I've been involved in the alternative public school movement in
Langley where I live. My kids all attended a "traditional" school, and
been involved in the PAC at various levels over the years. Like my
I've held several positions on the PAC, from president to
In 1998, after several years of hard work, a group of parents
convinced the Langley school board to create the Langley Fundamental Middle
School. Since the middle school only goes to grade 9, my kids
have finished off their education at Pacific Academy. The
physical contrast between the two schools is remarkable. The middle
school is a converted ancient elementary school. There's no change
room, so we had a dumpster converted to one. There was no library, so
the parents built one. PA on the other hand, is the pet project of a
local Christian billionaire, and the 40 million dollar campus is quite
My other great love is to putter around our small Langley acreage, seen here on a typical July day in British Columbia:
One of my more enjoyable projects was to build a shed in 1999 over my well. Seen here:
This project began in the spring of 1998 when I had to remove a large cedar tree from directly behind my house. The tree was a "clump" cedar, with about a 4 foot diameter at the base where the clump merged together. Remarkably for that size, the tree was only 40 years old.
I stored the logs over the winter and in the spring of 1999 used an Alaska chain saw mill along with my table saw to make the lumber. Over the summer I built the shed. The cedar siding is in the "batton and board" style that was quite popular for barns on the west coast because it is easy to build and stands up well to the rain. I tried to make shakes for the roof as well, but the second growth tree was a little too twisted for that. I bought the shakes for the roof, and only fell off 9 times in putting them on!
All told, the shed cost $180 and about three months of my time... or about $195 total.
Since building my shop, I tend to spend a lot of time making things
for other people. In the summer of 2002 my son and I visited my
grandfather's homestead north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. My cousin
had been removing some of the wood from the old house to make
furniture. He gave some of the wood to me, and I made two tables for my
father who grew up on the farm. The pine used for the top is over 80
years old. One of the panel boards was signed and dated by my deceased
uncle Tom (my dad's brother), so I framed it in the old wood as well.
That's my mom in the picture with my dad. Here are some other
wood working projects.
Although I don't enjoy the hike up, I often find myself on top of mountains.
hard to see from this picture, but Langley is surrounded by beautiful
mountains. I'm sitting on top of Mount Cheam at one end of the
valley, 6500 ft above sea level. I'm sitting on a ledge with about a
foot drop. The entire valley is below me, and I'm thinking "why
I bring more food with me!".
Just north of Langley, by only 15 miles, one can be in old growth
forests like this one:
another mountain top view. We're up on a peak which I think is
called "Green Mountain". The wind was blowing so hard the guy on the
almost fell off the cliff after this picutre was taken. This mountain
almost 5 hours from Vancouver, but on the way up we came across two
country motorcyle groups, one quad group, and almost got run over by
nuts in a dune buggy ... so much for the wilderness. Needless to say,
saw no wildlife.
I grew up just outside the village of Fort Langley, B.C.'s first
capital. At the time Fort Langley had a population of about 600, and
municipality was around 20,000. Every sunny day you could see the
crystal clear, and it was not uncommon to go for "a Sunday drive."
(for me) Langley is slowly becoming the home of strip malls. The
in the Valley resembles the Los Angeles basin, and traffic is so bad
days of Sunday drives are long gone.