Thursday, December 6, 2012

The letter "U" for ABC Wednesday

In a recent post I showed a couple of photos from a visit to the Biodiversity Museum at the University of B.C.  Here are a few more from that day, each with a memory or moment that lifts me up when I look back.  I guess they could be called uplifting memories.

Black Jack and I walked south on the right side of the Burrard Bridge on the way to meet Bill.  It was a cloudy day with rain threatening.  Not the best to show off the bridge, but the feeling of unreserved familiarity after years of bicycle commutes returns every time I travel over it.   

This photo (taken in pre-retirement days) gives a better idea of the art deco style that the architect, George Lister, chose for the concrete towers.  There is a bust of Captain George Vancouver on one side (with a V under it) and Sir Harry Burrard-Neale on the other (with a B under it).  The Museum of Vancouver web site shows a photo of people gathered on the Burrard the day it opened (July 1, 1932).  My uppermost thought on seeing a cyclist in the crowd was to wonder if he was perhaps the first person ever to ride his bike over the bridge.   

Below is a shot taken one night several years ago as I traveled home from work.  I can just make out the "B" under Sir Harry Burrard-Neale.  He appears unruffled by his lofty position.
Once over the bridge, we turned right on Cornwall Street, where an unaccompanied cabbage flower rested outside an iron gate.  In spite if its humble location, it seemed to glow. 

Looking over the hedge and through to Kits Beach, these two trees formed an unconventional archway.

These utterly unique flowers were in front of a house a few blocks further on, and also outside a fence.  I had never seen anything quite like them.

A bit further on, Cornwall Street turns into Point Grey Road, and it was there that I noticed this rose resting against a garage wall. It seemed to utter these words: "I, alone, survived."
This elephant sculpture lives in a garden on Point Grey Road.  A couple of years ago, Bill took a picture of it during one of his walks with Black Jack.  I couldn't believe I had walked by that spot umpteen times without seeing it, but have been fond of it ever since.

Here, the elephant is at the head of a line of evergreens ushering the way to the ocean.

This useful mirror in the hedge helps drivers back safely onto Point Grey Road.  I thought it would be a fun way to show the road, and then noticed Black Jack and I were in it too.

Even with rain threatening, there was an unassuming and subtle beauty in the muted colours around the pond at Jericho Park.

Two crows greeted us near the entrance to the park.  They urged me to share a few of Black Jack's treats with them. 

I knew Black Jack's unbridled energy would not bode well for a squirrel on the other side of this fence. I had to restrain her, but there was something endearingly helpless in the gesture of her front paws.

Bill met us at the park and we drove to UBC to visit the Biodiversity Museum.  We left Black Jack in the truck and Bill unselfishly offered her his down jacket. She was curled up in it as warm as toast when we returned.

I was grateful for the mauve patterns and tree reflections in this campus building and for the architects who add unique touches to their work.

In the museum, many aisles like this one had beautiful displays and drawers to investigate.  The colours were inviting and the seemingly unlimited quantity of specimens made me feel like I was unearthing a treasure chest of goodies.
The blue whale on display washed up on the shore of Prince Edward Island in 1987.  23 years later, she was finally settled into her permanent resting place at UBC.  This site describes some of Big Blue's story but there is also a Discovery Channel movie called "Raising Big Blue" that can be watched at the museum or bought on-line.  We didn't see the movie (too much time away from Black Jack) but  I hope to one day.  Check out her ribs and you may notice an interesting detail.  I am unabashedly fond (understatement) of whales.

I have mixed feelings about these next three photos, loving the opportunity to see this cougar's head and to observe the hinged action of its jaw and the fitting together of its upper and lower teeth, but definitely maintaining a healthy respect for cougars.  That is to say they scare me :)  I am unsure that this one died of old age, but like to think that may have been the case.  You can see a little of our guide's face here. He was knowledgeable and friendly and one could tell that his work is a labour of love.  We could have wandered about on our own rather than taking the tour but for this first visit, it was good to have a guide.
These bird nests were uncommonly exquisite but I couldn't help but wonder..
if the original residents were unhappy when their homes were taken from the trees.  

After leaving the museum, Bill and I had tostadas at Salsa and Agave (mentioned in a previous post) but I hadn't shown you these two photos that I took in the restaurant.  They were just lights hanging from the ceiling but we were going out moon-chasing after our meal, and I thought if we were unsuccessful, these could be the stand-in.

This light was on the wall.  I know it's not a moon, but perhaps the umber hues will send some warm cheer into your day as they did mine.

The display in front of St. Paul's Hospital, noticed as we drove along Burrard Street after supper, was another pick-me-up moment.

In preparing this post, I went to a link to learn a bit more about these Lights of Hope.  

While at that site, I randomly clicked on this uplifting video and listened to a 23-year-old mother who would not be here today, had it not been for St. Paul's.  

That concludes my photos for this "U" post.  As always, I like to include one artist and one musician previously unknown to me.  Somehow, I came across Jim Unger, a cartoonist and as this site explains, a person who had a natural ability to make people laugh.  Of course, I knew his work but I had never really stopped to think about the person behind "Herman."  Jim Unger died about six months ago in Victoria.  It was inspiring to learn that, two days before he died, he wrote seven more cartoon gags.

There are lots of examples of his work on line; here's one that made me laugh: 

Lastly, Chinary Ung is a composer born in Cambodia.  He teaches at the University of California, San Diego.  The opportunity to study in the U.S. almost definitely saved his life.  Three brothers and a sister weren't so fortunate, all four dying at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.  Bill's sister, Phyllis, and her husband are presently on a trip that includes Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.  They visited the Killing Fields and have been deeply affected by that.  It seemed prophetic that Chinary Ung came up in my search for a "U" musician for this post.  As this article states, "Ung has spent a lifetime looking into his heart, considering his circumstances and contemplating the fragile nature of life."  You can hear Mr. Ung and his wife talk with a group of middle-school students at this link.
At this link, you can watch Maya Beiser play "Khse Buon" by Chinary Ung.  It is an extraordinary piece.  I hear anger and heartbreak in the rhythms and melodies but out of the pain emerges, for me, an uplifted human spirit too strong and too powerful to be silenced. 

Thank you for stopping by my blog today.  For other "U" words and themes from around the world, perhaps you will find time to stop by the ABC Wednesday blog meme. 


  1. the 5th photo w/ the view thru the trees is awesome! the elephant w/ the tree row is cool, too. :)

  2. I agree about that fifth photo. There is much to enjoy in this post … the elephant statue in the yard, Black Jack cozy in a jacket-blanket, flowers that look like stars and lamps that look like the moon. The St. Paul stars are always a joy to see. But I was not aware of the loss of the humorous man who brought a smile to so many faces for such a long time. His was a worthy purpose.

  3. great post - so much covered here. I enjoyed experiencing your city through your eyes, and while I was Uninspired by the bridge itself I was Understandably Unhinged at the mountians behind it - what a view! love the 'garden elephant'...and the museum, the lamps in the restaurant, the story about the composer, and your little dog, too! whew... ;)

  4. Oh gosh! St. Paul's always looks so gorgeous all lit up for Christmas! Fabulous shots and a great post for our U week!

    abcw team

  5. Hi Carol, greetings from Northern Ontario. I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  6. I go to your posts and discover how previously UNINFORMED I was! Especially like pic w mountains in background.

  7. Good morning Carol. My mind is swarming with all the wonderful experiences we had in your fair city. I 'grew up' a lot in Vancouver. It was the best move of my life.

    That reflector mirror on Point Grey Road was used by us daily as we were cycling towards either the UBC swimming pool or the Kits pool. We cycled everywhere back then.
    What a magnificent structure the Burrard Bridge is.....a piece of art in itself.
    Our friends have a restaurant on West 16th called Trafalgars Bistro. Maybe you have been there.One of the guys 'drove out west' with us in 1979....he stayed.