Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"A" in my world lately

This was supposed to be a post for the letter "A" but was so late I missed the ABC Wednesday deadline.  It is, in fact, time to do my "B" post but I can't bear to miss a letter so I'm going to post this in Our World Tuesday and hope the wonderful administrators of both memes forgive me.  I've taken a look at A-shapes, amigos, architecture, art (Kenojuak Ashevak and a public art project called "Watch your Step), athletic acrobats (birds) and the Allegretto Alla Barbaresca from Alkan's "Concerto for Solo Piano" to represent some of the "A" aspects to my world this week.  And, I have to add that we attended a riveting concert last night that fits the letter "A" since Jon Kimura Parker played Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor and all three movements (Allegro molto moderato, Adagio and Allegro moderato molto e marcato) are "A" words.

These branches were by the seawall near my apartment.  I took the photo from the walking path and didn't go down on the beach to inspect them more closely but I thought the way they were intertwined formed an amazingly clear "A."  

We saw these Canada Geese in Harrison.  Gaggle after gaggle came by, flying very high.  

I wonder how they knew this was letter "A" week.

Bill is Black Jack's amigo, her buddy, the one she trusts not to discipline her except to keep her safe, the one she can count on to let her onto his lap any time she asks.  She loves me too, but I'm the one who insists she lie quietly in her bed at Bill's feet until he finishes his meal. The second he finishes (and dessert doesn't count), they reach for each other as though to say, "Finally!"  

Other examples of their affinity..
are easy to find.
Their playful antics feature their fun-loving natures.
Black Jack knows the sound of Bill's truck from blocks away and considers herself to be his indispensable assistant.  They drive in sync, looking ahead, 

 to the left, 

and to the right, as necessary.   

They are my favourite amigos.
Sometimes, walks with Black Jack lead to an unplanned focus.  A few days ago, it was architecture. It began when we walked under the Granville Bridge, as we have done countless times before, but this time, I noticed the way the curving exit ramp met up with the adjacent apartment buildings.   

Further on, the reflections, shadows, and seawall vistas reminded me that city planning requires a complex assortment of talents..

that include the ability to anticipate and accommodate the needs of walkers and cyclists.  

Black Jack and I walked as far as Sunset Beach, and then up the hill to Davie Street where we made a right turn to continue our route homeward.  I've walked by the building in the photo below many, many times, but it appeared as if brand new that day.  The gate was open so I walked up the side driveway and took some pictures of the windows and decorative features.  A google search told me that it is called Gabriola Mansion, that it was built in 1901, that the stone came from a quarry on Gabriola Island, and that the architect was Samuel McLure who also designed Brock House.  It was home to Benjamin Tingley Rogers, who in 1890, at only 24 years of age, moved from New York to establish a sugar refinery in Vancouver.  I have some thoughts about the sugar industry that are not very positive, but I am happy that this beautiful home has been preserved.  

This next house is just a block or so along the street.  In December, I photographed a neat Xmas ornament hanging over the front porch.  I had enjoyed that, but on this most recent walk, I happened to look up..  wa-a-ay up..  
I laughed when I saw a pair of legs hanging over what I guess is an "after-thought" fire escape.  It is apparent to me that creative and fun-loving people live in that house.

Bill and I stood on these steps in Squamish so that I could take a picture of The Chief.  Bill noticed the railing made from an oar, creative recycling that works to everyone's advantage.

This apartment building (condos?) also faced The Chief.  At first, it seemed rather "boxy" but then I noticed the aesthetics of the tree and mountain reflections in the windows.

Looking from this angle, I saw that the building was designed to be at one with the mountain.  

I couldn't help but notice this letter "A" at my feet in a park in my neighbourhood.

It is part of a project called Watch your Step.  The link includes a video that, at about the halfway point, explains the art segment of the project.  I admire the organizers, who are on the alert for options to encourage talents that may not flourish in a regular school program.

Below is artist, Kenojuak Ashevak, who died earlier this month.  There is a wonderful photograph is taken by Della Rollins of the Globe and Mail.  I found it when I read this article.

There have been many attestations to the brilliance of Ms. Ashevak's art as well as to the acuity of her personality.  Here is a small quote from the article linked above:
“She was the star of the Dorset artists but she was also a national icon transcending Inuit art,” said her long-time dealer and friend, Pat Feheley, of Feheley Fine Arts."

Here is one more quote from the same article: 
"Born in an igloo in the southern part of Baffin Island in 1927, Ms. Ashevak learned traditional embroidery skills from her grandmother. Part of that dwindling generation who made the transition from nomadic cycles of feast and famine to life in permanent settlements, Ms. Ashevak mirrors that evolution in art that is both ancient and contemporary."

Below is "The Enchanted Owl" completed in 1960 and reproduced on a postage stamp in 1970.  Although I remember when that stamp came out, it took me many years to appreciate its significance.  You can see more awesome examples of her work at this site.

Art as depicted in live theatre is one of our pleasures as well, and The Theory of Everything at The Roundhouse a couple of weeks ago had some fun moments in it.  I took a picture of the set-up.  The audience sat around all four sides and I felt that worked well.  It wasn't a perfectly executed performance, but it was a "pay what you can" event and we both admired the amateur talent.  We appreciate the opportunity to witness works and artists in progress.  Sometimes, there is insight as we analyze what doesn't work, but often, we are thrilled to discover a new and brilliant talent. We are solidly behind the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre company after seeing some "laugh-until-your-muscles-ache" comedy sketches last year in an event called Etch Your Sketch0ff.  We can't wait for this year's production, coming up in April.  You can check out the link here.  There's even time for you to enter your own comedy sketch and the first prize is a respectable $500! 

We also took advantage of a free evening of author readings at Vancouver Public Library.  We heard Tamas Dobozy who has won the $25,000 Rogers' Writers Trust Fiction Prize for Siege 13, a collection of linked short stories about the Second World War siege of Budapest and its legacy for survivors.   We also heard Tim Bowling, who was shortlisted for the same prize for The Tinman.  His poetry and novels frequently use the Fraser River as setting, and his love for that part of B.C. is always evident. I found both authors fascinating but seeing..  

Candace Savage was a special treat.  She has just won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for her book: A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape, published by Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation. In it, she investigates the natural and anthropological history of the Cypress Hills.  I knew she was reading and knew her name was familiar to me, but it was only when she was introduced that it hit me with a huge flash of excitement.  That Candace Savage.  The one who wrote Bird Brains, one of my favourite books.  That book sits on my bookshelf and will never be given away or sent to a secondhand bookstore.  I discovered it shortly after I realized I love crows and it added immensely to my understanding of them.  The photograph below is in her book.  I think it was taken by nature photographer, Wayne Lynch.  Her credits in the book are a bit confusing, but the quote by Bernd Heinrich has stayed with me for a very long time: "I wonder whether the social play of ravens isn't similar to a dance where teenagers get to know each other.  Doing the raven 'rrock' and roll may be another version of doing the twist and shout."
That the library does these free talks is so appreciated.  For those who complain there is no culture in the city, I have to say that there is more than one might first realize.  Talk of ravens and their acrobatic skills takes me nicely to the next section of this post which has to do with:
Avian Acrobats
The next 12 photos were taken at Boundary Bay.  I am not sure of all the i.d's but can tell you that each bird impressed me with athletic and acrobatic talent.  

I am curious about the ruffed edge of the tail feathers on the hawk below.  I wondered if that is normal, or whether the hawk got him/herself into an altercation.  This was a straight-into-the-sun shot and so the colours are poor.  I'm wondering if it may be a Red-tailed Hawk.

It whooshed by me here at awesome speed.  I'm amazed to have captured anything at all.

The ascent after the dive.

Love the foot action in this.

An audacious hawk dares to challenge an eagle.
The young eagle seems to have a size advantage, but maybe the hawk is more agile.
I always love..

the airplane..


This snowy owl is included just because I loved his/her amusing expression.  Yawning perhaps?  Or, calling?  

I was really excited for these next two, as the goal for many photographers seemed to be to get the snowy owls in flight.  I thought I had done just that but Bill felt it could be the short-eared owl, and after some thought, I agreed with him.  

I wonder what this fine blogging audience thinks. Snowy Owl or Short-eared Owl? 

This V-shape isn't apropos for an "A" post but there's an aura of assuredness that I like here.

Animated lifts..

an array of dives, 

and a very brief hail storm all added up to a great adventure day at Boundary Bay.

Here is another Trumpeter Swan approach enjoyed..
in Harrison Hot Springs.  I was astounded by..

their coordination and attunement (that's a word..  right?) to each other. 

This eagle was seen rising above the beach during a beautiful adventure-day in Squamish.

You can just make out the azure skies that led to..

assorted sunset photos on the way home.  No chance of falling asleep on that drive!

New-to-me musician: Charles-Valentin Alkan
I was fascinated to discover Alkan and amazed that I hadn't heard of him before.  He was a French-Jewish composer who lived next door to Chopin.  There are all kinds of myths and legends about him to be discovered at this site where you can also hear some of his music.
Below, you can listen to Marc-Andre Hamelin playing Alkan's devilishly difficult Allegretto Alla Barbaresco from the Concerto for Solo Piano.  It is really, really animated.  If you close your eyes and imagine those acrobatically athletic birds whooshing through the air, you may feel that the music was written for them.

And, one more addition, because I cannot leave without mentioning the incredible performance last night by Jon Kimura Parker with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at The Orpheum.  Thank you, Bill, for taking me!  It is one of those concerts that will be annotated in my memory forever because of Parker's breathtaking performance.  Such physical strength..  such musical sensitivity.. such an endearingly friendly persona..  he is my new musical hero. To anyone living on the U.S. West Coast, this concert is going on tour.  You can find out more details at this link. If any readers live near Las Vegas, Northridge, Santa Barbara, Palm Desert, Scottsdale or Tucson, and if you are fortunate enough to be able to get tickets, this is NOT to miss.

Photo by Tara McMullen
Thank you as always for reading my lengthy post, and as always, if even one photo or segment amuses you, then I am happy!  To learn about other events in the lives of people around the world, you can avail yourself of the excellent Our World Tuesday blog meme.  


  1. so, so much to love and comment on here... first, love the synchronized bill and black jack photos. and love the shot of black jack running to you w/ bill in soft background. :)

    love the reflection shots of the city area. and great avian flight shots!

    the artist was a beauty herself, as was her work...

  2. "A" wonderful series of pictures Carol, love the aray of birds in flight but Bill and Black Jack astound as usual. Thanks A lot!

  3. wow - an amazing series of shots. Love the hawk and dog action!

  4. A great set of phots, Carol--hard to pick a favorite.
    I haven't had the time to comment much lately (but I still read regularly), but I wanted to let you know that I don't think that's a red-tailed hawk--the ones I'm familiar with the tail is one solid fan of rusty-red feathers--no stripes of variations beyond just the tome of red. Have I ever directed you to the song "Red-Tailed Hawk" by folk singer Kate Wolf. It's a classic, as was Kate (who passed away, much too early).
    Take care! Hugs to you and Bill, and of course, Blackjack!

  5. It is always impossible to choose a favourite from amongst all your wonderful photos. Was it the A shaped group of geese or the snowy owl or maybe the eagle and the hawk. I just don't know but I did have a laugh at the escaping legs.

  6. If I were grading this post I would give you an A+ for uncovering so many gems in our cultural world as well as in the local surroundings. I particularly like the assorted architecture … each with unique touches designed to delight, inspire or sometimes give us laugh. :)

  7. What a wonserful post about letter a. So much to learn and see:)

  8. Hi Carol. Totally enjoyed this! And you know the musical selection is perfect for background music to look though all the photos and stories.
    I loved the interplay between the hawk and eagle....magnificent.
    The bond between Bill and Blackjack is so heartwarming...they are real soul mates!! The 'driving' series was very amusing!! lol

  9. well, I know that you didn't set out to answer a question I had, but you did! I captured a b&w bird eating at my feeder this morning. I looked it up in my Audubon bird book; no help. Youngest son looked it up on his phone; no help. But you came up with the downy woodpecker's mate; thanks, that's what she is!
    loved all your bird pics; you are so blessed to capture the eagle and hawk with your camera. sweet dog too!
    thanks for visiting my blog :D