Friday, April 30, 2010

Reflections on One Year

Took this pic in Feb, and it's what my feet will be doing tomorrow

Tomorrow is April 30th. I'll mark the day by moving from Vancouver to Sidney (near Victoria) to live my mom (she's 88, living on her own, is a real sweetie, and I can't wait to just hang out).

Last year on April 30th, I was working my last day at my old job and here is what I wrote.

In between I had:
One heck of a year
One awesome trip to Europe
One cool birthday celebrated in Paris
One added to my big five-o age
One heart full of memories

Evidenced by:
One great mountain of doodles
One hundred and fifteen blog posts
One hard drive filled with pics
One big bushel of insights
One face devoid of stress lines

It's still one great live to live.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Me on Megaphone

Not long after I returned from my trip, I stopped to buy a copy of Megaphone, Vancouver's Street Paper and ended up participating in a student's video project. I've been a fan of the organization, its predecesor, Spare Change, for years, having gone out my way to buy a copy whenever I spotted a vendor.

You can watch the video here, and learn more about Megaphone here.

And if you're looking for a way to help, just look into your heart and buy an issue. Frankly, you don't even have to read the issue to make a difference. But it's good reading too, and good for changing one's perspective on the world. You can also subscribe or donate on their website.

And congrats to Kay on her project;-)

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Glorious Day

I had the most glorious day today in Vancouver. Here's a snapshot and some snapshots... After dropping off my friend Kelly's car for servicing in North Van, I jumped off the bus at Denman and stopped for coffee.
After picking up mail at Denman Place Mall and making a trip to my friendly neighborhood bank machine - and stopping in to give a hi and hug to my wonderful travel agent Nat - I wandered up to English Bay. And the tulips were glorious!!! Look closely, do you see that snippet of red in amongst the yellow?
I got a little closer, and this is what I saw. There were exactly one and a half petals that were red on this flower. Look at how cleanly the line is between the two sides of the half and half petal! Didn't know they grew like that! I love it.... A rebel tulip. My kind of tulip!
More glorious tulips with a glorious backdrop - and my feet, of course....
OK, every spring, for one day, the beach looks like this. And I happened to be by to see it. It's such a weird sight! All the logs lined up perfectly and the sand freshly groomed. It's rather ugly and unnatural.... yet it's oddly interesting - and exciting, as it means spring really is here! One interesting thing I learned in recent years is that all the logs on our beaches are a very West Coast thing... many places in the world there are no logs on the beach - and when people come here and see them for the first time, they are really startled.
My feet. The sand. How orderly.
This is the groomer guy working while the supervisor looks on. heh.
Wide view of orderly sand. More feet. Sweet whitecaps. I like the beach later in the year, of course, when the sand is messy and the logs are moved all around by industrious beach-goers determined to get the right log in the right spot.
Love this shot!
After a quick stop at home, off to Kits to have lunch with my long time friends, and often colleagues, Debra and Marilu. We had such a great lunch and it was great to reconnect.
On my way back on the bus, as I went along Cornwall, I couldn't help but jump off again. What? Am I kangaroo? (and that makes me think of my friend Sap, who is Australian, lives in London, who I met in Spain, who does an awesome imitation of a roo ;-)!!... Anyways, I made my way down to Kits Beach and strolled for awhile. The purple of these shells was so brilliant!
Yes, there was skin visible. And a guy with his head hidden in his jacket. As yet ungroomed sand and logs. How Vancouver. I did not take pics of the folks smoking pot however. heh. How Vancouver.
This sailboat had blown up onto the beach at about 11:30 this morning. When I came upon it, I thought that it was one of those boats from 2 weeks ago (more here), but ended up chatting with this gentleman who witnessed the "landing". I think he needed to tell his story. He'd phoned 911 as he could see the sailor in the water trying to prevent his boat from beaching and he was worried he was going to get his skull knocked in. Apparently, no help unless the injury happened. That includes the Coast Guard whose jurisdiction ends at the sand. Anyways.... he seemed disappointed to learn I wasn't a reporter. Huh? Did I look like a reporter? I was carrying a sketchbook and taking pics, but, frankly, I looked pretty non-reportery, but...
This is the boat that is still there, the guy has been digging it out by hand for two weeks and tries to float it at high tide every day. I heard him on the radio two or three days ago saying he thought he'd get it afloat that night. I guess not.
I was sitting on a log watching the gathering of watchers (good spot to see men! ;-) when I got the call that the car was ready. So headed back to the bus..... Snuck sneaker pics (more here).
My day wrapped up with another trip to the North Shore to pick up the car (favour for the friend who did my mail and banking while I was in Europe for 7 months), then dropped it off, then home for a bit, then out for coffee this evening to reconnect with my friend Sean.
I have days where I don't see a soul - except on the street - so this was a luxury of interaction. And a luxury of truly glorious Vancouver sun and wind and waves and blue sky and sand in my shoes. A nice Vancouver day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bee Green

A little doodle on the eve of Earth Day...

I've been pondering a bit lately about how I've become more green. It's just stuff that comes to me from time to time.

Like the paper towels here. I'm in a furnished apartment and I've been here 7 weeks. When I arrived there was a roll of paper towels about 2/3 full. I am on the same roll, and there's still a few left. In my old life, I'd have probably gone through several rolls by now. And, here I am, less than a roll in 2 months. When did that change? I think, perhaps, that shift began in Barcelona when I was staying with Mabel. I'm pretty green, but Mabel is G.R.E.E.N.! And I learned alot just living with her. I was there about 6 weeks in total between two visits. And it was there that I got out of the habit of using paper towels, and didn't really pick it up to the same degree since.

Like the plastic bags here. Despite being right in the thick of it in the city, I'm enjoying buying my everday staples from a little corner store here, run by a nice couple. That in itself, I think, is a carry-over from Europe, I really appreciate small shops run by people you can get to know. Anyways, despite always having my fav purple net shopping bag with me when I was out and about in Europe, and, as a result, rarely used a plastic bag, I haven't been as vigilent since I've been back in Canada. I just haven't been carrying it. Not sure why. But it's come to be that I often stop at their store on my way home without my handy dandy shopping bag with me. So, I get plastic. What made me think about how green I am becoming is that this morning I collected up all those bags and put them aside to take back to the store. I was out later, with my purple shopping bag, stocking up... and I asked if they would like them back. By all means! So, I'll drop them off tomorrow. That is more natural to me than throwing them out. And I think I need to find another little reusable shopping bag that rolls up tinier to fit into my purse, so I always have it with me.

There's more, but those are the things that jump to mind.

I do feel better that I use up less of this planet now than I used to.

But I want to "bee" more green... so hope to get new ideas and motivation on Earth Day tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Perfect Pain au Chocolat in Vancouver

This morning I was transported back to Paris.

In that moment, it felt like I was sitting here. This was often my view last August Paris, after a leisurely breakfast at our fav local cafe. Crumbs, an empty cup and a doodle. And a feeling of joy and excitement and contentment all mixed together.
This was the view across the street that we looked up at every day. Took lots of pics of this church, in different lights. Oh, morning was often 10... that was, if I got up "early".... heh...
Pic of two local pals here who have been, like, me, seeking good pain au chocolat in Vancouver... That's my niece Branwen and my friend Marjorie.
A very special treat in Paris -- though it's so reasonable and so good that you might have it every couple of days -- is fresh fruit tarts. They are to die for!!! While they usually come in a simple plain white box, on my last full day there I went out to get tarts for the 3 of us , and they came in this amazing little parcel! I think there was a piece of cardboard underneat them, then the paper was wrapped in string with a bow.
Here they are, moments before they were devoured, along with some incredible decadent chocolate cream puffy things that we also tried to consume. Wine helped us in this endeavor.
This is evidence of this morning's jaunt back to Paris.... if only in my heart and mind. The tart is safely tucked in the fridge and the baguette won't last long, I'm sure....
I don't think I can describe this morning's experience any better that what I just wrattled off in an email to B and M, so I'll quote myself:

"Bonjour ladies, I found it! Chopain Boulagerie, 1165 Davie, across from Kin's market. i just had a to-die-for fresh pain au chocolat right off the oven cooling racks.... they didn't look at me weird when I ordered Cafe a lait (instead of a latte), and i walked home with two more treasures: a fresh baguette (still warm, though haven't tasted it yet, give me 10 minutes and I'll weaken) and a very French little raspberry tart in it's plain white box. ! yum ! "

I overheard the owner talking to ahother customer. Apparently this is the third location in Vancouver for Chopain, and he came to Canada when he was 18 (maybe in his 50's now?) is the . Visit and you will be in heaven.

I am really learning about the power of a photograph lately, when I see a pic taken on my trip I am truly transported back. Sometimes there is a moment of a heart tug, where I feel a little bit sad, that I'm not there anymore... but it shifts pretty quickly to just enjoying and savouring the memories.

Sometimes when I find myself going into my pics to find a certain pic to illustrate something I'm thinking or feeling when writing here, I find myself transported away, and I can get happily lost there for hours. That's very special to me.

I have thousands -- and I really DO mean thousandS - of pictures from my trip, and I've only just begun to sort them. But it's such pleasure when I putter away at this. It's going to keep me busy for a long time.

I've actually started to identify what I think are the top 10 pictures I've taken on my trip, from a "photography" perspective (not that I know what I'm doing!) and am up to 5. It's fun to ponder such things. It's compelling and it's much of what inspires me these days.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reflections on blogging, writing and courage

It's interesting to observe how my blog has changed over the years and, every once in awhile when I do make a significant change, I do notice a bit of a struggle. Like now. With my travels, appropriately, I began to cater what I wrote about to the "audience" of friends and family who were following along. Or, as many said, living vicariously through me. Now that I am "home", I am finding the voice of that public self, isn't necessarily what draws me to write as often as I write. Sometimes I just want to write. I don't want to write for someone else. And I do do that, to a degree. But lately I've noticed myself mentally editing what I want to write about, thinking that whatever "it" is it may not be suitiable for "this" blog I write. LOL. And I truly did laugh out loud as I finished that last sentence. Suitable for what? It's MY blog, afterall.

What is this new blog? Perhaps just more of journal. There is, of course, stuff I journal about that's not going to make it onto my blog... stuff that is truly personal. But, for the most part, I want to shake off whatever personna I have created for myself here, and just be me. For me.

Typical Aquarian response, perhaps. Or, perhaps, better said, typical Roberta response. I don't like routine, and I certainly don't like to be put in a box, even if that box is of my own making.

Sometimes a girl just wants to write, you know?

It's like I need to clear away this niggling doubt in order to transform my blog to be whatever it is meant to be, to accompany me on this journey of reinventing myself, and creating a new life. Because, what I'm doing right now, this reinvention, is pretty exciting. And I can't hold it all inside. I don't want to hold it all inside. What makes it most fun is I don't know what it will be.

I was asked the other day what the fun is in my life. I was surprised to blurt out "my life is my fun!" And it's true. Ever since I stopped "working" (at a job-job) almost a year ago, my life has all been about fun. Even when it's been a little bleh, it's still been fun. Because I don't really know where I am going.

All I know for sure is that I am learning and going with the flow. I am LOVING having nothing to tie me down. I am enjoying my own company. I am enjoying seeing what emerges when I doodle for a few hours. I am delighted to notice when I let things go, things that I think used to mean a lot to me, but today don't really. I am encouraged to find my heart pushing it's way into the forefront of my life, versus being tucked in a little corner, hidden away where it can't get hurt. I am encouraged to find my courage prominent in my life.

Heh. Just noticed the root of the word ENCOURAGED is COURAGE. Veeerrrryyyyy interesting.

I am encouraged by my courage. Indeed.

Courage feels so much better than fear.
Courage feels so much better than doubt.
Courage feels so much better than control.
Courage feels so much better than contraction.
Courage feels better.
Courage feels.

Me: courage. Me, my life, courage, and art. Just hanging out, living my life, creating my art, learning my lessons, moving along my journey, doodling along, living along, loving along, reflecting, writing, exploring, staying open, just being me.

What a lovely example of what happens when I really write. I start writing about one thing, and end up thinking about another. And I work stuff out as I go. Writing is a pretty powerful tool in my life.

I like it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Glorious Mountains

All morning I have been thinking about the view of North Shore mountains from James' place. Oh, how totally glorious!!! Absolutely took my breath away then, and still does when I think about it. How glorious it would be to wake up that view each morning. How inspiring it would be to create art in that place. What a lovely backdrop to life. I feel honoured to have been there, and can't wait to go back. And I'm so totally honoured to have seen an artist's studio, to have been there right in the midst of his marvelous creations. It was totally the right space in which to give form to my dreams of a life of art and other ventures. A new vision of a new life is coming into view. It's funny that I say that, as I can't really tell what it will actually look like, but I know what it will feel like and I trust all the rest will fall into place. I'm inspired, and excited, and energized. Yet calm. It's good. It's all good.

Written after an art-themed life coaching session with artist James Melcher.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Radio and the 3am Drama at Kits Beach

Pic above is copyright Sea Weasel

OK, I'm feeling kind of badly about joking about the skull and crossbones flag on the boat that ran ashore yesterday. I feel ok about enjoying the flag, and sharing it, but it was really a bad day for the boat owner.

I got a greater sense of that this morning, when listening to CBC radio and heard the story of the attempts by one of the boat owners (there were four) to get his boat back in the water (I don't know which one of the four it was, afterall, it was radio!).

High tide was due at 3:00am, so they gathered a little crew of helpful strangers to try and get it afloat. Apparently the city was supposted to be there, but didn't show. In the words of one of the guys, interviewed after the failed attempt, if the city had brought their toys they could have dug a trench in the sand and it would have worked: "hey boys, show your toys!". As it was, there they were with their shovels.

"It's going to get gnarly pretty soon here," said one guy, as the hour grew near. There followed drama, complete with the dingy assisting getting too close and being in danger of getting beached too. The drama and interview was recorded on site, in the middle of the night, as the CBC person had been walking on Kits beach in the early evening when they were getting ready, heard what they'd planned for the middle of the night and... she said... "I just had to go back to see what happened". Great for us that this curious lady was a radio lady with, I suppose, her interview kit, always at the ready. At one moment, right when she was asking a question, the guy ran off, "I have to get my dingy out now!!!" He ran, tried, but it was too late. That was the jist of it anyways.

There is something about radio that I love for storytelling, as you aren't given the visual, and you have to imagine it - and somehow it can be much more colourful than tv. I was lying in bed at the time listening to this on the morning show, so no distractions, could just close my eyes and the story lit up my inner movie screen.

Gnarly. Love that word. It's a word my brother uses. Somehow it communicates a message very strongly.

BTW, if you want to listen to the story yourself, it should be in the April 9th Early Edition podcast (not sure how long it will be available, maybe a week or so?)

There are some other stories about the beached boats here:
Wind Storm Destroys and Grounds Sailboats Off Kits Beach (many fab pics)
Vancouver sailor blames city for Kits Beach wreckage
B.C. wind beaches boats

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Reflections on a Glorious Wind

The sky early this morning was truly lovely. Here's looking from my window, down Burrard, with the North Shore mountains in the distance.
A close up of the same shot. Anything with the Hotel Vancouver gets my vote (and makes my mom happy when I post these!)...
Looking East, the colours were magical...
... while I froze my ass standing on my balcony in my nitie snapping away...
The TV news this morning included a report on 3 or 4 boats that had washed up on Kits Beach. OK, it was 3 when the report started, and 4 when it finished. Anyways I thought it was hilarious that the flag on this one had a skull and crossbones on it!
Took this spectacular pic of our snowy mountains from the Broadway Skytrain platform. Wow.
I rather like the way this shot is strangely framed... Taken from Lougheed Highway, below the Brentwood Mall Skytrain station. I had other pics without the structure, but liked this one best.
What a glorious wind it was this morning. Well, not so glorious for those who lost power or had trees topple on their houses - or tossed their boats ashore... but, for me, I loved how it cleared the air and blew out the mental cobwebs. It is definitely a good thing that I got a haircut this past weekend, or I would look quite the fright right now. Really really short hair is good for so many reasons!

The North Shore mountains were sparkling with crisp white snow today, lots of it I understand. So, after the long Olympic/Paralympic stretch when skiiers could not get onto Cypress - and the weeks leading up to it when it was closed as they trucked in the white stuff, new snow has arrived in droves and the season has been extended. That's good news not only for the season pass holders and drop-of-a-hat skiiers, but it's also good for us non-skiiers, as there isn't much more depressing than glum skiiers who are stuck on pavement complaining about the lack of snow. Heh. Well, there's lots more depressing than that, but I am happy when others are happy, and I know this makes a while lot of folks happy. Me, I'm happy to take pics and just enjoy the beauty. One of the other reasons I love the wind is that any smog hanging over the city is carried away, and even the lightest clouds get whipped away, leaving just crisp mountains against the blue sky... which is even more awesome when there is fresh snow.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Reflections on Cherry Blossoms and More...

A bird's nest downtown Vancouver...
Tulips this morning...
Coolest bike, spotted recently at Portobello West....
I'd love to paint a bike up like this...
Makes me curious about the owner...
It's hard to believe that the cherry blossoms are gone already... they were so marvelous!!! It was only two weeks ago that I paused to take pics of the cherry blossom tunnel, and now the branches are bare. Even the grass below is largely free of the discarded petals. ;-(

The bonus is that you can see birds nests in the empty branches. I saw a couple today in the now barren tunnel.... and the other day I even saw one right downtown at the bus stop at the corner of Davie and Burrard. You know that birds are there, that they must be living somewhere, but you don't usually get to see them.

The planted flowers have been capturing my attention lately, and I've been enjoying the mix of colours in the tulip gardens whereever I go. This morning I tried to take a pic of a cluster of red and pink ones, ripe with the morning dew (or perhaps it had rained earlier?) - but, alas, my camera isn't so great for stuff like that... unless I were to get on my hands and knees and get up close... and it wasn't that kind of moment....

This has me thinking further about this idea I have of getting a digital SLR camera - and really using how to use it. I'm watching my money at the moment, but I think this might give me real pleasure. I do always like to be learning something. On the other hand, it's a rather extravagent indulgence, as it's pretty remarkable what I've been able to shoot so far on my current camera.

Well, cameras. I went to Europe with one camera, and came back with another. The one I went with had given me many years of great service - and I was delighted to figure out that it had digital zoom when I was about a month and a half into my trip (why did I not know this before?!?)... Anyways, it froze up completely in December, so it was off to the little specialty camera store in Rhodes to get a new one.

I knew the store from when I was first in Rhodes, when I picked up some digital memory cards. Had a nice chat with the owner and I bought some lovely cards with pics taken on the island... which I learned were taken by a Russian photographer who had moved to Rhodes a few years previously. So, when my camera died when I was back in December, I knew right where to go.

He was open when I went (yeah!), he remembered me and set me up with a nice little Cool Pix that I was even able to get in turquoise. And a fair price. Oh, and this one I know how to use. Well, a bit more...

Anyways, while I was in the store, a guy came in to drop something off.... and I realized this just might be the Russian - so I asked, and it was. His photographs are truly GLORIOIUS so I was interested to learn a bit more about him, and how he managed to capture them. What ensued was an amazing animated telling of his best stories. Of how he sets out when a big storm comes in to go to a spot serveral hours away where he knows there will be a great pic of a rainbow if/when the sun burns through... sometimes doing this many times at one spot until he gets "the" pic. Along with great antics of getting stuck in the mud somewhere, getting arrested somewhere (was that Italy?) for trespassing, something about a drama that ensued with apples when he was doing a nude photoshoot of a woman in a field... Hmmmm..... I am going to have to give this some thought to see what else I can remember. LOL...

Somewhere I have the photographer's name. I have all these little slips of paper, gathered on my trip, with names and email addresses on them, tucked away. Something I want to do soon is dig them all out. Right now I am pretty busy just sorting my pics. My thousands and thousands of pics....

Monday, April 05, 2010

Reflections on Lazy

Watching the world go by in Barcelona....
When did lazy become a bad word? It feels, right now, like a North American label. One that places judgement on "doing nothing". But, it is through doing "nothing" that is the seed of great creativity for some. Where do ideas come from? Where does art come from? Where does inspiration break through if one is always going at breakneck speed?

I am learning to embrace my inner laziness. Heh. There will be some that will tell me that I do not need more practice at this (hee hee!), but, really, it's a journey. Now I'm not talking about couch potato laziness, plugged into a television until time disappears (although there is some value in that too sometimes), but just the general state of not having an agenda in one's life, and going with the flow.

I am thinking about lazy today because I've been finding my way back to my creativity this week, when I was able to truly be still for the first time since I returned from Europe. Olympics and Paralympics are over, no more moving places for a bit (I'm in week 5 at this place, will be here 2 months in total), a bit of a break in the contract work I've been doing, and just less busy with errands and social engagements. Just time. For just me. And, just like magic, although I know myself well enough to know it would come, my creative side starts to really emerge, and I am just happier than usual to be around me.

What comes to mind as I write this is the old men of Europe, sitting around the city squares, just watching the world go by. Women too, of course, though the men jumped to mind first, they have this down to perfection it seems. It would be hard to translate the word lazy into their local language in a way that would make sense. They are just being.

I love life like this. I had plenty of time to be like this on my trip - and it's because of knowing this about myself that, for the most part, I spent a month in each city I visited. I got a couple of things from that. One was connecting with myself in this way. Just the space to reflect. And observe. And be. And create. The other was getting a real sense of the culture where I was that one cannot possibly get in whirlwind travel. They have a name for this: slow travel. I guess it sounds better than lazy travel. lol. I wasn't lazy all the time, but I had lazy periods. Relaxed periods. Days at a time when I didn't have anything on my agenda, often not even an idea of what I was going to do on each day until I found myself doing it.

Finding this space is probably the biggest adjustment I have had returning "home". I've not been pushing myself, but it's still hard to grasp sometimes. It's something I don't want to learn the knack of. In the life I had before I left, I had these times, but they were mostly moments, short interludes, felt only when I'd paused enough in the craziness of my life to sleep and shake off the tiredness.... then it would seem I'd need to go back to the zoom zoom do do go go.

I don't know much, but I want to live in a world largely absent of zoom zoom do do go go. Now, to create that, if not all the time (um, there is that small matter of money!), then for a larger slice of my pie of life.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Today in Vancouver

I got myself a decent haircut today - finally!!!! It was my only one in 9 months, if you don't count the self-cut I gave myself in Greece (pic here). And I'm sure better than my sis & mom imagined, after my April Fool's joke of telling them I'd gotten my head shaved (which they believed!). ha ha. Oh, and I'm finally not colouring it anymore, as my "grey" turns out to be a rather lovely sorta-blondish hue. That'll save me lots of nickels.
I asked for a heart when I got my latte decorated today at Cafe Artigiano today. It went well with my pain au chocolat.... oh, my, it was almost as good as the real thing. If I'd tasted it fresh out of the oven, it might have been perfect. It did have the sweet little wedge of chocolate inside, just like in Paris. Instead of making me miss Paris, it made me appreciate Paris. And I loved how I was transported back at the taste... Ah, Paris....
A rather sad sight downtown today, with the Olympic clock sitting at all zeros. Hmmmm. Well, I'm glad it's still there, and I'm glad they've left the building wrapped with the flag behind it. I'm still reminded of the Olympics every day, as you see people wearing their Canada clothing and their Olympic stuff: clothes, backpacks, whathaveyou...

This sticker was on a neighborhood informational sign. I did not get it and was puzzling over it, hoping for insight before I googled it... But I think I've got it now: its probably about all the cameras (CCTV = closed circuit TV) and a reference to George Orwell's 1984 (big brother is watching)....
Finally, a pic taken from my window, in case you've ever wondered where taxi drivers go for coffee. This happens a couple of times a day, including in the middle of the night.
That's all I have to say for myself today. Publicly, anyways ;-)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Missing Greece

Today I found myself missing Greece. I was taken back to the way I felt in Greece, when I treated myself to lunch in a place on Denman Street that markets itself as 'authentic Greek'.