(mostly) daily photoblog

Archive for December, 2010

Happy New Year (almost)!

I was pushed a little by this week’s Photo Friday challenge:  Best of 2010.  So here’s my best of 2010.  It’s not a photo I’ve posted before, so it’s not my best photo of 2010.  I think it’s a good one, though, but there were better photos taken on the family camping trip on the Oregon Coast.  It is, however, tied to my best memory of 2010.  It was the best camping trip my family’s ever taken.  Despite the weather, the trip was great.  Thanks, 2010, for a great year.  Now, get out of here.  Go take a rest.


Bowling with the kids.

Good golly she’s growing up.  Stop.  Stop growing up.

Maybe I don’t understand Christmas…

This is in Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, BC.  Now, I consider myself pretty steeped in Christmas tradition.  I know who Saint Nicholas was.  I know where the modern images of Santa Claus comes from.  I’m pretty sure I know the pagan origins of the modern Christmas tree.  I get that lights on the tree used to be candles (can you say safety hazard?).  I understand the Christmas story well enough to know that the Magi should probably be somewhere in your kitchen if your nativity is in the living room because most accounts have them showing up to Mary and Joseph and Jesus sometime between the birth and second birthday of Christ.  I know that shepherds were the lowest of the low, making them the perfect messengers of the message that the savior of all had just been born.

What I don’t know how to explain is the freaking huge horse above.  Oh, I get that it looks like a rocking horse and that it might be a traditional Christmas gift, but who thought, “Hey, it’s Christmas.  We should build a gigantic horse and let parents and children ride in it.”  It seems like something that should be at a carnival, not in a Christmas display.  Why not a giant Rudolph?  Or a rocking sleigh?

Maybe I just don’t understand Christmas.

You think you’ve had a bad day?

Luke, quick!  Your lightsaber is just off to your left.  Just use the force and you’ll be able to avoid the scary Wampa heading your way.

Uh…I might have a little too much psychologically invested in Star Wars.  Thanks a lot, George Lucas.

My son got a lot of Lego for Christmas and all of it was Star Wars, which is to say I got to live vicariously through my son as we, I mean he, got to build all of it.  Awesome!

How big are your nuts?

Is that title too suggestive?  I don’t think so, given that this fellow, a nutcracker, was taller than me.  I’m over six feet tall and I definitely had to look up to him.  He was standing guard at the entrance to the kids area at the Vancouver Christmas Market, a traditional German market where you could learn about chocolate, eat bratwurst, and drink beer while checking out handmade crafts and fruit preserves.

I’m not sure why he’s on guard duty.  I guess the Rat King keeps trying to go into the kids area to make his own chocolate Santa lollipop.

Color matters, but sometimes it does not.

I was given colored icing and sugar cookies and given the responsibility to decorate.  By the end of the session, I guess my mind wandered and I started to think only in literal terms.  I used blue icing, so I wrote BLUE.  I used pink, and PINK came out.  Have you ever had that moment where your brain and hand are synced?  Where your brain is only moving as fast as your hand?  I had that moment.  There is no deeper message, no heavy symbolism here.  No “rainbow coalition” of the cookies.  Just a slow brain and a dull imagination.

Although, the yellow one is pretty cool.


Thanks, to our unexpected hero.

Today we took the Skytrain into Vancouver.  I took this shot by placing my camera upside down on the ceiling of the train car.  The kids like to take the train because they get to see the Lower Mainland from a different perspective than the back seat of the family minivan.  We’ve done this trip a few times.  Today we took Ben and Hannah to the end of the line; then we made a switch and took the SeaBus across to the Lonsdale Quay.  We had lunch and got a couple of Beavertails – think Elephant ears, but more Canadian.

Along the way, at the Commercial Drive station, a number of rather rowdy, drunken (at 11:00 in the morning) young men climbed on the train.  Before I had a chance to turn away from my children to ask them to tone down the language, another passenger turned to them and asked them to watch their language as there were children on board and nearby.  He didn’t have to say anything – it is public transit after all, and I’ve had to deal with less appropriate behavior on public transit before.  He had no reason to put himself between these drunks and my kids – but he did.  For that, I’m thankful.  I managed to thank him, but I can’t thank him enough.  At a time of the year when we all do a little too much staring at our feet, thinking about what we need to do and not what we can do for others, this guy acted altruistically.  The hard part for me, right now, is that I don’t know his name.

It turns out that our “good samaritan” works at the Apple Store in Pacific Center in Vancouver.  If you see a young man, bearded and bespectacled in a nice pair of RayBans, in the Apple Store in Pacific Center, thank him for me.  He’s an awesome guy.

Christmas cookies are AWESOME!

I was reading through my Grandma’s cookbooks and came across a bunch of recipes that I remember her making.  One of those recipes, from The Mennonite Community Cookbook, was for sugar cookies.  Honestly, what you get for all the work you do making sugar cookies is barely worth it.

I mixed a ridiculous amount of shortening, sugar and flour in my mixer and added the milk and vanilla and watched as the dough took shape.  Then I refrigerated it for about four hours.  After rolling it out, my children took to arms with cookie cutters and had some fun cutting out hearts and stars and trees and angels and…well, a whole bunch of different shapes.  This, below, is the aftermath of the first round of cookie cutter-ing.


After baking and cooling the cookies, the Bergen family went at the task of decorating with enthusiasm.  We have a lot of fun making all kinds of different designs, and no design is turned down.  Here are a few results of what we decorated today.


I’m sorry that I can’t share them with you.  If they look good to you, I’ll post the recipe and the instructions for the icing.  Let me know what you think.

All aboooooaaarrrddd…

…the gingerbread train.  First stop…Peppermint town, followed by SmartieVille and Royal Icing City.

Whoo, whoo…chuggachuggachuggachugga…

I can’t say I like gingerbread, but it is fun to see what my kids come up with every year.  We skipped right past the house and went for the locomotive this year, and Hannah took the lead on the engine while Ben decorated the caboose.  Hannah went for traditional red and green of Christmas, while Ben decided that a circus caboose more accurately captured his own feelings about the season.

Gathering snow.

Photo Friday challenge this week is “Gathering”.  Tonight, as I tried to digest an immense amount of food ingested during a wonderful family Christmas gathering, snow started to fall.  It’s been getting colder as the week’s gone on, and the drizzle turned to very light snow.  The snow never really gathered significantly anywhere, but there was a gathering of snowflakes in the air.  Does that count?

No photo – just a note.


I’ve been ridiculously busy, but that busy-ness ends this weekend.  I should start getting out and shooting more photos then.  I appreciate those of you who regularly check out my blog, but I’ve not been the most loyal lately.  For that I’m sorry.  I will be able to remedy that shortly.  Until then, happy holidays.

Christmas concert season is well under way

In fact, Christmas concert season is pretty much over.  Haha.  After two concerts on Wednesday and two this weekend at church, we’re done.  Now, all I have to do is make it through this last week of school and I’m free.  It’s not that I don’t like Christmas season, but it sure is nice when it’s over.

Hulk feels fine…not smash.


This whole last week I’ve felt as though the Incredible Hulk has been trying to break out of my head.  There is a week to go before Christmas holidays and too many things to do before I’m done.  So, this morning I went out to the lake and wandered.  There was almost no wind and the temperature was a balmy five degrees.  It was so tranquil that the Hulk took a little break.  Here’s what calms the beast:

I can control the weather…mwahahahahahaaa…

I shot this on the way home tonight.  I am finding that the weather cooperates beautifully with my commute home.  That’s weird, now that I think about it.  I wonder if maybe I’m controlling it.  Hmmm…

Maybe I have superpowers that control the weather…although every person who could control weather, in the comics I read, is a supervillain.  Well, I guess I need to start practicing my evil laugh.

The wide screen view of Mt. Cheam

Okay, I’m copping out on this one.  I need sleep more than anything tonight and I also needed to post something wintry.  I hope this works.

Reflections. In black and white.

The thing about reflection is that it’s become a very loaded word.  I love reflections because they show more than the subject itself – in this case, you get to see the trees reflected back in the water of the Sumas River.  Two sets of trees, with the reflections serving as a surreal mirror of our world.  But reflections never tell the whole story.  One never gets to see everything in reflection.

If you stare into a mirror, you only see part of yourself, and it’s an opposite image.  It’s not even what the world sees.  Every reflection is, in a sense, a false image.  Yet, we’re all a little obsessed with our own reflection – we pause to glance at ourselves when we pass mirrors, windows and water to see what we look like without being conscious of the fact that what we see is not real.

It gets dark early – Christmas must be close.

The sun is setting earlier these days and with daily savings taking effect earlier in the year it seems that I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark and all the daylight hours are reserved for other people.  The early dark does mean two good things:  Christmas is near and I don’t have to stay up late to get good dusk photos.

Chilly day in the Valley

It was chilly today in the valley.  Must have hovered just above zero for most of the day.  I know this because this morning, when the raindrops left on my car were frozen, the mountains all had fresh caps of snow.  A lovely bunch of cupcakes with vanilla frosting.  This evening as I returned home, the frosting was still there.

I took a detour tonight, through the farms that exist alongside the highway.  The blur in the foreground is one of the many friends I’ve made on my commute.


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