(mostly) daily photoblog

Archive for September, 2011

Photo Friday: Street Art Spirit Raccoon

This is one of my favorite pieces of street art.  It’s some kind of “anti-consumerist” comment that I’m not even sure I understand, but I don’t know that exact comprehension is important when it comes to art.

This piece might be about the consumption of native art and the fact that the real meaning of aboriginal painting is lost when it’s purchased by ignorant people.  Maybe it’s about aboriginal artists no longer making their art for community and are now making it for the highest bidder.  Maybe it’s about raccoons holding people hostage by sitting on their heads.  I don’t know.

What I do know?  It looks cool.

Photo Friday’s challenge this week is Animal.   Spirit raccoon seemed to fit.

Cloudy with a chance of AWESOME!

I think that “awesome” is often overused.  In fact, it is entirely overused.  We use it to describe pizza, socks, hot dogs, movies…pretty much anything that is probably not awesome.

There’s a sense, with this word, that if we actually were experiencing awesome, we would drop to our knees, lose the ability to breathe and change our perspective on everything we’ve experienced up to that moment.  Hot dogs are not going to create that feeling.  Socks do not create that feeling.  Acts of God and nature…maybe.

p.s.  Sorry for the giant scroll-down.

“Look what I can do!”

I took these three photos and stitched them together.  The vista of my backyard, the mountains in the background, the umbrella on my deck were too tempting to resist.  I snapped a good number of photos while on my deck, admiring God’s handiwork.  It’s like He came down on Sunday night and said, like an excited four year old clutching a crayoned piece of paper, “Look what I can do!”

Pretty cool.

Please feel free to click on it to see the full size version in detail.

What does your backyard look like?

Sunday night.  Two days ago.  The clouds were dissipating in just the right way.  The sun was bouncing off them as it set somewhere west of my yard.  The clouds lit up with fire and smoke and looked like something Michelangelo might have painted on a ceiling.  God may have been reaching out to Adam through these clouds.

It was pretty.

Where do you get your coffee?

I don’t drink coffee.  This has been a source of incredulity my entire professional life.  I am a teacher.  Therefore, I must drink coffee.  But I don’t.  Or can’t.

It’s not like I haven’t tried.  I would love a source of warm caffeine that is not as sugar-laden as my Coca Cola addiction.  So, every time my wife orders something from Starbucks, I try some of her Cinnamon Dolce Latte, or Pumpkin Spice Latte, or Cafe Mocha, or whatever.  And every time I do, I regret it.  All I can taste is the coffee.  Or, rather, all I can taste at the end of the sip is the coffee.  The first flavor is usually pleasing enough, but then the coffee steps in and smacks me around.  My palate will not acquiesce.

I was reading Howard Schultz’s book Onward and Schultz describes the process and conversation over espresso so well that he had me convinced that I should try it.  My friends all warned me off, however, knowing that I don’t drink regular coffee so why did I think that I would like the concentrated version of the stuff.  Honestly, I feel as though I’m missing out on this great culture of coffee and a small part of me is jealous of people who have a refined enough taste to discern the difference from one type of coffee to another.

The photo above was taken in Montreal at one of the many Cafe Depot locations.  It is one of many places of the coffee culture of which I am an outsider.

Photo Friday…on a Sunday. Weird

Photo Friday’s challenge this week is “Inside“.  I scoured my old files to find the right photo for this one.  I don’t use my flash, so inside shots are not my specialty.  I prefer available light sources, so I look for the right ambience in the subjects that I shoot.  I love to shoot churches; not that they’re particularly well lit, most of them aren’t, but I can slow my shutter speed down and then lose the people attending in a blur.

Anyway, I hope you like this.  It’s a church in Quebec City.  Lovely old place, if my memory serves.

Inanimate friends?

I’m not talking about zombies, although I do love them a lot.

I’m talking about those things that grow on you, those things that take on a life of their own.  Those things that you have and wear and keep for a long time and when it comes time to retire them you’re not sure if you want to get rid of them or bronze them.

It’s pretty stupid, really.  They are just things, after all.  It is a solid reminder of the consumption-driven lives most of us lead.  It is a symptom of a society that is becoming enamored of things and not people, of virtual relationships rather than actual relationships.  It’s the purse you can’t part with, the iPod that finally charged one last time, the VCR that still plays but not well.  In my case, it’s a pair of ASICS Fortitudes that have almost given up the ghost.  They hug me in just the right way.  They support me.  They…

…are inanimate.  And they will have to go soon.




WordPress Photo Challenge: Fall

It might be Fall on the calendar, but today it went up to 23 degrees here in the Lower Fraser Valley of BC.  With the humidity, which is ridiculous right now, it feels like 29 degrees.  That’s about 88 degrees for my American friends.  Honestly, I could go for some of the cool crispness that normally accompanies Fall around here.  I felt that for this week’s Photo Challenge a close-up of a decaying Maple leaf would serve to fit the topic:  Fall.

Now, if only the weather would cooperate.

They are beautiful…those black and white cows.



I’m tired.

Nigh night.


If I write a little more will you be satisfied to let me go to sleep?  Actually, Big Bang Theory is on right now and I’m kind of liking how Sheldon just freaked out and hallucinated bugs crawling all over him.  Hee hee.

Now can I go to sleep?

This is where your milk comes from…

…and no, brown cows do not produce chocolate milk, despite what your dad used to tell you.  If brown cows produced chocolate milk, then black and white cows (Holsteins, for the uninitiated) would produce what?  Grey milk?  And depending on the ratio of black to white on the given cow, you’d have everything from charcoal milk to smoke grey, so that color theory makes no sense whatsoever.

This photo is from my drive home.  Today, the cows seemed to want their photo taken.  Every time I raised my camera, one of the cows outside the shot would give a little snort and raise her head, as though saying, “Hey!  What about me?”  As soon as I changed angles, she’d put her head down and another somewhere else would give me the diva treatment.

Via is the way to go. Or video games. Whatevs.

If you’ve never been to Canada, you might not know Via Rail.  It’s kind of like Amtrak, only Canadian.  It travels from the east coast to the west, right through the Rockies.  Apparently it’s beautiful.  I’ve always been curious to cross Canada this way.  Enjoying the sights without having the pain of driving myself sounds awesome.  Now, if only I had a giant wad of cash to get rid of.

BTW, if you check out the building at the bottom, it’s Electronic Arts in Montreal.  Now that’s a way to transport yourself to another world for about $49.

Sometimes you feel like a nut…

…and other times you stop your car along the side of the road, put the hazard lights on, run around to the passenger side of the car to get your camera to take “that” photo of a hazelnut orchard because the light is catching it just right.  All the while, wearing a solid wall of black (shoes, pants, belt, button-front shirt) and a hot pink tie, thereby weirding out all drivers passing by.

Or does that just happen to me?  Just me?  Oh…well then…carry on.


Maple in detail

Some of the most amazingly beautiful things in the world are the things we don’t notice because they’re tiny.  Above is the stem of a maple leaf.  Specifically the stem of a Bigleaf Maple, the Acer Macrophyllum.   They grow all over the place up here and when Fall rolls around they start dropping gigantic leaves.  They cover the park across the street with a decaying, red and yellow crunchy blanket.

Beauty in Decay

A couple of days ago a friend of mine came to speak at my school.  She was awesome.  She said a lot of things our girls needed to hear.  When I was saying farewell to her, a cool breeze blew through the school’s parking lot and thousands of leaves all flew off the surrounding trees.  Kate looked at me and said, “I think Fall just started.  Right now.  Right here.”  I laughed, but since then the leaves have been falling off all the trees around our house.

The leaf in the photo above comes from the park across the street from our house.  The kids rode their bikes while I ran.  At the end of our time in the park, we walked through all the fallen leaves.  As we walked, we quietly listened to the crispy and crunchy leaves under our feet.  It was a great zen moment.  There is beauty in the decay of Autumn.


WordPress Photo Challenge: Faces

We did not go to the Buddhist Temple this summer and I kind of miss these guys.  The face above belongs to one of many statues depicting the “Lohans” of Buddhism.  My kids love going to the temple and it’s a cool way to experience a culture outside our own.  But there are lessons to be learned in a temple that go far beyond culture.

A couple of summers ago, when we took the kids to the temple in Steveston, BC for the first time, my son was doing his best to exercise self-control.  He walked instead of running.  He spoke quietly instead of excitedly shouting.  He kept his hands behind his back.  To this day, when I need him to exercise that same restraint, I say to him: “Ben.  Buddhist Temple.”  And that’s all he needs.  Buddhist Temple.

Oh, and this week’s photo challenge is “Faces“.

Photo Friday: Glowing

I don’t think I need to explain much.  Photo Friday’s challenge this week is “glowing”.  I was hurting for a subject, but tonight, while my wife and I were watching Thor and the kids played downstairs, I noticed the cranberry candle in the bookshelf.  That’s it.

No Photo: Sorry.

I had a great day today.  We had Kate Whitfield in our school today talking to the girls and she met, after, with all of the girls in leadership to discuss how they could set the proverbial bar higher in our school for “girl-world” behavior.  Then I hung out with my son tonight as we watched “How To Train Your Dragon” and for part of it, he let me run on the treadmill.  I’ve been so busy that I’ve not gotten out to take any new photos and I feel like I’m rehashing stuff from way too long ago.  I’m going to rectify that this weekend, starting tomorrow.

To recap:

1.  Helped make my school a better place for the girls.

2.  Hung out with son watching awesome animated movie.

3.  Exercised.

4.  No photo…yet.

p.s.  If you’re a teacher and need someone to come in and discuss girl issues with your girls, there’s no one better to call than Kate.  She’s awesome.

Anyone feeling beachy? Beach-ish? Beach-esque?

I am.

Right now.

Anyone want to come with me?

I can leave before work tomorrow…really.

A loving reminder

This is a little reminder from me to…me.  It’s been a while since I senselessly bought flowers.  By senselessly, I mean the part of my brain that is not part of the brain – the irrational part of the brain, is what I’m trying to say.

Yes, there are reasons why I love my wife.  Yes, there are occasions to buy flowers.  Yes, there are aesthetic reasons to purchase these aromatic and visually stimulating florae.  But it’s time to do it for no reason whatever.

Because isn’t that what love is?  A momentary stupidity in the face of all things logical that creates a blankness in the brain and a smile on the face?  Well, it’s time to get stupid for love again.

Of course, me, the person for whom I might be gettin’ all stupid might read this, so maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, but soon.  Soon.


Here Fishy Fishy…

If you’re a fisherman (is the p.c. version of that “fisher-person”?), then you know already that it’s fishing season here in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia.  Everyone I know is talking about how they want to get on the river and fish, or what they caught this morning before work, or how many “pinks” are running right now.  And me?

I like it when others do the work – catch it, gut it, filet it, flash freeze it and vacuum seal it – and then let me throw some olive oil and lemon peel on it, slap it on a cedar plank in the BBQ and eat it.  That’s where I shine.  The cooking and eating end of things.  I’m not really into the whole fishing “thing”.

That said, I haven’t been fishing since I was 14, so maybe I would like it.  Hmm…I wonder if anyone’s got some waders I could borrow?


BTW, extra credit if you can tell me what inspired the title of this post.  Seriously.  I’ll be impressed if you can remember where you first heard that phrase.

Full moon in my backyard

How does the moon create such a fascination in me?  Last night, when the moon got up over the horizon, I called my wife outside to the deck to see the moon cresting the ridge a few kilometers away from our house.  She came out and asked, “What?”  I said, “Look.  There,” and pointed to the ridge.

Her response was underwhelmed, at best.

I know it’s a hunk of space rock, but it has captured my imagination.  Tonight, I snapped a bunch of photos of it and tried a few different shutter speeds and apertures.  I think I got, in the photo above, a little of the magic of the moon as it exists in my mind.

Breakfast: the tasty way

I’ve been eating smarter lately and dropped 10 pounds (still have 30 or more to go).  I’ve been eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast with strawberries or honey as my sweetener.  I’ve been eating brown rice and more fruit and veggies than I really want.

But Saturday mornings?  I get to eat a big, fat, salty scramble.  I was going to make a frittata, but I forgot to buy more eggs; I only had two in the fridge.  So I made a ham, yellow and red peppers, cheddar and egg scamble with a bit of fresh milled black pepper over the whole mess.  This is the scramble before the eggs.   It was delicious.

WordPress Photo (Friday) Challenge: Texture (that’s Near)

Thank you WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge and Photo Friday for picking topics this week that could fit into one photo for me.  Wordpress chose “Texture” and Photo Friday chose “Near”.  I think this works for both.  This was shot almost two months ago at the Alexandria Bridge in the Fraser Canyon of BC.  I hope you like it.

We’ll cross that bridge…

…when we get to it.

I feel as though most of my conversations in my profession end with that phrase.  We so love our contingency plans.  We love them so much that we sometimes forget that the worst case scenario rarely occurs.  In fact, because of our increasingly litigious world, we’ve become insanely insular in the name of safety and insurance.

Maybe we should just cross those bridges when we get to them, rather than constantly planning for worst-case bridges.


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