Sunday, December 21, 2014

Some Critters and Discovering Kaarigar

There are three parts to this post to share with Eileen's Saturday's Critters.  (Thank you so much, Eileen!).  I never fail to think of you and your beautiful meme on Saturdays. My apologies for posting a day late! 

Part 1: A couple of small birds, one Flicker, our sweet Black Jack and a "thank you" to Bill.  

Part 2: Kaarigar Handicrafts - a shop discovered Friday with stories to tell of humans and critters.  

Part 3: Elephants - thoughts and an amazing video

The birds gathered in the tree outside our balcony a couple of days ago.  The bill on this one makes me wonder if it could be a finch rather than a sparrow but I will go with the LBB (little brown bird) I.D. that EvenSong taught me a few years ago.
We are in the midst of foggy, rainy weather and I liked the shades of white and grey.. 
when this seagull flew past the balcony.
 I only had a couple of seconds to catch the Flicker and didn't do well with the shot, but I'm always happy to see them.
Black Jack woke up with some whimpers yesterday morning, and at first wouldn't walk when I put her down on the floor.  She recovered quickly and has seemed fine since then.
 I wondered if she had been too long in one position and had pins and needles.  Does such a thing happen to dogs?  
 As you can see, she considers it a right to be comfortable  :)
I have had a box of various things collected over the past year (or more) to send to my sister and her family.  Things were added every few months, but still the box sat.  It seemed I just couldn't bring myself to get that box organized to put in the mail.  The box had no top to cover it, but yesterday, Bill went downstairs to our building's garage, found a flat piece of cardboard that was too large but strong and perfect for the job.  He used an x acto knife to cut it to size, and even rounded the corners for a perfect fit.  After taping it up, he helped me get it to the post office, and guess what?  Barring unforeseen circumstances, it will arrive at my sister's in time for Christmas.  Thank you, Bill!  That made my day!
The rain is pelting down as I write. We haven't been on our bikes for a few days, but we did get to Harrison Galleries yesterday and today.  Their café, named "The Buzz", was living up to its name for sure.  The atmosphere was warm, the treats delicious and the tree was up.  The person (or critter?) at the top waved hello when we arrived and good-bye when we left. 
As we walked home afterwards, I noticed the Microsoft sign over a building, and BC Place stadium behind and to the left of it.  I loved the pinks and mauves of the stadium roof.
I took a few photos of Christmas decorations as we walked homeward.
We both liked the Christmas balls hanging from this tree.
Part 2: Kaarigar Handicrafts
Walking along Mainland Street, I took a few pictures of cushions behind the window of a shop, but wouldn't have gone in to look at the goods if it had not been for..
this elephant.  The owner of the shop, Alnasir Khan saw us through the window and motioned for us to come in.  He felt I would get a better photograph without the..
window reflections in the way.  The elephants were very reasonable (under $40 I believe though I'm not sure about the metal ones) but we weren't planning to make a purchase.  I told Mr. Khan that, but his priority was not the sale but to pass on the stories of the people behind the beautiful things in his shop.  He told me that he always buys his goods in person, and not on-line.  He keeps a wonderful blog.  I think you would enjoy reading his posts. Of all the blogs I've read connected to a business, this one is the most honest and the most thought provoking.  There are life lessons connected to building a new business and Mr. Khan generously passes those on.  He has a post about photography (that he had to learn in order to show his beautiful crafts to best advantage), one about fear, one about family, and several others that inspired "aha" moments for me.  I hope he never stops writing that blog.
After I had photographed the elephants, Mr. Khan led me to this stunning carpet on the wall.  What he wanted to impress upon me was the backbreaking labour that went into every stitch.  I may misquote him here, but the information that sticks in my mind is that there are192,000 knots per square metre.  And, I have to repeat.  He didn't just look on line and have the carpets shipped here.  He met the craftsmen and watched them do the work.  
He added that this art is now a dying one.  With India in the midst of a quickly growing economy, the young no longer want to learn the traditional crafts passed on by their parents.  There could come a day in the not so distant future when exquisite work like this will no longer  exist except in museums. 
The steps in the process of creating these rugs include dying the wool,
working out the patterns..
in a complex arrangement that I can't pretend to understand, but I am impressed that..
Mr. Khan keeps samples to help customers (and the general public) come to a glimmer of understanding of the talent, creativity, sweat, and yes..  
perhaps even tears that go into every handmade item.
The metal work is another story, and Eileen, if you are still with me, includes some critters :)
Mr. Khan delved into the history of metal work and became as excited about that as he was about every other item in his store.  He wrote a post called India's First Love Story and the enthusiasm and respect shines through every word.  
Mr. Khan next led me to some of the pieces laid with precious and semi-precious stones.  He talked about the Taj Mahal and the laying of stones within its architecture that date back to the mid 1600's.   That same process of laying stones is used for the small items shown here.
Again, it was the workers and the craftsmanship that he wanted me to understand..
and appreciate.  I was really beginning to feel his love of the stories and the people as..
he led me through the shop, but then we came to these scarves.  They are made with the.. 
hair of Pashmina or Changthangi Goats. (Photo of a Pashmina goat found at this link.)
He said that during the coldest season, the undercoat grows very thick and then, in the spring, the goats shed that hair so they will be cooler for the summer months.  The hair is painstakingly collected, combed, dyed and woven by skilled craftsmen..
to make the scarves and other garments people enjoy.
Again, Mr. Khan's enthusiasm could barely be contained.  He turned over the scarves, 
wanting me to see the textures, patterns and beautiful colours that went into each one.
I asked Mr. Khan about the lives of these goats.  I wondered if they are domestic or wild, and whether they are well-treated.  He said that, as far as he knew, they roam freely.  I've done a bit of research this morning.  My "vegan" lifestyle leaves me a bit uncomfortable, especially as there was discussion at one site that the goats are endangered. I do understand that goats are vital to India's economy and that living as a vegan is a First World privilege.  I guess my main concern is that the quality of life for these goats and for the people who need them as a means of survival be equally considered.
Bill loved these dolls and asked me to take the photo.  Mr. Khan described a tradition of hanging them in homes as they are believed to bring happiness to the household.
I took just a few more photos..
that included my beautiful Bill and Black Jack and..
one more elephant..
before we finally tore ourselves away from a shop that I believe we will visit again and again.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Mr. Khan!

Part 3: Elephants
I love elephants.  When I saw the ones in Mr. Khan's shop, I immediately thought of the one in the photo below.  I have a memory of it in our house when I was just a toddler.  Although my father's service during WWll didn't take him overseas, I think he had a friend who traveled and who brought him the elephant as a gift.     
It was never a toy, but  always displayed with pride and I feel privileged to have it with me now (though I see from the photo that I need to do a better job of dusting it :)  
It needs a few repairs, but it is still handsome and very expressive, don't you think?
Since I am on a theme of elephants for the moment, I'm going to include a video (You will have to click on "Watch on YouTube" to see it.)  I came to know about the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee when the Vancouver Zoo staff (no link because I am not and never will be a fan of zoos) finally allowed an elephant named Tina to leave Vancouver and travel 3000 miles across the country to the sanctuary.  Her keepers at the zoo had loved her but couldn't provide the life she needed and the zoo owners were interested only in using her to attract paying visitors.  She was ill with serious and life-threatening disease in her feet, something that happens to most elephants who cannot roam at will through appropriate habitat.  I followed her trip across the country, checking every day to see how she was doing and learned more about elephants in a few short months than I had ever expected to know.  Though she only lived for a year after arriving at the sanctuary, I believe it may have been the happiest of her life.  The 11 Asian elephants at the sanctuary have all been rescued.  Each one has a story, many of them horrific, but they live a wonderful life now with shelter if they wish, and the choice of unrestricted access to 2200 acres of natural habitat if that is their preference.  The barn has heavy flaps that cover the doors and keep the heat in, but allow the elephants to go in and out at will.  Some spend the entire summer out of doors and only return to the barn in the winter season.  But the video.  I must leave you to check out the elephant web site if you wish to know more (it is well worth your time), but the video is the thing for now :)  It was done during October as entertainment for the elephants.  Knowing how important the surprise element is in keeping these highly intelligent animals stimulated, the staff at the sanctuary put molasses and oats on paper (edible for elephants who happily munch tree bark) and stuck it to the trees with peanut butter.  The elephants were very excited to discover these "masks" on trees as they made their way through familiar forest trails.  The video of their reaction warms my heart.  The first elephant you see in the video is Shirley.  She was born in 1948, so is only a year younger than I am :)  Her left hind leg was broken and never set when she was attacked by another elephant during her life as a zoo entertainer.  But her history is the stuff of movies.  That she is alive and living a beautiful life is nothing short of miraculous.  You may want to turn your volume down at first as her roar of excitement when she sees the masks on the trees is quite extraordinary.  
A long post today, but full of critters and people and life.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Thank you ever so much for stopping by!


  1. beautiful tapestries and other creations. i like those elephants, too. perhaps black jack is getting some arthritis? if it continues, maybe time for a glucosamine supplement?

  2. Hello Carol, no need to apologize. I am always happy to see you link up your post.. I always enjoy seeing your sweet Black Jack. And I love the elephants, the store has many wonderful items.. Thanks for sharing the video and link to the elephant site.. Enjoy your Sunday!

  3. What a wonderfully joyous post about Bill, Black Jack, gift boxes, and my great love-elephants. Remind me to tell you my elephant stories from by two journeys to South Africa! I would love to visit this store and meet the enthusiastic shop keeper. Happy Solstice! Hugs, Phyllis

  4. Such a wonderful post, Carol. We can't wait for that parcel to arrive. They're always such fun to delve into, but this year I will carefully note Bill's Thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mr. Khan and getting a glimpse into his charming store. That detail and colours in that carpet were breathtaking but my favourite items were the metal elephants. I hope you return there often.
    Through you, I also discovered the Elephant Sanctuary. The elephant's joy at discovering such a surprising and tasty treat made me happy. Thank-you. I believe that the elephant you have was made by an injured veteran at the St. Anne's Veteran's Hospital. Although you didn't play with it, some of the wear and tear just might have been caused by me. However, I take no responsibility for the dust.:)

  5. I meant to say that I would carefully note Bill's extraordinary packing job but I got distracted.(several times, apparently) Thanks Bill.

  6. Really enjoyed your post and love the elephants. Have a great week ahead!


  7. As your photos show, there is an overwhelming amount of creativity in our world and some of it can be seen in Mr. Khan’s store. I went to his blog and was blown away by some of his photos and enthusiasm for the products he sells. You certainly don’t get that kind of devotion at a big box store.

  8. Happy Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful time. All the best for 2015 and thank you for being so lovely always and for sharing your world with us all.

    Lots of love