Monday, September 28, 2009

Zimbabwean Sculptures (+flowers, birds and beasts)

In my last post, I mentioned dropping by VanDusen Botanical Gardens on Saturday. A lady had told me about the Zimbabwean Sculpture Exhibition, and as Bill and I pondered a plan for the day, I suddenly remembered her words. I was glad I did. The exhibition ends October 4th. If you are anywhere close to Vancouver, and have the time, I believe you will find it memorable, especially if you choose a day with beautiful weather to add to the pleasure.

There is quite a bit of information on line about the exhibit and the various artists. I even found a blog post on the subject!

Bill spent quite some time going through my photographs, and chose three for the blog post. I'm sorry to have missed the title and name of the artist for this one, but love the lines flowing skyward, and also the expressions.
This one is called "Mischievous Boys" and the artist is Jonathan Mhondorohuma.
"Deep in Thought" by Stoney Mutengwe
There are about 200 artists represented in the exhibit. Two of them can be seen working on site. I spent a few moments talking with Passmore Mupindiko. He was working on a beautiful sculpture of a Guinea Fowl. Those few moments had quite an impact. If ever I can find a little extra cash (okay, for me, quite a bit of extra cash), I will be looking him up. You can see a video with him and Patrick Sephani talking about their work and explaining the various types of stone used. I also enjoyed this article in the Vancouver Sun, highlighting the two artists.
VanDusen Gardens was magnificent on Saturday. Bill and I were mesmerized by this rainbow that appeared and disappeared and magically transformed, depending on the wind direction and sun filtering through the water fountain. I tried and tried to capture it in a photo; this was my best effort. I don't know if it would appear quite frequently, or if nature and man just happened to synchronize on Saturday for our pleasure.
Bill especially enjoyed the water lilies.
Here, Bill holds up a flower that would normally face down. I didn't capture its full essence, but caught Bill's quite well, I thought.
These red flowers are Amaranth. I thought they went beautifully with Bill's shirt, but he limited me to only one picture of him.
Whoops. This sunflower was not part of the exhibit. We saw it later the same day, all by itself, in a marshy area of Jericho Park.
Back to VanDusen. I did not catch the names of most of the flowers, but loved this one.
And now, back to Jericho. Just a little bird, unidentified.
A blue heron opened its wings for a short flight across the pond.
The landing.
With fall colors reflected in the water, the heron had the perfect background to highlight its elegance.
Last year, I had a lot of fun with autumn colors. This year, I have wondered if the dry summer would affect the leaf shades and/or the length of time the colors remain vibrant, so there's a feeling of wanting to capture the beauty while I can.
We met Shanti at Jericho. He was chasing a soft frisbee, and I took a zillion photos, struggling to capture the essence of "Peace" of this totally happy dog. His humans, recently moved to Vancouver from Calgary, were very friendly, and told me Shanti's diet is completely vegetarian, and very carefully hand-cooked for maximum nutrition.

I have come to the end of Bill's photo selections. These last ones are a few random ones, taken between the 23rd and the 26th. They come partly as a Rose update, and partly to represent a couple of highlights last week.

I haven't spent much time checking out the nest, and the lookout by my school. Mostly, just five or ten-minute visits before I head home in the afternoon. This is taken with my small camera, but gives a fairly good overview of the area, with the nest on the pylon at the right, front corner, and the barge at the far right. Often, it is completely deserted, with barely a seal in sight, and no sign of ospreys. I did see quite a few seals yesterday, though, so they haven't left yet. I have no idea where they go for the winter. Looking down at the rocks beneath the water at high tide.
The last time I saw Rose (at least I feel fairly sure this is Rose) was on Wednesday, the 23rd. She flew from the barge to this mast.
Here she is, at the right, on the barge. There is a heron at the left. I'm not sure what bird is in the center.
A rather beautiful crow, I think.
The seagulls have become quite bold, stealing old scraps from the osprey nest.
I spent some time on Friday evening watching the beavers. Here, one chews on a thick branch.
It was almost dark, and I was surprised my camera picked up some fairly clear shots with the flash.
As is often the case, we were being observed as well. There were three of us enjoying the beavers - a lady photographer, and a man named Greg, who stops by quite regularly.
The temperatures are getting much cooler in the evenings, and the ducks often hide their heads. I guess that's a way of keeping a bit warmer.
This last photo was taken Friday evening, the 25th, in Stanley Park, on my way home from school. I liked the shiny beads of water that showed up on the swan's head and neck.
Thanks to Bill for working tirelessly on Sunday to help with a very frustrating printer problem, and most especially, for taking time to go through my photos. His comments and suggestions are always so appreciated. And, as always, thanks to anyone who takes time to stop by and share in my days.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back again

As I begin this post, a voice in my head mumbles,"All work and no play is making Carol a dull old lady." Fortunately, the glow of this jellyfish, nestled among rocks at low tide, reminds me that there have been quite a few play moments. Just less time and energy at the end of the day to record them. That picture was taken on Monday, September 14th, almost two weeks ago. It was taken during a short, lunch-time stroll along the rocks by my school.
This starfish was nearby, and had a bit of a glow as well.
It makes me smile, sometimes, to suspect that the very beings I love to observe are themselves taking stock of the human watchers. These three seals popped up, one by one, and stared intently, when I found a few minutes the following day to get out on the sandbar at low tide. I imagine their conversation sometimes. I've heard people making comments about how lazy the seals are, sleeping in the sun for hours, and I always wonder what the seals might be saying to each other about the humans standing for hours, clicking black boxes in front of their faces.
Dad, the osprey, paid a rare visit just moments later. The pictures were taken into the sun, but iphoto worked fairly well to get some of his features to show up. He brought the fish dutifully to the nest, but I missed that shot. Since neither Mom nor Rose showed up, he took the fish to his usual pylon, and seemed to enjoy having it all to himself.

Dad's feathers scruffed up to make him look at least a size larger, as he shook himself dry.
I have convinced myself that the ospreys do not worry about me or my camera. Dad did give me a bit of a look here. Maybe, like the seals, more curious than concerned.
The reason I missed Dad's arrival at the nest, was this seagull on the other side of the sandbar. I continue to be a combination of fascinated, grossed out, and horrified for the starfish, whenever I see this act. The seagull actually ate two starfish, one about five minutes after the other. This shot exposes the underside of the starfish.
Rose didn't show up for her lunchtime meal, but made an appearance when I stopped by a few hours later, on the way home after school. She and this crow were having a bit of a tiff. The tide was in, and I couldn't get very close, but if you click on the picture, Rose's expression and posture show exactly what she thinks about dive-bombing crows.
Bill was away that week for a few days, and as always, was missed. Black Jack rode to school with me on Thursday and Friday, and enjoyed meeting my students. She slept through the more boring lessons, but was happy to join us for a beach walk on Friday, the 18th. I took this Turnstone during the walk, first on its own..
..and then, with its buddies.
My students found this starfish, and were intrigued with the way it clung to the rock.
I returned that same Friday, after school, and caught my last image of Dad bringing a fish to Rose. I'm sure I've missed quite a bit of Rose's life, but with just short stop-by's, the glimpses of her and her parents have been fleeting.
The next day (Saturday, the 19th), my friends, Jock and Kitty, biked over to North Vancouver with me. Jock took pictures from the shoreline.
I waded out on the sandbar, at a fairly deep low tide, hoping to get some osprey close-ups. Rose did turn up, but wasn't very active. Fortunately, Jock was willing to provide entertainment. As you can see, Black Jack was fascinated with the show.
Kitty enjoyed talking to some international students who stopped by the lookout. I don't remember the details of her conversation, but I know it stayed in her mind for a long time afterwards. She remarked that the interaction was one of the highlights of her day.
Rose figured that turning up was a more than sufficient contribution to the day's entertainment. For the most part, she remained on the nest or the nearest pylon.
Since Jock was only willing to do so much in the way of entertainment, I turned again to one bird that never fails me.
I caught one take-off, on the way to the pylon, and that was about it for Saturday's osprey photo-ops.

Jock, always quick to spot and enjoy the small perfect moments, pointed out this little boat, with the name "Just Enough" on it.
Finally time to move on, we decided to walk along the waterfront towards my school. Suddenly, a blurr raced past us.
It was Cocoa Chanel, one of my very favorite dogs. I first met her last January. She runs ahead of Josie, her human, and 'hides" with absolute enthusiasm and passion. As soon as Josie comes into view, Cocoa takes off again, looking for a new hiding spot. She hides under trees..
Under bushes..
Behind grass..
..and is just one of the most happy, active, chock-full-of-personality dogs you could ever hope to meet.
She also does a slow motion dance that is an impressive feat of concentrated poetry in motion. It may take some time, but my plan is to do a post devoted to that particular skill.
After meeting lots of dogs and people, and after a short rest, we biked over to Lonsdale Quay where the polar opposite of "Just Enough" was waiting for us. Someone told me that the yacht, complete with helicopter, is owned by the same person who bought the Fast Cat Ferries. However, the article in the link states that those ferries have just been sold again for use in the United Arab Emirates.
Back again in Kitsilano, I remarked on these flowers in front of the Starbucks Coffee Shop. I had noticed them a few days before that, and thought they really brightened up an otherwise busy street corner. Jock told me a great story about his neighbor, Alex, who goes around the area, planting flowers just for the pleasure and beauty they bring to the neighborhood. Thanks, Alex! People like you are a gift to people like me.

After some snacks and conversation at Kitty and Jock's, and a visit with their dog, Lucy, we went that evening for a great supper at The Naam. All in all, it was just plain fun to spend the day with them. They truly get what friendship is about, and boy, do I ever feel lucky to have bumped into them on one of my first walks after arriving in Vancouver, 10 years or so ago.

On Sunday, Black Jack and I played some ball in the park.
Then, we walked along the beach and met another of our favorite friends, Lucky, who's little head suddenly appeared over this rock. I posted some blurred pictures of Lucky before, although I can't find the link right now. One more blurred photo here. He moves very, very quickly.
He clambered up and played with Black Jack, who was more than willing to cooperate. Finally, we had to stop them, as those two dogs hold nothing back when they play, and there were a fair number of sharp rocks and stones to make things hazardous.
Handsome Lucky finally stopped for a posed shot.

The rock face, stones, seaweed and driftwood swirled and curved beautifully, it seemed to me.
I zoomed in, trying to articulate the power of rolling, fluid lines.
Black Jack also seemed fascinated. She climbed and sniffed and climbed some more.
Before we left, I spent some time watching the crows. It's an ongoing project, trying to get a successful crow shot. These, along with most of the others I've taken, do not work, except in the sense that when I look at them, I feel the exhilaration of the crows' athleticism.

One crow picked up what I thought was a pebble and dropped it over and over. I thought it was a game, but Bill reminded me later that it was probably cracking a shell to get at the meat inside. Of course! I did know that. Just a momentary lapse. Still, I'm convinced that crow was having fun while it worked!

I had more or less planned not to go to North Vancouver last Sunday, but after resting from our beach walk, and snoozing a little, Black Jack was ready for just about anything, and I couldn't stop wondering if Rose had caught a fish yet. We headed across the bridge. Though Rose honored us with a visit, she did not do any fish-catching demos.
My favorite seal made an appearance as well. I thought s/he looked particularly beautiful in the late afternoon sun.
My friend Dianne and her dog, Haley, met us and we had a happy visit, just sitting and talking by the water's edge. Here is a picture of dear, sweet Haley. She is another of the special dogs in my life.
Bill arrived home last Sunday evening, and a whole week has flown by again. We've had a couple of lattes, some great laughs, and a wonderful breakfast visit this morning with his sister, Phyllis, niece, Glenys, and great-nephew, Oscar. We even managed a stop-by visit on the way home today, to admire the trees and flowers, and see an amazing Zimbabwean Sculpture Exhibition at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. A few pictures to come in what I would like to be a short post, hopefully tomorrow.

As for Rose, we may be coming to the end of the updates. She almost never comes to the nest, and I never did get the chance to see her catch a fish. I did catch a glimpse of her last Wednesday evening, perched on a very tall mast, far off on the other side of the marina. I know it's just about time to wean myself from Rose, as she has, I believe, weaned herself from her parents. Still, I may do a teeny trip over the bridge tomorrow, just to check if there's any sign of her.

Tonight? A walk with Black Jack, and then, we'll watch "Duchess of Duke Street" Disc 1, lent to us by Kitty and Jock. All work and no play? Not at all, once I think about it.