Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve wishes

There are two important goals for this post. One is to beg you, if there is a spare minute in your day, to please use the blue icon at the top right of the page to vote for Turtle Gardens in the Pepsi Challenge. This is the last day (must vote before 8:00 p.m. if you are in the west), and if they can hold on to their second place standing, they will win $25,000. There are so many deserving causes, but Yvette and Dave have worked all their lives to make a difference in northern B.C. A new van to help them deliver their rescued dogs to homes all over the lower mainland, and to make that very long drive from Topley to Vancouver more safely, would mean all the difference. So many times, their old van has left them struggling, sometimes in way below zero weather, to convince it to complete the journey. A few minutes at Yvette's blog will really bring home the never-ending stress (and yes, joy as well) of dealing with abandoned and/or abused dogs.

My second goal is to say a heartfelt "thank you" to each and every person who has ever taken the time to read this blog. It is so much appreciated. I wish peace, health and happiness to you as 2011 approaches.

Okay, my last goal is to show a few of the sights as Bill, Black Jack and I walked along the seawall yesterday. It was a cold but lovely day, and the reflections were often mesmerizing.


Bill counted seven ships all lined up in the distance.

Bill told me it is bad luck to disturb an Inukshuk, but it is okay to add on to it. Then he added that he had just made that up. Growing up with a very superstitious mother, I have to beware of adding too many to my rather long list, but I liked that one.

I should know the name of this art piece, but will have to look it up later. We're off at noon today for an overnight adventure. (I'm not exactly sure where, so that will be the topic of the next post.)

Bill says "hi" and "Happy New Year" too.

My hands were co-o-old yesterday, but Bill's were toasty warm. Here, he touched the cement wall, and couldn't believe how the sun had warmed it. (I think Bill has really beautiful hands.)

There are the trees that at night, look like one big Christmas welcome. (Last picture on my previous post.)

And, this is what they looked like, just as the lights came on but before dark.

Bill has a curious mind and always likes to figure out how things work.

We rounded the corner and thankfully enjoyed the outdoor lamp heater and a latte at Starbucks before turning back to go home. The sun set very quickly. I love the palm trees against the sky.
This may go down as the fastest blog post I have ever done! It feels so good to be caught up! Have a wonderful New Year's Eve, everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December Catch-up

This is the final catch-up to bring me up to date with photo-moments between December 4th and last evening, December 29th.

First, a thank you to Max and Felix, two international high school students from Germany. I met them last evening in Stanley Park, as I was standing by the lagoon trying to photograph the Christmas tree. That tree has been a favourite with me for a long time, but without a tripod, and still lacking sufficient knowledge of my camera to get a decent night shot, I really wasn't doing well. They approached and began shooting the tree. "That doesn't happen to be a Nikon, does it?" I asked, never expecting them to say that it was. They spent the better part of 15 minutes after that helping me figure out how to get a better shot. Felix shot this one with my camera - not bad, considering that he was working in the dark to read the dial. I'm really happy with it, especially since one of my goals had been to show the reflections.

Max, in the mean time, was experimenting with his own camera, and promised to send me his results. Both boys had skiing injuries, Felix with a dislocated shoulder and Max with his arm in a cast. Both will return to Germany at the end of January. I won't forget them or their kindness.

Now, to backtrack to Saturday, December 5th, the day after we watched the eagles.

We walked with Black Jack at Jericho, the first time I had been there in several months. I took this to show the pond and the ocean behind it.

Did this tree die? Interesting orange colour. This year, it feels as though the Fall colours in Vancouver have extended into the winter season.

One of Black Jack's favourite places (and my shadow). She loves to inspect some logs that lie at the far corner of the fence. I like the pastel-painted sky here.

This rabbit was hanging out by the restaurant that Bill and I enjoy on warm summer evenings. It's called The Galley. (Another of Black Jack's favourite spots - I wonder why.)

We met this beautiful dog on the path as we were leaving the park. He was apparently the runt of a litter, and did not have the lung capacity to run hours every day as he was bred to do. The breeder was going to put him down.

This is his saviour, and as you can see, they are very much bonded.

Saturday, December 12th: A late afternoon walk along the seawall near my apartment.

That day, the sky seemed to change from minute to minute.

A corner of the seawall caught the sun,

as did windows of high-rises.

Drama in the sky continued,

and I watched the changes from my window after arriving home.

Wednesday, December 15th. An American Coot by Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park.

Sunday, December 19th, a neighbourhood walk. Can't resist that cormorant perch.

This fellow called out a friendly greeting and joked about my lens. He called it a canon, but I replied, "No, it's a Nikon." Second time (or maybe third) that a stranger has made that joke.

I walked by Lookout on Marinaside Crescent, and focused on two of the images. Love the pencil behind the ear,

and the old-style phone.

Then, I checked out the Equestrian Monument by David Robinson. Bill loves the horse but finds the human disturbing. I am drawn to this piece over and over again.

Later the same day, this finch in David Lam Park worked hard to gain nourishment.

I wonder if I keep photographing the same cormorant . S/he doesn't seem to mind.

Lots of colour that afternoon.

This seagull landed on the roof of the aquabus,

and then soared in front of constantly changing light.

On the way home, the moon was up.

This was two nights before the eclipse and the winter solstice.

Monday, December 20th, a late afternoon walk by the seawall.

I hadn't seen these ducks before, and haven't seen them since. Poor picture and difficult to identify. Scaups, perhaps?

This seagull seemed like a sculpture.

These Hooded Mergansers were diving over and over again. I have looked for them again, but I guess they were just stopping by. The female is shown first.

Tuesday, December 21st. We walked along the seawall as far as English Bay.

A seagull,


Barrow's Goldeneyes,

and a blue heart were some of the sights.

It was a long walk. We turned up Denman to Davie, and continued all the way back along Davie, with a stop to look at Equestrian Monument again. I can't put together a reasonable explanation for the short tail.

Bill says that it is stylized art, and it is that contrast with reality that disturbs him about the human. For him, the human is just too lifelike.

For me, the horse doesn't feel stylized. I reach out to touch the velvety nose, and though the surface is cold and hard, warm breath seems to come from it.

Almost home, I took this picture of a pile driver that was driving me crazy. Construction at Elsie Roy School has been ongoing throughout the Christmas holiday but fortunately, the last of the piles have been driven into what must have been very, very hard ground. I cannot imagine a more painful sound. I teach band, and have learned to shut out some of the more unpleasant beginner squeaks, blasts, and squawks, but nothing I have experienced prepared me for pile driving torture.

Can you feel it?

That evening, Bill and I went to the MacMillan Space Centre and really enjoyed the experience. We couldn't see the eclipse except on computer screens, as there was too much cloud cover, but I loved listening to the astronomers talk about their passion. And, I touched a piece of moon rock. Awesome:)

Saturday, December 25th. (A late Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!)

I prepared a meal for Bill! (Sorry, no photo.) Yams and coconut milk and quinoa formed the base of a recipe that morphed so much from the original intent, it is impossible to name. Not exactly turkey and stuffing, but given my lack of culinary skills, and blessed with the most encouraging of guests, it was really a happy meal.

Black Jack and I also went for a walk as far as English Bay, meeting many friendly people, some of whom wanted to ask about my lens (what is it about a large lens that attracts so much attention?) and others who wanted to play with Black Jack. A family visiting from Korea had so much fun with her, it was heartwarming to watch. Black Jack is good with children, but she didn't have to be tolerant with these toddlers. They pet her and touched her face softly and won her heart.

This Harlequin didn't come very close, and the weather was grey, but I was happy to record the moment.

We stopped by another of my favourite Christmas trees (shown at the end of the post) and I learned that Vancouver Park Board, the Friends for Life Society, people living with challenging illnesses, Joe Average artist, and Noma Lights have been responsible since 1995 for keeping the tree so beautifully lit. Every year, when the lights go on, I am filled with a sense of well-being - I know that sounds hokey, but there you go. I'm not sure why the little stuffed dog was on the plaque, but somehow, it seemed to fit.

At Beach and Denman, I looked west and noticed the pigeons lined up on this beautiful building.

As with our last walk, we chose Davie for the return home. I love this street. There is a little community garden at the corner of Burrard - there are not so many plants at this time of year, but lots of small birds were finding nourishment, and these green stones were beautiful.

Flower pots,

a cat,

and a frog waited for the return of their caretakers.

Sunday, December 26th, "my" cormorant said, "Hi!" and..

I discovered this beautiful head in Yaletown Park at the corner of Nelson and Mainland.

I took a photo of the plaque, and you can find more information at this site.

This train is parked at the corner. I had managed to walk by it, as well as "Eros Bendato Scrippalato" several times without seeing them. I find that shocking, but am happy to have discovered them now. I hope to find some information about the train later.

On the way home, I took a close-up of BC Place retractable roof.

It looked rather neat, framed by a portion of RIng Gear - (see #5 of the link)

I took this tree through a window in a high-rise lobby, and enjoyed the connection to trees reflected in the background.

This CPR train 374 is in the window at the front of The Roundhouse. It has been decorated for Christmas but taking pictures through the window at night doesn't make for great photos. Still, it is rather fun. I hope to stop by one day and spend a little time getting to know the train better.

On Monday, December 27th, Black Jack and I walked up to JJBean and I took some photos of one of the friendliest barristas you could ever ask to meet as he prepared beautiful lattes. (A latte post coming one of these days.) Many of the trees on Davie are lit with these blue lights.

There are also some interesting lights around the street lamp poles.

We also took a minute to look through Ring Gear,

and passed yet again by Lookout. I wonder what exactly buckers and swampers did.

I had my small lens this time, so took a couple of pictures with more of a view of the surroundings.

I love the idea that going out to play saves energy.

The small lens also did a better job of completing the story of Terra Nova, although I still wonder about that shoulderless arm - sort of like the short tail - it bothers me:)

On Tuesday, the 28th, I had fun showing Bill some of my favourite haunts. After ten+ years in Vancouver, it still amazes me to see flowers in December. I couldn't decide if this shot,

or an even more cropped version worked better as a photograph.

Bill liked my beautiful head, but Black Jack thought he could be doing more interesting things like giving her treats.

I still haven't found out much about the train on the corner, but am fascinated by the red wheel.

We walked up Hamilton (I think) and while waiting for the light to change, the geometrical shapes of this building were fun to contemplate.

A pastel blue brush-stroked sky was a nice background for yet another shot of the roof.

I like Cooper's Park, and always think of Neville and Jen's Cooper. There is exciting news on that front, with Cooper expecting a little sister very soon. I have been terrible about keeping in touch, but think of them a lot, and if you are at all into children and the joys of raising them, Jen's blog is a must-read.

This is another of those pieces of art that I walked by several times without seeing, but now that I've taken some time to look at it, really enjoy. It's called TIme Top and is by Jerry Pethick, who died in 2003.

A plant reaching over a wall, concluded a very pleasant walk.

Yesterday, I spent a few more minutes with "Equestrian Monument" before heading to school to do some work.

On the way home, I met Max and Felix and so this post has finally come full circle, beginning and ending with Christmas tree lights. The ones at the beginning were a result of our meeting, and this one, of a second favourite tree (actually six trees joined by the lights) was taken on Beach Avenue after I left them and headed home. I used the same settings Felix had set up for me, but the flash kept coming on, not a good thing. Getting a decent shot of that tree could take a while.
That's it! That's all! I did it! I'm caught up! Thank you for reading!