Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Discussion

I'll have more to say about the Pletts' visit, with a bunch of photos to post, but I thought this one deserved immediate attention. After a very nice supper at Myron and Tracey's, Plett launched into a short diatribe about small-town religious hypocrisy, and sat back with this smug grin to watch the fireworks of the ensuing discussion. Then about 20 minutes in, he made fun of everyone for breaking the cardinal rule of never talking about religion or politics at parties.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Mom tipped me off to a performance she enjoyed on the Junos show last night -- Bryan Adams and Kathleen Edwards. I still have a soft spot for Bryan Adams despite his perceived late-career descent. I still think of him as sort of Canada's Bruce Springsteen from those olden days when I saw him play Run to You at my first ever rock concert in 1985ish (credit to my dad for making that happen, and Corey Hart at the Winnipeg Arena around then too!). Those pop hooks, the gravelly voice, the white t-shirt! To a 12-year-old on the prairies, that was big-time stuff. Anyway, this Juno thing was a simple pop duet, but it grabbed me in that goosebumpy way that I have to pay attention to. The performance itself is wonderful -- the two of them are so obviously enjoying themselves. 

Really, it was Kathleen Edwards I was most impressed with -- she's a total babe, plays the violin like a dream, and just nails it with her voice. This is not cool indie-cred stuff at all...just a good song, well-sung. It sent me looking for more of her music, and I stumbled across this gem of a lyric (among many other bits of goodies) that had me thinking warm fuzzies about my lovely wife:
I sure as shit do love you
And I cuss because I mean it
And for that in my heart I am hopeful
And these words that I chose I was so careful

Sunday, March 29, 2009


My first mountain bike ride of the season, and all I got were photos of the train trestle I rode over to get to the trails. Oh well...they turned out pretty well, with some interesting abstract patterns and shapes. The ride was a blast too -- sunny, 10 degrees, and the trails are in perfect shape. Felt so good to fly through the woods again after a long winter. My lungs hurt, but the ol' legs weren't too bad, and my bike seemed to really be flying after a basic cleanup, a new tube and some lube. Ah, joy.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Goodness Gracious

I know, I know, everyone thinks their kids are cute. But these days it's blowing my mind that I have beautiful daughters, and that the future heartache is just all too obvious. These two photos are dedicated to my oh-so-generous mom, who got me a challenging and finicky (and too rich for my blood) lens for Christmas that takes crazy-good portraits like these (the bigger version of Ivy is outrageous)...and who also loves these girls more than just about anything else in the world.


Friday, March 27, 2009


Warning: beginner violinists sound terrible. Their most earnest attempts at making music are most often compared to ill, battling felines, or fingernails on the proverbial blackboard. Why these mean spirited stereotypes, you ask? Because beginner violinists sound terrible. This is why you must proceed with caution or leave now before your sensitive ears are utterly abused.

I get a kick out of this photo, because it reflects the equipment end of my current passion. The little violins are the girls', and then the full-sized violin is mine -- the big brother on the left is our teacher's kick-ass viola, which she generously let me borrow for a few weeks. It's got a gorgeous tone -- deeper than a violin -- not low like a cello, but fuller and warmer and one string lower than violins.

But the real purpose of this post is to reveal a sound-bite glimpse into my winter hobby. Why even record these fumbling attempts, never mind share them with the world? For the same reason I keep this blog -- I like having a record of the process of our lives, even if the product isn't always particularly interesting or pleasing. I already like seeing video clips of my playing a few months ago when it was even more awful, so even the small progressions are satisfying. Seeing this today after witnessing virtuoso James Ehnes in concert last night makes my attempts feel even more comically bad, but it was inspiring. Anyway, six months into the violin experiment, and this is what it sounds like (by special request from several loyal readers):

A couple of notes on these clips:
  • The first one is a faster fiddle jig called "Gary Owen" that I'm just learning now...keeps the fingers moving.
  • Another fiddle tune called Clare Jig that Ivy and I learned from Liz last week -- I'll have to get some video of Ivy whipping through it too.
  • A little bit of a harmony part I developed to accompany Clare Jig. It led to one of my most fun recent musical moments when Liz played the regular melody and I got to try this second part out with her -- I was grinning like an idiot and had goosebumps because it sounded even better than I had hoped. Because it mostly uses the lower strings, it was one of the reasons Liz suggested lending me her viola, which has been super fun.
  • A simple classical piece that my mom has generously been playing piano accompaniment for, along with a half-dozen other songs from the first Suzuki book. The few times we've tried, it's been a lot of fun for both of us. Violin duets with Ivy on the same songs have been fun too, so we're looking forward to trying trio versions at some point.
  • And finally, the only viola bit, on a song I came up with and have been practicing this week -- Liz has a pickup on the instrument, so I was able to add some reverb and amplification for an even warmer, bigger sound. Now if only I could play in tune! Just takes time...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Big City Bound

A couple of weeks ago we had no social plans for this week(end), but suddenly Ryan and Heather were here late last week, and then on Saturday we all found ourselves at The Sylvia in Vancouver for a couple of nights. As someone who hates planning, that's my kind of fun.

Friday night we had our best visit with the Pletts -- my mom and dad came and watched all the kids (including handsome Mr. James), freeing us up for a very nice supper at The Cellar Door. Adult conversation without interruptions! In the morning we had pancakes and coffee at our place, and by 11am we were all on our way to the coast.

We took the #3 route and stopped at Bromley Rock. My family tried to be patient as I attempted to photograph the last bits of ice along the Similkameen River. A few passable shots: ghostly reflection, icicles under an ice shelf, junctions and cracks.

No luck at Sanderson's in Keremeos where we could have used some of their excellent curry -- closed for the winter, I guess. Ezra was angry and demanding, and tired of being stuck in his carseat forever, but Tannis and the girls kept him from going completely off the rails with snacks and songs. He eventually slept as we got into the city.

Our first stop was at Angelo and Esther's excellent new place near Commercial to see this little beauty and hang out with our dear old friends. We feasted happily -- yummy salads and Angelo's decadent gnocchi pesto, perfect beer and good bread. Their place is exactly right...felt like I had been there before because it was just so them. Shades of Corydon and Jervis and 1st Ave...

Breakfast at the Sylvia with the Pletts in the morning while the kids sort of ran amuck. Then they headed off to the aquarium while we met the Eidses for coffee and a walk in Stanley Park with the little ones -- including a springtime play session at an ocean view playground. Good times. Really how couldn't we all be happy in that kind of paradise on a perfect spring day in Vancouver?

I headed out for a quick photogeek walk around lunchtime and got some ok photos. Nothing too spectacular, but it was interesting to have different subject matter for a change. I took a series of fence/reflection abstracts: 1, 2, and 3...balconies, stairwells. Nice to bump into Barb on the seawall, on her way to meet Tannis at the hotel.

Bill and Sam joined us for the afternoon pilgrimage to the aquarium. It was jam-packed with people, hot and humid...and I was socialed-out. But we made the best of it, and the kids seemed to enjoy the usual marine-life goodness. Some smiles and laughs, as the girls adore hanging out with Sam. Bill and I preferred the cold beers back at the hotel later, I think. We brought in Greek food and tried to keep the kids from hurting each other.

So a good time was had by all, I hope. I was sorry not to get a chance to see Cass's little Luke, and of course four or five days would have been better. But we were long overdue for a Vancouver weekend, and I'm already looking forward to the next one (unplanned, as of yet).





Thursday, March 19, 2009

This Is The Thing

Fink - This Is The Thing -- my musical enchantment this week. The simple chord progressions and harmonized humming get me every time, and the lyrics keep sticking in my head:
and the things that keep us apart
keep me alive
the things that keep me alive
keep me alone
...this is the thing

The rest of the album sounds great too...worth checking out. My current playlist of choice mixes my favourite 6-8 songs from Fink, The National, Frightened Rabbit, a handful of Coldplay and a new band (to me, anyway) called Fanfarlo (video here). Nothing edgy in there...could rightly be criticized as being too mainstream and overproduced, maybe even "easy listening"...shudder. But it's one of those lists where I never feel tempted to skip anything, which is rare for me in a 30-song list.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Abstract Depressionism

No I'm not depressed -- I was just trying to be clever with the title. Although I have wondered whether this winter's foray into abstract photography has been an escape from reality. The worlds I find inside chunks of ice and the patterns I'm seeing in everyday objects and landscapes don't require much of me. They just exist, waiting to to be discovered. Most might be considered fantasy in some way...reflections, illusions, implied shapes, and tiny spaces that appear to be immense.

Many of these images are ending up in Looking Into Ice or Looking At Ice, but if you've followed my Flickr photos lately, there's been a real hodgepodge of things showing up. Like much of my stuff, it's not everyone's idea of a good time, but if you are curious, there are some abstract goodies hidden in there: branches, water paths, bubbles all lined up, wire grids, pine needles, a boat slicing through a painting, venetian waves, perfect puzzles, stacked logs, old wood, creepers, winter glories, rust, cracked earth and rose hips (which made a very fine tea later on).






Friday, March 13, 2009

Wild Things

I started up a little set a few weeks ago to collect the few photos I've taken of wildlife (set here, or slideshow). It's not a genre I've had much experience with, and I don't really have the gear to do it properly, but I do bump into wild things sometimes when focused on something else. The funniest recent one was seeing these two pal around...weeeird. A couple more:



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wider and Wider

Not that I expect anyone to notice except the photogeeks, but I got a new lens a couple of weeks ago. If you did see any shots that looked like a wiiiiide angle, that's why. It's a 10-22mm, almost as wide as my old Minolta fisheye, but not so distorted (although faces up close do look pretty whacked). I've been collecting a set of photos I've taken with it here: 10-22 Wide Angles. Some faves from that set:



Thursday, March 05, 2009


Ivy: "We already started a game, and games are more important than schoolwork!"

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Oh, Sweet Magdelina

Congrats to Steve and Ang! A gorgeous girl, to even up the gender score in their family: Little Maggie...

Also, big baby congrats to Greg and Sophie from a couple of weeks ago -- it's not on their blog, so I can't link...but they had a baby boy named Julien Quinn.

Update: The baby boom continues! My good friend Cassandra and her man David had a little guy this week -- little cutie named Luke. Crazy to have three good friends with newborns at the same time. I'm looking forward to meeting all of these new little ones. Oh, and now Cassandra has been adding photos.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

One Skates, One Reads

Well, actually they both skate a lot, but I thought this photo was hilarious. Ivy reads a few novels a week and will occasionally refuse to put them down, even if her ogre parents force her outside. As an aside, one of my Flickr friends noticed the amazing playhouse in this photo and made a semi-formal request for Larry to build him one this summer. Also, the rain and +10 this week has pretty much destroyed our beloved skating loop, but we were pretty happy to get a couple of months of use out of it.

If Ezra got his own post, his sisters should too, right? My recent fixation on ice photos has meant they have not had cameras pointed at them as much lately, but there are still a few. Ella snuck into this one while skating the loop with her Grandpa and Grandma Hiebert. Tannis got one of her hanging out with me, and she's also been getting out on her bike a few times since the weather got friendlier.

Ivy's been riding a bit too. I took them down to Peach Orchard Beach before supper yesterday and they did a few laps along the path that connects it to Rotary Beach (but didn't take any cameras). Both girls were in their glory this past weekend as the Baker boys came up to join us for a couple of days. They set up a clubhouse with Sam in our chaotic and dysfunctional basement that somehow absorbed them for at least six hours. They all had Tamagotchi fever too. A couple more photos:




Pearl had a Facebook update today about missing her grandchildren -- reminded me to get busy. As I went through Ezra's Flickr set, it made me realize that I need to take some pictures of him shrieking "NOOOOOOOOO!" and hammering on the bathroom door screaming "MAAAAAAMMMMAAAAA!" repeatedly.

Actually video would be even better to record this nasty stage for posterity. The current photos are all happy and glowy, showing him enthusiastic, playing and exploring. And those are legitimate moments I've captured; they just seem to be few and far between these days.

He's also making us laugh a lot, and we marvel at him picking up new words every day and busting them out like a pro. He's loving getting outside, which makes us realize that he's got even worse cabin fever than the rest of us. We're remembering that Ivy was very similar at 18-19 months -- hitting the terrible twos early -- and she seemed to get through the stage pretty quickly, so here's hoping for a repeat. Anyway, a couple of photos: