Saturday, July 4, 2015

Eileen's Saturday's Critters #81

First, to all of our American friends, happy 4th of July!  Wishing each one of you a safe weekend full of wonderful times with friends, family and lots of critters!

I am posting to Eileen's Saturday's Critters today, with many thanks to her for a meme that always brings smiles.  

On Saturday, June 27th, we saw this Scottish Fold kitten on a leash,     
having a great time..
in a nearby park.
 Sadly, I've forgotten his/her name and gender,
 but I remember clearly how engaged and comfortable s/he was outdoors.
 Happy exploring, 
 adventurous one!
The next day we heard a wonderful gospel choir at St. Andrew's Jazz Vespers.  
 My small lens continues to work well (Yay!) and I took the photo above of Black Jack as she sat on my lap.  Bill took this shot of me immediately afterwards.  Since he is so generous in letting me post his photos, I'm posting a few that he has taken as well. I think this one looks like I'm trying very, very hard to sit up straight and behave myself :)
 Everyone is welcome at St. Andrew's and that includes critters.  I loved this family shot.
 No critters here but I thought you might like to see the source of everyone's entertainment.  We haven't heard all that many gospel choirs in the past, but this one (The Good Noise Gospel Choir)..
and this one (The Marcus Mosely Chorale - highly recommend this link if you have the time to listen to Marcus sing with his choir as you read on - he is amazing!) had us tapping our toes and feeling a sense of euphoria as the energy filled the church.  
I also made it to one of the lunch hour concerts in honour of Vancouver Jazz Festival.  This is City Soul Choir.  They were brimming over with energy as well.  
Sometimes, it is hard to stay in your seat in the presence of that much energy.  I sat in the back for this performance, and loved watching this lady dance quietly but joyfully through most of the performance.
But, back to the critters.  Here, Bill snaps my photo as I walk with Black Jack to the edge of False Creek, hoping to catch this..
cormorant, but s/he dives just as I snap the shot.
That's okay.  I'm still happy as I return to Bill.  We've found the most wonderfully shaded spot to sit with a breeze wafting over us on one of the hottest days of the summer.  We're fortunate and we know it!
 A little bit later, the cormorant flies right toward us and I manage to catch a shot as we sit on the park bench.  The face isn't very clear, but I love the roundness of the body and the strength of the wings as they carry it forward with such purpose.
The Bushtit below was twittering away.. 
outside my balcony a couple of days ago.
 Later that day, three Cormorants perched bolt upright,
 and one duck (a Gadwall?) hung out with the geese in False Creek.
 S/he was the only duck around.  Perhaps, adopted by the geese?
The rest of the photos were taken yesterday during our ride to Stanley Park and then home by the Coal Harbour bike route.  Many of the Blue Herons have left the heronry, but there are still quite a few young ones working on their flight skills.  This one flew short distances back and forth from the nest..
 to a nearby tree.  
 This link will take you to the heronry web site, with the season's final report and some truly spectacular photographs.
 The information is very interesting, if you have time to check it out.  As I had suspected from the fierce fighting observed each time we visited, quite a few nests that started out with three or four chicks ended up with only one or two, due to an act called siblicide (older chicks kill the younger ones).  Still, this 14th season at that location has been a very successful one.  Nature is cruel, but she plans, I guess, for the survival of the species over the long term.      
 This youngster sort of floated down from the nest.  I don't know if that was his/her first flight, but s/he landed softly and though I didn't see the take-off, did observe that s/he appeared to be gone when I checked back about 20 minutes later.
 As I've mentioned in past posts, the heronry is not the most pleasant place to be at the end of the season.  Everything is covered in white (and no, it isn't snow :)  These tin wrap-arounds have been put on the trees to keep racoons from invading the nests.  They are usually a shiny brown metal, but now seem to blend into the tree's textures.
 Bill usually takes Black Jack for a good walk while I check out the herons.  The air is so full of "chalky" dust, I figure the further away they are, the better it is for their lungs.  I, too, tend to breathe as shallowly as possible.
 I wonder, sometimes, at the state of the herons' lungs,
 but they will soon be flying over the ocean..
 and sitting by the rivers,
 where the air will be much cleaner (I hope).
 I was standing in the parking lot watching the herons when this dragonfly landed on the antennae of a parked car.  Bill and Black Jack returned just as I was admiring its glittering wings.
 This heron landed high above us, struggling a bit to find its balance.
 I'd say s/he is well on the way to becoming an accomplished flier.
 What a beauty!
 The dragonfly hung our for a long time on that antennae.  I am convinced..
 that dragonflies observe us and are curious about us.  Their faces are expressive and it seems to me that..
 their thought processes are more advanced than I would ever have thought possible for an insect.
 As we watched the dragonfly, two friends happened by.  We hadn't seen Ross and his beloved dog, Brooklyn, for quite a while.
 Brooklyn is growing into an absolutely gorgeous dog.  I snapped a couple of..
 photos with my 500 mm lens.
 We visited for quite some time before bidding them good-bye and carrying on to the pond by Coal Harbour.  A few bullrushes had fallen to the ground and Bill, ever the entertainer, made me laugh as I snapped this one. 
 The Redwing Blackbirds weren't really interested in our peanut offerings.  The ground was covered in kernels of corn.  I think they are being well taken care of.  Most stayed in the rushes, but this juvenile came out to say "hi" and then we were on our way.  And that concludes today's critter post.  Thanks for stopping by, everyone.  Happy critter watching!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Youth, Fences, and Smiles. Happy 148th, Canada!

I'm linking up with two memes today.  The first two photos are aimed at Theresa's Good Fences, though almost all of the other pictures have a fence or barrier of some sort in the background.  The one below goes around the wheelchair ramp at the side of the building we live in.  I took this photo one day when a new floral arrangement caught my eye as I looked up from the street below.
Thanks, Theresa!  Your meme sharpens your readers' eyes to look Yonder to see the variety of fences in our neighbourhoods.
It is also ABC Wednesday's week to celebrate the letter "Y" and a theme of Youth and Youthful fits pretty well with another Year in the life of Canada, as celebrations of her 148th birthday took place on Wednesday.  The photo below was taken on June 21st, as we walked by Vancouver's Law Courts.  Arthur Erickson, the Vancouver architect for that building, was well into his 80's when he died in 2009 but his innovative energy is felt every time I walk by one of his buildings.  The fence along the top contains a green space like no other in downtown Vancouver.  We have yet to explore behind it but I know we will.  In the meantime, these Young people were using the steps on a Sunday to celebrate Go Skateboarding Day.
There was a prize for the person who could jump from the top step to the bottom, landing without falling.  Though some did well enough to elicit gasps from onlookers, and though the Yearning and optimism of Youth was palpable, no one managed a perfect landing.  To me, just keeping the board within range of their feet.. without glue :) ..  was an extraordinary accomplishment.  You will have to look fairly carefully to see that the Young man in the photo below has flipped his board.  It (magically) returned to him and he landed with both feet on the board, though the force of the impact threw him to the ground.  He rose, headed back up the steps and tried again, as did almost every competitor.  I confess that the fact their bones and joints recovered enough to do that is a sign of Youth that I envy.
One more (not very well photographed) fence to add here.  I looked over it one morning at the dogs playing in a park in front of False Creek.  You can just barely make out two little dogs, one lying in the grass, hoping for a play session. 


I had to smile as the standing dog walked away, in spite of an animated performance by the one below, hoping to inspire play.  Here, the rejected younger one is clearly surprised to find that he is alone.
"Wha..aa.. where'd he go?  Come back, young fella!"
Simple things added up to a just-right kind of day as we celebrated Canada's 148th birthday together.  We made several discoveries, and we laughed often.  In the morning, I put Scott's (my last dog) Canada Day adornment on Black Jack and she seemed to wear it proudly.  The flag had a dual theme of maple leaf and fleurs de lis as we lived in Montreal at the time.
This car was parked on our street, as I headed to the gym for a Canada Day fitness class.  I thought someone must feel as grateful as I do to live in Canada.
There was a t-shirt hanging in the window of the Wildlife Thrift Store as I walked past the corner of Granville Street.  I wondered if the person who wore it hauled a trailer across this magnificent country.  I'd love to do that some day.  
Bill, Black Jack and I went to Harrison Galleries CafĂ©, and though we didn't take photos, we completed a crossword and I thought how the owners and staff there are a part of the reason why Vancouver feels like such a  good place to be.  From the gallery, we headed towards Canada Place, our day's plan a flexible one.  As we walked, Bill remembered that there had been an outdoor art-construction in front of Vancouver Art Gallery, and the people building it had told us it would be open to the public on July 1st.  "Let's stop by and take a look," said Bill, and I thought that was a great idea.  Just before reaching the gallery, we made our first discovery of the day.  We had never noticed this downtown fountain before, and wow, was it ever magnificent!
"Excuse me for getting so excited," said Bill, "but it continues up three more levels!" Well, excitement at new discoveries is the hallmark of Youth, and Bill needed no excuse at all to share his enthusiasm with me.  I was just as amazed and just as happy as he was to see that our walks, even in familiar territory, Yield unique sights on pretty well every occasion.  It was our theory (and excuse for not seeing it before) that the city only turns it on for special events.  
As for the art construction, you can see a bit of it here, but we didn't go any closer that day.  It was blistering hot, there was a Cannabis Day demonstration, and though it only became slightly violent (video has some rough language) after we had made our way past the area, we were seeking shade and already disturbed by the smell of smoke and by the crowds in the streets that made walking difficult.
We made a quick decision to skip the gallery viewing and head instead to Canada Place.  We also decided to follow a route with the most shaded streets.   On the way, we passed these vibrant, red flowers.  They were above us and I had to point my camera upwards.  Bill, for the first time, convinced me to use my Live View camera setting.  Second discovery of the day.  Thanks, Bill!
When we reached an area near Canada Place, we again sought shade.  Over the fence, we could hear quite pleasant music from..
a live band, 
and though we didn't join the (peaceful) crowds,
we found a wonderful spot where we could sit under the shade of a tree.
We asked a Young man who was with a group of friends if he would take our photo.  He was most obliging!  Hope you like my windblown look :)
We really enjoyed that group of Young people.  They were a mix of cultures, practicing English together, and full of a joyful spirit as they celebrated Canada. 
I asked for permission to take their photos, and like the young man who took our photo (he's at the far right), found that they were happy to accommodate us.
We stayed for a while before waving good-bye to them.  It is still a good memory, as I write about them now.  I hope they will have a great time in Canada.
We might have headed home at that point, but Bill had another idea, and that led to our 3rd discovery of the day.  We decided to climb some steps to a terrace that was part of the Vancouver Sun building (I think that's the right link).
That patio would have to qualify for status as one of Vancouver's happy secrets.  I loved that neat fountain..
and the view around us included the sails at Canada Place.  There was shade from the building, tables where families were enjoying picnic lunches,
and views of the waterfront on two sides.
We could even see our famous orange cranes..
and I loved the view of the railway lines too.
I've always loved sitting on the floor, and though my bones and joints are getting older, and it's a little harder to do than it used to be, having to get up and down on floor mats for my gym classes is keeping that bit of Youth alive in me :)  I sat down on the cement floor of the terrace (it was surprisingly clean) to take these photos of Bill.
I love them.
I don't know exactly why it's so much fun to view loved ones through my lens,
but we both laughed and laughed..
and then Bill took the camera and caught a few of me.  Elegant, I wasn't :) but I sure was happy!  Black Jack was more..
interested in what she might find on the floor, so I had to direct her gaze here :)
Bill checked out the view while..
I caught one more shot of that wonderful fountain,
and then we walked over an overpass-bridge where a (barely visible) drummer below really impressed us with his high level of skill.
Discovery number 4 of the day was the solar panels of the new Telus Building..
and Bill also loved the tree in front of this heritage home (you could say that was discovery number 5) as we neared home.  The blooms on that tree were..
 
huge.  The small lens doesn't really show you that, but I cropped the photo here to give an idea of how it must feel to look through that window on a downtown street and have such a view.  That concludes the post for today.  My thanks once more to Theresa for her Good Fences meme, to Mrs. Nesbitt for starting ABC Wednesday and to her fine team of volunteers for keeping it going.  Oh..  and one more thanks!   That one is to you for taking time to stop by!  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!