Thursday, February 21, 2013

"E" in My World

The letter "E" emerges for an "Our World Tuesday" post this week since it didn't evolve in time for ABC Wednesday.  I endeavoured to make it as epigrammatic as possible but that last goal was a resounding FAIL. Here are the sections (indicated by CAPS and a space between each) so you can pick and choose the ones that interest you:
1. Bill (Enchanting Ethos)
2. Enthralling Entertainment (Clare Twiddy, Novo Ensemble, Paul Luchkow, Jazz Vespers)
3. Buildings (Extraordinary Edifices)
4. E-artists (Paul Emmert, painter and George Enesco, composer)
5. Recent learning (Elucidative Epiphanies)
6. Eagle Eyes (short section)
7. Flowers (Earthly Enjoyment)
8. E shapes in nature (short one)   

Examples of Bill's endearing approach to life are easy to establish:   
1. He went with us when Black Jack needed her nails clipped, and stopped to examine these eye-catching Walking Figures even though we had seen them months earlier and I had already blogged about them.  This picture was taken by a kind gentleman who was also photographing the sculptures. His flickr name is Eyesplash and I will come back to him again later in this post.  You can enjoy a look at his photography at this site.
2. Black Jack is elated whenever she is with Bill.
3.  Even his gangsta-look is enchanting.
4. This photo was taken months ago but the enjoyment endures long after the event.

5. After Black Jack's nail trim, Bill suggested a stop at Caffe Cittadella, one of my favourite places.  They have sugar-free-dairy-free treats supplied by Eightfold Eats that are as delectable as the most decadent desserts.  (I seem to be lost back in D-week :)
It was Valentine's Eve and I guess the staff at La Cittadella wanted to remind us of that.  One day in the year would never be enough to emphasize all the excuses for esteeming Bill.

1. Dances for a Small Stage
It is a cliché to say that the arts enrich life but I am often struck with the urge to express my appreciation for the combination of extraordinary effort and exceptional talent required to bring music, dance, theatre and literature into our world.  On Valentine's Day, Bill took me to see Dances for a Small Stage and we both thought it was especially delightful.  There was a very positive review in the Georgia Straight  (same link given above).  I left this comment in response to the review.  "I am still savouring the memory of this absolutely fabulous evening of entertainment. The singing, guitar playing, variety of music, humour, brilliant dancing.. there wasn't a weak link in the entire program. I hated to see it end. Thank you to the performers and to the behind-the-scenes people for, I feel sure, countless hours of preparation. Vancouver truly rocks and anyone who says differently has not seen Dances for a Small Stage."  I couldn't take pictures of the dancers but did catch this photo of Clare Twiddy and Daniel Moir, musicians who performed between the dance acts.  I loved Clare's voice (and Daniel's as well in back-up harmony).  Daniel also did some very impressive guitar solos.  Normally, the between-dance acts are sort of fill-in, but this one was way more than that.  Each time Clare and Daniel moved to the stage, I knew we were in for a treat.  I will be following the careers of both musicians in the future. 
Daniel Moir and Clare Twiddy 

On the way home, BC Place Stadium was sporting an effulgent new red that was probably..

in honour of Valentine's Day, but seemed more in harmony with the happy endorphins from an enervating evening of entertainment.  

2. Novo Ensemble
I have already told you about Laura, Marina and Shawn Earle's concert here
but Novo Ensemble has another one coming up!  It will be on Friday, March 8th at 8:00 p.m. at Alliance Française, 6161 Cambie Street, Vancouver.  Bill and I hope to be there, and we would love to see you as well.  I know it will be an enlightening and evocative musical experience.  This time, Laura, playing flute (she's on the right in the poster), and Marina, playing cello, will share the stage with invited guest pianist, Bogdan Dulu.  If you check out that link for him, you will find the script of an interview that reveals a fascinating background.  He was raised in Communist Romania, and was five when the dictatorial regime collapsed.  A gold medalist at the Seattle International Piano competition, currently working on his doctorate (piano performance) at UBC and with training in cross-cultural relations, my epiphany as I read about him was that it really pays, sometimes, to explore a little before one attends a concert.  Bill and I have had good experiences both ways.  Sometimes, we walk in off the street and are blown away, but at other times, this Joseph Conrad quote has come to mind: "Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life."   Understanding a little of the roots of the artists we enjoy broadens our understanding and enjoyment.  You can find more information about Novo Ensemble's concert at this site.
On Friday, Marina brought me some posters as I wanted to help spread the word about their concert, perhaps freeing them for a little breathing space between rehearsals.

It was so enjoyable getting to know her. She arrived in Vancouver from Portugal recently and is curious about local birds and sculptures.  There was no shortage of things to talk about,
and, as you can see, Black Jack was enthralled by her as well.
These are cool (check out those blue nails!) working hands and apparently they give a mean massage :) I'm excited that Marina, Laura and Bogdan are going to let me attend one of their rehearsals so that I can practice my people photography.  I'll be putting up those pictures a few days before the concert.  I would love to see a full house for their performance.  It will be well worth your while to check out their facebook site as they post links to information about their upcoming program and about the composers.

3. Early Music at The Cellar 
Although the photo below was technically poor, I like it a lot for a few reasons. Phyllis (Bill's sister) has a twinkle in her eye that portrays her personality beautifully.  Among many other things, she is adoring grandmother, good friend, explorer of life and appreciator of the arts.  She was just finishing her meal at The Cellar as she prepared to enjoy a concert by her son-in-law, Paul.  As I think about it, I realize that Phyllis and Paul share many of their life-loving characteristics.  There is also a lady photographer in this photo.  She is behind Phyllis and she generously shared her expertise with me.  It was comforting to know that some of my difficulties with indoor/poor light shots may be a lens issue, but most of all, I just love that she didn't think twice about sharing her knowledge with me.
There he is!  Paul Luchkow!  Father and family man extraordinaire, but after that, perhaps accurate to describe him as musician-with-a-message.  The message, you ask?  I think it is that he engages so completely when he performs, I always feel he is having a conversation with the composer.  His expression, his phrasing, his respect for every nuance is ensured from the second he picks up his bow.  In between the music, he smiles, laughs, jokes, hugs and generally endears himself to everyone who meets him.  
Paul and his musician friend, Michael Jarvis, tune up, here, for a sold-out concert called Beethoven's Circle.  They introduced the works of Dusek, Hummel and a wonderful Sonata by Beethoven that I hadn't known before.   

The fortepiano, built in 1832 by Aloys Biber, was another attraction.  It has leather hammers and an all-wood construction.  Michael discovered it lying unused and had it restored by Marinus van Prattenburg.  I think he told us that there are only five pianos of its kind in existence today.  You can see Mr. Prattenburg in the photo below.  "Assistant" Bill was enraptured by the fortepiano and with the opportunity to see its inner workings first hand. 
Mr. Prattenberg talks about the art of piano restoration in this video.  To hear music on an instrument so familiar to the composers of the day is a special privilege, and one of many reasons why I remember this performance with such fondness.

4. Andrea SUPERstein in a Jazz Vespers performance at St. Andrew's Wesley
This was our second time attending Jazz Vespers and it was another winner.

Seeing, hearing AND with permission to photograph.  That's ecstasy in my world :)                                                                                                                  

Such an expressive face and powerful voice!  And, the musicians who backed Andrea were every bit as thrilling to watch and hear. To see the full album of pictures, and the names of each musician, check out my facebook link to this event.

5. Candus Churchhill and Tom Pickett in Jazz Vespers at St. Andrew's Wesley
Our third Jazz Vespers concert cemented our opinion that these concerts are not to be missed.  I'm actually running out of superlatives, but I felt as though I were walking on air as we made our way home after hearing Candus, Tom and their very fine band.  You can check out the rest of the pictures and the names of the band members here.

The Wall Centre across the street from St. Andrew's Wesley United Church.
St. Andrew's Wesley United Church.
BC Place and the constantly evolving colours.. 

of Science World, taken during an evening walk along False Creek with Bill and Black Jack.
This was also taken on Valentine's Eve, after Black Jack's nail trim.  Bill and I walked around the outside of St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church, and finally found one door that let us into the small vestibule.  Although we couldn't get past that point, I was able to get this shot by angling my camera up through a very small window.   
I love this picture of Bill.  I think this was the 4th door he tried.  I was ready to give up but he persisted, not for himself but so that I could get the photo.  What I love is his expression :)

4. E-ARTISTS: Paul Emmert and George Enesco
I discovered Paul Emmert (1826-1867) in my search for an E-artist several weeks ago.  Here are just a few fascinating details about him: born in Switzerland, became known in New York City, followed the Gold Rush to California where he opened a hotel and a theatre, ended up in Hawaii where he spent the rest of his life.  All that in 41 years.  Wow!
Watercolour: Puako, Hawaii, 1859

I discovered George Enesco when I looked at the program Novo Ensemble will play on March 8th.  To be honest, I only knew of one of the composers for that program and that is Michael Conway Baker, as he is a West Vancouver resident.  Martinu, the "mainly" part of the concert, was new to me, but I have been going to Novo Ensemble's Facebook site, because they post fascinating tidbits about the composers.  There is a picture of Martinu with his friend, Rudolph Kundera, a painter I hope to learn about.  There is also a little story about the fact that Martinu's father was a bell ringer in the Bohemian village of Policka.  But, for this "E" post, I decided to explore the third composer, George Enesco, and wow, did I ever find an interesting video. I will admit that it is very long (43 minutes) but I am listening to it as I prepare this post and realize I have to go back and listen again with my full attention.  There is much discussion of bells in it, so I am beginning to see a theme here.  I have also learned about some of the composers who influenced Enesco.  The more I learn, the more I can't wait to hear Novo Ensemble's concert!  Epiphanies, indeed!

Remember I said I'd come back to this gentleman?  Bill asked him to pose with me after he had kindly taken the photo of us.  I learned that his name is Michael and as I told you, his flickr name is Eyesplash.  The epiphany?  Well, we talked lenses and iso's and apertures and we learned to say "prime lens" instead of "fixed focus" and it was just a fun interaction with someone who generously shared what I suspected was more than a little expertise. That was indeed confirmed by his flickr site.  Thanks, Michael.  I hope we meet again!

As we walked towards Caffe Cittadella, we passed some young gentlemen who appeared to be city gardeners.  The earth they were spreading had quite a "fishy" smell and Bill  made a joking comment..  something like, "Nice smell."  "Yes, it is," said one of the fellows.  That's when I figured out these guys really do like their job.  We walked on a few steps when i noticed this tree.  I had never seen one like it before, had a feeling the gardeners might be able to identify it for us and called to them with my question.  I loved that they walked up to where we stood, discussed the tree for a few minutes, and then told us they believed it was a Paperbark Maple.  I know they will never see this, but I still thank them.
This is David of The Pet Shop Boys.  He has just finished trimming Black Jack's nails.  I still can't get over that they (David and Christopher are the "Shop Boys") do this for a very reasonable $10 fee.  Black Jack is looking at Bill, absolutely certain a treat will be forthcoming and not the slightest bit stressed. The epiphany?  Well, we arranged an appointment for sedation-free dental cleaning.  I've never done that before but after several visits to The Pet Shop Boys, I have a great trust in their methods.  We asked David how the dogs are restrained for dental work that includes scaling.  He said that for small dogs, they hold them in their arms, wrapped in a warm blanket.  This made such sense to me.  Black Jack tends to become submissive as soon as she is picked up, but add a warm blanket, and I believe she will be absolutely comfortable.  Anyhow, her assessment (free) by their visiting hygienist and cleaning if needed (cost based on time needed) are for the end of March. I'll probably post about it after the event :)

I think I may be due some new glasses and admit my eyes have not been feeling like "eagle" ones lately but the other day, walking along Sunset Beach, I was the only person to notice a drama being played out far above us.  There were two adult eagles, two juveniles and many, many seagulls.  This one was persistently and foolishly(?) harassing the juvenile eagle.
The seagull called out what I interpreted as a warning as s/he flew over the eagle, so close it seemed they would touch.  I couldn't detect prey within the eagle's talons, so perhaps this was an attempt to encourage the young eagles in the area to set up their nests elsewhere. 

I thought of Bill when I noticed this "heart" flower near my apartment. 

I thought these next two arrangements were lovely.  Although they were in front of a rather..

uninteresting condo, someone had gone to great effort to beautify the surroundings.

Driftwook on Sunset Beach.

A flower in David Lam Park.

A cloud over David Lam Park.
That's it for today. Thank you for stopping by the blog.  I do so appreciate your visits! For other events in the lives of people around the world, I hope you will take a few moments to stop by the Our World Tuesday web site.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Life in Vacouver

I'm going to jump right into this post for Our World Tuesday, as I search for a new blogging routine that will keep posts shorter but perhaps, a bit more regular.  This one jumps around quite a bit.  It begins with two horses met during a walk along Sunset Beach.  They were ridden by members of the Vancouver Police Department Mounted Unit.  I had my big lens on the camera, so could barely fit one beautiful face per shot into the frame.
The two young police officers were really friendly (and patient!) while I backed up as far as I dared.  Black Jack, bless her heart, sat quietly at my feet although I could feel her heart quivering.  She has become much better behaved with horses now that she's met a few.
We continued to Stanley Park, where Black Jack's heart quickened again.  
The squirrel decided not to hang around, much to her disappointment.
My first cherry blossom sighting of the year is officially recorded here.  To be honest, the blooms looked a bit tired, and my photograph will not win the cherry blossom "best photo" award but the Spring message was appreciated.
We walked around Beaver Lake, a somewhat new haunt that is becoming a favourite.  I hope Black Jack's heart is strong, because I do not exaggerate when I say that meeting this critter sent her heart vibrations through the leash and right into my hand.  She again sat quietly, perhaps frozen with the shock of finding herself barely a foot away from this bold little critter.
There was a lady on the park bench and i soon realized why there were birds and critters on pretty well every tree branch and all around our feet as well.  

From Italy, but a resident of Vancouver for many years, the lady told me she still finds it a bit difficult to strike up the easy friendships she enjoyed in her home country. She didn't complain about Vancouverites, but she told me she goes every afternoon to sit with the birds and critters to get her "I'm accepted here" fix.  We talked for quite a while and I came away thinking we need to strike up conversations with strangers more often.  

I think it was the same day that Bill and I walked along the seawall after supper.  This scene faces the Granville Bridge.  I have taken it in a thousand different ways (I feel sure), but on that evening, the blue hues seemed especially prominent.  I do love blue.

This little tree is a remnant, i guess, of Christmas.  Last year, I noticed it too.  In fact, I'm sure an older picture of  it sits somewhere in my iphoto events.  Perhaps it is becoming a tradition.  
This is a family friendly blog but some of you may want to skip the next four photos.  Several posts lately have talked about the sights along Davie Street, but I haven't yet mentioned this store that I pass almost daily.  To be honest, I'm a bit embarrassed to look in the window and didn't even know the name of the store.  From the letters "ouch" shown in this photo, I went to a list of Davie Street shops, and sure enough, discovered "Love's Touch."
I thought it might be fun to ask Bill to pose in front of it, 
and he agreed, but only if i did as well.
As you can tell, I could barely stop giggling.  The test will be to see if, one day, we gather the courage to explore the store a bit more thoroughly :)

Next door to the store was this colourful display, set up, I think, in honour of the Year of the Snake.  I posted yesterday on Facebook with some photos of the only snakes I have ever come across.  You can see them here.  For anyone who missed that post, I do wish all a very happy and healthy Lunar Year 4711.
We continued along Davie where the sound of a rock band caught our attention.  It was coming from an unlikely place (to our minds).  Goorin Bros. Hat Shop was really humming.  Well, humming may not be the best word choice.  Let's just say, my ears hummed after taking just one quick photo from inside the doors.  Then, I had to run for cover :)  Loved the energy, though!  

Standing outside the door, I tried to get a shot that included the shop sign and at least one of the musicians through the window.  Bill was doing his best to help me..
when I heard a familiar voice say, "Ms. Carson!"  This is Shervin, an ex-student.  He took my literature class, Canadian Studies class, and several music classes.  We got to know each other pretty well, as he was a committed student and an excellent clarinet player.  It was wonderful to hear that he is now in university and also doing some modelling for a fitness magazine.  As happy as I was to see him, the thought did cross my mind that it was fortunate we were in front of a hat store and not posing in front of Love's Touch when we met up :)
That is just about it for today.  There's lots more, like another wonderful jazz concert at St. Andrew's Wesley Church..

and a lot of laughter during some lively conversations with Yvonne/Yvan E.J. Arnold..  but perhaps, I'll leave that for tomorrow's post.  
When I moved to Vancouver, I was told that I would miss Montreal and find Vancouver boring.  Well, I do still love Montreal, but no..  Vancouver is not at all boring.  There is an enormous variety of culture, beauty and life here, and it has been my pleasure to share some of that with you today.  For other stories from around the world, perhaps you will find a little time to check out the amazing Our World Tuesday blog meme.