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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

At 6:54 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on September 22nd, 2018, Autumnal Equinox will occur here in Vancouver. That’s today! So, I’d like to share a few last photos from the summer of 2018, mostly flowers, of course.

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Michaelmas Daisies (Aster x frikartii “Monch”… possibly)… & Sedum “Autumn Joy”

This intriguing combination created itself in the boulevard garden which I’ve been working on, (“The Verge”, as I’ve taken to calling it) at our daughter’s place. The Aster appeared out of nowhere, and I’m happy with the serendipitous partnership.

Verge: The verge of a road is the narrow strip of grassy ground at the side.

In this case, of course, the grass by the sidewalk has been removed, to be replaced by a variety of perennials and herbs.

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Where the front lawn used to be. Veggies galore! Organic all the way.

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An urban vegetable garden is preferable to a boring lawn, and this one has turned into a real family affair, with everyone pitching in to help. Passersby stop to talk, and the garden helps to create a greater connection to others in the community.

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Phlox paniculata. The fragrance is lovely, bringing back memories of my earliest years of gardening. This perennial has lived through moves from three previous gardens. It’s a survivor!

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On the Great Lawn at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Pure relaxation! (It was a hot day during Vancouver’s summer heat wave.)

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The smoke from wildfires in B.C. was thick for weeks on end this summer. This was the view from Spanish Banks, looking towards Stanley Park. The mountains and the city skyline were invisible, and the air was filled with “particulates”. Climate change is going to force us all to change our ways.

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Hazelnuts in our back garden, on a self-seeded hazel (Corylus) tree. Food for the squirrels. I’ve noticed that they also eat seeds from maple trees, and acorns from oaks, naturally.  Animals are so self-sufficient!

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Our granddaughter picking apples from a neighbourhood tree on the boulevard. Free for the taking! They made great applesauce. (Here’s a hint for making sugar-free applesauce: use the juice from one large, organic orange and a tiny bit of water with your cut up apples. No sugar needed. Simmer gently just until you get the desired consistency. Simply delicious!)

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Organically grown tomatoes and peppers from the back yard greenhouse our son-in-law built. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Here’s the greenhouse in early summer. The tomato plants eventually grew very tall, and were supported by an ingenious method using thin ropes attached neatly to the ceiling. Cucumbers and green bell peppers shared the space.

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The last roses of summer, just before the rains began. These roses have such a beautiful perfume. They may be Rugosas. I lost the tag during the latest garden move. All six rose bushes came through the move with flying colours, I’m happy to say:)

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Sunset over Bowen Island, looking towards Howe Sound. Photograph taken at my favourite place on the planet: Spanish Banks beach!

Looking forward to Autumn of 2018, here is a haiku by Basho, a Japanese poet who lived from 1644 to 1694:

On a leafless bough

In the gathering autumn dusk:

A solitary crow!

—Basho

And remember:

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Birks Building, at West Hastings & Granville Street, built in 1908, was originally a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Vancouver, a modern and growing city, is home to an increasing number of stark-looking concrete and glass structures which, it seems to me, are lacking in beauty. With this in mind, I decided to embark on yet another “Urban Trekking” mission, in order to discover some of our oldest, most imposing buildings in the downtown core.

At the south east corner of West Hastings & Granville Street, I spotted what is now called The Birks Building, housing Vancouver’s venerable jewellery store, which we’ve always called simply “Birks”. This store was formerly at the corner of Granville and Georgia Street, in a lovely old building which has since been demolished.

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The Birks Clock, on Granville Street at West Hastings.

The famous “Birks Clock” was moved to its present location in front of the store when Birks  moved north a few blocks. Many Vancouverites, (myself included!) were relieved that this iconic clock was saved. For years, it had been a special place for friends to meet each other downtown. “I’ll meet you under the Birks clock”, we’d say, when planning a get-together.

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The Sinclair Centre, on West Hastings, at the North West corner of  Granville & Hastings.

The Sinclair Centre is actually four historical buildings which were joined and renovated in 1986. One of them is the Winch Building, built from 1908 to 1911. There is a bright and welcoming atrium in the middle of the complex.

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Sinclair Centre (please note: Canadian spelling of “Centre”. Merci beaucoup!)

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The Permanent Building, 330 West Pender Street. Gorgeous doorway. They don’t make doors like this any more!

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This was a delightful find! Especially on the grey, worn streets of downtown, it’s always a treat to discover something beautiful. Someone cared enough to use their imagination in creating this small but lovely “tableau” of living plants and a wrought iron gate. I think this is on the south side of West Pender Street, near Granville. (Note the padlocks!)

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The Dominion Building, (terracotta colour), at 207 West Hastings Street, as seen from the corner of Hastings & Homer. Built in 1910, this was Vancouver’s first steel-framed high-rise.

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Ceiling lights and decoration on the outside entrance of the Dominion Building.

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Pink Alleyway!! between Granville & Seymour Streets, just to the south of Hastings.

On the day I took this photo, there was a lively “Public Disco” event taking place.

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Inside the amazing Paper Hound Bookshop, on West Pender Street. Not just any old second hand bookstore, this one has a great selection of carefully chosen and  nicely displayed books. Notice the original brick wall, which was uncovered during restoration.

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Vintage sign discovered underneath the plaster on a Gastown store wall.

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Another original brick wall in Gastown, in The Old Faithful Shop, on West Cordova Street, decorated with a vintage Canadian canoe!

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Waterfront Station on West Cordova Street, in Gastown. Northern terminus of the Canada Line, dock and station of the Sea Bus to North Vancouver, and as you can see, a cruise ship is in port! Also the terminus for The Expo Line and the West Coast Express train.

Originally built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as the Pacific terminus for their transcontinental passenger trains from Toronto and Montreal, the station was opened in 1914.

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Angel of Victory”, statue of a fallen soldier and angel, at Waterfront Station in Gastown.

Created by Montreal sculptor Coeur deLion McCarthy, this bronze copy of the original dates from 1921.

Just to the right of the building in this photograph, you’ll see two lovely trees. Yes, we have Palm trees in Vancouver. This is the mild and temperate Pacific Coast, after all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After fifty years of crocheting, I’m still enjoying it, and recently completed yet another afghan. This “Square Medallion” pattern is started from the centre and worked in rounds, rather than in rows. Each square is edged in half double, then single crochet stitches, and finally all the squares are stitched together to create the finished blanket. My favourite pattern will always be the good old “Granny Square”, but Square Medallions come a close second!

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Perseverance seems to be the key attitude when working on any big project, and I’ve found a few helpful quotations which remind me to never give up:

It always seems impossible until it gets done.

—Nelson Mandela

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

—Confucius

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.

—Ella Fitzgerald

Keep up the old fight!

—Uncle Doug Barton (my godfather:) (thanks, Marilyn, for sending me this quote!)

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Apparently, the much-loved little dog whose family received this afghan is very happy to share it with them! Good! Afghans are made to be used, and to provide comfort as well as warmth.

Now, what shall I crochet next?

I keep on keeping on…

—Frances Crowe (fl. 1800’s)

 

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Boat#3

“Fishing Boats at Sea”, by Claude Monet, 1868

As elders, sailing on this uncharted sea, we need all the help we can get! Here are some of my favourite quotations to help us navigate the waters.

Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.

Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher, 4 BCE-65 CE

Don’t die before you’re dead.

Rachel Wolchin, American writer

It ain’t over till it’s over.

—Yogi Berra, American baseball player, 1925-2015

I’ve had a ball. And as I get older, I just become an older kid.

Jonathan Winters, American actor/comedian, 1925-2013

For those of us who have endured (and survived!) long enough to be called “elders”, sometimes there is a need for encouragement. Fortitude is a word which comes to mind, and strength. These are two attributes that help us to keep on, one step at a time.

Here’s a video of a beautiful, inspiring, and graceful elder, Maia Helles, a retired ballet dancer. Filmed at her cottage on Fire Island in the U.S. when Maia was ninety-five years of age, it shows some of the exercises she practiced regularly.

Maia passed away in 2016 at the age of ninety-nine, leaving a wonderful legacy of hope and encouragement.

It may seem cloyingly upbeat, but this blog’s stated purpose is to “focus on the good”, and on the positive. Years ago, when some health challenges came into my life, I decided to do whatever I could to be my own best coach, my own best advocate. I do experience setbacks on my “positivity” journey at times, and have to get back on track with gentle but firm reminders to myself (and with much patience from my husband!).

A dear friend once said to me, while we were on a brisk exercise walk in the neighbourhood, “Just keep walking, Val!” She meant that I should keep walking rather than stopping to look at gardens every few feet! We were supposed to be exercising, after all. As it turns out, I frequently say those words to myself, especially when experiencing the occasional bout of loss of balance. Boarding city buses can be challenging at times, so I use the mantra, “Just keep walking, Val!”, to gain momentum as I climb aboard.

“Counting” also helps, particularly when going up or down stairs. Just plain counting, 1-2-3 etc., provides a steady rhythm, a sense of security, especially to those of us who have challenges with our vision. Better to count silently to oneself than to take a tumble!

In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.

—Albert Camus, French philosopher, author, & journalist, 1913-1960

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Forget-me-not flowers in our back garden. I love their simplicity.

Take Heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This little Iris is an inspiration to me. Every spring, the flowers bravely re-appear, with absolutely no help or special care from anyone! For a small, unassuming plant, it has many names: Iris unguicularis, Iris stylosa, Algerian iris, Algerian winter iris, Winter iris.

Our Algerian iris grows from a gravel bed which is situated in a most challenging spot, nestled in amongst strong bamboo roots. It never fails to surprise me when, usually one day in March, I spot its beautiful flowers coming into bloom. This year, it first bloomed during a light snowfall back in late February, and is still blooming in early April. Never fazed, it is a little gem, and serves as a yearly reminder that spring will soon arrive!

For those of you who like plant details, here are the main points about Algerian iris:

Evergreen, rhizomatous, beardless iris.

H. to 8 in. (20cm)   S. indefinite   Almost stemless, flowers 2-3 in. (5-8cm) across

Flowers appear from late autumn to early spring. Prefers a sheltered site against a south or west-facing wall. (But ours is out in the open, except for those protective bamboo roots!)

 

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Being a port city on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is blessed with many cultures, and many people from all over the world. We have a close connection with other countries whose shores are also on the “Pacific Rim”, including China.

If you want to “escape” the rush and bustle of the city while still remaining in it, a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden will make you feel, at least briefly, that you have entered a little paradise. This glorious Asian garden is what I like to call one of the “Hidden Treasures of Vancouver”. Situated right in the middle of Vancouver’s original “Chinatown”, the garden is a true gem. See the link above, under the first photograph, to read more about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which is located at 578 Carrall Street.

On the day I took these photographs, my camera played a wonderful trick on me, and turned everything a beautiful shade of blue! Sometime in the future, I’ll do a blog post about how I acquired my camera, an older Olympus, as a gift from a friend. The gift came with no instructions, so I just learn as I go along with it, which is fun and challenging at the same time. I decided to post my blue pictures, and hope you enjoy them. Blue is such a soothing, peaceful, calming colour!

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Next week, February 16th will be Chinese New Year, celebrating the Year of the Dog.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boat #2

“The Sailing Boat, Evening Effect”, by Claude Monet, 1885

I’m learning that the process of growing older is an art form, and letting go of some things is part of the artistry. When we create a painting, or take a photograph, it’s the empty spaces that help to define the work, giving it balance and making it beautiful, or at least meaningful!

Life is all about dismantling what’s unimportant. Then you can see what’s really valuable.

–Lilo Raymond, photographer (1923-2009)

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“Still Life with Pitcher”, photograph by Lilo Raymond

It’s never easy to give up certain activities, people, books or objects that we’ve loved in the past. For example, I’ve had to let go of riding a bike, due to certain physical constraints. But I can still walk, thank goodness! I’m in the process of choosing which activities to hold on to, and which to say goodbye to.

Gardening is a blessing, and I’m hoping to follow in my Dad’s and sister’s footsteps, and putter in my garden for as long as I possibly can, as they did.

The luckiest among us drift into old age within the garden. Bones, muscles and sinews may begin to complain, but the passion’s still there: so much still to do, so many possibilities still to explore.

–Des Kennedy, from The Passionate Gardener–Adventures of an Ardent Green Thumb, (Introduction, page 6)

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Dad’s & Lois’ Geraniums (Pelargoniums) on the deck, summer 2017

Every year, in early autumn, I cut back all fifteen to twenty of my geranium plants (Pelargoniums) and re-pot them, then bring them into the house to overwinter until the spring. Even though some gardeners look disdainfully on these plants, I love them! For one thing, they brighten up the deck, and in my mind, add a little Mediterranean colour to the garden. I inherited some of my geraniums from my Dad, and sister Lois, after they passed away, making my connection to these much-loved plants quite sentimental.  Pelargoniums are among the easiest plants to grow. They just have such a strong will to survive! Cuttings will root easily in a jar of water, with no problem.

As I mentioned in the first post entitled “Beautiful Elders—Sailing on an Uncharted Sea”, acceptance of changes is so important as we age.

Here’s a link to the original post:

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/?s=Beautiful+Elders

Some changes we go through are of our own choosing, and some are forced upon us. Accepting what we are not in control of, or cannot change, is not easy, but does aid us in moving on with our lives. This is a quotation from Albert Einstein which surprised me:

I claim credit for nothing. Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables,or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

–Albert Einstein, from: The Wisehart Interview, 1930

And Albert was a respected scientist! What a relief to think that we do not have to try to control everything! And what a relief that we can let go of some of the things we used to do.

The above quotation can be seen as stemming from Einstein’s determinism: the philosophical proposition that every event, decision and action is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. See:

http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_determinism.html

Don’t look back, you’re not going that way. (as in the title of this post)

–Mary Engelbreit

Dont Look Back

Illustration by Mary Engelbreit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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