Monday, October 20, 2014

Chance meetings and Vancouver's Blues

On Sundays, I try to keep an eye for at least a few "blues" to share with Smiling Sally's Blue Monday meme.  The blues yesterday weren't dramatic, but since we had a late start to our outing along English Bay, around Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon, and then along the Coal Harbour bike route homeward, there was a blue cast to many of the photos.  

If I look back on a few highlights of the day, one would definitely be a chance encounter with a beautiful family from Manchester.  I didn't ask their names, but they sure left a warm impression.  Their photos appear about half way down the post.

Another memorable event in our day was the crossword puzzle we struggled to complete. I'd give us a 2.5 on 3 for three clues that were related and particularly fun to (almost) solve.  Here are the clues.  I'll put a few letters in as hints and will give the answers at the end of the post for any crossword addicts.

1. Vincent's "rah, rah" team?  15 letters.  
_ _ G _ _ _ _ _ _ A _ _ _ _ S

2. Salvador's order to "Move it!"  13 letters
_ _ _ T D _ _ _ _ _ A _ _ Y

3. Claude's lucrative sideline business? 15 letters
_ _ N _ _ _ _ U _ _ _ _ i _ _

And now, to our day as it unfolded, with at least a little blue in almost every photo.

We stopped along English Bay so Black Jack could have some running time.  Bill clowned..
 around after he locked up the bikes..  
and walked toward us.
 I think he was trying to prove he was just as agile as this seagull.
 Black Jack took him for a good walk while I..
 marvelled for the umpteenth time that two bridges (Burrard closest and Granville behind it)..
can be captured in one shot.  In this one, you can just barely make out a bus on each bridge.  I think at least one of them is an example of Vancouver's articulated buses.


You can read about them at this site (where I found this photo).

 Another crazy two-bridge shot.  The girder is from the Burrard Bridge, but the ironwork behind it is from the Granville.  You can see two False Creek ferries under the bridge as well as one Aquabus ferry that takes bikes.  You can also see a bit of the Os Gemeos mural, the cement plant behind the ferries, and a restaurant on Granville Island.
 But, back to Black Jack's run.  We chose a spot right along the beach.  Bill settles her here.. 
 before letting her take off.
Bad shot, but this one makes me laugh.  No, she isn't this fierce.  She's just trying to chew her treat and run at the same time.
 Our bikes, with the blue towel that Black Jack rests her chin on when we are riding, waited behind this lovely driftwood.
 We were back on our bikes and heading to Lost Lagoon when we saw more seagulls than I have ever seen gathered in one spot along English Bay.  Just as I got the camera out, 
 they all took off.
 We wondered if there was a hawk or perhaps the eagles from Vanier Park were harassing.. 
 them, but couldn't spot the source of their concern.  Here, some of them were returning to the shore line.
 A lone leaf stood guard against the edge of the seawall,
and I took a moment to catch the blue hues in the Inukshuk that you can see just to the left of the seagulls (2 photos up).
 By the time we reached Lost Lagoon, we needed our bicycle lights.  HIgh iso caught some of the feeling of the darkening sky.
 The light through that tallest tree caught my eye, 
 as did the layers of pinks and blues.
That's when we met the family from Manchester.  Hands reached out to Black Jack in her basket, and she lapped up their attention most gratefully.
The parents told a beautiful story of coming to Vancouver years ago, and loving it so much, they promised when they had kids, they would bring them to see where their Mom and Dad had had so much fun.  
The young men are now college students (presently on a semester break) and our short conversations with them were memorable.  We were on our bikes, and passed them twice, but each time they caught up with us when we stopped, and each time, we learned a little more about them.
 Of Italian heritage, music is a big part of their lives, and wildlife..
also was something they thought about and understood.  As we watched the swans together, they told us that swans are also pinioned in England.  I was shocked to learn that, but interested that they were so aware..
 of this cruel practice.  Many have no idea, simply regarding the swans as great entertainment and not realizing the bone in one wing is broken (a comparison would be to break a bone in our forearm) so that they are forced to live in a small pond, unable to protect themselves or fly to a spot that would better accommodate their need for space.
 Poor photo here, but this swan became afraid (not to do with us, as they are fed by humans) and awkwardly tried to lift out of the water, but one wing flapped uselessly behind it.
 Mute swans are so extraordinarily beautiful, but forcing them to live this way is wrong. I hope one day, there will be no more in Lost Lagoon.
 We bid the family good-bye at this point.  I hope one day, we may hear from them again, perhaps when the young men bring their own families back to Vancouver for a visit.
 Our final stop was along Coal Harbour's bike route.  We stopped by a community centre, and for the first time, ever, I used the flash on my camera.  It caught the spray from a water fountain, though both Bill and I wondered why the fountain continues to run at this time of year when most children would find it too cold to play in.
I looked past the fountain to the waterfront, 
 and then played around with setting, trying to capture my beautiful Bill.  His blue eyes showed in this photo..
 but I lost them in this one.  I would have deleted that one, except that Black Jack checking out the action beneath her made me smile.
 The trees lining the bikeway took on a warm hue in the lamplight, 
 but I came back to a blue light that I could see in the distance, shining through the trees.  It wasn't identifiable..
 but it was one of a few building signs like this one..
 that kept the blue theme alive to share with Smiling Sally.  As she says, blue is all around us.  You can affirm that by clicking right here to visit her meme.  

Oh..  I almost forgot!  The answers to the crossword puzzle are: 
1. goghgoghdancers 2. dontdillydally 3. monetlaundering (We got numbers 2 and 3, but thought number 1 was goghgoghvincent) 

Special thanks go to the Manchester family for brightening our day yesterday, and many thanks as well to you, my much appreciated readers. Have a very happy Monday!  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The day as it unfolded yesterday

Yesterday was one of those days when Vancouverites slipped out for some sunshine and play time.  We do that here.  Though the weather has come nothing close to the days and days of dismal, depressing, miserable rain that people warned me about as I planned my move here, there seems to be a "go outside whenever you can" mentality that is perhaps linked to the past.  I am well aware of the devastating affects of climate change, and do feel guilty, sometimes, for loving the climate in Vancouver, but truthfully, it works well for us.  Not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry..  just right.

Here is the day as it unfolded for me yesterday.  I will post it to Sundays in My City, with many thanks to Unknown Mami for hosting.  

I took these photos in the park across from our apartment yesterday.  
 Quite a cross-section of humanity..  (yes, the front of that guitar was painted green)
 and I could swear there wasn't an unhappy face in the crowd.
 I watched this photographer on the dock below me.  
 I do love to see passionate photographers..
 and it was clear to me that he was fully engrossed in capturing his very expressive subject.
 The lengths some will go to to get that perfect portrait.
I tried to get my camera out quickly enough to take photos, planning to check with them afterwards so that they could see how they looked from my perspective.  But, they finished their session and walked up to the level where I was standing.  Here's the best part of this story.  I told them I had loved watching their interaction and had tried but missed out on getting photos.  I don't normally ask favours of strangers (I'm actually a tad shy about such things) but something made me ask them to recreate the moment.  I couldn't believe it when they agreed!  So, back down the steps they went to do this little reenactment.  I was delighted, though my exposure was way too dark (I've used shadow reduction to lighten them) and I couldn't bring myself to ask them to pose again.  Still, I love the photos for the warmth and energy and just plain goodwill in them. 
 As I waited for the two gentlemen to come back up the steps, a lady passed, with her little dog, Molly.  The lady remembered me from a previous encounter.  She had admired Black Jack at that time, and was thrilled to show off her new dog, Molly.  Molly didn't give me much of a chance to catch a shot of her..
 but tossed her little ears with wonderful attitude.  I have a feeling you have lucked into a very happy life, Molly!
The gentlemen arrived at the top of the steps just as Molly was about to leave.  I loved the saxophone earrings and learned they were the result of a happy experience in a school band.  I asked for one more photo and though I didn't catch the saxophones all that well, I thought the feeling of a good day came through beautifully in the young man's expression.  
 Molly had continued on, but turned to look back and I caught one more shot of her.
 A few steps further on, I came upon another small dog having a great day with her humans.  They gave me permission to take photos and even continued to run a bit more just for the camera.  This time, I was looking up at a grassy mound, and that confused the autofocus. 
Still, there is something of the happy energy that..
 I think comes through in spite of my focus mistakes.
 This little dog..
 was having an absolute blast..
 chasing her human..
 around that small grassy hill.  I'd say the young lady was having a great day too.
 By now, my heart, as I sometimes say, was full of happy.
Bill and I had a date to go to a movie, so it was time to head home with Black Jack.  As I turned back, the trees in the park were..
 hard to resist.
 They shimmered from just about every angle.
 A crow tried to figure out how to drink without getting his/her feet wet, but I think finally gave up..
 and a gentleman slept with all of his life possessions (I'm guessing) around him.  I've been watching him for a couple of years now, but this is the first time I've taken a photo.  I didn't disturb him but hope you will feel the respect that I have for all who find their way to get along in life.  Perhaps he is homeless, but he rests well, eats well and is dressed appropriately for the weather.  When it rains, he sleeps under the shelter that you can see three photos up to the far right of the trees.  He is often there when I photograph the cormorants.  I have a feeling he knows their habits in at least as much detail as I do.  If ever we have the feeling that he is not doing okay, Bill and I will do what we can to help, but for now, I think he is living the life he chooses.  
 As said, it was hard to stop taking photos..
 of the foliage.
 The colours and textures are at a peak of beauty right now.
 Home to pick up Bill, drop Black Jack off (guiltily) and then we were off on our bikes to Harrison Galleries for a good lunch and some wonderful art as well.  This oil painting went up in the last few days.  I love tugs and loved the same bright colours that seemed to follow me from the park.  You can read about the artist, Stephen Unser, here.  He calls this "Working on the Fraser River" and that brings back a memory of some wonderful drives that Bill and I did before he sold his truck.  One of our pleasures was to watch the tugs move the log booms along the river.
 The movie?  It was called "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" and we thought it did a very good job of representing the novel with the same title that Bill and I read aloud together, first in the hospital when he was ill, and then finishing at home several weeks later.  The main character is played by Robert Gustaffson, quite a feat, given that he is only 49 years old.  His make-up was apparently such a lengthy process, he once remained in it for three consecutive days.  This imdb site gives some very interesting trivia, if you are interested.
In retrospect, I think we should have skipped the movie.  I did worry about the use of an elephant in it, though the imdb review said animated affects were used for the scenes of concern.  I checked into the possibility of abuse last evening, and there are facts that I believe the movie makers didn't know until after filming. Though I feel fairly confident the elephant wasn't abused during the shoot, there is no question that her previous life was horrific.  Her name is Vana Mana, and you can read about her here.  Because of her story, the circus was forced to stop showing elephants (yay!) but she does remain with the disreputable trainer described in several news stories, and she was rented out for this movie.  I hereby am making a promise to myself not to attend any more movies using trained wildlife.   
 After we returned home from the movie, Bill and I had a happy conversation with his sister before watching a little bit of news together on television.  As we sat, I suddenly noticed a drone outside our balcony window.  Yikes!  I am not a fan of drones, and especially when they hover in front of windows!  You can see the drone on the left, lower side in my photo.
It was difficult to get a focus on it in the dark.  I went to manual focus for this shot..
 but here are some interesting affects that my camera caught..
 when the autofocus was going through its attempt to work out an image.
 I think I photographed a gentleman here, taking a photo (as I was) of the drone.  I wonder if he called the city.  I am concerned for the accident waiting to happen with drones.  I also worry for birds, as the youtube of a hawk attacking a drone is one that makes me unhappy for the hawk..  not for the drone.
 Late in the evening, Bill and I walked along False Creek with Black Jack.  We laughed a lot..  the feeling is still with me as I write.
Someone posted lately about a book that claims there is no such thing as a soul mate.  (More about that another day.)  That may be true, but my feeling that Bill and I are soul mates is strong.  Just the way it is.
 I took a couple of photos of lights..
 and of the lit-up ferry-dock before we returned home.
 Some new flowers were placed in the centre of the lobby.
 I asked Bill to sit by them.  
 LOVE these shots of him.  Black Jack's curiosity about the flowers.. 
 grew and this last shot is my favourite of all.  So, lots of "happy" to begin and end the day with a couple of lessons learned and perhaps some decisions still to be made as my mind continues to turn.  Many thanks to Bill, to Black Jack and to all who helped bring moments of their lives into mine.  For more Sunday stories, perhaps you will find time to head on over to Unknown Mami's meme.