Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Skywatch in Vancouver: Season 5, Episode 51

Mottled, rain-filled, night-time, clear blue, dull grey, wind-swept and blazing skies have all passed in front of my camera over the past week.

On Saturday afternoon, the 23rd, walking past the stadium roof,   
and towards Chinatown,
mottled patterns provided a background for some of my favourite sights.
In the evening, as we drove to see "The Merry Widow" at UBC, rain was falling..  
and the skies were dark.
Going home again afterwards, it was amazing to see that there was still light in the sky at almost 10:00 p.m.  The rain had stopped and Bill and I both loved this sky over Spanish Banks.
On Sunday, there were patches of swept blue under the mottled bits,
and I thought I saw a happy stick-man dancing.
A distinctive "mountain-range" of clouds gathered..
over the Granville Street Bridge.
On Monday, as we took the ferry to Salt Spring Island, there were clear blue skies..
and winking seagulls reminding me that a peek in the opposite direction..
would reveal grey ones as well.
sweeping upwards..
and patterned ones (maybe a rocking horse?) all presented themselves within the space of a few hours.
As the sun began to go down over Salt Spring Island on Tuesday, I suspected we were.. 
 in for a very nice sunset,
 and that turned out to be true.
 The rays reached in the kitchen window,
peeked behind the trees..
and formed a star at the top of a golden path across the ocean.
On Wednesday, we boarded the ferry for the trip back to Vancouver.  Bill parked the truck, and I walked upstairs.  This eagle floated out of a blue sky just as I opened the door onto the ferry deck.  Somehow, my camera and I were able to pull ourselves together for the photo.  
That would be the last blue sky I saw for the week.  Clouds were forming,
 and seagulls again..
chose greyer backgrounds..
with just a touch of pink to highlight their..
flying skills.
This one winked..
a friendly good-bye, a fitting conclusion to this post, as the skies yesterday remained similar to the one you see here.
To view a panorama of skies from around the world, do take some time to visit the wonderful Friday Skywatch site.  Have a happy weekend, everyone, and thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ABC Wednesday Letter "X"

For the past few weeks, knowing that the letter "X" was coming up for ABC Wednesday's post, and not wanting to use the word "xylophone" (I'm a retired music teacher and it just seemed too obvious)..
photo taken from this site
 I kept my eyes open for other examples of "X" around me.  These kite surfers..
that we saw in Victoria a few weeks ago..
 quite often gave me some "X" photos as I watched their lines criss-cross.
Perhaps, I will leave you to find the X's in the rest of these.  
Flowers by False Creek
Cruise ship near Victoria
Finch in some pine needles
A warning along the shore by the Bard on the Beach tents at Vanier Park
Algae in the pond at Vanier Park
Another algae shot

Blossoms and branches at Granville Island
I noticed the name Xin on this store in Vancouver and remembered that several of the girls at the international school where I taught for 13 years (just retired) were called Xin.  The "X" is pronounced like a soft "g" and the name means "elegant" and/or "beautiful."  

The Casino that I walk by as we travel east along the seawall.
Science World under construction
Science World aga
Xenia is the goddess of hospitality.  My final "X" idea has to do with this theme.  In the photo below, non-hospitable people are punished and those who have offered their home generously are rewarded.  (More explained if you have time to check out the link.)    
"Jupiter and Mercurius in the house of Philemon and Baucis" by Peter Paul Rubens:
Zeus and Mercury, testing a village's practice of hospitality, were received only by 
Baucis and Philemon,
who were rewarded while their neighbors were punished.
Raven (BIll's ex-wife) would definitely fall under the category of someone who should receive a fine reward.  Bill and I have just spent a couple of days at her place on Salt Spring Island.  She has cooked the most outstanding vegan meals specially for me, has made me feel so welcome and so happy, words almost fail me to express my gratitude.  Apart from that, she loves birds and all animals, has made Black Jack about as happy as any dog can be, and is just a person after my own heart.  There will be many more pictures to come with next week's post, but for now, just one of Raven and Black Jack, to end this post with a beautiful smile.
Thank you, Raven, and thank you, dear readers, for stopping by.  To see what other bloggers across the world have come up with to honour the letter X, check out the wonderful ABC Wednesday site.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walks, theatre, and opera in my world, this week.

My world, this week, has been a full one.  At Vanier Park, the eagle parents took a small break from hunting for some together time on Wednesday.  
The same day, this White Crowned Sparrow ate a ladybug, while a bee buzzed around its tail.
Poor ladybug, but happy sparrow.
Walking back to Granville Island, these finches were playing in a tree.  I wondered if they are recently fledged youngsters.
Stretch, the Blue  Heron, was waiting for the fishing boats to come in.  He looked very serious.
That evening, our good friends, Kitty and Jock, took us to see a Bard on the Beach performance of "The Taming of the Shrew".  A delicious meal (thank you, Kitty!), good conversation and an enjoyable walk to Vanier Park started the evening off beautifully.  It was the perfect way to warm us up for entertainment that provided laughter as well as some serious food for thought.  The slapstick humour was played with perfect timing and the choreography was brilliant.  I loved the music (Beethoven) and we were lucky to see it on a night when the temperature was balmy.  I left feeling we had had a very fine evening's entertainment indeed.  Thank you so much, Kitty and Jock!
Picture taken from a Vancouver Sun review.
I snapped this shot very quickly before the play began.  You can see that the back of the stage opens to Vanier Park.  It is magical at night to hear the sounds of the ocean and the wind in the trees as you watch the play.  
I took this photo a couple of days later to show the actors' entrance.
On Thursday, the bushtits were busy in David Lam Park.
A couple of weeks ago, the photography club I recently joined brought in someone to give tips on impressionistic photography.  I don't have the software to try out his ideas of layering shots.  But, this one of the Bushtit was unintentionally sort-of impressionistic, don't you think?
This one, of a branch that fell on the rocks under the Granville Island dock, also seemed to fit into an impressionistic category.
That same Thursday, we walked by the pond where I had formerly seen a mother and her six ducklings.  Unfortunately, she had only one left.  She was guarding it very closely.
While I was watching the Mallards, this Song Sparrow landed, looking beautiful against a pastel background.
The duckling stood up, stretched its little "flippers" and hopped into the pond.
Dad watched lazily from nearby.
Mom seemed determined to save her last baby.  
She followed, wherever it went.  Good luck, little one. 
We stopped by Vanier Park, and saw just one of the eagle chicks.  S/he wasn't willing to pose for the camera, but this shot gives an idea of the breadth of the wings.
Back at Granville Island, just before we took the ferry home, I watched Stretch stealing bait..
from the fisherman's pail.
On Friday, we took a different ferry across False Creek.  This one went directly to Vanier Park, and this time I checked out the wooden boats.
This is the write-up on the boat shown above.
I had never before noticed this Wooden Boat Shop.  In fact, I hadn't realized before that all of the boats at that dock are wooden, each one with a write-up telling a little of its history.  
I had only my small lens on when we passed by the pond.  The swallows took great offence at Black Jack's presence.  I caught this one as it swooped by.
On Friday, we saw an excellent production of The Magic Flute by the Vancouver Academy of Music.  Henry Chen, as Papageno, was outstanding; his voice and charisma continue to replay over and over in my mind.  He doesn't seem to show up in a google search, but this is someone to watch out for in the future.  He seemed far too young to have such a mature voice and such a keen sense of what it takes to hold an audience in the palm of his hand.  For once, I didn't take even one picture, and since I haven't been able to find any photos on-line from the performance, I have taken the one below from the music academy site.  
On Saturday, Black Jack and I walked by Coopers Park, on the way downtown.  These two little Chihuahuas were so tiny, I think it would have taken three of them to match Black Jack's 13 pounds.  They weren't the slightest bit intimidated by her, and she kept a respectful distance away, as they demanded.
We stopped by Sun Yat-sen Gardens on the way home.
There are two areas, a park that is free to the public, 
and a garden, as explained by this sign, that has an entrance fee.  One day, I plan to go back and check out the garden.
Part of it can be seen here, with the downtown high-rises behind.
There were orange Koi in the pond and also..
some black ones.
Black Jack was mesmerized and convinced me to stay longer than planned.  It was a pleasant interlude in the midst of a busy, downtown ambience.
Saturday evening may have been the highlight in a week of outstanding cultural entertainment.  We saw a UBC Opera production of The Merry Widow in the renewed Old Auditorium.  We were met at the door by beautifully costumed young men and women selling tickets for a 50/50 fundraiser. 
For $20, a row of tickets could be purchased that would equal the length of one's arms.  Bill couldn't believe how many tickets that actually entailed.
Here, Nancy Hermiston, the dedicated and very talented director of the opera school, has two of her students pick the winning ticket.  Neither my tickets nor Bill's were selected, but we still felt like winners.  
What a stellar and thrilling performance!  The fine orchestra was made up of music students, 
as well as recently graduated professionals.
My photos do not do the auditorium or the performers justice, 
but I was happy to get a few of the dancers..
and singers..
during the final curtseys and bows.  The conductor and a couple of the stars were interviewed and can be seen in this video, posted on a UBC blog.  We are truly fortunate in Vancouver to have such a variety of affordable and high quality cultural entertainment. 
On Sunday, I watched a cyclist at Coopers Park..
before continuing on to a downtown skateboard park.  
I was enthralled..
and worried..
at the same time, as I watched..
these young athletes.
When they went for a jump, it seemed to me that they held nothing back.  Sometimes, I knew they were hurting, but they were determined never to show it.  One of them took a few minutes to "talk" with Black Jack, and that small interaction made me feel a personal connection.
Check out the focus..
as these two prepare..
and carry through.
I admired the courage of each athlete but wished they would wear some protective gear.
They acknowledged my presence, and with a small wave of acceptance, allowed me to take as many photos as I wanted.  I thank them, wish for their continued safety, and remain in awe of their talents.
Black Jack and I walked the long way home, past..
high-rises and overpasses,
boat builders,
and even a school for those wanting to learn boat-building.
There were fragrant roses,
and strange, floating white things..
that seemed alive, but I was never really sure of that.  Perhaps, just fluff?
Reflections in a pond..
and the sky-view behind the stadium roof were eye catchers.
There were several opportunities when we could have taken a ferry home, and although Black Jack tried to tell me that, we just kept walking.
She didn't really seem to mind, finding lots of entertainment in the rocks below the cement wall.
We passed a pottery studio, 
and this young woman shyly gave me permission to take her photo.
I loved watching her hands, so fully committed to her creative expression.
At Granville Island, we watched the seagulls bathing..
in what I think must be their favourite pond.
There seemed to be flowers..
of every colour,
and form.
The finches were still at the same tree we had passed a day earlier..
and the Burrard Bridge appeared a work of art in the distance.
We stopped at Vanier Park and caught sight of just one of the eagle chicks..
and also enjoyed the many cormorants speeding across the water.
This smiley face in the rocks perhaps best sums up a week full of pleasures.  For other descriptions of notable happenings around the world over the past week, do take a few moments to check out Our World Tuesday.  Thank you so much for stopping by!