Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reflections: Looking Back on My Europe Trip - almost 2 years later

This rock sits on my windowsill. I picked it up from the beach in Rhodes, Greece when I made my first trip there. It is just one reminder I have of the 7 months I spent travelling Europe in 2009/2010.

Two years ago today, I was counting down the days to my departure, and wrote this More Toes Than Days To Go blogpost 9 days before my departure. I was clearing out my apartment, making final preparations and trying, unsuccessfully, to contain my excitement.

These days that trip is still with me and the memories are as sharp as if I was still there. I can feel atmosphere of Berlin or Barcelona if I just close my eyes. Heck, I can even do that with my eyes open. Barcelona, Aix-en-Provence, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Berlin, Rhodes, Athens, Madrid, La Alberca... so close I can almost touch them. Yet that world feels so far away from where I am today: living in sleeping little Sidney, BC, Canada with my sweet 89 year old mom and an adorable cat.

One of the things that keeps the memories alive is the little things I have around me from my trip. Perhaps the most prominent of those is this little orange leather purse that I got in Florence. I have used it every days since I bought it and still get compliments on it. In addition to its lovely colour, it's neat as it holds a whole bunch of stuff, while still being quite a tiny purse. In fact, I could have this view today, aside of the ground: I still wear that top, and still wear those adorable little sneakers that I bought one hot July day in Barcelona.

It's the little things that provide those memories. That rock on my windowsill, my purse, the loofa sponge I bought from a seaside vendor during my first trip to the old town of Rhodes. It makes me smile each time I shower (and I'm impressed that it's only just now starting to show a bit of wear - I'll probably still be using it for years to come). And my big, sloppy, comfy grey zip-up sweatshirt that I bought when I returned to Barcelona in January when it was cccccold (was staying in a place with no heat, common there, as it doesn't usually get that cold) - I wear it around the house practically every day, though the zipper is long broken. These are my everyday touchstones.

Those touchstones are pure magic, as they have the power to take me back, to connect now to then, and keep all I learned about myself on my trip front of mind.

It's important, as sometimes I feel very far from travel, the wide stretches of open time, the freedom, the learning, the beauty....

Don't get me wrong. I am very happy to be where I am right now, doing what I'm doing, 'tis meant to be. But I still feel that travel itch, and ponder where I'll go when I go mobile again.

And it's not that I haven't travelled at all since then. Since I have been back I've had a great trip to New York City for 3 weeks, an Alaskan cruise, a week in Mexico (Peurto Vallarta), a few days in Tofino and almost 3 weeks in Palm Springs (dog sitting!). Funny, these days, I even time spent in Vancouver is a "trip", lol.

About that pondering for future travel. I think it would be helpful for me to settle on at least one destination for my next big trip, so I can spend lots of time studying up, planning, dreaming.... So far I have a bunch of ideas, and some very probables, but that's all. Croatia and Turkey are of most interest to me at the moment, but not sure. I think there's a reason for all that, I'm not meant to get that clear yet, so I'm going with it. For now.

But I also know what it does to me when I know my next destination... Even if I don't know when, I look forward to that feeling when I start to settle on where....

Sure glad I picked up and took off those two years ago. It was a trip that shapes my life (I can't imagine me without it). Gratitude. I am overflowing with gratitude for all that came together in my life to make that trip possible.

Now I am curious again.....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reflections on #canucks, #canucksriot and #thisismyvancouver

Oh, what a run it was. The Vancouver Canucks made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Go Canucks Go!
What an incredible spirit. Living on the island now, I must admit I was yearning for Vancouver at times, wishing I was downtown at one of the fan zones. All I heard and saw was an amazing energy that some said surpassed the Olympics. Well, the Olympics were truly special, so it must have been pretty darn good.

Going into Game 7, the tension was unbelievable, even at our house here in sleepy little Sidney. My 89 year old mom and I were gathered before the tv waiting for the puck to drop. Snacks at hand, pizza ordered and warming up our vocal cords for the anthems. Win or lose, it was going to be a fun night. But I was so sure we were going to win..... Go Canucks Go!!!

I was even sure I was going to get a chance to cheer on my favourite player, Ryan Kesler, for a goal. That would have been so sweet!

But, alas, it wasn't to be. The Boston Bruins won. And what a game! And what a goalie! I was amazed at Tim Thomas - he was like a brick wall, nothing gets past him. Both teams played well. Congratulations to the Bruins for their win. I really feel for the Canucks team - oh, what hope they had! - and for the diehard fans, who I know were crushed. But it was fun. And it was a game.

That's the kind of stuff I expected to be posting about. But not this:

Vancouver burning. The riots. The insanity. I felt sick to my stomach.

I was concerned at the first signs of trouble, the first car on fire, but I was optimistic that the police woud be able to get things under control. But, alas, that wasn't to be either.

I am not going to spend my energy posting pics or writing a lot about the actual riots. Lots have done that. I have little to add.

But I was saddened. Truly saddened. I was surprised that I didn't spend longer in anger, but it seemed pointless. I just felt sadness. "My" city was hurting.

OK, I will post ONE riot pic, and it's not about the riots, per se, but take a look at the steamy shot below. Wow and wow. Love the photographic values: the out of focus police, the sharp focus on the couple in their 'embrace', the light - what a public private moment of passion. Oh my!

Just before I went to bed in the wee hours that night, I caught up with some tweets about a planned volunteer cleanup campaign to begin at 7am the day after. Thousands said they'd be there.

And, true to their word, they came. They came and they cleaned. Vancouverites took back their town and through their actions demonstrated what they'd been tweeting: #thisismyvancouver. The next 4 pictures are from a wonderful album by photographer Andy Fang - check it out for more.

Love this pic of the Bruins fan pitching in. Sounds like there was an amazing energy as 100's (1000's?) picked up garbage, swept up glass, washed off grafitti, and scrubbed the riot zones clean. Tweets reported that the city smelled clean. I imagine it sparkled in the day's sun.

If that wasn't enough to warm your heart, how about the free hugs movement downtown? Sweet and heartwarming.

And the messages that Vancouverites felt compelled to write to express their love for the city, their pride, their apologies an condolences.... This scene was at the Bay downtown -people wrote all sorts of messages on the plywood covering the broken windows. Check out the flags that people created and strung up....

That last message is from Mayor Gregor Robertson. Sweet.

Talking about sweet, I was really moved by this expression of gratitude. It's a police cruiser covered with messages of thanks. What a lovely reframing of the images of police cars burning. I am sure this meant a lot to the police.

I wish I had more to say, but I'm tired and emotionally exhausted. Still sad, but also heartened. I love Vancouver, miss it at times like this, and hold it in my heart tonight.

ps - I did some Canucks doodles along the way - you can check them out here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Spring is Here?

Well spring may be very slow coming here, but that hasn't stopped us from getting out when the sun does shine. Here's mom enjoying coffee on the fab deck my brother and crew built last fall. My, how mom loves the sun!
Celebrating a nice visit from Kat - my niece and mom's granddaughter - and her beau Jono. Nice to see Kat enjoying the deck that she worked so hard on with her dad. Kat graduates in less than a month from her accounting program, and already has a job landed for fall. You are looking at a future CA!

Had great fun yesterday. It was mom's turn to decide where we'd go for a drive, and she remembered a sweet cafe/bookstore in James Bay she used to go to, and we managed to find our way back there solely based on her recollections and directions. Yeah! We had great sandwiches, coffees and treats - and picked up a few books. I love helping her figuring these little jaunts out then making her ideas come to fruition.

Victoria has one of the longest running Victoria Day parades in the country (where we celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday), and biggest. Despite the fact that it started at 9am (!), we bundled ourselves up and got there. There were a LOT of marching bands, which mom particularly enjoyed, as she used to be a trombone player in such a band as a young woman.

Smiles after the parade.....

A recent special treat: dinner out at Theo's in Sidney. Big smiles from both of us for yummy Greek food!

We stopped by Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria a few weeks back, and I was dispensed down to the dock to get fish and chips for our lunch. While I was waiting I hung out with the seals.

Oh, what a cutie~

Imagine my surprise last week when I came home to find this in our driveway!!!!! WTF? I'll leave you to guess for a minute, and will tell the story at the end of this blog post. Hmmm......

Seriously odd tree in the 'hood here...

We live about a block from the ocean here and were surprised to find out cat Maui hanging out there when we went for a walk recently. OK, he might have followed us. But he prowls this little street and hood like a pro. Anyways, here he is enjoying mom's favourite view at the end of "Memory Lane". It was adorable watching him shadow us on the way home afterwards.

Surveying the garden from atop his new-to-us scratching post out on the deck. He doesn't sit up on here all that often, but he sure loves to scratch and bat the toys around...

Seriously cuteness overload!!!!!!

Life has been surprisingly busy lately, mostly as it relates to marketing my art - see updates on my beepdoodles blog.

OK, the trampoline story: one of the neighbors here had bought it for his daughter for a birthday present. So they asked mom if they could assemble and leave it in our driveway - and kept her home and occupied sometime so she wouldn't bike up the street. Then, after she went to bed, they came over and got it to create a backyard surprise for the next morning. Amusing. And all the other neighborhood kids were crazy with excitement and intrigue.... lol