Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Super Saturday!

It was only recently that it hit me---our time in Vancouver will be over before we know it! As such, weekend day trips are a must. The weather has been all over the map with chilly, rainy weather happening many days, although, thank God, not all of them. Saturday morning, while not rainy, got off to a gloomy start, however, we were bound and determined to make the best of it, as one does when one lives in Vancouver.

Heading over the Lionsgate Bridge to the North Shore, things were not looking very promising.
"Now what honey?", so asks my sweet husband. Let's begin at Capilano River State, oops, make that Regional Park. I wrote about our February visit to some of the park here. That would be when there was snow on the ground and an amazing rainbow that I won't soon forget. At any rate, we found the downhill road leading into the park, got a parking spot and prepared for the chilliness outside the warm cocoon of our car. It did not take long before the beauty of the spot began to warm our souls, if not our bodies.
That moss on the rocks is seriously green, isn't it? And nearly everywhere, as you will soon see. Not far from here we found the little (lengthwise anyway), bridge leading into the forest.
While the length may be somewhat short, it is high above the river with tremendous views of the raging water.
I told Bruce that although I'd never seen the Jurassic Park movie, I am imagining the real landscape might have looked something like this.
The amount of moss growing everywhere is simply astonishing to me. What must it look like during the summer? Perhaps not quite so pervasive as there are generally some summer months where it barely rains. In any case, my photographs do not do this scenery justice. My skills are not so great as to be able to make you feel as if you were there, although that is generally my goal. We learned that most of the trees make up what they call a "second growth" forest because most of the original trees were either logged, or fell of their own volition.
New trees seed right into an old tree. Pretty amazing, right? We carried on, up the hill until we came to the viewing area where you see the spill from the dam.
Small, you feel very, very small. Then again, you feel sort of young too. Making our way back across the river, we walked along a boardwalk (yeah!), to another viewing stand (pictured in an earlier photograph), providing us with more river views. Raging water...
and just plain beautiful water.
One of the reasons we came to Vancouver was so that Bruce could be a support system to Zarita who is building her first Earls. She'd worked on parts of other Earls, but the new project in Ambleside, located in West Vancouver, was to be her first solo act. Opening in about a month, the North Shore Earls, the first one in Vancouver, is slated to close soon, so we had lunch there enabling me to see the flagship.
Open for more than thirty years, I can tell you it looks nothing like ours in Orlando, but the food was just as good. An added bonus was Bruce had opportunity to talk to Simon, the chef who he worked with during the Orlando opening, who has since returned to Vancouver.  All good.

Back in the car and on to Deep Cove, but not before stopping in at Maplewood Conservation Area first. Two things of note happened here: we met an older couple, and we did not see any bears, although signs suggested that we might. As to the couple, we chatted with them along the shores of the Burrard Inlet and he explained what we were seeing.
That would be Burnaby Mountain in the distance, the sight of a huge controversy raging here in BC. From what I understand, a pipeline project, bringing oil from Alberta to Burnaby, got the go-ahead from the national government which has riled up folks in both provinces as well as those for and against it. Protestors have gone so far as to tie wrap themselves to the fences leading into the property! They do love a good protest here in BC.

I spoke too soon as there is one more thing I wanted to show you. Right near the parking area there are replicas of  three "squatters" shacks that at one time filled this little creek. Perhaps in other parts of the world squatters are celebrated, this I do not know based on my limited experience of such things.
Only a few more miles before we came to the little village of Deep Cove, every bit as charming as billed.
Going on a crummy weather day, parking was easy, and we made our way towards the waterfront.
Because I do not own a wide angle lens I'll show you the scenery in parts. Although you cannot tell it from the photograph, Mt. Seymour, nearly 5,000 feet tall, looms behind the trees.
As to geography, English Bay, which you have now seen a gazillion times from our balcony, becomes Burrard Inlet as it passes past Canada Place and well heck, if you care, here's a map. As it heads North, on the map you will see Deep Cove on the western side of Indian Arm. Okay, back to photos of this spectacular area.
Snow capped mountains shrouded in cloud cover. Boo hoo! There is a long dock you can walk out on,
and it appears as if most visitors take advantage of that fact. Others like to squat on the shoreline and take selfies.
While looking into visiting here, I read that once you go there, you will want to return and they have got that right. So peaceful and pretty. Cute, too.
Only a few blocks long, everything we saw was very welcoming.
As we were walking back to the car, we passed Honey's Doughnuts. a place the article mentioned, saying no visit to Deep Cove is complete without having one of their famous treats. If you can imagine, the folks we met at the bird sanctuary were sitting on the patio! We joined them and engaged in some lively conversation. The man, big and rugged is 77 and still frequently goes hiking in the mountains! We learned from them that Kate Winslet made the doughnuts famous, having eaten them while filming a movie on Mt. Seymour. Bruce, not much of a doughnut man, claims, had he eaten ones like these before, he, too, would be a doughnut fanatic. After our treat, I happened to notice that some of the clouds had lifted, begging my leave to take another photograph.
Meanwhile Bruce continued the conversation, even after I returned and went back to use the restroom. A former union negotiator, Bruce spoke the man's language.
Only eight miles from the house, yet a world away, we drove back into the city under sunny skies.
Easter weekend is forecast to be a mixed bag of weather; let's hope they are wrong about that.

Holy Cow, if it takes you half as long to read this as it did me to write it, I thank you for your time.

yours truly,

Gail

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Element of Surprise

Well, my friends, you asked for more Spring flowers and who am I to disappoint?
One of the things that is most exciting for me now is that I am constantly in a state of wonder. You know, the kind most folks had before Google changed all of that. Now, most information is but a Google search away, however, there are some things only a human can tell you from experience. Plus where's the fun in staring at a screen all of the time?

On my way to deliver the quilt, I stopped first at some small gardens under the Burrard Street bridge which boast signs saying someone in the community is caring for this patch of ground. As I made my way, up some stairs and along a beaten path towards the steps leading to the bridge, I came across some folks gardening. Try as I might, I cannot remember the woman's name, but the man's name is Dale, both of whom have been calling this garden their own for the last 11 years.
What an interesting pair they are, and I was thrilled that they were able to answer some of my questions, however, when asked how long daffodil blooms last, they were stymied, probably because they haven't ever thought about it before. We had a good long chat about all of the plants I've been seeing and they were kind enough to tell me about more that will be coming into bloom in the next few months, including this tree to be found in a park about two blocks from us!! These two met by accident but have become gardening buddies, spending most mornings there, that is of course unless the rain is too much. Like today for example. :)

Continuing along Burrard towards the church, oh my goodness, these little cuties were almost more than I could take. Like little button flowers!
In front of a hotel along Burrard, there are these beauties.
Daffodils like mad everywhere!
After the quilt was dropped off, I continued walking towards Canada Place where they tourist information office is located. Actually across the street, but that is just a bit of nit picking on my part. My mission was a new map for Bruce as ours were growing weary. That secured, I headed to Stanley Park to check on what was new. Seriously, one has to be looking daily, otherwise what will one have missed?

For the macaron lovers amongst you, how about this darling shop? Could it be one bit cuter? I think not. Personally, I can take them or leave them, in this instance, it was the later.
Continuing our water feature search, this one is really quite something.
I suspect by the time we return to Orlando, you will feel as if you know Vancouver like the back of your hand. What do you think? Along West Georgia, the closer you get to the park,  there are some big money, even by Vancouver standards, condos.
Oh, dear ones, as I got to the flower gardens, I was in for a treat, and yes, there were flowers that I had not seen during my last visit.
Whereas Bruce is more of a red flower person (as much as you can call him a flower person), I can hardly think of a greater combination of colors than yellow and purple. Such fantastic contrast and isn't that what is most pleasing to the eye? The whole bed of hyacinths, pictured below, emerged since last I visited. Don't you just love that tree behind the bed? I mean really.
What I've recently discovered, looking through old photographs, is that my visit to Stanley Park was on April 7, 2015. What those photos showed me are beds filled with hundreds of tulips, some of them on their way down, thus my urgency! Drat, I forgot to ask the gardeners how long tulips last!

I spoke with one of the SP gardeners about those tiny little, what I'm calling button flowers, as well as asked him if there were any more beds to see. Turns out they do plant another area, so I made my way there. What some might find interesting is that there are a lot of women working in landscaping, from my experience, fairly uncommon in Orlando. I had a nice chat with the woman raking during which time she identified the tiny flowers as an English Daisy, something that Tom and his Mum undoubtedly already know. Another topic of our conversation was the intelligence of crows. Apparently, they watch closely while planting is going on, oftentimes swooping in and immediately uproot the new plantings while looking for worms. Yikes!
Alright, so I did not find the hummingbird nest on my own, but I was lucky enough to get a couple of photos of the hummingbird and offspring. Takes some searching to find it.
Seriously, it was so tiny, however, coming across three men with gigantic lenses, I knew something was up. No pun intended!

Up indeed. Before long, the leaves will return, obscuring the view of the fifty or so heron nests to be found.
According to this amusing article, depending on your sense of humor, I seriously miscounted the number of nests.

Looking down most streets in the West End, you see something similar.
I watched while these beds were planted and it's good to see how they are coming along.
Walking home along the seawall, I came across work being done on said seawall while the tide is  way out.
That's something else I've never given much thought to...tides. See what I mean, something new to learn about daily!

Are you tired of flowers yet? I sure hope not because I've got a few more to show you, including my first pink tulip sighting,
as well as a fantastic collection of potted flowers.
I don't know what the difference is from what I'm accustomed too, maybe nothing, but I'm just crazy about those roses! Although maybe not as crazy as I am for the Cherry trees which every day get a little bit prettier. As do the Magnolias!
Could this have been the inspiration for the term, "pretty in pink?"
There are indeed, gobs of flowers I am unfamiliar with, however, it may just be the trees that most intrigue me, wondering what they will look like with leaves again.

Ahh....these are exciting times for me. The sweetness of the element of surprise--what will I see next?

yours truly,

Gail

p.s. I've been meaning to say for a while now that one of the few people I've met to chat with is this nice lady who is pretty on both the outside and inside.

p.p.s. I have become increasingly alarmed over the whole Facebook scandal, as I'm sure many of you are as well. Which brings me to something I've been pondering. Should I delete my account, or maybe I should say before I do, I will figure out a way to alert you to new blog posts. We may just have to go back to the old fashioned way--an email alert. For now, I'm not sure how to do that, but may I suggest you stay tuned for an update.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On the First Day of Spring

On the first day of Spring, we took the Christmas tree down. I kid you not. As you may recall, it was the idea of the brilliant Mr. Peck who suggested we remove the ornaments and just leave the lit tree in place. And so we did. Honestly, I'm not sure how I would have gotten through the short, dark days of winter without it. First thing in the morning I would plug it in, leaving it on all day long until bedtime. Now, however, it has gone with Bruce to the office where we hope someone will take it home and make it their own next Christmas.

Long days, with seemingly every one of them something new to discover. Because we moved here in late summer, I had no idea what the trees would look like in the Spring. That's a good thing for a curious sort like myself, wondering what the little buds will turn into. Last week sometime I saw a bush type plant with some strawberry colored flowers. That particular one was scantily laden, however, this one, seen on my way to buy groceries, was lush with flowers. I'll show you the close up first just because I like the photo which reminds me of a Liberty of London print. My sewing friends will understand.
The full picture...
In my last post I showed you some flowering magnolias which I'd been thrilled to find. Ha ha...turns out there are flowering Magnolias all over the place, but not knowing what the tree, nor the buds, looked like, I thought I'd had a real find. Not so fast Gail. I'd seen trees with this kind of buds on them, not knowing what they would become.
And now that I know, I found this whole stand of them a block from the house along the seawall and I cannot wait to see them all in bloom. I bet you can't either.
Over in Chinatown Monday, I walked down an alleyway and am I ever thrilled that I did because look what I came across.
Holy Cow the blooms were huge! I once saw a flowering Magnolia tree like this in Orlando, but as most of you know, our trees are huge, mostly evergreen, with glossy leaves and huge white fragrant blooms. These flowers, while not quite as large as the ones I'm familiar with, were pretty darn big. Gorgeous, too.
Then there is the nearby David Lam Park where there are loads of planted Cherry trees which are looking quite promising.
Whereas the last post focused on flowers, it seems as if this one is leaning towards a tree focus and why not? They are budding like mad everywhere I turn.
Not that I know what to expect mind you. After months of mostly grey, the colors of Spring are so very welcome. While we are on the subject of trees, I learned from Gary last week that the Herons had returned to their nests in Stanley Park, which I had to see for myself. There are scads and scads of them sitting on their nests or finding new material to add to the existing ones.
Oops, it seems as if I have segued onto birds which will surprise exactly no one. The beauty of bare trees is seeing where the nests are, not that I'll probably remember, but then again, maybe I will.
On numerous occasions I've mentioned how giant the seagulls are around here and that goes for the crows as well. Watching this crow eating a dropped apple was pretty fascinating stuff.  Those giant feet!
I have discovered that there are lots of people who walk in Stanley Park daily and some of those folks leave birdseed on the bridge for both the little birds,
 and the hungry black squirrels.
While we are on the subject of eating, let's head to the kitchen, shall we? For nearly six months of the time we've lived here, the smoke alarms did not work. In fact, the previous tenant had broken them, on purpose according to the maintenance guy. Well, now I know why. Seriously, I cannot cook a darn thing on the stove without the stupid alarm, make that two of them, going off full tilt. I open the sliding glass door whatever the weather, as well as fan the alarm with a kitchen towel, hoping the blaring noise is not being heard outside of our walls. A girl can dream can't she? Finally, while making fried chicken with predictable results, a solution came to me.
Although there is a vented hood above the stove top, it really only covers the back burners which take too long to get hot for my liking. Who knew, when we bought the fans last summer to stay cool while the AC wasn't working, that they would come in handy for something else.

That said, I have sure learned to love a gas stove. I used it the other day for blistering poblano peppers and it worked like a charm. Pretty cool, huh? Or hot, your choice. 😀
One more kitchen related item that has proven challenging for me is how butter is sold. I was making a corn casserole and needed a measurement of butter that I just could not figure out. Sold in one pound blocks, it is a constant struggle. Although there are measurements, such as they are, on the paper, who keeps that once you are ready to use the butter?
Buying it in sticks, as I'm accustomed to, is not only nearly twice as expensive, but relatively hard to find. Whenever I struggle with something as simple as this I worry about our friends who are planning to move to Spain which, I need not remind you is no Canada.

Something else that has me worried is their need for healthcare. Not just the financials, but actually having things done when you don't know the language, nor the customs. It must have been sometime last year when a red (!) blotch appeared on the bridge of my nose. By no means was it huge, but it was certainly quite noticeable. Being someone who rarely looks in the mirror, it was easy to forget that everyone who actually looked at me face to face would probably see little else. So, while I thought about it when I went to the doctor here, I put it off until last week. Put what off? Laser, that's what. The first time I visited back in August I saw that they do spider vein removal, face stuff as welll as a myriad of other procedures. I figured my problem would fit in some category or other. Stopping by on my way home from Urban Fare (city life bonanza!), she ushered me right in, took one look and said it was a broken capillary that would most likely benefit from laser treatments. Probably three. Could I come the following afternoon? No, but I can come Friday afternoon, and so I did, waiting for her in this room.
Never having had anything like this before I had no idea of what to expect, however, she explained it would feel like a shock. Not that I've felt any for as long as I can remember, but okay, I'm ready. After about fifteen zaps, I can tell you that although it is not completely horrible, it sure didn't feel great. Especially, or I should say, particularly, because it is on the bone. There is definitely some improvement, however, time will tell. I have to wait a month for the next session during which time I will not be quite so clueless and probably more nervous! I will keep you posted.

I am definitely clueless as to what these buds will turn into. Here's the big picture,
and here's the little picture.
Pretty cute, aren't they? As was this pretty yellow plant covered in little flowers that look like ruffled party skirts.
Believe it or not, Tuesday, I stayed home sewing throughout the entire day. Finally broke down and bought a cutting mat at Dress Sew during their February sale in order to make a quilt for an unknown recipient. Still will be unknown as I am gifting it to the church for their homeless ministry this morning. May it keep someone in need warm.
Well, I've made it through winter in no small part due to the warm light from the Christmas tree. Now, dear ones, I am reaping the rewards.

yours truly,

Gail

You Just Never Know