Friday, October 27, 2006

power trip

First it was building Keith's fence in the rain. Then it was setting up his gigantic pool. Then building an over-the-top really nice wooden gate. Finally the three sided deck which took two solid days from early morning to working with lights late at night.

But now it's finally my turn. Keith is arriving tomorrow from Brandon at 10:00am (or I'll kill him) and I finally get my garage wired.

What will I do when it's all done?

Plug stuff in, of course.

Monday, October 23, 2006

the commonwealth

It's a better day when I begin it remembering where I come from.

Part of the morning routine is sitting during one of the three S's, either at home or at the aquatic centre. Every time I do, I check to see if there is sufficient paper to do a proper job. But I also check to see if the Queen's standards are being upheld.

meine Mutter

You see, when I was just a wee lad, my mother; I assume wanting her way in just this one little aspect of her multi-aspected, fury of activity, duty-filled life; told me that the only proper way of installing the lou paper roll was to have it coming out from underneath. She went as far as to say that if the Queen herself were to stop in for a visit (I fully expected this to happen from here on in) that her royal aids would be checking, before she entered our home, to see if the paper would dispense from the bottom. Since that moment of teaching, I've never wanted to disappoint Her Majesty.

I have also since realised that there are different teachings on the same subject, much like there are differing views about the Holy Scriptures. You can actually make your view count if you care to vote.

My fear regarding offeding royalty is really nothing compared to my fear of running out of natural resources.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

remember the sabbath

( a fuzzy close-up of Homo Escapeon's party shirt )

I always thought that Fridays were a better night to have party. Especially because it was the same day that work ended for the week. It was a sweet taste to have on the pallet all day long in anticipation of the evening. Then, if you went a little overboard, you could sleep in as long as you needed to on Saturday. This could never happen on a Sunday because of church commitments.

This week, we remembered the Sabbath and kept it holy. Holy bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, that is.

Last night, my good friend Alice and her lap dog, Homo Escapeons, had us over, with another honoured couple, for and drinks. We arrived a minute before seven and did not consider leaving until seven hours later. This of course was greatly due to the arrival of the Messiah, whom Donn took full advantage of for the immediate receiving of grace and forgiveness of sins.

HE was so elated that he immediately began playing the "I've been forgiven" sonata on the coffee table piano,

which was followed by the Penticostal Polka.

What did "I "do all evening? Well, I was the D.D. What do you think I did? I sat in the corner and felt sorry for myself! Or at least that may have been a fleeting temptation. But as it was, I took advantage of the situation and watched as some wonderful people slowly let their hair down, and became real with one another.

I met a man with multiple gifts who looks a lot like Jesus. He was a human that was real, honest, and accepting. He has a passion for making right what is wrong. He is a gifted artist, a caring father, and a man who truly enjoys his wife. I watched him as he smiled, and I imagined his warm thoughts of his wife as he watched her dance and present vulnerability.

I saw three women, each having unique tales to tell of joy and vulnerable living, come together and find connection through common purpose and struggle.

And I saw another man, wise with years of learning, smooth from years of drinking creamy Keg Paralizers, and wonderful from the experience of being real with his children. He sang, he danced, and he welcomed us as we were. And to think, I was a bit nervous in anticipation of this gathering.

The bible says that we should not neglect the assembling of ourselves together. I didn't go to church this morning. I didn't need to. I went last night.

People are good. All anyone needs is for an opportunity to be seen as good. I truly love these people.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The only problem with buying stuff is that you have to have a place to put it. The word "problem" here is problematic because it implies an unwanted difficulty. Not so in this case. I welcome it, but it still needs to be addressed.

I recently purchased the above drawing from Andrea's Etsy site. So, faced with the welcomed problem of how to display this new piece properly, I decided to make my own "frame". I told Andrea that I was making it, but it was a frame with a bit of a twist.

The main part of the frame looks much like a typical shadow box frame. I had a bit of leftover crown moulding from my most recent renovation project, so I cut it to size with the ends returned, and attached it to the top to make it into a small shelf.

The plan was to paint the frame, so I applied several coats of Gesso to both pieces.

Unbeknownst to Andrea, I've been a student of hers for some time now and have been trying to learn her methods of painting using layers. Rather than painting black lines at the end to make my section divisions, I painted the whole frame black, and the sections will be divided by the paint from underneath...from the areas of black that are "not" painted over.

So now I have a frame that is really wild looking to compliment a wonderful drawing. The only problem is that the frame is not supposed to take away from the art. Just like the accompanist is not supposed to take away from the soloist. The music is supposed to provide a frame for the words, not smother them. The frame is supposed to provide a I think this frame is far to damn loud for Andrea's nice picture. Or is it?
You could look at it in this way. I love Andrea's work, so I bought some. I wanted to put it in a frame, so I made one. But I thought it would be honouring to her to make it look like I have been studying her work and trying to learn from it (she is a teacher after all. Perhaps I'll take a real course from her one day). Thus the frame compliments the art because the framer is trying to elevate the artist.

I asked my wife, Joyce, what she thought of my project. She smiled and said, "Not bad...for a cheater".

Oh yeah...the shelf is for an earlier Andrea purchase. Something I've been staring at quit a bit lately.

Monday, October 16, 2006


When I told Sammy not to eat his mashed potaoes with his fingers, I guess what I really should have told him was to use a fork.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

life cycles

The part of my resume which outlines past work experience includes two summers of tree planting in Northern British Columbia. The first time was in 1987 between years two and three at Briercrest. The second was after graduation in 1989.

Mostly, I did not enjoy my time planting trees. There are a few good memories that I have kept with me, but I did it purely for the money. The goal was to make at least $200.00 per day, which meant you had to plant about 2000 trees every day. There were a few start-up costs like buying planting bags for about $150.00, boots for about $200.00, and a shovel for $45.00. There were also daily camp costs of $25.00 which gave you as much food as one could possibly want, and a hot shower if one had enough energy to strip after eating dinner and before falling into bed.

I recently decided, while cleaning up and organizing the garage, that the bags and the boots finally had to go. That part of my life is over.

While tree planting you learn all sorts of interesting trivia which will likely never be used. Like that it takes about 65 years for a planted tree to grow into an adult tree ready to be harvested again. And also that the trees we planted had about an 85% chance of survival, which I thought was fairly good considering the various things which could hinder the growth of a forest.

Whenever it comes time for me to do a building project using wood, I think of all those thousands of trees I planted so long ago. They are a little under a third of the way through their growing time before they will show their rings again. I sometimes feel like thanking the trees for giving their lives so that we can use their lives to improve our own. My workmate Mar Cadiz from the Westin Hotel would always have this attitude when we would cut roses to put on all of the room service trays. He would apologize to each one and thank them for giving their lives for man's decadence.

One of the more recent building projects I was involved in was building a wheelchair ramp at Ken and Kate's home. Ken needed it for easier transfer during his frequent home visits between times of cancer treatment. I did not feel that the wood was being used in a decadent way for this project. A sacrifice of one for the life of another. After Ken died, there was no longer a need for the ramp, so we took it down and away.

I couldn't bear to see the loss of life compounded by the waste of good wood, so I sent Kate an email telling her of some of the things I thought would be a good use of the wood. She kindly replied saying thank you, but that she would rather not have anything to do with it as the ramp was a symbol of pain and sickness for her. I fully understood. But I had a burning need to do something meaningful with all of that precious lumber. I wanted to make a new beautiful symbol out of a bad one. This brought me to thinking about what Ken's life represented. There were many words which came to mind like family, friendship, community, hope, justice, freedom, being real. Ken brought people together, and so I tried to think of a symbol that also brings people together. An image of two people sitting on a bench came to mind. So I quickly set to making benches, as many as the ramp wood would allow. 13 perfect people connectors.
After seeing the first one finished at a party at Carol's house, Kate said that she did indeed want one. That put a smile on my face, but what I really wanted to do was cry. I'm not sure why.

Each family member will receive one, and the rest will be given to Ken and Kate's friends who would appreciate a thoughtful symbol of a friend now gone.
Mine will take an honourable spot next to another proud use of a tree's sacrifice.

Friday, October 13, 2006

no washing up required

I didn't have enough fun with this on my own, so I made it a required visit during my students' computer lab today. Thanks Andrea.

I usually have my students practice their keyboarding skills for at least 10 minutes before having any time using Google tools or having free time playing games. I told them that they have to "paint" for at least five minutes, but many chose to create for the entire time.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I'm not ready yet

Three days ago.

Three minutes ago.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

what makes a red man red?

According to Disney's Peter Pan, the answer to that question has something to do with seeing his mother-in-law for the first time. I learned differently last week.

I have two grade levels in my class this year, both grade 5 and 6. This creates a bit of a challenge when it comes to planning the year and how to manage covering the required curriculum. For the most part, I will be teaching the grade 6 material, as it is nearly impossible to teach all of both.

In the grade 6 Social Studies, the required material is Canadian history starting with, and including, Canada's first people, and then all the way to Confederation in 1867. We are still on the first unit. We are studying Canada's first people. The Northwest Coastal, Plateau, Plains, Subarctic, and Arctic Natives. Including all of the various included tribes.

When planning for the day, I seek to, as much as possible, try to find how one subject can mesh with another during the week. My art projects usually have something to do with Math, Science or Social Studies. This week month's art comes from Social Studies.

When studying about the NW Coastal Natives, we discovered that some of their art included paintings on cedar planks. I immediately thought of something we could do as a related art activity. I remembered those leftover bundles of cedar shingles from last-year's shed project. There are about 60 shingles per bundle and each bundle goes for about $20.00. They are No.4 Western Red Cedar shingles out of British Columbia. I felt good about this as that was the area of Canada we were studying.

The shingles are a little rough and quite porous, so I thought that they needed to be prepared before taking paint. I sanded a few more than what was needed for my class. I remembered a post of Andrea's where she was using Gesso to treat a wooden surface, so I decided to do the same thing. I put on two coats. I'm not sure if the second coat does anything but I did it anyways.
When it came time for the actual project, we looked around for some examples of Western Canadian Native art. A Google search didn't disappoint us. We were led to THE COGHLAN ART VIRTUAL GALLERY and the artwork of NORVAL MORRISSEAU.
I copied some of his paintings onto an overhead film and let the students choose which one they would trace onto their cedar boards.The reason I let them copy someone elses work was to have an immediately successful attempt. From my experience, much of young student's frustrations with art comes from self criticism as a result of failed attempts. My goal was to have them "create" something wonderful on their first try, even if it is "cheats art". My hope is that this success will be the impetus for further energy and confidence in the arts.

As with every art project I teach, I try to model the skills and medium needed for the project. I try to make it look as easy as possible. I modeled this project exactly as they would be doing it. This process is basically a glorified colour-by-numbers. The only thing different between mine and my students is that I did mine on a 19x22 prepared hardboard. My goal for the near future is to learn how to do this properly, in layers, not by small sections.

The students are currently working on their paintings, and probably will for the next week or so. I'll post a group shot when they are all done.

The answer to the question of What makes a red man red is he wasn't really red, but the Beothuks painted their bodies and clothing with red ochre paint. Many "Indians" used red ochre as an insect repellant, but the Beothuks considered red a sacred color and wore it all year long. Neighboring tribes called them the Red People, and the Europeans called them Red Indians. Some Europeans started using "Red Indians" to refer to all Native Americans, not just the Beothuk tribe. Other tribes strongly dislike this term, though. They consider "Red Indian" a racial insult, and prefer to be called First Nations. The Beothuks were the original natives of Newfoundland, Canada. They eventually became extinct after the Europeans grew tired of dealing with them and began hunting them for sport.

Canadians have a rich history...albeit colonial.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

coming soon

I was saving this picture for one of those times during the cold winter's week when school would be cancelled. But hey...isn't it great that it's still warm enough outside that a T-shirt is still common outer wear?

I promise I'll post something good soon. I'm working on something as we (as I) speak, er, write...whatever.