(mostly) daily photoblog

Landscape

Life is getting back to normal

Hi.  I’ve been a bit busy lately, so I thought I’d tell a short story through photos to illustrate part of why I’ve taken an accidental one month hiatus from posting photos.  Besides the ending of the school year, which was busy (as usual) and emotional (we lost quite a few staff members to layoffs, transfers and retirement), the Family B moved.  We sold our house in May and moved on July 1st.  We’ve found a few perks have come with moving to a new house.

This is Cultus Lake.  It’s a summer retreat that fills up with Lower Mainlanders from everywhere from Vancouver to Chilliwack.  It used to be 40 minutes away from home; now it’s only 15 minutes away.  Yay!

Yesterday morning the kids and I went for a walk.  This is off the Rotary Trail, which is five minutes from our front door.  I guess there’s no excuse not to go for walks along the river.

Last night, while barbecuing on our deck, I snapped this photo (actually a photomerge of two photos to create the panorama effect).  This is the view out my back patio doors.  Yay!

There are some drawbacks to moving (stress of the physical and mental varieties / moving further away from my family), but I think the move has been positive.  I plan to post daily starting today.  Thanks for checking in an sticking with me.  See you tomorrow.


(Why am I celebrating) Post 100!

I wonder when it was that we (let’s say North American society) decided that it was essential to celebrate all things with “anniversaries” and “graduations.”  As a high school teacher I get to hear about the one month anniversary between students so often that I’ve stopped pointing out that “anniversary” actually means something to which one returns on a yearly basis.

I’ve also encountered at least one (my daughter) kindergarten graduation with another one (my son) on the way this June.  Not that I don’t find joy in the milestones of my children but a graduation is the act of conferring on someone a degree.  I know that it’s a beautiful thing to see a bunch of six year olds smiling as their moms take bad photos of them singing some cute rendition of a song that has little to do with “graduating” and everything to do with being cute, but it feels a little like we want to attach gravitas to everything we do.

Can’t we just take joy in something that is wonderful without tacking on a weighty title?  Can’t we just love what we do and see and leave it at that?  Why is it not important enough that my son is moving from kindergarten to grade one that we have to make it a “graduation?”  Why can’t my students make their way from one class to another without some kind of iTunes soundtrack making their lives into a living t.v. show?  Why is it that we take the “pomp”out of everything by attaching “circumstance” to anything?  Did that last sentence even make sense?  I don’t know, but I certainly feel like we’re trying to make every moment in our lives bigger than it actually is.  But, hey, this is just one little blogger sharing his ideas with you.  What do I know?

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f8; ISO 100; 1/320 sec.


Fishing makes me want to fish…

When I see someone fishing, fly-fishing, trolling, whatever, it makes me want to fish.  When I was a kid I used to fish from a boat.  My Grandfather’s boat.  He would wake up early and check the weather and then wake me up to get me on the boat.  At ten years old I had so little consciousness at 6:00 a.m. that I’m surprised I didn’t fall into the lake and drown, but had so much respect for, and fear of, my grandfather that I got up and went out with him.

We’d sit on the water in the boat and say nothing for an hour.  The sun would come up and the lake would light up beautifully and the fish would ignore us, or not, and we’d fish.  The only breaks in silence would be a loon on the lake and the water lapping against the boat.  Grandpa would start the engine and tell me to hold on to the rods and we’d troll and hope to get some fish.  If we didn’t, we’d be back on the lake later in the day.  Truthfully, we’d be on the boat later anyway, whether we’d caught fish or not.

When I see someone fishing now it makes me long for the fishing trips of my youth and their silence and peace and unspoken understandings.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f 7.1; ISO 100; 1/250 sec.


I don’t remember how to post anymore

I don’t know what to write.  Sorry.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f7.1; ISO 100; 1/320 sec.


Empty fields means empty kids.

When I was in my first year of teaching a decade ago I was idealistic and academic.  I taught English to grade eleven and twelve students and was content, maybe arrogant, enough to believe that the only way students would become better humans was through academics.  I offered time after class and after-school sessions for exam prep.  I inspired students through my passion and enthusiasm for literature, and even let them read books with swear words (because it was relevant and would help them relate) in them.  Students loved me and some even began to learn how to read and write better.  Some wanted to know what I thought they should read beyond what they were assigned.

One major stumbling block, as I saw it, were organized sports.  Rugby, basketball, volleyball, soccer, football, they were all culprits in taking students’ minds off of what was really important – learning.  There was nothing to be learned by throwing a ball around or hitting others at full strength and speed.  Schools should be places of learning, and the community could work out the sports.  And if they couldn’t do it, well, it wasn’t my problem to work out.

Now that I have children, a daughter who’s nine and a son who’s six, and I teach student leadership I realize how short-sighted and naive and ignorant I was ten years ago.  Kids love to play.  And, shockingly enough, kids learn so much while playing.  My kids have learned confidence, patience and teamwork.  They’re learning that their dad is a bit slow and out of shape and that they have to play nice with me or I get hurt.  I’ve learned that life has to be experienced not just read about.  I’ve learned that if our fields and gyms are empty, so our kids will be.  And I learned all of this from experience in the field (sorry about the pun).

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f9; ISO 100; 1/640 sec.


Why does French have all the cool words and phrases?

Let’s start with the fact that this coast shot is in Nice, France.  Nice, pronounced like “neece”, but also one of the nicest coasts I’ve ever seen.  The Mediterranean is truly beautiful and impressive – I’ve spent the bulk of my years on the Canadian west coast, very near the Pacific and I’ve never seen blue water like I saw in Nice.  So their place-names are cool, but what about those other phrases and words?

How about “l’esprit d’escalier”?  It means, literally, the spirit of the stairs, but what it actually means is that moment when you think of a witty comeback or remark on your way down the stairs, when it’s too late to unleash your massive wit against your defender.  How cool is that?  A phrase that encompasses one of my most frustrating moments (and there have been many of those moments).

Or let’s try the words connaitre and savoir.  We have the word “know” and it’s supposed to cover all ways of knowing.  But the french have two words (that I know of – ha!  see what I did there?) to convey two different meanings.  Savoir is a verb that means to know a fact or something committed to memory.  Connaitre is a verb that means to know someone.  It implies familiarity and intimacy.

Okay, so maybe that’s not all the cool words and phrases, but there’s a couple of my favorites.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL; f32; ISO 100; 1/10 sec.


Railways are Mysterious and Romantic

Ever since I was a little Canadian kid watching “The Littlest Hobo” (a Canadian television series about a German Shepherd who helped people and traveled around Canada via the railway lines) I have wanted to ride the rails.  There seems to something very idyllic about traveling slowly through my country while someone else is in control.  Railways make me think of “From Russia With Love” and “Murder on the Orient Express.”  Or “O Brother, Where Art Thou” or “Polar Express” or “Strangers on a Train” or “Trainspotting.”

Come to think of it, I don’t understand my romantic feelings about railways at all.  Hercule Poirot solves a murder on a train.  James Bond is nearly murdered on a train.  Ulysses Everett McGill is trying to escape prison and is tossed off the train because his fellow prisoners can’t run fast enough.  Alfred Hitchcock’s strangers meet and plan the murder of each other’s problems (a problem wife and a father).  “Trainspotting” with Ewan McGregor, as Mark Renton, is a film about a bunch of strung-out heroin addicts.  “Polar Express” and “The Littlest Hobo” are really the only positive inclusions and both of them are obvious fictions meant for younger audiences.

I take it all back.  Railways suck.

Pentax K20D; Pentax M SMC 50mm; f2.8; ISO 100; 1/2500 sec.


Light clouds

When I was little, clouds were places of wonder, places where I could float and jump and hang out without any cares.  Then I went to school and was taught that it was a visible mass of water drops that was waiting to rain down on me and would never hold my weight, even when I was little.

Well thanks, science.  Thanks so much.

Pentax K20D; Sigma 70-210mm; f4; ISO 200; 1/125 sec.; ev +2


Layers

Four of the many reasons I love the Lower Mainland of British Columbia: tulips, farms, mountains and sky.

Pentax K20D; Sigma 70-210mm; f4; ISO 100; 1/640 sec.


Children Crossing

Hey!  Look out!  There might be some kids around.

Is it just me or is this kind of a creepy sign?  What is really going on between these two figures?  Is this a kidnapping?  What are they carrying in those briefcases?  Whose children actually carry things like that on their way to school?  I feel like I should drive faster to stop that guy from grabbing that unsuspecting female in the skirt.  Don’t slow me down, crazy 30km/h sign.  I have to bring down the wheels of justice on that guy.

Whoo…the imagination is flying.

My brain is really tired.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  It’s been a bit of a tough week, but I’m back now.  Yay!

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f4; ISO 200; 1/200 sec.


So many ducks

Ducks are irresistible when you’re little.  This little guys mom was feeding the ducks, despite the gigantic sign not three meters away warning against the domestication of the local duck and goose population.  He was surrounded, yet he did not run and scream.  What surprised me most was that he didn’t chase the ducks away.  My son would have been barbarically yawping his way along the beach scaring all living things, ducks and humans alike.

Pentax K20D; Pentax M SMC 50mm; f2.8; ISO 200; 1/320 sec.


Curve

What can I say?  I am a sucker for nice curves.

Pentax K20D; Pentax M SMC 50mm; f4; ISO 100; 1/2000 sec.


Invisible Fence

I saw this while waiting for my daughter to get out of school.  I thought, “How sad.  To be able to see the world but not get to it.”  But we do this to ourselves all the time.  Who’s worse off, the dog with the invisible fence, or the human unwilling to find out where the boundaries are?

Pentax K20D; Pentax M SMC 50mm; f1.7; ISO 100; 1/3200 sec.


High Wires

One thing I’ll never get over is how beautiful my city is.  No matter where I drive, walk, cycle (although that hasn’t happened in a while) there are always scenes that I want to photograph.  The cool thing about living within a twenty minute drive to a massive river and huge mountains and less than an hour from the Pacific Ocean is that the weather often plays havoc with the residents, but supplies the most amazing landscapes.

This is on the way to and from work.  It’s land that’s set aside for the massive power lines, but it gives some respite from the chock-a-block houses that have been characteristic of some of the most expensive real estate in North America.  Green space covered in Hydro lines.  Great.

Pentax K20D; Pentax M SMC 50mm; f1.7; ISO 100; 1/1600 sec.


The Bubble

This is the view on my drive home from work.  I pass the “bubble” everyday, twice a day, and it is one of those landmarks that everyone who’s ever lived in Abbotsford still knows as “the orange bubble.”  What’s funny is that just this year the tennis club that owns the bubble replaced orange for white.  To add hilarity to this, people in Abbotsford had some sentimental attachment to this orange bubble and still speak fondly of it.

Weird people in my home town.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f40; ISO 100; 1/20 sec.


Fireworks

Our first day in Disneyland was a long one.  We stayed most of the day, from around eight in the morning until a couple hours after lunch.  After resting up at the hotel for a couple of hours we went back in and stayed for the fireworks.  We didn’t bank on the humongous lines, and ended up watching the explosive show from FrontierLand.  The shot above shows what we saw:  awesome fireworks with a foreground including one of our favorites, Big Thunder Mountain.

On a side note, the fireworks are far quieter in the park than they are when you’re in your hotel trying to sleep after a ridiculously long day of flying, shopping, walking and anticipating.  The night before, at 9:30, when the family was quietly sleeping, gigantic BOOMS began, as the fireworks were echoing outside the park.  I though we were under attack.  All part of the fun, I guess.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f6.3; ISO 1600; 1/13 sec.


Walt, Mickey and Sleeping Beauty

I feel like I should work for Disney’s marketing branch.  These are the three icons from the main square in Disneyland.  Walt, Mickey, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.  I understand that from 2001 to 2008 Disneyland had shut the doors on the castle, but it’s up and touring now.

I got to this point in the park and felt like a six year old.  All of those Sunday nights watching The Wonderful World of Disney as a kid came washing over me.  I remember watching Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland and Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins.  At the beginning and end of the show, Tinkerbell would fly right over the castle here, wave her wand and the show would start (or end).  Aah, nostalgia.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f9; ISO 100; 1/250 sec.


California Panorama

You’re going to want to click on the picture to see it in a larger size.  This is three photos stitched into one panoramic shot of the entrance to California Adventure.  It doesn’t evoke the same nostalgic feelings as the Disney entrance, but it is impressive.

This entrance is directly across a huge plaza from the entrance to Disneyland.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; panorama in PhotoShop, CS4


Flying Cookies

I loved the attention to detail that is on exhibition at the Disney parks.  My wife and son took a ride in a box of animal cookies, while I photographed them from a container of apple sauce.  We were separated by a chinese takeout box.

I don’t know that I’ll ever write that sentence again.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f5.6; ISO 400; 1/30 sec.


The wheel of evil

Dusk at California Adventure.

Quick story:  When we got to California Adventure my family decided to go on Mickey’s Fun Wheel (the ferris wheel in the photo above).  I asked, “Swinging or non-swinging?”

We went on the swinging car.  As we left on our ride, the car started to move…a lot.  My wife and daughter closed their eyes and began chanting the mantra, “Just think that you’re on a swing in a playground,” really loudly, like they were trying to convince themselves.  My son burst into tears, closed his eyes, and all three of them grabbed onto their seats like death was coming and the only way to save themselves was to hold on tight.

I loved it.  It was awesome.  Update:  I loved the ride, not the pain my family was in.  Just to clarify.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f11; ISO 100; 1/125 sec.; ev +2


Practice

Ben (my son) had his birthday party last weekend and we hosted a shindig at a local community center for Ben and ten of his closest friends.  While we were there, a lacrosse practice started in an adjacent room in the building.

What amazes me most is not that these kids give up part of their Saturdays to practice, but that one of them ends up in goal.  These poor little goalies, dressed head to shin guard in armor, have all of their teammates use them as target practice for about two hours.  That’s like asking for the firing squad, but knowing the bullets won’t kill you, only hurt like crazy.

Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f4.5; ISO 800; 1/60 sec.


Fire…ooh…

I don’t know how to describe this, but I love fire.  Perhaps it’s the twelve-year-old in me, but when I got up to the cauldron I was giddy – like a kid who was just introduced to his first lighter.  Hee hee.

Pentax K20D; Pentax FA 28-200mm; f8; ISO 800; 1/20 sec.


I’m a believer…

As I wandered around Vancouver’s downtown and waterfront area with 100,000 of my closest friends from all around the world, I couldn’t help but marvel at what the 2010 Olympics have accomplished.

Firstly, I was apologized to five times by people bumping into me in Robson Square, where thousands of people were wandering and bumping into each other and no apology was necessary.  I wonder if these are the most polite Winter Games in history.

Secondly, I heard thousands of fellow Canadians “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing and cheering every time anything remotely athletic happened, including when someone would fly by on the giant zip-line set up in downtown Vancouver.

Thirdly, I heard complete strangers joining in victory when Canada scored and cry out in anguish as USA scored as we joined together to hope for a Men’s Hockey win.

I confess, I love these games.

btw, congratulations to Moir and Virtue – you were beautiful.

Pentax K20D; Pentax FA 28-200mm; f8; ISO 800; 1/30 sec.


Oh Canada!

Oh Canada!  Oh Montgomery, Ricker, Bilodeau, Nesbitt, Robertson, St. Gelais, Heil and Groves!

We couldn’t be prouder.  Thanks.

Pentax K20D; Sigma 70-210mm (@210mm); f8; ISO 800; 1/160 sec.