Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve thoughts for Our World Tuesday

On this last day of 2012, I am thankful and hopeful.  Perhaps, that appreciation and optimism will come through as you browse some recent photos posted for Our World Tuesday.

Five Bald Eagles were above the ticket booth at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal when we arrived for our trip to Salt Spring Island last week.  There appeared to be two adults and three juveniles. 

A light rain and brisk breeze gave these youth a bit of a bad hair day.

The crows weren't as happy as I was to see the eagles..

and kept up a steady harassment strategy..

that annoyed, but didn't seem to discourage the eagles.  The girl at the ticket booth told me that she considers it one of the bonuses of her job that she can follow this eagle family quite closely.  She said this was the first year for three juveniles to fledge successfully.

I'm not sure if this was a young adult or one of the eagle parents.  His/her face had quite a few dark patches (it takes about four years for their heads to become white). I love this shot for the feeling it inspires of going straight into the new year with a "no holds barred" attitude.  

This was the view I woke up to on our first morning at Salt Spring.

Raven has a steady stream of most appreciative visitors to her home and she looks after them every bit as beautifully as she looked after us.  This Nuthatch was just one of many to provide entertainment while we ate our breakfast.   

We saw this Blue Jay just as we arrived at Beddis Beach for a walk later in the day.  

Even the grey day could not disguise the beauty of the surroundings.

Black Jack was having one of those days when she seemed to want to go in opposite directions to wherever Bill or I headed.

This brightly painted birdhouse was one of many along the fenceposts of a property we discovered nearby.  (more photos to follow in tomorrow's ABC post)
On the way home, we stopped to talk with Mr. Dodd, the owner (with his brother) of a barn built in 1898.  I posted about that visit here.  

Back again in Ganges (the largest town on the island), I loved the colours in this building, a home design store for Elements.

The view by the marina included a variety of boats..

as well as a bit of blue sky, an Arbutus tree and even a bicycle.

The following morning, Black Jack, like the eagle, faced "straight ahead" to 2013.  
This seal came up for quite a long look at Black Jack, and I think, listened attentively as I told him/her how much I appreciated the visit.

Mrs. Downey Woodpecker allowed several opportunities for through-the-window photos.

A seagull flying determinedly forward,

a girl squirrel named Dukie,

and a visit to Ruckle Provincial Park were just a few of the highlights of our visit.

And peeking out from that tree at Ruckle Park are..  you guessed it.. Bill and Black Jack!  No wonder I am so thankful and optimistic!  They have made this year a memorable and happy one and I can't say goodbye to 2012 without letting them know how much they are loved.  
I can't forget my family members in Ottawa either.  My sister and her beautiful first grandson are shown in this photo taken during our visit last February, but each member of the family is near and dear to my heart, and very much in my thoughts on this New Year's Eve.

Back in Vancouver, meet Elvis, another of the appreciated people in my life.  He is an ex-student and he cuts my hair. How cool is that!

I am excited to tell you that he and his wife Michelle have recently had their first child, a beautiful baby girl named Elianna.  Happy New Year to her and heartfelt congratulations to her very proud parents!  

One of my favourite Vancouver traditions is the decorating of these trees by Sunset Beach.  

Their familiar warmth brightens many hearts.

This is my second practice attempt at an inchie.  It represents my hopefulness to follow through with some goals for 2013.  Although improving my drawing is not at the top of my list, I figure any progress made will bode well for the more challenging resolutions inscribed in my heart of hearts.  The theme is "night" and I have left it in small format, as the drawing is done on a square inch of paper. Perhaps, some of you will join me next week, for the official 2013 start of this excellent inchie blog meme.
I conclude with a "straight ahead" smile from Dukie. I hope it inspires all of us to go for whatever it is that will make the year ahead a fulfilled and contented one.  

Thank you, dear readers, for stopping by throughout 2012 (and some for much longer) to read, and often, to leave much appreciated comments.  Each visit has meant a great deal to me. I know many of you will also find time to visit other "Our World Tuesday"  bloggers.  The opportunity to bring people from around the world into our lives is an encouraging sign as we seek answers to some of the challenges of 2012, while taking care to preserve and strengthen the many aspects that were good and right.

Barn Charm on Salt Spring Island

We spent several enjoyable days last week on Salt Spring Island, eating Raven's wonderful food and taking some drives around the beautiful countryside.  Although I've never posted to the Barn Charm blog meme before, TexWis's posts have intrigued me for some time, and this barn was definitely an eye-catcher as we drove home after a pleasant visit to Beddis Beach.

This is Mr. Dodds, one of two brothers who own the barn.  He was most hospitable, inviting us in, and telling us about his grandfather, who built the barn in 1898.  He allowed me to take as many pictures as I liked so I was a happy camper, indeed.  Thanks, Mr. Dodds!
I found some information about Mr and Mrs.  A. J. W. Dodds on page 15 of this article.  They were two of the original white settlers on the island.  Mr. Dodds arrived with an M.A. from Cambridge, and taught for several years in the local schools.  I'm not sure if he was the grandfather who built the barn, but imagine he may have been.
There is a feeling of "all is right with the world" when one walks into a well-run barn.  

Mr. Dodds and Bill talked for a while, but I unfortunately missed quite a bit of the information in my zeal to take photographs.  I do know that the original Dodds family arrived via the mid-Western States before finally choosing to settle on Salt Spring Island.

The hay smelled fresh and was stacked neatly in the immaculate..

and beautifully constructed barn.
Such workmanship!
These antlers appeared to have been there for many, many years.
One last look before we said good-bye.  Thank you again, Mr. Dodds for sharing a little of what is clearly just the beginning of a fascinating story.

To see other photos of barns, don't forget to check out the Barn Charm blog meme.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Xmas 2012, for ABC Wednesday - "X"

It was nice of the letter "X" to arrive in time for Xmas and I am taking advantage of that as most of the "X" connections in this post have some relationship to the Christmas season.

On Xmas Eve, Bill, Black Jack and I walked downtown amid the hustle and bustle of last minute shoppers, happy that our mission wasn't gift related.  When we returned to my building, we set the camera up for a group shot in the lobby.
A late but heartfelt "Merry Xmas" to my much appreciated blog readers!        

It was a relaxed walk with time to look around..
and enjoy the sights.  Below, you can see one of my favourite places, the central branch of Vancouver Public Library.  A tiny bit of the BC Place stadium roof appears between the buildings.  I think that light at the top is a traffic light, but it looked rather like the moon.

Although we saw many places with beautiful decorations, there were also large buildings like this with lights in only a few of the windows, and Bill remarked that overall, condo and home owners in Vancouver are decorating less than in years past.

After supper, Bill and I settled for some quiet time. Black Jack is always confident that "her" Bill would never turn down the opportunity to offer the place of honour on his stomach.

On Xmas morning, I thought it was time that Black Jack got into the spirit of the season.  I am being kind in showing her "intelligent" look first.
I'm not sure she would approve of making either of these next two shots public, 
 but they made me laugh, and she did get the treat in the end, so all was well in her world.
Black Jack says "Merry Christmas" too!
We're moving back in time now to Sunday, the day before Xmas Eve.  We took Black Jack for a walk before going to a wonderful concert, and I kept an eye out for "X" shapes.  These masts were perfect..
as were the leaves of this plant by False Creek.  There are quite a few "X's" to be found if one looks closely, but perhaps, there's also an opportunity to use a new "x' word for me.  According to my Webster dictionary,  "xylem" is the tissue in plants that carries water and nutrients upward from the root and also helps to form the woody part of the stem.  I wonder if it is xylem that causes the tips of the leaves to die.  A smaller, but similar, plant at home appears to have the same problem and I've been wondering how to correct that. 

Bill lay down for a five-minute nap after our walk and Black Jack yawned..

as if to say, "Great idea, Bill.  I was feeling a bit tired myself."

Then we were off to The Chan Centre at UBC for the annual Festive Cantata Concert.  I enjoyed looking through the windows at the forest, and at the "X" reflections in the window.   

The branches outside the window criss-crossed rather nicely as well.
As you can see, I became quite carried away with window reflections.

Below, you can see the skylight with the "X" bars that reflected so nicely.
Bill experimented with his serious look for this photo, but check out the "X" on his right side.
Bill was taking a picture of me when his niece, Glenys (violist, scientist, and mother to two beautiful boys) and her husband, Paul (violinist, violist, and father extraordinaire), happened to go by.  In spite of the fact that they were performing in the concert, Paul took time to take a shot of Glenys with us, and then we moved to another spot where I tried my best to get one of Glenys and Paul.  I didn't adjust for the change of light, so that shot is really out of focus, but they are one of my favourite couples so I am posting a small picture to record the moment.  As you can see in Paul's shot of the three of us, Bill was still experimenting with his serious look.  He was having a good time..  no really, he was! 

From our seats, and before the musicians arrived on stage, I took a picture of the Oboe da caccia, a period instrument that looks very different from the typical oboe played today.  In fact, I had never seen one like it, and later, I looked on line for some information about it.  The picture on the right was taken from this site.  The oboe da caccia was played by renowned Baroque oboist, Washington McClain. I found this fascinating description of a master class given by Mr. McClean at Wilfrid Laurier University.  Written by Esther Wheaton, a composer and oboist, it is a fascinating read if you are interested in oboes or in early music.

Bach wrote approximately 300 cantatas in his life-time.  Although about two fifths of those have been lost, Early Music Vancouver will still have to give many more concerts (this was the 13th year with four on each program) in order to come close to performing all of the others.  During the years that Bach was writing one cantata a week, he was living in Leipzig, employed as cantor at St. Thomas school.  He lived at the school with his wife and four children.  He had had a total of 20 children, 7 with his first wife, and when she died suddenly, 13 more with his second wife.  Out of all those children, only four survived to adulthood.   I will put a small quote here from this excellent site
"The Cantor's duties were to organize the music in the four principal churches of Leipzig, and to form choirs for these churches from the pupils of the Thomasschule. He was also to instruct the more musically talented scholars in instrument playing so that they might be available for the church orchestra, and to teach the pupils Latin (which Bach quickly delegated to a junior colleague). Out of the 54 boys at Bach's disposal for use in the different choirs, he stated, '17 are competent, 20 not yet fully, and 17 incapable'. The best singers were selected to form the choir which sang the Sunday cantata; one week at the Thomaskirche, the other week at the Nikolaikirche. A 'second' choir, of the same size but less ability, would sing at the church without the cantata. The 'third' choir of even less ability at the Petrikirche, the 'fourth' at the Neuekirche."
Looking to the upper balconies at the back of The Chan Centre

What I think about as I read about Bach's life is his genius, for sure, but also, his fortitude.  His first wife died while he was away on a music-related journey, though he had left her in perfect health.  He returned home, shocked to find that she had already been buried, and four children (three others had died in infancy) were now motherless.  In all, he buried 16 children, while composing, performing (he was declared the top organist in the land), and training choirs for weekly performances. I have been playing and listening to Bach's music since a small child, and have known many facts about his life, but he has come alive in my mind more vividly than ever before as I write this post.  A time so different, it is hard to fathom.
One final picture to show the Chan at intermission
The next 14 pictures were taken on Xmas morning during a short walk along False Creek with Black Jack.  The House Finches were singing up a storm, and some of the males appeared to be in breeding plumage, but, with a mist falling, I struggled to get clear photos.
Ooh..  I spotted an "X" in front of this finch.

The cormorants were gathered for a town meeting..

led by this important member of the council, obviously announcing important news.

Poor focus, but had to show this.  This one flew right by my camera, so close I felt I could have reached out and touched his/her wing.

This Hooded Merganser was working very hard for his breakfast.  Is it just me, or do you also see a horrified expression on his victim's face?

I am only showing a few of many pictures, but when I say he worked hard, I really mean it.  Over and over again, I thought the fish (?) had given up, only to watch it try again to escape.

This was the end of the struggle.  As much as I hate to see anything killed..

I had to admit the merganser had fully earned the right to his meal.

He did seem to me to look a bit guilty, though, for not sharing with Mrs. Merganser, who, in my eyes, seemed to have a slightly accusing expression.

Black Jack and I spent a few minutes working on recalls before we returned home.

She was doing really well with her "sit" and "stay" commands, and I even managed to leash..

her before she went into full "chase" mode on sighting this cat.  Phew!

As you can see, she was sorely tempted.  Good dog, Black Jack!

Kosovar-Albanian contemporary artist, Sislej Xhafa, now based in New York, is a new-to-me artist for the letter "X" and, as this site states, "is known for his controversial and provocative artistic works and interventions that he himself likes to label as 'actions'." 

You can see many more of his works by checking out this page.  For now, I will just post..

these two works that caught my attention.  The one above deals with "a religious theme and therefore a very delicate matter.  The fulcrum of the controversy lies in the similarity that the gigantic face of Padre Pio would have with an extra-terrestrial.."  (That quote and more information can be found at this site.)  As for the burning bicycle, it is called Beh-rang, and as the same site explains, "the violent act of burning and the purifying symbolism of fire overlap in the image of the burning bicycle."

For a musical connection, I come back to the Xmas season with "O Holy Night."  It is sung with emotion and enormous power by Luke Edgemon.  I'm not sure that he will still have a voice in ten years, but hope I'm mistaken about that.  I chose this song because my dad loved it, and because my sister sang it so beautifully. 

The final "X" new-to-me music is by the Xavante Indians.  The music recorded was a rare opportunity for an anthropologist to witness a traditional dance.  This link will take you to some interesting comments about that encounter.

That's it for this week's ABC - "X" post.  Try out that link to find lots of other interpretations of "X".  Thanks so much, everyone, for stopping by.