Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Our World Yesterday

I am sharing the day yesterday with Our World Tuesday, with many thanks to ArijaGattinaLady FiSylviaSandy and Jennifer for hosting.

Yesterday was a day of riding up a huge hill in the rain to UBC for a piano lesson with Bogdan Dulu, feeling inspired that he is such a caring and gifted teacher, cycling back home with tired legs, pelting wind and rain, entering our apartment to the warmth of Bill's empathy, walking in the wind and rain again (it has to be mentioned) with Bill and Black Jack to the comfort of beautiful people and art at Harrison Galleries, completing a crossword and a Sudoku puzzle as we ate our delicious treats, coming home and napping while Bill shopped for groceries (!), and then attending a concert at The Roundhouse after supper.  Thinking back on the day, I realize I loved every minute of it.  Even the wind and the rain.  

At the very end of the day, as I was going back through my photos, and thinking of doing a facebook post to show the musicians their photos (will do that today), I came across a post by Shauna, a former colleague.  She is the kind of teacher every parent would wish for their child, the kind of friend you never forget.  She included part of her eulogy to her father on the two-year anniversary of his death.  It is a little bit long but you will read it in a flash because the words will take you straight to her heart.  Life-changing, those words can be, if you find the time to listen.  She has given me permission to post them here.  Thank you, Shauna for your beautiful wisdom and heart.  As an introduction to her words, I am posting a photo of her father with his granddaughter, Shauna's daughter.  At the end, there is one of Shauna with her two children.
How often do we get asked the question, “What did you do today?” and we reply with, “Nothing much”? Now I realize that greatness lies in the so-called average day. I would trade in every material possession I own just to hear the sound of dad’s steel toe boots in the entrance way after a day’s work- and to see the glimmer of excitement in my children’s eyes as they recognize this sound and bounce to the stairs screaming “Baba’s home!” Dad would have a smile from ear to ear and say, “There you are!” What I would do just to hear dad say, “Hi Shauna” while reaching out his large hand, placing it gently on my back- that was my dad’s warm embrace. These seemingly simple, transient moments, are perfection. They stare us in the face every single day, yet we cannot conceive how profound they are until they are taken away.
Dad was the ideal father- a better parent than I will ever be. Now that I am a mother, I realize how difficult it is to love and trust unconditionally. For dad, this came so naturally. He practiced the following principle without ever saying it: “Always love your children no matter what, and trust that they will find their way”. Can you believe that my dad- not once uttered the words, “Be careful”, or “You can’t”? When seeking advice from dad about finding a lifelong partner, he said, “Shauna, it does not matter if a man is green or blue. Just make sure he has a good heart.” He never questioned my decisions for he trusted my judgment.
Dad not only had faith in our ability to make decisions, he had faith in circumstance. One summer day, my dad and I decided to ride our motorcycles up Mount Seymour. We were riding up a windy road attempting to reach the peak, when we decided to take the road less travelled. After about an hour of riding in the woods, we turned off the engines to have a snack. When attempting to start up my engine numerous times, the stubborn Kawasaki did not budge. Finally, dad looked up and said, “Shauna, let’s try to find a wire. If we can find a wire, I can jump start the engine with my bike”. I questioned my dad’s sanity at this point. “What? Dad, I don’t see any evidence of civilization- no garbage or anything- how the heck are we going to find a wire?!” He remained confident and stated, “Shauna, don’t worry. You’ll find one”. Well, we searched and searched. I became anxious because darkness was setting in, but whenever I looked at dad, he was so calm that it was contagious. I continued searching for that elusive wire. Just when I was ready to give in, that is when I saw it. Out of nowhere, a thin long red wire appeared in the gravel. I ran to dad and showed him. I was shocked, but I was equally surprised to see his response. There was no elation and little emotion. It was as if he just expected it. He was a pure, trusting soul.
Then because dad could fix anything with the right tool, he was easily able to jump start my motorcycle with a single wire. I have shared this story so many times in admiration of my father- but dad never did. He never boasted; he never cared to draw attention to his accomplishments. My dad’s modesty has melted me throughout the years. And it is through dad’s influence that I trust in the unravelling of what awaits me- whether joyful or excruciating, it is all part of the ride, the growth process. I also trust in what will become of me beyond this lifetime. What a gift you have given me, dada.
Man oh man, will I ever miss my dad’s quirks. When I was 5 years old, I asked my dad the question, “Why aren’t I white?” Dad’s response, “Shauna, you are just a little overcooked”. I really had no idea what this meant, but it seemed to make sense. Racial confusion continued when dad and I went fishing on the First Nations Reserve. “Are you sure we can fish here?” I asked. He responded with, “We are Indian aren’t we?” And finally, dad receives the gold medal for snoring. He got reprimanded at every one of my award and convocation ceremonies because his snoring was a major disruption. What a character!
Two weeks before my father passed, I experienced the perfect day. On that day, there were a few hours in which the clouds parted and despite the chilly winds, we felt the warmth of the sun. Dad watched Sajen ride his bike for the first time ever and then he held Samaya’s hand as she performed her usual daredevil actions at the park. After this, we went for a family walk. As a family, we laughed, we played, we loved. Although, at the time, I didn’t know that dad’s life would be taken so quickly, in those moments, I did recognize the richness of each second. I allowed myself to feel it all. Perhaps a few years ago, I would have considered this an average day, but now I know that it was much, much more: it indeed was the perfect day. That day happened to be dad’s last day in the outdoors with his family.
We have no way of knowing which day we will go as ‘death’ is the great leveler- taking the young, the old, the sick, the healthy; but what we can control is how we live our lives and how we recognize meaning and happiness in each day. It is something that cannot be found in the lastest Iphone model or in a Christmas flyer, but rather, it is embedded in our daily interactions with loved ones. I urge you not to let days meld into each other in the form of tedious routines. I now recognize- and some days do my best to recognize the richness and love infused into each day. I don’t want this life to pass me by.
My dad may not be here in physical form, but he will be a part of each and every day. My dad IS LOVE and I will feel his love for as long as I live.

Thanks again, Shauna.  The small events of the rest of my day are all the more precious because of your words.  

I took photos at the concert.  It was titled "The Deep Time Project" and the quoted words below were taken from this web site.
 "How does the Earth measure time? In days, seasons, decades…millennia?" 
"How does our time perception expand and contract in states of deep meditation?" 
"And what does it mean to hold infinity in your hand and eternity in an hour?"

This is Bill with his nephew-in-law, Paul.  Seeing Paul twice in one day was a gift.  It had been a surprise to see him at UBC in the morning as I was waiting for my piano lesson.  One of the professional musicians coaching students in UBC's Baroque Orchestra Mentoring Programme, he had caught the ferry early in the morning from Victoria, after  intense rehearsals and a concert there on the weekend.  When I saw him, he was just about to do his UBC gig, and then had one more engagement for the day, to record the concert we were about to see in the evening.  He had to be exhausted, but as always, his ready smile and huge spirit was in full working order.  Below, he and Bill caught up on the latest news.  They look serious, but that's because I caught the photo on the sly :)
Recording live performances involves skills that..
amaze me.  The workings of a mind capable of understanding all those little dials(never mind invent them) is fascinating to me..
 and I'd say Bill is even more drawn in by..
 the breadth of technical creativity about us.  
"Over the course of one evening, with a vast array of gongs and an ensemble of some of Vancouver's finest percussionists, Redshift [explored] the answers to these questions in: The Deep Time Project."  
As each instrument was tapped or struck or caressed or even bowed,  responding sound vibrations were projected on a screen.
Percussionists Martin Fisk, Jonathan Bernard, Vern Griffiths, Katie Rife, Timothy Van Cleave, Nicholas Jacques, Chris Blaber, Robin Reid, Brian Nesselroad and Danny Tones..
were so focused on the sounds they were creating, 
I felt they were almost lost in the intense communication of the moment.
Sounds were received and passed from one to the other..
as the colours shifted and chased each other around the screen.
Most of their instructions were written in words rather than in musical notation.  Here, this musician listens and watches, ready to take up the musical message from a colleague.
I tried to catch the way the sticks danced, sometimes moving so quickly, their path through the air made a sort of white stream of light.  I wasn't able to portray that..
but it sure was fun trying.
All of the musicians had dance-like movements, but this girl, in particular, seemed to float..
along the path the sound travelled.
I wonder if you can almost feel..
the vibrations.
It was an hour-long performance with no break, and I'm guessing they were exhausted but energized afterwards.  Though the audience was small (just 31 people), the response was very enthusiastic.  Jordon Nobles, the artistic director (not in white), was called to the stage to celebrate with the musicians.  Stretching our ears and our brains with new ways of thinking about music is something that leaves a lot of pleasure in its wake.  I am grateful to people who share their passions and their talents with us.   
After the performance, I thought of the time and effort that had gone into assembling..
all of those instruments.  In a day of gloomy weather, 10 musicians and a lot of support people made our day a rich one.  As Shauna said, "I don't want to let this life pass me by."  It won't, Shauna.  Since I've known you, I have seen that quality of appreciation in you for the small stuff, and now, I know it was planted by your father long before you and I met.  Thank you for the reminder.  We didn't let the day pass us by yesterday, and we will remember your words, and those of your father, in the days to come.  
Thanks for visiting everyone.  I appreciate each one of you so very much.  If you have time to stop by Our World Tuesday, that would be great.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blues and Leafy Stars on Monday

 It was a beautiful weekend in Vancouver and a few "blues" turned up in my photos that I thought would be fun to share with Smiling Sally's Blue Monday meme.

I posted about this boat yesterday but saved one photo showing its underside. .  We saw it on Saturday as we biked along English Bay,  It looks a bit sad, but hopefully, has been rescued since we saw it. I think (hope) that those are reflections rather than a gash, but either way, I guess I'd have to concede it doesn't appear to be seaworthy for the moment.
I also posted photos of crows flying around that boat yesterday but saved this one for Sally.
That takes us to Sunday morning.  This mosaic in David Lam Park is, I believe part of the Art Underfoot project, though I haven't been able to find information on this particular installation.  We walk over or around it almost every day, but yesterday, after a night of heavy rain, the sun caught the puddles over it, even reflecting some of the high-rises in the area.  Lots of blues to enjoy and I thought the rain-sun input added new interest to an already fascinating work.
 Looking past the mosaic, sun was bringing out the blue of False Creek.
 Later, from our apartment, a house sparrow against a blue sky.
 And still later, we biked along the seawall, stopping here to admire the first snow in the peaks of the North Shore Mountains.
The sun was beautiful but temperatures were cooler than we had expected. Black Jack mostly snuggled down in her jacket with blue cover on top, but she sat up just as I took this photo.  That's Bill's hand holding the bike steady, and all you will see of him in this post.  Even the best model deserves a day off once in a while :)
 All of the high-rises in the area have a blue tinge to them.  With so many windows, they pick some of that up from the sky and the water.  That's a ramp off the Cambie Bridge at the bottom of the photo.
 Bill pointed out the beautiful light hitting The Edgewater Casino across False Creek, and I noticed the Olympic Stadium behind it added more layers and designs.  
 A few more layers were added as boats passed by.
 In fact, as I went through my photos, I began..
 to see layers..
 and modes of transportation everywhere.  Across the water, we could see the skytrain (with blue arc), cars, walkers, cyclists and runners.
 And the three cranes, viewed, it seems, from just about every vantage point in Vancouver.. 
rose mightily behind the bridge, though not so mightily that they could dwarf the spectacular mountains.
 You may have noticed that the blue has been fading out a bit, with only the lightest tinge in the sky in this last mountain shot.  It was disappearing as we stood there, perhaps heralding the rain that has begun in earnest this morning.
The last blue-content for this post is in Jennifer Harrison's latest art on the sign in front of our favourite cafĂ©-gallery, where we headed after our stop.  She says it takes her about an hour to do these drawings and I enjoy seeing every one of them.  If you came for the blues, you may want to stop reading here and step on over to Sally's Blue Monday meme.  Many thanks to her for hosting!  
These last few photos were the ones with no blue in them, but each celebrates something about the conclusion of the Autumn season here in Vancouver.  Textures of a falling leaf..
 against sidewalk and grass, 
 and a few trees still reluctant to drop their leaves, 
 almost on fire with the bright sun yesterday morning.
 The leaves that did drop left magic in a star-sprinkled sidewalk.
 I wish upon this star for a peaceful and happy Monday for each one of you!  Thank you so much for stopping by!