Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 12 - Dinner last night at le Bistro

I am sorry that I haven't written more here. I must tell you that it is very important to understand the full menu when ordering food. Last night I ordered Rognol de veau grillé, thinking that I understood. Well I did understand veau (veal) and grillé (grilled). It is important not to ignore principle words like rognol. I received something that was unrecognizable, awkward looking and unattractive. It was convoluted lumps of something that smelled to me like wet diaper. It had the texture of soft leather. I tried it, a little more and then left it. The lady next to us informed me after consulting her pocket dictionary, that it meant kidney. Now I looked forward to dessert which was good. Talk to you soon again. Thank you for commenting. I cannot respond freely on borrowed french keyboards. Au revoir.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 11 - Arles and Van Gogh

Arles, a place of inspiration for Van Gogh and many other artists, like Picasso, Cézanne or Gauguin. The name of Arles is closely connected with Vincent Van Gogh. It is impossible to evoke the light of Arles without thinking of his paintings. It was this luminosity that attracted Van Gogh to the south of France. Vincent arrived in Arles one day in February 1888 looking for the outside light but also seeking an interior illumination.
Here he started a period of intense and impassioned work under the bright sunny sky of Provence. His stay in Arles was the most productive period of his life, with more than 300 paintings and drawings done in his 15 months here. It is one of the most brilliant chapters in the history of art. Even though there are no original paintings by Van Gogh in the city, the shadow of his presence is everywhere.

In the city, the places where Van Gogh set up his easel are pointed out by panels representing his works. Ten spots have been thus indicated : The Place du Forum for the "Evening Café", the Trinquetaille bridge for the "Staircase of the Trinquetaille bridge", the Rhone River quay for the "Starry Night", the Place Lamartine for the "Yellow House", the Rue Mireille for the "Old Mill", the Summer Garden on the Boulevard des Lices for the "Public Garden", the Espace Van Gogh for the "Hospital Garden", the road along the Arles à Bouc canal for the "Langlois bridge with washerwomen". The Arena and the Alyscamps were also depicted in several paintings.

Langlois was the name of the bridge guard. Vincent painted and sketched this drawbridge many times.
The bridge reminded him of Holland, his native country. He wrote to his brother Theo : "I've found a funny thing, I won't do things like this every day, it's a drawbridge with a little yellow buggy and groups of washerwomen, a study where the earth is bright red, the grass green, the sky and the water blue." This bridge has become a French historical landmark since 1988. (Langlois is also my wife Christine's maiden name so we took special note of this name.)Van Gogh's painting of the Langlois Bridge at Arles was painted in 1888. It includes two cypress trees, a woman walking over the bridge with an umbrella, and a horse buggy that has just crossed over the bridge. The bridge can still be seen in France, near Arles in Provence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 10 - Avignon

The site of Avignon was settled very early on; the rocky outcrop (le Rocher les Doms) at the north end of the town, overlooking the Rhône River. Avignon, written as Avennio or Avenio in the ancient texts and inscriptions, takes its name from the Avennius clan. Founded by the Gallic tribe of the Cavares or Cavari, it became the centre of an important Phocaean colony from Massilia (present Marseilles). Avignon is an ancient city with vestiges dating to 3000 BC. Under the Romans, Avenio was a flourishing city of Gallia Narbonensis, the first Transalpine province of the Roman Empire. Barbarians invaded in the 5th century following the collapse of the roman empire. There followed a long series of wars and sieges until the 12th century. It then was established in 1129 as a commune and the city became independent, governed by the knights and the rich citizens under the authority of the Bishop. In 1309 the city was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence, and from 9 March 1309 until 13 January 1377 was the seat of the Papacy instead of Rome. This caused a schism in the Catholic church. At the time, the city and the surrounding Comtat Venaissin were ruled by the kings of Sicily from the house of Anjou. The city is well known for its Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe), where several popes and antipopes lived from the early 14th to early 15th centuries. Avignon belonged to the Papacy until 1791, when, during the disorder of the French Revolution, it was reincorporated with France.

Pablo Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in the same year that Cezanne died, 1906. While it resembles Cezanne's The Bathers, the cubist painting style was a signal of the most dramatic and quick change in the history of art.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 9 - Aix en Provence and Cézanne

We are told that this town has a dual identity which includes water and art. It is also a town with rich culture and it spans different eras. It is colourful and when the sun shines, the stone of facades is golden, the fountain a transparent greenish blue and the shade of trees deep on the ground. In a region where water is scarce and precious, Aix is supplied by many springs. In the late 19th century, works on the Verdon canal and the Zola dam brought water in abundance through the basins of fountains.

Aix has an old city and a new city and the ring road is built on the site of the former ramparts which circle the old town separating it from the new city. There is an historic landmark called the Cours Mirabeau which is wonderful strolling walk through greenery punctuated by fountains. On either side of the ring road built in the 17th century, the leading families of nobility built elegant homes. There are magnificent hotels and cafes here.

The most famous artist of Aix was Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906), and the city honoured his memory with 2006, the entire centenary year of his death being dedicated to him. Around the international "Cézanne in Provence" exhibition, a multitude of events painted the city in the painter's colours and commemorated his intimate relationship with the landscapes and light of Provence. Cézanne studied law according to his father's wishes but art emerged as his premier passion during his Bourbon boarding college where he met Emil Zola. His father agreed to his aspirations and he pursued art studies in Paris where he also met painters Pissaro, Monet and Renoir. He met Hortense Fiquet who became his companion and wife, and by whom he had a son, Paul. He systematically explored and painted the Aixois countryside. "I go into the country every day. The motifs are beautiful and I spend my days better here than elsewhere".(Letter from Paul Cézanne to his son, Aix 09/22/1906).

In the final period, the twenty years from 1886 until his death, Cezanne pushed toward a conclusion, generally in the direction of increased abstraction. In the last decade of his life, Cezanne began to be well known. By age and by association, Cezanne was one of the impressionists. He was five years younger than Degas, a year older than Monet, two years older than Renoir. He was a solitary man, but insofar as he had friends at all, he found them among his impressionist contemporaries. In fact some people say that Cezanne was the most revolutionary painter since the dawn of the Renaissance.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 8 - More about our Place

We are very comfortable. Look at this lovely living room area. We hardly want to be inside however. There is so much to see and so many places to visit. What a blast!

We have all we could want for a time like this. Here is the kitchen/dining area. It contains washer and dryer as well.

In one quaint corner is this lovely little reading nook.

The proprieters speak English if we ever have a difficulty or need some advice. But for the most part you hear French in the village and that is what Christine wanted for sure. So we sit in the village, on the street cafes, sip a drink, listen and occasionally take a stab at the language with patient listeners. Christine has always been good at animation and gesticulation which is a communication of its own and that makes up for missing vocabulary. It's kind of an international charades. Trois syllables.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 7 - Other Places to Visit While We Here

This is wonderful base location from which to see so many other historic and picturesque villages and cities. No chance of boredom during these twelve days in the same apartment. This was a good idea Christine had. We are in the south between Marseilles and Avignon.

I find out more about this place each day. Lourmarin is in the Luberon Natural Regional Park, which is famous for its beauty and history. The village lies on the southern side of the Luberon range of hills, at the entrance to the valley which separates the Petit (Western) Luberon from the Grand (Eastern), and is ideally situated for exploring some of the many hidden valleys and "highly-perched" hill-top villages of the area.

North of here lies the 13th century Cistercian abbey of Sénanque and its lavender fields, the villages of Gordes and Bonnieux, the ochre quarries and ochre-coloured houses in Roussillon. We are trying to visit as many of these as we can.

Within easy reach of our town is the walled city of Avignon and its medieval Palais des Papes (Popes' Palace), and the beautiful spa town of Aix-en-Provence. Each of these will require a day for travel and exploration. Another good day trip which we will undertake includes Arles, with its Roman amphitheatre and medieval cathedral. Possibly the Côtes-du-Rhône scenic loop of vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueyras. We will see. We are not pressuring ourselves when this town is so fun. This is the church and the chateau in the village.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 6 - The Pleasure of Village of Life

The village has an outstanding Renaissance chateau. Fully restored, it is open to the public and houses an arts foundation which sponsors cultural events throughout the year. And my heart soars because the village also has several art galleries. By the way I did bring my own paints with me to do quick sketches or more extended pieces, using acrylics so they dry quickly and are easily transportable. It is not a busy time or season particularly but there is still a bustle to the village life, and there are café terraces, a great weekly market and games of boules.

The surrounding hilly countryside is very pretty, and the backroads and paths are great to roam, whether on foot, mountain bike or horseback. We are walkers. Within a 10 minutes' drive there is rock-climbing, canoeing and swimming. The first two we are not likely to do. There are also wineries and various organic food producers to visit.

Did I mention the steep alleyways in parts of the city but walking around is the only way to get a true sense of it. To the innate charm of the village there is added the legacy left by famous people. Philippe de Girard was the inventor of the sewing machine for linen and other inventions as well. Apparently fellow villages didn't understand the man's temparament of excentricities and forced him into exile from his native town. Laurent Vibert was educated and became the admired patron of the arts. He acquired a castle and turned it into a home for things spiritual and a haven of friendship where the nation's art and thought could be preserved. Henri Bosco and Albert Camus were attracted to the village because of him. Their graves are in the village cemetery.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 5 - A most beautfiul village

Lourmarin has been officially designated "one of the most beautiful villages in France." Many writers and artists have lived here, among them Albert Camus, who is buried in the village cemetery.

Lourmarin is also well-known for its many restaurants, including Edouard Loubet's "Le Moulin" and Reine Sammut's "La Fenière." Reine was recently awarded the title of "Best Woman Chef in France". We are experiencing an occasional meal out but the idea of the apartment is to prepare our own meals in order to save on the cost of the extended vacation. For Christine this is not quite the same as a fully catered cruise, so I have to help where I can.

Lourmarin is much visited for its lively atmosphere and chic shops. This is my kind of shopping, quaint and interesting shops on interesting winding streets that are easily walked. It is also an excellent base from which to explore Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Arles, the Luberon villages and the Camargue. We have our own wheels and it makes these excursions very easy to do.

Lourmarin was built around a monastery and a primitive castle: Le castellas. It is surrounded by vineyards, fruit orchards and fortified farms (les mas). The village streets wind round Le Castellas and the St Trophime-St André church. 2 steps away, the castle of La Colette (15th/16th) overlooks meadows and terraced gardens. It was saved from ruin in the 19th century by a benefactor, Laurent Vibert, it now accommodates a rich collection of furniture and objets d’art. Each year, It welcomes artists of all kind, this how Henri Bosco and Albert Camus were acquainted with Lourmarin, and decided to make it their final abode.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 4 - More About Our New Home

I mentioned that the apartment first floor has a sitting area, dining area and corner kitchen that leads out to a small south-facing terrace. Look, it is set with our morning tea cups. The southern exposure means sunshine at this spot all day long. That's a church (e'glise) in the courtyard background.

The second floor consists of an oak-beamed bedroom with a small ensuite bathroom that has shower, tub and sink and toilet. Most of the furnishings, antiques, art pieces and books were left by the previous owners, a Parisian couple of writers and editors.

There is a comfortable bed, a satellite TV and, really handy, NOT! - an audio cassette player with a large collection of taped music. Who plays this hardware anymore? Oh yeah! We do!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 3 - Lourmarin - La Petite Maison is our Place

Lourmarin La Petite Maison, Our New Home

Vancouver – Frankfurt – Marseilles – Lourmarin

Lourmarin is our home for these first twelve days. Our flight into Marseilles arrived in the evening and we picked up our rental car and made the 90 minute drive in the dark to Lourmarin. We awaken today to the glorious reality that La Petite Maison is a prize of a place in which to live. It is a delightful two-story, one-bedroom apartment in an attractive restored 17th century house. Joseph and Elisabeth Deliso are our hosts. We corresponded with them long before making this trip. The first floor has a sitting area, dining area and corner kitchen leading out on to a small south-facing terrace overlooking the village church and a fountain. You can see the patio terrace in the photo. Oh, it couldn’t be more perfect. Look at the sun.

We knew that it was located in a pretty medieval village but not until this morning did we realize how true the description was. The town is nestled under the green Luberon hills and surrounded by vineyards. Yum, yum. Perhaps our first little walk, the first of many I am sure, will be to the local boulangerie (bakery). We intend to walk off the carbs.

According to the legend, Lourmarin was dug by a dragon in a gorge.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 2 - Lourmarin - a beautiful village town


We travelled from Vancouver on the 19th of April and arrived on the 20th in Frankfurt and then a flight to Marseilles where we rented a car and drove to the mountain village of Lourmarin. We have driven in the evening following our 6:30 PM arrival at the Marseilles airport. We were hoping that it would stay light enough for us to read road signs and arrive at Lourmarin without incident. It did darken but we were fine driving up the Luberon mountain to our destination. Lourmarin will be home for us for the next ten days. From this location we will do little day excursions to towns and vineyards or sit at an outdoor cafe and we will people watch or listen or draw and paint or engage in some French conversation. Here is one of the enjoyable Lourmarin street we drove up and which is typical of our new town. It is a hilly town with lots of walking opportunity up and down the streets.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 1 - We are Off - Bound for France

We have left the Vancouver airport aboard a Lufthansa airbus and will arrive in Frankfurt, wait a couple of hours before boarding a Marseilles bound flight. In Marseilles airport we have rented a small Renault Twingo deisel stickshift that we will use for most of our trip, leaving it eventually in St. Malo on the Normandy shores before we board a ferry to Guernsey Island where we spend a week. Returning to the mainland we will board a train to Paris where we have an apartment for two weeks in the Montmartre section of the city.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


OUR FLIGHT LEAVES TOMORROW. We have to be at the Vancouver airport three hours before lift off. We are so ready. I think that both of us may in the future opt for a spur of the moment trip. You know, the last minute deals. Planning for and waiting for something like this for twelve months is excruciating. This is our grand adventure, two months in France for exposure to the language and painting. I visit renowned sites and galleries of famous artists and I am taking art supplies myself so I can record some of the sites. We fly to Marseilles, pick up a car and drive to the Luberon hills village of Lourmarin where we live for twelve days. Then we will travel to the Dordogne region and stay for one week near Le Bouisson de Cadouin. From there for one week we go through the Loire Valley with great chateaux (castles) on either side of the Loire River. Ever north to the Normandy Beaches for a few days and to the port city of St. Malo. A hydroplane ferry to Guernsey Island where we stay for one week exploring Christine's paternal family history (Langlois). Then back to the mainland and a train to Paris where we have a Montmartre apartment for two weeks, and then alas, finally home.

It turned out so well. I was relieved when we received a call from friends who had relatives who needed a place to live precisely during the time that we are away. While I wasn’t worried about the house being empty, it is reassuring to know that someone responsible will be in our place in our absence.

As it turns out, the couple who are coming to live in and whom I will call Frank and Wilma, are from Ottawa and are relocating here. While they stay in our home they will be looking for a home of their own. I couldn’t have a better sense of security than I do now. Frank has twenty years in law enforcement and is highly trained in surveillance, security, defence and protection. He has founded a company called Canadian Protection Services which operates in five provinces, marketing equipment and providing training to security agents and personnel for other companies. Its services have already extended internationally. His company has provided the training for the security contingent around Prime Minister Harper. All Team Members at CPS have past military, police and/or security backgrounds. Many of their close protection officers have served in various capacities overseas. All Team Members are independently trained, and evaluated regularly as new technologies and techniques become available. Both Frank and Wilma are licensed to carry firearms at all times. They are both Yudansha (black belt) rated Japanese martial arts practitioners. In exchange for staying in our home, his company will immediately install perimeter detection systems, perimeter protection, intrusion detection systems, fire and safety alarms in and around my home. Not bad right?

I had better grab some ZZZ’s today because the trip to Frankfurt is a long one and the adrenalin is high. I may not sleep on the plane.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Red Green and Duct Tape

It is a classic statement to say the least. It is the summary statement of men whose wives wish that their husbands would be different and don’t stop telling them so. The wives would appreciate their husbands to be a touch more romantic, or sophisticated, possessing a touch of culture outside their red neck environment. Here is the hilarious Man’s Prayer, full of acceptance and resignation, which is recited by the entire membership of Possum Lodge.

I’m a man,
But I can change,
if I have to,
I guess.

Possum Lodge is part of the fictional comedic creation known as the Red Green Show. Red Green is the title character of The Red Green Show, and Red is really Steve Smith, and Red is the leader of Possum Lodge the small northwestern Ontario town on Possum Lake, near the also-fictional town of Port Asbestos. Possum Lodge is a fictional men's club and Red and his fellow lodge members have their own TV show (which is more or less the show itself), in which they give humorous lessons and demonstrations in repair work and outdoor activities (such as fishing and camping), and advice for men on relating to women, among other things. Red is a self-proclaimed handyman who is constantly extolling the virtues of duct tape ("the handyman's secret weapon"). He is married to his fictional wife Bernice Green and does not have any children. He is seldom seen without his trademark red-and-green suspenders. Numerous memorable lines are regularly repeated or indelibly printed on signs seen each episode.

“Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati (When all else fails, play dead.)”

“If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

“Remember, keep you stick on the ice.”

The handyman’s secret weapon deserves some attention. Duct tape (sometimes called duck tape) is a vinyl, fabric-reinforced, multi-purpose tacky pressure sensitive adhesive tape. It is generally silver or black in color but many other colors and transparent tapes have recently become available. With a standard width of 17⁄8 inches (48 mm), duct tape was originally developed during World War II in 1942 as a water resistant sealing tape for ammunition cases. Permacel, then a division of Johnson & Johnson, used a rubber-based adhesive to help the tape resist water and a fabric backing to add strength. It was also used to repair military equipment quickly, including jeeps, firearms, and aircraft because of these properties. In Canadian military circles, this variant is known as "gun-tape", typically olive-green, and also known for its resistance to oils and greases. Duct tape is also called "100-MPH tape" or 'Hurricane Tape' in the military - a name that comes from the use of a specific variety of duct-tape that was supposedly supposed to hold up against 100 mph winds. As a quick fix, duct tape can be used as a temporary bandage, until proper medical treatment and bandages can be applied to a wound.
After WWII, the housing industry boomed and people started using duct tape for many other purposes. The name "duct tape" came from its use on heating and air conditioning ducts, a purpose for which it, ironically, has been deemed ineffective. Its strength, low cost, and remarkable versatility make it a household staple throughout North America and Europe for temporary repairs and general-purpose use.
Don’t you wish you had invented it?

The Duct Tape Guys (Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg) as of 2005 wrote seven books about duct tape. Their bestselling books have sold over 1.5 million copies and feature real and wacky uses of duct tape. In 1994 they coined the phrase, "It Ain't Broke, It Just Lacks Duct Tape". Added to that phrase in 1995 with the publication of their WD-40 Book was, "Two rules get you through life: If it's stuck and it's not supposed to be, WD-40 it. If it's not stuck and it's supposed to be, duct tape it". Their website features thousands of duct tape uses from people around the world ranging from fashions to auto repair. The combination of WD-40 and duct tape is sometimes referred to as The Redneck Repair Kit.

You have to see the Duct Tape Guys site
The Red Green Show site

Thursday, April 16, 2009


In three more sleeps we board a Lufthansa airbus bound for Marseilles via a Frankfurt layover of four hours.

Lufthansa was so named after its founding president who was left handed. Gotcha! Unless you are German speaking and didn’t fall for that nonsensical translation. Actually, roughly translated it means "air company" or "air group". The name of the company is derived from Luft (the German word for "air"), and Hansa (after Hanseatic League, the powerful medieval trading group). The Hanseatic League (also known as the Hansa) was an alliance of trading cities and their guilds that established and maintained trade monopoly along the coast of Northern Europe, from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland, during the Late Middle Ages and Early modern period (c.13th–17th centuries). The Hanseatic cities had their own law system and furnished their own protection and mutual aid.

Lufthansa is headquartered in Cologne with its main base is Frankfurt International Airport in Frankfurt and another hub at Munich's Franz Josef Strauß International Airport. Lufthansa is a founding member of Star Alliance, one of the world's major airline alliances. Currently, the Lufthansa Group operates more than 500 aircraft.
The Lufthansa “stylized crane” was created in 1918 by Otto Firle. The design was intended to accentuate both flying and technical skills. In 1955, the logo was changed to reflect Lufthansa’s new post-war look. The crane, now blue, was placed on a yellow parabola. Lufthansa altered the logo again in 1967, placing the crane in a small circle on a yellow background, as it is today. Since 1988, Lufthansa aircraft have been painted white, with a grey belly denoting clarity, simplicity and positive attributes like safety and reliability” according to the airline.

This is the first leg of our journey into two months in various regions of France, a dream holiday for Christine and me, where we will stumble with the French language, frequent street side cafes, tour artistic locations, sit in the sun, sketch and paint, walk and taste and laugh and fall in love again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Before I retired I frequented local galleries and saw the names of local artists and admired their work. Since then I have perused their websites and appreciated the volume of art that they have produced in recent years. Most of these artists, like me, have worked at other professions while painting on the side and then in retirement, occupied their time with this pursuit.

One afternoon not long ago, I met Darren Perkins, a Langley artist who kindly accepted my invitation to talk. At a Starbucks we sat together and spoke about art, our lives and other artists. Darren is a retired school teacher. In earlier years he and his wife operated a successful pottery business. Darren is a landscape painter and I have seen his work in a couple of shows in recent years. So this was a treat for me to become acquainted with an established artist. (Paintings: above Perkins' Swimming Hole' and right 'Still Point', Gabriola)

In conversation I learned that two of his close friends are former school teachers as well, and they are the celebrated local painters, Jack Turpin and Perry Haddock. Each Thursday the three of them paint together. They share life, critique each other’s work occasionally, and encourage one another in this shared creativity.

I am sharing their respective websites with you in hopes that you will enjoy the displays.

Darren Perkins
Jack Turpin (Painting: 'Pender Island', left)
Perry Haddock (Painting: 'Shore Grasses')

Actually Turpin and Haddock have a show in the Birthplace of BC Gallery in Fort Langley right now. You should visit their work in this attractive gallery owned by Kurt and Brenda Alberts.

The top two images above are used with permission of Darren Perkins and the painting images are copyright of the painter and not to be downloaded without permission of the artist. Jack Turpin and Perry Haddock painting images used with permission of the artists and downloading is conditioned upon permission by respective artists. Toggle their underlined names above for their sites.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I'm retired. So is this show. Final Episode. That was yesterday, Monday April 13th. In fact, On April 6, 2009, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall signed a proclamation that declared April 13, 2009 (and the same day every year after) "Corner Gas Day" in Saskatchewan. Is that a success or what!

You know how we tend to compartmentalize major events among the trivialities of life? Where were you when man first walked on the moon, or President JFK was assassinated, or when the Challenger shuttle blew up shortly after launch? Okay, my examples demonstrate my seniority. Something more current might be the 9/11 twin towers disaster. Where you and what were were you doing? You get my point. Corner Gas has been such a successful Canadian TV sitcom production that some of us will recall where we were when the final episode aired last night.

We were with friends who didn’t want to miss seeing the last episode. They recently vacationed in Australia and New Zealand, and the show is highly popular there. In fact it is shown in 26 countries. It’s a big success. What an enjoyable half hour of humour Corner Gas has been for the past six seasons. Like Cheers, Seinfeld and Friends, all of which garnered huge audiences at the end of a successful series Corner Gas was celebrated last night. The difference is Corner Gas is an all Canadian achievement. During the six seasons, it averaged one million viewers per episode and it won six Gemini awards. Creator Brent Butt wanted to conclude the series at its peak of popularity and he did.

Saskatchewan born and resident comic Brent Butt created the fictional town of Dog River, Saskatchewan where the only gas station for 60 kilometres in any direction is located. He wrote the concept while reflecting on what his life might have been like had he stayed in his hometown of Tisdale or some other prairie town to pump gas for a living. Brent has starred in the lead role as Brent Leroy, the station proprietor. The station is called Corner Gas and was first owned by Brent’s father Oscar. The station’s convenience store retail assistant is Wanda Dollard performed by actress Nancy Robertson who as a matter of fact, became Brent’s real-life wife on November 19, 2005 following production of the third season. The coffee shop called Ruby’s is owned by Lacy Burrows, played by Gabrielle Miller, and Lacy inherited Ruby’s from her aunt Ruby. Fred Ewaniuk plays Hank Yarbo, Brent’s best friend who is chronically unemployed and in fact finishes the series with a comment made about him never ever having a job. Genuine characters, easily likeable, and understood in any culture and with a gentle pace to dialogue and fun, Brent’s own production company, Prairie Pants scored a big one with this series. Can’t wait for his next venture.

Corner Gas Website

Monday, April 13, 2009

I want a Do Over

Our dishwasher gave it up this week. We have had it for sixteen years. Experts tell us that this exceeds life expectancy for this appliance.

In the past couple of months we have replaced our clothes washing machine and our clothes dryer, our stove and now this.

Our home is perhaps eighteen years old so these replacements are to be expected but they are nevertheless a disappointment after one has retired from gainful employment. I dreamily thought that these appliances, being machines, would just keep washing, rinsing and drying indefinitely. Redundancy is built into machinery because parts wear out.

Oh, don’t I know about that! My parts are wearing out. We have had two great warm and dry days and I have spent them outside doing garden tasks, trimming hedges, raking gardens, power washing decks, varnishing teak furniture and playing a tiny bit of golf. And now my arthritic hands are killing me. I have a medical doctor with a realistic attitude, bordering on flippant attitude to my pain. Invariably my complaints are met with something tantamount to a “what do you expect?” He reminds me that my physical issues are part of the ageing process. My parts are reaching their life expectancy. Thanks for the help Doc!

I didn’t tell you that we have been seriously considering downsizing our living space so the sale of our house now, will include all new appliances to the prospective purchasers. Lucky them! Oh, and of course, something else happened. My eyeglasses broke. Everything about me requires corrective applications or artificial appliances. I snapped the metal of my bottom partial teeth – yes I have those too. That required repair. Now the glasses, and my prescription is such that a simple drug store pair won’t do – oh no! I need $800 eye glasses.

I cost myself more money than my appliance replacements. But I am worth it! Oh sure!
In another era, without the technology we now have, I would likely be toothless with impaired sight, and a host of other maladies. No wonder people cashed in at earlier ages. All the parts wore out so much sooner.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Resurrection Sunday
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Christians believe according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion, is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Because of Easter's pagan origins, and also because of the commercialization of Easter, many Christian churches have begun to refer to it as Resurrection Day. The biblical account of Jesus' death on the cross, or crucifixion, his burial and his resurrection, or raising from the dead, can be found in the following passages of Scripture: Matthew 27:27-28:8; Mark 15:16-16:19; Luke 23:26-24:35; and John 19:16-20:30.

When Jesus entered into Jerusalem for the final week of his life, he came into a city crammed with people who were present for the observance of the feast of the Passover. At one point Jesus gathered his disciples into an upper room where he communicated with them at length. Much of what he said to them is recorded in John chapters 13-16. In this borrowed upper chamber Jesus observed the paschal meal with them and it was virtually his last supper. This Passover meal was given a new significance and meaning as he took bread and wine and identified these items as symbols of his body that would soon be injured and his blood that would soon be spilled out. Following his death he was hastily placed without the customary burial treatment into a cave tomb which was sealed by rolling a large carved stone against the entrance. The Gospels’ account describes a scene on resurrection morning when the stone was discovered to have been rolled away, and Jesus body was gone. The linens that had surrounded his corpse lay in where his body had been placed. A succession of confirmations of his resurrection from death are then expressed by people who were first hand witnesses who walked and talked with Him. They ate food that he prepared for them. They touched him and they saw Him appear and vanish and forty days later ascend into the heavens.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Fall Into Grace


A Fall Into Grace

I heard it today
a confidant informed me of a moral failure
not his but that of someone we both know.
A blow, no other way to define it
an injurious wound on wife, on family, on friends,
On himself because he knows his reputation has been impaired.
His trustworthiness is in question.
Their wedding had been a sacred day.
His wife had embraced forever the heart of his vows
The words of his exclusive promise he dishonored.
A couple of episodes of surrender to lust
culminating a pattern of loose thoughts and glances
and everything could be lost now
but it’s not!

He confessed to a friend, to his wife, his family, and finally to his world,
the people he works with, the people he cares about, the people he helps.
And they, all of them to a person are dealing grace and forgiveness
much as their Father has,
and this loving treatment of a sorrowing lover
will redeem this situation, these relationships, this man
and he will work and serve again
and give God glory.

Copyright Ron Unruh 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009


April 10 2009 is celebrated as a holiday because in Canada as in many countries, Christianity is the dominant faith and the death of Jesus Christ is commemorated as a voluntary and vicarious action by which death itself was conquered. Together with Christ’s bodily resurrection on the third day, this comprises the heart of the Christian faith. ‘Vicarious’ is a term applied to Christ’s death by crucifixion because Jesus experienced and endured death and eternal punishment on behalf of humanity. He served as a substitute for humankind.

From the earliest times the Christians kept every Friday as a feast day. Why the Friday was called ‘Good’ is unclear but this anniversary Friday of Christ's death has been called Great or the Holy or the Good Friday. Some say it is from "God's Friday" (Gottes Freitag). Sometimes the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons; so today in Denmark.

It is important to separate pageant from purpose of the actual day of Christ’s death. Scripture does that. Whereas his crucifixion was intended to shame Jesus and expose the error and failure of pretending to be God and pretending to be royalty, his death in point of fact became the means by which his opponents were exposed. Colossians 2:15 uses these words, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” The principalities and powers that were disgraced that day were his physical and spiritual enemies. The verse is found within a poignant paragraph in which the apostle Paul wrote first to believers in Colossus urging them to be careful about falling for prevalent futile philosophies or human traditions rather than the person of Jesus Christ. The paragraph announces that the fullness of deity dwells in Jesus’ body, that he is fully God. It affirms that the former physical male circumcision that marked Old Testament Judaism has been replaced by spiritual circumcision by which sin is removed through the act of faith in Jesus Christ who bore human sin and for that reason was cut off from God the Father while he paid the penalty for our sin. He has made people who were once as good as dead in their sins, to be alive with Him through the forgiveness of those sins.

Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

The painting in today's image is by Spencer Williams, a talented landscape, wildlife and underwater artist that is worthy of a good look. See his online gallery at

Other contact information for this artist:
Call his gallery at (865) 908 0335
Gallery Address:
180 Old Mill Ave.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
1.) Email him at
2.) call (865) 908-0075 or,
3.) mail request to:
Spencer Williams
1610 Licking Spring Way
Sevierville Tennessee 37876

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The recession may be making it clear to me that a leisurely retirement is impractical. Some economists say it’s not practical for many people. The majority of baby boomers plan to work in retirement. So say numerous surveys. That is, they want to keep working, even a little. Yet for those who didn’t want to work, the message may now be, ‘Forget Retirement!’ Well I didn’t do that. Retiring seemed a good idea at the time. Knowing what I know now, I might have considered postponing retirement.

The recession isn’t the only factor that compels me to rethink what I will do with some of the years ahead of me. In my mid sixties I don’t want to work full time. But will we have enough resources to fund the next 25 years. My father lived until he was 93. Increased life expectancies must play into my consideration of how I spend these years. And for me it’s not even just about economics. I want to be useful. I have 45-50 years of accumulated wisdom and experience that can benefit emerging leaders, pastors, executives. Whether the experience pays anything now is something I should investigate. Sure I want to paint pictures, but realistically that is not going to garner income to sustain a lifestyle to which we had become accustomed. The fact is, seven months into retirement, we are already realizing many adjustments with a drastically reduced monthly income. We have managed the adjustments well enough. We just bit the bullet.

We have seen some of our hard earned assets disappear in this recession and we will not recover them. Then after our imminent two month international trip which we planned for a long time but which will nonetheless cost us big bucks as the loonie dropped, I may have to come home to new realities. The long touted modern retirement picture of daily rounds at the golf course, buying an RV and spending three months in Arizona, biannual cruises, and luxury condo living will not just be reconsidered, it’s out of the question. The economy of retirement is changing.

Then I suppose there is another consideration. Working is mentally and physically energizing. It stems off dementia I am told. I probably miss the workplace social environment as much as anything.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I am considering leasing my paintings. The practice is not new in the art community. I have hung paintings in public locations thereby providing a decorative service to the location as well as exposure to my work. Having examined the practice of some galleries to rent paintings to clients I have been struck with the potential this option may provide to me. Granted it’s an arrogant assumption that someone will want to rent or lease my paintings to decorate their home or office suite, but such vanity is characteristic of any aspiring artist or he/she would never venture to offer the work for sale in the first place.

There are many reasons why leasing might work for me. Sometimes a prospective buyer is uncertain that a piece will fit in the home or office area for which they are seeking an art piece. Sometimes buyers are cautious because of the price. Providing an option whereby the client may hang the work for a period of time to determine its suitability may be of interest when the cost is reasonable. My paintings are relatively low priced because I am still emerging as an artist and even though I may do some good work I have an undeveloped reputation. When an artist’s reputation garners higher prices, from $3,000 - $8000 a potential buyer may be reluctant to purchase but may be interested in renting the piece for $100 per month. An artist must sort our personal feelings about this practice. As I consider it now, if I were to have ten paintings leased to clients, each garnering $25 per month for a three month contract, it would have some appeal to me. I just had eight paintings hanging in a member of parliament’s constituency offices for free.

Galleries and artists who lease paintings customarily use three month rental contracts. Some offer year long contracts with new pieces being offered every quarter. Some Galleries allow people to borrow artwork for a dinner party. Making it possible for lessees to lease-to-own may result in some art sales eventually and typically the option puts 50% to 60% of the rental fee toward the purchase.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


The most essential ingredients of the Christian message bump against our culture causing friction and marginalizing Christians in the minds of the secular or non religious crowd. Christian views are trivialized, identified with the political right and all that comes with that and in this modest sense Christians are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.

We are each born into a culture and that culture does become part of who we are. Even if one is born and raised within an Amish community, one is acculturated. Oh the outside culture identified with the world has been avoided but one is resident within a culture nonetheless. So for most of us, culture is the TV we watch, the stores in which we shop, the place of our employment, the school we attend and the students with whom we hang out. The culture is all around us and we also contribute to making it ourselves. Culture is our context.

So if a preacher is going to be a relevant communicator, he cannot ignore the culture within which his listeners and he live each day. And even if he has managed to discipline himself to avoid some of the culture’s influences, he must understand that his listeners may be highly affected by what they have seen, heard and read. The preacher must not ignore the world because the Bible is relevant to the events of this culture. Cultural relevance is bringing God’s Word to bear upon the lives of people. When listeners catch on to the right now-ness of scripture for what’s going on with them, it can become transformational.