· The World
· · Cottage Life
CL XLII: Picture Hugs
· Out on a walk with Lauren, we stopped in a park and I noticed she was holding an evergreen branch with one hand, stroking it with the other. “Sometimes, you just got to hug a tree” she said. No lie. Especially when times are shitty. I can’t put you next to a tree but at least I can take you out in the woods photographically. It’s dark now and we can use all the help we can get ... [1 comment]
CL XLI: Forest Stories
· Recently I’ve had the joy and privilege of time spent walking in the Pacific Northwest forest, on a small island where we engage in Cottage Life.. Walking in the forest provides a fine opportunity to think, although the raw beauty of the forest pouring in through your eyes and ears will regularly interrupt. While forest-walking, I thought about pictures, modern mapping technology, strangers’ identities, and The Green Knight movie ... [10 comments]
CL XL: Under and Over
· Wow, the last Cottage Life piece was in 2019, suggesting there was no such thing in 2020. And, what with Covid, there was less. While this story happened in situ, it’s really about something else: How much residential construction and software are like each other, and share the same really-important rule: Underpromise and overdeliver. [Includes compulsory nature shots.] ...
CL XXXIX: Island Wildlife
· Our probably-last Cottage-Life weekend of 2019 featured cetacean encounters and rodent rage. But I didn’t manage to photograph any of that, so just the usual trees and sunsets ... [2 comments]
CL XXXVIII: Refactorings
· What with our jobs and our kids, Cottage Life time has been tough in recent years. But we still believe in the place and the project enough to put money into repairing our dock and replacing our boat. Which raises issues of work-life balance and money laundering. And as always, these pieces are vehicles for pretty pictures of Keats Island and Howe Sound ...
CL XXXVII: Hemlock Ocean
· I care most about the ocean, while Lauren cares more for the forest; fortunately the Pacific Northwest offers Cottage-Life compromises; illustrated with the help of a giant hemlock ...
CL XXXV: Fading
· This year’s Cottage Life chapter is over. Not the best, either; what with my new gig and all we visited less, and the kids would as soon be in the city. Still, it’s a rare privilege ... [1 comment]
CL XXXIII: Fire and Water
· We’ve had week after week of blue skies and warm air; which in the green/grey Pacific Northwest begins to feel oppressive, you can almost hear the plants, great and small, whimpering for water. After a while every morning‘s news told of new forest fires marching up one tinder-dry mountain or another. Which lent visual drama to the July 4th weekend but I have to admit soured the Cottage-Life ambience ...
CL XXXII: Listen to the Trees
· On the forest-walks part of Cottage Life, a problem is that the kids chatter and squabble. So I tell them, “Shut up and listen to what the trees are saying.” They think it’s just Dad being silly, but I keep insisting that if they listen for that, they’ll learn things. And I’m right, they will ...
CL XXXI: Forest Light
· Our Cottage Life happens on an island mostly covered by temperate rainforest. Not old-growth (that’s hard to come by these days); but logged a hundred years back, so the trees are big. Such forests have qualities of light that make me happy but are hard to photograph ... [2 comments]
CL XXX: Lensing
· The great thing about interchangeable-lens cameras is well, interchanging lenses. In particular while kicking back in Cottage-life mode ...
CL XXIX: Biryani
· What happened was, my family signed me up for an Indian-cooking class. On Thursday Nasreen taught us Chicken Biryani and so I thought I might try to enrich early-2014 Cottage Life with it ... [1 comment]
CL XXVIII: Bigger Glass
· We did an opening-up overnighter; another year of Cottage Life has begun! Attentive readers will have noticed that I’ve become a Fujifilm fanboi, but at the cabin I’m still a proud Pentaxian, because my longest Fuji lens only goes to 55mm and things on the island are further away. So let’s see what you can do with bigger glass ... [2 comments]
CL XXVII: Cheap Audio
· We’ve finally arranged, after five full years of Cottage Life, for music playback. There were complicating factors, notably my being a deranged audiophile; and the installation isn’t 100% complete. But it sounds nice, and I’ve already saved $259,404.01! ... [5 comments]
CL XXVI: Driftscapes
· Here in the top left corner of urban North America, we have a special relationship with wood. We live in it, sit on it, eat off it, and burn it for warmth and pleasure. Also, as part of Cottage Life, walk by the sea to admire the portions cast up ... [1 comment]
CL XXV: Work Week
· There were two nations’ birthdays in four days, thus a slow spell at work; so we decided on a solid week of Cottage Life. And we invited all our friends to come for lunch. Friends came, work got done, and photos got taken ... [3 comments]
CL XXIV: Autumn Drama
· Each year’s Cottage Life ends when you Shut Down For Winter; this sad task includes tidying, sealing, draining, and then going away. We left it later this year than any before, into the season of storms and rain and darkness ... [1 comment]
CL XXIII: High Pressure
· I mean the large zone of elevated atmospheric pressure which has blessed the Pacific Northwest for many weeks now, making this past summer’s Cottage Life a more or less weather-untroubled sun-bath. Me, I can’t wait for the rain (coming Friday they say) ... [1 comment]
CL XXII: Blackberries
· Let’a be honest: Cottage Life is pretty soft. That’s the point, I believe, but... There Are Enemies. Chief among them are blackberries, not mobile devices I mean but vicious resourceful adaptive bloodthirsty vegetables. This story has a happy ending: we beat ’em and we eat ’em. In this lifetime, anyhow ... [3 comments]
CL XVIII: Misty Mountains
· We were recently on the Great Plains and I love ’em, but a few days there and I miss the mountains. Some prairiefolk can’t settle down here on the coast, they feel shut-in because you don’t have the big sky and long view. Cottage life is about earthstone fences in front of the horizon, and I’m OK with that. And still, our skies feel big sometimes ... [1 comment]
CL XVII: Faraways
· It’s May so Cottage Life is recurring. On the island, many of the things one sees and wishes to photograph are far away thus must be captured through fairly specialized lenses which tend to impose their perceptions, particularly when the lenses are elderly and actually not that elite. Here are three of those ... [4 comments]
CL XVI: Eagle’s Nest
· This will be two consecutive Cottage-Life posts focusing on eagles, and that’s OK because they’re at the center of the thing. Herewith a nest with an eaglet in residence; not the greatest picture but it’s something that I feel blessed to have seen and can’t not share ... [1 comment]
CL XV: Eagle Glass Again
· The Cottage life series has previously visited the subject of bald eagles, and of using long telephoto lenses to photograph them. Can’t have too much of that stuff ... [3 comments]
CL XIV: Bad Animals
· Only some of the animals are bad. Most of the photos are; but with redeeming features. Cottage life inevitably involves wildlife and thus danger ... [2 comments]
CL XIII: Carpentry
· Most people who have a cottage which isn’t a mini-mansion spend a lot of their cottage life maintaining and improving it. This can be a little stressful to those like me who are more or less entirely without home-improvement skills ... [9 comments]
CL XII: Far Away
· The primary recreational activity in our cottage life isn’t boating or hiking or swimming or any of those undoubtedly worthy and improving pastimes; it’s leaning back in a comfy chair on the deck admiring the view, frequently through a camera with a great big chunk of glass on the front, with a refreshing drink (this can range from a stiff G&T to a nice cuppa T) ...
CL XI: Treeset
· At the cottage, life is surrounded by trees and constrained by the sun’s coming and going. Especially going. In these pictures, it’s going behind some trees ... [3 comments]
CL X: Nautical Visual
· Cottage Life almost by definition occurs near the water and in our case, lacking road access, is necessarily punctuated by time spent messing about in boats. This is an activity with many rewards, chief among them the things you see ... [1 comment]
CL IX: Closing Up
· For those of us who live North of the 49th parallel, an essential feature of Cottage Life is the sad process of “Closing Up”; acknowledging that you’re just not going any more till Spring. We did, but remain ambiguous ...
CL VIII: Building Things
· In the first couple of years after you acquire a cottage, you spend a lot of time adding stuff to it. Since fewer and fewer things come pre-assembled, and if they did you wouldn’t want to take them on the boat put-together, that means you have to build them. This Cottage Life piece is, weirdly, mostly a plug for a barbecue-maker’s publishing talents; but there are some pretty pictures, including a failed eagle ... [2 comments]
Junepix 7 & CL VII: Mountain Climb
· Attentive readers of the Cottage Life series will recall that one of the motivations for acquiring a strip of Howe-Sound waterfront included my discovery that I was raising a city boy who needed a little more exposure to the outdoors. So, last weekend he and I climbed a mountain together ... [3 comments]
Junepix 4 & CL VI: Monster!
· The June-pictures and Cottage-Life threads intersect in a photograph of a stiffly-serpentine beast that appeared on our beach. With a true story about a real serpent ... [3 comments]
CL V: Rain and its Culture
· There won’t be any more Cottage Life pieces till next year, because we spent American Thanksgiving, when you can’t get anything done anyhow, closing the place up. We found out why they call all those great big trees a “rain forest” ... [3 comments]
· If there’s anyone reading this who’s felt some empathy with the recent flurry of Cottage Life posts, and who’s from around here: there’s another waterfront property just around the corner from ours for sale; near the north point of Keats Island (Wikipedia, map, keatsisland.net). Serviced, a couple of hours from downtown Vancouver (boat only). Not perfect, has issues, needs work. But pretty unique, I think. The reason I’m plugging this is I’m hoping someone with kids gets the place; ours could use some playmates. If you might be interested, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the vendor.
Update: It’s been listed. [1 comment]
CL IV: Peace
· Most of these Cottage Life posts are going to be on the cynical side; with luck, good for a laugh or two. But there is a reason we do this, and here it is. With a furniture recommendation ...
CL III: Semantic Gaps
· I do intend a Cottage Life post soon that’s not about maintenance, but this isn’t it. I thought I was trying to fix the water heater, but in fact it became a four-way semantic mapping conundrum ... [1 comment]
CL II: Water-Displacement Forty
· Cottage Life, unless yours is a mansion with full-time staff, is mostly maintenance, with a few intervening breaks for nature or beer. I’m neither deft nor mechanically gifted, but the right industrial chemicals can make up for that ... [7 comments]
By Tim Bray.
The opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.
A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.
I’m on Mastodon!