Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Potpourri of Playful Pleasures with Bill and Black Jack

I had better Plunge right into this Post before I lose my Pluck.  I fell behind. That was just the way life happened and not connected to any major upheavals or catastrophes.  

Bill continues to do well.

The Proof? Here he is by the window in the Chan Centre lobby after a Phenomenal Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concert last week.  The window looks out on beautifully-lit UBC trees.  I did a Facebook post about the concert here
As I took that Photo, I noticed the trees outside the window and saw a man and woman dancing.  Bill saw them as well, and we both thought they made a beautiful Pair. 
More proof of Bill's well-being here, as he nimbly follows Black Jack over some rocks at English Bay. 
Black Jack has Perked up with the help of a supplement (Dasuquin) that seems to be working wonders to correct some mobility issues, 
and I have added some Physical fitness classes to my routine after a hiatus of about a year and a half. Here are the rather Protrusive new shoes to prove it.  I'm sorry if their Pizzazz lacks subtlety, but that Piddling Problem is offset by their extraordinary comfort.  
In the Picture below, I'm laughing helplessly at one of Bill's Pranks.  
We continue to go on daily adventures, I click more Photos than I can possibly Process and I'm still playing Piano.  We read in the evenings (currently, Pravda by Edward Docx), attend concerts and see movies.  I especially loved All the Time In the World, a Vancouver International Film Festival documentary that will be coming shortly to Central and Eastern Canada (though I hear it is already sold out in Toronto).  Here's the link to the trailer and a Photo of the family that spent nine months in the dead of winter living in the Yukon wilderness in a small cabin with no road access, electricity, running water, Internet, TV or phone.  I took the photo after the movie.  It was Powerful to hear the kids and their parents answer questions (now 3 years later) about their experience.
I guess I could sum all of this up by saying, "Life is Proceeding as Per normal!"  Several of you have sent kind messages wondering if all was well.   My Profound thanks for those!

Each week, as the meme, ABC Wednesday, rolled around (my thanks to Mrs. NesbittRoger GreenReader WilLeslie and Trubes for hosting), I thought of words and themes to go with the various letters of the week.  Several unfinished posts lie waiting in drafts.  We are up to the letter "P" now, so I am going to do my best to keep to the topics of Piano music, Program Music (music that tells, or implies, a story), and Peeping Perchers (Birds).  Yes, I know squeezing the bird-photos in under the letter P is a bit of a stretch, but I have so many to share and I'd love to add them to Stewart's meme, Wild Bird Wednesday.  Thank you, Stewart!  Believe it or not, I found a site that isolates vocabulary relevant to birds.  Here are some of the words I found starting with P: peck, pecker (woodpecker), peep, penna (a Perfect feather), perch, pigeon, plumage, plumulaceous (with the texture of down, downy, bearing down) and primary.  And to Eileen, of Saturday's Critters fame, another post lies waiting in the wings for you.  I'm hoping now that I've taken the plunge, that one will follow very soon.

I was thinking of the link between music and birds, and that led me to the flute part in "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev.  My first search just happened to discover this youtube of our very own Vancouver Symphony musicians with Bramwell Tovey narrating and conducting.  I have some issues with the way the wolf in most fairy tales is Portrayed as the villain, nor did the VSO's altered ending (to avoid shooting him) appeal, since I am not a fan of zoos.  One could Ponder the Pros and cons of exposing kids to violent fairy tales, but I prefer to focus on Mr. Tovey's and his musicians' excellent job in this Performance.  I loved seeing close-up shots of musicians Bill and I have come to recognize and admire after attendance at quite a number of symphony concerts. Perhaps some of you will be tempted to revive a youthful memory and give it a listen/watch just for the sheer Pleasure of superb music, diction, theatre and conducting, all rolled into an impressively coordinated Production.
The next videos of Marc-André Hamelin playing two of his Piano compositions are fascinating to me.  Bill and I have heard my piano-teacher, Bogdan Dulu, perform this Piece three times, first in an "emerging artist" pre-concert event as part of the New Music festival at the Orpheum, then at a morning concert in West Vancouver (more about this later in the post) and finally, as part of Bogdan's doctoral lecture-recital at UBC.  I posted on Facebook about the latter performance here.  If you are looking for wistfully peaceful (a Paradoxical but apt description) and exquisitely beautiful music to serenade you while scrolling through the rest of this post, I do recommend this lullaby written for the left hand alone.  For those of you who play the piano, watch how Hamelin draws the melody out with his thumb while supporting that melody so smoothly, one can hardly believe only the left hand is employed.  You can read about the history of music written for the left hand alone here.  Learning that some of the most famous music was written for Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961), who lost his right arm in WW1 is just one of many interesting stories to be found at that site.
And one more Piano Performance by Mr. Hamelin of another of his études, this one inspired by Goethe's "Der Erlkönig" and explained so well by Bogdan during his doctoral lecture that I shall never hear it again without the entire story playing across my mind.  
Below is a sand-on-glass animation of the "Der Erlkönig" Poem.  As said, it is a horrific tale but the music that has come out of it (both Schubert's and Hamelin's) transfixes me.  You can read much more about this here.  In the piano performance above, you can hear the horse's movement, the child's voice, the father's voice and the ErlKIng's voice.  Bogdan's performance with translation of Goethe's poem synchronized to the piano, brought this alive for me in a way I hadn't experienced before.  Bogdan met with Marc André Hamelin to learn how his Particular interpretation of the poem came about.  Apparently, Mr. Hamelin was about to board a Plane when the melody Popped into his head.  He knew that if he didn't heed that call, the melody would be lost forever, so he quickly jotted down the notes on a piece of scrap Paper, even as he waited in line to board.  I am so glad he did.  

And now, without further ado, to the Peepers, some Perched and others engaged in the Pastimes common to most winged creatures.  Commentary to a minimum now.  I would actually like to post sometime this century :) 

March 24 - Olympic Village Park 
Redwing Blackbird female.
Mallards mating
I know this is Pure anthropomorphism, but when they were finished, he Pulled her up from the water with what seemed to me to be Poetic tenderness. 
Anna's Hummingbird
Male American Wigeon being chased off by..
this Proud fellow.
"And don't come back."
".. cause I'm the King of this castle.

March 27 - Early morning walk in David Lam Park
Now I understand how they earned their name. I had never before seen the long red tongue.
Same day - later in the afternoon, Bill and I rode our bikes to Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon.
Wood duck - male
I have blogged about the mute swans quite a few times.  You can read the true story of the swan Population in this article.  The latest news about them is that the population is now down to two Pairs, and the eventual hope is to Phase them out altogether. Though this recent article expresses sadness at that reality, I know in my heart that the swans should never have been brought to Canada from England to be our Playthings.  Their beauty and the insatiable need of humans for amusement have caused them great suffering.  I will miss them, but overall, will be relieved when there are no more in Stanley Park.  We saw the swan below in a unusual location. I think she was hoping to lay her eggs where park staff wouldn't be able to find them.  When she heard us go by, Black Jack's sniffing probably worried her and she waddled across the path..
and into the lagoon.  At first, I thought she was injured, but then it occurred to me she might be Planning to lay her eggs. I hope for as Peaceful an existence as Possible for those Poor swans as they live out the rest of their lives.
This swan pair was building their nest.. 
a few steps further around the lagoon.

April 1 - Coal Harbour Pond
Blue Heron coming in.
Crow and King Fisher
Redwing Blackbird on her nest in the reeds.
The camera had suddenly caught the focus on the nest, which a moment earlier, had been invisible to me.  I called Bill to see the nest, and he stared and stared, but the nest was once more so camouflaged that neither of us could see it.  We've visited that spot quite a few times since, and have never again been able to spot a nest in the reeds.
"You looking for me?"
"Well, here I am."
"Did you bring me a present?"

Vanier Park - April 2nd
We've learned that the male of an eagle pair that successfully raised chicks for quite a number of years is having to adapt for the second time to a new partner.  His original partner was injured and then died, and though a second partner appeared, she too met her demise in an accident.  He and a 3rd partner have been mating, but it appears they were unsuccessful.  It may take them a year to get to know each other.  No chicks are expected this late in the season.
"That crow has some nerve!"  
Fairly sure this is a Northern Shoveler - the only one we have seen in a long time.
As I watched the shoveler, this mallard flew up and I caught a shot.  Not sure why I like it since it is so out of focus.  Perhaps, the combination of blue, green and orange.
West Vancouver - April 8
We had plans to ride our bikes over the Lions Gate Bridge to hear Bogdan (my piano teacher) play a morning concert the next day.  Bill has only done that distance once since his illness and we both thought it a good idea to do a trial run the day before.  When we arrived at Ambleside Beach, I had a conversation with this gentleman and then he talked with Bill for quite a while.  He was clearly interested in the fact we had ridden our bikes.  Way overexposed photo, but that small interaction was a memorable one for us.  Bill learned that the gentleman had been involved with the organization of olympic events and we both guessed that he may have been a competitive athlete at one time.   
Ambleside Park/beach is different from the usual places we go on our bikes.  There is a railroad bridge..
 and fenced-off areas for dogs to run.. 
and trails for walking or biking (I thought of TexWis when I took this shot), 
 and a bit wilder feel to the ocean than we Perceive along English Bay.
 There is also a lovely Pond where we saw a number of birds and ducks:
Downy WoodPecker (I think)
Common Merganser pair
Pigeons or mourning doves?

West Vancouver - April 9
We were up early the next morning and off to West Vancouver again.  And just in case you think I've forgotten the bird theme, or strayed from the connection between birds and music, check out the mural on the side of the lovely little building (called "The Silk Purse") that Promotes some of our up-and-coming Performers around the Vancouver area.
We had some time before the concert so we walked along the beach.  I was happy to see these Harlequin ducks, the first I've spotted in well over a year.
Looking back from the edge of the beach, The Silk Purse looked like the Perfect romantic setting for a concert.
If you look closely, you can see the grand Piano behind the door, tucked against the wall. Some people sit on the Porch, and listen to the concerts from outside.  I think they Probably enjoy that unique Perspective almost as much as those who Purchase tickets..
to sit inside.  We had front row seats, and could just about touch the keys from our vantage point.  With seascape reflected in the shiny piano, and Bogdan's incomparable playing, the Predominate thought in my mind was how very fortunate we were to be there. 
The art on the walls kept the bird theme going rather nicely :)
After the concert, we rode home on one of the most magnificent days of the year.  After a short rest, we were off for another outing, this time with Black Jack, and this time on foot. The cherry blossoms on this tree were about as Plush as any blooms could be.
Physical activity makes me happy.  I appreciate the things I'm able to do myself, whether they be walking or biking or participating in gym classes, but I also love to come across people who work hard to develop their own physical talents. 
Oh, to Possess such strength and agility.  
I think this is called a kickboard.  
He makes it look so easy!

Stanley Park - Lost Lagoon - April 11
Reflected swan.
Canada Geese
I Passed the camera to Bill as I had tripped just before we left for our bike ride and was nursing two sore wrists, a bruised hip and a scraped knee.  Happily, everything has since healed up well.  I smiled here, though I was still feeling angry with myself for being so clumsy.  Maybe now, it becomes clearer why I Pay homage to talented athletes.  

English Bay - April 14
It was a shock to hear of an Oil spill in Vancouver a few weeks ago.  It was considered minor but at least 30 birds were affected and one death was confirmed in spite of treatment.  As Bill and I walked along the beach  a week after the spill..
I forgot for a moment that we shouldn't be letting Black Jack put her nose into the debris at the shoreline. I was admiring the glistening seaweed and shells when I suddenly wondered if some of those beautiful sparkles came from oil. 
Looking out over the ocean, it seemed there were more boats than ever.  Perhaps some of them were involved with clean-up and wildlife rescue.  No easy job for sure; my thanks goes out to each person involved with that process.  
As this cormorant flew by..
followed  by a Blue Heron,
and then an immature Bald Eagle, I wondered how the birds in our immediate neck of the woods were doing.
Bill suddenly Noticed this sign.  Looking on the Positive side, I am hoping this relatively small spill has served as a warning to all of us.
This crow, I have a feeling, agrees with me.

False Creek walk and bike ride to Beaver Lake - April 18
I took Black Jack out early in the morning, and came across this flicker chirping up a storm from the top of a telephone Pole.
Later in the afternoon, we rode our bikes to Beaver Lake.  We stopped by the little bridge,
where we enjoyed seeing the Stellar Jays (and many other birds not shown here).

Lost Lagoon - April 22nd
Dabbling goose 
"You lookin' at me?"

UBC - April 23
We took the bus to UBC to hear Bogdan's Doctoral lecture/recital on Marc André's études.  These three seagulls were having a meeting on the campus lawn.
Love this Poster!  Marc-André rides the train while Bogdan hitches a ride behind him :) Marc-André enjoyed the joke and gave Bogdan Permission to Photoshop him into an actual train ride photo that was taken of Bogdan and another musician a week earlier.
Bogdan had the choice of two Pianos and Picked this one.  It looks like it has seen better days, but it Produced a rich and Powerful sound under Bogdan's hands.
Here, Bogdan demonstrates a Point at the piano in the lecture Portion of the Presentation.  It was fun to take a few photos as he talked and played.  Love his expression in this one.

April 27th - Biking to Granville Island
First goslings spotted this year

April 28thRode our bikes along English Bay to the Stanley Park Heronry and home by Coal Harbour.
So many nests in just this small section of the heronry
Apartment living - Blue Heron style
We haven't seen the chicks yet, but we sure can hear them.
White-crowned sparrow by the Coal Harbour Pond
Hi there!
A male redwing blackbird was completely relaxed in Bill's hand.
Possibly a juvenile Redwing
There is almost always a hummingbird high in the treetops
Blue Heron flying over the pond
Female redwing is comfortable with Bill as well
We brought unsalted peanuts (broken into small pieces) and shelled sunflower seeds with us.  It seemed Mom might be stuffing her mouth with as much loot as possible to take to the kids.  Here, she cleans her beak on the edge of Bill's fingernail.  Now that is trust!  
Even Black Jack's presence was accepted.
What cuties!  See the male flying back to the nest?
And here comes the female for seconds.
Well, I've finally come to the end.  It wasn't much of  a plunge after all.  More like dipping in the toes and then wading, ever so slowly, through oceans of photographs and thoughts.  Many, many thanks for stopping by.  I am off now to Peruse some of your posts that I've sadly missed over the past weeks.  Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!


  1. i had wondered about you. glad all is well. my connection is running slower than ever these days and i couldn't get the photos to fully load, but i see you're up to birds, and music, and black jack as always. :)

  2. Wading through all your many photos to pick out a select few must have been a challenge indeed, Carol. All the photos are lovely but the mystical dancing trees (with head seemingly on shoulder) truly made my imagination take flight. :)

  3. I'm STILL listening to the recordings! Fine selection of photos, as always!


  4. Boy that's a lot of pictures! Glad your absence doesn't reflect anything but a busy life!

  5. Wow! Such a long post, Carole and wonderful photographs! So many that I wanted to comment on but got lost trying to find them again. I do love the photo of the out of focus mallard taking off I think it is not only the colors but the texture of the beautiful water behind the bird that makes it so attractive. The female redwing blackbirds have been visiting our feeders this year and I didn't know what they were. I had just figured it out when I saw your photos, then to confirm that, two beautiful males visited briefly. We used to get white crowned sparrows by the dozen at our old house but I have only seen two this year down hear.

    I'm feeling much better, but have exploratory laparoscopic surgery on the 22nd. We shall see where we go from there. Good to see you posting again. I'm going to try and make 'Q' for ABC Wed.

  6. Well, that sure is a welcomed sight! Carol is back!!!
    So good to have a new posting of your travels, Carol, it's good to know that you, Bill and
    Black Jack are still enjoying the sights and sounds of your area.

  7. I'm overwhelmed by the wealth of this fine post. So interesting a read only to be punctuated with fine photography... and of course music. I may have to re-read this post to reap the benefit of all the content. Merci :)

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