Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Live Love Laugh" for ABC Wednesday Letter "L"

Bill put together this gif from seven photos of a slow motion routine that was a lark to do. He guided our choreography at the Low Knoll lookout during our Minnekhada hike on Saturday.  It was in my last post, but only showed up, I think, for those of you with gmail accounts.  I love it, and it says quite a lot about our life, and it continues to make both of us laugh, so I've reposted it here.  Look at Black Jack.  She gives us a lackadaisical look-see and then has a lovely time leaving no stone unturned in her search for edibles on the land. 
I came across these words in the sand a couple of weeks ago and thought they would be perfect for an "L" post.
I don't know who rearranges the stones along that little piece of beach near my apartment.  I suspect lots of different people feel inspired by others and want to contribute their thoughts.
Here are a few other favourite moments in my life, lately:
Golden light on English Bay one evening.
A magnolia in David Lam Park.
A hummingbird lingering for just a second or two on a bush by English Bay.  I had only my small lens with me and no time to change settings, but the silhouette was outlined nicely.
A girl in a lot by Sunset Beach practicing for the Vancouver Terminal City Roller derby League.  When she saw me taking pictures,
she gave me a card with their website and said she hoped I might see a game.  She was breaking in new skates and repeated the same labyrinthine (my new word for the week) moves over and over.  Her energy, athleticism and self-discipline were impressive and Bill and I decided it would be a fun, new experience to attend at least one game.  The opener is April 13th at Minoru Arena in Richmond.
A robin singing lustily.
A man legging it along the seawall with his harp!
This little dog playing..
a lone version of soccer..
for a very long time..
at lightening speed while his human looked on.  He made the energizer bunny look lazy!
An excellent show organized by Dance AllSorts.  This Bollywood dancer was lovely..
in her lavish costume.  I believe her name is Karima Essa.  There was legendary spirit in her performance.  We learned a special word associated with Bollywood dance that comes close to the North American definition of "attitude" but I haven't been able to remember it.
I believe most, or perhaps, all of the dancers were from South Asian Arts. These teens gave.. 
a lively performance that seemed to mix long-established and..
leading-edge choreography styles. 
Their athleticism and level-headed confidence were laudable.
It was the first time I had seen Bhangra dancers and I was fascinated by their colourful costumes, unusual instruments and again, athleticism.  The dance originates in the northern areas of the Punjab region.  Below, they are using instruments called saaps that they open and close while dancing, to make a sound like a very loud clap.
In the second half of their performance, live musical accompaniment was provided by a singer (he used his cell phone for the lyrics as this was his first public appearance) and a drum that I believe is called a dhol.  
I found this site and the following quote to limn (another new word for me) Bhangra: "As bhangra was performed during harvest season, the basic movements reflect that of harvesting, ploughing, and sowing.  It is believed that bhangra originated in the 14/15th century when farmers would arrive home with crops."  
That harvest spirit is reflected in the happy expressions on the faces of the dancers.  I felt really lucky to see these fine performances and to learn so much new information at this entertaining, pay-what-you-can event.
After the dance performance, Bill and I walked downtown to St. Andrew's Wesley for the Jazz Vespers performance.  Below is a completely over-exposed picture but I love it.  Bill is holding my camera bag and patiently studying the construction across Burrard Street while I..
seem unable to let these lovely blue and yellow flowers go unphotographed. 
The lustrous, reflective gleam in the leaning roof over the entrance to a parkade in the Wall Centre has mystified me for some time.
Bill located the source of those reflections at the top of this building, just across the street.  That was a big deal to me!
That Wall Street building has been making me curious for a long, long time.
At last, an answer to my question. 
St. Andrew's was decorated with lush shades of yellow for Easter Sunday, and Jaclyn Guillou was already rehearsing with her band when we walked in.
I heard the music and knew we were in for a great concert. Below: Bruno Hubert at the piano, David Blake on the guitar, James Meger on the bass, and Joel Founatin on the drums. 
Reverend Tom Miles talks to Jaclyn before the performance.  These Jazz Vespers concerts are unlike any religious service I have attended.  Everyone is welcomed, the spoken bits and prayers are kept short but somehow relevant for a mix of  beliefs and attitudes, and in a way I cannot explain, I leave not only refreshed by the music but often, by the words as well.  Reverend Miles has some very interesting stories and a way of making you feel that they are directed at you alone.  Sometimes, they inspire a twinge of guilt, but he softens that with humour and with a kind light in his eyes that speaks of an intelligent and gentle nature.
This concert was absolutely stellar as have been all the ones we attended.  I sat transfixed, wondering why the church was not packed to the doors.  A collection is taken (that goes to the musicians), but there is no pressure.  One pays what one can.  
Here, Jaclyn sings with passion and though her face is out of focus, I love the photograph.  Look for a moment at Joel's expression.  His playing was supportive in all the right places, coming forward with musical gems that were never obtrusive and always a delight to catch.
Bruno Hubert was, as Jamie Croil noted, an orchestrator as much as a pianist.  He stands, in this photo below.  I had the feeling he had so much energy, it was almost impossible to sit.   
His piano playing is musically and technically brilliant, but he also has the supportive role down pat.  Sometimes, one hand on the piano and the other on a percussion instrument (he played several), even his feet get into the act.  And, James, the bass player?  Right there with him and with all of the musicians.  
David, the guitarist?  Same thing.  Brilliant musician!  He wrote one of the songs and his solos left me breathless.   
Five accomplished musicians who are also team players.  A treat to see and hear.  Each time we've attended a Jazz Vespers concert, and we haven't missed a Sunday since first discovering them, I think they surely cannot keep up that level of musicianship.  
But they do.  If you are anywhere close to Vancouver on a Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., I cannot think of a better way to spend an hour of your time.
Well, this post was supposed to publish for ABC Wednesday, and here it is, better late than never (I hope), on Thursday.  Just a couple of blooms, headed by two dandelions because I think people undervalue them.  Like crows, pigeons, Canada Geese and seagulls, they are everywhere and much maligned.  The dandelion, in my opinion, deserves special mention, not only because of its beauty, but for its food and medicine uses as well.  
Oh, add Starlings to that list.  They are everywhere too, but I challenge you to find a bird with more luminescent colours.  Ah, can't leave without mentioning..

cherry blossoms.  No "L" link at all, but hard to skip them when they are so luscious.. 
and there's an "L" shape after all.
One more.  Just one more.  The magnolia.  They, too, have sprung up throughout the city.  No question.  It's a wonderful world, and that point takes us to beautiful..
L for Louis singing "What a Wonderful World" as his tribute to life, love and laughter.  Thank you so much for reading.  Now, step on over to this link to ABC Wednesday for lots more L's.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Two days in my world for "Our World Tuesday"

First, Happy Easter Monday to all who celebrate.  On Saturday, I took this photo of a daffodil in Rocky Point Park, Port Moody.  It was overexposed, but reducing the highlights with iphoto resulted in an abstract, somewhat mystical feel perhaps reminiscent of Easter.
Second, an update on Lilee-Jean.  She is tolerating the latest chemo treatments well, and she continues to get the most out of every day.  This picture was posted by her family on facebook a few days ago.  As her mom said, "I wonder how she felt about pretending to ride the tractor...;)"  She has enough positive energy to keep the rest of us going for a very long time, but perhaps you could send some of that good stuff back to her via your thoughts for extra healing power.

And, thirdly, a few of you might remember my goal of catching up on blog writing.  Well, it remains in the back of my mind, but is on hold for now.  Just too many events and photos and life doesn't seem to wait while I record them.  The photo below does not represent my attitude at all :)  I'll plug away as I best I can.  Here is my account of Friday and Saturday.  
Friday morning, Black Jack and I walked along the seawall by Granville Island.  The point was driven home to me that for wildlife, Spring is all about survival of the species.  Choosing and protecting a mate is very serious business.  This goose (I'm assuming the male is in front) is telling a goose in False Creek (shown above) that it had better keep its distance.  

I first noticed the pair perched on a park bench that Black Jack and I often sit on for a few minutes.  We decided on this day to remain standing :)  I thought the goose in False Creek was keeping a respectable distance, but clearly,

the finer points of goose law evade me.

After his rather extended warning, Mr. Goose led his meek wife..  

off the park bench (check out the confidence and determination in his step),

across the path..

and into a small wooded area.  I had the feeling Mrs. Goose appreciated Mr. Goose's manly strength.  (I seem to have also dropped my attempt to avoid anthropomorphism.)

With perfect weather, Black Jack and I walked quite a distance, first heading to Vanier Park where we checked on the eagle nest (no sign of either adult, so perhaps they were hunting), and then retracing our steps past Granville and continuing on to a spot near the Cambie Bridge.  Along the way, there were the usual sights, but this loon stood out.  A lady passing on her bicycle saw that I was taking a photo and called out, "Red-throated Loon."  
Her identification help was much appreciated and I called back my thanks to her.  LInda (I hope I have remembered her name correctly) stopped then and I enjoyed learning a bit more about the loon.  She told me that its throat will turn bright red In breeding season, adding that she had only seen the one, but I'll be watching now for more.   
That evening, Bill and I saw the movie "Quartet."  Directed by Dustin Hoffmann and starring Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Maggie Smith, I could tell right from the opening that we were in for quite a treat.  Ronald Harwood (writer of both the stage and the screen plays) places the action in a retirement home for famous musicians, but I noticed the young couple sitting on my left appeared to be engrossed in the story as well. 
Photo: Tim Whitby/Getty Images for BFI
The themes addressed the inevitable losses we all experience as we age as well as the particular devastation for those who have achieved great fame at the hand of an exceptional talent.  But, as I watched it, a thought came back to me that has been forming for a while.  There were good reasons why that young couple sat transfixed. In fact, though we make some "adjustments" as we get older, our basic personalities do not change.  The life themes, even in a retirement home, are not so different from the ones encountered, no matter what our age or background. Most of the time, I feel the same person as the teenager  in high school who was a bit of a loner and a dreamer.  And, that point transitions rather neatly to the rest of our weekend.  I confess that I deleted many of the pictures Bill took of me during our happy hike Saturday at Minnekhada Regional Park.  Sometimes, it's a shock to feel one way on the inside, but to be presented with the reality of our physical changes on the outside.  
Perhaps, it is a good thing to post the few I kept, both in the interest of honesty and also to get used to this person who is having the time of her life, even as her image changes.  Aging may have its challenges, but it is not a gift afforded to all. Better to savour than waste the good moments that come along with signs of wear and tear.

Thanks, Black Jack.  That was about as much honesty as I can handle for one day :)

Bill took those pictures of me at a beautiful lookout point called the High Knoll.  The elevation is 600 ft (180 m) and the view is of the Pitt River and Pitt Meadows beyond.  
But, to go back to the beginning of our adventure day, we started out by checking the osprey nest in Port Moody, hoping to see Matt and Mimi.  The nest appeared to be abandoned, and as far as we could tell, they have not returned this year.  We'll continue to keep our eyes and ears open for news of them.  
As we looked across the water, I detected skittering in the distance.  My lens caught this shot of some Buffleheads (I think) going through the same "don't you dare steal my mate" dramas I had observed the day before with the geese.  I know this is hard to see, but a male appears to dance on one foot after skipping quite a distance in his effort to impress the ladies.
Without osprey action for entertainment, we decided to head over to the Minnekhada trails for a hike.  We passed a farm with lots of goats, 
and Bill stopped..
so I could catch a few window shots.  The one below stared quite pointedly at my camera.  I'm thinking the thought passed through his mind that the least we could have done was to offer some treats in exchange for his excellent job of posing.
Our first stop along the trail was to seek out the source of some tap-tap-tapping.  It was Bill who saw this small hole, 
and then some action..
at the top of a very, very tall tree.
We thought we were seeing a tail and a kicking action, but on examining..
the cropped and enlarged photos later, we realized a woodpecker was housecleaning and shooting the debris quite forcefully out of the tree.  I believed this might be a Pileated Woodpecker, but concede Bill is probably closer to the truth in thinking it's a Downey.
If any readers live near Vancouver, I highly recommend this hike.  It is varied and not too strenuous, but with just enough challenge to keep a couple of seniors interested :)  Below are the blueberry fields seen from the "High Knoll" lookout where Bill took the photos of me.
You may wonder what Bill is doing in the picture below, but I guessed almost immediately that he was checking out a funny-photo opportunity.
Yup, I was right.
I often think Bill has missed a few callings.  One of them is as an entertainer.
Were you convinced?  
I love this next picture.  He clearly has enjoyed the moment almost as much as I did.  And, check out Black Jack at the right.  I think she found his acting job to be quite convincing. 
Not to worry, both Bill and I had a good grip on the leash here.  I think Black Jack just wanted to see whatever it was that had entertained Bill so mightily on the other side of that rock.
Here, I set up the camera and ran into position for a shot of the two of us.  It's another of those, "Who is that woman?" moments, but I love the memory of the laughter.
One last shot of two of my favourite beings in the world, and then we were off to..
our next viewpoint, the Low Knoll, with a view of the lower marsh.  Bill had been thinking as we walked.  When we set up the camera to take photos of us together, it always does 10 shots, and usually, we just hold one position until it is finished.  This time, he suggested a little play-acting routine.  
Below is a gif that Bill made from seven of the ten shots of our slow-motion acting debut.  I find it hilarious but Black Jack thought there was better entertainment on the ground :)
Continuing back to the parking lot, both Bill and I really loved the variety of terrain,
and the moss-covered trees.
I sat for a few moments here, mesmerized by the beauty of individual bits of moss. 
Two eyes followed as I walked over this rock..
and along this narrow path between a tree and a rock-wall padded with a fuzzy green quilt. 
Emerging from the woods, we looked down to see the marsh and a path across it.
Bill pointed out the beaver home..
and far across the marsh, I thought I spotted..

a heron.  The zoom lens worked its magic and even caught the heron's fish in its view.
That lens often shows me sights my eyes would otherwise miss.
Here, a flashback to the day before as two geese suddenly scuffled..
and yet another goose tongue emerged in a photo.  I remember as a kid that sticking a tongue out was considered the rudest possible insult.  It occurs to me that way back in time, humans may have picked up that idea from watching geese.  

Bill carried Black Jack over this log and she enjoyed the opportunity for a great view of the water.  I considered asking him to carry me as well, but thought better of it :)  It turned out to be easier than expected, but the image of a family we had encountered a few minutes before struck both of us.  The younger members were helping an elderly gentleman who was struggling but determined to walk with them.  We realized he would have had to cross this log and the challenge must have felt enormous. I guess the events of the weekend have left me with an appreciation for the things we can do now, and a resolve to continue doing them for as long as possible.  
One skunk cabbage shot from the log, just to prove to myself I could take it without falling off.. 
and then we were back at "our" woodpecker's tree.  
It had been about three hours, 
but we had the feeling s/he hadn't even taken a rest break.
I'm writing this in the wee hours of Monday morning, still savouring the events just described, but also thinking about some Sunday events: a little "energizer-bunny" dog playing solo soccer, a Bhangra and Bollywood performance by Dance All Sorts, and a beautiful Jazz Vespers concert by Jaclyn Guillou and her exceptionally fine band, but I'll save those for another post. In the mean time, I thank Bill for bringing so much fun to the weekend and you for stopping by to share in it.  You can read about other events in the lives of people around the world by going to the Our World Tuesday blog meme.