Monday, January 17, 2011

Walks, music, theatre and thoughts on the weekend

It rained on and off for much of the weekend. There was a news story last evening announcing that today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the entire year, but I am still basking in the aftermath of the visual, aural and mental stimulation of the past two days. We are fortunate. We are able to get out and there was much in the city to celebrate and I guess that is my overriding thought as I prepare to start the work week.

The rain stopped for our walk on Saturday morning. The tide was low, and Black Jack and I climbed down on the rocks (more like stones) at the edge of the seawall. A seagull's feathers left an impression of vulnerability and beauty, tinged with sadness.

Two dragon boats came by, the first group perhaps less experienced. They had what appeared to be "tough love" guidance from the girl coaching at the front and the fellow in the zodiac (you may need to click on the picture to see him). I learned from this site that the steersperson at the back is the most important person of all.

This group did not appear to need a coach. They were much more in unison, and passed the other group easily, in spite of starting later. I thought about the people who get up early, train, and push themselves to the limit to work with a team to travel across the water.

Brown feathers here, and I wondered which bird or duck left them behind. I also wondered about the many different hues and shades in the stones.

This is the first time I have seen the eel-like creature out of water that often seems to be disappearing down the long neck of Blue Herons. I found a sight describing B.C. creatures, and know that Wanderin' Weeta (her blog is a feast of information) would instantly identify this, but there just isn't the time before work to figure out its name for myself.

You may want to skip this next picture. It is not horrific looking, but it does show a dead cormorant. I thought about not showing it, but in fact, it has been on my mind most of the weekend - not in an obsessively upset sort of way, but just sitting on my brain, melding with other thoughts. Mostly, I want to know how it died. It appears somewhat peaceful, cradled by the stones. I am surprised that I allowed myself to look closely at it. Death of a wild thing is always disturbing to me.

We stepped back up to the walking path, and this isolated splash of colour reminded me how the view changes every day, sometimes in subtle ways, and sometimes, more dramatically.

These pussy-willowish buds are appearing all around the neighbourhood.

The rain was beginning, and we headed homeward. Engine 374 is housed in a museum around the corner from my apartment. I haven't yet been in that museum, but admission is free and it is on my must-see list. The machine below rests in a strangely neglected and dismal-looking spot by the museum. Strange, because there has been an enormous effort to make the area attractive, except for that one spot. I think Bill explained that machine's function to me once, but that information seems to have slipped over the top of my head. It appears beautiful to me in the photograph.

This is the neglected area described above. The machine rests off camera at the front right.

Saturday evening, we attended the VSO Pops concert: Opera in Love! We walked there in pouring rain and I know that I looked more than a bit bedraggled, roving among many of Vancouver's best-dressed citizens, and unable to stop taking photos of the incredible Orpheum decor.

For now, I will have to leave you with a taste of the view, but little information to credit the artists behind the tapestries. (A project for a day with more time to research.)

The chandeliers are extraordinary. This link gives a few details about the history of the architectural design.

This was the best of many attempts to capture this tapestry. Still a long way to go, but perhaps a little progress as I played with iso and exposure.

The colour is completely off, but here is a sample of the ornate finishing.

The sculpture, Symphonia, on the front wall of the lobby is created by John Nutter.

It is a complex and intriguing work, with hidden splashes of colour, beautifully lit, and waiting quietly in the background.

The inscription here explains that the sculpture is "inspired by the rhythm and melodies of the eternal sea" and is a "tribute to the immortal art of live symphonic music." The music we heard was of such outstanding quality, I found myself with new awareness of the magnificence of Vancouver's symphony orchestra, every section playing with a beauty of tone and with a passion that mesmerized. Add to that the unbelievable strength of the four soloists. Bill commented that after hearing "Le Nozze di Figaro: Non piu andrai" by the baritone, Marcus DeLoach, he couldn't imagine anything to follow that could possibly equal that thrill. Imagine that thrill continuing, for two hours of pleasure, with not a moment of disappointment. To use a cliche, it was a magical evening.

Two more views of the sculpture. I felt the waves, but also..

thought I saw swan-like birds among the images.

On Sunday, we cycled to the Firehall Arts Centre to see the play, "The Pavilion" by Craig Wright. Before we left, I took a photo of this House Finch outside my apartment.

I also observed that the birds (no attempt to identify this morning - not even sure if it is a chick-a-dee or sparrow) are thriving.

They could perhaps do with a little less sustenance:)

A dog passed by, proud of its treasure,

and pretty much ignored by his human, who talked intently on his cell phone.

The camera suddenly strayed from birds to Bill. We were off for a short but very pleasant (and rainless!) ride along the seawall bike path to the Firehall Centre. (Bill did put his helmet on afterwards.)

We arrived early, and although it is in a less affluent section of the city, it slowly became evident that there has been some painstaking work to the beautify the surroundings. The sidewalk beneath our feet was magnificent!

Next door to the theatre is a police museum. I doctored this photo a bit to remove the bird droppings. I like the image of child and policeman. It brings back a memory of my mother always telling me to just ask a policeman for help, if ever it was needed.

I visited the museum once, several years ago, with some students. It was truly fascinating, and Bill and I made a plan to go see it soon.

Just about out of time now, so no links, but if you have not been to the Firehall Arts Centre, I really, really recommend it,

not only for the beauty of its architecture,

but to see The Pavilion before it closes on January 23rd. The play left me with swirling, drifting emotions. There was laughter, sadness, familiarity, poetry, intense admiration for the actors and playwright, as well as a song that I will never forget.

Back to the street art, that continued up the steps to the hall.

A police car was parked outside the museum.

Biking home in the late afternoon, we were again blessed with dry weather. We stopped for a few moments to admire the light, the "spider"

and I noted the recent change of colour in these hedges by the bike path.

I came home, got Black Jack and went back outside to catch a few more glimpses of the afternoon's treasures.

There was a man smoking a cigar in this rock. I'm certain of it, although I doubt he appeared there intentionally.

The bike path we had just travelled, in what seemed to be blue light.

That was the weekend. Time to leave for work. Thanks for reading and happy Monday to you!


  1. Did someone say depressing? Absolutely the opposite when following your blog. The walkway is a multi-colored stream of stones. I liked seeing highlights of Vancouver places I wasn’t aware of and have yet to visit. There is much that is also interesting on your previous post. To focus on a few … I once saw a film about birds on the history channel. Their travels can be challenging beyond belief. It makes me think the lost one IS at peace. I enjoyed your captures of the beautiful moments when birds glide in the water and soar in the air. The reflection of the bike also caught my eye. It reminds me of an impressionist painting and the photograph of the surfer’s kite is a cheery sight against the city backdrop. :)

  2. Happy Monday to you too! What a wonderful weekend even though it was so rain-filled! We enjoyed a remarkable concert last night... and a very, very, very wet walk both ways! I am grateful that is is not snowing because we could not have done the same walk in Winnipeg! I love the rocky path and the sculpture in the concert hall! I hope Paul was playing. "Non pui andrai" is one of my favourite arias also!! Yea, Bill!

  3. Thanks for posting all these photos! I loved following along on your trip around Vancouver, close to my hometown! I have seen some of these sites, and am happy to see some I have not had the experience of seeing yet. Thanks for the tour!!
    And pussy willows! Another sign that this winter will have an end!

  4. Your post really highlights how there is beauty to be found everywhere, if we only look for it. The purple rock, the curious finch, the budding pussywillows, the amazing walkway art, the architecture......
    Thanks for a tour of a city that tends to make me tense with its traffic jams and noise and grime - I should obviously get out of my car and WALK it next time I'm there!

  5. Where to start... first off, I'm not current with all the blogs I follow. So my comments will reflect my impressions since I last posted a comment. I really find your blog refreshing, entertaining and interesting. You find such a gentle and captivating manner of story telling that is finely balanced with various types of images that grabs your attention and doesn't let go.

    I think your sparrows are puffed up with winter plumage and not necessarily so much the extra seeds you're providing.

    I love the architectural images to the whimsical finishing touches on the coffee toppings... or the elegant and artistic images from the theatre.

    You definitely have a creative and artistic eye. I look forward to reading and viewing future blog entries.

    Thanks once again.

    Explore. Dream. Discover.