The Art of the Matter

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Paintings by Lawren Harris

I booked off an extra day from work heading into the long weekend.  I decided to have a ‘me day’ and so far, it’s been quite grand.

I began the day with a vigorous workout at my gym followed by a steam.

I cleaned up and headed over to Central Bistro for breakfast. A delightful eggs benny was served up with a goat cheese sauce rather than the traditional Hollandaise. I was asked which I would prefer and I felt like living ‘dangerously’. (Insert smile)

From there I headed over to the Vancouver Art Gallery and for two hours immersed myself in the current exhibits being displayed.

Lawren Harris is on display and wow, what a fabulous collection!

I often associate Harris’ work with the abstract mountain visages he is famed for. We often think of artist’s as being long dead before their work is appreciated, however, Harris passed away in 1970. Much of his work, that is done truly in the abstract vein and leans into surrealism, was done in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

He was also a huge influence on the Vancouver Art Gallery as he lived here for the last thirty years of his life.

I fell in love today with several of his pieces that I’ve not seen before.

‘Eclipse of Spirit’ 1958 oil on canvas was stunning. A few paintings over ‘Abstract (Storm) 1955’ took my breath away.

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Then I turned to see ‘Northern Image 1952’ inviting me to look a little deeper.

This last painting was reminiscent of the aurora borealis interpreted in a spiritual surrealism kind of way. I was just blown away by the beauty of his work.

The exhibit was done in a chronological format which was really exciting to see. Interesting to watch his progression and oddly enough as he got older it seemed his work was more familiar with his earlier productions.

I headed up the stairs to the next level which was housing Edward Burtynsky’s show ‘A Terrible Beauty’.


Three of Edward Burtynsky’s photographs from his series ‘Water

These are photographs that display our footprint on this world of ours. The title is so amazingly accurate. I found myself sitting down and staring at an image that had such an incredible beauty to it. And I found this stirred a host of emotions in me.

In one a vibrant sky, so very much alive, is in sharp contrast to the shore line below. I believe they were mining for nickel. The land had been raped of her resources and both land and water had been poisoned in the process.

And despite the fact that I was looking at a dead zone, I could not help but admire the beauty in the photograph.

What ran through my head was that ‘even in death, this planet of ours is so stunningly beautiful’.  Then I wondered if it hurt.  Surely it must have.

Then the tears threatened.

I felt the tears pushing at the back of my eyes several times. Particularly in the images that were given over to obvious decay. Sadly people are still living amongst this decay that we have created.

One of the images could well be a landscape of Mars; barren and dead. Another has blue and yellow veins of water running through it. Indeed, the images draw you in…tease the senses with their beauty only to advise later that you are viewing a dying portion of our planet.

Emotionally I began to feel the weight of it. And I sat down staring once again and trying to contemplate all that was running through me.

I had not heard of Edward Burtynsky prior to this. Now, I want to know all about him. I’ve found a hero who through his work champions this world of ours.

What is it about an image that can catch and hold our attention?  That can move and inspire us; that can tear our heart out.

The rain is pounding down outside. I made my way back to New Westminster and stopped for lunch. I wanted to unload the many things I am feeling from my sojourn at the art gallery.

I renewed my membership today. I’ve missed these stolen moments from this demanding life of mine where I can get lost in the imagery and emotion of an artist’s touch.

I don’t know what it is but so many things come alive in me. I am triggered…I find myself laughing…then near tears.

A film reel was being played on a TV screen. It was called ‘Healing’.

Red velvet curtains are drawn on an uneventful stage. A moment later a woman of advanced years steps through them. She is wearing a blue suite that appears to have been taken from the Barbara Bush collection.

Hands folded before her, she stands with an ineffectual smile pursing her lips.

And she just stands there.

I wait.

And she just stands there.

I find myself smiling now…

Still she just stands there.

I begin to laugh now. This reminds of Andy Kaufman’s ‘Mighty Mouse’ routine in some odd manner.

After standing for several minutes she turns and goes back between the curtains.

My head is buzzing. I’ve been saturated.

I gaze up at the rotunda and decide to chance taking a few pics of it. I do respect the gallery and do not ever take pics of the art work, though I would love to. Instead, I had a notebook and wrote down all the images that jumped out at me. There were many today.

This is a fabulous exhibit and I find the neurons going crazy. Wanting to paint, wanting to express…just wanting.

And through the driving rain I wondered about all that I saw today. Impressed that someone had the initiative to go out and chronicle this desecration of the world we inhabit in such a formidable manner.

He is not the first to do this nor will he likely be the last.

A river is running down the sidewalk and streets as I write this. There is life in the rain that falls. It nourishes, gives back and allows this corner of the world to be lush and green.

And I have a host of things I wish to pursue. It is days like this that reinforce the challenge.

Just like that, the rain has stopped.

I’ll head home. Get to work on my current book. I’ve been sadly neglectful the last couple of months. Try to work through some of the things that are on my plate.

But damn, what a good day!


The Whisper ( A Poem)

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At one time all I wrote was verse.  And I did it very badly.  Convinced that everything needed to rhyme I took my limited vocabulary and tried my damnedest to convey my feelings in this odd little box of adjectives, nouns and verbs.  I can’t remember where I heard this or perhaps I read it somewhere.  It was one of those obscure little tidbits that became a rather foolish thorn in my side. 

“Nothing rhymes with orange.”

How many nights did I lay in bed trying to find a word that would compliment it.  Talk about a fast track to a padded cell somewhere.  I don’t know why, for a time, I was like this.  The oddest things would catch and hold. 

In fact, I stopped eating oranges for a time because of that odd little niggling I would get.

Thankfully I finally let it go. Stopped obsessing over trivial matters that had no bearing on anything really. 

If you’re wondering where all of this is leading to it is this.  I am going to attempt to write at least one good poem per month.  Perhaps its time I added a challenge to the mix.  I’ve posted a few poems on here.  I think the last one was ‘I Wonder’. 

The challenge with this form of prose is really capturing a mood, a moment, a feeling and in brief summation getting right down to the heart of the matter.  Like any other form of writing, there are certain things that appeal to me and others that repel. 

Every art form is like that though.  In any case, I am babbling here.  Time to get on with it.  I present…

The Whisper

In night visions it came,

This frightening specter,

So succinct and subtle, deliberate in its intent.

No pain, none at all,

Just a whisper,

“Something’s not right.”

And how do you diagnose a feeling?

How do you get an odd foreboding checked out?

It was in my dreams though,

A darkness had settled…a weight,

With velvet grace it embraced me,

And a storm began to brew within,

Throughout my womb the darkness spread,

Tentacles leaching into the reservoir of my life source,

Tugging, pulling…gently at first,

Then more demanding…sinister,

The whisper became a shout,

“Something is wrong!”

Encapsulated in the comfort of quick sand,

The weight now leaden,

In my head, in my heart, in my womb,

The whisper was now a scream,

“Something is very wrong!”

A rising tide of fear,

A rising tide of panic,

“Don’t go there!”

And the heaviness…now it’s becoming unbearable,

I’m being strangled,

A war is being waged in my physical body,

In my emotion core,

In my sexual divinity,

In my spiritual realm,

“Show yourself, coward!” I screamed into the night,

The face revealed, uglier than any seen before,

And this parasitic bastard had set up shop,

The intent was clear…I knew what was on the line,

It was my life,

This cancer had invaded me,

Whispered its way into my being,

I don’t know how,

Nor why.

A beautiful life was unfolding before me,

All the haunts and pains from the past were being laid to rest,

With gentle ministrations I’d calmed the hysteria of years past,

Soothed the spirit, the mind, the heart…

Wanted only to know love, to be loved,

But into battle I did go.

The cost I would not negotiate,

A pound of flesh now forfeit,

Close to a year of battle has left it’s scars,

I drank their poison believing the necessity of this madness,

Are you gone?

Have I rid myself of you?

There is an anger, a residue effect,

I’ve been robbed, maligned, beaten,

But never defeated,

And in the dark of night the whisper comes,

“Is everything okay?”



Picture This….Part Four…Hope Springs Eternal

Spring is a time of re-birth.  The trees, shrubs and plants that were skeletal during the winter months begin to produce little nubs and then there is an explosion of colour.

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Perhaps it’s a reminder of the cycle of life.  And with each renewal our trees become taller and more robust.  Their grandeur that much more majestic than the year before.

Yet in one swift moment we have the ability to destroy them.

Oh, I know, that trees suffer from disease just as we do.  And I understand the necessity of culling the forest and the need for materials to build shelters, etc.

Should we not also be the guardians of this planet?

Perhaps at some point we were and I have to wonder when it all went awry.

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These were taken in Vancouver’s West-End a couple of days ago on a walk-a-bout on my lunch hour.  

If we are the guardians on this world of ours, perhaps it is time to shift the footprint we are leaving behind.  Take off our steel-toed boots and put on our slippers or perhaps just go barefoot.

A rather abstract analogy, I know.

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Some of the local flora that is currently in bloom. 

And in this mix I need to rebuild.  The body has gone through a major trauma.  At the end of this what will make or break me is one thing.  Hope.

Never lose it.  Always aspire to it.  Be open to it.

2014-04-08 13.41.53The delicacy of life lies in the promise that it will always carry on.  We have our dark moments, our voids.  This too, is part of the cycle.  Day is always followed by night and vice versa.

May I never tire of watching the sun rise or set.  May the beauty of a cherry blossom continue to thrill.  May I continue to enjoy the movement of running, of walking of breathing. And may love and hope eternal remain nestled in this heart of mine.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a few of my photo faves.  It is amazing how much time I actually spent going through them.  Indeed, another delightful activity.

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Enjoy your day.


Picture This….Part Three Winter in Vancouver

And winter came to Vancouver as it always does.  Typically we don’t get much in the way of snow.  The rule is that the snow stays up in the local mountains that are approximately a half hour drive by car or bus from the downtown core of the city.

An hour or so up the road from the local mountains is Whistler Village.  If you like to ski, we have venues that will accommodate.  I, however, don’t like to ski.

I tried it in my youth and hurtling down the side of mountain really holds very little appeal for me.  I have height issues, you see.  And yes, that fear became crystal clear while I was racing down an icy slope in fog that was so thick I couldn’t see three feet in front of me.

If you are wondering how I handled myself in this situation, I’ll tell you. I sat on my bum and cried.  Someone eventually came for me and walked / talked me down the remainder of the course.

As this winter settled in, I had just walked away from radiation treatment.  Halfway through I had become too sick to carry on.  After close to three weeks straight I called it a day.

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Lost Lagoon at the mouth of Stanley Park back in February 2014

It can look really beautiful outside but trust me, you’ll feel the cold.  Being on the coast we experience a very different cold.  It is a damp chill that will move down to your bones.  We didn’t have a great deal of rain in December so consequently there wasn’t a great deal of snow in the mountains as a result.  Still they managed to eke out a season and with a wet March, the local mountains did okay over Spring Break.

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The skies in winter often have a vibrancy not seen at other times of the year.  It has also become customary for residents to decorate trees in the community.  The tree above sits in a traffic circle.  

As this year began, so came the quest to gain back my health that I previously enjoyed.  It’s been a struggle.

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These are three iconic buildings in the downtown core.  From left to right, the Wall Centre, The Hudson’s Bay Co. and currently the tallest building in Vancouver, The Shangri-la Hotel

And you know, its rare…at least for me…that Vancouver ever looks bad.  Even in the torrential downfalls you’ll find an underlying beauty.

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quarmby-rainAnd so as winter came to a close, I was beginning to feel the energy beginning to return, though it has been rather gradual in its reappearance.

I’ve had the sensation of being disassembled completely but being left to pick up the pieces. I shall endeavor to continue on with my quest of seeking optimal health.

Enjoy your day.  I am going to head out to the bank and sneak a walk in.  Say ‘hi’ to a tree or two.

Thanks again for stopping by.

The Race is On


Note:  This post speaks frankly about sex.

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It was still dark outside on the drive to the gym this morning as should be expected at this time of year. As I finished up my workout though, I had the extreme pleasure of watching a beautiful sunrise. Clouds were feathered gently across a canvas of blue.  I love the colours at this time of year.

I’m still experiencing some general aches and pains.  My physical self is protesting mightily  to exercise these days, but with each go round I do feel marginally better.

My running group did a track workout last night.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  Twelve laps in and I was asking my run leader, Kristen, “Is this the last one?”

“Nope.  We have to do the warm down.”

It was a tough workout but hey, it’s not supposed to be easy.

I’ve been enjoying getting outside and taking in Spring.  At lunch yesterday I grabbed some sushi and was leafing through a local paper known as the ‘The Georgia Straight’.

Pausing, I read the first paragraph of an article on the race to find the female equivalent to Viagra.  I could feel the ire begin to rise in me.

Do we really need this?

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I understand there are women out there that don’t have orgasms.  I understand that there are women out there that have issues becoming aroused, but do we really need a pill for this too?

The idea of being artificially turned on, to make the body more physically pliable as it were just smacks of a whole host of problems to come. Bet they’ll come up with a pill for the side effects too.

Hell, they now have pharmaceutical agents to assist with your anti-depression medication.  The side-effects list is becoming quite substantial and something about the phrase ‘may cause death‘ doesn’t sit well with me.

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And I have to wonder if perhaps all the other medications that are being fed to us isn’t messing with our ability to enjoy our sexual self.

And it’s not only medications but the foods we find in our grocery stores that are full chemicals, chemicals and more chemicals.

Could the fact that as the percentage of obesity continues to rise that this too could be a contributing factor to a lacking sex drive?

Then we have stress.  The great unknown.  Or is it?

Perhaps stress is where we need to begin.  Alleviate the stresses in our lives and maybe we will begin to see some improvement.

I was never envious that men were offered a pill for erectile dysfunction issues.  I can tell you right now I would not want to be with someone who had a hard-on for four hours.  (One of the possible side effects).

And there are many factors that will affect our sexual selves.  Smoking, drinking, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet…just to name a few.  Then you have good ol’ stress.

Stress is likely the reason why you are smoking, drinking, etc.

Of course, we’re now convinced if we are going to have sex, it better damn well be fabulous!

I remember when I heard about a book called ‘The One Hour Orgasm’ I was somewhat befuddled.  It almost sounded painful to be in a state of orgasm for an entire hour.  I prefer to have a few.  They really don’t have to be drawn out.

It also sounds too complicated and I’d have to coordinate something in the mix….wouldn’t I?

I mean, it might be fun to try.  What if you came in at 59 minutes?  So close to the one hour mark!  Arrrgh!

I am being facetious.

I guess my point is that perhaps we should be investing our time in improving the human condition…not trying to manufacture a pill that will do it for us or kill us in the process.

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I see these whacked out guys that are stepping up and commandeering countries and throwing the electorate’s human rights straight to hell.  That we are still fighting for so many women’s issues as basic as education and control over their own bodies in this day and age continues to confound.

At times, I feel as if we are all moving backward as a species.  Kind of like we had our ‘Ah Ha!’ moment then stuck our heads back in the sand.

I was watching or rather listening to a documentary the other day.  It was about frogs.  I kind of came into it about fifteen minutes in.  As I was making dinner, from time to time the dialogue grabbed my attention.

The narrator was telling us about how the local government had culled these frogs.  Killed them off….well, just the females as they didn’t want them to reproduce.  Seems they were being overrun by them.

Guess what?  The male frogs turned into females.  Perhaps if they didn’t want them mating they should have fed them alcohol, deprived them of sleep, fed them Kraft Mac & Cheese then offered them a smoke.

My point, if there is one, is the natural world will correct the imbalances that exist.

I’m watching as we pull further away from the natural world.  We want everything and we want it now.

At Delaney’s Coffee Shop this morning the coffee I wanted wasn’t quite ready.  I didn’t mind waiting.  I could chat up the staff and though of how fresh it would be.  Even the simple task of making coffee has become instantaneous.

We used to have ‘freeze-dried’ instant coffee.  Just add hot water.  Of course, you had to boil the water.  Then came the automatic drip coffee maker that was just as fast in most cases as boiling a kettle and tasted much better.

We then began to roast various flavours into the coffee.  Then came iced coffees and many other things that don’t really resemble coffee any longer.

Now we have Keurig (K-Cup) coffee.  Pop in a cup…and in 30 seconds you have your coffee.

I am appalled at the waste.  We have one of these machines in the office.  I don’t use it.  This is my form of protest.  The astronomical amount of waste produced is mind boggling.  A woman who works in the office beside ours rebutted that the K-cups were recyclabled.  I didn’t bother to go into the fact that the amount of energy being used to produce these, let alone recycle them could well be use elsewhere, and that the footprint this was leaving in the waste department was huge.

We don’t want to get old. We don’t want to get fat.  We want to have a great job and go on fabulous vacations.  We want beautiful houses with more rooms than we know what to do with and vehicles that will warm our bums and park themselves while a pleasant voice tells us how to get to where ever it is that we are off to.

You get the idea.

Now we want artificially induced orgasms because they are apparently better?  I don’t know.  If, in fact the equipment is not working properly, I am sure there are ways to bring about gratification.

I mean it is one thing if a woman has undergone the horror of female circumcision or some other form of disfigurement that has resulted in the nerves being damaged.  No pill will remedy this.

Sadly, I think about how many women say they prefer chocolate to sex.  Yet, here we are racing to make a pill that will set the stage for the Big O.  The artificial aphrodisiac.

Sadder still are the women out there having plastic surgery on their vagina’s.  Yup, now the vagina has look good too.

We need to start thinking about the direction we are going on this planet.  Really think about it, because as it stands right now, we are consuming our world at an alarming rate.

In any case, it is an extraordinary day outside.  Think I’ll go snap a few pictures while it still look like this.

Thanks for stopping by.



Picture This…Part Two Autumn 2013

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Robson Street in early Autumn colours

Like the trees last autumn I lost all my ‘foliage’ as well.  I love this time of year.  The colours are just so vibrant.  That last call of life before the leaves descend to the ground.

We were blessed with a spectacular summer and as Autumn approached we continued to enjoy Vancouver at her finest.

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Colourful pumpkins and gourds now lined the shelves at local grocery stores.

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View of English Bay from Davie and Denman Street.  Finding funny in the bushes of the West End and one of my favorite coffee shops.  All are decked out in fall attire.

My feet were numb at this point due to the chemotherapy.  I couldn’t run.  I could walk though and made it a point to get out at lunch and take in my surroundings.  I was still trying to get into the gym periodically, but admittedly it was becoming a challenge.Deer Lake Morning Fog Oct 19 128

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Terry Fox memorial at BC Place

The courage of Terry Fox is forever remembered and held close in the hearts of many.  During this period every time I passed by his statue, and I made it a point to go by it often, I was reminded of his fight.  And somewhere in me I accepted the torch to continue the fight against cancer.

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Deer Lake Park on a misty Saturday morning

As Autumn began to fade to winter we were waking to some spectacular sunrises.  My photography group decided to head down to Deer Lake Park and catch the sunrise.  We all arrived at 6:30 AM on this Saturday morning.  There was a great deal of ice on the lake now and we never did see the sun come up though we were assured that it was somewhere beyond the mists that we found ourselves shrouded in.

We had a great time none the less.  Something about fog that holds a certain mystery to it.  I felt as though I were in another realm.


As October came to a close I had finished up with chemo and now awaited the radiation treatment.  My photography group went to All Soul’s Night at a local cemetery.  It was a beautiful night and an absolutely spectacular event.

I was able to witness a variety of cultures coming together to honour those who have passed before us.  There was song and music played on instruments I’ve never seen before.  I gave pause many times that night considering the importance in these events.

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And I soldiered on trying to accept what was being done to my physical self.  Kept the smile firmly in place along with the wig.  I fought on, never giving the fear that crept up an audience.

Any anger that simmered beneath the surface was extinguished.  I refused to go there.

In mid-November I began radiation treatment. This was by far the most brutal experience to my person.  And as I fought through, at times I began to feel that I was slipping up a bit.  Did I need to do this?  Was it to my benefit or to my detriment?

Oddly, I don’t know the answer to this yet.

But I need to restore my energy body.  I need to surrender to a forgiving and loving heart.  There can be no room for ill will.

I made the choices that I did based on the information that was provided to me.

I hope you are enjoying the images that I shot last year.  As stated, these are some of my favorites.  I likely took about 2,000 pictures last year.  In all of them I am trying to capture just a little of the beauty and magic of this everyday life I’ve been given.

Enjoy your day. Namaste.

Picture This…Part One Summer 2013

I’ve been rather absent from here as of late.  A lot going on in this head of mine.  A lot going on in this life of mine.  I am trying to center myself and get back on track with a host of projects. What I realized is that I have to make sure I’m healthy.  Not just physically but on every level, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, etc.

I like to head out with my camera and try to capture a little of the world that I reside in.  Because words are currently a little hesitant to make their way onto the page these days, I thought I would share some of my favorite photos that I’ve taken over the course of the last year.

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English Bay June 2013

Just prior to surgery I headed down to the English Bay which is a favorite place of mine.  I like to stroll along the surf and get my toes wet.  This little guy was totally ready for his close-up.  I was feeling quite a bit of anxiety leading up to surgery.

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Get well and the view from my sofa.

Friends stopped by to wish me well.  For two weeks I took up residence on my sofa. Short walks became a daily ritual. I had to take it easy for six to eight weeks.

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As summer progressed I extended my walks.  Queen’s Park hosts a petting zoo from May to September every year.  On one of my walks I grabbed the camera and stopped by to say ‘Hello’ to a goat or two.

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The Queen of Soul (as a Chicken)

This is just the craziest chicken going.  Love the ‘hair-do’.  This lovely chicky-poo is, in my mind, is a cross between Tina Turner and James Brown.  I don’t know if it is male or a female but talk about attitude.

And look at that head of…feathers?

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I love all the colours of summer.  I managed to get cozy with some bees.  After photographing them I was curious as to their life span.  Bumblebee queens live on average of a year.  Some of these bees live for only two weeks.  From birth they are part of a process to keep the system they are born into going.  It is basic and instinctually programmed into them.

These creatures benefit our existence in such an enormous way.  Beautiful, really!

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Honey Bee July 2013

I loved the way the light caught this little guy.  Amazing little creatures.

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I don’t know what these are called.  At times they remind me of a baby dragon fly.  I wasn’t even aware that I had captured this anonymous little creature until I downloaded the images.

I was enjoying the shadows being cast and how the foliage was proving to be so dynamic.

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As July slipped away and August pulled us into the dog days of summer I headed down to Vancouver’s annual firework’s festival with my photography group.  I haven’t done a great deal of night shooting so this was exciting.  And I once I figured out what I was doing, I just had fun.

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And as summer faded I found myself gazing at these images, amazed and in awe of the life force that surrounds me.  Of the raw beauty that exists, of the magic we are capable of.

Perhaps because of the cancer that had invaded my body, I was seeing things in a totally new light.

And I was appreciating the fragility of life but also the tough and driven aspect to it as well.

There are no guarantees.  I have this day.  Nothing more.  If I can close my eyes at the end each day with the remembrance of having lived it well, then I can ask for no more.