Monday, November 27, 2017

In Search of the Perfect Rain Boots

While staying warm in Vancouver is important, staying dry is the priority! After last Sunday's foot drenching in my leather boots, I knew rain boots had to be purchased ASAP. As such, I may have been influenced by the mass of fallen Japanese Maple leaves I saw on my walk to Nordstrom,
because I purchased a pair of UGG rain boots in that very same color. And they were very cute, albeit wildly shiny and bright. Along the way I also saw this bird hopping along on the sidewalk, one I'd never seen before, however, after identifying it from a website, it is a wonder that it was a mystery to me. According to this article, the European Starling is America's most hated bird! Do I feel like a dummy? Nope, I'm cool with being in the dark.
Rainy and windy, oh my. While looking through my photo library for a calendar I am making, I realized that the beautiful leaves have been around now since the middle of September, however, and I've said this before, it seems as if the days are numbered until all of the trees are bare. For a short while one day last week, we did have some lovely sunshine, making these yellow leaves on our street all the more vibrant.
The street cleaner came too, however, no one is responsible for the sidewalk below, which is covered with wet, flattened leaves. Leaves stuck in the fence too!
I took the above photo one day last week; after a stormy Sunday morning yesterday, the trees are pretty much empty now.

On a walk to DressSew to buy felt for ornaments, I saw a woman wearing a coat that my quilting friends can very much appreciate.
Not only did it rain all day Wednesday, but Mr. Peck was stuck in Seattle, unable to join in a little dinner gathering at Chambar. The truth is, I was to be a guest amongst his workmates, however, they insisted I attend whether he was there or not. So, I put on my bright and shiny, new, red rain boots, staying dry during the mile plus walk under an umbrella. We had a lovely meal and because it was still raining with puddles aplenty, I was thrilled to have dry feet when I returned to the condo. After taking Baxie down, I began preparing for bed. Well, not so fast there Gail. FOR TWENTY MINUTES I STRUGGLED TO PULL THOSE BOOTS OFF, going so far as to knock on my neighbor's door, hoping she could yank them off. Not wanting to bang on her door, I knocked several times with no response. Back to sitting at the end of the bed, yanking and pulling until eventually one came off, followed about five minutes later by the other. For a few minutes I wondered if I were going to have to sleep with them on! Oy vey!! This will never do.

But it was Thanksgiving the next day, so no boot searching for this gal. Although it was an ordinary day here, I knew Bruce was hankering for a traditional dinner so, putting my thinking cap on, I decided to go to Granville Public Market to a poultry vendor there. Holy Cow! Just when I thought I couldn't be any more surprised by pricing here, I eventually gave in, buying the turkey thighs for $15.00. Had we been interested in a breast it would have been $36! So, I had the turkey, but what Bruce really loves, as do a few of our sons, is the sausage dressing I generally make for our Thanksgiving crowd. Sausage vendor next, where I was stymied by the myriad array of sausages. Fortunately they had this handy sign to guide me.
Now I needed some day old bread, finally finding a bakery stall that would agree to sell some. Local apples, and I was pretty much set for an afternoon of cooking.
One thing about living here is I'm learning some things I both like, and dislike, in home decor. A black countertop may look chic,  but boy does it show every crumb. I'll spare you the messy photo of the before, instead showing off the results of my apple pie making. Could have used more apples, but the crust was tremendous. It will gross some readers out, but I'm in love with using lard for a pie crust because it not only rolls out like a dream, but it is so very flaky as well. Bruce was never a big crust guy, but just yesterday, as he was finishing his last piece, he insisted I find a source for lard when we return to Orlando. The non perfectionist in me was fine with an off center decoration. :)
Although everything was tasty enough, it was not the same without our family. Not by a long shot!

I can't remember the last time I braved the stores on Black Friday, but those boots just had to go back. And yes, they do have Black Friday here, apparently a new phenom since the great recession when the American retailers began doing it, and the Canadian chains followed suit. Nordstrom was looking lovely and packed!
While buying the red boots, I noticed another woman's purchase.....three pairs of Jimmy Choo's, and one pair of Prada. That salesperson went home happy! I chose a different pair, lower and with elastic on the sides that I could grip to pull them on and off. This time I left them in the box until I'd had a chance to get Bruce's opinion on the look of them.

Friday night was a date night for us, and even though he was not super enthusiastic, we walked to the Vancouver Christmas market at Canada Place. Rainy, of course. Before he got home though, I walked down to Sunset Beach to see what was happening across the water at Vanier Park. Why was I not surprised to learn that the lights I'd seen from the balcony were a film shoot?
Doing a little sleuthing on the web, it seems as if it has something to do with a new version of Freaky Friday. You see what I mean with all of the cloud cover? I took these photos around 4:30 in the afternoon. Or, make that night at this time of the year!
Rarely have I seen Granville Street lit up and it looks mighty good at night doesn't it?
I'd seen this cool ball during the day and was anxious to see it at night. Winter picture of me taken by her loving husband.
I, for one, was thrilled to see all of the lights and Christmas decorations at night!
The Vancouver Christmas Market exceeded our expectations by a long shot. The tickets we purchased are good for the next month, so I see a return in our near future. Something for everyone who loves Christmas that is for sure. This entertainment booth looks like it will be cute in the daytime as well.
One of the main things I'd been wanting to see lit up was the hospital we walk by on our way to church. Apparently this display is done by 100 volunteers and the goal is to raise money for the hospital. From what I've read, it has been very successful over the years.
Lo and behold, a rainbow appeared on Saturday morning!
The blue sky did not last for long, but you can bet I enjoyed it while it did. Seeing the color in the sky, I just knew something would go well on Saturday, and my optimism was realized....FSU won their football game and that is saying a lot this year. Always a great day when they beat the Florida Gators!!

More to the rain boot story in my next post, however, I think the third time is the charm.

yours truly,

Gail

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

No Matter the Weather

There is certainly a lot to like about Vancouver, however, at this time of the year, the weather is not one of those things. That said, getting out is important to me, so no matter the weather, I'm going somewhere. As was the case on Friday when the forecast was meant to be sunny, at least for a little bit of the day. Dressing in the style I'm becoming accustomed to, I used the useful transit app Matt had me install on my phone. I walked two blocks to the bus stop, and within minutes I was riding instead of walking.
My destination? The Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, a place that I noticed when we were driving into the city for the very first time on that July evening some four months ago. The app told me which bus to take, followed by what the walking route to get there. Once I got off the bus, I was so delighted to look down Granville towards downtown and see the snow capped mountains. Seriously, it is just fantastic. Either water or mountain views everywhere you look, as you will soon see.
Above there is some light, however, it was intermittent at best! I walked a few blocks in a beautiful residential area of the city, filled with beautiful homes and trees surrounded by puddles of fall leaves.
It was a lovely, peaceful walk..
Visiting a botanical gardens in November is maybe not ideal, however, I've been wanting to go there for ages, and now that I had my nerve up as to the bus, why not?
The curvy roof is a living one, and inside it looks like this. I so love how they use curved wood here.
I was prepared for few floral displays, but what I was not anticipating was the myriad of workers who were everywhere setting up for this big event. 
A light drizzle began which was okay, however, in a dumb move on my part, trying to match my outfit, I wore some loafers with my tights, rather than my waterproof shoes. The loafers actually are okay with getting wet, however, they are not okay with keeping my feet warm. Meandering with cold feet is either for fools or well, I don't know what else to call myself.

Here's one reason to go in the Autumn; I only wish I'd gone a few weeks earlier, as I suspect the display was fantastic!
These are some super cool flowers I came across, a Strawberry Tree!
And just what do you think this fellow was doing beside the Totem Pole area?
If you guessed cleaning up a film set, you would be correct! They are literally everywhere.

Wandering around, this explains how the gardens came to be, a move that could certainly be implemented in Orlando, what with all of our golf courses.
There are all manner of themed gardens including this display from the Japanese Gardeners Association.
A very large garden so getting lost is not so hard. Fortunately, they give you a map, and I did my best to follow it. Although I knew there would be few blooms I went to the formal rose garden with busts surrounding the beds, including this one.
It is very easy to forget that so many names we readily say have a person behind them. Douglas Fir in this instance.

I'm wondering where to go next with my cold feet and all, when what do I see but an older woman with a massive camera on a tripod pointed at a tree. You can bet I sidled right up to her, striking up a conversation, during which time...a hummingbird appeared!!!
Good golly, Miss Molly! I've rarely seen a hummingbird, so I know you know how excited I was. This kind woman shared all sorts of info on birding places to go. In my excitement, the photo below did not turn out great; with the sun peeping through, when the Anna's hummingbird did something (I'm no expert), the head turned this incredible shade of hot pink!
It happened so fast, and there were no second chances. You get the idea anyway. I told the woman that I'd just talked to my husband, who was driving back from Seattle, and he told me he'd just passed a field with thousands of white birds. Identifying them as Snow Geese, she told me where they could be found closer to home. Hmmm...

Walking back from the bus stop I marveled once again at the beautiful things I am seeing everywhere I go. Although I took a photo of this house on my way, I was so focused on the tree (see above) across the street, that I did not even notice the cool hedges. Then too, this shows how people rake their leaves here, onto a tarp that they tie up like a bundle.
It was a miracle when, later in the day, around two hours before sundown (4:25PM), there was, once again, light in the condo. So thrilling I had to take a photograph of the event!
Sunshine!! Shadows!! On the ironing board is a bright corduroy skirt I made as well as the makings of a blouse to match. Ha ha....look at my blouses in the closet! More shoes than clothes is what I have. :)

Saturday morning, Bruce, having finished all of his work by Friday evening, was ready to do some exploring as well. Although I was dying to see the Snow Geese, the weather was gray and gloomy, and since B had just driven back from Seattle, it didn't seem fair to ask him to make another drive, albeit many miles less. Our first order of business was to return the tree to Home Depot. During the week I realized it was just too large, not to mention it would need way too many ornaments. That done, we found the nearest Michael's and purchased a skinny tree, ornaments and a tree topper which we put together late Saturday. Never have we put up a tree so early, and for that matter, never have we had a fake tree,  but the bright lights help dispel some of the darkness. Baxter, once it was decorated, decided he liked it as well. When I said skinny, I really meant skinny!
Following the tree purchase we drove around Kitsilano, where when we turned a corner, this was our view.
Seeing our Florida license plate, one thing I've noticed here is there are very few, and I do mean very, different license plates. In Orlando we are so accustomed to seeing all manner of state plates, it has kind of surprised me. No doubt Bruce's car is the only Florida plate in the city!

Driving along Marine Drive, we stopped at the beach, such as it is.
Spoken by a true Floridian, right?

Around the bend, it was even less like a beach. The weather, as you can tell was chilly, chilly. Nevertheless, we carried on. The next beach entry point was even less like a beach. Sometimes only a black and white photo will suffice.
However, there was a lovely little waterfall that provides the water you see pooling amongst the rocks shown above.
We kept exploring, coming across this sign.
All the more remarkable when you actually see what this "clothing optional" beach looks like!
I tried, unsuccessfully, I might add, to imagine naked folks lounging on all these rocks!

Driving up the hill, we arrived at the University of British Columbia, a sprawling campus set high upon a hill, oceanside.
The buildings range from this kind of architecture,
to quite the opposite. Never far from our thoughts, this spoke to me because Bill and Dave both have economics degrees.
I don't know why, but both Bruce and I were surprised to learn the student body size is similar to that of UCF.

Traveling back down the hill, we made our way to 4th Ave to find a place to eat. A myriad of contenders, made the choice difficult, until we found ourselves parked adjacent to Romer's, where the aroma convinced us to head on in. Bruce ordered some cauliflower "wings" that were fantastic.
Everything was super tasty, the atmosphere cozy, and finishing it off with donuts served with a trio of dipping sauces made for a memorable lunch.
Baxter was delighted that we finally came home! He has been hanging around in the new sweater Bruce bought him, that is until he wets it. In that department, let's just say there is some improvement.
Sunday, oh rainy, rainy Sunday! Walking to church and back convinced me that rain boots are an absolute necessity here, after our leather boots got absolutely soaked down to our socks! The afternoon: hot cocoa, fire in the fireplace, and a funeral service for a police officer killed in the line of duty made for a uniquely Canadian experience.  Broadcast throughout BC, the funeral, all two hours, was televised in its entirety.

Yesterday was meant to be a little sunny, with the operative word here being little, with rain for the rest of the foreseeable future. No matter the weather, I'm vowing to get myself out!

yours truly,

Gail




Thursday, November 16, 2017

Welcome to November!

If someone were to have told me six months ago that I would voluntarily go out in miserable weather, frankly, I would have thought they did not know me very well. Look who is eating crow now.

Me, that's who! I am learning the value of layering. I am also learning that there is no getting dressed in a hurry, unless you, like me, leave your pajama top on, throw on some jeans, jacket and shoes and take your dog downstairs as fast as possible upon first rising. I miss Bruce when he is gone for many reasons, one of which is his taking Baxter down first thing, wearing sandals no less.

Zarita guaranteed me that it would rain every single day in November, and although that hasn't been entirely true, it has not been too far off. Not rain like we get in Florida, I really think you have to experience it firsthand to understand how it is different. This week, particularly Monday and Tuesday, the wind has been super strong as well, knocking down more leaves than you can shake a stick at. The park lawn, from twenty floors above, looks as if it were strewn with confetti.
On Monday morning I walked to DressSew for Christmas ornament inspiration. I found none. Perhaps I'm thinking too ambitiously regarding our tree? From there I walked to Michael's on Alberni Street for the same thing, the route taking me by the Convention Center, and I thought this picture would give you a notion of what the sky is like with the clouds hanging so low.
I understand that blue sphere-like sculpture is meant to represent a rain drop. But, of course. Michael's was the same so I just came on home. Fortunately I got home before the rain began again!

Waking up to more of the same on Tuesday, I could have stayed home and brooded. Instead, after having a good conversation with Pam, followed by some texting with Sally, I readied myself for going out in the weather. Sally had sent me a picture of a bird, which made me seriously want to find some birds of my own, and the only ones, aside from crows and seagulls, that I thought I knew about were some Wood Ducks I'd seen in Stanley Park. So, I put on my super warm tights, jeans, a blouse followed by a super warm pullover, followed by my rain jacket, followed by a semi-waterproof coat. Socks and water proof shoes and I was ready to go. I nearly forgot the gloves I packed, as well as my new wool felt hat. All ready to brave the elements!!

Beginning my walk along the seawall, I was nearly a solitary figure out there. But wait...what am I seeing in the water? Holy Cow, some super cool ducks!
And lots of them!! That will get a bird lover excited, seeing a new type of water fowl. I only learned what kind they were when I returned home...more about that later.

See, nobody else was crazy enough to be out walking! Just me and the seagulls.
Crossing the street just before the park entrance, well, need I even remark on this photograph?
The rain may be a nuisance, but it sure makes the colors pop under the dim light! Who doesn't love a bush covered in red berries?
After entering the park, what should I see? Why, a film shoot of course! Three giant tents and tons of trucks clued me in that something was up.  On sidewalk and muddy paths, I made my way to the pond with the little bridge over it. Guess what? Not a duck to be found. Standing there in the drizzly rain, very disappointed, that is until, oh my goodness, a whole bunch of songbirds appeared, most of which I did not recognize. So, new ducks, and now new birds, what more could a girl ask for?  As they were flitting around me, and in some cases right at me, I tried to get some shots that weren't blurry from either their movement, or mine. I never could get a perfect one of this little cutie that I've now learned is a Black Capped Chickadee.
As I was looking and shooting, to and fro, all of a sudden this guy appeared below the bridge!
Meanwhile birds are landing on the bridge on the top rail and I'm, well, you guessed it, excited AND wet. Not really wet, because of all of my precautions, but let's face it, I'm not used to this kind of weather. So the raccoon heads back to the den, and I keep setting the ISO (film speed) higher, finally getting one shot I was most happy with. I learned from Pam that this beautiful bird is a Spotted Towhee.
Eventually I had had enough fun, making my way home during intermittent rain. Some folks might call it trudging. :) By the time I got upstairs, Baxter was just fine, not wet, but ready to go downstairs. That's how it works, I go out for a while, come in, put my bag down, and we head to the elevator. I think the medicine is doing its magic as he's only had about one wet pad since we started on Monday night. That is some good news!

Wednesday morning, after a night of rain pelting the windows along with the banners on the bridge snapping in the wind, around 8:00, it suddenly stopped. Well, after throwing out about seventy photos from the previous day, I had to make a return visit in the subdued sunshine. Putting on a similar amount of clothes, I headed to the seawall, where today there were others who were taking advantage of a little sunshine. I was hoping to get a better shot of those cool ducks, and my hopes were completely realized!
Now you can see why they are called Common Goldeneye Ducks. As well, I'd read that although the male's head looks black from afar, it really is a dark iridescent green, that I hope you can see for yourself. The female, as is so common in the avian family, is way more subdued, but pretty nonetheless. I probably saw a hundred or more before my walk was over. Call me smitten.
I am way over seagulls, but this shot with one about to land was pretty neat.
Tracing my steps from the previous day, I walked on concrete paths as well as grass, taking a somewhat diagonal route, and look what I came across. Crazy wet tail, don't you agree?
The closer I got to the pond, the happier I was, thinking it would be a cinch today, what with more light, and the camera settings already in place for action. Except, when I arrived there was nary a bird. Not one. Well, drat!! Standing there quietly, I kept hoping to hear some bird chattering or movement in the bushes. Just as I was ready to give up, lo and behold, I spotted a Towhee who instead of flitting around, posed for me.
Such a little fatty! Now I could make out how complex the feather pattern is, with multiple shades on the head, with those cute spots and white on the tail feathers.
Then, of course, there is the orange color. :)

There are actually two bridges in that area, one wooden, and one sort of a concrete arch type, and it was while I was standing on the concrete one, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but birdies right next to me.
I have no idea what the one above is, nor really, do I know the one below, that looks super cute from the side,
and oh so amazing from the back. Those rows and rows of feathers!
As you can imagine, I was thrilled to see the little ones, but I still wasn't ready to give up on the Wood Ducks while it was still relatively sunny, albeit with temperatures in the middle 40's. I might has well have given up because I saw none even after walking down to the Lagoon, however, on my walk back towards the pond, I saw a cute little finch hopping amongst the garden debris.
Do you ever wonder how I choose what photographs to put on my blog? Sometimes it is because a story can be woven around them, but in the case of the finch, the bird clarity is not great, however,  I just loved all the natural textures and the cool color on the leaves. So, in a nutshell, sometimes it is because I just happen to like the photo, hoping you do as well.

Crossing some grassy areas, I thought since we'd seen the black squirrel, we might just as well see the ones that are similar to those back home.
Prior to yesterday, I had not gone down to the seawall in this area known as Second Beach, but now I have, taking the pictured steps down. Who does not love a windy staircase, pray tell?
I was getting a wee bit anxious as the cloud cover began to mount, so after admiring another fifty or so of those cool ducks, I began the walk towards home. There are fallen leaves just about everywhere, including amongst the beachside rocks.
Occasionally, a photographic opportunity presents itself and you never really know how it will turn out. In this instance, I was intrigued with the color of the fading hydrangea bloom and I have to say, I'm quite happy with the results. Isn't it such a lovely shade of green?
Walking home along Beach Avenue, I brought my camera out, trying to show you how neat this little tunnel of yellow is to walk through, when some young men behind me stopped, allowing me to take my shot. After explaining my thoughts, they both immediately brought out their phones to try and do likewise.
Finally, as I neared the condo, these fallen leaves, turned over by the wind and rain, were just waiting to be documented. Again, sometimes it is that kind of inspiration that can yield big results.
Looking through my photographs, trying to pick thirteen for my annual calendar, I was amazed to learn that fall colors began about mid-September, and although lots are now in compost heaps somewhere, there are still pockets of color just waiting to have their picture made.

And I know just the gal to do it!!

yours truly,

Gail

You Just Never Know