LEGO – Antelope Street Cabin

Our cabin, along with 305 other residences in Hidden Valley Alberta, was destroyed in the flood of June 2013. All that is left of it is rubble, but we have many wonderful memories and hundreds of photos taken by our family – Antelope Street Photography.

I chose the name Antelope Street because that was the street where our cabin was. It was a gravel road that branched off the main drive. At that intersection it was a broad thoroughfare lined with grand old poplar trees and pretty little houses. By the time it got down to where our house was, however, it had narrowed somewhat. Past our place, it rambled on a bit further, then turned into a path that wandered down to the river.

I can’t begin to count how many times we all walked that road, either westward to the privacy and serenity of the river or eastward to join family and the community.

The spirit of the cabin lives on in the LEGO world, thanks to the thoughtful creativity of my youngest daughter! She has not only recreated the building,  she has captured the essence of the forest and of each of the five people who are our immediate family.

Meet the people: On the far left is our Youngest Daughter. With her nurses scrubs and hairless hairstyle (she survived chemo, but her hair didn’t) she was, and always will be the go-to gal for all our owies. Next to her is The Car Guy. Master of the BBQ,  he has a hot dog ready to grill. In the doorway of the cabin is our Eldest Daughter. With a Chef’s hat and a measuring cup in hand, she is the Queen of the Kitchen. The light haired lady is Me – note that my legs are shorter than any of the rest of the family. My wheelbarrow is nearby. To the far right is our Middle Daughter. Her long hair is in a pony tail and she has a cup of cabin coffee in her hand. She knows what fuels some members of this group in the morning!

The trim color of the cabin was a beautiful blue. The main entry into the cabin was a sliding patio door. Surrounding the cabin were huge old poplar trees – many with bare broken branches where the Canada Geese landed in the spring. A few brightly coloured LEGO bricks and simple minifigures have captured the essence of this special  place in a way that all the photos never could. Thanks so much J!

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.
– Swami Sivananda –

Have you ever built a diorama and if so, what part of the great big world were you trying to capture?

LEGO – The Businessman and the Oranges

December found us far from Home, though at a place we are learning to call home – our Snowbird place in Arizona. The gathering of the clan at Christmas was a smaller event than usual and Christmas morning was a quiet affair. At least it was until a stranger appeared in my Christmas stocking. He said he was just a Businessman, but there was something about his bowler hat that hinted he had a secret agenda.

We decided to spy on him! Armed with only our cameras and our wits, we syrupti… serrepti… surreptitiously followed him around for the next few days. Here is what we found:

oranges

Businessman spent a lot of time investigating a bowl of oranges.  On the surface, it all seemed innocent enough…

half oranges

But apparently there was one bad one in the bunch. Businessman coldly bisected it and skewered it with a cocktail fork.

walking

Later that day, we found him up on the roof of the house with the stalk of another orange in his hand. We heard him whisper, “This is one body they are never going to find.”

navigation

Businessman’s behaviour was unsettling, so we quickly juiced the rest of the oranges and hoped he would leave. And leave he did. With only a cursory glance at the GPS and a stare that told us we should forget we had ever seen him…

riding

he left in as mysterious a manner as he had arrived.

confetti

Days later, we read that a Businessman had lost his life in an unfortunate accident involving a paper shredder. It happened in Orange County, Florida.

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The photos for this story were the result of a challenge. Each of us had to photograph the Businessman – no one else could see the result until all the photos were taken.

Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks.

– G.K. Chesterton –

LEGO Surgeon Says, This is What is Wrong!

minifigure

The Car Guy was still in the hospital after his Motorcycle Accident when our daughter, The Nurse, gave her dad this Lego Surgeon. If you look very carefully at the x-ray in the Surgeon’s hand, you might see what is wrong with the patient.

We decided the x-ray showed a rib fracture, though if you turn the x-ray upside down, it might be a break in the clavicle. Since The Car Guy had both – rib fractures and a broken clavicle – the x-ray was fairly accurate!

LEGO – Work and Play

One of my grandsons (Lego Lad) shares my passion for LEGO. Nothing pleases either of us more than a shiny new set of LEGO blocks. But while I prefer the sets that have little people with smiling faces, he likes the newer stern looking warriors.

When he comes to stay at the cabin, he can only pack so much LEGO. His mother insists that his suitcase be primarily devoted to mundane stuff like underwear and T-shirts. So he brings lots of LEGO people, and improvises the scenery and buildings. One morning I woke to find my kitchen counter had become a battle field. I named it the LEGO Fruit War. A large watermelon, all the apples, a few oranges and a banana had all been incorporated into an intricate battle scene. I half expected to find blobs of ketchup next to the fallen warriors…

On another occasion when we both had suitcases to unpack, I surprised him with a gift of a LEGO book. He thanked me for it, then proceeded to show me which LEGO he had brought on this trip. Then he looked at me expectantly and said, “So what LEGO did you bring?” I was surprised, but gratified, to think that my grandson would assume I would pack LEGO along with my toothbrush.

LEGO is not merely a child’s plaything. It has applications as unlimited as the minds that use it. I found this story about the Antikythera Mechanism today, and realized what a perfect construction media LEGO was for this project. And there is a blog called A LEGO a Day, with great photos and wonderful captions.

LEGO – it’s not just a toy for children and grandmas!

Kitchen Reno – New Trend Stone Countertops

The Kitchen Reno was precipitated by two events. The first was the unfortunate choice of counter top surface that I made twenty years ago. The surface was a laminate with a very slight texture to it. In my defense, those little sample chips of laminate don’t really prepare the buyer for what the product is going to look like when it becomes a blanket of counter top. And in the case of this product, the slight texture wasn’t as slight as I thought, and dirt didn’t think it was slight either. Regular attacks of a bristly brush and lots of muscle power were required to keep it clean.

But I lived with it for 20 years before the second event set the ball rolling. A new business opened in the town nearby. It is called Granite Transformations.  I researched it on the web, and checked out it’s reputation. In the meantime, my Spousal Unit stopped by their showroom one day and was impressed with their product. So he invited them to come to our house and show us how they could transform our kitchen. Which they did.

Granite Transformations Tropico

The saleslady explained all about the product, then laid out the little sample chips on our counters. After much hemming and hawing, I finally chose several that I liked. But I wasn’t prepared to make a commitment to one of them. Then the saleslady went out to her car and brought in big samples of the product, so that I could see what they really looked like. That narrowed my choice down to one. But I wasn’t prepared to make a commitment.

Then the sales lady got out her tape measure and calculator, and next thing we knew she was ready to give us the price for our kitchen’s transformation. Which she did. But I wasn’t prepared to make a commitment… although by now I had spent several hours with the product and I could really see how it was going to look in my kitchen. And the big sample that I had chosen was happily sitting next to the cook top, acting like it was already part of the family.

So then the saleslady, who was also starting to feel like she belonged in my kitchen,  told us how much she was willing to budge on the price if we would like to make a commitment before she rounded up her product and set off into the night. She assured us, however,  that we had two weeks to completely back out of the commitment for no charge. Spousal Unit and I retired to the living room to review the contract terms, and  decide whether we should sign it. We signed.

For the next two weeks we did the research we would have done anyhow. We visited a lady who had recently had her kitchen done by Granite Transformations. She was happy. We looked at granite slabs and compared prices. We looked at other products.  At the end of the two weeks, we were content that we had made the right choice for our kitchen.

The product we are purchasing is called Trend Stone. It is an engineered product that is – wonderful, to hear them describe it. The counter top sections will be prefabricated in the shop from 1/4 inch thick product. Then they will be installed right over top of our existing counter tops. This has a lot of appeal to us. Our renovation philosophy is reuse or recycle, so not having to tear out our old counter tops and back splash is a big bonus.

Cook top and counter before reno

The cost? It is going to be about 4 times as much per square foot as what we spent 4 years ago for some laminate counter tops in the workshop. For that, we get 4 more features – hot pans can sit on it, knifes won’t scratch it, chemicals won’t stain it and flames won’t mar it. Who can argue when the numbers align like that?

I see that some designers are forecasting that granite counter tops have perhaps reached the peak of their popularity, and are heading towards being out of style. If that is the case, so be it. Our dining room set has been out of style since shortly after we bought it over 30 years ago. Ditto the kitchen flooring that is 20 years old. We’ve been married for 40 years, which is probably out of style too…

The installation was completed in two days, and was very professionally done. We are happy with the results, and look forward to many years of easy to care for counters!