Summer for a Parent 

This summer there have been three phrases that I have heard from my kids approximately 17,375,869 times. Not that I was keeping a precise count. Actually, I I was. 

The first phrase I heard the most frequently, from the earliest time of the morning was, “Papa, can you get me …” 

The next phrase quickly became the proverbial burr under my saddle was, “Papa can I have…”

The third phrase I heard that helped push me to the brink of madness, but not over was similar to the Papa can I have but with the added monetary factor, “Papa can you buy me…”

17,375,879 times. Yep. To the brink. 

Burnaby Art Gallery; Public Library Offsite Exhibitions

The Burnaby Art Gallery (BAG) presents two summer exhibitions at public libraries featuring works on paper by local artists who have strong connections to the Malaspina Printmakers Society.

Salme Kaljur Marina
Salme Kaljur Marina

These Burnaby Art Gallery Offsite Exhibitions present a selection of prints from the Malaspina Printshop Archives, a compendium of all works created at the print shop between 1977 and 1982.

Matrix: Perspectives from the Malaspina Archive (1979-1982) is a retrospective of works by women artists from the society. The exhibition runs from July 11 – September 18, 2016 at the Bob Prittie Library (located at 6100 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby).

In printmaking, the matrix is the surface upon which the artist creates a print design. The matrix – be it a metal plate, a wood or linoleum block or a lithographic stone—is inked to make an impression on a sheet of paper by pressing it by hand or through a printing press.

As the foundation for the art form itself, the matrix is thus the basis for the experimental printmaking taking place at Malaspina in the 1970s and ’80s. The term “matrix” comes from the Latin mātrīx, meaning “uterus” or “womb,” and is derived from māter, meaning “mother,” making the matrilineage of the word clear.

This exhibition brings together the art of female printmakers working at the Malaspina Printmakers Society between what were the turbulent years of 1979 and 1982. Further looking, analysis and questioning of these works of art in relation to the larger art historical, social and political concepts of the time ultimately make the gender of the artists irrelevant.

Across town in the McGill Library (located at 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby) is a solo show of new and past work by Bowen Island printmaker Marty Levenson. The Levenson exhibition is on from July 12 – September 19, 2016.

Marty Levenson’s exhibit, Now and Then, features four coloured etchings and a mixed media composition printed at Malaspina in the early 1980s together with recently created monoprints. Most of these newer prints reference the garden maintained by Levenson’s wife, Jacquie. The three works from the series entitled History into Nature were inspired by the writings of Roland Barthes. Levenson’s more recent monoprints appear courtesy of the artist.

Still a member of Malaspina, Levenson now does his printing at his home studio on Bowen Island and maintains a studio in Vancouver for his registered art therapy practice.

Both exhibitions use the City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection’s Malaspina Printshop Archive as a base for investigating printmaking activities in the early days of the organization. The archive was gifted by Milton and Fei Wong in 1988.



Bard on the Beach; Othello

Today we went to see the Bard on the Beach production of Othello and I have to admit, I had very mixed emotions while watching the performance.

Yes, it was a beautiful stage, amazing acting, and an interesting spin on Shakepeare’s classic story by setting it in the American Civil War.

So what was my problem? Well, I was uncomfortable with the outright racism directed at Othello by his new father in law. I just felt myself squirming in my seat a little while watching the other players refer to Othello as “the Moor” and their plotting against him.

However, I did stay for the production and I have no hesitation in telling you it was a beautiful performance that is worth seeing even if it does make you squirm in your seat. I also have no hesitation in advising you to bring at least a couple tissues with you to the performance. No spoiler, it IS a tragedy.

All Bard on the Beach productions are performed in the tent-theatres at Vanier Park in Vancouver. You can call the Bard on the Beach box office at 604-739-0559 or go online to get tickets.

The Things Kids Say…

I like to run my more “out there” ideas past my kids to see what they have to say about them and I have to admit I love some of their responses. 

For example, the other day I read about how kilts are making their way into more mainstream wardrobes. Not just traditional kilts, but kilts for every day wearing (read that as kilts you can feel free to wear underwear under).

So I thought, what a cool idea! “Hey kids, what do you think about me getting a kilt?” 

After a long pause my one daughter (age 7) says, “Don’t do it. You’d look like a French guy playing bagpipes.” 

Huh? Where did she come up with that?! 

Live Screening of The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration

If you were not one of the fortunate ones and you did not get a ticket to one of this summer’s Tragically Hip concerts there is still a chance you can see the iconic Canadian band through a number of outdoor live screenings.

The city of Burnaby is hosting a live screening of one of the most memorable concerts to happen in years: the CBC and the Tragically Hip presents ‘The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration.’

As The Tragically Hip’s tour crosses Canada, live screening opportunities have arisen for those who cannot view the concert first-hand. Burnaby residents will have the opportunity to come together and celebrate the musical magic at Civic Square with an open-air live screening of their own.

“The City of Burnaby is pleased to host a live public screening of the CBC and The Tragically Hip Presents: ‘The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration’,” says Mayor Derek Corrigan. “The Tragically Hip is an iconic Canadian rock band and these live screenings are another way to bring Canadians together.”

The live screening at Civic Square (next to the Bob Prittie Metrotown Library) is free to attend and open to everyone. The event starts at 4:30pm, with the live screening beginning at 5:30pm.

Donations will be accepted to the Canadian Cancer Society. Viewers are encouraged to arrive early and bring a blanket or lawn chairs. Food Services will be on-site with food and a beer garden.

To better serve all attendees, the City of Burnaby is requesting that those interested RSVP on the official Facebook event listing:

My Shoulder Report

On the last day of school before I was to begin my summer holiday I went to the park with my kids. I was literally sitting on a park bench reading a book about a new type of computer I had just bought – a Pi-topCEED which is powered by a micro computer called a Raspberry Pi 3 – exciting stuff for a tech nerd like myself.

All of a sudden I felt a stabbing sort of pain in the back of my left shoulder. I reached over with my right hand and massaged the lump that had popped up in the back of my shoulder.

It was like a muscle knot that just appeared out of nowhere. So I massaged it trying to ease the discomfort that had just popped into my shoulder. I then stood up and did some arm movement exercises to try to loosen up my arm which was tightening up.

Nothing seemed to ease the discomfort.

When my girls were ready to go home, we got in the car and drove home. By that time my left arm was aching pretty much right down to the elbow. I complained a little bit about my sore arm to my wife and then told her I was going upstairs to go to bed to rest.

About an hour later, my wife came upstairs and said; “this is ridiculous. A sore her left arm is an indicator of a heart attack. You need to go to the hospital.”

So I drove myself down to our local hospital emergency ward.

The emergency room response was pretty impressive. Within a few minutes of being in the ER and explaining that I had a sore left arm, I was laying on a stretcher and they were performing an ECG on me. Although my blood pressure was very elevated, there was a little other evidence to show that I was actually having a heart attack. That was a bit of a relief.

But then the question was; what was causing my left arm to be so incredibly sore? The ER doctor had x-rays taken of my shoulder. The x-rays showed that there was a significant calcium deposit on the top of my arm bone under my rotator cuff. That gave the doc an easy explanation.

Doctor gave me a prescription for Tylenol 3s and advised me that I was likely to be going to be experiencing lots of pain over the next while and  to eat lots of fibre because the T3s will cause constipation.

And then just as I was about to leave the hospital the same thing happened to my right arm. Pain and the numbness just went cruising down my right arm until, just like my left arm, there was virtually no feeling in it.

The doctor explained that was probably because I was compensating by using my right arm to do everything that I would normally do with my left arm. And then he encouraged me to go home. So I went home.

And so began my journey into an exploration of pain.

I was pretty sure that the pain would go away on its own. However just to be sure, I booked an appointment to see my family doctor on the following Monday.

By late Friday afternoon it became obvious the pain was not going to go away on its own. Both of my shoulders were leaking in a way that I had never experienced before. 

Knowing a chiropractor who works late on Fridays, I phoned up and asked if I could come in and have a consultation. They made time to have a look at my shoulders. 

Their diagnosis was that it was quite likely that I had a pinched nerve in my left shoulder blade. Or in the area of my back around the top of my spine where the ribs join the spine.

The chiropractor did a couple of adjustments to my neck and my ribs which gave me very temporary relief. By the time I got downstairs to my car the pain was just as bad as it had been when I was going into the office.

Saturday morning the pain was what I would call excruciating. So I called up an acupuncture/acupressure practitioner that we know. “Sure come on in. Let’s have a look at this.”

Acupuncture acupressure person says it is likely that I have tendinitis in both my shoulders. So we proceed with acupuncture and cupping on my shoulders.

Saturday afternoon and into the evening the pain begins to increase. Overnight the pain is almost unbearable. There is no way for me to sit or lie down that is even remotely comfortable. Every four hours I’m taking T3s. The pain is like a life force of its own.

Somehow or another I make it through to Monday and I go to see my family doctor. He prescribes me a couple medications that help with nerve pain. Unfortunately those medications also make it difficult for me to walk or talk or do much of anything. He also introduces me to the idea of mindfulness and and he encourages me to get outside and stretch my arms and breathe deeply and try to enjoy life as much as I can.

I do that. I take his advice. I go outside with my kids we go for walks in the forest and I stretch my arms gently and I move them and I begin to feel a little bit better.

The problem is in the night. At approximately 10 PM my arms and my shoulders and my back begin to ache in a way that I cannot begin to describe. The pain has a way of making me question everything in my life. The pain is insidious and so incredibly powerful.

One day during the week I go back to see the chiropractor again. She can see that I’m clearly in agony. She sends me over to another clinic where they do x-rays of my neck and shoulders from every different angle. After analyzing the x-rays she says that there is pretty clear evidence that there is what I would call, in layman’s terms, a pinched nerve in my shoulder.

She opens a discussion with me about trigger point therapy or prolotherapy. I leave her office with the intention to look into and consider these new types of therapy.

Somehow or another I make it through the week to Friday. I am unable to sleep for more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. My nights are spent wondering around the house racked with pain. My body is in agony. I am exhausted.

Friday morning I called my doctors office again. I told the receptionist that I cannot continue with this kind of pain. I need to see the doctor as soon as possible. 

Something I said triggered a reaction from her and she told me to immediately go back to the local emergency ward. I do.

Once again I’m treated with respect and dignity by all the emergency room staff. When I do get in to see the doctor he asked me lots of questions about the pain and what I’ve been doing to manage the pain. He tells me that the reality is I’m relatively new on this path of pain and there is no quick and easy solution to deal with it.

He prescribes a very strong anti-inflammatory medication. Another medication.

Last night I took the nerve pain medications and the anti-inflammatory medications all before going to bed. Wow, what a trip that was. 

I did manage to sleep a little bit better. 

I am scheduled to see my family doctor on Monday. I’m interested to see what more he has to say about my journey through pain. I will also ask him his opinion of the prolotherapy.

Until then I will continue to move as best I can. I will continue to focus on the positives in my life. I will continue to enjoy my life. And I will continue to stay present in my life. I just hope the pain gives me at least a little bit of a break this weekend.

Joe Fafard; Retailles at the Burnaby Art Gallery

On the evening of Thursday June 23rd I had the pleasure of meeting the Canadian art iconic Joe Fafard, one of Canada’s most recognized and prolific artists

Joe Fafard
Joe Fafard

Joe Fafard is one of Canada’s leading professional visual artists and has exhibitions of a wide variety of work in galleries and museums across the country and around the world, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan.

He is widely recognized as being at the forefront of his art, and his outstanding contributions to the arts have significantly raised the profile of both Saskatchewan and Canada on the national stage.


His current exhibition at the Burnaby Art Gallery really is a thing of wonder.

Retailles offers an insight into Fafard’s exploration of the laser-cut process featuring laser-cut and welded metal sculptures along with embossed and woodcut prints.

Over the years he has collected the leftover pieces of metal from other art projects he has created and, like a good Saskatchewan farmer, he kept the metal scraps with the attitude of  “this just might be useful later”.

Laser Cut Steel Art
Laser Cut Steel Art

French for scraps or trimmings, “that which is cut away”, Retailles not only references the act of removing the negative from positive space to create form, but also refers to the act of recycling these “off-cuts” to create new works.

Night Thief
Night Thief

The art work is truly extraordinary. His technique makes the laser cut steel pieces of art work look and feel like they are about to come alive and start moving around the gallery.

To be honest, I am not an art critic and do not bring a “trained eye” to my visits to the Burnaby Art Gallery, however I do see that this is a very cool exhibition and worth a visit.

The Joe Fafard; Retailles Exhibition is at the Burnaby Art Gallery (6344 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby) until August 28th. Do yourself a favour and get down to the BAG and take in the Joe Fafard exhibition.

BC Superweek and the Giro di Burnaby

On Thursday, July 14th 2016 (that’s TOMORROW!!!) the Giro di Burnaby returns to the Burnaby Heights neighbourhood for its ninth year.

Professional cyclists from all over the globe will race on the fast and technical 1.3km closed loop course on Hastings Street competing for over $15,000 in prize money.

Giro di Burnaby Schedule:

  • 3:00pm – Girolino (Kids Zone) – Corner of Willingdon & Albert
  • 5:30pm – Giro Expo Opens – Hastings & Madison
  • 5:30pm – Boffo Breve Youth Race
  • 6:00pm – Women’s Race
  • 7:20pm – Men’s Race

As part of the BC Superweek series, the “Giro” is one of nine premiere pro-cycling events taking place between July 8th – July 16th in Metro Vancouver.

The day after the Giro di Burnaby (that’s Friday, July 15th) is the PoCo Grand Prix, the youngest member of the BC Superweek series. This race is located in the heart of Port Coquitlam and is a criterium-style race featuring a mass start and a 1.3-kilometre circuit that cyclists will navigate for 40-65 laps.

The Steve Nash Fitness World Tour de White Rock  is one of the longest standing races in North America. It consists of the Choices Markets Criterium in the heart of White Rock and the historic Peace Arch News Road Race, ending the weekend Tour with one of the most challenging road races in the Pacific North West.

The Tour de White Rock is a grueling 130 km test of endurance and strength as cyclists tackle the steep seaside hills of the City of White Rock.


Is the Problem Excessive Speed or Distracted Driving?

In the relatively short time that my family has lived in Coquitlam there have been serious motor vehicle collisions at the corner of Como Lake Ave and Gatensbury that have resulted in cars or trucks landing in the front yard of homes on each of the four corners of the intersection.

Como Lake and Gatensbury
Como Lake and Gatensbury

The most recent collision happened this weekend just gone. As you can see in the photo above, the white SUV landed upside down and almost cut in half by the fence that the vehicle landed upon.

First Responders on Scene
First Responders on Scene

The collision – and I purposefully use the word “collision” because these collisions are NOT accidents. These collisions are caused by the choices that people make – they do not happen by accident.

Anyways, I digress, the most recent collision caused Como Lake Ave to be closed from Porter Ave east to Shoolhouse Ave from 6:45pm until nearly midnight. At midnight they were finally able to remove the SUV from the front yard of the home on the corner.

For hours after the collision there were at least ten police cruisers, five ambulances, and at least four fire/rescue vehicles on the scene. Later in the evening three or more tow trucks arrived to remove the vehicles involved in the collision.

Northwest Corner
Northwest Corner

In the picture above you can see how there is a very well established hedge and then the new, little trees. That is a result of a violent collision that sent cars hurtling through this family’s hedge to land in the yard only a few metres from their living room.

On all corners of Como Lake and Gatensbury there are similar scenes. Vehicles collided so violently one time that one of the vehicles was pushed east on Como Lake Ave until it ran into the side of the nearby apartment building.

Half an hour before the most recent collision took place I was standing with daughters at the exact spot where the SUV landed. If we had played at the new Como Lake playground for thirty minutes more I would have been standing at that exact spot with my daughters.

What makes these spectacular collisions all the more curious is the fact that the speed limit, not the recommended speed, but the actual legal, posted speed limit on Gatensbury for many blocks in either direction of Como Lake Ave is 30kmh.

Of course the speed limit on Como Lake Ave is 50 kmh. A speed limit that is rarely, if ever enforced.

The question is, how is that when two vehicles collide on a corner where the speed limit is 50kmh on one street and 30kmh on the cross street, how is it that one of the vehicles can become airborne and land in the front yard of a nearby home?

Of course that is completely disregarding the question of how did two or more vehicles traveling in opposite directions enter the intersection at the same time.

Southeast Corner
Southeast Corner

To get to the bottomline, I understand that distracted driving is a serious problem. But do we really need police officers standing at the corner of Como Lake Ave and Clarke watching for people who look down at their phones while they are stopped at the red light while they disregard the drivers who routinely ignore the red light?

What is the point of having speed limits if they are not enforced and obviously not followed?

At what point do we say enough is enough?

The Coquitlam Munch

In the past I have blogged about growing food close to home and I will say it again, I believe in growing food close to home! I also like the idea of urban gardening where food plants rather than decorative plants are grown on city lands. You can imagine how pleased I was to see that the city of Coquitlam is also embracing the idea of growing food close to where we live.

Bush Beans
Bush Beans

The “Coquitlam Munch” is a partnership with the Austin Heights Business Improvement Association (AHBIA) which will enable the public to taste and share food grown on public land.

Forty planters along Ridgeway and Austin Avenues were planted by AHBIA members and other community partners at a launch event held May 26.

Adjacent businesses will keep the planters watered and weeded, and the public will be invited to tour the planters from June to October to taste the crops and learn about small-scale sustainable gardening.

I will be visiting the garden boxes in the coming days to see how the gardens are progressing. Stay tuned!!