Sunday, December 30, 2012

The End of an Era

Yesterday marked the end of an era for me, as friends gathered for a concerted effort to wish Bob, Todd & Wil "all the best" in the new year, not knowing when & where we'd be seeing them again.  Urban Wasp / Vespa Vancouver will remain open for a couple more weeks as they continue to liquidate stock & fixtures, but the inevitable closure is imminent.
I had advertised this last gathering as a "wake" (of sorts).
I was disappointed in some ways that so few showed up, but not surprised.  As Joni Mitchell so aptly put it "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" (Big Yellow Taxi).  What did surprise me was who showed up.  Moffat (from our days of the "Scoot Vancouver Style" yahoo group), Mark (Worst Scooter Club Ever) who I got to know from Vespa Club of Vancouver days, Diana De Van (former salesperson), Orin from Bellingham (fellow SOB member & blogger extraordinaire), Hans (sans scoot) and a host of others. 

I tried to remember this morning, how many years since I first pulled an espresso from the machine that was lying dormant in the corner.  It was shortly after buying my 2005 Vespa PX 150, that I asked Bob about the machine and whether he would mind me coming down on Saturdays.  So maybe, it all began in 2006 which would make it 6 years in total.

Thanks Bob & Ron for the experience.  You guys bought a lot of the coffee & the supplies and we drank it up.  I insisted that those who wanted a coffee should pay something for it and so began the tradition of donating the proceeds to charity (which Urban Wasp generously matched).  Hundred of dollars went to the Vancouver Food Bank, Children's Hospital Foundation, Canuck Place and the Alzheimer's Society of BC ($2500 for that particular effort).

What can I say?

A huge vacuum has been left in the Vancouver scootering community.  Only two shops dedicated to scootering remain.  Fortunately, there are a few motorcycle dealers who have shown a willingness to support scooterists over the years as well.

I was asked whether I had planned a service for my so-called "wake."  I hadn't, as I knew I would be busy making espresso, latte's & cappuccino's as well as keeping an eye on the BBQ (making sure the smokies didn't burn - they didn't).  But as I pondered what I would have said, had I taken the opportunity to "officiate" in my capacity as a preacher, I did come up with a few thoughts.

In my mind, I thought about the biblical story of Joseph.  Sold into slavery by jealous brothers who initially sought his death, he ascended the ranks of a slave to become second only to the King over a nation.  In that position he became the saviour of his people.  Upon a chance re-uniting of himself with his brothers (who at that point feared for their own lives), he assured them that he meant them no wrong.  In essence he told them, that what they had intended for evil, God had intended for good.

It is my sincere hope that for Bob, Todd, Wil & Luis, what might be seen as a negative chapter in their lives will turn around to be looked upon in the future as something good.

Kudos to Ron Hillman for his considerable investment in Urban Wasp over the years.  He has provided gainful employment for many individuals and has helped to establish the Piaggio marque (Vespa, Aprilia, Piaggio, Derbi), along with SYM & Peugeot in the Vancouver market.  His integrity, generosity and benevolence via this particular dealership will be greatly missed.

To each one of you, I pray this blessing to be true:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
Number 6:24-26

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Leading by Example

I have a good friend who won't lead a scooter ride, but who does a pretty good job of leading in other ways.  I find him to be sensitive, generous, kind and thoughtful.  Over the years, I have admired his effort to devote Sunday to spending time with his wife.  Today, I chose to take a page of out his book.  The opportunity presented itself (weather) to spend the day meeting new friends and scooting around the countryside.  I had received a posting yesterday of a meetup @ 11:00 am, with a ride to follow at noonish, for a trip to Abbotsford via back roads.  It's been a long winter and a wet spring.  I was excited at the thought  of this journey.

But as I worked through the day, I was overcome with the desire to spend the day with my wife.  Like Bob, Sunday is the only full day that I share with my wife (other than statutory holidays).  Upon awakening this morning and while making breakfast for the two of us, I made the decision.  No scooting today.  Instead I would spend the day with Jennifer.

As we ate our breakfast, I told her that I had decided to not go scooting today.

She asked why, and I responded with ... "I'd rather spend the day with you!"

I suggested that after church and lunch, we'd go for drive, some walks and a dinner date.  The remainder of this post is how the day unfolded.

West on Highway #1 ...

Following the path of my daily commute to work, we headed toward Horseshoe Bay utilizing the Trans Canada Highway.  Not the most scenic of drives, it got us to the beginning of our adventure in good time.

Whytecliffe Park ...

"Whytecliff Park (15.63 hectares in size) is located in a beautiful corner of Howe Sound with a rugged coastline and spectacular views of colourful mountains and passing boats. The waters off the Park became Canada’s first Salt Water Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 1993 and are now famous for its incredible underwater diving. Five hectares (12.3 acres) of this park contains a playground, picnic spots, a swimming beach, tennis courts and an observation pavilion from which to admire the stunning views."

We spend about a 1/2 hour walking about and could have spend the day, but this was a sort of marathon trip.  Touch downs on favourite places, with little time to linger.

Horseshoe Bay Village ....

Jennifer & I both remember numerous trips to Vancouver Island via Horseshoe Bay terminal with the accompanying waits for a ferry.  Our children were small and we frequently walked into the village while our car sat in line holding our place.  In those days, there was no Subway restaurant for a quit bite to eat nor the Starbucks.  Just the ambiance of a small village with nice park and some green grass for the kids to burn off some energy.

Not much has changed, but today you can get a submarine sandwich at Subway, a decent ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins and a coffee from Starbucks.

Neither of us can easily say no to the offer of a Starbucks.  Today was no different as I asked ... "would you like an iced Americano?"

Marine Drive, West Vancouver ...

As we drove along, I commented that this is my favourite road in all of the lower mainland.  Whether by car or scoot, I can't seem to get enough of it.  Today was no different.  I was loving it!

I had already planned a stop along the way.

Point Atkinson ...

It seems that a lot of other people had similar plans for the day.  There was well over a 100 cars, parked wherever they could.  Other than the steep decline to the lighthouse (what goes down, must come up), I have no complaints about trips to Lighthouse Park.  Austen (our beagle) thinks she has died and gone to heaven.  There are so many scents and a beautiful forest to explore.  We are sure that she knows where she is and remembers her last walk in this direction.

After a quick walk to the lighthouse, it was time to be on our way.  The Phyl Munday Nature House was open today, but it will have to wait for another day.  I trust that we didn't miss our chance.

Whole Foods ...

I know, it was a date and here's this guy stopping in at a food store.  But I couldn't resist, there's this irresistable urge that comes over me.  My three main stops are the bakery (picked up some crumpets for my breakfast on Tuesday), the meat department (smoked turkey sausage with sun dried tomato & basil, as well as some bison pepperoni) and the vegetable department where I snuck a picture of heirloom tomatoes.  Not sure what the excitement is about, but a few of our customers (Jim Koo Produce) keep asking for this product.  If we were still living in Manitoba, we could supply them with all the heirloom tomatoes their little heart desired.

Speaking of tomatoes, Jennifer availed herself of the opportunity to purchase a tomato plant, which is part of her efforts to do a bit of container growing on our patio each year.

Our journey continued ...

Lion's Gate Bridge / Stanley Park

Traffic was thick as we headed into Vancouver for supper, but we were in nIto rush.  It was just 5 o'clock, the beagle had been fed, watered and taken for her constitutional.

Pepitas Restaurant ...

For those who don't know, I work at a fruit & vegetable wholesale. Pepitas is one of our customers and I've been wanting to try out their menu since tasting some tortilla chips & salsa that one of our drivers has generously shared with us after making his morning delivery.

We were not disappointed!

We shared a combination plate and left satisfied, after an enjoyable dinner.

Bobskoot & Mrs. Scoot (aka my boss @ Jim Koo Produce) ...

Thank you for a lovely day!

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Jennifer & I, more or less, became empty-nesters in 1999 at the age of 45.  Our oldest at that time was 22 and the youngest 18.  Our daughter, born between the two, isn't revealing her age.  It happened in a strange way.  We moved to Vancouver and they maintained their residency in Manitoba.

As a result, getting together as a family hasn't been that easy.  The distance and cost of air travel has restricted our ability to be together in one place.  This past year has been different.  We have gotten together twice, but unfortunately the death of Jennifer's Mom (just after Thanksgiving in 2009) and her Dad this spring (just after Easter) precipated the occasion.

Above, you see the family together, sans the photographer.

They mean a lot to me!

So do my many friends and relatives.

A New Year will soon be upon us.  With the turning of the page ushering in 2011, it is not unusual for people to reflect upon the past and look to the future.  I'm getting a jump on things and beginning to work on my resolution for the coming year.  My goal is to let friends and family know how special they are to me.  It will mean getting a bit "touchy-feely" (a bit is all I can handle) and moving out of my comfort zone.

Watch out!

My love is coming through.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Father Brown & Sister Jennifer

Last night, Jennifer & I were invited to a gathering at her employer's residence where the couples invited needed to dress up in some sort of complimentary costume.

We enjoyed an evening of fun, food and fireworks.

Mountain Tops & Valleys

Fall is my favourite time of year.  I like the cool crisp air in the morning and display of colour preceding the various types of trees dropping their leaves in preparation for winter.  During the month of September, I felt blessed to enjoy perfect weather (warmth & sunshine) each and every Tuesday,  This afforded me the opportunity to enjoy my day off travelling about and savouring the perfect day to be home from work.

One particular day, I arranged for three friends to join me in a scoot up Mount Baker.  On the way home, while crossing the border the officer asked me if I was able to keep up with my other two friends.  My response to him was: "Keep up?  What do you mean, 'keep up!'  I was their leader."  It was a wonderful day and a wonderful ride.  My scoot made it to the top, albeit at WOT (and sometimes that meant only 60 km/h) and you couldn't ask for a better day.

Truly, it was a mountaintop experience.  But not all of life is lived on the mountain, and many times the mountain, itself, presents it's own combination of challenges.  It can be stormy on the mountaintop.  The view can be obscured by fog and rain.  The mountain can be a miserable place to be.

The valley is equally full of it's unique set of problems.  Coming down from atop Mount Baker that day meant returning to work the next day.  The hours were spent and it was itme to get back into the routine.

I'm enjoying my life. both the mountains & the valleys.

There's something about right now that seems to be going especially great.

Could it be that I have nothing to prove other than letting my life prove what is that good, perfect and acceptable will of God.

Maybe that's it!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Philosophy of Ministry

I wrote the following piece as part of an application for a ministry position in June 2009.  Since that time, God has led in a different direction and I now enjoy a position with Jim Koo Produce Ltd.

The only real change in the subject below is the context.

God is good!

Many years ago, I remember being asked to articulate my philosophy of ministry to the pastor of a large, growing urban church and being quite intimidated by the question.  Since that time, I have given a lot of thought to the question.  What is my philosophy of ministry?

In the words of the apostle Paul (Romans 12:1-2), I might say it is “to present my body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is my reasonable service, being not conformed to the image of this world, but being transformed by the renewing of my mind, that I might prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.”

I desire to be (and believe I am) a facilitator of others growing in grace & knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  My task is to not do all the work, but encourage others in joining hands together as we “go out into the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

In recent years, my position on many issues has become firmly entrenched.  My apologetic is without apology but it is tempered by tact, diplomacy and a God driven love for my fellow man, especially as it relates to those not-yet-Christian.  I strive to disagree without being disagreeable and to let the love of God flow through me.

I am not so much driven to express what I am opposed to, as I am driven to express what I support and desire to see brought about.

I believe in the empowerment of others, and hopefully have embraced a servant leadership style of ministry. I rejoice in the success of others and find great satisfaction in seeing individuals come to Christ, growing in their faith and serving Him.

In a nutshell, I have no aspirations to succeed as the world would measure success, but only to hear when my life on earth is finished: “well done, thou good and faithful servant!”

I am a team player and encourage others to work together as we look together at where God is working and join Him in what He is doing.  A significant book that has impacted my life is Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.”  I believe it has greatly influenced my decision to let go and let God.  As well, it has greatly influenced my willingness to trust in the Lord with all my heart and to lean not on my own understanding.

Ten years ago, the Lord directed Jennifer & I to leave our comfortable life of ministry with a group of wonderful people in Swan River, Manitoba.  He led us to pack up, and follow Him wherever He might lead us.  He brought us to Vancouver, and now He is leading us on another Abrahamic journey.  My hope is that I can infect others with the same desire to obediently follow Him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It Feels Good!

This is my ride to work (for the moment), until the repairs on my 2005 Vespa PX150 are complete.  What you are looking at is a 2008 Peugeot TKR Furious.  It's a 50cc 2-stroke that gets about 100 mpg and tops out at 75 km/hr (an optimistic speedometer).  It feels good to be commuting to work on two wheels again and fortunately the only significant rainfall in doing so was the initial drive home from the dealer.

The TKR Furious has big wheels (not unlike the Yamaha BWS), which results in a very nice ride.  My 227lb frame can hardly feel the bumps.  The scoot is light, agile and quite fun to ride.  It took me a bit to get used to the twist and go aspects regarding acceleration (ie. waiting for the rev's to climb enough for the drive wheel to engage), but once I got the hang of it, it's been zoom, zoom, zoom!

It feels good!

Would I recommend the Peugeot TKR Furious?  For the commuter with only a short distance of travel to work, it's hands down a winner.  The fuel economy, fun factor and comfort is there.  If you have a lot of hills and weigh over 200 pounds, then it might not be the scoot for you.  But then, what 50cc scoot would be the right model for that scenario.

Oh, I forgot to mention.  My commute has been shortened to less than 45 minutes each way.  What took close to an hour to accomplish in the morning, on public transport has now become 35-40 minutes.  The return home is even more impressive.  Less than an hour (usually about 45 minutes) to accomplish what took about 90 minutes via bus and skytrain.  Transit cost $7.60 each day and now I paying about $2 per day for fuel.

It feels good!

Saw this scooter image, while walking around downtown Vancouver on Sunday afternoon.  The produce company I work for is one of the suppliers for this establishment.  I'll have to make it a point of stopping by for a snack or meal sometime.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The "Urban Scoot Club" of Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD)

I've been talking and talking about it for years and decided enough of the talk, it's time to take action.

I began by sending off an email to "Modern Suede" (http://www.modernsuede.com/) to see what the cost would be for manufacturing a club patch.  Everyone knows you need something like this to identify your club and answer the constant question of whether or not you are a "gang" (LOL) of scooterists.

Next step was settling upon a name for the club and an appropriate logo.  Originally, I had toyed with the name "The Buzzards."  It was a play on the sound of our 2 & 4 stroke machines "buzzing" around the city, matched with a friendly mascot the likes of  "Beaky Buzzard" (circa. 1942) from the vintage cartoon: "Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid."
A friend cautioned me calling ourselves "The Buzzards" by posing the question: "Do you really want to have your club named after a bird noted for it's feasting upon carrion (ie. the carcas of dead animals).  His comment couldn't be dismissed, though I continued to play with creating sayings such as: some of us are Old "B's" (ie. Buzzards), others of us are Young "B's" and a lot of Wanna "B's." 

In the end, I decided to move in a different direction and settled on the image of city life and scootering.  This is where most of us live and it is where most of us scoot.  The image of a scooter superimposed on a skyscape came to mind, with our club name emblazoned across the bottom.  Not being a graphic artist and wanting to put something together, sooner rather than later, I developed this logo.

At this precise moment, the club is still only an idea or dream I have.

But the process has begun.  Contact is being made with other scooterists to see whether or not they are interested in where I envision this thing heading.  I want the club to be inclusive (scooterists and non-scooterists, 49cc and beyond).  I also want the club to have some sort of organizational structure, including a formal and due paying membership component.  I'd also like us to consider some sort of benevolent action being attached to our existence.

Most of all, I like it to be known as a group where participants enjoy fun, food and fellowship.

Keep looking up & pressing forward!

Robert, the Reverend