Three Ways Anyone Can Preserve Their Cherished Memories Forever

We are the product of our experiences. Those we have shared with family, teachers, friends, colleagues & perfect strangers. The good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one lifetime; all we’ve done and learned along the way. Our memories are so precious for that reason. What follows are our top suggestions to keep those memories alive so you can relive and enjoy them.

Get creative!

We love creating with our hands. Generally, these creations have a high failure rate, but that is part of the fun, right? In fact, if you want to laugh along with other crafters, check out this site. Well if getting creative and and little sticky is up your alley, we have a few projects to keep your memories alive.

preservememories-madewithalaserMaking a mini (read – adorable) matchstick album for special days, get togethers or holidays.  If you have an Instax or other instant camera, you are all set. If not, a simple extra step of ordering prints from your favourite print shop. Some glue, a marker and some simple craft paper mini albums and you will have shoe boxes full of short, visual, tactile memories to bring out from under the bed on a rainy day.

Get your hands on a laser! Yup. A laser. Maker Labs have courses to teach you to use their laser cutter. Using vector designs (they have classes for that too), you can etch or cut your design out of leather, wood or metal. Do this with your wedding logo, a special photo, or a family motto. Did we mention that you get to operate a laser?!

If getting your hands dirty isn’t for you, why not work with a local artist and have them sketch, paint or ink a place of significance for you? We spotted local artist @ManonGarritsen sketches of buildings on Twitter and loved this idea as an anniversary gift. Hang it on your wall or print it on a pillow.

Of course, there are hundreds of ways to preserve memories with craft. We’ve shared these ones as we love lasers, pillow fights and treasures tucked under the bed. We’d love to hear your favourites.

Create your own website to hold your memories for you

If you are even a little tech savvy, the ultimate way to keep your memories alive is to create a website dedicated to them. You can create the website, write your own stories, upload your photos and videos plus you can share easily with whomever you wish.

preservememories-weddingwebsiteOur co-founder Jen and her husband Simon did this for their wedding and used it to tell the story of their ten years together.  They shared travel information, fun photos and even had a page that was dedicated to photos uploaded to social media by their friends who used their wedding hashtag.

With all sorts of website building sites out there, you don’t need to have special training to be good at this! There are many free and pay website builders out there; Wix, Strikingly and Squarespace to name a few.

Having your own website allows you not only to immortalize your important, goofy, fun memories, but also to share them easily with family & friends.

Get your digital files organized!

Yeah, we know, this is probably sounds less fun than a trip to the dentist (sorry to all the amazing dentists out there ;). But organization is the key to enjoyment of your hundreds (and thousands?) of photo and video files.

Remember when you would have to be choosy about the photos and video you took because you were using film? The benefit of photography now is that you can shoot, re-shoot and shoot again until you get that perfect shot. The downside is that you have thousands of photos of the same thing from slightly different angles, lighting and quality stored on an SD card, your phone or your computer. With a bit of organization,  that number could easily be cut in half freeing up space and maximizing enjoyment.

You have a couple of options when it comes to consolidating and storing your digital memories. To keep things clear, let’s assume that you have average storage needs of  somewhere between 100 to 500GB of storage space.

Psst. If you have some old VHS tapes sitting around, we’ve got you! Check out our blog for 2 ways to convert your VHS tapes into current, useable digital files.

Hard Drive

A hard drive is an option to backup your photos if you will be disciplined enough to budget for a replacement between its third and fourth year. Studies show that besides random ‘lemon’ and ‘factory defect’ failures, the failure rate of hard drives is minimal in the first 35 months, but skyrockets after 36 months.

The great thing about external hard drive storage is that they are simple, you incur one cost per three years and you have lots of choices. Don’t get bogged down in the details however. Just make sure that is compatible with your computer and has enough storage for your media.  

Cloud storage

We love the cloud option mainly because we can access our media files on the go and cloud systems allow beautiful viewing options for your photos. Services like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and more exist for the express purpose of storing your stuff. All services give you at least a little free storage to play around with to see if you like it. You can find a great comparison of cloud storage systems here.

Essentially, many options exist for both free and pay services. How much you pay is dependant mostly on your total size of files. If you are anything like us, you will pay more to start, but after you start going through your photos and videos, you will pair down and need smaller storage size.

preservememories-googlephotossearchfeatureHere at Clipsake, we use both Dropbox and Google drive for our various business documents. For us, Google drive is the hands down winner as our photo cloud storage because of its useful search function and beautiful way it displays our photos.

So say you want to find that picture of you and your best friend that time you went surfing in Australia. Just type the word ‘beach’ or Cottesloe’ into the search bar. Yeah, it is that easy.

Or maybe you are creating a family photo album and want to see all of your photos of Aunt Mildred. Simple, search the ‘people’ function, assign a name to the face of Aunt Mildred (all listed as icons) and Google Photos will find all photos of Aunt Mildred. In this way, accessing your memories is a breeze. You can upload photos and videos into folders and rename them to make them photo albums. That way they’re safely stored in the cloud and they’re organized!

So there you have it. 3 ways you can take what were once a big pile of random digital files and transform them into evenings of enjoyment, gifts for family, beautiful decor and video keepsakes. Here’s hoping we’ve made organizing and editing sexy enough that you grab your computer and get started! Whether you make a family photo wall, create albums for your family, or get in touch with us to make your random video clips into shareable video keepsakes we hope you have an awesome Autumn (and blow up at least one awkward photo of a sibling to stuff in their stocking this Christmas!)

preservingmemories-embarassyoursibling-oneofjensbrothersjesse-1

Editor’s Note: This post by our friends at Clipsake, a local business doing some cool stuff helping you save memories and DIY video. This is not a paid placement:  they’re just cool people I asked to write about memory preserving.  

In This Corner…

Brennan Williams believes boxing gyms belong under bridges. So that’s where he put his new Sugarrays Boxing and Fitness Club.

Brennan Williams takes a break in the custom-built ring at his new Sugarray's Boxing Gym on Front Street.
Brennan Williams takes a break in the custom-built ring at his new Sugarray’s Boxing Gym on Front Street.

Well, not quite a bridge. But the east end of Front Street where the remaining bulk of the old concrete parkade blocks out the sun and locks in the noise of passing trucks.

There’s no place Williams, who grew up in Burnaby but has deep family roots in the Royal City going back three generations, would rather be.

Brennan Williams grew up in Burnaby but he has deep family roots in New Westminster, so he had no doubts where he wanted to locate his second Sugarray's Boxing Gym.
Brennan Williams grew up in Burnaby but he has deep family roots in New Westminster, so he had no doubts where he wanted to locate his second Sugarray’s Boxing Gym.

“New West has an old history,” says Williams. Perfect for pugilists.

“It’s a classic sport, it’s got a culture,” says Williams. “Everybody has something in their history that connects them to boxing.”

Even if it’s just a memory of watching a Rocky movie.

Sugarrays has been a part of Vancouver’s boxing scene for more than 16 years, first on Granville Street downtown and currently in Kitsilano.

Williams, who learned the sweet science at the gym under legendary coach Bob McAdam and now passes on his knowledge to  prospective boxers aged 16-60, had no doubt where he wanted to locate Sugarrays second facility. He was tiring of the long commute into Vancouver.

Sugarrays New Westminster gym opened Oct. 1 at 425 Front St. after months of construction, including the installation of a custom-built ring, dozens of heavy and speed bags, a weight station and spin bikes. A projector beams boxing matches on a whitewashed cinderblock wall, a collage of framed black and white photos of famous and unknown boxers looms over the reception counter. The 3,000 square foot gym doesn’t yet have the worn-in sweat and spit ambiance of a classic old-time boxing gym; that mostly exists outside the front door, beneath the hulking parkade.

Williams says the gym is in the business of training fighters, but there’s no requirement to face an opponent in the 15-foot training ring. The boxer’s fitness regime is what attracts most members.

That can be comprised of a 30-45 minute circuit of skipping, dips, rope climbs, pedalling the stationary bike and strengthening the abs, plus an hour of running and

Brennan Williams, of Sugarray's Boxing Gym, says a boxer's training workout can be grueling. That may explain the puke bucket hanging in a corner of the gym's custom-built ring.
Brennan Williams, of Sugarray’s Boxing Gym, says a boxer’s training workout can be grueling. That may explain the puke bucket hanging in a corner of the gym’s custom-built ring.

 10 rounds of pounding the various leather bags.

“It’s a tough workout,” says Williams. “It takes real grit.”

Sugarrays is open seven days a week; 2 – 10 pm on weekdays, 10 am – 3 pm on weekends.

Her year of shopping locally

Uptown New Westminster. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd
Uptown New Westminster. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd

New Westminster writer Sheila Keenan is committing to do all her shopping locally for the next year – and will blog about it to boot. In her first blog post explaining her motivation to take on the project, she writes:

I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to shop locally. My desire stems from vague notions that shopping locally is good for the community, the local economy and the environment, though I really don’t know that much about exactly how local economies work. I want to find out whether and how my actions as a consumer effect the local economy. You see, despite my desire, the reality is, I don’t really shop locally all that much.

Most of the shopping I do in New Westminster is usually at chain stores and it’s mostly for groceries or food. I go to Safeway, Walmart, Starbucks, Boston Pizza and White Spot. For most other items, including clothing, furniture, hardware, and shoes, I leave New Westminster and drive to another community to do my shopping.

The reason I leave town to shop is the same reason I think New Westminster is uniquely suited for this experiment. It’s in the middle of a large urban area, but it’s really just a small town (population 60,000) in many ways. But, unlike towns with similar populations NOT in the middle of a urban area, New Westminster seems to be missing certain kinds of stores and services that drives me, and has me driving, to other communities to shop. One reason I want to do this experiment is to see just what retailers and services are missing from New Westminster, as well as to find out what is here. (I’ve heard there are interesting stores in New West, even interesting clothing stores, but I’ve never set foot in one.)

…..

If I’m typical of New Westminster residents, leaving town to buy most goods and services, that diverse and ambitious mix of retailers will never be attracted here. If the retailers aren’t here, residents will keep leaving town to shop. It’s a vicious, but predictable, cycle.

[Click to read the full post]

My husband and I make an effort to shop and eat locally, especially since launching our blog, but since having our second child, I’ve started doing a lot more shopping online. It’s just too stressful for me to bring two small children into local boutiques. I wish there were more options to shop online from local stores. It’s hard to find stores that will even ship to Canada. Still, I remain interested in keeping a healthy segment of my discretionary spending in the local economy, and I look forward to reading Sheila’s posts (and maybe getting some tips on new stores to visit!).

If you’ve got any favourite local shopping suggestions, please share them in the comments!

The Orange Room, Reviewed Again

Orange Room patio in warmer and lighter weather, by waferboard
Orange Room patio in warmer and lighter weather, by waferboard

Update: End of 2010: The Orange Room has closed permanently. Boo!

Will, Briana, and I found ourselves with some toddler free time this past weekend, and after mistakenly planning to hit up Perogy Night (it’s this coming Friday, people!) we ended up at The Orange Room. This simple place has been described as “the closest thing New Westminster has to hip” and has also played host to one of our tweet-ups, prompting Haiku Empress and guest poster Marcy Koopmans to refer to our gathering at the Orange Room as the  “least awkward meet up of mostly total strangers that I’ve ever been to.”

Last May, Briana also posted her review shortly after new owners took over and resurrected the Room, and while there were a few growing pains to be worked out such as supply issues and slow (yet pleasant) service, the general consensus here at Tenth among the contributors and the readers is that the Orange Room is probably among the top 5 restaurants this city has to offer. Personally, any restaurant that goes out of its way to source local food gets points in my book, just for trying.

So with no toddlers in tow, and only baby Nora (aka: the blob) listening in, we three headed to have some adult dinner conversation, and, dare I say it, an impromptu 3/4 Tenth to the Fraser Editorial Team meeting. We were seated at our selection of tables, a choice I really like being offered rather than simply being led to whatever table balanced out the servers’ plates.  For a Friday night at 6:30pm, I was a little bit unsettled at the few tables that were filled, but during the course of our meal, the place filled out – apparently New West eats late. Menus were presented and drink orders taken -a bottle of house red  -Vodawine – a peppery and berry noted red blend, $25.

All three of us were impressed that management had decided to tweak the menu after a six month stint back in business, promoting “classic European Fine Cuisine” by Executive Chef Randie Guest. While I was all for the tapas style menu previously offered, and happily cobbled together meals selecting a variety of tapas, some items simply didn’t go together, and there were duplications (for example, bread with the cheese plate and also bread with the spinach salad meant a bread overload and as much as I love carbs, one can only eat so much).  The previous menu also had a few items that I never tried because their entree-sized prices didn’t compute on an appetizer sized dish. However, the addition of actual entree sized offerings on the new menu, including a few pasta and steak options, prompted the three of us to decide to go big or go home.

Briana and I are fans of splitting dishes – meal math says that if you split what you are eating with another person, you have the opportunity to try twice as many items. We settled on two appies to share.

Appetizers
Appetizers

The organic Chorizo Sausage on Crispy Potato Nuggets, $6, was an item leftover from the first menu incarnation and I’m glad it stayed. Spicy but not in-your-face-hot sausage slices on a bed of cripsy bite sized potato nuggets complemented with an amazing ketchup dip that all of us agreed went with more than the dish it came with. It was so good, in fact,we used it with the Almond Baked Camembert, Baby Spinach and Organic Artisan French Baguette, $13. A full camembert wheel, crusted and baked to ooey gooey perfection, paired with delightful delicate baby spinach with some sort of light and zesty dressing and a dish of fresh salsa. Our only complaint was that we weren’t given enough baguette to slather the Camembert onto, and we ended up forking globs of cheese directly into our mouths after dipping them in the yummy spicy ketchup of the potato nuggets (not always a bad thing).

While both of us would normally shy away from ordering pasta at restaurants (a person can make a nice pasta at home so why go out and pay for it?), we were both drawn to the Neptune Seafood Fettuccine with Salt Spring Mussels, Prawns, Scallops & Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine, Garlic and Parmesan Thick Cream Sauce, $18 because a) the pasta is handmade each day and b) that’s a lot of lovely, local seafood we couldn’t resist. We asked them to part the entree into two dishes and they were happy to oblige. While we both agree that the sauce was a tad watery, and the fresh pasta felt a bit overdone, the generous amounts of seafood was superb and the cheesy spicy flavour of the sauce overshadowed any shortcomings and we both thoroughly enjoyed the dish.

Seafood Stuffed Steak
Seafood Stuffed Steak
Will elected to try the Seafood New York, $28; an organic 8 oz New York steak stuffed with fresh seafood in a lobster Brandy-peppercorn cream sauce, served with smoked Gouda Duchesse potatoes and fresh market vegetables. It arrived done to order and it was so good, that after his first bite he couldn’t speak, and could only offer us our own mouthfuls of steak swished into the brandy peppercorn sauce. The presentation of the dish was amazing, with fluffly potatoes piped onto the plate and then baked up for a slightly crisp outside, and the fresh market vegetables plated delicately into the potato.  A welcome departure from the usual “green beans and broccoli” touted as the vegetable du jour at most establishments was whole baby beets, fresh tiny carrots, and asparagus.

Briana and I craved some sweets at the end of our meal, and selected Pistachio Baklavas, $10 – two dairy free baklavas served with warm honey and sliced almonds and some fresh fruit for decoration. While the flavour was nice, and presentation was delightful, the baklava lacked a satiafactory crispness.

Pistachio Baklavas with Honey and fruits
Pistachio Baklavas with Honey and fruits
Additionally, Will and Briana were really disappointed by their apres-dinner Americano and decaf Latte. (I opted to finish the bottle of red wine, and was therefore, pleased).

Service was good – no rave reviews but no complaints either. Dishes arrived and went as one would hope, and server/ table banter was mercifully kept to a minimum. We were never kept waiting or rushed. A trip to the restroom was also satisfactory – facilites are well stocked, clean, and functional, although I would really like some sort of shelf to put my purse on while I wash my hands as the only option currently is the floor.

All in all, the menu changes are a great indication of a owner / management team that can run a restaurant. Some of the growing pains that Briana experienced during the first review back in May seem to have worked themselves out. And while we all know we will keep going to the Orange Room regardless of how they change because we want local business to thrive and succeed, it’s satisfying knowing you can recommend a place wholeheartedly.

I apologize if any of the prices are wrong. We did it from memory, and I had a few glasses of wine.

10 noteworthy places in New West

This is a guest post by Rob Jones, who shares some of his first impressions of New Westminster as a new resident of our city. You can read more from Rob on his blog, The Delete Bin, and also find him on Twitter @clippernolan.

There are elements of every city that makes it unique, makes them feel like home.

My experience with big-small towns is well established, even if I am a recent resident of New Westminster. Like New West, my hometown of Oakville Ontario was founded next to a busy waterway; it was a shipbuilding centre when it was first founded in the 1800s, nestled against the expanse of Lake Ontario.

There are other similarities of course – the high streets, the parks, tree-lined streets, the cozy community feel, and even certain idiosyncrasies that don’t appeal to everyone, but help to make the place what it is.

So, with this in mind here are 10 places of noteworthiness that I’ve discovered in my first few months here in New Westminster. There are some you know, and maybe a few you haven’t thought much about. Yet, if its true first impressions you’re after from a New West newbie such as myself, you’ve come to the right place.

1. 6th and 6th

In living on the other side of the Fraser for the last few years, I really missed the old-fashioned high street, the main drag that is within walking distance of home. Having done time in the land of big box stores, malls the size of the Death Star, and traffic-clogged main streets that seem to be excuses for big brands to plaster their names all over everything, coming to a place where this is less the case was a welcome change.

6th and 6th.  Image courtesy of Dennis Hurd
6th and 6th. Image courtesy of Dennis Hurd

This is not to say that there aren’t big name stores along this intersection and surrounding area – there certainly are. But, somehow, the signs seem like less of a crass branding exercise, and more of a vital centre of small town commerce, even if this really isn’t a small town. This is one of the strengths of this area – maintaining that balance between the two solitudes of small town coziness and the convenience and energy of the city. 6th and 6th , and the surrounding area from the Library down to 4th avenue, epitomizes this for me.

2. Moody Park

Named after Colonel Richard Clement Moody (born in Barbados, where my dad was born and raised, coincidentally…) who founded New Westminster in 1859 , Moody Park rests between 6th Avenue and 8th avenue, and 10th street and 8th street. My daughter and I take walks there, conveniently located as it is just up the street from my apartment. It is a wonderland of monkey bars, slides, sporting fields, and soon enough, a pool too . The squirrels dart from tree to tree, hoping for alms from those walking their dogs or their kids. It is a place of innocence and good clean fun – by day at least.

My Daughter AKA 'The Girl'. Image courtesy of Adrienne Theissen of Gemeni Visuals

It’s also been the site of many awkward exchanges for me with other parents, while our children are busy becoming instant friends in the playground. Strange how that works; that certain things that are insurmountable as children are conquered with the experiences of adulthood, yet with some things lost, too. I’m talking about the ability to make instant connections, and to hitch one’s imaginations to those of another without a second thought, and without much effort if any at all.

3. The Salvation Army Store

Where can you get a blazer, a set of towels, a comforter, a Spider Robinson novel, and an old-fashioned bona fide Faerie Queen china doll in one trip for less than twenty bucks? It’s the Salvation Army superstore on Columbia street, right at the foot of 8th street, of course, with the promise of ‘1000s of items arriving daily!’

Salvation Army Store, Columbia Street New Westminster.  Image courtesy of Starksilver.com
Salvation Army Store, Columbia Street New Westminster. Image courtesy of Starksilvercreek.com

Recently, I’ve had the occasion to go hunting for housewares, which I could do at a WalMart I guess. But with a treasure trove of cheap and charitable goods right off of New Westminster Skytrain, I can’t think of why I would. In other communities, many of these items can be found in various box stores. But, that’s just shopping, isn’t it. I’d rather go on a treasure hunt any day. And in the Salvation Army store, that’s what it feels like every time.

4. ‘Wedding District’

I’ve never seen anything like it. All along Columbia Street are a collection of wedding dress stores and tuxedo rentals, parked right next to each other as if there aren’t any other places to get this sort of thing for miles around. Also, with the selection of florists along here, one could practically source everything one needs a wedding, including specialty items. Want a vampire theme? No problem – they’ve got a dress for that, and quasi-medieval menswear to match. Name it, and you can probably get married in it.

Image courtesy of Image in White, 554 Columbia Street, New Westminster
Image courtesy of Image in White, 554 Columbia Street, New Westminster

And with the Paramount theatre just down the street, where athletically-figured women remove their attire for the benefit of male patrons to the strains of yesterday’s hit parade, the Groom can have his stag while the flowers are decided upon – all in one district! That’s convenience! And I haven’t even mentioned the tattoo parlor, which (if they have any sense) must have an ongoing two-for-one lovebird special. It gets you to the church on time, kids!

5. 8th street hill

Before I moved here, I had the occasion to climb the hill in order to pick up my car from Artman Automotive. The shop, actually run by a knowledgeable and honest guy called Art, and is on Royal Avenue near Douglas College. This is roughly at the crest of one of the steepest hills I’ve ever had to climb, just shy of ‘Historic Brow of the Hill’, where I now reside these many years later.

And here is the station at the bottom of the hill - the place of decision-making: bus or walk?  Image courtesy of  Fujitariuji.  Click image to view Flickr stream
And here is the station at the bottom of the hill - the place of decision-making: bus or walk? Image courtesy of Fujitariuji. Click image to view Flickr stream

During my ascent, being reminded of my mortality the whole way, the best adjective to describe me on achieving the crest of Royal avenue from 8th street was ‘vincible’, as in the opposite of invincible. But, once I caught my breath, I found that the view is incredible – the river, the expanse of downtown New West and the shores of North Delta, and the fatigued Douglas College students climbing the hill from New West Skytrain Station as if searching for Enlightenment itself. Yet, do I climb this hill everyday on foot, or do I take the trusty 123 bus, even if I have to wait without shelter, knee-deep in cigarette butts, and within earshot of multiple one-way teenaged cellphone conversations? I’ll let you guess, but the answer is as easy as 1-2-3.

6. The Quay

This is another locale for me and my daughter; for walks and talks, lots of questions for her part, and few answers for mine. The quay is our place for paying homage to the world’s tallest tin soldier, the tugboat (courtesy of Expo ’86, and moved to New Westminster Quay the following year), the beautiful gardens, and the ducks and other waterfowl who walk the same routes as any quaysider in a living example of interspecies respect and understanding.

From New Westminster Quay.  Image Courtesy of Intelligent Calcium.  Click image to view Flickr Stream
From New Westminster Quay. Image Courtesy of Intelligent Calcium. Click image to view Flickr Stream

The quay has been the host of many an event since I’ve been here, from Philippines Independence Day celebrations to Canada Day Fireworks. It is a vibrant gathering place for the community, young and old. If only they’d open the Market again! What’s up with that?

7. Queen’s Park

One has to respect a town who celebrates the traditions of blowing sh*t up so enthusiastically. I am of course talking about my first trip to Queen’s Park during the Hyack Festival Anvil Salute, which occurs every year on the occasion of Victoria Day, the day in which we honour of the monarch who named this town of ours.

Image courtesy of CanadaGood.  Click image to view Flickr stream.
Image courtesy of CanadaGood. Click image to view Flickr stream.

Queen’s Park is a shady environs where monkey bars and slides live along side an honest to goodness petting zoo – goats, sheep, and rabbits, not to mention non-pettable peacocks. But, when we were there, it was all about the gunpowder n’ noise in Queen’s Park Stadium . The combustibly-derived racket in question is perpetrated by guys dressed in some sort of period garb that might be described as Special Forces British Morris Dancers with demolition expertise. These flamboyantly attired fellows blow up anvils using very long fuses to the delight of a significant crowd. Where else are you going to get to see something like that?

8. Antique Alley

Right along the railroad tracks on Front Street is Antique alley, a series of storefronts under the shade of the parking garage built above the road, supporting the parking requirements of shoppers and tourists that frequent Columbia Street and the Quay. There are antique shops along here of course, but also specialty clothing stores including a goth boutique, which is adequately rife with shadows, spacious as a cathedral crypt, and haunted by a very affectionate cat called Merlin.

Antique Alley, from Columbia avenue.  Image courtesy of Silly G Wailo.  Click image to view Flickr Stream
Antique Alley, from Columbia Street. Image courtesy of Silly G Wailo. Click image to view Flickr Stream

What’s most striking to me is how full of character this strip is, yet how underdeveloped it is too. So many of the storefronts are seemingly abandoned, and some which aren’t just look like they are. Maybe this area is too closed off from the high street to be accessible, or profitable. Yet, it is charmingly seedy, and bursting with potential for more speciality stores, and in my imagination, a series of small music venues within stumbling distance of the Skytrain and bus services.

9. The Waffle House

Three of my favourite words in succession have to be ‘all day breakast’. And waffles are comfort food, loaded with life-shortening, yet exceedingly life-affirming, butter and syrup, washed down with cup after cup of coffee. The Waffle House on 6th street provides all of this, plus free newspapers and (otherwise) no frills, and all in the commercial shadow of the IHOP, mere meters away. Yet, where else can you order something called a Jiffy Wiffy Waffle with a straight face?

I have hosted two female friends at this establishment at different times in recent weeks, which make me think that the staff there, if they remember me at all, must think of me as the kind of guy to use waffles in some kind of low rent seduction tactic, or possibly as a means of recompense for not living up to seduction’s promise. Where this is of course not the case (both women are good friends of mine), I think the tactic might have legs.

10. 22nd Street Station

One of the first Skytrain stations I’d ever used was this one, dropped off after having visited a girlfriend of mine many years ago. I remember thinking that it was a commuter hub that was randomly plunked in the middle of nowhere. Yet 6th avenue and the Queensborough Bridge seem to draw significant traffic into it. I’ve come to know it as the ‘buses graveyard’, or ‘the land of apologizing buses’ – Sorry Not In Service. I wish they wouldn’t say ‘sorry’. But, I guess we are in Canada, aren’t we. Personally, I think ‘Out of Service – Deal With It’ would be more apropos.

22nd Street Station - busy, yet dead at the same time.  Image courtesy of FreakyChick.  Click image to view Flickr stream.
22nd Street Station - busy, yet dead at the same time. Image courtesy of FreakyChick. Click image to view Flickr stream.

Having come to use this station more and more, I think it really needs a reboot – maybe a bookstore, a café, even a convenience store. It needs something there where commuters, parents, and antsy teenagers heading into Richmond, can spend their time while their buses contemplate how sorry they are over the sin of being out of service. Perhaps the commuter traffic, and the revenue-generating traffic to any establishments placed there, might make that sin easier to forgive?

***
Here it is: I feel at home in New Westminster.

I like that it is community-based and there are a lot of places to take my daughter without having to drive. I like that it’s a bit weird too, like the time a guy yelled at me from across the street, asking me if I wanted to buy his radial arm saw – cash money, natch. I like that I can get Wifi in any number of retail locations within walking distance. I like that historic locations are treasured here, and that this town has memory – so many don’t. And I like that Stephen King’s IT was filmed here, perversely perhaps.

As a new resident, do I feel that there is room for improvement? Sure I do. But, it’s character that I most value in a place where I call home. And New West certainly has character. It has light and dark tones, civic pride, and urban decay. Yet, it is the spririt of the place that counts, defined as it is with a sense of history, blemishes and all.

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Free Samples at the Village Coffee Lounge

Tenth to the Fraser regular reader and commenter, John Ashdown, from the Village Coffee Lounge (free wi-fi! Good food! Support local!) is a busy guy. Among other things,  he is also is on the board for the Royal City Farmer’s Market and is the newly elected president of the 12th Street Merchants’ Association. He has also graciously found time to agree to host a tasting party for little old me, and my fledgling tiny company-in-the-making, Chai By Night.  

On Saturday, February 28th, from 12PM to 2PM (or while supplies last), I’m inviting Tenth to the Fraser readers to pop by John’s coffee shop for a free taste of my chai. All you need to do is mention that you read it on this site and hopefully be willing to write a few anonymous comments on a piece of paper after you’ve had a sip. 

Hope to see you there!