Thursday, December 31, 2015

A few birds and a lot of laughter with friends

Two parts to this post:
1. Birds seen October 10th, 2015 for Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday meme.
2. A recap of our day with two delightful friends, Mary and Bev.

*I've already strayed from my carefully laid out plan to spend no more than an hour writing a post.  Back to the drawing board tomorrow :)

Part 1: Wild Bird Wednesday
A lone white goose hung out at Sunset Beach with the Canada Geese.
I'm guessing it was a Snow Goose.  We saw it for a few days and then it disappeared, hopefully catching up with the other members of its flock.
 It was a little bit smaller than the Canada Geese and seemed to have the same..
 grazing habits.
 The same day, we saw several clusters of Barrow's Goldeneyes.
One or two Surf Skoters  appeared in the midst of the Goldeneyes.
This lone Killdeer showed up at the edge of the beach.
 At first, we thought it might be injured..
 but after remaining in one spot for a long time, it finally turned,
 took a look at us,
 and then walked away with a decidedly..
 jaunty step.  I think it was fine, after all.

Part 2: A recap of our day today with Mary and Bev
Mary (Lilee -Jean's grandmother) drove for over an hour from the Fraser Valley to spend time with us in Vancouver today.  We laughed and laughed with her and with her friend, Bev. Our first stop was to look at the cormorants on the "Brush with Illumination" sculpture  by Buster Simpson. Mary had a new and wonderful hat.  But more about that later.
I wonder if Mr. Simpson had any idea his sculpture would be such a popular one with the cormorants.  It is fascinating to watch the juveniles practice landings and take-offs on the slippery railings.  I wrote a story that you can read here about one determined young cormorant that struggled with landing technique.
Bev was meeting Bill for the first time but their love of laughter gave them an instant connection.
The day was magnificent, with some of the bluest skies we've seen in quite a while.  I had fun taking reflection shots by the Granville Bridge.
 Black Jack had a lot of running to do to keep track of the four of us.
We spaced ourselves out on the beach and Black Jack's job was to run to the person that called her.  She was a bit confused at first, but once she caught on, she went into super-speedy mode.  I love this "greyhound" posture when she runs so fast, her back feet land in front of her front feet.
She had to skid to a halt to get her treat from Bev. She is about ten and a half now. Recently, when we visited our vet for a dental check, he discovered that she has a grade 2-3 heart murmur .  He asked if she was coughing or showing exercise-induced fatigue.  In fact, she isn't showing those symptoms and her blood tests came back normal.  I've decided to carry on with our regular activities and have opted not to do an ultrasound.  Even if there is something concerning going on with her heart, we wouldn't be considering surgery or any other invasive treatment.  I'd rather that she do the activities she enjoys most even if that means a shorter life span. I think/hope the trade-off in happiness will be worth it.
After a few tries, she sat politely for her treats.
How lucky we are to live in Vancouver.  We have great walk-on-the-beach weather as the new year approaches, but there is lots of snow in the nearby mountains for those who want to ski, snowboard or snowshoe.  We did have a 4.8 magnitude earthquake last night, the first one that I remember since 2001.  That inspired some shopping today to buy canned provisions.  The bang was pretty frightening, but no one was hurt and no significant damage was recorded.  I come back to my original idea that "we're very lucky" to live here, but no matter where one lives, making a plan for possible disaster is a good idea.  Bill and I are working on it.
Bill posed with Bev and Mary inside the "217.5 Arc X 13" Bernar Venet sculpture.  That title describes its mathematical composition.
 Then Bill insisted it was my turn :) Black Jack is in my right arm, though she's a bit hard to see.
 When we passed this lady with her grand-dog, I couldn't resist asking for a photo.
 They were so clearly enjoying their day together.
One of our goals for the walk was to introduce Mary and Bev to the "A-maze-ing Laughter" sculpture by Yue Minjun.  There are a total of 14 patinated cast-bronze figures, each weighing approximately 500 pounds.  Mary walked among them,
and then she and Bev played the imitation game that has become a favourite of tourists and residents alike.  We had a lot of fun laughing along with the sculptures.  I only noticed the person behind Mary and Bev when I looked at the photos later.  I think that's called photo-bombing.  Bill and I quite enjoyed discovering her.  I've come to love these sculptures more and more because it's so much fun to watch people respond to them.
 That hand resting on Bill's shoulder is interesting from the side,
 but takes on a whole different persona viewed from the front.  Bill saw someone else doing that pose and knew he had to try it.  In fact, he held the pose for a very long time.  I think he would do well in my morning gym classes where we seem to do endless squats.  :)
I thought this expression would sum up my feeling for the day, but we smiled..
 even more broadly when Mary agreed to pose in the Harrison Gallery Buzz Café with her new hat.  As I was taking the photo, Bill had the idea to..
show off the hat's versatility.  I love Mary's expression here, as she wonders what Bill is doing.
 Then, she totally gives in to the moment.  
 And talk about photo-bombing.  Bill and I laughed even more this evening when..
 we noticed the young girl at the table in the background.  If you go from photo..
 to photo, you can watch her expression change.  I'm not sure if she was irritated, or perhaps, fascinated, or possibly just curious, as she tried to figure out what could possibly be making these (mature) people have so much fun.
On the way back to Mary's car, we passed a little wedding party on Homer Street.  Though Bill and I have passed that restaurant many times, we have never been in it.  I think it is called Brix & Mortar.  The bride must have been quite cold by the time she finally walked through the velvet curtains.  I hope she and her new husband will laugh a lot in their future life together. 
Special thanks to Mary and Bev for sharing the day with us.  Thanks as well to you for stopping by, and to Stewart for hosting Wild Bird Wednesday.  His meme is well worth a visit as it will take you to amazing birds all around the globe.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The plan

I haven't made a New Year's resolution for years and do not plan to make one this year.  I did make a "decision" today and admit it entered my mind suspiciously close to 2016, but that's purely coincidence. Bill and Black Jack are supportive of the plan.  Bill told me so and even added suggestions to help me stick to it.  
Black Jack didn't comment but she always supports Bill, even when he places..
her new hat (so she won't shiver on the bicycle) ever so carefully under her collar.
So, you ask, "What's the plan?"  Well, it has 2-steps: 
1. One hour to write a blog post in the evenings.  When the hour is up, the post will be published, no matter what has been written.
2. One hour to read other bloggers' posts and leave comments in the morning.  No more feeling guilty about the many much appreciated comments that have received no response.

So here goes!  I've already used up 25 minutes so this will have to be quick.  Today, Lan, a former student, took the ferry from Nanaimo to spend the day in Vancouver.  In the morning, we explored this antique shop.  It's called Salmagundi. Here, she explores these drawers that make you feel as though you are being just a bit naughty when you open them, but they are put there for that very purpose.   
 There's quite a range of treasures in those drawers.
One never knows what one will find at Salmagundi.  This stagecoach was in a glass case.  It was my 2nd visit to Salmagundi (Lan's 1st), but I completely..
 missed seeing the stagecoach and driver last time.
 Lan discovered a collection of old maps and loved showing me this one of Paris.  She spent four and a half months studying in Paris and she loved the city and countryside around it very, very much.
 She also discovered this diary.  Anyone can write their secrets in it. 
Some of the confessions were naughty. That's why Lan's hand is covering the top portion of the left page.  Some of the confessions were positively scary.  But many of the secrets were heartwarming, like the one that says, "I found the woman I'm going to marry."
 Lan and I walked from West Cordova Street up to the corner of Smythe and Homer, to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Buzz Café in Harrison Galleries.  Bill met us there and Lan showed him the links (Coursera and EdX) to university courses she has been taking on line for free from some of the top universities in the world.  She is also registered in a masters program at Vancouver Island University.  You could say she is a very busy student.
 Lan's home and family are in Vietnam.  Since graduating from high school in Vancouver, she has done a lot of traveling and she now is proficient in four languages.  She loves her homestay in Nanaimo and enjoyed showing me this painting that reminds her of the terrain around her temporary home.
 After our lunch, we walked with Lan to Zhape, the hair salon owned by another of my former students.  Both Elvis and Lan studied at Bodwell (where I taught), though they never met as they were there at different times.  Elvis did a beautiful job cutting Lan's hair.  My photo fails to show the subtleties  of his work.  This is one cut you really have to see in person to fully appreciate.
 After the haircut, Lan, Bill and I walked to a tree that Bill and I call "our" tree.  Lan took our picture there.  It's a bit hard to see us, but I love the photo.  You can see the Granville Bridge in the background.
 We ate supper together and then left Lan to do a little shopping before she caught the ferry back to Nanaimo.  This was the view on Granville Street as we walked home.
There's so much more that I wanted to say, but my time is up for today.  I feel honoured when former students spend time with me.  That is one of the great rewards of teaching.  Today was a beautiful day.