Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Catching up (a little) for Our World Tuesday

I am catching up with quite a backlog of photos and events that feel important to me.  This was taken in Jericho Park on June 7th, about a month after Bill came home after his surgery.  Bill commented that seeing his "normal" appearance in recent photos is always a surprise as, in his mind, the inner self does not match with the outer picture.  As you can see, Black Jack sees him as she always did.  So do I.   
Black Jack has two "TV screens" at Bill's house in Point Grey.  This one (photo taken June 11th) looks over the front lawn, and though she is napping here, I can tell you that she spends many hours checking on the neighbourhood cats, dogs, squirrels and people.  I don't have a recent picture of the back view.  It is slightly less used, but she runs between the two windows quite frequently, something I think of as changing channels.
On June 14th, we again walked at Jericho.  This photo of Bill and Black Jack is another favourite of mine.
I love this tree and thought it looked especially beautiful in the evening light (on June 18th) when Black Jack and I walked near the Jericho Sailing Club.  
On June 20th, The Bike Gallery set up a care station by Trimble Park.  I use my bike almost every day and really appreciated the free brake check, chain oiling and helpful attitude of..
these friendly gentlemen.  Black Jack enjoyed meeting them as well.
I took the next photo minutes after the bike check.  It shows one of several community gardens near Bill's house.  Neighbours volunteer to take over their care and put a lot of time and effort into making them beautiful.  I am deeply appreciative of their efforts.
Paul (Bill's nephew-in-law) is on the left in the photo below.  He is a fine violinist and does a concert series each summer with his friend Michael.  This was the first musical performance that I had attended without Bill since meeting him.  I loved the concert but after it finished, it took Paul's beautifully tuned sense of humour to bring me to laughter.  When I asked if I could take a few photos, Paul used Michael's head as a prop for his violin.  Then, his..
early music specialty was transformed to a hoedown that made all of us laugh, and none..
with more hearty enthusiasm than Paul himself.  He is a beautiful person and one of my favourite comedians!  Thanks, Paul!
Two flowers to conclude the post.  This one was in the lane behind Bill's house (June 26th)..
and this one (June 28th) was one street over from his house.  We've had a summer to celebrate this year.  This past July has officially been declared Vancouver's sunniest month ever!  How about that!  No wonder the flowers are so happy!  To learn about the weather and other events in the lives of people around the world, you might want to check out the Our World Tuesday blog meme.  It's an excellent one and a great way to take you on a world tour without leaving home.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Blue in a Good Way for "Blue Monday"

For those of you following the story of Bill's surgery and chemo treatments to combat Colon Cancer (2nd month of a 6-month plan), you might remember that I've been living with him in his Point Grey home for the past three months.  Well, today is different.  I've come back to my apartment in Yaletown for a few days.  It is an opportunity for the two of us to take stock and to focus on positives in a time that I know is making us stronger.  I miss him and look forward to seeing his sweet face soon, but in the mean time, here I am back in blogger land.  I discovered a meme called Blue Monday, so for today, each photo will have some blue in it.  It's a great way to celebrate one of my very favourite colours.

When Bill came across a mystery bloom a couple of years ago, he liked the flowers so much, he did a little research and discovered they are called "California Lilacs".  We saw these in David Lam Park on May 30th and greatly admired the lushness of the blossoms.  
The bees always gather around California Lilac trees.  Sometimes I think it is their favourite bloom of all, and so it was relatively easy to capture the photo below just a moment or two after taking the one of the tree.  That expressive bee looks to me like a lady in a beautiful orange skirt, her posture registering her full enjoyment in the moment.  And, here, a little story about Black Jack.  She stepped on a bee in Jericho Park the other day and that is definitely the other side of the coin as far as my appreciation for bees goes.  Poor little Black Jack couldn't figure out what hit her.  Her whimpering turned to piteous cries and and she couldn't put her right, hind foot to the ground.  I sat on a log with her on my lap, knowing from her trembling body and pounding heart that I couldn't give up until the source of her misery was found.  Eventually, I thought I saw a thorn (or possible sting) in the pad of her foot and managed (I thought) to pull it out.  Still she continued to cry and I finally decided to carry her to the nearest veterinary hospital, one that I hadn't been to for years.  Dr. Nina Speyer-Ofenberg stuck me immediately as a meticulous and caring person.  She listened carefully to my description of what happened and though I couldn't quite find the spot where I had seen the thorn/sting, she persisted in her search for an entry point and finally managed to see a tiny speck of the remains of what did turn out to be a bee sting.  Black Jack's foot was swelling quite a bit by this time and she continued to act about as far from "normal" as I had ever seen her.  I was really impressed that Dr. Nina was not only able to see that minute remnant of sting but was also able to pull it out.  A shot of antihistamine and Black Jack's recovery was instant.  It felt so, so good to see her transform before my eyes to the happy, dancing begging-for-treats little dog I sometimes take for granted.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to Dr. Nina.  
I've digressed just a bit, but back to the blue theme with this lovely flower taken on May 31st in Bill's wonderful neighbour's (Jane) garden.
I think this Iris also came from Jane's garden.
And, this last California Lilac was taken in the lane near Bill's house on June 4th.
Bill's illness has brought many changes to both our lives.  One blogging friend commented that our lives have been turned upside down, and sometimes, that does seem to be the case.    I do miss the many cultural outings that we had been enjoying for almost seven years (August 1st will be the anniversary of our first meeting).  The photo below was taken on June 5th at the Canadian Music Centre, about a month after Bill's release from hospital after his surgery.  Sadly, his subsequent chemo has drained his energy to the point where those outings are no longer possible, but this one was not only enlightening but its memory continues to inspire me to seek out musical events and to share them with Bill, sometimes by describing them and sometimes by referring to postings and videos on line.  The people in the room represent young Canadian composers, writers, performers and those interested in learning a little about the long road a vocal composition travels before it makes its debut on the stage.  It may begin as a melody/motif in a composer's mind or, sometimes, it is a piece of  text (poetry or prose) that starts the ball rolling.  The works we heard were a pleasure in and of themselves, but learning about the collaboration between musician, lyricist and performer was, as I said, inspiring.  And did you notice?  Black Jack was not only accepted but greeted in the most friendly way by many of the people there.  The colour blue?  Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch but there are at least a couple of blue shirts in the photo and Bill's "blue" jeans will fit the bill in a pinch.
The rest of the pictures in this post were taken on June 8th, at the Mill Lake Water Park in Abbotsford, BC.  Bill gathered all of his strength to drive me there as I had an enormous desire to see Lilee-Jean, someone I have posted about here and also in this post.  The prognosis for Lilee-Jean does not look good as her brain tumour is growing very quickly and her chemo treatments are now palliative rather than curative.  But, her parents have not allowed themselves the luxury of grieving. Rather they have created a bucket list that they call Dancing in the Rain. I am in awe of their strength and of Lilee-Jean's ability to LIVE every moment of her life with such indomitable spirit.  One of the items on the list was for her to go to school, though she is only two and a half years old.  You can see a beautiful photo of her in this news story the day she realized that goal.  Her gleeful expression says it all as she interacts with kids twice her age.  The picnic was another item on the list.  Lilee-Jean's parents wanted to give those who had not yet had the opportunity to meet her this chance to feel her energy in person.  I took a few pictures of her and love this one where she revels..  
with her aunt in the feel of the water running under feet and hands.
So many people have been touched by Lilee-Jean's story and this cake was just one of many ways people expressed their emotions.  Lilee-Jean's mom keeps a blog and every one of her posts has reached somewhere deep inside me.  This particular post haunts me.  It is not for the faint of heart but if ever you wanted to read the expression of a mother's love in achingly beautiful prose, then this would be it.
Still a little blue in each photo as I come to the conclusion of this post.  Thank you, dear Bill, for taking me to the picnic and for making sure Black Jack had fun too.
This picture at Bridal Veil Falls (with blue water) taken by Andrew, Lilee-Jean's dad, seems the perfect way to conclude a post that refuses to be sad.  He posted it on facebook with these words: 
LJ made the hike up to bridal falls yesterday! She is still doing so well. She gets pretty exhausted from this heat (don't we all?) but you'd never know it until her head hits the pillow!
- Dad.
When I was at the picnic, I bought a "Love for Lilee" bracelet that I haven't taken off my wrist since.  It reminds me daily to grab life and run with it.  You can order one as well, if you have the means to help Lilee-Jean's parents fit a lifetime of living into whatever time she has available to her.  
And, if you find yourself yearning to see even more representations of the colour blue, head on over to Blue Monday.  I think you'll enjoy it.  Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bert and Ethel, a Hummingbird and a Word about Bill

Living in Jericho Park are two Bald Eagles named Bert and Ethel.  They were named by local wildlife enthusiasts, some of whom are responsible for the platform shown below.  Several accounts have been written about this "architecturally challenged" pair.  Here is The Courier version, should you have time to explore.  The quick version of the story is that the eagles have been around for about 9 years (my guess, but this needs more research) and for several of those years, just as the offspring prepared to fledge, the nest would either be blown from the tree or the branch it was placed on would collapse under the eaglet's weight and rambunctiousness.  No time for more details in this post, but here are some pictures and the latest information gleaned from my observations and from conversations with Dave, Corby, Glen and Louise who drop by on a regular basis to see how Bert and Ethel are doing.

June 2
Ethel feeds one of two chicks born in May. One of them (I think the one in the photo) fell from the nest a few days after this picture was taken.  The eaglet was taken to OWL, an amazing rescue in Delta, where it recently had surgery to repair its broken wing.  It will be returned to the Jericho area after its rehab is complete.  OWL has managed to save many of the Jericho eaglets over the years.

June 4
I think this is also Ethel.  She is waiting for Bert to return.
There is an ongoing battle between the eagles and crows.  I do not take sides, since I know many crow offspring die at the talons of Bert and Ethel.
 It is incredible to see how persistent, organized and brave (or foolhardy) the crows are.
I think this is the younger chick (I will name him/her Sisbro for purposes of this post), now in a position to eat very well without an older sibling competing for Bert and Ethel's attention.

June 14
Bert returns to the nest with unidentifiable food for Sisbro.  Hot in pursuit is a jet-lining crow.
Bert (on the right with the band on his foot) and Ethel watch over Sisbro from a higher perch in the tree.  No one seems to know how or when Bert was banded.
Sisbro tries to position himself for a poo over the edge of the platform.  Phew!

June 15
I am guessing this is Ethel.  She is being harassed by crows.

June 16
"Bring me food.  Now!!"

 June 21
I am again guessing this is Ethel.  It is fascinating to me..  
that as much as the crows and eagles are enemies, they also seem to have established some sort of tolerance in their relationship.  Crow and eagle face to their right..
and then to their left.
Crow leaves, but what I didn't manage to photograph is another one arriving seconds later.  They often work as a team.
Sisfro is growing.
June 22
Just a day later.  Amazing wing span!  I wondered what the thing pointing up just to the right of Sisfro's body was and then realized (somewhat sadly) that it was a heron.  I do know that heron chicks are a popular food choice for eagles and the heron chicks grow very quickly, so the size would be about right.
 Sisfro's posture looks to me like mantling behaviour.

June 26
This was the first time I noticed what I thought looked like a hole in the nest.  Dave (I hope I have remembered his name correctly), who is quite the authority on Bert and Ethel's history, told me that the hole is not actually part of the nest.  You can see in the following photo..

June 30
that it is more to the left and extending quite a distance under the platform.  It seemed to me that the eagles had done some work on that opening, but Dave explained that it was more like they had just rearranged a few sticks. 

July 3
Sisbro had me worried here.  Exercising the wings can be perilous and his/her expression as s/he peered down suggested an accidental fledge might be in the works.
 Luckily, all was well, but that right talon sure seemed close to liftoff. 

July 9
I visited yesterday and again this morning, but my best photos of Sisbro were taken two days ago.  Dave guesses that..
fledging should happen in the next four to five days.  Often, a gust of wind..
is the precipitating factor.  All the best, Sisbro.  I'll be watching for you.  It sure would be fun to see your first flight, but as long as it's a safe one, I'll be happy.

Hummingbird in my Neighbour's Garden
These hummingbird shots were taken on June 2nd in Jane's garden.  
The feeder is a great help in catching flight shots.  I've been trying ever since to catch one that isn't at a feeder..
but the best I've been able to manage is this perched-on-a-wire shot taken last evening.
That is the post as prepared for Wild Bird Wednesday.  If you enjoy birds and want to read about them, there are many more stories at that wonderful blog meme.  Thank you, Stewart, for keeping it running!
Just a word to update those of you who have been following Bill's story (see previous two posts).  This photo (that I absolutely love) was taken at Deer Lake in May, a few days after he came home from the hospital after his surgery.  To be honest, he is struggling right now, as he nears the end of Round 1 of chemo treatments.  A day and a half to go, and then he gets a week off.  Two weeks on, one week off.  Seven more rounds to go.  No quick and easy battle here, but I remain hopeful that we will weather this time of struggle and grow stronger because of it.  I love you, Bill.