Saturday, January 21, 2017

ABC Wednesday (B) and Our Beautiful World (Bicycle)

This week, the letter for ABC Wednesday is "B" and the theme word for Our Beautiful World is "Bicycle" so the two memes line up nicely.  Many thanks to the administrators of both memes.  I  am Beholden to each of you for volunteering your time to bring Bloggers together from around the world.

My second learn-to-draw project was quite a challenge.  To Be honest, I am Blushing a little to post it, but here it is.  This young lady is wide-eyed as if slightly fearful and her expression is Bleak. Perhaps those Bumpy tires have something to do with that. :)
I used this site (part 1 and part 2) for a step-by-step lesson by Mark Crilley. He gave excellent instruction But even an incomplete drawing took much more time than expected.  Finally, I decided to skip the Beautiful colours, omit the Baguette and Bottle in the Basket, and sort of smudge over some of the other wonderful details Mr. Crilley included in his drawing.  I made a little progress and had some fun and I like to think I will do Better as time goes on.  Below, you can see the result Mr. Crilley was expecting.  His rider is definitely more relaxed than mine. :)  
Bill and I were out and about a few days ago, and noted some of the Bicycles and cyclists in our neighbourhood.  We met a father with his two sons and we Both chuckled at the pained expression on the younger Boy's face.  His older Brother had gone on ahead, looking quite proud of himself, but Bill joked that the thought Bubble over the younger child's head might be something like: "Balderdash, I'm falling Behind here.  I'm pretty sure I could walk faster without this Bike holding me Back!"  As Dad tried to Buoy the spirits of his younger boy, 
Big Bro suddenly found himself on his Bottom.  Well, technically he fell on his knees and hands, but Bear with me for the sake of the letter "B" :)
Dad wasn't very sympathetic.  Actually, he laughed - the Best approach, perhaps, 
as the boy picked the bike up and carried on Bravely with no fuss and Bother at all.  Bravo to him, I say!
As we continued home, I stopped to take a photo of the Reckless Bike Shop near our apartment building.  
The mechanics there provide us with Benefits that include free air and oil, but most of all, I appreciate that they and the owner, Paul Dragon, do everything they can to keep the three of us (Black Jack comes along in the basket) riding happily and safely.  No hard sell - just advice when requested and bicycle parts and labour easily available when needed. 
Paul Dragon was shot a few years ago in a freak incident involving a mentally ill person.  It happened just across the street from his shop.  In this video, taken a couple of months after the accident, you can hear him talk about it as he works.  He has continued to improve so much that strangers meeting him have no idea he was declared clinically dead that day.  I don't forget, though.  When we see Paul ride his bike to or from work, with his dog loping alongside, I think of all the things that went right for him that day, and shivers of awe run down my spine.
To me, the bicycle is a thing of great Beauty.  Balancing on two wheels and Being able to get where I want to go is something many take for granted, but I wasn't an athletic kid and it still feels magical to me.  Commuting for years over the Lions Gate Bridge enhanced my world in ways I could never have predicted.  
After retirement, and after Bill became seriously ill, I thought biking might slip out of my life.  Instead, taking those first tentative rides together after he finally got out of the hospital brought him back to health as nothing else could have.  I will never, ever stop feeling grateful for that.  I still come back from every ride with him feeling like we're the two luckiest seniors on the planet.  
We had some snow and then some cold temperatures over the past three weeks in Vancouver and we've had to cut back on biking.  Neither of us is willing to risk a Broken limb because of a slip on ice and since Black Jack rides in the Basket, we feel an extra responsibility to keep her safe.  Now, the weather has warmed up and with good weather in the forecast, I predict we may be riding regularly again very soon.  Here's Bill in the Bike room in our Building.
I thought you might like to see it, so we went down there a couple of days ago and posed with Black Jack in her basket.  I think she was a little bit disappointed that we didn't go for a ride.
Our bikes will not win any Beauty prizes but we love them.  They are hidden behind that lovely, shiny red bike.  Sadly, it has only been ridden once In the past seven years.
Our past adventures are the carrot on the stick reminding us that getting back out there again will feel SO GOOD!  Here's an older photo of our bikes taken one day when we road to English Bay.
 That day, 12-year-old Black Jack ran and jumped like a puppy.
I think I am fairly accurate in saying that bikes can take you at least three times as far as your feet can in about the same time.   Once at our destination, we usually explore on foot.
Bikes led me to Birds and from there, to a more realistic understanding of wildlife. I stopped one day as I rode past the heronry at Stanley Park and was hooked.  Photographing the Blue Herons as they Built their nests, chose mates, raised their chicks and defended against predators Became so fascinating, I was soon stopping almost every day on the way home from work.  In fact, I talked so much about them that Bill suggested I Begin writing a Blog.  The heron below was fishing for food to take back to the nest.
I think fishing during Breeding season is probably the most peaceful activity in an adult heron's day.  "Survival of the fittest" truly hits home when you watch a young heron try to push a sibling from the nest.  By the end of the season, the parents don't interfere much.  They drop the food in the nest, fly off and let nature take its course.  I came to realize these life and death struggles are training for the real world.  I never stopped feeling sorry for the weaker juveniles but at least, I came to understand the workings of Mother Nature a bit more realistically.  The heronry is one of our destinations every nesting season.  The pictures below were taken this past June.  There were three chicks in the nest, and the squabbling and aggressive Behaviour was something to see. If you look closely in this next shot, two of the herons fight, but another one at the left is lying low, hoping not to be pushed out of the nest, like..
this poor youngster.
Boo Hoo..  what do I do now??
 Climbing up on the rung of the fence didn't give the lift hoped for, and we watched a long time as the poor thing tried to figure out what to do.  Happily, Wildlife Rescue responded to our calls, taking the heron to their refuge.  They said that a little time to develop flying skills was all that would be needed before returning the heron to the wild.
Apart from the facts that bikes are a great way to go from A to B, and they provide wonderful exercise, they often bring awareness to certain causes.  When we attended a Childhood Cancer Awareness event, we met Tim Sullivan and his wife, Samantha.  They lost their beautiful son, Finn, to cancer.  (His picture is on the frame of the bike.) 
Part of their healing process has been to ride thousands of miles, raising money for childhood cancer research in Finn's memory.  Tim wrote this poem and has..
 mounted it on the crossbar of his bike.
Tim and Samantha's way of honouring Finn's memory is one I admire.  Here's the link for more information about the BC Ride to Conquer Cancer.
Combining a bicycle shop with a café is a ground-Breaking idea.  We have only one that I know of in Vancouver.  We stopped by the Tandem Bike Café a  couple of times, and found the food and the atmosphere to be delightful.  Here, Bill works on a crossword and you can see my reflection in the window as I take photos.
 The café is on a tree-lined street, and one of the trees..
 called out to us.
A Bike Polo Association has run an event for several years to increase awareness for their sport and to help the hungry as well.  Each Valentine's Day, the riders meet under the Cambie Bridge to compete against each other.  They pay an entry fee that goes to various food Banks around Vancouver.  Sadly, the association has closed down its web page so I can't give you a link, but they certainly have provided entertainment for many.  I like to think the two children watching from the playground may one day want to try something like this too.
Whenever a goal is scored, the two riders have to kiss.
In the midst of all the Buffoonery were some amazing bike skills!
We have a new bike system in Vancouver that is enjoying success.  People can hop on a bike for a small fee and ride between any one of 150 stations.  One of the stations is under the Cambie Bridge.
I took these photos a few months ago.  The signage on the bikes has changed as Shaw Cable recently partnered with Mobi Bike in what appears to be a successful venture.  One new benefit of that is the free wifi at each station.
This site will give you lots of information about mobi bikes, including some statistics showing interesting side-benefits of the plan.
I've mentioned the Cambie Bridge several times in this post.  It has one of the most efficient spaces under it that we've seen in Vancouver.  Game events, movie shoots, a toddler's play area, a Mobi bikes station, skateboarders' runs, BMX riders - everyone seems to get along and Bill and I have been welcomed whether we are watching the action or even when we play pickleball on rainy days.  Below, Bill sits at the side, watching some very talented BMXers.  
Although this post has mainly been about bikes, and the pleasures cycling has afforded us, writing it without mention of Bill and Black Jack was, as you saw, impossible.  The drawing of the girl on a bike, just like this Blog, would never have happened without Bill's encouragement.  It was Bill who suggested stopping by the art store to buy my very first drawing kit ever, and.. 
it was Bill who insisted we Buy a proper easel at Opus Art Store after I read on line that it is better to sketch at arms length from the drawing with a loosely held pencil.  He chose this easel that can work either on the table or be extended to full length for standing.  It is even sturdy enough to take outside.  I love it!
Black Jack and Bill bring untold fun into my life, so here they are to conclude the post.
Many thanks for stopping by! If you have the time, do stop by ABC Wednesday and/or Our Beautiful World to find other thoughts from around the world about bicycles and/or the letter B.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Art for ABC Wednesday

When I saw a comment by Trubes on a recent post, the enjoyment I found from several years of posting at ABC Wednesday came flooding back.  She and the other volunteers at that meme have truly stood the test of time.  I had dropped out of blogging for 10 months, and had responded less and less to even the kindest of comments.  Yet, there she was, having read my post from beginning to end and taken the time to record her impressions of every detail in it.  Thank you, Trubes.  I am rushing to make it into the "A" posts before it is too late, but I will return to comment on your "Z" post, especially since zithers hold a special place in my heart.  Does this badge (that I have yet to add to my page, but will) mean that the meme will close forever after this tour?  I do hope not, but have to congratulate you, Roger Green, Leslie, Joyce, Gattina, Melody, Pheno, and Troy for running this meme that Mrs. Nesbitt began 10 years ago so very successfully.
For my "A" post, I have chosen "Art" for the theme.  As a musician, I know I fit into the world of the arts, but having never drawn even stick figures with Any success, I had Assumed that drawing was not something I would ever be Able to do.  In fact, I had pretty much Accepted that idea until Bill's cousin, Maryel, visited us at our favourite café (that also happens to be an Art gallery).  She had recently taken up drawing, and I was blown away by her portrayal of an owl.  What an impressive start to her new hobby.  I posted this photo recently but will put it here Again for anyone who missed it.
Inspired by Maryel's success, and encouraged by her suggestion of a place where I could buy some pencils and other Art supplies, and even more encouraged by Bill's enthusiasm that I give drawing a try, I decided to Attempt something that started with "A" for this ABC post.  What I found is this Aye-Aye..  or Aie-Aie (I saw both spellings on line, though I think the first is the more common).  This Madagascar lemur was on the extinct list but was rediscovered in the 1950's. You can learn more about it from this video.
 As Maryel told me, you can learn to draw just about anything from youtube.  Sure enough, there was a video to guide me with specific instructions for my Aye-Aye.  How Amazing is that?? I know this isn't perfect.  I have a long way to go, but it sort of looks like an Aye-Aye.  I'm really happy with this beginner effort.
 And, because I love to include Black Jack in most posts, here she is.  I took this photo of her yesterday..
 and then I tried to do an Artsy photo by cropping the photo to capture her eyes only.  If you look closely, you can see me in one of her eyes.  You can even see the balcony window behind us.
 I also love to include my Adored Bill in most photos, and he spontaneously did this pose yesterday.  I think his eyes are not only Adorable..
 but rather Artsy as well.  I love that you can see the smile in this 2nd shot.
 And then, the laughter. :)
 I guess my camera is something of an Art tool as well, and I liked this scenery shot over False Creek, taken moments after the one showing Bill's eyes.
Since the café at Harrison Gallery is surrounded by beautiful Art, I thought you might like to see a couple of professional paintings.  I love these two by Jose Trinidad.
 Art Around us enhances life so very much, as do All of you at ABC Wednesday for the many ways you Augment our pleasures.  My deep Appreciation to each one of you!!