputian. I mean, how big is this Spaniel anyway?

Tannah is teaching my wife her "Happy Dance". 

I don't think Tannah even realized that herons were out there; they were that motionless.
Out there on the sand it's quite a surreal perspective of the city.
Tannah always obeys the signs.