Friday, March 26, 2010

There is never anything ordinary about an ordinary day

Beauty spotted this morning....
These remarkable blooms are on these trees framing the final walkway into where I'm doing contract work at the moment. Unlike the fabulous cherry blossom trees on a different spot on this property, these are a startling bright white. I don't know what they are, but I do enjoy them as I duck to get past them.
An uneventful morning commute can even be interesting to the observer. Take today, for instance.

"Two things, one I forget..." - introduction to a cell phone call made by a guy on Skytrain, fancy suit, worn bulky lawyer's briefcase, probably sleep deprived or something.

"I hate it when these things fall out!!!" - loud exclamation by girl sitting at the front of the Skytrain looking out the window, many people turned to see what had happened, it turns out she was talking on the phone and her earpiece fell out. And she yelled at it.

"Hurry up, you're wasting my time!" - same girl, to her friend she was talking to on the phone; I couldn't help but smile, but it did seem a little cruel - but the friend obviously protested, because this was followed by "No! Not you! My cell phone, you idiot!"

"We're working on a building that got torched" - a guy updating his buddy on his cell phone as he walked down the Skytrain stairs.

Two girls crossing 7 lanes of traffic at Lougheed and Willingdon, arm in arm, red duotang folder held between them, they are both reading the document and discussing it, not glancing up once. They're crossing with the light, but the trucks that fly through there, jeeze....

Guy driving by on a scooter, both hands on the controls, a cup of Tim Horton's coffee held between his teeth. When he finishes his illegal U-turn (in the middle of the same intersection as above), he reaches up and carefully brings the cup down into one hand, as he drives along. Um, those little plastic lids pop off sometimes, don't they? (sure wish I'd had my camera out!)

Girl at busstop: matchy matchy brown leather boots, gloves, purse - with complimentary beige coat and brown accessories..... isn't matchy matchy out? I don't think Stacey would have liked it.

Girl at busstop: reading her book and barely notices when her bus comes, notices at the last minute, and needs to sprint to get the driver's attention as she's the only one catching that bus (that girl would be me! ;-)

As I am crossing the street after I get off the bus, I am crossing a street that runs perpendicular to Canada Way. Panel travelling along Canada Way van turns right, going past the first two lanes, past the meridian, then turning right into the two lanes of traffic that go the other way, in order to scoot around a right turn lane that takes him back along Canada Way in the same direction he was driving. No, he wasn't bypassing a light, as he had a green light at the time. I. do. not. understand.

Then, imagine my delight, as I neared my destination, walking amongst office buildings, the guy coming directly towards me is smiling. Right at me. Like a long last friend. He has flowers in his hand. "Oh!! For me?" I exclaim.... Flower courier guy laughs, and carries on with his day. Some things are just irresistible, you know?

Just an ordinary day.

Yesterday was pretty ordinary too, just:

Getting up to tell the bus driver that it was raining in the back of his bus. It was pouring out, and the emergency skylite thing was wide open. He laughed, said "I guess it wasn't raining earlier", thanked me - then got up at the next bus stop and closed it. It was 10am and it had been raining for hours, how many people had said nothing to this point?

As I got off said bus, I looked down, and the little purple hat from the day before was gone. Washed away by the rain running down the street by the curb, I suppose. I actually look for it as I walk along. Then, it pops into my head: an entire kid's story written from the perspective of the hat, or the little creature living in a wee boat under the hat. Only I could come up with that. No, actually my sweet sissy could come up with that too. I can actually imagine her embellishing the story when she reads this....

There is never anything ordinary about an ordinary day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reflections on Rain and Tin Roofs

Raindrops on my umbrella in Barcelona, waiting for the Tour de France to roll into town...
Reflections off rain pooling in sidewalk holes, while I sat out a rainstorm at a cafe in Paris...
These days I am frequently waiting for a Millenium line train at the Commercial station and, oddly, when it is raining, I don't really mind it. That's because you can really hear the rain falling there. I even took this little video clip [bottom of post] this morning when I thought about this (ironically, played back you can barely hear the rain over the background noise, but it means something to me;-).
While I know it's not the same thing, it sounds a little like the sound of rain on a tent, when you are tucked inside... It's been a long time since I camped - maybe 20 years - and I feel no pull to do it now (much less in the rain), but it's still a sound that somehow comforts me. I guess it's a childhood thing. Not only did we go on a lot of camping trips, often we'd set up a tent in the backyard in the summer for kids sleepovers. It's a feeling I had again as a young adult, when my boyfriend and I would 'camp' by sleeping on a foamy in the back of his old Dodge van, even the time when we got stuck in mud and ended up sleeping on an uncomfortable slant all night... the sounds of the rain on the tin roof lulled me to sleep.

Speaking of tin roofs, I once had an opportunity to live for a year or so in an old restored heritage house in Victoria with a tin roof. I had the suite in what used to be the attic, so I was the one who got the benefit of hearing the rain on the tin roof. When this 1910 house was restored, the guy who owned it was actually able to find an aging fellow who had worked on tin roofs when they were a standard construction method. The old 'widow's walk' around the perimiter was restored too. Three big skylights were cut into the ceiling of my suite, so the rain sounded as good on them, as on the tin roof itself. It was a neat place, with a stained glass window at the bottom of the stairs, and up top the suite was on about 5 different levels - there was even a teensy balcony with an ocean view if you stood up - but perfect for nude sunbathing lying down. While not the kind of girl who'd like to live in the woods, I loved lazy Sundays when I'd be tucked inside, listening to the rain, and roasting in the warmth of the wood stove. Everything was new in the apartment, so there was electrical heat, but I'd gotten a half a cord of wood, or something, and I'd fire the wood stove up for atmosphere. This was also the same place where they guy wondered how I'd gotten the oven so clean when I moved out... and he couldn't believe it when I told him I'd never used it. It was still brand spanking new. Heh. Not much has changed on that front.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reflections, Slivers and Magic Moments

Sometimes I wish I could capture the running commentary that goes through my head. It's quiet, and thoughtful, but sometimes it's like a blog post... words have always been natural to me, so I think sometimes it's like I'm writing my thoughts. Once in awhile, I'll stop to capture those, to journal, and maybe to blog. But most of the time, they just drift away.... not gone, but faded into the background. The background of my life. But it does remind me to write more. When I was travelling, I actually journalled a lot. "Home", I seem to have fallen out of the habit, despite the fact that it works so well for me. It's kind of like it's a sliver of my identity that I embrace at times, and neglect at others.

Like swimming. Swimming is a sliver of my identity, that when I am doing it, or I am just in a swimming zone in my life, it just feels so right.

Writing is a sliver. And just plain old reflection is a sliver.

Doodling, I have discovered, is one of those slivers. And it's a sliver that I am actively embracing. When I doodle for an hour or so a day, I feel grounded. When I doodle for hourS a day, I am transported somehow. I just am. It's a great way of just being for me.

I am a little surprised to find photography working it's way into my psyche. It's something I obviously like from all the pics of my travels, and since, but it's more than that. It's like my partner in observation. I like observation. Another sliver, perhaps.

Today when I got off the bus, I looked down and saw this tiny purple doll's hat on the road by the curb. It just struck me. Where did it come from? How did it get there? And why did it catch my eye? Instead of walking on, I took a moment and took a picture of it.

I've been taking pictures of the cherry blossoms at the office where I am doing some contract work. As I walk towards their office, two rows of cherry blossom trees, on each side of the sidewalk, frame the building (ordinary) and the mountain vista beyond (spectacular). The other day the wind blew as I was walking through the trees and it was snowing pink petals all around me. It's the kind of thing that takes your breath away.
And sometimes at the end of the day, I've caught some dusk pics from Skytrain stations, the kind of thing you only really "see" if you stop and notice. A rainbow. A sunset. The late afternoon sun glowing through an office building.

I have been noticing that I am taking time to observe in my daily life, still, upon my return. It's something I know I did all the time while travelling, but as I am now "home" almost 2 months, and my surroundings familiar, I am pleased to find that I haven't lost the way I observe things, and often stop to soak it in. Thank goodness I have not fallen into the oblivion of trudging through life oblivious to the beauty and interesting things around me. That's a sliver I cannot afford to let get away from me.

On that note, having been away, I am so enjoying Vancouver's mountains right now. They do take my breath away, frequently. I have always appreciated them, but I think I have been guilty of taking them for granted in the past, at least sometimes. I remember when I came back from Halifax (when I lived there for 3 months, when was that? 87? 88?)... how I would just wander around in awe of the mountains. I was actually a little dangerous. At least now, I don't drive all the time, so there's no danger of my stopping dead in my tracks on wheels. heh. But I look at them every day now and often pause to soak them in.

I think these slivers are the things that make up who I am, and when I let any of them drift, I am a little less whole.

So, my slivers....

  • Reflecting
  • Writing
  • Doodling
  • Observing
  • Swimming

I suppose the ideal life has all five of these slivers part of my life on a regular basis, some daily, others a few times a week.... But any one of them ignored for months at a time, I think, takes away a little bit of who I am. Hmmm... maybe not 'takes away', but it's like I'm not fully alive when any of them are missing... Hmmm.... still not it.... It's more like I become more fully alive when they are all part of my life. It's about what I have, versus what I don't. It's like visioning - it can't be about the absence of something, it needs to be about the presence of something.

I am more alive and vibrant and whole when I am reflecting, writing, doodling, observing and swimming.

It's a start.

And something to reflect on, as I noodle this whole concept of what kind of life I want now. Back from my travels, I'm entering a new phase of my life. I decided when I was away that I would not go back to the same life I had before. I just don't know what that new life will be. But over the last week I have started to get a greater sense of what that might be. These reflections are part of that. Hmmmm.... Now if only I didn't need an income.... heh ;-)

PS - the rainbow and sunset pics were taken from the platform of the Royal Oak station, and the building pic was taken from the ramp walking up to the Brentwood City Centre station.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Paralympics: Random Pics & Reflections

Well, here we are, on the day that the Paralympics wraps up - and the end of the awesome Vancouver 2010 Games. It's hard to believe it's over. But I had a great Paralympic moment on Friday to keep in my memory... This is the pomp and ceremony that kicked off the Wheelchair Curling tiebreaker between Italy and Sweden for 4th place position.
I hadn't managed to get tickets to any of the Paralympic events locally, so imagine my delight to hear on Friday morning that there was a free tiebreaker game that very afternoon. Free? That's my kinda price! Here's the Swedish team acknowleding the fans after their win.
Here are the two teams shaking hands at the end of the match. It was sad to see those empty seats, as even though the event was free, and was promoted on morning news, the stadium was only about 1/4 full, if that. But those that were there had a great time.
After an on-ice consultation with their coach over a difficult shot, a handshake from one of the Italian players.
Another coach consultation, this time on the part of the Swedish team.
I loved the colour of the rocks, and how they sparkled in the lights....
A rock sliding by on the Paralympic logo'd ice...
I wasn't the only one snapping pics....
Team Sweden takes a timeout at centre ice. If you haven't noticed, the teams are mixed; each team had 3 men and 1 woman. Nice to see, as gender seems pretty irrelevant to curling. Oh, and there's no brooms. So no sweeping to fix a rock once it's released. It's all in the release. Though the players weren't beyond yelling (in Swedish or Italian) and what they wanted it to do. Heh.
What a spectacular location, at the Paralympic Centre near Queen Elizabeth Park - the same venue was also used for Olympics as well, of course. How amazing it must have seemed to our visitors to have our mountains just "hanging" there - and on this day it was spring weather, but the snow looked fresh. Lovely. This man was an all-around good sport when he took a moment to dance with a group of kids performing outside for the spectators before the game began.
These are the kids, having a great time.
This was the group leader, she was having as much fun leading the group and they were having following along.
Getting down to kid height...
This scene had it all: mountains, mascot, flags, people - and glorious blue sky. It's a shame that Leo Obstbaum, the creator the look and feel for the games, wasn't able to see it all come together himself. You might have heard his name mentioned on one of John Furlong's tributes, as he died tragically shortly before the games. Here's the story on him and what he created.
One of the aboriginal inspired sculptures against the blue sky... not entirely sure what this one was, but I like him anyways.
This guy is a raven. Love it!
A sign inside the facility. I did not know this!! Cool.
Oh, walking down the street afterwards, I noticed the jacket of this voluntter... Take a close look at the Paralympic logo (you can click on the pic to enlarge it, if you wish). I realized that they had put the logos on pieces of matching fabric with velcro, so that all those jackets could be worn for both the Olympics and Paralympics. Smart.
One last panorama view of Vancouver's mountains from the grounds of the facility. Man, I love these mountains, it's nice to be near them again. I am still stopping dead in my tracks to admire them - it's like they are newly beautiful upon my return to BC after 7 months away.
So, some random reflections as the games wind down:
  • I am still choked about how poor the television coverage was of the Paralympics - yes, it's apparently better than it's ever been, but, sheesh, that was a sprinkling that left me feeling rather disconnected from the daily events
  • I was glad to participate in the Twitterverse's pressure on CTV to televise the closing ceremonies - they got suitably overhwelmed with outcry over the fact that they weren't going to be shown. So, in 15 minutes, I get to watch them - as does everyone across Canada.
  • I can't take any credit for the pressure that people put on CTV to televise the opening ceremonies - I can't believe they hadn't planned to show them in the first place. In the end, their decision to televise only in BC was naive and only raised the ire of Canadians.
  • I guess I felt better when I heard some of those involved in the Paralympic movement feeling positively delighted with the coverage -
  • I want to say I don't get it why the coverage was so poor, but, of course, I do get it, as it's all about money and advertising.... CTV really showed it's colours and lost so much of the goodwill that they had built up over the Olympics with how they handled this.
  • Vanoc did an awesome job of organizing both events with the same team - I understand it's never been this well organized - but I think the next step in advancing the games is requiring the broadcaster to televise both games - the Olympics and Paralympics - equally (average the coverage and advertising revenues across both games folks, it's not really that hard to figure that out).
  • I was left feeling that the coverage would have been better, in the end, if CBC were the broadcaster, but, of course, I don't know that. I just want coverage. And I want coverage to be on the main channel(s), as not everyone can afford premium channels. As a Canadian I expect coverage, period.

OK, enough soapboxing... time to order my pizza and settle into the closing ceremonies. Congratulations to all the athletes - and thanks for the amazing inspiration. GO CANADA GO!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Random Pics on a Sunny Day

What a beautiful day today. I had a great lazy day with sun streaming in my windows. I had this white plate sitting on my kitchen counter with all the beads I'd bought in Greece sitting in it - and it was so pretty there in the sun, I was inspired to take a few pics:

A nice shadow on the rocks in the garden suite below me:
I was captivated by how bright the sun was on my floors and the shapes of the shadows:
It's a doodler's life. That's what I think when I see this. It's the living room of my current place, rented furnished for a great deal (other than the gas station below, there are awesome views when you look up)... this is my little morning nest, the spot where I sit and doodle, and the sun sparkling on the glass with my pens made me want to capture it. To me, taking pictures isn't just about the truly beautiful, it's also about capturing the ordinary moments. I'll remember doodling in this spot even more now.
My view facing down Burrard Street.
My view looking towards English Bay, love being able to see the mountains, makes me appreciate being home and how lovely Vancouver is.
And, being St. Patrick's Day, there were a few interesting things to see. These guys were decking out their monster truck with shamrock stickers at the gas station below. This was the Timbits break.
Good samaritan leprechauns lend a hand....
OK, this wasn't from today, it was yesterday... the rain brought rainbows, and everyone was snapping pics.
It was actually a double-rainbow, which you can see in this pic, and was what motivated me to snap the pics.
I actually took some other cool rainbow pics a week or two ago, will have to dig them up.
So.... I started this blog update because I figured it had been awhile since I did an update.... but got distracted with pics and now I'm over my inclination to write right now, so will save that for another day. All's well, just busier than I really anticipated... More soon....