Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finding the laughter while you make a difference

I'm posting yesterday's adventures in Vancouver to Sundays in my City, with many thanks to Claudya for hosting a meme that takes you to cities around the world. 

Our day included a small walk with Black Jack along False Creek, a visit to the Four Seasons Hotel to see the Festival of Trees in support of B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation, and some crossword-and-treats time at Harrison Galleries.  I put my new camera bag into use and love it and am officially expressing my thanks to Bill's sister, Phyllis, for contributing so kindly to a luxury that felt like a necessity since my old one had gone a step past the possibility of repair.

During the morning walk, a lone Barrow's Goldeneye swam..  
 with his mate amidst the mallards.
 I watched a young boy exclaim with excitement when he saw this cormorant and it did..
my heart good.  He drew his parents to the edge of the creek, telling them all he had learned while watching the bird.  His dad expressed genuine interest, but then said he thought it was time to go.  
I heard the boy say, "Aw come on, Dad.  Let's walk some more.  It's good for the soul."  His parents laughed and they carried on along the creek.  I think the boy may have been nine or ten years old. 
 As I walked home, I noticed these plants next to our neighbouring building.  Bright reds after a rainy period sure are appreciated.
We left Black Jack at home after her walk, something we don't do very often, but we had something important to do.  We were supposed to meet Lilee-Jean's grandmother, Mary, at the Festival of Trees.  Many of you will know about Lilee-Jean through posts on my blog.  This is just one of a many photos on her facebook page that show the enthusiasm for life she shared with everyone who came to know her.  Lilee died of Cancer on September 6th, 2013.  She would have turned four this past December 5th.  A sad story, but with a joyful twist that cannot be denied because she and her family touched lives across the world, and that is no exaggeration.  Lilee-Jean's spirit is alive and very, very strong.
Sadly, we missed seeing Mary as we had misunderstood the timing of the Christmas train she had taken into Vancouver.  Here, Bill waits while..
I take photos of the Christmas trees, all by sponsors in support of B.C. Children's Hospital.  
I texted Mary shortly after this, and realized we had missed her.
 The trees, as you can see, 
 were full of delights.
 I'm still using my 300 mm lens so most of these photos will focus on small details..
 that I loved seeing.
 From Mary's text, we were able to locate the decoration left in honour of Lilee-Jean.
 We wrote a note that Bill hung on the tree.
 It said at the top: "Bill and Carol, with love" and underneath we wrote our Christmas wish  that "we all dance in the rain like Lilee-Jean and her family did."
People were invited to vote for their favourite tree.  With every single tree raising funds for some aspect to improve conditions for children, it was hard to go wrong.  One of the things that I have slowly learned as I came to know Lilee's story is the importance of laughter.  There is undeniable sadness in the world, but every single moment of grief contains a spirit that went beyond that.  Children don't want us to be sad.  They don't want us to cry.  They are far more interested in the fun and the joy around us and that is the message I hope you take from Lilee's life.  Bill saw this photo and thought his hair is remarkably similar to the tree decoration.  He suggested that "legally grey" might be an alternative title to consider :)
  Bill loves to laugh too, and this "Legally Blond" tree caught his eye for sure.
There's Lilee-Jean, with her angel wings earned.  Her spirit, now, 
is far from gone.  It urges us to continue to bring laughter into the lives of kids living with cancer.  There are so many ways we can help, whether it be through providing funds for wigs for those undergoing chemo treatments, or funds for childhood cancer research, or funds to help parents find a place to stay while their kids undergo treatment, or funds for hospices like Canuck Place, that provided a peaceful, pain-free (for Lilee) and beautiful space for Lilee and her parents to spend their last days together.  These things are vital and they are needed throughout the world.  And if a financial contribution is not possible, there are still other ways to help.  I've maintained for a long time that we know many of the causes of cancer.  Harsh cleansers, pollution, contaminated foods..  we can do our small part to clean up the world. The list is pretty much endless.  I will get off my soapbox now, but people working together for a good cause are very powerful.  One day and one small action at a time DO make a difference.  I am convinced of this.  
We voted for this tree, but as said, there was no way to make a wrong vote.  The bottom half of the tree had a ribbon for every child in B.C. presently fighting Cancer.
The tree was the inspiration of Team Finn.  Finn was another child who earned his wings, but his family continues to urge us to keep smiling.  
The top of the tree represents the many children in BC who have died of Cancer, earning their wings in just the past two years.  It is both beautiful and sobering.  I thought you might like to know about that gold monkey at the top.

At Finn's site, I learned that "the gold monkey represents the courage, smiles and hope of all children affected by Cancer."
As we looked at the trees, children were running about, happy and awed by the beauty, sparkles, and colour around them.  Just as it should be, I thought.  Sombreness is simply not an option in life.  Kids know we've got to get beyond that.  BC ambulance had donated this replica of an ambulance especially designed to transport infants.  This little boy loved it..
and his parents kindly gave me permission to share his happy smile.
We left, happy that we had been encouraged by Mary to discover another way to celebrate Lilee-Jean's life.  We rode our bikes back home, picked up Black Jack, and headed off to Harrison Galleries for some treats and crossword time.  Bill took a picture of the wonderful camera bag by ThinkTank that Phyllis's contribution helped buy for me.  To be honest, I struggled with the idea of spending a small fortune on this bag, but it is really, really well designed, staying close to my back so that the three lenses and camera body feel almost weightless, once inside and fitted correctly. 
Thank you, Phyllis and thank you, Bill, for encouraging my photography passion.
Thank you, also, to Jeff, the above-and-beyond-the-normal-call-of-duty salesman at Leo's Camera Store, who patiently answered our questions, loaded equipment into different bags, fitted them on me, and understood the necessity of taking our time to choose the best option. 
Even my laptop has a place where it could go in this bag, should it be necessary to take it along.  Hard to believe such a compact space could accommodate pretty much everything camera or tech-related that I could ever want with me.  I guess my happy smile says it all.  
So,I urge you to look for the laughter as you do what you can to make the world better.  Nothing is too small. Every smile counts.  Many thanks for dropping by.  Your visits mean the world! 


  1. It is sad learning about Lilee-Jean.. The festival of trees is a wonderful exhibit..I am sure children and adults loved seeing them all. Congrats on your new camera bag, it looks awesome.. Have a happy new week ahead!

  2. a very nice camera bag gift for you! and a sweet remembrance for your little friend. :)

  3. A bitter sweet post. Prayers to Lilee-Jean's family.
    LOVE the wide range of trees, all so beautiful.

  4. What a beautiful thing -- I can tell that Lilee-Jean was indeed a very special girl. I am sure that this is a hard time of the year for her family but it is nice to see her celebrated so beautifully.

  5. What a wonderful tribute to Lilee-Jean and all the children who have died of cancer. The tree you voted for with the names of children undergoing treatment is a reminder that there are so many little ones to whom we can send healing thoughts and good wishes. I love your new camera bag! Phyllis

  6. So great to see Lilee-Jean's inspirational spirit IS alive and continuing to help to fight cancer. Sorry you missed seeing Mary as I know you were looking forward to it. The trees are wonderfully creative and your new ultra-functional camera bag, a work of genius.

  7. Cool camera bag!

    Life throws us all curves some so so so challenging to our spirit that it gives us cause to question our faith. Yet some find the strength to carry on... bravo!

  8. Those cormorant photos are SO good. The story about Lilee Jean is very sad, she looks like she was a lively little soul. I will be off line until the New Year. So you and Bill -- and of course Black Jack, have a wonderful Christmas. I will be celebrating my 77th birthday also. See you in the New Year.

  9. This post made me all weepy and happy at the same time. Also, you so deserve that bag and you are worth it!

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