Gone But Not Forgotten

Today would’ve been my grandfather’s 103rd birthday.

There are many things I remember about my grandfather. Usually if I went to see him we would go off to some construction site on some remote mountain and cut firewood. Funny to think back and realize that the “remote” mountain we frequently worked on was actually Burnaby Mountain where there are now hundreds of condos and townhouses.

So many kind and pleasant memories. But there are a couple that really stand out for me. Another memory that really stands out for me was on my birthday when he brought me a giant gold tricycle. As it turns out the trike had been bought by my Mom and Dad but because my Grampa was the one who delivered it, for years he was given credit for bringing the awesome gold trike.

And then there was a trip I took with him to one of his friend’s cabin somewhere in the Cariboo region. The details are long forgotten but if memory serves me correctly, I was all of 4 or 5 years years old. Maybe six when we went on that trip.

I remember going out on the lake in front of the cabin in a wooden rowboat early in the morning, sometimes still wearing pyjamas! Honestly, I don’t remember specifics, I just remember the feelings of happiness and freedom.

Fast forward to when I was a young adult. I was often out with friends and up very late at night and really didn’t like getting up early in the morning. However, as my grandfather got older, he got weaker. Not everybody realized that and they often asked him to do things that really were difficult for him to do.

His sister and her husband liked to travel. And they would often ask my grandfather to drive them to the airport. Back in the old days you could fly with as large and heavy a suitcase as you wanted. His sister and her husband would pack accordingly. Well as he got older, it got more and more difficult for him to load the cases in and out of his car. So he would ask me to come and help.

I hated waking up early! But I remember once I got up around 5am and went to his place to help him load luggage and take family to the airport. I snuck up onto his deck and peered into the kitchen where he was frying a couple eggs; always sunny side up – he said he liked them to be like two orange eyes staring out of a pan full of bubbling bacon fat.

When he saw me on the porch his face lit up into an ear to ear grin. I’ll never forget that look of pure joy that filled his face.

Happy birthday Grampa. You were a good man.

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday

A very good burger from Romer’s Burgers location in the River District – that area on the riverside of Marine Drive west of Boundary Road.


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Sharing Access to Docs in Google Classroom

As a user of the Google apps for education (G-Suite tools) I am a pretty heavy user of Google Classroom and Google Drive in my school classroom. They are tools that work well for what I want to get done with my students.

A question I frequently get asked about Google Classroom; what is the difference between giving students permission to view a file in my Google Drive (Students can view file) and the other option of “Make a copy for each student”.

The best analogy I have is that when you “make a copy” for each student you are basically making a photocopy of your original document and giving the student that copy. This “works” especially if you want the students to work right on the document you have provided them.

However, if you make any changes to your original document, the students will NOT see the changes or updates you have made to your original. If you are okay with the students having a Google Doc that you can not update, then that is an acceptable way to share a document.

The method I prefer is to give students the ability to view a file. They can NOT write on my original document. They can NOT alter my original document in any way, but they can read it. And the best part of allowing students to view a file? If I want to update the document or if a student gleefully finds a typo, I can quickly and easily fix the typo.

Two equally useful and effective ways of sharing access to documents in Google Classroom.

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Duffin’s Donuts; Good Times

Do you know of a restaurant or two or three that you have always wanted to try but have just never managed to make it happen? I’ve got a couple, but after this weekend, one less.

This weekend I crossed one of my “I really need to try that place” restaurants after visiting Duffin’s Donuts on Knight and 41st in Vancouver.

And to be clear and upfront, I look forward to visiting Duffin’s Donuts again. It was a good visit.

You can think of Duffin’s Donuts as an east van, working person’s Timmies. With WAY better sandwiches, fried chicken, and burgers.

And tamales. And spring rolls. And bubble tea. And burgers. And fries. Yep. A donut shop and more. Much more.

I shared a 3 piece of fried chicken, a Vietnamese grilled chicken sandwich, a couple of spring rolls and fries at the table. Everything was good. I would say the Viet grilled chicken was my favourite lunch item. And the fried chicken. Oh yeah, the crispy, coated fries were pretty darn good too!

And the donuts… so much better than the Timmie’s donuts! That custard filled eclair was awesome. Definitely not fine dining but simply good working persons food.

And while we were there eating, the line up usually had 6-10 people in it even though the service was very fast and friendly.

I’ll definitely be stopping in to Duffin’s Donuts again when I’m back in their neighbourhood.

Duffin’s Donuts is located at 1391 E 41st Ave in Vancouver. It is on the northwest corner of 41st and Knight and is open 24 hours a day.

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Brisket from Dixie’s Barbecue

Last weekend I happened to be near Dixie’s Barbecue on East Hastings just east of Main Street.

Dixie's BarbecueSeeing as I had already eaten dinner, I decided to go to the “build your own BBQ platter” menu at Dixie’s so that I could keep it “light”.

Meat at Dixie'sI ordered the quarter pound of in-house smoked brisket and a quarter pound of smoked pork butt. As an interesting aside, did you know that the “pork butt” is a cut of meat from the front shoulder of a pig? It actually has nothing to do with the pig’s “butt”.

Dixie's BarbecueI added a side of the mac and cheese. And all of the “build it yourself” menu items come with a small bowl of pickles and hot peppers. And of course two slices of white bread “to soak up all the barbecue juices”.

Dixie's BarbecueI thought that the shelf full of wood was part of the decor; nope. It is the wood they use to burn in their smoker. A smoker that is 100% wood – they do not use gas or electricity to get the wood burning and smoking. Apparently they are the only barbecue joint in the city that is 100% wood-fired barbecue.

Dixie's BarbecueHence the wood splitting axe in the kitchen!

Dixie's BarbecueI have to admit – my photos of my food from Dixie’s are terrible. I was so busy taking pictures of the restaurant and talking bourbon with the bartender that I just plain forgot to get “good” pictures of my food.

Dixie's BarbecueI could only eat half the brisket even though it was probably the best brisket I have had in this city so I took the leftovers home and warmed the brisket up in a pan, slid an egg I had cooked overeasy onto a slice of toast and I had an outrageous breakfast.

Dixie's BarbecueWhat a feast! I will be returning to Dixie’s Barbecue to try their entire barbecue menu.

So delicious!

  • Dixie’s Barbecue is located at 33 East Hastings Street
  • Phone 778-379-4770
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Coquitlam’s Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights Display

A selection of free pop-up activities and special theme nights will add to the magic of Coquitlam’s Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights Display.

Festival of Lights

Lafarge Lake Lights

This year’s display includes hundreds of thousands of lights, and many of the features have been hand-crafted by community members as well as city staff, often using recycled materials such as milk jugs and pop bottles.

Activities are run by Coquitlam’s Park Spark team – including community volunteers – who will be stationed at the Welcome Tent near Town Centre Park Plaza from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Wednesdays to Sundays.

All activities take place rain or shine. Dates and times will be publicized in advance at www.coquitlam.ca/parkspark and through the City’s social media channels.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming highlights:

  • Light-making workshops: Build a light feature that will be added to the display. The first workshop takes place this Sunday, Nov. 26 at the Welcome Tent.
  • Jingle Bell Night: This year’s Jingle Bells Night on Friday, Dec. 22, aims to break our previous record of 500 singing voices. Join us at the lake for an evening of carols and lights. Choirs will be stationed around the 1.2-km trail from 7 – 8 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., stop where you are and join in a high-spirited community sing-a-long of Jingle Bells. Bells and song sheets will be handed out while quantities last.
  • Special theme nights: Watch the schedule for upcoming events hosted by community groups, local businesses and Winter Lights Display corporate partners. Coming up – to list a few – you’ll find Douglas College on site Friday, Dec. 1, hosting carolling and a light-making workshop, HSBC on site Saturday, Dec. 9 with a photo booth and hat parade (wear a creative or holiday hat). Looking ahead, Dogtopia hosts on Saturday, Dec. 16 with some furry fun for our four-legged friends.
  • Scavenger hunts: Pick up your scavenger hunt cards at the Welcome Tent and have some fun as you walk around the lake answering questions. New cards will be available each week.
  • Search for Sparky: Join us on Saturday, Dec. 2 as Park Spark mascot, Sparky, leads a parade around the lake. Glow sticks and candy canes will be handed out while quantities last.

About Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights Display

The much-loved lights display features hundreds of thousands of lights wrapping their way around the 1.2 km lakeside trail at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park. It’s a free event featuring multiple themed zones, with many new additions and surprises in store for this year’s big reveal.

The lights will be switched on for the first time at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25 and will remain on until Jan. 21, 2018. They will turn on each night at dusk and power off at 11 p.m., with the exception of Dec. 31, when they will stay on until after midnight.

New this year, a concession stand offering drinks and snacks will be located next to Town Centre Park Plaza Wednesdays to Sundays, 4:30 – 9 p.m.

The Winter Lights Display is easily accessed from Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station, also with free parking available throughout Town Centre Park off Trevor Wingrove Way. For more event info, including a parking map, visit www.coquitlam.ca/parkspark.

About Coquitlam’s Park Spark Program

Park Spark is a program connecting community members, schools, organizations and businesses looking for opportunities to enhance Coquitlam’s parks through a variety of activities and experiences. Learn more at www.coquitlam.ca/parkspark

Thank You to Our Corporate Partners

Financial support for Lights at Lafarge is provided by major partners HSBC and CIK Telecom as well as supporting partner Port of Vancouver. Media partners include Miss604.com, Originelle Designs Photography, Wildwood Creative and Tri-City News.


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Starbucks Carved Ham and Swiss Sandwich

I have to admit, I have not been happy with the last few breakfast sandwiches I’ve bought from Starbucks. The bacon sandwiches have seriously under cooked and stringy bacon and the roasted ham sandwiches have had an odd chemical-like smell and taste. Not a happy Starbucks customer.

And then they brought in the carved ham and Swiss sandwich. And I’m back. It is a delicious sandwich! The slices of ham are carved and carved thick. I’m impressed. However, I’ve heard this is a seasonal sandwich brought in only for the Christmas season. Whatever the case, I’m enjoying an occasional sandwich with my coffee once a week or so.

Have you tried a Starbucks breakfast sandwich? Have you tried the new Starbucks carved ham and Swiss sandwich? Thoughts?

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A Day of Theatre; Evergreen Cultural Centre and the Cultch

Saturday was a day full of theatre for me. Not theatre in the sense of drama at home, but actual real drama in real theatres, seeing as I actually attended two different performances, one in the theatre at the Evergreen Cultural Centre and the other in Vancouver’s Cultch.

Evergreen Cultural Centre

The first performance we (my kids and I) saw was a matinee at the Evergreen Cultural Centre. It was a one man play called Campground which was written and performed by Lucas Meyer. It was not what I was expecting but it certainly was an interesting and very enjoyable performance.

I have to admit, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to theatre. To me, the Fourth Wall is impenetrable. Actors act. Audience quietly watches. And then yesterday Lucas Meyer pushed through that Fourth Wall, locked eyes with me, and invited me up onto the stage!

Of all the audience members to breach that imaginary wall, he had to choose me! To be honest, all I had to do was help him pull a massive tent onto the stage and then sit inside the tent and hold a flashlight so that he could put on a shadow puppet show.

Interesting to note, while I was on stage I had no awareness of the audience and I simply did what I was asked to do.

The part of play I enjoyed the most was Meyer’s ability to change character simply through a movement. He sat forward in the chair and he was a cop asking questions. He sat back the second the cop character completed the question and he was answering the cop’s questions in the voice and with the mannerisms of the “suspect”. It was remarkable.

In the evening I headed down to iconic Vancouver East Cultural Centre, the Cultch, to see the 12th Annual Louis Riel Day Celebration.

Again, the Fourth Wall was almost non-existent. Audience members waved and called out hellos to performers and the performers were just as willing to call out to family and friends in the audience. And you know what? It was awesome! It was a welcoming and inclusive performance in which I felt comfortable and safe to clap and stomp along to the infectious beat of the drumming and fiddling.

The following video is NOT from the performance I saw but it gives you an idea of how amazing the dancing actually is.

And the dancing by the Louis Riel Metis Dancers was breath-taking. The dancers’ footwork was awe-inspiring. And the stories behind the dances quickly developed a deep and trusting relationship between audience and performer.

What a great weekend of theatre!

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The House of Knives; the ICE Double Edge Safety Razor

Here is the video of me putting the ICE double edge safety razor to work. The razor was provided to me by the folks at The House of Knives. Watch to see me lather up my pretty face and get a lovely shave.

The ICE double edge safety razor (available exclusively at The House of Knives) was provided to me by the good folks at The House of Knives. As always, editorial comment on my blog is mine.

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Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights Display

Even though I thought the much-anticipated Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights Display was set to return to Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park today, it is in fact scheduled for Saturday, November 25th. And it is going to be bigger and brighter than ever before.

Coquitlam Festival of Lights

It will be VERY much more impressive than what they have set up as of this evening.

  1. First, it is the largest free winter lights display in the Lower Mainland, with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights illuminating the lake and forest in a spectacular natural setting.
  2. Many of the lights have been made by Coquitlam community members as well as staff, often using recycled materials. For example, the tulip lights were hand-crafted out of pop bottles and lotus blossoms (new this year) out of milk jugs. Enhance your winter light experience by taking part in light-making workshops organized by Coquitlam’s Park Spark team. These will take place at the Welcome Tent in front of Town Centre Park Plaza. Watch for schedule information at www.coquitlam.ca/parkspark.
  3. This year’s Jingle Bells Night on Friday, Dec. 22, aims to break our previous record of 500 singing voices. Join us at the lake for an evening of carols and lights. Choirs will be stationed around the 1.2-km trail from 7 – 8 p.m.At 7:30 p.m., stop where you are and join in a high-spirited community sing-a-long of Jingle Bells.
  4. In need of a snack or hot drink to fuel your walk? New this year: A concession stand will be stationed near the trail in front of Town Centre Park Plaza from Wednesdays to Sundays, 4:30 – 9 p.m. Other options closer to Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station include Caffé Divano (3003 Burlington Dr.) and Papparoti (1196 Pinetree Way), plus plenty of great restaurants along Glen Drive (walk west of Pinetree).
  5. The lights will be switched on for the first time at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25 and will remain on until Jan. 21, 2018. They will turn on each night at dusk and power off at 11 p.m., with the exception of Dec. 31, when they will stay on until after midnight so people can ring in the New Year.

The lights display is located just steps from Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station. Free parking is available in Lot D off Trevor Wingrove Way. Stay tuned for further information at www.coquitlam.ca/lights.


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