Another Friday Night and the Sky Beckons


White whispery clouds caressed the early evening sky.  It reminded me of a lover’s breath once climax has been achieved and both settle into a warm embrace.  Gentle words and soft kisses, then the relaxed sigh as sleep envelopes you. 

I am at times mesmerized by these things that occur daily, often without notice. 

Earlier as I waited for the bus I watched the hustle and bustle of people enjoying this gorgeous summer’s eve in downtown New Westminster.

It has come a long way since I moved here. 

I watched an older woman walking with two companions up Eighth Street.  She walked with deliberate caution.  No doubt she had taken a lot of time to prepare for this outing.  Her face was powered, the hair coiffured, lipstick applied just so. 

In her youth I could well imagine her getting all dolled up and heading out to have fun on a Friday evening.  She wore heels that looked precariously dangerous to me and each step taken gave evidence that she had not done this in a while. 

I smiled remembering the last time I wore heels.  Indeed, by the evening’s end I wanted to cut my feet off as they were throbbing in protest at this treatment.

I wondered at her age.  Me, I am certainly no spring chicken as I creep ever closer to sixty.

Do I feel old?

Not in the sense that one may think.  A vehicle accident a few years ago just as I was rebounding from Cancer treatment.  The accident has affected my physical body and the trickle down effect of suddenly not being as mobile and experiencing pain daily impacted my emotional being as well.

Yet I still wake in wonder of each day that I am afforded.  Some days are better than others to be sure.  I try to find a little beauty, a little love, a little joy in each day.

At lunch, I’ll go to the kitchen in my office to prepare my mid-day meal.  A TV broadcasts the news of the day…the ongoing soap opera of all that is wrong in this world.

Experts and analysists dissect what all of it means.  Serious faces dressed in serious suites, ties and designer dresses discuss the implications and fall out of whatever else may have fallen from a certain someone’s mouth. 

Hamburg is on fire…closer to home forests are on fire.

Omar Kadr is awarded $10.5 million. 

People are furious!  Hey…he was 15 years old and tossed into Guantanamo Bay!  He was not offered the rights that should have been afforded him being that he was an underage Canadian caught up in a very bad situation. 

I for one hope he can find some peace and wish him well.  He’ll have that hell haunting him for a very long time. 

Since beginning my new job and once again taking transit, I‘ve been able to catch up on my reading.

“A House In The Sky” and “The Reason You Walk” I would strongly recommend.  I have read about five books thus far.  I lean toward memoirs. I read Tony Robbin’s latest “Unshakeable” as well and this will inspire you to invest wisely.

Still it’s when I get off the bus and witness a canvas of clouds whispering to the sky or wake to the sun kissing my toes through my bedroom window that I feel so connected with the air I breathe. 

I love when I smile at a stranger and their face lights up. 

A good friend of mine lives by the moniker ‘Kindness Matters’.  She is so right. 

And sometimes you have to just stop and appreciate the quiet beauty that is happening around you. 

 

Enjoy this day.  Spy on the sky, eavesdrop on the whispering wind.  You’ll never know the wisdom that may be afforded to you.

Have a very happy Sunday.

The Taxman Cometh…


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T-T-T-T-Taxes!

It is that time of year.  The taxman cometh and taketh away this year.  He still wants close to $2,500 from me for my personal taxes!!!

Ouch!!!

Last year was a tough one and it is still biting at my heels.  I am supposed to pay by the 1st of June 2016.  I’m going to see if I can get a ‘deferral’ for a month or two.

Seems to be the thing to do these days.

There is a loop hole in our system with regard to property tax.  Not too sure if it is just for Vancouver residents or not.

If you own a place in Vancouver for example and you are over the age of 55 years of age and your taxes are up to date, you can defer paying your property taxes…indefinitely?

The Province will apparently pay on your behalf and then when your property is sold they will take their cut.  You must have at least 25% equity in your home as well.

I was made aware of this by a fellow I’ve worked with for years.  He and his wife have clear title on their home on West 23rd Ave. in Vancouver.  The assessment on their home was just under $3 million this year.  The taxes were in the $6,500.00 range.

That is a lot.  They’ve lived in their home for around twenty years.  They both have professional designations and work full-time.

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They’ve been deferring their taxes for a couple of years now since they lost the home owners grant as the property has been assessed as too high to claim it.

Were they to pay on a monthly basis to pay off their taxes it would be $542.00 approximately per month.

The City would no doubt charge interest.  Still for two people still working this is affordable considering they have clear title it is not a hardship at all.

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Vancouver approves plan for 12 new bike lanes

(Burrard Street Bridge will no longer appear as above)

I then decided to research this.

(The following is an excerpt for Vancity Buzz)

‘A property tax deferral program is the latest way Vancouver homeowners are taking advantage of their high-value homes to make a small fortune.

The B.C. program allows residents aged 55 and older, widows, and people with disabilities to defer paying their property taxes until the sale of their home, while only paying a 0.85% interest rate. When implemented in the 1970s, it suited both the common retiring age and the stagnant real estate market at the time, but is now being taken advantage of by wealthy homeowners.

The purpose of the program is a sound one, says NDP MLA David Eby, a critic of the B.C. Liberal’s affordable housing legislation. It is supposed to ensure that seniors and others on fixed incomes aren’t forced out of their homes due to property tax increases when their home value grows. But, the program was designed in the 1970s for the realities of the 1970s real estate market, which is very different than it is now in 2016, adds Eby.

There are over $130 million in deferred property taxes each year, income for the various districts and municipalities that could be used to build roads, fund school boards, maintain parks, and pay local police and fire authorities. While many use the program responsibly – half of B.C. seniors live on $24,000 per year or less and more than 50,000 seniors are living on $20,000 or less, according to Seniors Advocate B.C. – changes in the common age of retirement means many over 55 are still making generous incomes.

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Commission, adults aged 55 to 64 made the highest average personal income of all age categories in 2011. More than half of this group own their homes mortgage-free, and there’s no shortage of them in Canada: what are called “pre-seniors” make up 13.1% of the country’s total population.

With the aging population – the number of people over age 55 by 2038 are projected to equal the populations of Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan combined – the amount of money lost each year due to the property tax deferral program will only continue to grow.

While Eby says there are flaws with the program itself, most notably that it is not at all based on proven financial need, he blames the province’s inaction toward affordable housing as the reason why the program is being taken advantage of.

New Hotel Georgia 2015

I now live in New Westminster which is approximately a 10 to 15 minute drive away and I’m fine with this.  I’ve come to love New Westminster.

Currently, however, there are nineteen schools on the chopping block in the Vancouver area, mainly on the East side.  Yes.  They want to shut down schools!

Education issues have been a problem for a long time in Vancouver.  Part of the problem arose back in 1996-1997.  There used to be boundaries set up.  You live within an area and these are the schools you could attend.

The first wave of Chinese immigrants came through and were not happy with the choices they were offered. The west side of Vancouver, which has always been more affluent, had better schools.

So the boundaries were lifted.

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It did not take long for the waiting lists to fill up at the schools located on the west side.

The demographics were changing rapidly.  Housing was being built at breakneck speeds and still is.  Back then, however, they were ripping down the quaint and beautiful homes from the 1950’s to the 1970’s and replacing them with boxes.  They all looked the same after a time.  Very little in the way of a yard with a pinkish hue painted over a flyash concrete base.  The homes were slapped together fast.  Concrete base, wood framing, insulation, plywood then a layer of flyash concrete.

Then the condo towers began to go up.  The downtown core of Vancouver was dotted with cranes at any given time.  And the buildings were becoming higher.  Where we once had a height restriction because of the mountain view the rule was relaxed and once that happened the views soon began to disappear.

The wave of immigrants soon became a tsunami.  Foreign investment continued pushing house prices up.  And those investing found every loop hole when it came to not having to pay taxes necessary to keep our infrastructure intact for things such as health care (hospitals, etc.), education, parks & recreation, and ongoing maintenance and updates on roads, bridges, sewers, etc.

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Let’s not forget the funding for all the sweet pensions handed out way back in the day as well.

Without a steady tax base coming in we began to feel the effects on the lack of available services.

Yet no one in government would admit or consider the road they had pushed us toward.  They denied that the rise in housing costs was due to foreign investment.

Just recently they are finally admitting that something needs to be done.

This shouldn’t be an issue.  Running a government body should be based on two things.  Accountability and acting in the best interests of the electorate.

This is what we take in.  This is how it is spent.

These are the short terms goals and these are the long term necessities.  And this is how we will set up the budget to:

  1. Maintain our current infrastructure
  2. To upgrade or replace our current infrastructure
  3. To provide decent and affordable housing to city residents/citizens.
  4. To maintain all levels of education and ensuring it accessible.
  5. To ensure health care is available.
  6. To ensure that transit and utilities are available at a reasonable cost.

Everything has increased.  Its nuts.  Crazy!

So many things have been privatized over the years.  Government has sold us out on so many things and continues to do so.

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Public transit, BC Hydro, BC Ferries, just to name a few.  And now they want to demolish and sell off the property for several schools.  They want to demolish the Georgia Viaduct and put in more bike lanes and sell off the property to Concord.

This saddens me to no end.

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Meanwhile I’ll call Canada Revenue Services and see if they will give me an extension on paying my tax bill.

We wait in anticipation for the proverbial bubble to burst.  Somehow when that happens, it will be those of us who live here that will pay the price.

And for those who have deferred their taxes, will they still have a home to cover the cost of what they owe the government?

I hope so.

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!

Just One Question…


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A couple of colourful Queens from last week’s Pride Celebration in Vancouver!

After toddling through my domestic duties I got out and about for a walk.

It is Gay Pride Week here in New Westminster.  Local business’ are having a competition for the best window display.

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This is where I was training prior to the car accident.  Tamer has done a fabulous job!  Love it!

I grabbed my camera and photographed the many displays on hand.

At times the pain in my back kicked in so I would just rest up for a bit before carrying on.  I’m committed now. I must keep moving, working through this if I ever want to get the life I had back or parts of it.

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It would be fabulous to be able to just go for a walk and not end up in pain by the time I get back home.

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The book store that is selling copies of my book!

I’ve been working on a series of blogs posts that I will present shortly based on the up coming elections.  We have a federal election coming up on October 19, 2015 here in Canada and south of the border they are ramping up for their election next year as well.

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I stopped a Greek restaurant for dinner then made my way home.

And I wonder why it is that some people find it unacceptable and intolerable that two people of the same sex love each other.

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Moxies on Davie St.  The party was on!

Love is and always will be the best thing anyone can experience.

I’ve lived my life very much alone.  Yes, I’ve raised a daughter, a beautiful and wonderful woman.  Yes, I have friends that I love beyond all else.

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But I never got the man and woman relationship down.  I let the scars from my youth unfortunately get in the way.

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And in my mind, if you find the love of your life then you are blessed.  Cherish it and hold it close.  Never, ever take it for granted.

Peace out!

 

 

 

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

 

Transformation…A City Grows Up, Literally!


 

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Springtime in the lower mainland finds us in the pink

Last week I began doing research on Vancouver for an article that I was working regarding the recent oil spill. It really is quite remarkable how Vancouver has in fact changed.  The thing now is the height of the buildings they are erecting in the downtown core.

Having worked in the architectural world for eight years the term ‘densification’ has been tossed about and embraced by cities throughout the lower mainland.  There is really nowhere to go but up.  At one time Vancouver had height restrictions regarding the view of the mountains.  As you will see the Vancouver skyline is being dominated by high-rise condo towers.  This is trickling into the suburbs as well.  I live in New Westminster and there are two 19 storey buildings going up.  One is on the corner from my building and the other is right next door. They are planning on building three towers down on the New West Quay which sits right on the water.  I’ve seen signs up in front of automotive shops over on Carnarvon Street indicating that application for rezoning has been made with the image of yet another tower to be built.

New Westminster has held onto many of her historical buildings.  And I am now wondering what is to become of this place?  Is New West going to follow in the footsteps of Vancouver with condo towers obliterating the river view?

The following photo essay is a then and now expose.

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Downtown Vancouver in the 1970’s and today

As you can see industry once ruled the waterfront.

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This location now houses Science World.  This vantage point shows the Georgia Viaduct at the top of the photo and we are looking at Quebec St. northbound

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This is Science World today as it sits at the mouth of False Creek. 

Industry no longer exists on this part of the waterfront and a seawall has been built along the shore line.  You can now walk from Kitsilano Beach over to Coal Harbour.  Might take you a few hours.

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Above the Burrard Street Bridge with the Granville St. Bridge to your right looking at the downtown core in the 1970’s

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The Cambie Street bridge which was built and opened in 1983 and the view of the downtown core now.  As you can see the difference over just a 20 year span is quite dramatic.

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The Vancouver Skyline today is slowly obliterating the mountain view 

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View of Burrard Street Bridge from Granville Island

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Image of the old Cambie Street Bridge.  You can see the waterfront was used primarily for industry.  This would begin to change in the late 1970’s when the city began to buy back the land and redevelop  False Creek area West of the Cambie Bridge

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Granville Island 1971 was a rough area at that time. 

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Granville Island today is a tourist hot spot. 

the old island

A shantytown was set up on Granville Island when the sawmills began to struggle during the Great Depression

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The marina now hosts houseboats and a yachts galore 

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The Mansion sits at Davie St. & Cardero St. just a few blocks up from English Bay.  It was built by Rogers who also built the Sugar Refinery.  This grand dame has served as a restaurant for many years and is currently sitting empty.  It is a heritage house though.  It is believed to be haunted.

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Quite the change to False Creek. 

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Some views of the City.  Top Left:  Downtown view from Granville Bridge circa 1970’s

Bottom Left: Aerial view of Granville Bridge circa 1990’s

Top Right: View from Hotel Vancouver looking North circa 1930’s

Bottom Right:  Science World looking East circa 2000’s

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Sunset Beach was developed back in 1977 and a photo of the Grey Whale that returned to False Creek in 2010

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The Hotel Georgia 

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Hotel Vancouver

The Hotel Vancouver, downtown Vancouver

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8th & Columbia in New Westminster

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Commercial Dr. & Napier Street, Vancovuer

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1st & Clark Street in Vancouver

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Commercial & Broadway looking west

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Industry in the City circa 1970’s

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The Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson St. 

Ocean Concrete

This is one of the few industries that still remains on Granville Island.  They have worked very hard, however, to conform to keeping their business practices environmentally sound.

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Commercial Dr. & 1st Ave looking East & West

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Granville Street Bridge heading North into the downtown core.

Well I do hope you’ve enjoyed this little photographic essay.  As stated I personally would like to see them slow down on the building. Vancouver’s transformation and her surrounding suburbs has been quite remarkable.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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 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.
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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.

The Time Machine


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Downtown Vancouver from the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver

I am feeling positively refreshed this morning.  Sleep was deep and soothing last night. The battle waged now won, at least for this day.

Many things have come to light in the last few days.

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Native Sculpture at Waterfront Park, N. Van

Over the last week I attended two functions that required me to get up and actually read my work to an audience.

I’ve already weighed in that this is something I must do more of.  It is imperative to develop the spoken word now.

When it was discovered a few weeks ago that I had a recording feature on my cell phone I was quite excited. Now when this head of mine is urgently re-writing history or making up how history should have gone down, or any other number of phantom ideas that creep into it, I could take advantage of this by recording the facts of the matter that dance along my neuropath ways.

Last Friday evening I met my daughter after work.  We had a couple of drinks and caught each other up on the week that was now closing. We then shopped and latter grabbed a nibble.

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What can I say?  I’m a Pisces.

On the way home I decided to try recording a few thoughts and ideas on my phone. I could transcribe it later.  All those cool and sometimes heartfelt things that run through my grey matter could now be captured in the moment.

Of course the mood would have to exist.

And so I pulled out my phone to record any worthwhile bit as I walked back to my vehicle having now parted ways with my daughter.

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It was warm out and at 9:45 PM no jacket was required. The party crowd was beginning to emerge onto Granville Street. Young people already well into their cups ready to get down and party to the wee hours.   This is a Grad weekend for many as limousines’ snaked through the streets with excited teens hanging out of the windows screaming strange obscenities.

Their life before them is simply the joy at this moment that school is now finished. Most are not thinking past that.

I moved through the streets of this city of mine unseen. Few will take note of a woman getting on in her years walking down the street talking into her phone.

And that’s cool.

Funny how this celebration has changed over the years.  In my day there were no limos and such.  Then again, I didn’t exactly graduate.  I was part of the celebration though.  I was drunk beyond imaging that evening some 38 years ago and feeling completely disconnected to my peers. My life had gone to hell at the age of sixteen.

But I digress.

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For 22 minutes I spoke into the phone rambling about this, that and the next thing.

Arriving home I decided to listen to what had been said and then transcribe the spoken word.

I’m not used to hearing my own voice. Most of the time the perception of my vocal range is that it is monotone.

And as I listened to my voice ramble in an awkward eloquence on several topics, the thought occurred, “I cannot transcribe this”.

Clarification hit then.

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There is the written word and then there is the spoken word. Two very different animals.

Were I to transcribe what I had spoken I don’t know that you would get the whole of it.

The various inflections in my ruminations could never be conveyed on the page.  Indeed I would have to take the idea of it and adjust it accordingly so that the emotion, vulnerability and wonder that at times my voice parlayed could be appreciated.

In that moment I realized I’d never recorded anything of length other than the greeting that is on my phone and the one at work.

And I there I stood feeling the rush of words beginning to surface and the need to scribble them down with this sudden insight I had fallen upon.

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And I was feeling frantic. So much I want to say but the weeks of poor sleep were crashing in on me. My eyes were begging me to close them but with a brutal resistance I kept at this.

All I want right now is to curl up and sleep throughout the night.   But the head is screaming, demanding that all that is pent-up have the opportunity to be released.

And so with mindless ambition, I just gave myself over to the page.  The words now nearly illegible as I try to bring this night back for you.

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Some of what’s been written makes absolutely no sense to me.  It was 1:30 AM and I was trying to empty the head of the words that were pounding through it.

I had the TV on in the background which I described as “sights and sounds invading my line of vision with the rise and fall of the din created.”

It sounds impressive but I think at this point I had foot in the sleep realm.  Words from the subconscious never needing to make sense.  Not really.

And on both sides now I am waxing poetic about the spoken word AND the written word. I am behaving as if I’ve discovered the one thing that will save all humanity.  But then lack of sleep can take the mind into a strange vessel.

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Make you feel as though you are seeing everything for the first time even though you know all of it intimately.  And revelations abounded.

The battle I’ve had with self as of late now making sense.  I know what the next step is.  The vision is taking form.  For now those demons of doubt have be satiated.

And my last thought on Saturday morning when I finally let sleep claim me was this.

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‘May sleep claim you in your honesty and release you with its wisdom’.