Friday, October 26, 2012

The Letter "L"

My "L" post was to begin two photos down, but today's state funeral for Lincoln Alexander, Canada's first black member of parliament, is very much on my mind.  Listening to the words of his widow and grandchildren really left their mark.  I guess, foremost in my mind, and well ahead of all his impressive political accomplishments, was just how passionately he loved and was loved.  RIP Mr. Alexander.
And, I really thought I had taken enough Autumn leaves for this 2012 season, but this picture, taken in David Lam Park yesterday, is one of my favourites.   

Now, on to the post as it originally began:

Look, look at light, look at luminescent light (not sure if any photos here fit the Wikipedia definition), look at L.S.Lowry's life and legacy, listen to Liszt by Lang and Li..  couple of lakes and ladybugs too..  those are the "L" themes that have lingered in my mind after going through some of my photos.  Oh, I guess I could add all my photos represent local attractions and perhaps one or two of them will inspire some laughter.  Lots of links to the letter "L" for ABC Wednesday's fun blog meme.  Mostly, I'll just give you locations and some hopefully lucid and perhaps even lively information about the backgrounds, but will leave you to decide which categories fit logically with the pictures.

I loved the delicate pink of these flowers.. 
in David Lam Park on August 31st.

These little ladybugs spent an amazingly..

long time together on September 14th (along the seawall by David Lam Park).  I hope the time investment was lucrative.  Have you ever wondered if men ladybugs find their name somewhat limiting?  I did, after I learned from Bill that: "Mrs. Google says that male ladybugs are still called ladybugs and Mrs. Google says that ladybugs are the Official State Bug of Massachusetts and Delaware." 

Same day, same place, I felt lucky..
to see eye-to-eye with this loquacious finch,
chattering to his friends between bites.  He was endowed with liberally allotted reds that.. 
lifted my mood, as did the liquid shine in his eye, flashing between the branches. 
The next six photos were taken the same day, later in the afternoon, 

at Sun Yat-Sen Garden.  It was lunacy to let Black Jack that close to..

the pond creatures, but all lived to..

enjoy life. In the meantime,

looming apparitions emerging from mysterious depths were great fun to watch.

The koi looped back on every circuit around the pond to inspect Black Jack.

I think it was September 25th that we went to Deer Lake.

I have longed for a long time to capture the red glow under a Flicker's wings.  This shot was taken into direct sun, but still took me a step further towards my goal.  

I thought the lush algae on the lake looked a bit like a physical relief map. 
We have a few shots like this taken in various locations.  Hopefully, I haven't shown this one before.  I was laughing as I tried to nonchalently turn Black Jack around in the 10 allotted seconds.  We were standing on the fishing dock, looking out to the lake, but Black Jack was clearly lured by a more interesting view behind us.

I'm not sure why I was so amused by this trio of lady ducks. 

This seagull had been loitering with the ducks, but suddenly launched itself in lissome flight over their heads. 

One of my favourite memories of the day was the feeling of luxurious liberty as we sat on a bench, eating our lunch, and watching the sparrows..

and chick-a-dees.  They were flitting so quickly, and I laboured to catch them, but Bill's quick eyes and lively leadership made these photos a team effort.   

A walk around Stanley Park on September 11th provided some "look" photos.. 

that did not letup for quite some time.
I was enjoying the symmetrical lines in the wings of this Canada Goose..

when he suddenly turned and led his very large family..

across the road.  They didn't check license plate numbers, but this heron..

on-looker seemed aghast at the way the geese were endangering their lives.

I have posted before about our day at Hearts on Noses Sanctuary but hadn't really shown much of Rolley Lake.  It is a short drive from the sanctuary and really a lovely place to visit.  If ever you find yourself with a bit of time to spare, you could make a day of it, volunteering at the sanctuary and then enjoying a leisurely stroll and picnic afterwards.  The walkway is similar to the one at Deer Lake and it occurs to me that it is sort of in an "L" shape.

The luminescence of these dragonfly wings was compellingly beautiful and I was happy that the dragonfly lazed about just long enough for me to capture the moment.
A few steps further along the walkway, we saw one stretched out on its back on the walkway.  I thought maybe it had died, and wondered about the lifespan of dragonflies, but it suddenly righted itself and flew off, much to my delight.  I later found this site, with lots to learn about dragonflies.  Apparently, it is a common misconception that they only live for a day (that's what I had thought), but in fact, they can live up to several months.  

This leaning tree and its reflection made one more "L" shape found at Rolley Lake.
Our latest outing was just a few days ago (22nd of October) when we enjoyed a wonderful hike at Burnaby Mountain.  (Bill calls it Burnaby Hill.)  I'll let you guess which of my "L" themes is represented here.

And here..

and even here.  Hint: We were staring up that path named "Cardiac HIll" and wondering if it would turn out to be as lethal as its name sounded.  (It wasn't :)
The theme continues here..

and here..

and here..  and yes,

here too.  The three of us really enjoyed the day although we are still wondering what caused the spots on those very large leaves.  Best of all, though, Bill got to check out his alma mater (Simon Fraser University) and I enjoyed a few of his "good old days" legends. 

Moving on to L. S. Lowrey, I will say that he was a fascinating man, beautifully described in this blog by Pamalam.  The painting below is called "Coming from the Mill" and depicts factory workers at the end of their work day in Salford, England.  Although the people in his art sometimes verge on stick figures, there is a palpable longing in their posture.

This one is called "The Cripples" and here, one could look for a very long time at the variety of details in the body positions and facial expressions. 

The excellent photo of Lowry below was found at this site and is by Frank Martin.

Several times, there have been happy coincidences immediately after selecting an artist for an ABC post, and Knowledge Network's 50-minute documentary on L.S. Lowry's life was one such occasion and a beautiful depiction of his life.  I love Knowledge Network; I have to say it is well named, since I have learned a lot from many of its programs.  

Lastly, I have chosen two musicans, Lang Lang, 

and Yundi Li playing a famous piece by Liszt called La Campanella.  It is interesting to compare their performances, and for me, to consider the liability that fame can sometimes be.  Overall, the comments were often quite derogatory for Lang Lang's performances (I hope they do not show up in this video) and much kinder for Yundi Li's performances.  It is my theory that Lang Lang's greater fame has made him the target of mankind's tendency to idolize talent and then attack it.  In fact, I think both performances are well worth a listen.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by.  Should you wish to read other alphabet posts from around the world, do take some time to check out the blog meme, ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Letter "K"

We were walking at Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring Island when I saw this "K" as clearly as one could ever hope to see a letter of the alphabet in the forest.  I took the picture and continued walking, and as we got closer, I realized it had been an illusion.  In fact, the "K" was formed by two trees.  However, it seems a good way to start a "K" post in a late entry for ABC Wednesday.

My "K" words for this post?  Well, they vary in tone quite a bit.  I go from "kin" to "kind" to "keen" to "kaleidoscope" to "Kahn" (artist) to "Krau, Karg-Elert, and Kirk" (musicians) and then a space to give you a chance to stop reading, because the last one is "kill" as it pertains to a sad but breakthrough moment for me a couple of weeks ago when I witnessed a mink drown a seagull. That section of the post is not for everyone, but it registers an acceptance of a fact of nature that I have resisted for a long time.  As always, I am happy if you find time to read just one section of the post, so I have used titles to make that easier. 
On Granville Island last week, I saw these Afghan hounds.  They were on the other side of the playground, but I had my big lens on the camera and was able to call a request to their human, John, for permission to take some photos.  He was fine with that.  We had met before, as the last section of a blog post on April 24th, 2009 describes.  At that time, he had told me about the family consisting of Papa (very protective), Mama and four kids.  He had an elderly rescue dog at home as well, no relation, but kin nevertheless.  This time, he had only five dogs with him.  Since I didn't get close enough to ask questions, I'm making a guess that the two here are Papa (on the right) and daughter.  Papa was staring  all the way across the playground at Black Jack, and did not take his eyes off her for the entire time we were there.  He clearly took his responsibility to kith and kin very seriously.

I think this is Mama.  She and her hubby truly seem to be kindred spirits.

Afghans are especially fun to photograph.  Not wanting to stress Papa too much, we didn't stay long.  I wondered why there was one less dog than three years ago, but felt reassured to see that the sense of kinship between family members was still strong. 

This is Twister.  I posted about him on July 18th and was happy to see that he was still doing well almost two months after I first met him. He is alive due to the kindness of a lady who comes twice a day to throw fish and beans in the air.  He cannot pick up any food from the ground because of his malformed bill, but he has become adept at catching and swallowing food that is thrown.  She also brings oatmeal to keep the other seagulls busy so that Twister can take full advantage of his nutritious meals.  I love this story and watch for Twister each time I walk on the other side of False Creek.

My examples of "keen" were all taken a couple of days ago.  I think these first five require no explanation.

The very bright tree in this next photo is at the end of my street.  I think it is an example of "keen" because..
it seems determined to make up for the other trees on the street that have lost their leaves.
The next five pictures were taken a couple of days ago as well.  Fellow blogger and friend, Penelope Puddles, did a post in March about kaleidoscopes.  It was a fascinating post that addressed the wonder I felt as a child the first time I looked into a kaleidoscope.  You can see for yourself how Penelope transformed one of her own beautiful photographs into a kaleidoscope, learn about societies for people who love kaleidoscopes and even read about a connection to quantum physics that I had never for a moment considered.

For some reason, that post came to my mind when I looked at a few of my photographs.  I thought they reminded me a little bit of kaleidoscopes.  


Thanks, Penelope for giving me new ways to think about kaleidoscopes.

I found several fine artists whose names begin with "K" but selected Wolf Kahn for this post.  He moved from Germany to England in 1939, at the age of 12.  The Wikipedia article (linked above) doesn't go into details, but I thought about the stories that must linger behind that move.  He now lives in New York City during the Winter and Spring seasons, but spends Summer and Autumn in Vermont.

He uses pastels and oil paints in a combination of two techniques, realism and colour field.    

The painting below (public on Flickr) showed up when I googled Kahn.  The artist, R.Zellers, was copying Kahn's style.

I have driven through Vermont in Autumn and it really is a spectacular place to enjoy the seasonal colour changes.  This painting reminds me a bit of my "keen" tree in that the path is the one brave blaze of colour  hanging on for just a bit longer.

When I was studying music at McGill, I remember my music teacher suggesting I listen to Lily Kraus.  I did, and was of course blown away by her playing, but it is only in the exploration of her life for this post that I discovered two videos about her: Part 1 and Part 2.  What a precious gift I felt I had been given to watch her teaching masterclasses, listen to her speaking of her passionate love for her husband, hear a friend of hers describe their time interned during the war, and listen to the words of her children who adored her but suffered immeasurably each time she had to be away for concert tours.  They are about 13 minutes each to watch but well worth the time.

Here, you can listen to Lily Kraus playing Mozart's Piano Sonata no.11, k331, Rondo Alla Turca.  It was recommended in my "1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die" book.  I have put a link to that book's author, Tom Moon, because I am really grateful for the three years that he took to research and document the lives and work of so many musicians.  Tom Moon's life is probably at least as interesting as those he writes about.  So many countries visited, so many genres explored, and so much true appreciation comes through as he describes the music he admires and loves.  As he says in his introduction, "Every day for more than three years, I went off searching.  This book is the product of my journey.  It's been an odyssey powered by the thrill of discovery and governed by a simple notion: that the more you love music, the more music you love." Perhaps, a subject for an "M" post one of these days :)
Tom Moon was not the person who introduced me to musician, Jonathan Scott, playing a 1908 Art Harmonium in a performance of Sigfrid Karg-Elert's Totentanz Op. 70 No.2.  It came up in a random search for musicians with "K" names.  However, I think he may have been as excited by my find as I was.  As someone said in the comments, "I have read that Karg-Elert's great strength as a performer was as a virtuoso on the Kunst-Harmonium.  Thank you so much for bringing this facet of this composer's artistry so vividly back to life. Your performance is superb in every way."  Karg-Elert, shown below, was internationally oriented and struggled against the cultural climate in pre-WW1 Germany.  The last few years of his life were unhappy, a fact that I think shows in his expression.  However, I think, like Tom Moon, he would have been very pleased to hear Scott's fine performance of his music. 

Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-77) was born on August 7th (my mother's birthday).  He is another musician a teacher recommended I listen to while I was in university, but somehow, became lost at the back of my memory in recent years.  I enjoyed reading this Wikipedia article about him.  I hadn't realized that, for the last two years of his life, he continued to perform by adapting his technique to accommodate paralysis on one side after suffering a stroke. A second stroke killed him in '77, but this is a man who held nothing back, as you will feel in this performance, "Volunteered Slavery (recorded before his stroke). It goes through many phases in ten minutes, starting with a solo, then, at around the two minute mark, he goes on a walkabout through the audience.  The microphone doesn't pick him up during that walk, but someone says in the comments that he doesn't think Kirk breathed once in that entire walkabout.  He of course, does, but he is master of a technique some call circular breathing.  When he returns to the stage, he builds the intensity and emotion to give a performance that takes you on a wild ride.  Kirk was blind and performed on two and sometimes, three, wind instruments at the same time, so there was a kind of circus-performer aspect to his playing that put off some music critics.  However, Warner Jazz put out a 22-track compilation of his performances between '65 and '76.  I enjoyed this article about that performance, and in particular, these words by Chris May: "Initially derided by "serious" jazz critics, who thought he belonged in a carnival side show, Kirk ultimately won over most skeptics. He was an experimentalist hardwired into blues and gospel roots, an incandescent soloist, and a supreme entertainer. He was also an articulate supporter of the black and civil rights movement. He just about had it all—and his music still sends shivers up the spine 35 years after his death."
There you have my ABC Wednesday "K" post.  Thank you so much for reading any part of it. You can check out people's contributions for the letter "N" by going to this link.  As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is one more section, but scrolling down will take you to some pictures that will be disturbing for many of you.

Warning: Disturbing photos below of a mink drowning a seagull.

I heard the screams of the seagull as Black Jack and I walked along the seawall.  They only lasted a few seconds, but sent chills down my spine.  

What I saw horrified me.  The scene dominated my thoughts for several days.

Vegetarian for more than 40 years, and vegan since January, the killing of another living being is abhorrent to me.  However, I came to some conclusions this time.
1. I forced myself to look, first through the camera, and then, at the photos. No more hiding my head in the sand, pretending all nature is cute and adorable.
2. Animals have to eat, and many survive only by killing.  They have to learn how to do that or die.
3. It's not easy.  They work hard for every bite they eat.
4. There is no malice.  They kill as quickly as they can, and there is very little waste.
5.  I still don't like it, but I accept it.

I was able to get a close enough picture of the seagull to know that it wasn't Twister, and for that, I was relieved.  I'm sorry, young seagull, that you were the loser this time.  The mink must have swum up under you so quickly that the game was over before you knew it had started.  Eat well, little mink.  You worked hard and you earned it.

When the screams shattered a beautiful day, Black Jack and I were not the only ones to hear them.  Several people watched with me, and in fact, I had a memorable conversation with a very empathetic young man.  A wave of seagulls also arrived at the scene.  Family and friends or just by-flyers?  I don't know.  I think they quickly realized there was nothing to be done, but I thought I saw grief in this adult's face.  However, within a minute, they were gone, the victim was silent, and I was alone with my thoughts.  If you did choose to read this, I thank you and of course, would be interested in your response.