Another Year…


Another year is coming to a close.  It has been one that has challenged on every turn.  I’ve also had to really look deep inside myself to understand why I behave in the manner that I do at times.  I’ve got adjust these behaviours in a big way as they do not serve me, nor anyone for matter.

They are the leftover echoes from a lifetime ago.

First and foremost is my health. I’ve take a few hits over the past few years.  Time to dust myself off and get on with living.

Getting back into shape is going to be painful.  But you know, it’s worth it!  Yesterday my daughter and I headed up to Grouse Mountain here in Vancouver, BC.

We are not skiers, however, there are lots of activities.  We hiked about for several hours.  Stood in many a long lineup, and dined before coming back down at day’s end.

I’ve been making it a point to be active every day this week.  Yesterday  left me in pain but you know what?  It was worth it.  I can’t stay on the sidelines any longer. I’ve got to fight through and take back my health.

And man, are we ever blessed here in Vancouver.  This is Vancouver’s backyard.  I hope you can come and play with us some time.  Enjoy!

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Early morning December 30, 2015 – Vancouver is in the backdrop.

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Boats in the harbour.

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On the other side, valley’s and mountains for as far as the eye can see!

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The Lions in winter…these are feature of Vancouver that are highly recognizable.

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Just wow!

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Skating!

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Prancer taking some downtime!

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A Blue Jay looking for a nibble!

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The majesty of the mountains that surround us

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One of the ski hills

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And as we prepare our decent the clouds appear like waves below

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Thanks for a beautiful day!

To everyone who has followed my blog, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!  May 2016 be filled with wonder and blessings of every kind.

Peace!

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It Was a Dark and Stormy….Day?


Storm 12

There was a huge Canadian flag attached to this pole prior to the storm

On Saturday I decided to be a rebel and sleep in until 6:30 AM rather than arise at the customary time of 6:00 AM.  I could always shower up later in the day.  Still I found myself pondering when I could actually sleep in to my typical 7:00 – 7:30 AM on Saturday mornings.

I’ve had my physio sessions booked early forever it seems at 7:15 AM on Saturdays.  My back is improving.  I still have pain when I walk…just not as much.  I’ve adopted a new way to walk as well,  so prescribed by Physio John.

For 1 1/2 hours he worked on me.  First he does acupressure, then has me do exercises that are isolated to a certain areas then comes the acupuncture.

I’m now on a first name basis with a few other patients who come at the same time every week as well and we stood chatting for a bit while setting up our next appointment.

My daughter lives close by and she had invited me for breakfast after my session so I headed down the hill to her home.

The rain had let up and the clouds were roiling through the sky at a rapid pace.  I found it beautiful and very powerful.

LOnsdale & Esplande.

My daughter and I had walked past this very intersection just a few hours before this carnage occurred!

I had woken to the sound of heavy rainfall and for a few minutes I had just laid there listening to it delighting in the breeze coming through my bedroom window and the scent of wet earth!

We’ve had a brutally hot and dry summer.  The rain falling outside was a blessing and then some.  I could just imagine all the trees and brush outside hungering for that rain that now cascaded upon them in abundance.

After breakfast I suggest we go for a walk.  She lives in North Vancouver very close to the Quay so we headed over there with the  both of us delighting in the breeze coming off the ocean.

Upon arriving back her place I took my leave.  I had much I wanted to get done in my corner of the world.

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Repairs are still ongoing in my building.  My unit still has not been done, but that’s okay.  It will.  I have to pick out the paint I want and I’ve requested that the entire place get painted.  Still waiting to hear back from Sean on the additional cost for this.  I’ve decided to do a huge purge of things though.  So this weekend would mark the beginning of the process.  Get the place cleaned up and then tackle the closets that are still in use.  My utility closet is still not usable as the walls are still exposed.

On the drive home I began to wax poetic about the weather and decided to post a blog about it.  Then I began to notice how much the wind was picking up.  Some empty boxes flew off a truck onto the highway and leaves and branches were beginning to litter the highway.

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New West over by the Justice Institute

Leaves were swirling about like mini tornados.  Trees were taking on the familiar sway that occurs when a storm is brewing.  It’s been a very long time since increment weather of this nature has hit the coast.

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On Austin at Gatenbury in Coquitlam

I turned off the highway and as I entered the final stretch to home I reduced my speed to about 20 km.  Leaves and branches were flying off the trees and the roadway was littered with them.

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More highway debris

Arriving home I called my daughter and she expressed how the wind had really picked up out her way as well.

I began scheduling what I would be doing this day around my home.

Deciding to check my email first, I would then tackle my bedroom closet,

I didn’t make it through checking my email before the power kicked out.

My power was out for seven hours yesterday.  Approximately 400,000 households were affected.   There are still about 130,000 households still without power.

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One of the trains was hit by branches snapping off.  This created quite the delay for comuters.

We’ve had no decent rainfall for months.  Even though it has rained heavily for the last couple of days, it was not enough for many of the trees that were bone dry and just snapped like twigs in this onslaught.

I found myself reflecting on the fact of just how dependent we’ve become on technology in this electronic age.  I could not even leave my car park as the gate is remote operated and very much electrically dependent.  I do know there is a manual way by which to open these gates so this is a bit of knowledge I will pursue.  We do have a generator that kicked in for emergency lighting and I found myself wondering why the parkade gate was not included with the emergency power source.

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Storm 2

Bangs and crashes could be heard followed by sirens in the distance.

I did a few things by candlelight but truth be told the silence was rather daunting.  Outside the winds howled for hours and the rain came and went in torrents.  The sun made a brief appearance and I discovered the Safeway some four blocks from my home was open so I ventured over there and picked up some batteries and grabbed a bite to eat.

Downtown Vancouver Storm 1

Downtown Vancouver at Hornby & Nelson Street

Even having a charged up laptop was rather useless as there were no networks available to go online and try to get information.  BC Hydro’s website was down and trying to get through by phone?  Good luck.

I at least had the radio on and felt connected.  And that’s what it came down to.  For a very brief moment I felt removed and cutoff from the world around me.  Furthermore I could not find out what was going on.   My cell phone provided a bit of info, however, the battery on that was running low as well.

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Four hours into this event I curled up on my sofa and watched the remainder of the storm unfold.  Candles were lit, the radio was on and I was safe.

There are still many without power.  My friend will likely have to toss all the food in her fridge but at least she is safe with her family and that’s what matters.

Peace.

 

Happy Birthday, Canada!


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I have a view of paradise at this very moment.  That, by the way, is a nickname I have for Vancouver.

I decided to take in the festivities regardless of the my ongoing back and hip issues.  I grabbed my camera and headed out to the sky train, which is our rapid transit system.

I’ve had great time thus far.  I popped into the Tap & Barrel where I enjoyed a delightful Cobb Salad and brew.

And the view is spectacular.  I’m watching the seagulls dive and seals playing in the water.  The Maple Leaf if highly visibly.

Canada is a great place to live.  Diverse in so many ways.

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We’ve done a lot of things right but we have for sure taken some questionable turns.  I won’t get into a political diatribe at this moment.

Today we are celebrating her glory.  Canada, you are truly magnificent.

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And I am so very appreciative that I live in this place that I affectionately refer to as paradise.

The previous evening I was wooed by the moon and at 11:15 PM I slipped out into the streets of New Westminster to accommodate her request for a photo shoot and I managed to get some good shots.

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One thing I like is that I always feel safe regardless of the time of day.

I left the Tapp & Barrel to carry on with my day.  My server Sylvan was a truly gracious host and excellent server. Originally from a part of Ontario where the mother tongue is French, the cold winters convinced him to ‘go west, young man!’

He is studying communications at S.F.U.  and I can see a bright future for Sylvan.

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I watched the float planes take off and perused the crowd adorned in red white.  People were draped in Molson Canadian flags declaring ‘I Am Canadian’.  Molsons is  a local beer by the way.

I wondered where I could get one.

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Tiny flags on a stick were everywhere as well and I again wondered where I could get one and try as I might, I was unsuccessful at scoring one for myself.

I made my way over to the Rock 101 booth.  This is the radio station of choice that I usually listen to.  Craig Thullner was manning the booth and we chatted and I had a photo taken with him.

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Then I began to wind my way back up to the transit station.

We’ve been in a heat wave over the last month and despite the breeze coming off the water it was hotter than Hades!

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I made my way slowly through the maze of activities.  As I approached Burrard & Pender me back was a hurtin’!

I gazed up at the Marine Building that was at one time the tallest building in the entire British Empire. I then ventured into the pub housed there known as the Elephant & Castle to quench my thirst and take in a bit of the soccer match.  Japan would win 2-1 over England.

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Melanie was my server and she too is attending classes to build a career.  She is studying Hospitality & Service and has a plan to see the world by means of ‘working vacations’.

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I finished up and made my way back home.

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I was pretty sore by the time I got here but hey, I’m so glad I got out there and enjoyed the day.  I managed to walk quite a bit despite the pain and I will get past this.

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Happy Birthday Canada!

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Imagine….


 

I rose early this morning.  It is not quite 10:30 AM and I have all my domestic duties done.  It has at times been a struggle.  I am now 16 weeks into the whole ‘no hot water’ debacle here at home.  The challenge of bathing and cleaning and adopting the guise of water bearer, and one with a bad back at that, has been tough.  Home hasn’t felt quite so homey.  The end is now in sight.  June 12th, 2015 marks the completion date for the re-piping of the building.

My anger peaked around six weeks ago.  You may recall the rant I offered up on this forum which was a little on the melodramatic side. 🙂

The biggest issue has been the lack of communication.  All we;ve seen are posts of when they’ll need access to certain suites wallpapered on doors as the walls and ceilings in the hallways are now exposed.

Just one progress report was forthcoming after my rant.  Why they can’t take the time to write and post a short paragraph weekly and upload it to our building’s website or to our property manager is beyond me.

Had they done this I don’t believe the tempers would have flared the way they have.

So I am still working on a rather intense post regarding time.   I’ve also joined Toastmasters and will be reading my first speech on this coming Tuesday.  I’m working on distribution for the book still, working me arse off and will be entering physical rehab with a kinesiolgist.  Hopefully this will be the final hurdle to help me regain the level health I enjoyed two years ago.

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I just want to feel good.

I’ve given myself the challenge of writing a poem everyday for the next thirty days.  Just thought it might be a fun thing to do.  If at day fifteen I’ve become a mad woman, obsessed and manic…

No, wait a moment…I already am.

I’m being silly.  I have been out taking a few photos so I thought I would share those with you on this beautiful Sunday morning.

Enjoy!

This first series was taken a week ago down at False Creek South in the Science World and Athletes Village portion.  Major construction has been underway in this area over the last five years converting this former industrial wasteland into a vibrant community.

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Talk about a beautiful evening sky.  Downtown Vancouver and BC Place can be seen silhouetted below

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BC Place now has a remarkable retractable roof though it often reminds me of a spaceship and the iconic Woodwards ‘W’ once a beacon in Vancouver.

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Science World at dusk

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Science World as the sun sets

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Spacey looking walkways and giant birds!

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Canada Geese goslings.  Too cute!  The Vancouver Salt Building is now home to CRAFT a gastro pub.  False Creek has been home to many breweries over the years.  There is now an explosion of micro-breweries in this area.  From Molson’s, Granville Island Brewery, Steel Toad, Red Truck, Craft and the Flying Pig just to name a few.

And yes, we make damn good beer!

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Looking westward along False Creek South.  Downtown Vancouver rises in the background.

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Lighting features that compliment some to the buildings’ cosmetic makeup in the area.  Geese having a early evening bath.

I am in desperate need of decent tripod.  I had purchased what I thought was a pretty good one and it turned out to be sadly lacking.  This was a photo walk with my group titled ‘Dusk to Dark’.

Unfortunately, once night fell, without the benefit of a tripod I could not continue on.  Next time I’ll have a good one.

The next series found me going for a stroll along the river very close to my home.  Spring is in full swing as is evidenced by the florals and bees are busy as are ants!

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I just happened to be admiring the sky when this eagle happened to slip into my viewfinder.  And here a bee bumbling about.

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The Fraser River is really low at the moment.  We didn’t have much of a winter at all and while we’ve had some rain, we need more.

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Capturing images of ants and water droplets.

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Beautiful flowers that line the river’s boardwalk.

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The colours are exquisite this year!

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Baby ducklings swim where the coy fish usually are.  The fish weren’t poking about the surface but this little guy and lily pads were.

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The mighty muddy Fraser River.

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This is taken from the Quayside overpass looking east along Columbia Street which is the downtown core of New Westminster.

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They’ve covered this power utility box with historical images of the police force.  The center image is the Hyack Square which now is home to the ‘Wait For Me Daddy’ monument.

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Some images of the Anvil’s Centre’s angles.  Beautiful building.

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And this is at one end of the boardwalk on the Quay.  Now Downtown New West is indeed a short walk from here.  Metrotown, however, is a shopping mall in Burnaby!  It is NOT on the river at all and well it would be an incredibly long walk.  Not too sure why this sign was put up.

Below is a map.  It would take approximately two hours to walk their and the distance is 7 1/2 km.  A lot of hills on this walk as well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this photo montage.  Have a great day.

https://ca.maps.yahoo.com/e/?lat=49.21417710832532&lon=-122.9610013961792&bb=49.23940103%2C-123.0264473%2C49.18894031%2C-122.8955555&o=1305%20Quayside%20Dr%2C%20New%20Westminster%2C%20BC%20V3M&d=4664%20Kingsway%2C%20Burnaby%2C%20BC%20V5H%204L9&mode=6

 

Oil and Water…They Just Don’t Mix


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 A duck covered in oil  and a pod of Killer Whales photographed a couple of weeks ago in English Bay, Vancouver, BC

I am fortunate to live in an area that is naturally beautiful with the benefit of rivers, lakes and the ocean within close proximity to my home.  We are sheltered by mountains here on the coast as well.  They too are easily accessible.

When the news broke that an oil spill had occurred in English Bay, I, along with everyone who lives here, became incredibly concerned regarding the environmental impact this would have.

The question has still not been answered, however, as to why this happened in the first place.  After all, it is a grain ship that is anchored in Vancouver’s harbor.  And bunker fuel was spilled?  How?

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We’ve recently been enjoying the return of marine life such as whales and sea lions to this area.  Otters can be seen quite often as well.  And we have ducks, geese, herons, kingfishers, gulls and an abundance of other marine bird life in all shapes and sizes calling these waters home.

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The whales drew quite a crowd and hung out in the bay for a few days

Still, upon reflection the explosion of technology in this industrial age of ours is concerning.  We have an oil company Kinder Morgan that wants to build an additional pipeline so that they can transport the stuff being pulled out of the oil sands in Alberta and transport it to places such as China.

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Over the last hundred years the changes to this world have been incredible.  And the impact that oil has had on us, well it has been a little more than frightening for this gal.  Considering that there are so many other clean ways by which to generate power, ideas and practices that have been in existence for a very long time as well, I know one of the reasons that oil and its subsequent affiliates have had the success they have is simply that in the beginning oil was not very expensive.  It was a cheap form of power and a dirty one.

Bulk Carrier

At the beginning of the industrial revolution we were wasteful as well.

Yet when I hear that the oil sands will produce enough energy and whatever else we use oil for over the next 100 years, it is concerning.  Hadn’t we best begin to look at some tried and true methods to produce energy such as wind and water and develop these on a large scale and sustainable one?

Gulf Coast Struggles With Oil Spill And Its Economic Costs

oil

And it is imperative that we keep our water as clean as possible.

We’ve had an incredibly mild winter here on the south coast of British Columbia which won’t bode well for the salmon run.  With no snow pack all we can only hope for is a lot of rain this year to keep the water levels high enough.

Politicians are laying blame and pointing fingers. Then they raise taxes to  stop global warming but in truth I believe this world moves in cycles.  Oddly enough the east coast of North America was hit incredibly hard this year and they had a brutally cold winter with enormous amounts of snow accumulating.

Weather patterns are not really something we can change.  Perhaps we should study more of ice samples that are being taken from Antarctica. We can adjust how we live in this world, how we function and how we interact with this organic planet of ours as this is within our control.

By all counts, this planet can be a violent place.  It is the nature of the beast.

I saw images of Paris, France on the news the other day where the pollution hung thick in the air and was a major concern to the city officials.  Something to do with allowing free parking in the downtown portion of Paris, though having never been there,  I cannot say where that may be.  Still the images of the Eiffel Tower shrouded in air thick with pollutants is disturbing.

Was the cheap alternative of oil offered at the beginning worth it?

Here in Vancouver we at one time clouded the waterfront with any number of industries that polluted the waters to the point that they were something of a dead zone.  Marine life will not venture into such water channels as they will not survive.

Paris-Pollution

Beijing

Think of Paris and Beijing and how you feel breathing in these places then think of fish swimming through clouds of oil.  And like trees that die as a result of air born pollutants being caught in the rain that falls to feed them, hence the term acid rain, is it any wonder that barnacles and coral reefs are fast disappearing.

Politicians express outrage while the federal minister stands up and says ‘We dealt swiftly and effectively with this.’   Still no answer as to why it happened at all.

And it was just a small spill after all.  A few ducks and geese, a sea lion or two.  Somehow I feel like they are missing the point and the big picture all together.

This should not happen…ever…anywhere!  We have the technology, yet we don’t use it.

And today I feel such a deep sadness because despite the advances that we’ve made in so many areas, we still suffer from our own inhumanity on so many levels.

A host of isms still cloud our thinking.  When are we going to learn its not about us.

Vancouver is my birth place.  She has listened when I’ve screamed about indignities that were awarded me.  She has caught my tears on her sidewalks, in her grassy fields and on her beaches.  She has shared her quiet beauty with me time and again reminding me when I was in the depths of sorrow all I had to do is look around me to see the wonder of this world.

I’ve stood at the break of dawn being bathed is morning light watching the silhouettes of this city come alive.  I’ve sat naked on her beaches well past midnight letting a summer’s breeze kiss my skin.  I’ve run through her streets and parkways.

She is and has always has been a gracious and beautiful lay of land.

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The thing is this whole oil thing is a global issue.  The spill in English Bay could have happened anywhere.  If it happened out at sea would there be concern?  Would we know?

I would like to share a few images and history of Vancouver, particularly the waterfront.

Some poor decisions were made back in the day born more of need than anything else.  And I get it.  We do know better now and collectively we need to recognize and adhere to this.

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The following is an excerpt taken from historical accounts of Vancouver.  It is quite remarkable that city officials bought back much of the waterfront that was dominated by industry, converted it to shops and housing and began the slow process of restoring the water ways.

Archival photos were obtained from Flckr.

The following is in regard to False Creek:

‘During World War 1,  the easternmost part of False Creek, which formerly ran to Clark Drive, was filled in by the Great Northern Railway and Canadian National Railway to create new land for their yards and terminals.    For many years there was talk of draining and filling the inlet to Granville Street throughout the 1950s, but this never occurred.

The False Creek area was the industrial heartland of Vancouver through to the 1950s. It was home to many sawmills and small port operations, as well as the western terminus of the major Canadian railways. As industry shifted to other areas, the vicinity around False Creek started to deteriorate. In 1960, BC Forest Products plant and lumber storage facility on the south side of False Creek caught fire in Vancouver’s first-ever five-alarm blaze. Every piece of firefighting equipment and all of Vancouver’s firefighters fought the blaze for hours, but the facility was totally destroyed.

The future of False Creek south was subsequently shaped by debates on freeways, urban renewal, and the rise of citizen participation in urban planning. Through the 60s, the ruling NPA (Non-Partisan Association) city government and senior city bureaucrats had hatched a plan – with little or no public consultation – to run freeways through the city. In the same period, the City razed large portions of Strathcona under the aegis of urban renewal. A group of influential citizens formed The Electors Action Movement (TEAM) to oppose the freeway and to radically change the way decisions were made on land use. A key figure amongst these people was Walter Hardwick a Geography professor at UBC who envisioned the retrofit of this brownfield industrial site into a vibrant waterfront mixed-use community.

The North Shore of False Creek (NFC) was further transformed in the 1980s, as it took centre stage during Expo ’86. Following the Expo, the Province sold the NFC site to Li-Kai Shing who brought ideas of a higher density waterfront community to the downtown peninsula. Vancouver’s experience with South False Creek and the public participation that shaped it was key to developing NFC as a livable high-density community. For example, Ka-shing’s company wanted to develop “islands” of market condos on the waterfront but was soundly rebuffed by the public and by planners who favoured the extension of a 100% publicly accessible waterfront and seawall. The 1991 Official Development Plan enabled significant new density commensurate with the provision of significant public amenities including streetfront shops and services, parks, school sites, community centres, daycares, co-op and low-income housing. Since then, most of the north shore has become a new neighbourhood of dense housing (about 100 units/acre), adding some 50,000 new residents to Vancouver’s downtown peninsula.

On December 1, 1998, Vancouver City Council adopted a set of Blueways policies and guidelines stating the vision of a waterfront city where land and water combine to meet the environmental, cultural and economic needs of the City and its people in a sustainable, equitable, high quality manner.

Several decades following the suspension of industrial activity in the area, a number of shore and seabirds such as cormorants, ducks, herons, kingfishers, owls, geese, crows, and gulls have returned, as well as harbor seals. In an unusual sighting, in May 2010 a grey whale entered False Creek and traversed its length before returning to the open waters of the Strait of Georgia.

Factors working against the further return of wildlife include residual industrial contaminants, spillage from the sewer overflow system into the creek, and the seawall that constrains much of the shoreline with little habitat value. The city has attempted to recreate the natural shoreline in some areas and is working to phase out the antiquated sewer overflow system.’

I wanted to share this history with you because at one time Vancouver’s waterfront wasn’t particularly attractive over in the False Creek area.  English Bay has always been a jewel of sorts.  It sits next to Stanley Park and the area around the park has been protected over the years.  Vancouver’s Main Street runs from it’s northern most point south almost to the Fraser River.  In the downtown core of the street this was and still is a hub of industrial activity.

I want to look after what we have.  Let’s preserve it.  Oil and water do not mix.  And do we need more condo towers?  I have put together photo montage of Vancouver.  Enjoy.

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English Bay over the last 100 years…the gazebo still stands as does the Sylvia Hotel.  The Pier was removed in 1938.

Vancouver Courthouse 1930Vancouver Courthouse (VAG)Vag 2

 The Vancouver Art Gallery began has the city jail.  It still has cells in its bowels with brick walls a few feet thick.  It later became the courthouse and in 1983 has been the Art Gallery.
Vancouver Opera House (now Orpheum)orpheum-granville
The Vancouver Opera House and its subsequent transformation to the Orpheum Theatre.
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Kitsilano Beach and Pool then and now
Vancouver AirportVancouver Airport 1965Vancouver Airport 1950VIA
The Vancouver International Airport is growing every year.
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Victory Square through the years where all Remembrance Day ceremonies are held.
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Looking west on Hastings Street from Cambie Street.  The Marine Building was at one time the tallest building in Vancouver.
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The Second Narrows (Iron Workers Memorial) Bridge and its many transformations.  19 men were killed in a tragic accident during the construction of the newest model back in 1958. 
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The Granville Street Bridge in her many transformations.
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The Burrard Street Bridge under construction and on opening day on July 1, 1939 and today.  It has remained largely unchanged. 
Fire Station at Nelson & Nicola in West End.Davie St. looking toward Denman St.Davie to English
The Fire Hall No. 6 still stands and is pretty much the same at Nelson & Nicola.  The view on Davie St. toward English Bay then and now. 
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Looking up Davie Street from Denman then and now.
I hope you have enjoyed this.  I will offer up more but for the time being I must have some dinner.  Cheers!

 

A Christmas Story


I wrote this originally a year ago.  It was part of a five part series called ‘The Napkin’s Odyssey’.  I quite liked the tale that I developed.  If you like this then please do go back and read the others. Thanks. 

Remembrances

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I set out on my annual Christmas shopping trek seeking those items that would just scream someone’s name at me.  There was quite a bit of foot traffic on this Saturday afternoon along Granville Street.   It’s always good to see the hustle and bustle this time of year as I made my way slowly along the corridor plotting my course and plan of action.

This is one the main shopping drags in downtown Vancouver.  Today, as is typical this time of year, the sky is overcast and a wet snow has begun to fall.  I had been checking to see if any interesting little shops had materialized over the last year.  Unfortunately there were none at this juncture of my quest.

With all the health issues I had faced recently I found myself feeling a little fatigued and decided to find a bench to call home for a few moments.

I sat down across from the old Eaton’s store.  Next year Granville will look very different no doubt.  An American store, Nordstrom’s had purchased the property that was opposite me and it was now being renovated and slated to open sometime next year.

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The old Eaton’s store, considered one of the ugliest stores. 

It was once described as an unending urinal wall.

So much has changed over all the years from frequenting this area of the city.  I gazed up the street.  The Bay looked very much the same on the outside, however, the interior has undergone many renovations over the years and continues to do so.

There used to be an old man that had built this weird conglomerate of instruments and he would sit outside The Bay, right on the corner of Granville and Georgia St. and play a variety of melodies.  From the time I was a young girl to somewhere in my mid 20’s he was there every Christmas.

I would go down to shop and always looked for him.  The contraption he played was drums, keyboard, accordion, spoons, symbols, a horn, tambourine, etc.  All were rigged and connected somehow, and with each note played they combined to make a hauntingly beautiful sound.

I would hear it when I got off the bus drifting down the Granville Street corridor.

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The Bay Downtown Vancouver…Then & Now

The old guy wore a beat up Santa hat.  He was whiskered and a little rough around the edges but the smile and light that danced in his eyes could melt the bitterest of colds.

I always gave him a five dollar bill.  Might not sound like much but in those days it was.

He was still there for the first year of my daughter’s birth but the year after he was gone and I never did see him again.

I sat smiling thinking back to times past.  Looking down toward the south end of Granville I could still recall the neon signs that used to grace the corridor.  Vancouver was a relatively gritty city in appearance back in the day.  Even so, she’s always had a charm and beauty that cannot be beat and still does.

The White Lunch Café was located a few blocks down.  I would go there for breakfast from time to time.  Coffee was ten cents a cup with as many refills as you wanted.  Cinemas, theatres and stores peppered the street back then. There was quite an outrage when the price of coffee was boosted to a quarter for a cup.

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Robson Street was a kitschy place at the time inhabited by artists, fortunetellers, belly dancers and cool little shops and restaurants.

I had my tea leaves read by a woman, who in hind sight, was a little scary.  She would stare into the cup, then stare at me, stare into the cup then stare back at me.  Her eyes fluttered closed and she moaned plaintively whilst rolling her head about.  Then the eyes popped open and she unloaded a host of information that made absolutely no sense but she assured me in time, it would.  Whatever was disclosed to me that day was soon forgotten.

Closing my eyes for a moment I just let the memories dance to the surface.

I always went down to Woodward’s.  They had the best Santa Land and the best Christmas displays in their windows by far!  It was the 6th floor that was transformed into a magical place for children each year.

The last Woodward’s Santa Land I attended was in 1987 when my daughter was four years old.  Woodward’s would later close down forever in 1993 . Eaton’s suffered the same fate unfortunately.

And as I sat watching the busy shoppers, I wasn’t saddened, not really.  Change occurs all the time.  It never ceases.  That I have been afforded so many rich memories is what matters most.  And you know, it never is about the gifts that I have received that springs to mind. It never has been.  Always it is a sound, a place, a smell, a touch, a smile, etc.  Some sensation arrests my attention and I find myself propelled into this beautiful, magical spirit we all share.

Of course, as adults, we all know that a man in red suit cannot possibly circumnavigate the globe in a huge red sleigh distributing toys to every child on this planet, yet we propagate the myth.

Why?

Perhaps because it makes us feel good.  There is a certain innocence and magic to it I suppose.  That desire to just believe.

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My eye caught an elderly woman shuffling up the street with her walker leading the way.  Little clips had been attached to hold her shopping bags.  I admired her ingenuity. She wore a brown and white woolen weave coat that fell to mid-calf.  A brown felt beret with a broach of a penguin pinned to it adorned her perfectly coiffed grey hair.

She had the kind of eyes that were like liquid honey and a mischievous smile that graced her lips.   I watched as she made her way up the street.  A stately little gal and I pondered the stories she could tell.  She was close to me now and she caught my gaze.  The smile deepened as did mine.

“Merry Christmas” I offered with a nod.

“And to you, child!” she replied softly.  There was a hint of an accent to her voice from a lifetime ago.  I couldn’t say from where.

A few more glances and I stood.  Time to get back to the task at hand of finding the elusive perfect gift.

A snowflake landed on my nose as I stood and I laughed.  Looking up, I watched as the wet snow transitioned into the big fat flakes.  I was delighted that I’d left the car at home.

As I headed south along Granville St., the lonely refrain of a saxophone rang out.  The first few chords of ‘White Christmas’ echoed on the buildings and for whatever reason, I came close to tears.

Over the course of my 54 years there have been a lot of bad Christmas’ in the mix, along with some very lonely ones as well.  Now I simply focused on letting those that I love know how I feel and try to help a few of those in need as well.

I quickened my step now as the snow was really starting to come down.

Bad Hair Day?!


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You know you’re having a bad hair day when it’s not even your hair.

It was windy tonight, gusting up a storm for sure.  The rains came and with umbrella at the ready I braved the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver seeking the perfect gift for an up coming birthday.

My daughter will turn 31 years of age this Sunday.

Where does the time go?

I know what I want to get for her and part one is in the bag.  Now it’s on to part two.

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The rain now became torrential.  Sewers were backing up  rapidly and the streets began to transform into lakes.

I pushed on though.  Diligent in my pursuit of the task at hand.

Saw the item of interest at the first store.  Great price!  Still I had a couple of more stores to check out so back out into the wilds of Vancouver I went.

The street band that had been playing were now on a weather induced intermission.

Vancouver Rain

The lakes that had been forming when I entered the store now resembled raging rivers.

Rafting anyone?

The winds came up and tossed the umbrella unexpectedly which bounced against my head catching the wig.  Immediately I grabbed my wig holding it in place albeit rather awkwardly.

My real hair at the moment is about 1 1/2 inches in length.  And it’s doing some weird ass shit, let me tell you.

All my life I wanted curly or wavy hair.  Careful what you wish for.  I just may get it and I’m terrified.

This thick mass of dark ash blond with, according to a  member of my gym, red highlights in there as well is all curly cue on top.

The area where my bangs would be is curling straight up, as are a few other areas.  I’ll have to have a sit down with my hair and explain the laws of gravity.

Another gust of wind came up threatening to dismantle the wig from my head.  by the time I entered the second store I was looking a little disheveled.

I tried, without the benefit of a mirror, to smooth out the wig.

Jamie Dornan gets soaking wet jogging through the rain on 'Fifty Shades of Grey' set

Wigs, when blown all to hell, don’t fall back into place as would normal hair.  It will just remain sticking up in the most unnatural and unusual of positions.  The world will now know that this is not your real hair.

And in truth, I really don’t mind anyone knowing this.  I’ve gone without the wig on several occasions.

And if I had the bag with me that I use when I hit the gym I’d gladly have simply removed it and popped it into my purse.

I was appalled at the prices at the second store and debated going back then and there but the book store called.

I purchased two books. One is a favorite of mine.  ‘Who Has See the Wind?’ by W.O. Mitchell and the second ‘Traitor’s Blade’ by Sebastien de Castell.

Sebastien is a member of one of my writing groups and this is his first publication.  He’s a really good writer and I really want to support everyone on every level and enjoy some cool books in the process. I’ll have him sign it next time I see him.

Then I searched for a cover for my Kobo.

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It was back out into the deluge.  I wandered down Granville St. admiring the skies above me.  The clouds were churning furiously trying to make the falling rain pound down ever harder.

I was observing the re-construction of the old Eaton’s Centre.

Nordstrom’s is moving to Vancouver and the development is a little intimidating.  It looks expensive and it will most definitely be expensive.

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Photo of Granville Street back in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s

I’m feeling a little saddened at the Americanization of Granville Street.

Robson Street is fast becoming a vacancy lot as no one can afford the ridiculous rents.  ‘For Lease’ signs grace the vacant store fronts far too commonly these days.

And the stores that remain hint at elitism. If you don’t have the cash, then don’t come in.

I made may way to the third store and trekked up to the 6th floor.  I really wasn’t surprised that the costs were higher here.  Still, the item of interested was priced the same as at the second store and this did really did cause the eyebrows to raise speculatively.

I headed down to the 3rd floor to check out the new spring fashions.  Even tried a few things on.

Unfortunately my mid-section is still very much inflated.  I’ll have to work a little harder to get back into shape.  And I’m feeling a little angry at the cancer for inducing this weight gain.

Clothing looks awkward on me these days.  I look awkward on me these days.

Yes, I’m starting over with the running, with the gym.  I’m re-building.

Leaving the store I debated heading back down to the first store to pick up the item and decided to pick it up on the morrow.  It was 7:00 PM and my parking meter would be expiring.

I had also worked up an appetite so it was time for dinner. I plugged the meter then headed over to The Kingston for a nibble.

It looks quite forlorn these days.  Two condo / mixed-use towers are going up on either side of this quaint boutique hotel that houses a fabulous tap house and grill.

A memory flashed as I sat down.

A few years back my daughter and I come down to do some shopping.  We stopped at the White Spot that used to be around the corner from here for breakfast.  Then we shopped.  By 2:00 PM  we’d done some serious damage and had a blast in the process.

We came to The Kingston for a late lunch.  A lovely woman of Irish decent was our server.  The place was pretty quiet that day.  We laughed ourselves silly during our meal along with Megan, our server.

I slipped off to bathroom to clean up a bit.  The wig looked rather ragged as do I.

It’s okay though. I straightened myself out a bit and headed back to the table to order my meal and jot down a few thoughts.

Heading home I looked at this city of mine.  Vancouver is not wearing the mantel of this face lift she’s been given very well.  We have politicians that want to rip her apart and re-build her in their image.

I hope we can hold onto a few of the old familiars such as The Kingston, Denman Street, Davie Street, etc.

The rains have stopped for the time being.  Time to call it a day.

Have a great evening everyone.  Peace.

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