Friday, August 31, 2012


01/09/1999 the world welcomed David Byres.  That would mean that today you are 13....... 13???...... I blinked didn't I.

Happy Birthday my son. 

Your life is a gift to me, to your family. 

You have such a huge heart that loves so unreservedly and so fully.  A heart so big it lets in too many of the worlds worries and pain.  They way that injustice makes you sad and angry is both wonderful and hard to see.  The world needs people like you who think deeply, feel deeply and rise to action on behalf of others. 

Your Mama wants you to guard that precious heart and shield it from the pain and hurt. 

Your whip smart brain is also so so full of information and facts and knowledge about SO SO many make my head spin with all your knowledge. 

Like your Mama you are a classic over-sharer....I love that about you most of the time - the other times I will admit I fleetingly consider duct taping your mouth shut for a few minutes.,,..but then I realise I would be stupider (I know I know - stupider is not a word).... without all the stuff you keep me informed about...I might not even know how to vote, or what CSIS is listening to or what sports car that is in front of me...:) .  Thank you for staying on top of things for me.

I hope you always love learning and reading and..... sharing what you know.

You have been a joyful, loving child, with those long eyelashes brushing those have endured things you shouldn't have had to and done it with courage and endurance and little complaint. 

You have befriended both adults and children and peers and you have been a good friend. 

You have forgiven those who let you down and moved on. 

You don't hold grudges. 

You are passionate about cars and drums and the environment and longboarding and breakfast. 

 You have great style and a gorgeous giggle. 

You never stop talking.  You could teach people how to talk without breathing - you have perfected the skill.

You are lame at telling jokes but every now and then you throw a one-liner that floors us all. 

You love being on the soccer field, even when you grumble about the cold and the running.

You worry about too much stuff but face it squarely and boldly and still occasionally hold my hand in public. 

You drive us crazy the way you won't back down from an argument even when you are wrong (which is hardly ever but we need to win sometimes!) but we think it will make you a great advocate or activist one day - and by that we mean a lawyer. 

You are about to start two big journeys - being a teenager and going to high school. 

You are ready....ready to show what you know, ready to work hard and be a leader, ready for new challenges and new friends.

Your family is so proud of you, we love you a bijillion to the power of 10 (here's hoping that finally stumps your calculator brain).

Happy Happy 13th Birthday David.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wake up call

There is an unmistakable and discernible dip in the temperature and the sun is rising later each day (someone please send the damn seagulls the memo please).

This summer has rushed on by without barely a quiet moment to be had much less a family vacation.  That's ok. We knew it would be so.

And now we are in full back to school mode with shopping for clothes and shoes and jackets.  Soccer started, new cleats hit the astro turf under lights last night in a rain shower......hello Fall.

There is a melancholy in the neighbourhood........

And then I read THIS on a friends blog today. 

It shut me up. 

I am going to enjoy this beautiful cool sunny day and every day of the rest of this week with my family. In our beautiful home.

No complaints, just gratitude.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spanner in the Works

Q. What is a "Spanner in the Works?"
A.   A studio album released by Rod Stewart on May 26, 1995 - Correct

A.   A sentence in  P. G. Wodehouse's Right Ho, Jeeves, 1934: "He should have had sense enough to see that he was throwing a spanner into the works." - Correct

A.   'Put (or throw) a spanner in the works' refers to the calamitous effects of throwing a spanner into   the gears and pistons of an engine. It's safe to say that the phrase was rarely called on to describe an actual event and is likely to have been coined for its imagery - Correct

A.   An idiom meaning "Deliberately causing mayhem."  - CORRECT.

We got a dog this summer.  By "we" I mean three very excited and delighted members of the family

We named him Spanner. (As opposed to crescent wrench which doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well). Some might say it has thrown a Spanner in the works of the Byres Family machine.

Others would disagree.

Of course he is the cutest.puppy.ever.

Photo: Leigh Langman
Of course he is
Of course he directs and determines our.every.move.

Photo: Leigh Langman
Life in our household is slowly adapting to this new addition who is equal parts adorable, ear-flapping, bum-wiggling, lovingingly energetic sweetie and sharp-toothed, yipping barking,ankle-biting, newspaper shredding demon.

Not surprising is the amount of time and energy he takes.

What is surprising is all the mental work he takes. All the decisions to make about insurance, vets, crates, food, walks, discipline, training, schedule, treats, traveling with pets etc.etc.etc.

I think that as he reaches his 9 week birthday tomorrow and we check off 2 weeks of dog ownership - we are doing well.

One item chewed, no inside accidents, 50% successful at "going" in his designated spot, one attempt at digging in the garden (managed to deter with chili flakes), walks well on leash towards home (will not leave the house on his leash - has to be carried???), eats like a champ, slept through the night second night home, sits for a treat, still lots of jumpy, yappy, biting puppy behaviour when excited but starting to listen to "down", "off" and "leave it".

Life will never be the same - but I am starting to see how much our pup will add to our lives.  So impressed with how my family has embraced the hard work, scooped the poops, walked him early in the morning and in the evening, played with him, loved him.
Photo: Leigh Langman
Good start Spanner.....keep it up little buddy and we'll all get along fine.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Water Baby

I love the water.

If I had to choose a view to live with I would choose water.

First choice ocean, second choice lake, then river, etc....

Here are some shots of water from my recent trip.

Gig Harbour

Madison Falls

Sol Duc Falls

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake
Hole in the Wall - Second Beach - LaPush Washington

Sequim Washington

Coupeville Whidbey Island


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A walk in a forest

“All forests have their own personality. I don't just mean the obvious differences, like how an English woodland is different from a Central American rain forest, or comparing tracts of West Coast redwoods to the saguaro forests of the American Southwest... they each have their own gossip, their own sound, their own rustling whispers and smells. A voice speaks up when you enter their acres that can't be mistaken for one you'd hear anyplace else, a voice true to those particular tress, individual rather than of their species.”
Charles de Lint, The Onion Girl

 It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. Robert Louis Stevenson

All photos taken yesterday in Olympic National Park (Madison Falls Elwha and Sol Duc).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Headed Out

No real time to post a blog today - its been a crazy time trying to get work sorted so I can get away.

I am off on a road trip with my friend Leigh from Orange County.  We did THIS last year. 

This year will be better...I just know it.

Tonight we will be HERE

Then 2 nights HERE

We hope to see this THIS


And we will visit Forks WA - alas niether of us is a Twilight fan but let me know if you want photos or souvenirs - happy to get some.

We will drive lots, chat lots, sleep some, eat some, photograph lots, shop a bit......

Headed back home Friday evening.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Camp Plus

My kids have been going to Camp for 4 years now.

They LOVE camp.  They would live there if they could.

It's on this island in Howe Sound.

They go up and back on this boat.  They go clean and excited - come back tired and stinky and happy.
They "sleep" here
7 days of fun, freedom, crazy adventures, great friendships, great faith building, challenging speakers, star gazing (or storm watching this year) amazing food, gross (yet somehow amazing) food fights, no showers, ocean swimming, wake boarding early in the morning....

It would appear they even enjoy each other at camp.....this is them actually touching!
What is not to like? Ask a kid not an adult - for me the lack of showers = neva eva eva would I love it.

They have made some good friends over the years.

And not one of them from Richmond.

We have nurtured long-distance friendships, driven back and forth to Whistler, Surrey, New West. Used skype alot.

So when Lindsay went to Camp 6 this year as an LiT (Leader in Training) and her fellow LiT's were all from the Lower Mainland they immediately made plans to hang out - I was overjoyed.

Good friends, close enough to have real relationships with....face time vs skype!!  Yes!

So despite her little chipmunk face and less than usual sunny self (having just had all 4 wisdom teeth out) - she not only went bowling with the girls tonight - she spent hours making them pot plant holders modgepodged with bible verses and painted with inscriptions to remember being LiT's together in 2012.

They looked so good - it made us feel less terrible about ripping up a bible!

 I drove her there tonight and she was literally mobbed with hugs - big manly bear hugs from an array of beautiful young girls.  Much girly laughing and all 7 of them talking at once....a very delightful scene to behold.

My heart was SO SO grateful.

Good solid girlfriends are SO important anytime in life but none more so than those fraught teen years....when we picked her up a couple of hours later (with Spanner in tow for much love and adoration) there were more bear hugs and many suggestions for future gatherings as phone numbers were exchanged and I am pretty sure the texts were flying before we were home.

I love camp for many, many, many things that it gives my children.

But maybe I love it most for this.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Insta Love

This sounds like a good (although somewhat optimistic) name for a Dating Service. 

It isn't.

But I have fallen in love.....sort of.....

I have been "friends" with my iPhone camera for a while and quite surprised with the quality of the shots I can get.  And as my famous photographer cousin Caileen reminded me - its the camera that you have with you that gets the best shot....indeed.

My bloggy friend , fellow soccer Mom and avid photographer Janice got this nifty  ollo clip lens for her iPhone which I now covet and have on my "must get one day" list.

I have also been "friends" with Instagram for a while with its quirky filters that make some of my perfectly average shots look artsy and interesting. With one click.

But for a long time I was underusing Instagram.......and not using it well. 

Of course my15 year old schooled me in the proper use of Instagram and I can now # with the best of "them" and I have followers.

I love the macro world of Instagram and the filters/borders/effects and the way to connect with people across the world one small photo at a time.

On anything that catches my fancy.

My phone is almost always in my pocket.

And as with most good things.....there is a dark side and some of the #'s out there are....shall we say....unsavory and inappropriate and although the people behind Instagram seem to try and deal with questionable content quite cannot un-see be cautious when you click!

Did you know you could send a "postagram" of your instagram?  I have never sent one but I got my first one in the mail today and I was so delighted with it - it's a wonderful memory, and a cleverly designed product I would happily pay a dollar plus postage to send.

So this blog post I extolled the virtues or not of the "big daddy" cameras but, as was rightly pointed out,  the phone cameras both i and android are excellent and Instagram is so much fun!

Oh and a shout out to Pic Stitch which also makes phone photos lots of fun by creating collages!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rings of Earth

This is going to come as a shock to some of you.....brace yourselves......

You were taught in school that Saturn (the planet not the automobile) has rings.
Noone told you about Earth's rings did they?
Ah HA.....
Well.....there are three rings around the earth. 

Let me enlighten you.

Ring #1
Socks.  This comes as no surprise really - there had to be a place they all went and as soon as those slackers at NASA get a better telescope the multihued "Ring o'socks" will become visible to earthlings .....and mothers across the land will be able to stop their exasperated yelling at the washing machine /dryer/children/spouses as they glance out of the laundry room window to the "Ring o'socks" best visible at 9:30pm as the last load of laundry is being sorted, and shake their collective heads and fists at the ring.

Ring #2
Baby stuff.  I have long known of this soon as you put out the word that the stork is going to be delivering a baby to your home, the ring starts to spin off items in your direction.  Clothes, bedding, beds, chairs, books, games, you-name-it.......this ever-circling ring just beyond the "Ring o'socks" is ever changing as earthlings receive and dispatch items of babyhood in a never-ending cycle.  This is the earths reuse, recycle object lesson and I love it....I like to think of all that baby stuff up there just ready to help a new human and his
/ her family as needed.

Ring #3
Dog stuff.  This is a revelation to me....I have been kept in the dark for far too long on this....but you cannot undo awareness and I tell you...there is the "Ring o'Fido" out there full of dog paraphernalia waiting for new dog owners to get sucked into its vortex.  Do not say the words "we are getting a puppy" unless you want to instantly be offered equipment and stuff you never even heard off, have no idea if you need.  You take this stuff because a) you cannot believe what it costs to buy new b) you don't want to appear stoopid c) your dog must have what it needs. 

So there you have it - earths new astrological rings explained.

You're welcome.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Shot for Shot

Of course being at a Photography 200 course brings up all sorts of questions for me about photography.  I commented at one point that I felt that the assignments were robbing Allan of the joy of taking the photo.

He argued that once he mastered the technical aspects of the camera and all the finer points of taking photos he would be able to apply them to his shots in a more relaxed manner.

I have long said I don't want an SLR - I want a point and shoot (a good one) that goes in my purse, even my pocket at times, that I can pull out and shoot whenever I want to.

No tripod, no light meter etc.

And yes - I often shoot on Auto....Yegads!

I figure the good people at Canon who made my camera, made it to shoot well on Auto and who am I to mess with it.  I do change the settings (in as far as winding the dial to nightshot or landscape is changing the settings) occasionally.

I use my camera to tell stories and record moments.  I have never aspired to take amazing gallery worthy photographs and am mildly shocked when occasionally I get a great photo. 

And what is a great photo anyway?
For me it has to the speak to my soul, remind me of a place, a person, an occasion.  I don't care about the composition of a shot of my kids leaping off the end of a dock.  I care that they were happy and that I caught the moment to share with them in years to come.  I can look at this shot and it makes me smile every time.

I also took it years before I knew about photo editing and with a very inferior camera compared with the one I have now.

The" Thursday Night Sunset Chases" the kids and I have had this summer are as much about having an adventure with Mom as it is about the sunset photo's.

The memories will, I hope, endure longer than the photo's.

The photo's were a vehicle for an adventure, not the goal in themselves.

Which brings up photo editing.

In this course they did a lecture on using photoshop for effect and retouching etc and honestly these days so many photo's bear scant resemblance to the initial shot once they have been edited and filtered and "photoshopped" that one can scarcely believe that what one is seeing is actually "true".

The students visited a local photographer Chris Harris with a gallery of amazing photos. His belief is the shot is the shot - get it and leave it alone.  He uses some interesting techniques in acquiring the shot but he does no post-photo editing.

I don't have photoshop but I use the windows photo editing software to bring out the contrast, saturate the colours and lighten up dark shadows.  I also crop photos.  I think if I, like Allan, paid closer attention to the technical settings on my camera I would need to do less of this.  I use the tools I have and I am not ashamed.  I was there holding the camera after all and if the fence post I was resting on wasn't level and I can level out the photo afterwards on my computer I am ok with that.

Just like there are Canon people and Nikon people (we being a well balanced family with one of each) there will be purists, technicians and snappers....I think we now have a range of photographic skill in our family that will net us both stories and memories and amazing gallery worthy photos ........... well here's hoping!

Friday, August 10, 2012


Part of Allan's course was to attend a local Rodeo on Route 24 at Roe Lake (about an hours drive from the Ranch).

I have never really considered going to a Rodeo. 
There is one in the Lower Mainland annually but it wouldn't be something I would have on a "Must Do" list for myself.  There is the famous Calgary Stampede and if I was in Calgary at the time I might go but I wouldn't make the trip for it.

I know there are some strong feelings about Rodeos and concerns about animal abuse etc....but I had few chances to get off the Ranch and do something with Al and so even with no hat, no plaid shirt, no boots and no horse (and mixed and unsettled feelings) I decided to go along for the adventure.

It was a scorching hot afternoon and after I paid my $10 entrance fee I actually didn't see Allan again until I brought him a much needed bottle of water midway through and at the end.

He was shooting an assignment and was very focused (Oh the photography jokes/references are endless - our fellow young Trinity students particularly loved the ones around "exposure") on getting particular shots (blur shots being the goal??) and trying different settings on the camera.  He stayed in pretty much the same spot baking all afternoon.

I was there to tell a story (blog fodder as I call it!), to have an experience with my camera, so I headed off to snap my shots with my trusty point and shoot.  As great as my Canon Powershot is, I was having camera insecurity issues around all the amazing SLR's and mega lenses anyway and preferred to get away from them! 

I had a great time wandering around in the back 40 through all barns and horse trailers (no sign of abused horses or cattle) and listening to the chatter.  It's like a big campground with horses thrown in.

 I watched the roping and the bucking. 
The cowboy grabs the calf and flips it over....the most rough event we watched

These cowgirls dropped the rope as soon as it was over the head
How do you like them pants? 

I was faintly discomforted by the "mutton-busting" where children under 50lbs try and ride a running sheep for as long as they can....wearing their bike helmets!!  Nevermind animal abuse I was worried this might be child abuse as a 3 year old comes flying off and is crying? I don't think it was but I do know those kids would need a bath after sitting on those stinky sheep (aptly named Knitwit, Steel wool and Twisted Sister?). Each rider got a medal for participating.  The "rides" were so short lived I don't get any decent shots.  And the sheep didn't seem bothered in the slightest.

And then the pig wrestle.......all kids under the age of 9 go "over the fence" into the ring and the parents line the ring to form a pig barrier.  A pig is let loose in the middle the gaggle of kids race after it....first kid to hang on and stop the pig wins a medal and $50 bucks.  I was watching the pig for signs of stress but he looked to be having a fine time.  The kids and the parents had a ball - there was more squealing from the humans than the pig for sure.
The Rodeo Drill Riding Team (I kid you not) was impressive in their riding and skill and those sparkling sequined turquoise shirts and white jeans added a certain panache to the whole event. 
And I finally discovered what zamboni drivers do in the summer!
It felt like everyone knew everyone.....people cheered for "their" riders, the announcer got everyone involved and as we baked together in the relentless sun it struck me that this was a community ......... pretty tight knit, celebrating a way of life I have little knowledge of or appreciation for....celebrating being together, seeing the new babies, hugging old friends, celebrating successes and shaking heads over missed chances, discussing future opportunities, new equipment, making sure the beer was colder next time :)

I don't know about those big rodeos but this small Interlakes Rodeo was down home, plaid shirt, cowboy hat, horse smelling charming........ for the humans and animals alike. 

As far as an alien like me could see anyway.