Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thankful for Critters and So Much More

The Thanksgiving holiday has ended and though there are "thank-you's" in my heart every single day, taking a few moments to record the most important ones makes sense once a year. Family, friends, pets, beauty around me in nature, art and humanity, freedoms and rights enjoyed in Canada, good health..  those are all huge.  At least some of them come up in every blog post, but today, perhaps I'll think about them a little more, as I share with three excellent memes: Our World Tuesday (thank you to ArijaGattinaLady FiSylviaSandyand Jennifer), Saturday's Critters (thank you Eileenand Wild Bird Wednesday (thank you Stewart).  The hosts of these memes are definitely one of my gratitudes.  It's a long post, with dates showing when the photos were taken.  The critters and birds will pop up between scenery and art shots.  Please don't feel obliged to read it all.  If one or two photos catch your eye, I'll be happy.

Music!  What would life be without it?  I'll include two pieces for you to enjoy as you read on. Mozart's Andante from his Piano Concert No. 21 is an example of music that never fails to soothe me.

And I just love this next one as well.  Bill had a memory a few days ago of listening to this song in his youth.  He found the video and shared it with me.  I am so thankful that he did.  It was written by two prisoners (you can read about that here) but was made famous by Johnnie Ray.  If you are of a certain generation (and even if you are not), I have a feeling this will bring a smile.
September 27
I love the bike lane (to the left of the sidewalk) and the trees on Hornby Street. With the seasonal changes, our walk to the Vancouver Art Gallery was a delight.
"Of Heaven and Earth" was an amazing exhibition with 500 years of Italian paintings on borrow from galleries in Glasgow.  If you are curious, this video explains more about it.
I learned quite a lot about the way art styles and materials changed through the centuries.  I had no idea what tempera was, or that it was used until after 1500 when oil painting became the new medium.  It is extraordinary to me that we can see a beautifully preserved work like the one below, which used a mixture of tempera and gold.
I also had no idea that the St. Lawrence River of Montreal (that we saw every single time we traveled from our little town to the city) was named after the St. Lawrence shown in Buonaccorso's painting.  One of the things I appreciate is that I continue to learn every day.  I forget at least two thirds of it but I'm still grateful for whatever manages to stick :)
Another thing that I am eternally grateful for is Bill's sense of humour as he appraises the artistic merit of this work!
The art below was part of an exhibit on a different floor of the gallery.  I immediately gravitated to it because of the bird image.
I learned after exploring the artist's (Babak Golkar) web site that it is one of a series of pieces in The Return Project An item is bought in a store, disassembled, and formed into a new object that is then returned to the store.
"The returned object – that is, the art object - enters and circulates in the inventory of the store and is once again available for sale, but at the store’s determined price."  That last quote is taken from the artist's web site, a fascinating one that will explain the details of a much more complex process than I've told you about here, should you have the time to explore it further.

September 28th.
The kindness of a stranger helped me to get this shot of the Supermoon/Eclipse the following evening.  I was struggling to find the correct setting on my camera.  He kindly put my camera on his tripod, and then took time to experiment with settings (even though his own camera was a different make).  In the end, though it wasn't perfect, we were both pretty happy with this result. His name turned out to be Kerry Plowman.  I've just discovered his Flickr site and see that he is, among other things, a creative and talented photographer.

September 29
 Someone had used purple paint and glitter to give this rock in Olympic Spirit Park a new look.
Bill climbed around this boulder and posed with Black Jack for a photo.
The park, under clear blue skies, was a delightful place to spend time.
We always love to spend a few minutes in the park's community garden.

October 3rd
We rode our bikes to Stanley Park on another day of clear, blue skies.  Then we walked part way around the seawall hoping for another glimpse of the grey whale (shown in the previous post).
We could see that the winds were brisk over the water, but the sun was warm..
and the beautiful foliage made us feel like the luckiest people on the planet.
The owners of this boat weren't having such a great day.
Many had gathered, hoping to see and celebrate the successful boat rescue.
The crew worked for a long time.  We continued on our way, thinking that boat ownership is not for the faint of heart.
An hour later, returning to our bikes, we saw that no progress had been made.  Perhaps, the tired crew struggled that day to feel thankful, but in the big scheme of things, no one was injured, they had lots of family/friend support, and they were close enough to shore to walk to safety.  Hopefully, when the tide rose, it would be possible to free the boat.
Though we didn't see the grey whale that day, we did see some Oyster Catchers.
They are (apparently) fairly common around Vancouver, but I have only seen..

them a few times, and it had been at least two years since the last sighting.

A couple of posts back, I showed you some of the thousands of Inukshuks around the seawall.  We had wondered who creates them and how long they remain..
 before the tide or wind topples them.  This day, we began to realize they are..
 a sort of perpetual, informal public art display.  People come by, try their hand at..
 building one or two and continue on their way.  Bill's is the front one on this log in the photo below.  He thought someone should consider building "out" rather than "up" and I thought his idea had merit :) 
October 5th
Since that first whale sighting, we've spent a lot more time than usual inspecting the Stanley Park Seawall.  Hoping for another sighting has taken us to other moments that were equally special.  We see cormorants all the time, but the way they were tucked into Siwash Rock that day was new to us.
They seemed to find comfortable spots in impossible spaces.
Some slept while others appeared to keep watch..
over the family.

As many times as we had passed by Siwash Rock, the legend of "Skalsh the Unselfish" had somehow escaped my notice.  I had always noticed, though, the tree on top (it's a Douglas Fir) and often wondered how it managed to survive.  Well, today, I was happy to find its story at this site.  
The gate you see here is closed when storms make the seawall dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.  While I took shots of the cormorants, Bill..
 took care of the bicycles.  
Then, he and Black Jack sat and admired the beach.
They didn't sit for long :)  Black Jack is very sure-footed..
and wherever she goes, Bill..
is usually close behind.
I love to watch them traverse rocks with such awesome balance and grace.
This cyclist stopped to play with the inukshuks, and I loved his silhouette in the brilliant  sunlight.

October 6th - 3rd time lucky
Once more, we rode to Stanley Park and walked along the seawall, hoping to see the whale.  This chair just seemed to pop out of nowhere.  Neither of us had ever noticed it before.  We are either less observant than I realized, or it is brand new.  Bill and Black Jack tested it out.  :)
Then they explored the logs along the beach.
There was a fairly brisk wind and we sat for a while on a park bench watching leaves float down from the trees behind us, and into the ocean.
It's tougher to capture a soaring leaf than a soaring bird, so I was happy..
to follow this leaf's journey..
into the water.
When we sit together on a beautiful day looking over a land or ocean vista, I always feel at peace..  and yes, thoughts of appreciation run through my mind.  We talk, we laugh, we dream and sometimes, we discover.  What I took to be small seagulls were spinning and whirling through the air.
They landed for a quick moment, and then were off again.  It occurred to me that they didn't really look like seagulls and the word "shearwater" kept popping into.. 
my mind.  I looked in my bird book but haven't made a positive identification, so as always in these situations, if anyone can name them, that will be one more "thank-you" for this post. 
Bill has peeked behind this driftwood "sculpture" before, but he couldn't resist doing it again, and as always, his mischievous smile melted my heart.
We discussed the astounding sense of balance the person must have had to place that little white pebble at such a tilt on the inukshuk below.  Then we headed back to our bikes.  We were almost..
there when our hearts soared.  A second opportunity to see a grey whale!
As the light in the sky tuned to tangerine, the whale made his/her way..
along the shore and we followed as quickly as we could.  As with our first sighting,
I was often unsure which part of the whale we were seeing, 
but the powerful surges through the water were breathtaking to see.
Taking in krill?
I think s/he is moving to the right, here, with one of the blow holes showing.
Rolling over as food is consumed?
This, and the photo above, were the only two to appear more white than grey.
These people were very close (too close, I worried) to the whale.  One thing for sure, their hearts must have been pounding with excitement.  
Lots of people gathered to watch.  The whale came almost up to the Burrard..
Bridge, and I worried that s/he might end up in False Creek.  That didn't happen.  I'm pretty sure this is a "good-bye" of the flipper, followed by one last..
blow (from both blow holes), before heading to the other side of the bay.  
I continue to watch for the whale (no one seems quite sure if there is just one, or whether there may be a couple of them around), but will always be grateful that we were afforded a second look.

That concludes the post for today.  Thank you so much, everyone, for dropping by.  Until next time!


  1. Hello, Carol! I am so hpapy you and Bill had a happy Thanksgiving. I enjoyed this post. The lovely tree lined street. The birds are all gorgeous and I love the bird art piece too. The Gray Whale sighting is really cool. I am not sure if you noticed in one of your Cormorant photos there are two species of Cormorants, the yellow billed most likely is the Double-crested Cormorant and the Black Billed Cormorant could be either the Pelagic Cormorant or the Brandt's Cormorant. I am guessing yours is the Pelagic Cormorant. Thanks as always for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy week ahead!

  2. We must have been very close to some of those spots when we visited last week. And we are very thankful that our trip with our daughter and her family went so well - wonderful memories of our visit to Stanley Park. It was important for us that there were some happy memories too!

  3. Enjoyed listening to the music, viewing the nice art, the views around the city and the birds. Great selection of images!

  4. Your choices of music are great, and I loved seeing the art. It's been so LONG since I studied art at all, and it was nice to draw back into it. Loved the views of the city and the beaches, and those boating shots were wonderful! Also great birds!

  5. What fun! Perpetual Inukshuks created by different hands with like-minds. From the awesome beauty of the soaring leaf, to the talented Kerry Plowman who helped you photograph a mystic moon, to people like you who remind us there is much to be thankful for in this troubled old world, I liked everything about this post … especially, of course, listening to “Walking In the Rain”. :)

  6. All I can say is amazing!!! From the whale shots to the seagulls in flight to the beautiful tree lined street with wonderful shadows. Yep, amazing.

  7. Wow - so many fabulous shots! Love that orange moon.

  8. Great post - love that shots down the street with the trees - but how can you resist whales!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne