Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here Piggy Piggy Piggy

Okay, by popular request (which in my world means at least one) I am sharing a highlight from my recent trip to Maui.

For Christmas, my parents gave me and my boys a two-hour trail ride with Mendes Ranch north of Wailuku. When we saddled up, we noticed a rather large swine wandering the grounds amidst the dozens of peacocks milling about (yep, peacocks, dozens of them).

We were joined by few other families so the guide ended up splitting us into two groups. As the first group rode off down a dirt trail into the lush, tropical foliage, the pig trotted off after them.

It was finally our turn to head out, sitting high on our horses as they trudged up a steep trail. We reached a plateau overlooking a deep valley ravine that was supposedly featured in the opening scenes of Jurassic Park. After a quick glimpse of the waterfalls below, we turned around, passed the ranch, and sauntered down to the ocean shoreline where we met up again with the first group and the pig, who traded alliances and remained behind with us.

After a few souvenier photos, the pig got in line and followed our horses back to the ranch. For the longest time my horse wouldn't pass it. Of course, I was too busy laughing and trying to take a photo of to care. Eventually I got ahead, but even as we galloped the last stretch, the pig kept going, still steadily following along.

I like to think this not-so-lazy pig, between our two groups, completed the entire trail ride. I also like to think it goes on all the trail rides, twice a day, all year long.

I read today that "amazing" has been named an overused word of 2011, so I will instead use the words immortalized in the song Zuckerman's Famous Pig, from the movie Charlotte's Web:

"Oh, wow, look at him now
Zuckerman's Maui's famous pig
Suey, whaddya see?
The greatest hog in history!
Fine, swine, wish he was mine
What if he's not so big?
He's some terrific, radiant, humble thig-a-majig of a
Fine, phenomena"

And now, the photos: 

Maui Surf, Face First

The first time I took surf lessons, my surf-guru Dove and I paddled out off the shores of Malibu Beach, California and learned pretty quick that good, local surfers didn't take too kindly to newbies in their midst. It was a short lesson and I caught more insults than I did waves. In fact, I didn't get up on my board once.

Thankfully learning to surf in Maui is as common as flip-flops and fish tacos, and the locals, at least the ones we met, were more than happy to have us share the warm water and tiny waves with them. These photos of our family surf lessons were taken by Big Kahuna Adventures, but I played around with a few of my favourites to share with you.

Put your diamonds in the surf
(yes, we went to the Jay-Z and Kanye concert the day before leaving on vacation).

Kje, which means garden of the sea, shot up on the board first time, first try. Awesome!

Surf Dude

 Really, I did get up! How else would you explain going down like this?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

DJ Jonnycat

I'm a few months late in posting this, but this "wicked" photo of DJ Jonnycat made its way into the South Delta Leader - a community newspaper. Nothing better than a hamburger and big headphones to represent an electronic music artist. First photo of mine that made it into the news. :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The End and The Beginning

Grab a tea, pull up a chair, get cozy! For those of you who have been following along for the last 12 months, you will know my Year of Turning 40 is coming to an end. And what a year it has been, the last six months especially. The blog post is about putting some closure to this year so I can free up some space for the new year to enter. Here goes . . .

On Friday June 17, the day before my big 4-0 day, a few hours before I was to head out with a few dozen work friends for a sushi birthday celebration, I received an urgent meeting request from my boss. Long story short, I received my first birthday present - a choice between the opportunity of staying with the organization in a new job or the opportunity of leaving the organization to do, well, whatever I wanted.

To be straight, I loved my work, especially the people I worked with. But there were aspects of my job that just didn't fit with me any more, especially not the family and creative part of me. After a thoughtful weekend I gave my answer Monday morning. I was leaving.

Here is what I wrote on Facebook that day at 4:43 pm. "Poured tea, read Dwell magazine's beach home issue, hot tub for lunch, went for a walk, talked to a few friends, picked up Kje from school. Doing okay."

It is a big thing to turn 40. It is a big thing to leave the work and work-family you love. It is a big thing to sit at home and do nothing but read a magazine, drink tea and wait for what comes next.

I have postponed writing this post for a few reasons, but primarily because I wanted to wait until I had some perspective and could write something profound about what came next. The truth is, change is a journey and six months later I am still waiting for what comes next and still don't have anything profound to say about it all.  What I do have to say it that I am grateful for the opportunity to leave the day-to-day of working for someone else and embrace the every day of being myself, in every moment, in every little way. I am rediscovering who I am without the shell of work getting in the way. Here are a few of the every day little things that shaped me and my last six months:

  • Writing a 50,000-word novel in 20 days and then four months later reading it and liking what I created. 
  • Spending the beginning of the summer living with my son Paris in our own borrowed Penthouse Suite (thank you again Anna for being so generous with your sanctuary!)
  • Mixing it up with DJ Jonnycat, Stray Cats, CCR, and the banjo in the mini van on our BC Summer Road Trip. Gold mines. Horse rides. Log flumes. Beach reads. Ahhhh . . .
  • Hanging with the boys and Mom and Dad at the cabin on Shuswap.
  • Spending every day with my husband and still continuing our tradition of hot tub happy hours, even though I no longer needed to vent "after work".
  • Spending every day, all day, with my husband and still enjoying his company. :)
  • Packing it up at one o'clock to hit the lake for a summer swim and relaxing float on the mattress. Bliss.
  • Walking my son Kje to school. Picking him up. After school snack. Homework. Nice Routine.
  • Volunteering at the school library and having my favourite student ask me every week to help her find a book, and then hug me after I found "the perfect one".
  • Texting with Paris while he was in school and helping him with his homework via Skype.
  • Starting my business. Getting my first contract. Finishing my first contract (well, almost).
  • Spending time on the phone with family and friends engaged in relaxed conversations.
  • Waking up and putting on jeans and a t-shirt every day.
  • Making lunch at home.
  • TED once a week. Thank you TED.
  • Listening to CBC programs like Canada Live and Q with Jian Ghomeshi.
  • Enjoying the morning sunlight.
  • Reading in the day time between 9 and 5. In bed. In my pyjamas.
  • Becoming comfortable saying I am a consultant, contractor, writer and photographer, not an ADM.
  • Writing and sending out a whole bunch of story proposals.
  • Going for 3 hour walks around Elk Lake in the middle of a work day.
  • Connecting with my work friends and turning them into friend friends.
So, Turning 40. A great year packed with tons of intense moments and lasting memories. I started the year saying I was going to do anything and everything I wanted and pay for the fun when I was 41. And yes, for the first six months that was true. I grabbed life, heaved it over my shoulders and took it for a ride. But the last six months have been about putting life down and curling up with a it and a good book. Slowing down. Doing less. Simplifying. Enjoying my family. Enjoying what I have. Enjoying routines and local connections. Being here in the moment. But more importantly, creating a new base from which I could  head into the next decade. And with that . . . off I go.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letter from Paris

Received an electronic letter (somehow that sounds better than saying email) from Paris today. I kinda like this sentence he wrote and thought I would share it with you.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Port Renfrew Secret No Longer

If you happen to see a copy of this month's Cottage magazine, check out my latest article, this time featuring Port Renfrew. Although not the cover shot, the story spreads over six pages and features a photo of my husband and son buying a few famous cherry pies (yum!) from The Cook Shack at the Port Renfrew Marina alongside a photo of my favourite beach. Turn the page and there is the shot of the San Juan River. Mixed in are a few images of the welcoming Wild Coast Cottages . . . wait a minute, anyone want to head to Port Renfrew this weekend? Or at least read about it? 

Cabin Resort, RV Highrise, Public Art . . . What Is This?

Not mine, but I love the composition and storytelling of these photos! Found them both here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Writing of Courage

Earlier this week my youngest son completed a writing assignment at school about courage. That night he brought his writing book home so he could work on his homework. While checking over his spelling and sentence structure I flipped back and found his courage assignment. I admit, it made me cry, for reasons it would be hard to explain unless you knew him and me and his dad and his brother and what our family has gone though over the last three years. There is something courageous about writing from your heart, about writing in your own voice, about writing what you know to be true in your world. Kje has struggled with being a good writer and he has been working on it with his teachers and me for a few years. I think he has nailed it on this one and I had to share it with you.

Courage is not giving up on feeding a cat for 1 to 19 years.
Courage is cleaning a toilet after someone went poo in it.
Courage is saving someone from a disease.
Courage is jumping off 10 metres into water.
Courage is going to a new school.
Courage is resisting temptation to eat the cookies while your mom and dad are in the hot tub.
Courage is not giving up and getting modifications on Minecraft when you're new to going to it.
Courage is helping your brother when he's sad.
Courage is not playing the world's most addictive game.
Courage is being friends with the most popular kid in school.

While driving him to school that morning (yep, I was being lazy and didn't want to walk in the rain) I told him what a great job he did and how proud I was of him for expressing himself so well.

"A few of those are lies, " he said.

"Oh?" I replied and waited for him to say more.

"They're not all true. I play the world's most addictive game."

"And have you got cookies while we were in the hot tub?"
"Ya," he says with a chuckle. "That too."

I chuckle with him, telling him it's okay without having to say anything. I think courage is telling your parents you lied and then telling them you did something you weren't suppose to.

There are these amazing moments in life, when you know your child will be okay, good, honest and courageous. Kje still has lots of writing assignments left in life before he becomes an adult, but for now, I can't help thinking he's on the right track.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ferns and Flipping-Fun Family Photography

I love this family. While most of us are putting on slippers, turning up the heat and hunkering down to watch the season opener of some new fall TV series (or in my case, hopping in and out of the hot tub), these guys are packing their truck to go camping in the backwoods, in a tent! Turkey schnitzels over the campfire for Thanksgiving dinner, anyone?

It was only fitting their family photos were taken in Mount Douglas Park, in Saanich, BC, with an abundance of ferns and towering Douglas Fir and Cedar trees. Not to mention an abundance of fun!


I admit it, my favourite photo of me being pregnant has me wearing a wrap-around brown patterned skirt from Fiji, a brown crocheted bikini top and a fur Russian hat. (Picture that!) Yep, I raided my Mom's dress-up clothes and had a little fun. Needless to say, I did not look as graceful and beautiful as Ashley does in these photos, just a few days away from her due date.  If I could do it all over again, I would want to look like her.


I loved taking Esme's photo. She has this magical face that wavers between looking grouchy and appearing peaceful like a blissful angel, and the slightest movement would hide one expression and reveal another. She kept wanting me to take pictures of the shed in her backyard. And the leaves. And the dirt. I just kept the camera on her tranformative face . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Backyard Family Time

I loved taking photos of this Mount Pleasant family. The kids were comfortable at home (and with the camera) and their young daughter was just getting the hang of sitting up. She looked adorable in her red checked dress! I love how the carrot, fresh-picked from their garden, became part of the family for the afternoon.

Bookworm, Just Like Mom

Thank you Mom. Thank you so much for reading, and helping me fall in love with words, sentences and stories.

Fiction, non-fiction, books, magazines, poetry, graffiti, newspapers, letters, emails, whatever.

Thank you for taking me to the Burnaby Public Library when I was little and getting me my own library card. I remember you telling me how important is was to have my own card. My own signature on it. Thank you for encouraging me to join the summer reading club. I can still visualize the list I wrote of all the books I read that summer. Thank you for sharing the yellow loveseat at home with me - you on one end reading your book and me the other side reading mine.

Thank you for volunteering at my elementary school library every week. I loved seeing you there and I love you for that. Thank you for having a bookshelf at home, and even though I kinda cringe at the Stephen King / Danielle Steele genre of books I used to devour (think Grade 8 here, folks, a long time ago) those books gave me the impetus to explore fiction of a better calibre once I gained my own literary consciousness. Perhaps most importantly, thank you for making the written word such a big part of your life, even now reading voraciously and continuing to volunteer at your community library, fixing and shelving books.

Because of you reading is a big part of my life. I love words because you showed me how to fall in love with them. It has shaped who I am. 

Today is for you.

I have always wanted to follow in your foot steps and volunteer at my son's library. Well, Paris is now in grade 12 and I kinda missed that boat. This is the last year of Kje in elementary school and my last chance. Also, it was one of those things on my Turning 40 list of things to do that make me happy. 

Today, at 12:15pm I walked into Kje's school library and there he was, checking out some books with the rest of his class. It was my first weekly shift as the volunteer librarian (well, more like volunteer book-shelver). He looked so happy to see me. All his friends came over to say hi, too.

It felt so good to start something I have wanted to do for so long. I stacked 521.3 between 521.2 and 523, and sorted primary books by last name SEU, MAU, DAH.

A blonde boy asked me to help him find a book on cars. We looked together. A cute girl in a pretty dress wanted a princess book but every time I found one for her she said “No, I don’t want that one.” I put books back in their place for lots of small hands. The whole thing made me smile.

Thanks Mom. I am already looking forward to next week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Erin & Kevin Wedding Bliss

We were walking to another photo shoot site when I overheard Kevin say to his new bride "It was the best idea to come here. It's been perfect." Kevin was talking about getting married at Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa in Osoyoos, BC. He was talking about the resort, the abundant sunshine, the spectacular lakeview, the party pool, the guys golf game, the award-winning winery, the wine, more wine. Family, friends. Erin, her wedding dress. Everything . . . He was right.

When I did the engagement photos for Erin & Kevin, I was amazed at how natural they were in front of the camera. They made the wedding shoot even easier. Here are a few of my favourites.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bangs and a bad camera

When I took my photography course at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (many haircuts ago back when it was a college) I was told by my instructor that at some point in time every photographer conducts a photo shoot with themselves as the subject. One girl in the class handed in a portfolio of herself in her bedroom for our first assignment. (Yes, she had clothes on and yes, she looked like she wanted to take them off. I must admit, in this age of internet porn and public Facebook profile pictures, I still worry about her.)

I cut my bangs a few weeks ago. I was inspired by a woman I met who I liked who had hair I loved. Especially her bangs, I loved her bangs. I went home that night and hacked my locks off with a pair of bad eggshell-blue scissors. My friends who live far, far away, asked to see photos.

I often tell people it is the eye and light that makes a good photo, not the camera. I tell the story of a photogapher (forgot his name, can't find it) who was hired by a cell phone company to travel the USA and take just one picture a day with his cell phone for one year and share it with the world. He managed to get some amazing images without the use of a professional camera. ( FYI, I am for hire and come with an RV if needed to travel across BC or Canada and will share one picture a day, two, three, whatever.... just saying.)

So, here we are. A few photos from my very first self portrait series, taken of my new bangs, using my crappy Skype camera.

p.s. the first person who saw my new photos via Skype said I look like Joan Jett. Nice....