Tuesday, August 30, 2016


It's a part of our life that has been missing for a very long time. I'm talking more than a decade.

We used to love to entertain, used to love to have company. Anywhere from having a friend or two come to our house every few days to share some wine and hang out, to a regular visitor to watch TV (our Thursday, Must-See TV of the mid to late 90s), to having a house filled to bursting—wine tastings, pot-luck dinners, and open houses—our doors always welcomed you in.

I could blame the kids for our change, for how we stopped inviting friends in, but that simply not be true. When the kids were young and in need of constant supervision, we still opened our doors to friends and family. As the kids grew older, it was easier to let them go and play in their rooms, which opened us up to being able to spend more time with the important people beyond our immediate family.

No, the reason for our making the house off limits was the house itself. The wear and tear, the natural aging without the upkeep, made parts of our living space an eyesore. Scuffs and stains on the walls (even our kitchen and family room has a splattered stain on the ceiling, when our eldest daughter, only a few years old, learned the physics of dropping an open and full jar of apple sauce on the floor, having it land completely square on its base, and the projectile reaction), damage to the vinyl flooring in the kitchen, the worn, stained, and frayed wall-to-wall carpet in the family room, and the faded, stained, and worn-out sofas.

The back part of our main floor, the most-used area of our house, is an eyesore. An embarrassment. I feel ashamed when my own parents come over to visit.

The humiliation is about to change. Soon, with any luck—perhaps, within a month—we will no longer be embarrassed to show our house.

Soon, the doors will open to guests and the parties will resume.

We're doing a makeover of the back of our house. The kitchen, which was always the least-admired part of our house—with room for only one person to work in at a time—is being reconfigured with more counter space and a much-desired island. The vinyl flooring is being torn up, replaced with hardwood, which already covers the front-half of the main floor. The hardwood will continue all the way through into the kitchen and family room: no more stained carpet.

New appliances. New furniture. A fresh coat of paint on all of the walls and ceiling (so long to our burnt-red that we've loved for almost the entire life of the house). Our most-used part of the house will be made comfortable again. Welcoming friends and family.

The first part has begun: a design has been created; cabinets have been ordered; appliances purchased. Wandering the stores, my pulse increased, my breathing became laboured. I thought I would vomit. Renovations aren't cheap. And even though we made cuts to our initial plans and budget, we're still spending more money on the house that we've ever spent (not counting the cost of the house, itself).

I don't like spending a ton of money at once. I don't like using up reserves. For the next while, I will have to budget like I've never budgeted before. I'll have to cut back on luxuries.

Oh, God... I'll have to cut back on beer!

When I did a renovation of my ensuite bathroom, it may not have seemed like a big project for many but it was a colossal undertaking for me. I'm not a handyman. I learned my limitations and I made lots of mistakes. But it's my bathroom and I don't open it to company. This current renovation is more major, more important, and everyone who visits will see what we did, warts and all.

I shared some of my bathroom-reno progress over the weekends that I worked on it. I'll share the renovations on our kitchen and family room as we go through the demolition and transformation.

Any advice will be most welcome.

Because we want to open our doors again. We want to welcome friends back into our home.

Wish us luck.

Monday, August 29, 2016

My Staycation

"We need to go somewhere," DW said, "if we just hang around the house, we'll do nothing. Or, worse, we'll go shopping and spend more money than we would if we went away."

True. When we travel for a vacation, while the initial cost for the transportation and accommodation can be high, we tend to spend thriftily. We tend to stay in places where we can buy groceries, and we'll prepare breakfast and dinner in wherever it is that we're staying. We will have an inexpensive lunch and may go out only a couple of times for a nice dinner, but we often do that at home, anyway.

Every year, for a great number of years, we have gone on vacation at the end of the summer. Last year, it was along the Bruce Peninsula; two years ago, it was France; three years ago, we paddled the Rideau Canal system from Kingston to Ottawa; before then, Cape Cod and Boston, New York City, Italy, Prince Edward Island... the list goes on. Every summer, we packed up and got out of town. 

"I have some chores that have been on my To-Do list for a long time," I said. "I'd like to get them out of the way." Our garage has been gathering things over the years: things, which we almost never use, such as old plant holders, an old trampoline that I've been meaning to put out on the curb, and dozens of beer bottles and growlers that need to be returned.

There's cash to be made from those bottles.

"Fine," she said, "do your chores, but I want to take some time to go somewhere."

We did go somewhere: on the previous weekend, we drove down to Kingston, to watch the final show of The Tragically Hip's tour, in a packed crowd, in their hometown. That was great and it was cheap: we stayed in a Queen's University residence—the same building in which we slept when we did the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour, in June. We brought lunch food and ate inexpensively at the Kingston Brew Pub, right around the corner from where we watched the show. The only extravagance was breakfast, the next morning, at Pan Chancho, but it's always worth it.

The El Chancho is the best breakfast I've ever had. Ever.

A couple of days later, we spent an evening in a yurt, along the St.Lawrence seaway. DW called it "glamping." I called it deceptive camping. But it was peaceful, along a beautiful stretch of Ontario shoreline, and I was able to take some photos (still haven't nailed the exposure for starry nights, but I'm getting there).

DW was right: for the rest of our vacation, we hung around the house. But I don't think I can say we did nothing.

I didn't touch the garage. I didn't even mow the lawn. But we did some measurements, some calculations, some planning, and some designs. For years, we've wanted to renovate our 16-and-a-half-year-old kitchen and we decided that this is the year to do it.

I'll probably have more to say about that over the coming weeks, as plans are put into practice, but the first steps were done this past week, during our at-home vacation.

And DW was right: we went shopping and spent more money than we would have, had we gone away. Way more.

But vacations are short-term: this is a long-lasting commitment.  

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Photo Friday: The Galaxy Above

You have to get away from it all to see it.

I remember the first time that I saw the Milky Way. It was so bright, much brighter than I've seen since. I was on the tropical island of Ko Pha Ngan, in the Gulf of Thailand. I was on the beach, and all of the generators for the resort had shut down for the night. There was no artificial light, no sound except the waves lapping on the shores and the wind through the palm trees.

The stars were so bright that they cast shadows in the sand. As the surf hit the shore, a ghostly glow came through the water: bioluminescent dinoflagellates, smaller than beads of tapioca. I could scoop them up in my hand, but removing them from the salt water seemed to extinguish their luminescence.

The Milky Way spread across the sky like a spilled glass. It was mesmerizing and made me feel insignificant.

In the city, you can't see the Milky Way. You need to drive away from the lights, but even then, in this part of the world, it's hard to completely escape the glow of some distant town. But I try.

Because I want to see that galaxy above. I want to feel insignificant. Just for a bit.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

It's Still -Amping

She showed me a photo, just as I was waking up. I wore no glasses, my vision was at a low.

"What about this?" she asked, holding a tablet with an undersized photo. it looked like a cottage to me. "The view looks right out onto the St.Lawrence."

"Okay, fine," my voice was groggy as I was just waking. It was for one night.

It was a yurt: a glorified tent. Sure, the view was great, but it was camping, and she wasn't supposed to mention it ever again.

I now refer to her as "my first wife."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Open Mic

I hate the sound of my own voice.

But I like to sing.

Last Thursday, as The Tragically Hip were performing in Ottawa, I crossed over into Aylmer, Québec, to perform at the weekly open mic, at Café British. I was lucky enough to have my brother visit from Phoenix, Arizona, with my nephew, Nick.

We played two songs: one by The Hip; the other, by Radiohead.

Listen, if you dare.

I still hate the sound of my own voice.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Full Circle

I didn't want to go, originally. I had seen them perform a couple of times and hadn't been impressed with the shows. While I liked their music, the actual stage performances were somewhat lackluster.

But those shows were a long time ago.

I barely remember the first time I saw The Tragically Hip. It was in 1987 or 88, in Kingston, at Queen's University. It was either during Frosh Week or at Homecoming, the university's big weekend of football and alumni. I arrived in the evening and found my friend, Al, who was in poli-sci. He handed me a beer and we made our way to the fields behind Ontario Hall, where a local band was making lots of noise.

I didn't pay much attention because I was there to see my friend and spend a weekend of drunken mayhem at a university that I, myself, had almost attended. By the time the weekend was over and I was making my way back to Ottawa, the name of the band was long-forgotten.

I saw The Hip, a few years later, at Barrymore's, on Bank Street. A few of my friends and girlfriend (now, my wife) wanted to see how this Kingston band had progressed, now that their album, Up To Here, had made it big. The show was deafening, with it's hard-driving guitars, but we liked it loud. Our main concern, though, was with the lead singer, who seemed drunk or stoned, or both, and seemed like he was going to fall off the stage.

Gord didn't fall, but we all left the show thinking that the performance was disappointing, compared to the album.

I continued to buy and listen to their music, but I wasn't keen on seeing them perform live again.

I did see them, however, about 10 years ago, maybe less, at Bluesfest. I was volunteering at the Ottawa Blues Society tent, selling t-shirts and pins, and I had a clear, though distant view of the stage, and the sound was loud and clear. But it didn't move me, and I swore that I would never go to another Hip show again (though, technically, I didn't go to this one: I just happened to be there when they were playing).

For almost 30 years, I've been a fan of The Tragically Hip. Though, to read this blog post, you wouldn't know it. But I love the band, have followed their music, sang their songs around the house, at Karaoke outings, and even at a couple of open-mic events.

More on that, tomorrow.

When I learned of Gord Downie's condition, I was crushed. With the release of the news, the band announced that it was going to head out on tour for what, in all likelihood, will be the last time. Tickets were snapped up by scalpers and there was outcry at how the prices had skyrocketed, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to go, anyway.

When the CBC announced that they would be broadcasting the final show, I thought, okay, I'll watch it. Or, at least, catch parts of it.

My wife, however, had different plans.

For her, she had some unfinished business with The Hip. She was disappointed by the two shows that we had seen together. In the early 90s, she also went to a concert where they headlined, with Midnight Oil opening for them. After that show, she told me that the Australian band electrified the crowd, whereas The Hip was a downer.

She wanted to see the band one last time, in Kingston, and she expected it to be unlike any we had seen before. She reserved a room at Queen's University and tried to get tickets to the K Rock Centre. I protested, saying that I didn't want to see The Hip live, that I would be, as always, disappointed.

Even though she couldn't get tickets, she kept the room reservation, saying that we would watch the CBC broadcast from a pub in Kingston, that the energy in the city would be worth the trip. It was only a couple of days before the show that we learned that a huge screen would be set up in the Kingston Market Square. We knew it would be a big party: we didn't realize how large it would be.

We were in that marked area.
I won't tell you how the show went: if you didn't watch it on television or if you weren't in Kingston that night, you probably haven't been interested in this post anyway.

My wife had some unfinished business with The Hip. After the show, she said that all accounts were settled. 

I saw The Tragically Hip for the first time, in Kingston, out in the open air. It was only fitting that I did the same for what is probably the last time.

And like DW, I have no regrets.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Photo Friday: Ancestry II

I knew my mom's parents. I'm lucky enough to have lived long enough to have good memories of the two, though I never saw them together. By the time I was born, or by the time I was old enough to retain memories, they were no longer living together.

I can still hear Nanny's voice in my head, speaking to me on the phone, hearing the enthusiasm as I shared the things that were going on in my childhood. I was living in Ottawa: she, in Châteauguay, on the outskirts of Montréal. Every time I hear my own mother, today, talking to my kids or, most recently, talking to my young niece, I hear a bit of Nanny.

Grandaddy never left a lasting impression, though I remember him clearly, remember how tall he was, compared to me, in my pre-teen years. He was a smoker: I remember he had a scratchy, Québecois accent, but his voice isn't as clear to me, as he mostly visited with my parents when we got together. When I try to hear his voice, one of my uncle's voices dominates that memory.

My only clear memory of Grandaddy was when he listened to me sing a song that I had learned on a French exchange to Québec City, and how he praised me for singing the song.

I later learned that it was a separatist song, a rallying cry for the Québec sovereigntist movement.

Grandaddy died when I was in my teens: I lost Nanny in my mid to late twenties. And, like my grandparents on my father's side, this is as far back as my family history takes me.

I want to know more.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Potty Talk

It's not as if there are any written rules or guidelines that are passed down from parent to child. Indeed, it could even be a cultural issue, but when one person impinges on another's comfort level, it can be excruciatingly awkward.

I'm talking about bathroom rules.

I'm not really one to talk. At home, I often fail to shut the door. Not that I'm an exhibitionist, but it's a habit I got into when my then-girlfriend and now-wife and I moved in together. I don't know what made me change my once private ritual to be so open.

In public, however, I'm very private. I feel uncomfortable when there are other people in the washroom and I practically feel mental anguish when someone gets close to me.

True story: once, when I was walking downtown, heading to a bus stop after a social evening, I felt the call of nature and ducked into a nearby hotel to use the public facilities. I was a little intoxicated but was fully aware of my surroundings.

Just as I was starting to relieve myself at one of the urinals, another man came in and took up a position at the urinal directly next to mine. I was uncomfortable, but because this washroom had only two urinals, I could understand him being in close proximity.

But what became quickly evident was that this guy wasn't standing next to me because he had to go. From my peripheral vision, I could tell that he hadn't unzipped himself, and that his head was turned toward me.

With no divider between the urinals, he was checking me out.

I turned fully toward him and asked, "enjoying the view?" while I continued to relieve myself; only now, on him.

(My apologies to the custodian who had to clean up after me, but most of my flow landed solidly on the pervert's pants.)

He abruptly walked out of the washroom.

Since then, I get very uncomfortable when I stand shoulder-to-shoulder at urinals.

The unwritten rule is this: if you're the first to enter a washroom and there are three or more urinals, you're supposed to take one of the end bowls. That way, if another patron enters, he can use the urinal on the other end, comfortably leaving at least one vacant spot between you.

Subsequent visitors continue to take any unused urinal that leaves space between other guys, where space permits. The only time that you saddle up next to someone is when you have no other option.

The same goes for the toilet stalls. If you can put some distance between yourself and others, do so.

The men's room at the office is well-equipped: lots of urinals and plenty of stalls. The sinks, which line the wall directly opposite the stalls, allow you to look in the mirror and see any feet that indicate that a stall is occupied. This convenience allows you to quickly assess which stall can be entered. I hate it when someone blindly pushes on every door until one gives way (let's try this one—no? How about this one? No? This one? This one?). Sheesh!

At the office, there's a good chance that if you walk into the men's room and someone is there, you probably know the guy. I've been with the company for 10 years and most of the folks I know have been there for about as long, or longer. When we see each other, we nod or give a brief "Hey."

I don't like to talk in the washroom. I'm all about getting in there, doing what I've got to do, and getting out. For me, the time I spend in the washroom is my time, alone. I don't want to engage in conversation. And yet, there are some people who feel that potty time is social time. They want to see how you're doing, what's new, how my weekend was, what my plans are for the upcoming weekend.

Once I'm in a stall or in front of a urinal, I want to tune out all conversation. So, when I'm doing my business, don't talk to me. I won't respond.

There was a guy I'd constantly run into, and I swear, one time, he tried to engage me in conversation after I had gone into a stall. How was I to get anything done?

A couple of months ago, he was caught in the last round of layoffs. I was sad to see him go: he was a knowledgeable person and a good employee, and he was a nice guy. But I was glad that my bathroom time was going to be less interrupted.

As serious as I take my washroom time, I do have a little game that I play. Our office facilities pipe in a local radio station, CHEZ106, which plays classic rock. I often joke that they only own about a dozen albums because I only ever seem to hear a limited selection of music. And so, when I enter the washroom, my challenge is to identify the song that's playing and sing along before I reach the stall or urinal.

So far, I've succeeded in the challenge every time.

I just wonder that, when I chime in, how many people in the room become uncomfortable at my singing.

We all have our comfort zones. From what I know, singing isn't against the rules.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Q Who?

So, Shadrach Kabango, known simply as Shad, is leaving as the host of q, CBC Radio's morning arts and culture show, and not of his own accord, so it seems.

According to CBC reports, the show has been losing listeners over the past couple of years, since former host, Jian Ghomeshi, was fired over sexual abuse charges.

I don't know: Shad was okay. He had a nice demeanor and seemed comfortable, laid back. He was welcoming to his guests and he was well-prepared (even though, in truth, we know his preparedness comes down to the writers and researchers who line up his guests and get the questions to Shad). I did find, when I listened to him, that while he could ask the questions that were prepared for him, he didn't seem to be spontaneous and wouldn't always follow up with answers that begged more questioning.

I've experienced that, first-hand, when I was interviewed by a previous host to CBC Ottawa's All In A Day.

Which brings me to the crux of this post: the next host of q and the current host of All In A Day.

I know nothing about Tom Power, who will be sitting in the q chair in October. He's been a guest host on the show in the past, and it's possible that I've heard him on the show before. He's currently the host of Toronto's Radio 2 Morning and he's the previous host of the music show, Deep Roots.

I got all of that from the CBC report of Shad's departure. I really don't know anything about Power.

I'm hoping that he'll have better music choices than Shad. Much of the current host's musical tastes are far from mine. I'm hoping that he's a more-engaging interviewer, who doesn't just stick to the script.

When I thought of a replacement for Ghomeshi (I called his sleaziness years before the scandal broke—you can ask my wife), I thought of a local host, the current host of All In A Day, Alan Neal. I remember Neal's enthusiasm and energy when, many years ago, he was the Trends Guy on Ottawa Morning with John Lacharity. I remember when he wrote and performed a song about one of his favourite shows, Dallas. I've talked to him on Ontario Today, when he was a guest host, as I told him of my tale of abduction in South Korea.

And I've been with him and my youngest daughter in a cooking segment on his weekday afternoon show.

He's a great host for many reasons. He's geeky, in that good, fun way. He's informed. He's engaging and isn't afraid to go off script or go for those difficult questions. He knows art. He knows culture. And he comes extremely prepared.

What I really enjoy is that when he interviews a writer, he comes across as having read the writings of his guest. When he interviews a musician, he has listened to that artist's music, often drawing themes in songs and tying that theme together as a vehicle for driving the whole interview. I'm drawn by how impressed his guests are at how insightful Neal is.

Alan Neal would have made a great host for q, though it would be sad if he had to move to Toronto to fulfill that role. It would be Ottawa's loss.

I hope that Tom Power brings life back to the ailing morning show. I wish Shad luck in his next project.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lost Ottawa: Lebreton Flats

It was gone, long before my time.

Looking at it now, you would never have known that this low-lying region, just west of Centretown, was once a thriving community of residential streets and industry, where houses, warehouses, factories, and hotels filled a series of cross streets and railway lines.

Ottawa Archives photo
Lebreton Flats is named after a retired army captain, John Lebreton, who purchased the land in 1820 with the hopes of flipping it, making a profit from interested developers. Until then, the land had been occupied by a British military regiment (who have been credited with establishing a road that is now Richmond Road) and had a small tavern that hosted weary travellers who navigated the Ottawa River.

Parts of that tavern were recently uncovered, where today's Canadian War Museum now stands.

To the extreme east of Lebreton Flats, where Wellington Street now seems to be some dismembered roadway, businesses lined shoulder to shoulder, street trolleys rolled, and two communities connected.

More than 100 years ago, Wellington Street, which passes from the War Memorial, to the east of Parliament and travels the length of Parliament Hill, to the west, used to be lined with low-rise shops, instead of the gargantuan stone, concrete, and steel government buildings that now hold that land. As it passed Bay Street, it bent south, toward Bronson Avenue (which was high above, on a bluff, overlooking Lebreton Flats), and ran south-west, through Lebreton Flats, and continued where it still exists today, in Hintonburg, and now ends at Island Park Drive, where it becomes Richmond Road.

But as it took that bend, north of where Bronson meets Sparks Street, by the bluff, it intersected with a road that no longer exists in that area. It is this area, where a park now sprawls, that has drawn my interest since late last year.

Where the Garden of the Provinces and Territories lies was once an area with a coffee shop, automobile service station, and, of particular interest to me, one of Ottawa's oldest breweries.

As late as the 1950s, Sparks Street ran parallel to Wellington Street, from Elgin in the east to Bay Street in the west. But Sparks did not end at Bay. Like today, it continued, atop the bluff that overlooks Lebreton Flats, until it meets Bronson Avenue. But unlike today, Sparks Street split on the west side of Bay Street: the north fork, which no longer exists, sloped downward and connected with Wellington Street. The stone wall, which shores up the bluff as you stand on the north side of today's Sparks Street, separated the two parts of the road.

The north fork of Sparks Street, heading toward Wellington—archive photo: Ottawa Past & Present
Looking down the same spot, today, in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories.
If you stood atop the southern fork of Sparks Street and looked down at the north fork, you would have seen two-story buildings—one, which advertised coffee—Ingram's Garage (later, Tip Top Garage), and Broadview Apartments.

Archive photo: Ottawa Past & Present
Ingram's, which was a garage and gas station, was situated on a point where these two streets met. Today, you would never know it to look at it.

National Archives photo. Street-car tracks once ran along this section of Wellington. Christ Church Cathedral remains, above the north fork of Sparks Street.
Where this intersection once lay, only this unused section of Wellington remains.
Archives photo: Ottawa Past & Present
The two breweries, at 310.
And, across the street from Ingram's, on the northwest side of Wellington Street, stretched The Brading Breweries offices and ale shed. Behind it, on the long-gone Keefer Street, lay Union Brewery (I couldn't find any information about this brewery other than a mention of it on an old City of Ottawa map and a nod to it in an Ottawa Citizen article). Also mentioned in the article and still yet to be uncovered, an underground railroad ran from this brewery neighbourhood to another beer facility, which once lay along Wellington, on the north side from where Preston Street ended.

Brading Breweries, founded in 1865 by Henry Brading, was one of Ottawa's first breweries. In 1930, Ottawa entrepreneur E.P. "Eddie" Taylor bought Brading, among other breweries, to form Canadian Breweries, Limited, which eventually evolved into Carling O'Keefe.

Archives photos: Ottawa Past & Present
What I wouldn't give to get my hands on one of Brading's old recipes and have one of today's Ottawa craft brewers recreate it.

Lebreton Flats has gone through a vast number of changes over the past 200 years. From a forest on the edge of the wild Chaudière Falls to a military camp site, to a lumber yard, to industrial neighbourhood, to empty space, it has seen hardship, too. A fire in 1900, which started in Hull but jumped across the Ottawa River, leveled Lebreton Flats and continued southward, through the neighbourhood surrounding Preston Street, until it burned out, just north of Dow's Lake. The National Capital Commission, in its infinite wisdom to rebuild downtown Ottawa in the 1950s, saw Lebreton, with its low-income housing and industry as an eyesore, and plans were made for its demolition.

An overhead view of the area, today (Google Earth view).
For decades, the area was an empty field with a few crumbled roadways and nothing to show for all of the people who lived and worked there.

You can see what Lebreton Flats was once like by visiting Ottawa Past & Present, a Web site that gives you a brief history of Ottawa neighbourhoods. On the site you can slide over old photographs and then see what that spot looks like today.

I habitually get lost, myself, on this site.

Looking out from Sparks and Bronson
onto Lebreton Flats, today.
Nothing has occupied the area of Lebreton Flats in my lifetime, save the Fleet Street Pumping Station, until the past dozen or so years, when the War Museum moved there from Sussex Drive and new condos started springing up near where the new light rail transit line is under construction. In the next few decades, as further redevelopment takes shape, this lost neighbourhood might once again thrive.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Photo Friday: Product Placement

I know: I showed this photo on Wednesday. But I'm pretty impressed with it. You see, it was my first real attempt at a levitation special effect photo.

It's actually 10 shots, blended into one. Each of the photographers in the workshop were to come up with an idea for the levitation effect, and I came up with this one.

I started by taking a photo of the room, a corner of an abandoned factory in Carleton Place. It really is a great setting for all kinds of photography, and I'm glad that my photo meetup group has started renting a space in it.

In the initial photo, there's nothing but the space itself.

I then set up a table and had our model, Kristina Bromley, strike a few poses, doing ab crunches while holding a hardcover copy of my novel, Songsaengnim: A Korea Diary. I wanted her to appear as though she was lounging on an invisible sofa. I asked her to wear a dress with a colourful and flowing skirt, but we had to be careful that the skirt didn't lie flat on the table and give away the illusion of nothing underneath her.

In the end, I had to cut out a small portion of the dress from the shot.

For the floating books, I would throw a paperback version of my book in the air, or toss it back and forth with Kristina, or simply hold it in place.

Once I had placed the book in enough places, it was time for post-processing. For this shot, it took more time to assemble the final photo than it took to shoot the entire two-and-a-half-hour session, plus travel time to and from Carleton Place. It's done with layers, and required me to paint in the images that I wanted to stay (the model and the books) and to paint out what I wanted to remove (the table, myself, and Kristina, as she played catch with the book). I had to also make sure that our shadows didn't appear in the final photo.

The challenge was to take all of the extra shots quickly, so that the setting sun didn't dramatically alter the lighting from the base shot of the room.

The end result turned out better than I had imagined.

I'm now inspired to do more of these photos, using my kids, DW, and maybe even our cat. Stay tuned.

Oh, and by the way, I still have a few signed copies of my book left, for sale. Want one? Let me know. (I sell it for far less than Amazon or Chapters.)

Happy Friday!