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Photography Prints

I have made a selection of photography prints available to buy on Fine Art America. When traveling I always have my camera with me ready to grab that perfect shot and these represent those moments. They are the images that have made the biggest wow when I have shown them.

30th Story over Yale Town
30th Story over Yale Town

In 2014 Iris convinced me to get a large canvas print made a shot from Vancouver. The picture is above the sofa in our family room, prominently on display for anyone to see. At first I was reluctant as I’m super duper extra critical of the things I do, but it turned out great and I get compliments on a regular basis. Iris knew that this was the push to get me to take my photography more seriously.

It worked.

Three years later, with new camera gear, lenses, and lots of practice, I feel that I can show off my best work. Fine Art America is a Print on Demand site for photography so these are not limited edition images and they are priced accordingly.  In the future I may look into limited editions as there are some formats that I am going to experiment with that they do not offer. But as a start this site has come highly recommended.

I’ve taken to using Instagram for new ideas and images I am working on. You can also view mullwell.com as the home of my photography portfolios and my Facebook page as well. If you see anything you would be interested in as photography prints please let me know.

So take a look, and if you like what you see pick one out or share it to friends!

The Garden – Spring Prep

Last year we made and grew an amazing garden of veggies, but I didn’t think to take any pictures to document it. This year I am taking the time to do that.

We had an unseasonably warm day and spent it getting the garden prepped up for planting. Last year we did romaine lettuce, roma, grape, and beefsteak tomatoes, green peppers, onions, green beans, and leeks. I expect we’ll do the same for this coming year, but after what we learned last season we will protect them a bit better. There was a major quail problem and they ate most of the lettuce before we put netting around it. Potatoes and pumpkins will be going in as well, off to the side of the garden.

The garden itself is made up of landscape ties and is 12 feet wide and 8 feet deep. It took 4 cubic yards of dirt to fill up (and we fertilized and topped it up today). The ‘U’ shape is to easily let us reach the middle without having to step into it. There is irrigation tied into the back yard grass zone, but later this spring I need to put in a new zone for just the garden itself.

Piper was out with us “helping”, and as you can see from my red head below, I got a little too much sun.

Santa’s New Delivery Service

For my birthday Iris picked up a Santa’s Workshop Lego set. I put it together and snapped a phone pic for Facebook, but as I was lining the shot up I noticed my Exo Suit in the background. Which then moved up even closer to hold an elf. I posted the image and then the thought hit me.

Santa should really be piloting that Exo Suit.

The Cherry Tree

“What kind of tree is that?”

I was looking at the large tree that dominated the back yard. We were viewing the house for the first time, it was past 7pm, and I couldn’t really make out what it was in the dark. All I knew is that it was big.

Iris moved in beside me, “I think the listing said its a Cherry Tree.”

It bloomed just over two months later, shortly after we had moved in. Iris was away in Vancouver for school so she missed the Day of the Vibrating Tree. There were so many  bees busy doing bee things that the entire back yard was buzzing. It was quite beautiful, the blossoms giving the tree a soft white cover. Almost like fresh snow.

By early June we realized how big the tree was. Rapidly growing cherries covered every branch right to the top. The top that was level with the roof of the house. Lower branches drooped under the weight, blocking access to part of our garden. We took to watering the tree directly, hoping to make the cherries fatter.

Canada Day was the first day of picking. We had friends over with two large coolers and filled them both over the course of an afternoon. Looking back at the tree was deceiving; you couldn’t tell that we picked a single one. We borrowed an 8′ ladder and over the next few weeks we had as many people picking as possible, but it was still apparent that we would have a lot of wastage.

August hit with it’s typical Kelowna heat. Bird’s were taking advantage of the unreachable top of the tree and half eaten cherries fell to the ground all through the month. The smell of rotting cherries was almost unbearable and on one Sunday we found ourselves our hands and knees picking them off the ground. Later in the month I vacuumed my yard to try and remove them.

Vacuumed. My. Yard.

The tree had to go.

And naturally I recorded it.

Titanwin, Titanfail, Titanfall

I jumped back into Titanfall last week and something seemed off to me, something that took a few days to figure out. Something that shocked me at the time.

I was good. Damn good.

Regularly in the top three, MVP of matches. Headshots, crazy kills, parkouring like a master. Shockingly good. I didn’t really have an explanation for it, and I didn’t care, so I enjoyed my new found skills and kicked some ass.

That is until lunch with Mike on Saturday. We caught up on happenings (me: titanfall. him: too much stuff to list that makes me feel like a lazy slob), and made our way over to BestBuy to look at a phone holder for my car. As we walked through the gaming section Mike asked me if I had played the Destiny Beta yet.

And then it crashed down on me.

I was kicking ass at Titanfall because everyone with any skill was off playing Destiny.

Yesterday the Frontier’s Edge map pack came out, all the experts had returned, and I was back holding my own in 6th.

Now it’s back to normal, but at least I can say I enjoyed playing Titanwin for a brief, but hellishly fun time. Titanfail it is until the next big thing.

I did get to enjoy something I thought was a rare fluke (until I looked into it). Ejecting into a dropship!

Piper the Kittenator

We picked up Piper two weeks ago. After taking care of Master Chief, Mike’s cat, for 3 weeks while he was in Asia, we knew we needed something fuzzy once we had to return him.

When the Kelowna SPCA announced a month of half price adoption fees we re-arranged our weekend to go take a look at what they had to offer. We knew we wanted a female, the male cats I have owned were all crazy, and one that was young enough to enjoy having as a kitten and watching her grow. The SPCA adoption process is a lot more in depth than I remember, but it is understandable. With the forms you need to fill out, the fee’s, and the process of seeing the pets they try to ensure you are serious about picking up a new pet.

The kittens we liked were all part of the same litter, with the two females being little fuzzy black cuties. Quake, her original name, ran around the showing room with her tail in the air, sniffing everything and rubbing up against us at every opportunity. She was the one.

We brought her home in the funky little carry box and set her free to explore.

After the first night we realized we needed some cat toys to keep her occupied. Walking down to the stores near us we tried our best to find something, but we were meeting with failure. Until we got to the last store. They had a little puff ball with legs, an octopus looking thing, and that was the toy to get. Taking it to the till to try and pay was an issue. It didn’t scan at all, and when we were in the aisle there was no price as it was just sitting on the shelf, so we didn’t know its true cost. The manager let us take it, so we did, thinking nothing but our luck for a free toy.

I think her first reaction should have clued us in. She played and tossed it around like a kitten should, but then she freaked right out. Fur standing up, back arched, tail puffed out. Just what you would expect from a very scared kitty.

Going through later photo’s I found one that was a little disturbing. I think we may have released something dark and horrible upon an unsuspecting world.

Cathulhu.

 

Tech Curse

I have a curse upon me.

No really, I do.

I’m not sure when it started, I’m not sure why I was chosen, but a curse I do have and it is something I expect to continue for the foreseeable future. It’s not all that bad actually, and it’s consistent, so I know what to expect.

You see, whenever I buy something that is techy (TV, PC Parts, Cameras, Audio gear, you name it) I will end up, if it exists, with the one defective item in stock.

I first noticed the curse when I started building computers in 1995. Every order would have something that would need to be RMA’d. A hard drive with bad sectors, RAM that would fail burn-in, video cards that would arrive DOA, you can get the point. Back then I was building a new machine every 12-15 months, so I became intimately familiar with the RMA department at the place I would buy from.

At first I thought it was just bad practice on my part, but after buying consumer electronics I started to see the same pattern. Things would be broken, in sometimes odd and obscure ways. Items would fail within days forcing me to make a return. It was, almost, random, but a pattern started to emerge.

Being a guy grounded in critical thinking ideas I devised a method to test this. I had my wife (at the time) buy everything electronic for us instead. Nothing failed.

Not a single thing.

After we split up I was promptly hit with the curse again. Video cards, bike computers, and a 46″ TV (half the screen was shaded green). I was back in the habit of keeping boxes and receipts for the length of a warranty. Just in case.

And today I find the latest thing to be hit by the curse. I recently picked up a new camera, a Canon SL1, and upon closer inspection I noticed a little itty bitty mark deep inside on one of the elements in the zoom lens. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be there or not, it was almost dead center and looked like an arrow, but I wanted to be sure. The curse and all. Turns out it’s bad and they replaced it no questions asked.

It’s probably time to get Iris to buy all the gadgets now.

Disney Parks Guide for the Non-Disney Person

I considered myself to be a “Disney? Meh” person when were planing a trip to Disney World in the fall of 2013. Iris was extra excited; she had been to Disney Land a number of times (the perks of being a cast member) but she had never made it to Florida. I was more subdued, so it was a big surprise to me when that week turned out to be one of the funnest vacations I’ve had.

After writing about the trip and posting it to the /r/Disney subreddit I received enough feedback to realize it would be worthwhile to make a guide of sorts for the non-Disney fan who is going to a Disney park.

As a note, we went as a couple without kids. I’m just guessing here, but I think kids will really change what you can expect and how the trip itself will go. For us we were the focus and all of the events and schedules we kept had that in mind.

Ignore Preconceptions

The hardest thing I had to do was ignoring all the preconceptions I had before we left. The idea in my head is that Disney is nothing but massive crowds, screaming kids, and thrill rides I wouldn’t enjoy. The “Happiest Place on Earth” was simply good marketing. Once there I realized that it is more than just marketing, it is a way of thinking. The cast is there to make your experience something above and beyond anything else you have done. Embrace this enthusiasm.

Have a Flexible Schedule

We had a schedule planned out but we allowed it to flow based on how many people were in a park or how long that park was going to be open. The closing times are not the same everyday so we made sure to allow for that and still see everything we planned to. On the second day of our trip we ended up leaving the Magic Kingdom halfway through the day for Epcot to try and miss the mass of people before we returned. It worked out to a very long 16 hour day, but we had an evening in the Magic Kingdom almost free of lines.

Feel Free to be a Kid

We did the Dumbo Ride. Myself at 40 and Iris at mumble on a merry go round that went up and down a bit. There was almost no line and I had seen the shirt with Darth Vader doing it so I knew I had to go for it. There is no shame in being a kid at Disney; they expect it and so does everyone else there.

Pay Attention to the Little Details

You are going to feel rushed at times, trying to catch one of your Fast Passes or making it to a show, so we found it important to find the quiet moments and just stop. Take in what you are doing, where you are, and just how detailed everything is. Even the lines, which can be long, give you little details to take in. Look for these and be amazed. Even as a non-Disney fan I found references I knew that put a smile on my face and made the experience just that little bit better.

More Safety Means a Scarier Ride

I’m not a thrill ride person so this rule was both a boon and a terror inducing fear factory for me. Iris’ rule is that the number of restraints is in a direct relation to “thrill” that the ride will give. Thrill is in quotes because for me it would be better to equate that to “Oh God what have I gotten myself into?”. As an indication Splash Mountain has no belts,  just a seat and hand rail; Arrowsmith has shoulder restraints that press you down into the seat. Guess which one was crazier. There is a good post on Theme Park Insider to let non-thrill ride people like myself better prepare for the terror.

Everything has Something for Adults

You may think that some of the shows are only geared towards little kids. This is true in a way but Disney knows parents and adults are going to be watching that show at the same time so there are little tid-bits and easter eggs that only an adult will understand. At one point we jumped into line for a Little Mermaid show simply because it was covered and a small rain squall had blown in. Our thought was staying dry but we walked out amazed at how great the show was.

See the Feature Shows

On that note make sure to plan for the feature shows (Fantasmic, fireworks, etc). These will be well worth taking the time to be there a little early and get a decent spot to watch as they are simply over the top and stunning.

Dine on the Good Stuff

Make sure that you book into some of the specialty restaurants well before you think about actually eating. We found that booking at your resort the day before was the best as you can pick from a much wider range of times and locations. Walking up and hoping for a table will leave you without a chance to try some of the great dining that can be had. You can find the dining options for Disney World here and Disney Land here.

Bring your Smartphone

As a Canadian I thought that having my phone with me while in the parks would be a bit of a waste as I wasn’t about to pay for a horribly limited roaming package. In Disney World they have parkwide free WiFi. At first I thought that was crazy, but once you install the My Disney Experience app (Apple, Android) and connect to the WiFi you’ll understand. Being able to see wait times, menus, and park hours is simply amazing. Posting pic’s of Florida weather to your Canadian friends in -15°C December snow is just a bonus.


Hopefully this little guide will help “Meh, Disney” people who are going on the trip have a better expectation of what they are getting into. I’d find it hard to believe anyone could go there and not have a Magical Time.

Have any other tips? Feel free to drop them below.

The Renovations are Finished (almost)

We finished the renovations a few weeks ago, for the most part. There are no towel or toilet paper holders, the trim isn’t done in the master bathroom, and the powder room has no mirror, but it’s very livable. We’ve been working on the back yard and garden since shortly after we moved in, making it an outdoor oasis.

The living room, kitchen, and master bedroom are the the most complete as we had enough furniture to equip them nicely. That is after our lucky $48 counter height table find that goes perfectly with the counter height chairs from the breakfast bar in my condo.

The dining and family rooms are another thing though. We have a beautiful dining table with two nice chairs and a couple of awesome folding chairs. We’ve pretty much picked out the chairs we want, but have yet to pull the trigger and get them. The family room has been used for storage since we moved in, but we don’t have anything but a TV and stand to put in there right now anyway. By the fall we’ll have a sectional made up and in there so we can enjoy the fireplace during the cool winter nights.

I’ve left out pictures of the den because even though its functional, I’m writing this in there right now, it’s a complete mess. The room has turned into the place we put the stuff we don’t really know what to do with. A fair bit of it will end up going to charity but we haven’t decided just quite what that will be right now. The other two bedrooms are in a similar state as we finish off furnishing them.

Just Around the Corner

In the 90’s I was an avid mountain biker; being young with no real obligations let me spend an obscene amount of time with my bike on the trails. Life changes happened, the reality of being an adult reared its ugly head, and with it free time slowly went away. I lost my fitness level and a little bit of happiness, but the desire to ride was still there even if the time wasn’t. By 2006 I found some freedom again and jumped back in the saddle.

Looking for some social time on my rides I convinced my buddy Mike to give it a shot, taking him out for road rides to let him get a feel for it. He had quit smoking a few months prior so he found it hard to keep up as I was at my fittest then. I would joke that rides with him were my off days, the times when I just wanted to take it easy and not put in a big effort.

When I took him mountain biking I planned rides as easy as I could but being in the Okanagan there are not many flat rides. Everything involves going up until you come back down. During these early trips I found out something important about Mike; he would find reasons to give up easily. It’s too hot, it’s too steep, it’s too far. At that time he had not discovered a way to break through the mental wall that all cyclists and runners know. To ignore that part of your mind that says helpful things like “You could be watching tv right now, why are we out here?”.

I had only been able to get him out to see the lower section of Myra Park and I knew that he would love to see the views from the upper areas but running into that mental wall was stopping us every time I tried. I had to do something to get him up there and I think I had figured out what it was.

We started early on a Saturday morning, enjoying the cool air before the heat would have a chance to build. The climb up to Teddy Bear Junction seemed almost pleasant and we continued on hitting the first hard climb up Lost Lake trail. This is a section I can rarely ride clean and looking back I could see that Mike was starting to hit that wall.

I knew from this point we had a decent climb before we hit our destination; the fork for the Outhouse trail. I also knew that if Mike was aware of this he would find reason to stop. I did what was needed; looking back at him I started with the bullshit.

“The turn off we want is about a 500 meters away, just around the next few corners. Not much of a climb either and we can catch our breath there.”

He looked drained as he glanced up at me and panted out, “Ok… I think… I can make… that.”

I kept my pace down, moving along at his speed just in front of him, hoping to make the most of the psychological power of the chase. Forcing him on by staying in sight and keeping myself a steadily moving target. Mike didn’t have a bike computer which was a blessing as the next stop was about a kilometer away at an intersection of the trail and a road that borders the park, not the 500 meters I had said.

We made it to the rest spot and Mike dropped his bike, breathing deeply as we took a break. There’s a large concrete block at the junction and with the trees thick in that spot it is in the shade most of the day. As the heat was starting to pick up I knew this would be a nice spot so I suggested that Mike sit down. He quickly lay back, enjoying the cold concrete. I almost felt bad for the next lie.

From here the trail is a deceiving flat section about 300 meters long, moving across the slope. At the end it has a left hand bend that shoots straight up the hill for the next kilometer before popping you into a small clearing with the Outhouse trail-head.

“This flat part here is next, then we turn left and go up a short slope to the Outhouse. It’s pretty easy, nothing too taxing,” I said, “Maybe another half a kilometer.”

He looked to where I was pointing, then back down the trail we had just come up. “We can just head back down that way as well, right?”

Of course we could, and it’s a damn fine descent as well, but that would defeat the purpose of coming up to this point. I knew that this was a delicate situation. A situation I had to handle like a modern mature male.

“Shit man, stop being such a pussy,” I laughed. “Flat section, small climb, better descent. Trust me. You’ll love it.”

He looked at both options again, taking his time, getting his energy back. “So we’re close?”

“Just around that corner and up a bit. It’s easy.”

“Ok,” he paused, “Ya, Ok, I can do that.”

“You’re doing good. The downhill from the Outhouse is amazing, just roll along and end up right back at the parking lot.” I said as we mounted our bikes and started along the flat portion.

We made it to the end and started the turn leading up the slope. I always disliked this section, it’s a long grinding climb that never seems to end. A constant painful grade with very little shade that has always sucked the energy and will out of me. The first sight of it is fairly short and leads to a small kink that hides the bulk of the climb from view. It tricks you into thinking it is much shorter than it really is.

“See, just up to there.” I said, pointing out that deceptive spot.

I rode beside him, talking as we went. Keeping his, and for that matter my, mind off the grind. We hit the kink and there was no way Mike would believe me at this point. The trail just kept going up and up with the next summit hinted at in the distance between the trees. I honestly don’t know if he was still believing my fibs or simply didn’t notice anything but the ground in front of his wheel, but he kept going like a champ. Eventually we hit the top, saw the actual Outhouse at the fork in the trail,and put our bikes down to take a break.

Mike walked around the clearing a bit, getting his breath back, drinking some water, and enjoying the view of Kelowna spread out below us. He turned and looked at me.

“Just around the corner and up a bit, eh? Asshole!” he laughed as he said it.

The descent was worth it. It always is.


 

In 2013 I took a self-imposed hiatus from the bikes for health reasons.

That spring Mike decided he was going to complete a triathlon and he spent the year cycling, running, and swimming to get prepared. In August he competed and finished his race; an amazing feat in my opinion and something I don’t see myself ever doing. A week later he asked me to go for a ride which would be just my forth for the year.

We hit the road and I immediately realized that I had lost my cycling legs over the course of the year. Mike dropped me on the straights and disappeared on the climbs. I was suddenly reminded of our rides from previous years but now from his point of view. He noticed the pace was destroying me and slowed down, letting me keep close.

“So this is my off day you know,” he said riding along beside me.

I looked over at him but couldn’t say anything as I struggled up a hill.

“The top is just around the corner and up a bit,” he said, laughing.

Bastard.

We Can See Our House From Here

Indeed.

We went out for an evening hike yesterday and found the trail networks into the highlands behind our neighbourhood. It took us a while to spot our place and when we did it looked so small and cute, like a little toy.

This is just one of the bonuses we have found from being in this area. The trail networks in the highlands are extensive, even with all the new development; looking forward to exploring them some more.