Monday, February 27, 2012

Vancouver - horses and a special house

Every day I see something new in this city. Today's walk took me down Cambie Street to the Cambie Street Bridge that crosses over to Yaletown. Enroute I spotted these beautiful horses.

They were waiting patiently while their attendant officer finished her telephone call. I couldn't help but wonder how many extra-curricular calls they had listened to in their years with the police force.

Earlier in the day, we drove past the house that my father built in 1952-53. Generations of my mother's family had never owned a home. My father, growing up in an orphanage, never expected to own a home. This small bungalow was built with love and a hefty mortgage. The walls were plaster, not drywall. The floors were hardwood, not laminate. The living room ceiling was coved. There were two "piano windows" in the pianoless living room. Six of us lived in this two bedroom, one bathroom home which later included a basement suite for my grandparents. We cooked, ate, laundered, ironed, studied, discussed & entertained in the kitchen. There was no dining room. On Sundays we shared a roast beef dinner(overcooked) with yorkshire pudding and cabbage(overcooked). 

When my grandparents moved into the basement suite, grandad took on the job of ensuring that neighbourhood kids didn't play on the small hill at the front of the house. He would stand watch at his bedroom window for the ones who were brave enough to test his wrath by rolling down the slope.

Many wonderful memories are held within the walls of this simple home.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Sacramadonnamableuski!!! Try being in the 10th floor penthouse apartment, fast asleep, when the building fire alarm sounds!! Through my earplugs I tried to figure out what I was hearing. When I took the earplugs out, I thought that my eardrums would explode! I ran around the apartment trying to figure out if I was hearing the burglar alarm or the fire alarm. Returning to the bedroom, I managed to get my drugged husband into a sitting position and encouraged him to get dressed. We had to evacuate!! Could I smell smoke?? Out in the hallway I talked with our neighbour who was getting ready to leave. Back in the bedroom, John was trying to figure out how to get his socks on and I was trying to figure out how I was going to get him down 10 flights of stairs! Everyone knows that the elevator is deactivated during a fire alarm!!!! By now about five minutes had lapsed, my ears were seriously harmed and he still didn't have his socks on!!! I helped him to pull them on before returning to the hallway where the sound was as deafening as in the apartment. What should we take? I grabbed my purse, put on my jacket and shoes. Back in the bedroom John was still pantless and muttering that we should get out onto the balcony! That's when the alarm stopped. Back to the hallway again where our neighbour assured me that it was okay. "This has happened before, she said "last summer. Go back to bed!" My rational mind told me that she couldn't possibly know whether everything was okay or irrational mind wanted got John desocked and into bed before watching the arrival of a single fire truck. The firemen rushed into the building and sauntered out about 20 minutes later. Go back to sleep???? Yeah, right!!!!

See that single tree on the top right??
That's us!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Vancouver - another exploration

Another day of exploration with my sister. I hopped on the bus to meet her downtown under the Birks clock, something we did 40-50 years ago. Imagine our surprise to find the clock gone and the previous location occupied by a glitzy London Drugs store.

As it was 11am when we met, it was definitely time to sit with a coffee and discuss the events of the last 3-4 days. My sister led us to a Murchie's store & Cafe on Pender Street where we sipped coffee and shared a delicious bread pudding. It didn't have the hectic, noisy feeling of most coffee shops where you have to yell across the table at each other.

Walking down Hastings Street, we crossed over to investigate a crowd of white clothed people at Victory Square. There was an ill-timed fire drill at the VCC downtown campus. All of the students in their chef training uniforms were waiting impatiently to return to the foods that they had been preparing for the lunchtime crowds.

Imagine the half cooked entrees congealing in their pans, the french fry oil cooling, the breads and cakes overbaking, the salads going limp, the pastry drying up!!

Then there was the poor woman who was having her hair coloured by a student hairdresser. She was sitting on the park bench able to find humor in the situation. Would she still be laughing later??

The next stop was the Army & Navy store with its disappointing displays of low cost/low quality merchandise. As children we would always wait in anticipation for the magical day when we could travel downtown to the A&N for Christmas shoes. The store and its contents have lost their magic!

In Gastown we discovered the creator of Angel fabric paints. Her shop is in the oldest building in Gastown(1886), maybe in Vancouver. She moved to this location 14 years ago when the rents on Robson Street became impossible. Her handpainted creations are still lovely and in demand after 20 years in business .

We were headed toward Main Street and the Number 5 Orange, a renowned Vancouver strip joint. It wasn't our intention to visit this seedy place but we wanted to find a new bakery that was located next door. Unfortunately it was closed on Mondays. Disappointed, we decided to retrace our steps to the Save-on Meats' Cafe for lunch. In true diner style, we had the option of sitting at the counter and sipping thick milkshakes or sitting at a booth. The food was simple and inexpensive. We chose old fashioned grilled cheese sandwiches which were served with cheese oozing onto the plate alongside real(not frozen) french fries for $5.00 each!! The place was packed with people of all ages when we arrived and when we left. An outside lunch counter sells soup for $1.50 and sandwiches for $2.50.

This has been Vancouver's skid road area for many years but there was evidence along our entire walking route that the area was being gentrified. We wondered where the poor souls would go who are usually passed out on the street or in doorways. It appeared that they were slowly being pushed further east and in their place we saw young families and couples.

Even the garbage dumpsters were appealing to the eye.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


While I am enjoying this interlude in Vancouver, I am also in a creative dry spell that feels never ending. To reassure myself that I have experienced creative bliss in the past, I decided to dedicate this blog posting to ME-ME-ME! It is totally self serving so if you are a regular reader and decide to skip this entry, I understand completely!

Some blissful moments have come from throwing a pot, weaving a wall hanging, carding and dying wool, painting banners, slikscreening cards, gyutakuing herring, monoprinting textures, designing logos, creating record album covers, photographing, assembling a book, writing a poem, nude drawing, collaborative painting, sewing a tea cozy, knitting socks, hand painting, operating a design studio, drafting a floor plan, preparing a solo exhibition, plein aire painting and more.

Proceeding with confidence - April 2004

When I think that I have finished with the creative process, something comes along that invites me back to the possibility of more bliss. I remain hopeful that will happen soon. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vancouver - a special weekend

What a great weekend! My friend Karen flew to Vancouver for a weekend visit. The first night we walked across the Granville Street Bridge in the rain to investigate the Illuminata light display in Yaletown. Several ice sculptures were slowly disappearing in the rain and an exterior wall was lit with moving images. Entertainers attempted to keep dry under canopies. It was an underwhelming event but our spirits were lifted with martinis and a tasty meal before we trekked back across the bridge and warmed up with a mocha.

On Saturday we explored Main Street between 12th and 32nd on both sides. It took several hours with stops for coffee, shopping, photos and reminiscing about the area where I spent my childhood. The neighbourhood has become quite yuppified with lots of diversity.

For a total change of scenery we drove up to Queen Elizabeth Park for a wander through the sunken gardens. Unfortunately the gardens were still resting, just a few crocuses poking bright heads through the soil. Alongside the fountains, beside the parking area, we spotted a young man with two dolls and an expensive assortment of camera equipment. I approached and asked if he was working on an art project. He informed me that the dolls were part of his collection and he liked to photograph them in different locations!! Oh!! I wasn't sure whether to giggle or cry!

That night Karen treated me to a stage performance of "Calendar Girls" at the Stanley Theatre. It was pure entertainment with six brave women shedding their clothes onstage! I couldn't remember the last time I enjoyed a professional stage production. Well done!!

Sunday morning we decided to have coffee at the Agro-Cafe on Granville Island where two crazy men provided drama while serving coffees. The number for your order was called out in Bingo style and you were expected to respond in like style! Great food and good prices! A visit to Steveston was next on our agenda with a walk around Garry Point followed by a late lunch at The Flying Beaver Pub where we watched float planes land and take-off.

An amazing weekend with a very special friend. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vancouver - daily walks

We are enjoying these sunny days with daily walks of exploration.

The upper level of a revitalized mall at Westminster Quay
is dedicated to a circus school.

At Granville Island, you can park your bike
in a secure area of the parking garage.

Brightly coloured houseboats
keep an eye on each other.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I arrived at the Opthalmologist's office to be greeted by his assistant who kept insisting that I had red eyes. I was alarmed! "I do?" I asked. "Don't you?" she replied. "I wasn't aware that I had red eyes" I said. "Well, if you do, you'll have to wait in the hallway. We don't want you to contaminate the other patients." I hadn't noticed red eyes when I looked in the mirror that morning, but she was looking at me. I figured that she was a better judge of the colour of my eyes than I was. Flabbergasted, I just stared at her until she finally asked why I was there. "For flashes in my left eye" I replied. "Oh! That's okay then. You don't have to wait in the hall!"

I should have guessed from this introduction that things could only go downhill from here. After a 45 minute wait, and being the only person left in the waiting room, I was led into an examination room where the same assistant conducted some mediocre tests. Ten minutes later Dr. Blicker came in. He asked one question- "Why are you here?", examined my eyes for one minute, said "Tip your head back for drops and go sit in the waiting room." There was no explanation about the drops.

Fifteen minutes later I was ushered back into the examination room with blurry vision and an awareness that he had dilated my pupils. "Look up, left, down, right. You have no tears or holes in the retinal lining." Good news, but......

...I asked "Did those drops dilate my pupils?" He responded "Yes. I had to dilate them for the exam."

"That's great!" I replied. "I have a handicapped husband waiting downstairs for me to drive him home!"

" won't be able to drive for 3-4 hours!"

"Do you think that you could have mentioned that before administering the drops?"....IDIOT!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vancouver - a sunny day of rediscovery

The sun was shining when my sister and I embarked on a rediscovery walk this morning. 
From the apartment, we walked down to Granville Island 
and headed east along False Creek toward the Olympic Village. 

Giant chickadees greeted us!

Along the way we spotted cherry blossoms,

interesting bridges that led the way to Science World,

and amazing reflections of a beautiful day.