Monday, September 29, 2008

Everything except birds

Twin Grins

This is a run-down of the weekend, but I've begun with a picture of Kevin and Hudson that I took a couple of months ago.  Kevin is the dorm supervisor at my school, and Hudson is the resident dog.  Any school that has a resident dog is cool, in my book.  I'm sorry I didn't manage better focus, but don't you love their twin grins?

The weekend was busy.  Friday night, we ate at Greens and Gourmet, before attending an amazing concert by Bill's niece's husband, who is a professional violinist.  It is always a joy to watch Paul perform.  One day, I'll try to get some pictures.

Saturday was an errand-doing day, but concluded with a meal at The Foundation, and then a lecture at UBC by the brilliant Steven Pinker - very interesting, and funny too.  It was about the language of emotion, so would not be printable on this blog.  With a little search, you can find pretty much the identical lecture on u-tube, though, if you're interested.    

On Sunday morning, Black Jack and I played ball.

She's very keen on getting the ball.
But her idea of big air is quite limited.

Around noon, I left home on my bike to go to the gym at Howe and Davie.  There's a killer ab class at 1:10 taught lately by a young girl who really yells a lot, but it does seem to keep us all working really hard. I have to admit it's never boring.  Afterwards, I biked back over the Burrard Bridge, and Bill brought Black Jack to the Wicked Cafe, where we sat outside and enjoyed an absolutely divine latte.  (Has anyone noticed how many B's there seem to be in my life?  Check out that last sentence.)

 The view over the Burrard Bridge was amazing.

In the afternoon, Black Jack and I went for a walk:

First, we met a squirrel.  That set things off on a very exciting note.
We also met a dog named Tigger, who had a ton of personality.
This photo does not do him justice.  He's much cuter.
We saw yellow & orange flowers
We saw pink flowers with bees
And we saw a cat, wa-a-ay down at the end of the lane.
Just before we went in the house, we did a study in shadows:
Black Jack's
And mine
Sunday evening, we had a colorful and delicious meal at Greens and Gourmet again - it's another of my favorite places.  Veggie food, reasonably priced, and very thoughtful employees.   
 Who's the third person?  Mali.  Here she is, parking her bike. 
She's a colleague and a good friend.  I love it that she thinks nothing of wearing a long dress as she rides her bike.  She's looking for her key, (not for change to park her bike), and she's trying to tell me to stop snapping pictures.  She has just returned from a teaching gig in Kenya.  Because of her, a connection is becoming stronger between the international students at my school in North Van, and three small schools in Kenya.  Last night, after our meal, we went to a "Mindfulness in Education" lecture by Arthur Zajonc (His name sounds like "science", but with a Z at the beginning).  Huge!  Honestly, just huge!  The panel discussion afterwards with Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl (UBC) & Heesoon Bai (SFU) was as thought provoking as the lecture.  If you ever get the chance to take any sort of course with any of these people, run to the sign-up counter, don't walk.

This morning?  Late again, and pushing these legs harder than they really want to go.  Made it just on time. 

The ride home today?  Spectacular!!  
From the Lions Gate Bridge
From Beach Avenue
This morning, Black Jack woke up at 5:00, in her "Wild-eyed Orangutan" state, as Bill likes to describe it.  I usually get up about then, so I took her out.  She did a poo and then raced inside, as she often does, tearing about the house at the speed of lightening.  I was in the kitchen, when I heard a heartbreaking, very high-pitched whimper that still leaves my stomach in knots.  By the time I reached her, she was sitting quietly, and it seemed when I stood her up, that her right hind leg was in a weird position.  Minutes, later, she's walking, I think stiffly, but I can't actually pinpoint what she has injured.  When I brought her for her first vet check after adopting her, the vet said she had luxated patella in both back knees, but so far, aside from the odd hop on three legs, there has been no indication of pain, and she has seemed just fine.  Now, I'm worried, but no more whimpers after that initial one.
Wish us luck!  One more pic from her ball game on Sunday to cheer me up.   

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Two little seagulls, sitting on a rock

I tried to add a couple of lines to my nursery rhyme title, but didn't come up with anything publishable.  Maybe someone out there can help me.  I felt a bit depressed yesterday morning, as the reality of rainy-day commuting hit me.  Then I found myself noticing how much nature seems to enjoy the wet weather.  On the way home from work, as I went over the Lions Gate Bridge, I looked way down and saw two white specs on a rock.  With my 18-zoom, it amazed me that I captured a reasonable representation of these seagulls.  I watched them for quite some time, and took several photos.  Although they have turned their backs on each other in this photo, my feeling is that they were quite content in each other's company, with the soft mist falling over them.
My next stop was on the way up Cyprus Street.  Any cyclists familiar with this route will tell you that the steepest part of the hill is from 5th to 6th Avenue.  Right at 6th is this wonderful Community Garden.  Thank you to the people who maintain it.  It brightened my day a lot, yesterday.
I've always loved all shades of blue, and this hydrant looked really fine next to the mauve plants around it. 
These flowers, with their glistening droplets of water, were loving the rain.
Bill must have guessed the color theme for the day, because the dessert he prepared fit perfectly.  Another great end to a good day.  Rain, rain, you don't have to go away after all.
This morning, it was raining harder.  I had to wear my booties and rain pants.  I was also late, so no time to stop on the way to work.  About half way there, the rain stopped, and I was way too warm for the latter part of my ride.  Better than too cold though.  And I reminded myself that rain is a heck of a lot easier to deal with than ice.

On the way home, I stopped again on the bridge.  It's beginning to be a habit.  I looked over to Stanley Park, and took this (sort of) impressionist image.  I felt a little Debussy running through the mist.  It also reminded me just a tiny bit of some of Emily Carr's paintings.  If you haven't read her "Hundreds and Thousands" journals, you might enjoy the beautiful beast stories, as well as the insights into her heart and mind. 
Then, I looked wa-a-ay down, and saw this dog fetching sticks thrown obligingly by its human.  Seemed to be no problem with the rain for either of them.  
I looked over to the other side of the bridge and the mist was magical. Rain, you're okay.  I can live with you for another season.  I might even find myself looking forward to your charms.
Home to a new salad look.  Bill is finding his own way to brighten the day.  Sun isn't so far off, after all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dora the Explorer meets Pugs

Time to buy Black Jack's food
I buy Merrick canned food for Black Jack, and alternate between four flavors: venison, buffalo, salmon/venison, and chicken (senior, even though she's not a senior yet.) It's a bit of a struggle, as the store that seems to work best for me is in North Van. (This is the only food shopping I do, but more on that later.)  That means loading the cans (12 at a time) into my panniers and carrying them over two bridges and a couple of hills. The biggest struggle, though, is wondering if she's getting the best nutrition possible. Raw food is very much encouraged at this store, but Scott ate raw for six years, and his demise came, not with joint problems, nor with a disease like Cancer, but instead, with degenerative myopathy. He carried on for three years after being diagnosed, never in pain, and happy to his last day, but slowly losing his motor functions. I took him off raw, because at 13, he suddenly refused to eat it any more. I put him on a so-called inferior diet, GD senior Hills diet, ordered from the vet.  That vet wanted to sell me the Canadian version of GD, but a few tries proved that this also did not agree with Scott.  I had had amazing success using GD with Kim, my BC/Shepherd before Scott.  I started her on it at age 12, and all of her hot spots disappeared, and she went on to live an amazingly healthy life until age 18.  That was all I had to go on, but, as with Kim, the GD seemed to give Scott new life.  His myopathy didn't go away, but his pancreatitis went into remission as long as he was fed small meals every four hours, and his appetite returned big time.  Anyhow, all this to say I still feel guilty not feeding raw, but just can't bring myself to do it.  (Any comments welcome.)

And now, I really must apologize for the quality of these pictures.  My only excuse was lack of time, great excitement, and poor attention/focus.  Still, they do tell the story, so I guess I have to be satisfied with that for now.

The first sight I saw as I entered the store
There's something about seeing a grown man cuddling a tiny little puppy that just warms my heart.  My bike was parked right at the door, and this kind gentleman agreed to wait while I ran for my camera.

And then he put the puppy down.
Just beginning to get his legs under him, but ready to explore.

Then, I saw...
How many were there?  Do you know, I never got them all in one picture.  There were always at least two others running around the store.  I know there were two pups, but as for adults, I'm still not sure.

Then, the two pups found my feet.
I'm not proud of these big feet, but the size comparison was too much to pass up.

This little guy meant business.
All I could do was giggle and snap photos.  The lady with the pugs was still busy collecting her goods and paying the bill, so I had free license to take a lot of pics.

Then, Dora the Explorer arrived.
The Pugs sounded the alarm.  Dora looked a bit concerned.
The rucas was deafening.  It was seconds from closing time.  The clerks kept smiling.  I kept snapping.  There is seriously nothing in this for me, but I have to insert a comment that the people at this store are knowledgeable, patient and always have time for your questions.

Dora's human bit the bullet and entered the store.
The pugs immediately went into "meet and greet" mode.  Dora was cautious, but so-o-o well behaved.  

Ah, a stuffy toy, just like the ones at home.
Uh, no, Dora.  No chewing on this one, please.

The pups were on to more exciting things.  
Pet stores are just about the greatest place to be.  Pretty well every dog I've ever known, will agree.  (I can think of only two exceptions, but their story is for another day.)

Time for the ride home.
All the dogs followed their person to the car, leashless, except for the two babes, who were carried.  One of the adults still had to do its business, and this one, in the car, wanted everyone assembled together.  The expression on its face was priceless. I tried to get my reflection out of the pic, but no luck.  Finally, lady and pugs drove off into the sunset.  

Yes!  Some attention for me!  I've been a model citizen.  Has anyone noticed?
I talked with Dora's human and found out that Dora is only five months old.  Talk about eager to please.  Those eyes said, "I'll do anything, anything you want.  Just help me figure out what that is."

And one pic for the road.  Isn't she gorgeous?
I paid my bill, and set out for home.  I thought a bit about doing this blog.  Only one of the Pugs was a rescue, and there is a part of me that wishes a good home could be found for every dog on earth that needs one, before breeding any more.  However, this Pug lady was doing a lot of things right.  The lady in the pet store told me that the dogs go everywhere with their human, sleep in her bed, and are the best socialized Pugs she has ever seen.  The Pugs are bred only once, at the age of three and a half years.  No puppy mill here.  These are happy, happy, well-adjusted dogs.  And cute factor?  No argument about that, except from Dora, who possesses more than a little charm, herself. Another day's adventures, and a story to tell.     

In closing, another thing about Bill..
Remember how I told you about a pretty much perfect day, yesterday?  Well I forgot to mention that this is what I came home to at the end of the day.  Bill cooks and does all the grocery shopping too!!!  Every night, I come home to the table set, wine poured, and an absolutely delicious and super healthy supper.  I didn't take a picture of the fresh pineapple he had cut up for desert.  It was gobbled up too quickly.  Oh my, do I ever count my lucky stars.  I broke my arm back in January (not on the bike) and that's when Bill began cooking and shopping, and he hasn't stopped.  Life is good, I tell you!
My meal, topped with Mrs. Dash, Brendan Brazier's special oil, and fresh lime.
 Broccoli, red chard, yams, carrots, asparagus, tofu, and brown rice.  Yum!!!  Note: I eat twice as much as Bill on most days.  No room to put the amazing salad on my plate yet, but it has spinach, apples, tomatoes, grated carrot, black beans, and of course, lime.  We love lime!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Beauty Commute with bridges and beasts and a honeymoon.

Some days, the ride is fine. Some days, the elements, or a motorist, or even a cyclist can put things a bit off. Happily, those days are rare. I'm convinced my white/grey hair gives me a small advantage (or maybe it's the silly grin on my face), since most people allow me lots of distance and I always think I get more than my fair share of smiles.  

And then, there are the just plain fun days. Yesterday was one of those for me. Maybe it was all the happy vibes after a truly fun birthday party on the weekend, for a cool two-year-old and his super-cool parents. Have a good one, Cooper. Hope you, Mom and Dad had a good trip to Ontario. More to come later on this one. Something about kids running around your house that points out the good stuff around us.

But back to my commute. It began with a great latte.
Well, to be honest, three lattes. Yikes! That was overkill, but all in the name of a blog entry. More pics of my favorite (I have four) cafes soon. I'm wondering if any other Vancouverites are as addicted to lattes as I am. If so, let me know about your favorite haunts.

Then, it was on to the Burrard Bridge for a more leisurely than usual ride to work. Something made me stop when I noticed a cyclist taking a picture of his friend. I asked if I could take a photo of the two of them. 
That turned into a feel good moment, if there ever was one. They had just been married three days earlier (Sept 18th). That's Patrice taking the photo. He's from Switzerland. And his mate is Charn, from Thailand. When their honeymoon in Vancouver concludes, they'll be living in France. They've promised to send me wedding pictures, and I can't wait.  All the best in your life together, Charn and Patrice. Thanks for making my day even better!

I continued along Pacific Street, on an absolutely beautiful, but very windy day. Whitecaps on the ocean, and energy in the air. When I reached the corner of Denman, more pics. Something about the flowers and the sea so blue and the flags straight out.

Now, it was down Denman, left on Georgia, and along the causeway to the Lions Gate Bridge. Happy wind behind me. I thought of the beasts element of my blog, as I fully took in the magnificence of one of the lions at the entrance to the bridge.
And just a bit of the bridge. Since starting this blog, I seem to be seeing it differently every day.
I looked down to see these two boats. Just one pic here, but the sequence showed the boat on the left way behind, and then he seemed to race to beat the other one. They finally are just about equal here, before parting ways.
On the way home, after a good day at work, the day got even better.
This dear beast is named Shadow, and if you ever meet him in the West End, be sure to say "hi". He is a friendly, inquisitive and absolutely lovely fellow. I was getting on my bike after a trip to the bank, and he took a quick look through my pannier. I imagine it smelled of Black Jack's dog treats, but sadly, she ate the last one recently, and I neglected to do a refill. I promise, Shadow, to have some with me the next time we meet. He only has eyes for his clearly much loved human, in this photo. If you check out my Scott and Black Jack photos, you'll know I have a soft spot for black beasts. I think it started when someone told me they're always the last to be adopted. How could that be? Just look at those eyes.. and the eyebrows! He has a very friendly and kind human, too. Perfect end to a beautiful ride.