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.

11.1  DT Van w Stanley Park 1970s11.  Burrard & Cambie Bridge 2015

Downtown Vancouver in the 1970’s and today

As you can see industry once ruled the waterfront.

2.1.  Quebec & Terminal 1970s

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

2.  Science World 20154. Science World 2

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.

10.  Burrard & Cambie St. Bridge

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

6.1  DT Van 2015 312.  Cambie Bridge today 2015

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.

9.  DT VAn looking north 2015

8.1  DT VAN 2015 2

The Vancouver Skyline today is slowly obliterating the mountain view 

37.  Burrard St Bridge 2015

View of Burrard Street Bridge from Granville Island

1.  2nd & Cambie 1970s

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

Granville Island 1971

Granville Island 1971 was a rough area at that time. 

Granville Isle 2Ferry Terminal

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

Granville Island at nightMarket shote

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.

Science world and BC Place 201516.  DTES, False Cr, Georgia Viaduct at Quebec & Main street

Quite the change to False Creek. 

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DT Granville Bridge 201533.  FC looking East

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

PC & Hotel Georgia 2015New Hotel Georgia 2015

The Hotel Georgia 

Hotel Vancouver 2 2015Hotel Vancouver 2015

Hotel Vancouver

The Hotel Vancouver, downtown Vancouver

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8th & Columbia in New Westminster

Commercial & napier thne and now

Commercial Dr. & Napier Street, Vancovuer

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1st & Clark Street in Vancouver

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Commercial & Broadway looking west

32.  False Creek, Fairview & Granville Island at Lamey's Mill Rd.21.  Downtown 1970

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.

 

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Oil and Water…They Just Don’t Mix


duck 4Whales 1

 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?

Heron 1

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.

Whales 3Whales 4Whales 2

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.

Otterduck 3Duck 2

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

Bulk Carrier

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

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

Gulf Coast Struggles With Oil Spill And Its Economic Costs

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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.

Paris-Pollution

Beijing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archival photos were obtained from Flckr.

The following is in regard to False Creek:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enlish Bay 19096085430331_d2a9022335_z6077703925_85dcff26e6_z

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

Vancouver Courthouse 1930Vancouver Courthouse (VAG)Vag 2

 The Vancouver Art Gallery began has the city jail.  It still has cells in its bowels with brick walls a few feet thick.  It later became the courthouse and in 1983 has been the Art Gallery.
Vancouver Opera House (now Orpheum)orpheum-granville
The Vancouver Opera House and its subsequent transformation to the Orpheum Theatre.
Kitsilano Beach 1960kits 2
Kitsilano Beach and Pool then and now
Vancouver AirportVancouver Airport 1965Vancouver Airport 1950VIA
The Vancouver International Airport is growing every year.
Victory SquareVictory Square looking north 1913Victory SquareVictory 2
Victory Square through the years where all Remembrance Day ceremonies are held.
Hastings St., looking westHastings at CambieHastings at Cambie2
Looking west on Hastings Street from Cambie Street.  The Marine Building was at one time the tallest building in Vancouver.
Second Narrows Bridge No 1"Yamahide Maru" under both RR Bridges at 2nd Narrows6475192929_f2fb850bb8_z
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. 
Granville St. Bridge looking north6407149829_be1c8929d5_zGranville b 2Granville b 1
The Granville Street Bridge in her many transformations.
Burrard st. 3Burrard st2Burrard st. 4Burrard st 1
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. 
Davie Street looking south from Denman St.Denman & Davie2
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!

 

Babies and Birth: The Birth of People, Ideas and a Book


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Last Saturday I attended Claire’s baby shower.  I am so very excited for her!  She is totally warming to the idea of motherhood now and getting rather giddy to boot.

I could see that there was a little fear in there too.  I wanted to tell her that this is a very normal response.

When the idea of a new life being born to this world hits a new mother, it can be a very powerful experience mixed with every emotion imaginable and a boatload of hormones to boot.

Claire will be just fine.

I then got to thinking of all the wonderful people I’ve met since I began writing in earnest, Claire being one of them.

She is one of the first people to have read any of my work.

heads up

I had joined up with the New Westminster Writers Group in early February 2011 which was a critique group.  I hunted about now wanting to find another group that would provide additional information on the whole writing thing.  I found the Vancouver Writers Social Group and joined in March of 2011.  They would get together and discuss various topics.  I liked this and found it was the balance I was looking for.

While I had written all my life I can say in all honesty I really didn’t know anything about it.  When terms such as ‘steam punk, fan fiction’ and the like were bandied about I had no clue what these were.  So I listened.  Claire offered to give me some feed back on the memoir I had begun so I sent her the first chapter then met with her a week later at a coffee house near her home.

I was prepared to be critiqued.  After all this would provide additional guidance on this project I’d begun.  She looked at me rather resolutely and stated “I really like how you write.  You could possibly have a best seller here.”

I was absolutely stunned by her comments.

And it occurred to me then that perhaps I was good at this writing thing after all.

stories

The year of 2011 was a year of major breakthroughs on so many levels.

What I’d previously considered impossible now held merit and plausibility.  I needed to explore this further.

2011 was also a tough year emotionally.  I was stepping up to own those painful truths that I had denied for the better part of my adult life.  I was taking chances and stepping out of my comfort zone in a big way.  I discovered that my ‘comfort zone’ is simply what I’m used to, what I know and what I come to expect.  It can be a very stifling place to remain in.

Stepping outside of this mindset was the best thing I could have done to assist in my personal growth at that time.

I had to break down a few walls along the way though.

There were opportunities aplenty to change my mind and return the mediocrity of what I had known.  I teetered on this point several times.

But finally it was time to find out what was indeed on the other side of the mountain and my curiosity pushed me over the edge.

2011 was the ‘All or Nothing’ year.

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I just wanted to feel again.  I didn’t want to over analyze or question…I just wanted to experience this life fully and without inhibitions.

And I remember the night I started to write the book in true sincerity and with vision.

I’d chatted for years about penning a book.  There were many starts of fictional novels.  I started a journal back in 2004.  In a light blue duo tang folder I put a package of 200 line sheets in it.

On the over I wrote “Welcome to the Human Race:  With This In Mind”.

It took me seven years to write 100 pages of longhand.

On that January night in 2011 I reached a serious crossroad.   I’d been out with my friend Kathy and we’d had a conversation that would ultimately resonate so deeply that it propel me to change how I was living my life.  That evening I sat in the corner of my bedroom where the computer was originally set up and with a glass of red wine in had and pile of notebooks and such decided it was time.

By July 2012 I’d finished the first draft.

And it was meeting so many other writers, Keith, , John, Gareth, Amber, Jonanne, Perry, Peter, Sonya, Issac….just to name a few that propelled me forward wanting to improve my skill set.

jack

Claire’s initial affirmation was a major boost for my confidence and to continue on.

In the last five years I’ve finished and published my first book.  I’ve posted about 540 articles on this blog of mine and am developing six other writing projects.  A trilogy of the fantasy fiction variety exploring the evolution of the Written Word; an erotica fictional novel with the exploration of how we arrive at our sexual preferences at the core; a murder mystery and of course a romance.

This should keep me busy for a couple of years.  I also started my own publishing company and do hope to work with other writers as well.

Like all newborn’s there will be few slips and stumbles along the way.  That’s how we learn and grow.

I’m looking forward to meeting Claire and Denis’ little one.  Soon…

Peace.

 

The Responsible Writer…


forgiveness

I got together with my writing group tonight.  The topic for tonight’s discussion was a provocative one.  It had in fact sparked a weird conversation on the Meet-up site. I had found the conversation rather amusing in that obscure and animated manner that we at times come across.

The topic for tonight’s discussion was the role of the ‘responsible’ writer.

An interesting notion regarding the ethics of what we write and how they impact the reading public.

Certain things were declared to keep us in the realm of respectability regarding our writing.

One was to not take a real person and fictionalize their life in a derogatory manner.

The second was not to be deceitful. Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine’ was used as an excuse as apparently not all the things in that movie / documentary? were factual.

Still, sometimes you have to stand back and look at the message….yes?

Drive the point home by whatever means but some felt he’d been rather deceitful in the execution of telling the tale.

A lot of questions sprang to mind as I listened to the views expressed.  We all agreed that journalism is held to a very different standard than your run of mill book.

And it should be.

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The term ‘literal truth’ was a raised a few times and I sat considering what meaning this held.

It is a factual term that cannot be disputed. For example the Moon circles the Earth every twenty-eight days.  It is a literal truth that is a proven fact and cannot be altered.  Now that I had reconciled it’s meaning in my head then came the ’50 Shades of Truth.’

And I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  This particular book was mentioned a time or two as well tonight.

While almost everyone and their dog that I have spoken with will tell you how poorly written it is, I ask you this?  What then was the appeal?

To say that a lot of bored housewives were out there smacks of a certain duplicity and insults women in general.

I read the first book.  Didn’t like it.  It was billed as erotica and in truth it was a poorly written romance.  Nothing more.

But I will take my hat off (if I wore one) to E.L James.  She sold this book through brilliant marketing.  Sex and controversy!  Hell, now that is combination that is irresistible.  Get the public curious and they will take note.  She also used social media much to her advantage as well.

I can recall when Michael Jackson wrote ‘Moonwalk’.  The lead up to the release was hyped to the max and ‘promised’ to give us the skinny on the ‘gloved one’ in his own words.

Personally it was a disappointment for me.

Michael was trying to sell a story he’d been parroting for years and in many ways it read as though he was trying to convince himself as well. I didn’t buy it.  And it made me sad.

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The responsible writer…provocative.

What if a woman writes about her love and adoration for her husband who happens to be extremely abusive and controlling to the outside world?  Does this set a poor example for our youth?

If a woman is raped in book and confesses to ‘liking it’ what message does this convey?

At the age of 12 or 13 I slipped beneath the covers with flashlight in hand and read my father’s copy of ‘The Happy Hooker” unbeknownst to him until I was caught.  Back in 1970 I wasn’t too certain what much of what I was reading meant, but I can assure you I was not inspired to go out and fuck a German Shepard.

We need to respect that our children are not mindless sheep who will believe everything that they read.  Also we must infuse a sense of kindness and love in them and teach them by example.

Mark Chapman read “Catcher in the Rye”  It triggered something in him and he killed John Lennon.

Is the book at fault?

No.

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Mark Chapman was mentally ill and unfortunately the object he fixated upon was a brilliant musician.  I love John Lennon’s music. His gift of song spoke to me on such a personal level.

There are many who condemn him for being and an abusive asshole.

I do not condone this type of behavior.  What  I saw was a man trying to change, wanting to be a different man, wanting to be better.

I have not always been the lovely woman I am today either.

John was not afforded certain opportunities as his life was cut short.

In high school we read two books back to back in social studies.

“Mein Kampf” and “The Diary of Ann Frank”

Quite simply the lesson was ’cause and effect’ intimately woven together and it was an incredibly powerful lesson.

One was the progression of an intelligent and extremely impotent and insecure man who was falling into the obscene and frightening belief of his own myth that he had created becoming the epitome of evil.

The other was the beautiful innocence of a girl hiding in an attic with her family experiencing the tender chutes and passions of youth only to be discovered and effectively killed.

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I have always been fascinated by the human condition and what we choose to accept or reject.  We can alter our memories particularly those that are extraordinarily painful. We can press them back and deny them simply because they are too raw and savage.

Human kind has a dark history in this regard.  Through the ages the manner by which we’ve killed our own is truly disturbing.

And it continues.  Atrocities still exist.  I see the intolerance that hate has blossomed into and the false bravado these  men try to wear.  Very sad.

Young people are taken at such a young age and fed a litany of propaganda that they later act upon.

Think about this.

cirillo w dog

We tell our children there is a man named Santa that comes every year and flies about the world in a sleigh pulled by eight magical reindeer and delivers a gift to each and every child.  Mall Santas’ sit listening to each child’s wish list and Canada Post will even send a child a letter back if they’ve written to the North Pole.

This is of course isn’t harmful to them, is it?  There is a sweetness to it.  Oh they will eventually grow up and know that it’s not true and when they have children of their own they too will carry on the myth of Santa.

I am simply using a very base example of how myth can affect the mind of a child as I can well recall laying in bed on Christmas Eve wondering if Santa would come.  For a time I believed.

Now think of how they take young boys in the middle east and feed them fear, conditioning them to close their minds and only accept a ‘truth’ bound in darkness.  Because to raise a child up believing that by forfeiting their life serves their ‘god’ and a higher purpose is truly tragic.

What I took from the meeting this night was more in keeping with free thought, free speech and the responsibility to ensure we always have it.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Game


January 10, 2015

The man

There was a hush as I entered the pub today. All eyes were focused intensely on the football game that is unfolding on the multitude of TV screens that surround me. Five are within my gaze.

Navy blue and lime green beat a familiar pattern across this place. We’ve got a few Seattle fans up here in B.C.

Seattle Seahawks are blazing a path toward their second Superbowl championship in as many years.

Richard Sherman

The egomantics of this prize are inflated far beyond that of Good Year Blimp, of this I am certain, and for that reason I find myself contemplating sport in general. It makes me wonder about entertainment and our demand to be fed this litany of sport, movies, gossip, celebrity, etc.

Oh, I like my hockey. If the playoffs are on you can bet I’ll be curled up with a brew or two cheering on the home team.

I’ve never been much for football, however, or UFC, or golf, or tennis, or….

Several years ago my daughter I went to see the movie ‘Friday Night Lights’.

It was based on a high school football team in a run down Texas town that had seen better days. The opening shots of that movie had and still do have an impact.

The camera pans through a ghost town of run down shops sadly in need of repair. It is something of ghost town it would seem and then you see the signs.

‘Closed. At the Game.’

Then the camera leads you just outside of this ugly little town to this state of art football arena that looks so glaringly out of place. All of the townsfolk have conjoined to cheer on their team.

stadium

Young men who can’t read are hoping for a college scholarship. Those not as talented are just hoping to get laid more than a few times by more than a few women.

(News Flash: Sherman is having a hissy fit about what, I cannot say at 6:08 PM in the 2nd quarter of the game. Seattle is up 7-0 with 11:03 left in the 2nd quarter)

Remember, you heard it here first folks!

They have seismology equipment on site as last weekend out at the University the roar of the crowd was recorded at 1.3 on the Richter scale. Again there is that desire in the States to pay homage to these demi-gods of theirs (a.k.a. football players).

We put so many people on a pedestal, don’t we?

My daughter and I chatted about this today. It is a human thing I suppose. I’ve had my crushes, my sweet desires. We all do.

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I’ve driven the streets of Vancouver with my daughter hanging from the passenger’s window waving a white flag to honour the Canucks in their run for the Stanley Cup.

(News Flash: The game is now all tied up at 7-7 at 6:16 PM)

This is not a new behaviour in the human equation. We have a certain blood lust born to us I believe. Think of the gladiators back in Roman times. No doubt there have been any and all manners of ‘sport’ over the years to entertain the masses.

We look for those heroes who will suffer mightily for the benefit of those (us) who adore and hold them and their suffrage to the highest esteem and in the efforts that have been made.

They seek to be our champions and we make them our legends.

Until the next best thing comes along.

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(News Flash: Seattle just scored another touchdown so with under 5 minutes in the 2nd half, they are up 14-7).

I guess these days I find we ever more caught up by these stallions, by these showdowns, by these events that are marketed to the max.

Hell, it brings in millions upon millions of dollars in revenue to local economies. Restaurants, pubs, sport shops, etc., well they live for this stuff.

A story on the news last night noted that the Seattle Seahawks were outselling the Vancouver Canucks in paraphernalia.

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Big news?

And 12 people were gunned down in Paris, France along with 4 hostages on the following day all in the name in Allah?

Why?

A satirical magazine published a less than favourable depiction of Mohammed moving what…I don’t know.

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And I felt so deeply saddened by this. What is happening to us?

That these ‘terrorists’, ‘religious zealots’ or whatever it is we are calling them these days are so entrapped in their fear and hate that they so firmly believe that ‘their’ God endorses their actions is not only sad and devastating, but it’s heartbreaking.

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Tell those in the U.S.A. that carrying guns (which is written into their constitution) doesn’t make them safer and if fact causes more harm than good and well…you’ll find your self on list of sorts. But I ask my southern neighbors this? Did the architects of your country have an AK-47 in mind when they signed said document?

Did the idea that a gun could blow the whole of person apart enter their mindset?

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This little Canadian gal thinks not.

I believe those who fought to lay out the foundations of your country had something far simpler in mind.

Don’t give me the crap that guns don’t kill people…people kill people. Guns were created for one purpose and that is to kill.

If you can live with some little child finding a parent’s gun and killing another and justifying this, or a child who is bullied and harassed walking into a school room and blowing everyone to bits, all the power to you.

Last year I wrote a blog about a murder here in Canada. It was the 4th murder of the year or some such thing but I was devastated. One of my American counterparts commented that we were making an awful fuss up here about just the 4th murder.

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I replied the day that I was indifferent to such things would hopefully find me having passed from this life.

It’s never okay and it is never justified.

I am watching all this violence escalating, then watching movie trailers for a film about Martin Luther King Jr.

Did we miss something here?

Ghandi fasted for peace. Mother Theresa took a vow of poverty. God apparently gave his only begotten son and what have we taken from all of this?

We’ve gotten really fucking good at killing each other.

Firefighters carry a victim on a stretcher at the scene after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper,

Now we have drones.

Hell, it won’t even affect us as it won’t really seem real. Just send a little ‘bot out there to eradicate the sons o’ bitches! Kind of like playing ‘Slaughterhouse’ or whatever video games we’ve developed to keep us ‘entertained.’

The lost art of conversation, the lost ability of human interaction?

We claim to adhere to love and forgiveness then trash the next set of misguided beings that are out to avenge their God.

High School kids sit in a booth in a diner texting each other. Look up. See the person…and try talking to them.

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And I’m feeling this odd disillusionment in what surrounds me.  In my mind it doesn’t seem that hard or all that difficult.

Just love.

A boy places flowers outside the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket near Porte de Vincennes

And at halftime the Seahawks are up 14 to 10 against Carolina. It is 6:57 PM.

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.

In Rememberance….Postcards from the Past


I’ve taken on a labour of love as of late.  I discovered that I was in possession of several old photographs, some more than a hundred years old of various family members…many of whom sadly I don’t know.  I began scanning them into the computer and then running them through the program Adobe Lightroom to restore them to some degree and this has proved to be very successful!

I also want to be able to put together a package for family members as well.

Then came the curiosity of trying to discover who it was that was in some of these photos.  I accessed a few of the genealogy sites and had some success.  However these site are not always easy to navigate.

Yesterday I attempted to discover some information regarding my Grandfather Pilling’s time in World War l and my father’s time in World War ll.

I have documentation as to one of the regiments my father was in any yet when I entered the information then checked that I was only interested in Canadian records, the result was 97,000 possibilities, many of them from the U.S.

The same issues with my grandfather, though I don’t know what regiment he was in, I do know he was stationed in France during 1916 and 1917.  What I wanted to do yesterday was to put together a commemoration of sorts for both my father and grandfather respectively in remembrance for November 11, 2014.

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Grandfather Arthur Pilling, circa 1916 stationed in France.

I came across four postcards that are now close to 100 years in age.  They were sent by my grandfather to his parents during the war.  Beautifully embroidered with intricate needlepoint with the fabric then glued to card stock that is incredibly strong.

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Postcard No. 1: The intricate detail is just amazing

 

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Back of card: CHRISTMAS 1917

 

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Postcard No. 2: The detail again is remarkable.

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Back of Card: 16th September 1916 Dear Parents, Just a line to let you know I am quite well. Hope you are alright. I just got a letter this week, will reply tomorrow. I have halfday holiday today. How do you like this? Best love from your son, Arthur

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Postcard No. 3: This one is just gorgeous and the detail incredible.

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Back of card: 1917 Dear Mother and Dad, I am sending you these cards wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. From your loving son, Arthur

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Postcard No. 4: Again I am amazed at the detail of these items.

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Back of card: CHRISTMAS 1916 From Arthur to Ma and Pa From France

 

My father was a young man when World War II broke out.  In 1942 he would have been just 17 years of age.  He joined the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers.  From my research this was a volunteer program that was set up to have men familiar with their respective areas patrol them in the event that our shores were invaded by the enemy.

I cannot imagine the fear and paranoia that must have been rampant at this time.

My father also served eight months active duty in the army overseas.

The PCMR disbanded September 30, 1945 at the end of World War II.  Below are the discharge papers of my father who was also a Ranger Captain.

 

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My grandfather was part of a team of men who opened up the first Royal Canadian Legion up in Gibsons Landing, BC.  These were social clubs that were established for Vetrans.  I believe that they were instrumental for the those coming back from the horrors of war to have a place where their experiences were understood.

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My grandfather Arthur Pilling is in the first row, second from the right.

I can’t say the exact date of this photo, though I will go out on a limb and suggest that it was in the 1920’s.  Then in the 1940’s land was donated and larger Royal Canadian Legion was built.

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Site of the second RCL. My father Arthur John Pilling can be seen sandwiched between the two drummers. My uncle with the rosey cheeks and winning smile is just to the right of the drummers centered in front of the boys that are kneeling down. My grandmother and grandfather are pictured in the back row to the far right.

I wonder sometimes what both men were like prior to going to war.  I wonder sometimes had they not ventured into warfare how their lives may have differed.  Below is a photo of my father at about eight years of age with my grandfather up in Gibsons, BC.

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In remembrance to all those who have served and paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we know today, may we never forget.

 

 

In Search Of….


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I took this in New Westminster in Queen’s Park

In a week I’ll be heading  back into training again and I will continue to share my journey with you.  It is my hope that I can improve my physical well being enough so that I will feel confident in training for the 1/2 Marathon that will take place in May 2015.  The 1/2 Marathon running clinic will begin in January.  I’ve got to shake off these shackles that smack of defeat.  I’m a hell of a lot tougher,  stronger and resilient than the ravages of cancer treatment.

I’ve been in an oddly reflective mood as of late. After discovering that one of my bosses’ is in fact my fourth cousin and I’ve been considering this thing we call family.

Family ties became damaged then non-existent at an early age for me. When I was a little girl I believe we interacted with family members on a regular basis.

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Cousin Mike & me at age 4

The violence in our home, however, and the acerbic attitude that my father often displayed resulted in a string of damaged relationships that unfortunately he never tried to mend.  The trickle down effect was that my sisters and I were estranged from extended family as well.

By the age of fourteen I had very little contact outside my immediate family.

I got into this thing of sending out Christmas cards, however. That became my way of letting extended family know that I was still on this planet and that I still thought of them and wished them well.

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Our dog Trixie, sister Norma & Me

I may not have seen you for twenty some odd years, but guaranteed you’d receive that seasonal greeting from me.

I’ve carried on with this tradition of mine for some 35 years or so.

I get that our family has known many tragedies. It’s tough to bond with people when they are in crisis. I know this all too well as the majority of my youth was spent in this mindset.

Hell, I didn’t even like spending time with me…

And how the fractures and traumas that occur within a family affect each of us can vary quite dramatically as well.

I pulled out all these photos that I’ve never really taken a particularly good look at. My dad’s girlfriend had inherited his estate, whatever that was, and upon her death her son Mike showed up and dumped broken bowling trophies, a moth eaten blanket my grandmother had made and grocery bags filled with old photographs that were in very bad shape along with my father’s ashes on my kitchen table.

I tucked everything away, including the ashes. I’d deal with it all in good time.

Nine years later and here I am peeking through these images and I think I appreciate them more now than I would have back when they first came into my possession.

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From left:  Gr. Grandfather James Pilling, John, little Arthur (my grandfather), Annie, Emma (Gr. Grandmother), Walter & Ellen

There was a framed image that had been haunting me. Today I discovered it was the Pilling family. In it, my great grandfather, great grandmother, my grandfather and his siblings. The photo was taken circa 1905-07 or thereabouts.

The Pilling clan dates back to the 1,700’s in the Yorkshire vicinity of England. I do know that we came over during the Battle of Hastings in 1066 from Normandy.

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Gr. Grandmother, Emma Pilling (Burrows)

As I researched these people, a part of me became incredibly curious about them. What were they like? What moved them?

My great grandfather was a carpenter. The photo of the family is so very proper. The oldest boy, John, died at 25. Another son, Albert, who was born in 1886 died the same year.

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Gr. Grandfather, James Pilling

There were tragedies just as today there still are, but then you have those moments when you just rise above it all. I found myself wondering about each individual and if they were happy. Had they been given the opportunity to garner an education? Were they pursuing their hearts desire?

Then I ventured off looking at my mother’s side of the family. I had thought my grandfather’s name was Andrew. It wasn’t. It was Andres Carl Erikson.

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My mother, Sylvia Pilling (Erikson)

Born in Iceland in 1888, he also was in World War l as was my Grandpa Pilling. On his paper work for entry into the War, they asked what his trade was. He wrote that he was musician.

My mother spoke fondly of how well he played the violin. There was a twenty plus age gap between my Grandma and Grandpa Erikson. He died just before my birth.

There was something very poignant about listing his ‘trade or calling’ as a musician.

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I took this in when I was in NY in 2011

There is not much information on this side of the family. My grandmother was Gudrun Jonasson. This was shortened to Runa. To her grandchildren she bore the Icelandic title of Uma (grandma).

She was a sweet and good woman.

The memories that I do have of my grandparents is often in shadow. Fleeting glimpses of our time together peek out at me.

I can recall making cinnamon rolls with my Grandma Pilling. She told me I would be a great cook because I didn’t rush.

I remember going to the horse races with my Grandma Erikson. She bet $2 on every horse and was so excited when she won. She was also a huge fan of $1.49 on Tuesday at Woodward’s Department store which no longer exists.

It is these little pockets of endearment that I hold so jealously close to my heart as there is a little bit of me in them.

My Grandfather Pilling took us out fishing on his boat from time to time. Once a squall was coming and he sent us below decks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick. The roiling waves turned my stomach into mush

At times he seems so strict, then he’d give you wink.

There were at times so many underlying messages filtering through. They were shaping me, directing who I would become.  Yet, sadly, I didn’t really know these people. Not really.

My time with them was surface time. Not a lot of depth. This was also true of the relationship I had with my parents.

When mom passed I sat with the reverend who would be officiating at her memorial. He asked me several simple questions  about her. Things that I should have known. Her favorite song, favorite colour, how my parent’s met, what her career desires were, etc., etc., etc.  In truth I didn’t know.

This woman who had birthed me was in many ways a stranger as was the man responsible for the other half of my DNA.

And with this awareness and admission came a very deep sadness.

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I took this just a few months back in August down at English Bay in Vancouver

Today as I stared at the people in the photographs it occurred that I should have known the connection. Were family stories told and embellished over the course of time?

The young boy whose arms are crossed defiantly across his chest was my grandfather…should I not have seen a bit of myself in his persona?

And I think that had I been told about them, had their stories passed along, had I felt that bond to these people a little more intimately that maybe, just maybe the search for self would have been a little easier.

Then again, that’s an awfully bold statement to put on those who’ve come before. Perhaps the honesty in this life is to really just appreciate who you are at any given time in your life and to accept and challenge to yourself to be the best person possible.

I know who I am now and I thank those who came before me.

In the human condition we can only offer our own experiences, yet what of the hopes and  dreams transferred to me through the code of genetics  and DNA and memory.

You are living your life influenced by those you’ve never known to satisfy what was unattainable to them.

Provocative thought.

And on that note I’ll say good-night.

 

 

 

 

The Human Condition


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The poster showcases a muscled beast of man with a shaved head and a trophy belt tossed over his shoulder as if it was merely an after thought. The expression, while shadowed, appears remote and angry, yet oddly defeated?

It is flanked by a framed sketch of a whipped latte and a cup of coffee.

The poster seems oddly out of place. Still, in this hang out of mine there are many contradictions.

I, myself, am one in many ways.

The balance between sinner and saint really is non-existent yet I foolishly try to sell this world this odd combination of what, I’m not too sure. I think I’m fooling myself more than anyone else.

And to what purpose?

It is simply a fact of being human I suppose.

I’ve been inflicted with this condition you see…no way around it. Some manage the human condition better than others. Then again it is dependent on so many infinite combinations, is it not?

The consumption of my meal is taking place as I listen idly to the conversations that are filtering through around me.

Germany apparently started both world wars. Ah yes, the quest to dominate, to run the whole show. Unfortunately far too many have sought that narrow minded way of thinking.

What is the imagined prize I cannot help but wonder.  Power?  Control?

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Our waitress prattled on at the table behind me about ‘Fright Nights’. The thrill, the excitement, the fear, the fun!

‘Fright Nights’ is basically our local fair ground reconstructed with Haunted Houses to celebrate the season of Halloween.  Oh yes, it has indeed become a season albeit a short one.

Staff members are dressed in grotesque costumes with frightening makeup and chase you about or jump out at you hoping to scare the bejeezus out of you.  Often they are very effective.

I’ve gone a few times.  One thing they do is turn the lights off on our glorious old wooden Roller Coaster. My friend Kathy and I went on it a few years back. They have a camera mounted to take your picture just as you make your first descend.

I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed so hard at our expressed horror. We bore the same expression with our then blonde manes practically in a vertical position upon our heads. Our eyes were wide, mouths open and the wind factor added a rather animated effect to our expression.

It was the most unflattering photo of the two of us ever and but one of the funniest.  .

I enjoyed it immensely but truth be told, I wasn’t willing to cough up twenty dollars for the damn thing.

After work today I met a woman I went to school with for a drink. She lives very close to my new place of employment so I danced across the street to the Deep Cove Brewery to sample their wares.

Impressive! Christmas giving will be full of spirits this year.

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Sharon was responsible for putting the cruise we went on earlier this year together.  And it was one of the best trips I’ve had.   And Sharon is a lovely woman.  She is in this life to live it fully and from what I can determine she’s doing a damn fine job of it.

And we make our choices on the direction we want our life to take, don’t we? Some of us do this with a great deal of clarity while many of us do this with blinders on.

Personally I’ve stumbled through this life’s journey and it has been an interesting one

At times we are all asked if we have any regrets.

The guy in the UFC poster I described earlier looks like he may have some, though it may debatable as to what the origin may be.

I love the line in ‘My Way’.

Regrets, I’ve had few…but then again…too few to mention…”

Perhaps I should have regrets. But at the end of the day, I have to accept that I made the decisions and choices that I did based upon the knowledge, or lack thereof, that was available to me at that time.

Expansion can only occur when you reconcile all the emotions that have bound you and release them.

Letting go of fears that have confined you for a lifetime, beliefs that may well have been misguided and the self-depreciating manner by which we subject ourselves to is not an easy task.

I’ve the muscled man in the UFC poster, a baseball game (the World Series) and a soccer game vying for my attention in a restaurant with about eight pages of food on their menu.

Pizza, pasta and beer.

I won’t be some skinny mini, of this you can be sure. I have no desire to be cut and rock solid.

I just want to enjoy a healthy body once again so that I can enjoy all the activities that I fought so hard to have in my life.

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Pizza and beer will not assist me in this endeavour. And while I try to persuade the rest of the world that these two items should indeed be considered superfoods, I can assure you that I am not too convincing. After all it is self motivated on my part and rather delusional at best.

We like what we like, even if our arteries are hardening at the thought of it.

The question of air pollution resulting from the use of automobiles certainly hasn’t deterred our desire to drive or our love affair with our automobiles.

And while I am trying to consciously cut down on the eco footprint that I am making, I know I could do better.

Why don’t I?

The answer to this is simple. I’m human. No, it’s not a cop out. We are conditioned and I am trying to change this on a daily basis, trying to turn those habits that have been ingrained into something far more constructive and benefical.

I want to be a kinder and gentler being. Oh, there are many things I want to aspire to. There is a bombardment of stimuli, good and incredibly bad, that I and everyone else inhabiting this planet is assaulted with each day.

Dear old technology rushes and washes over us like a tsunami. Oddly, we welcome the assault.

The news about the iPhone 6 and its release to the world held my attention simply in the absurdity that people were waiting in lines over night to attain this new object

Why?

So why the fascination and the must have? Will it change your life? Make it better than it was a day ago?  Not likely.

But again, it all comes back to the human condition.

That moment of supremacy, however fleeting, when you feel you’ve got the edge on this thing we call life.

Stick that phone in the pocket of your jeans and find out the next day that it’s warped.

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Back in the 1970’s women were making a real mark on their position in this world. They were challenging the role that they had been cast in on every level. Equality, fairness in the workplace, and a host of other inequities founded the women’s movement.

Then someone whispered in a woman’s ear…you’ll be far more successful if you dress like this and look like that.

We were on coltish legs understand and suddenly those insecurities were turned inward.

Today aging is considered a disease. It can be fixed though. There is a surgical procedure for everything now.

Wrinkles? Botox

Fat belly? Liposuction.

Sagging lips? Collegen shots.

Boobs? Implants or a reduction.

And to what purpose?

How will this enhance our human experience?

I really don’t think it will.  Oh, you might well think that the $10,000 that you spent on correcting the flaws that society insisted made you unacceptable will improve the quality of life…but sadly that can only come with acceptance of who you are.

With every perceived imperfection included in this acceptance.

Last year when chemotherapy induced the departure of my hair, I stood in the shower rather fascinated by the wads that slipped so easily from my head. My daughter shaved the remainder off at my request.

I stood for a time gazing at this bald head of mine.

It was a humbling moment yet equally liberating.

How much stock I put into my daily appearance, wanting to be accepted, wanting to be found desirable, and ultimately wanting to be loved.

Nothing had changed in my personage…just my appearance. I was the same woman I was a day ago, only now I was bald.

And it’s a dramatic change in such a visual society as ours.

But I’m alive. I’ve got another day, another moment, another chance.

These days the news is filled with men dressed in black beheading their fellow man.

Why?

Ebola is raging through West Africa and as it turns its insidious direction toward our continent the tendrils of fear are building.

Why are we not sending our knowledge and medicines over to West Africa?   Why are we not trying to save these people?

Oh, government officials will stand up for posterity’s sake and say they’ve committed so much to the effort while we watch yet another diseased body being lifted onto a gurney by a people wrapped in plastic.

What the fuck is going on?

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Lineups for days for the iPhone 6?

And everything is supersized or minimized. Our manic senses need to be filled. We need to feel normal in this abnormal world. We need to find sense in the non-sensical.

I saw the image on TV.

A figure shrouded in black standing next to a man in orange who was on his knees in all his fragility. A desert backdrop lent so much despair to the situation.

I gazed at the figure in black. What struck me was that this person had never known love; had never truly experienced its power. They wouldn’t be taking off a fellow man’s head had they.

And this saddened me so deeply.

They take these boys at such a young age. Feed them hate, fear and loathing. Promise things that will never be attained.

Now take a step back. I know it’s horrific. I know they need to be held accountable.

But what are we feeding the young minds of this world?

Love, compassion, empathy?  Gotta wonder.

Be a size zero, get your masters in anything, have a line of credit to live off because you’ll be paying off your student loan well into your 40’s, then pretend that you’re not polluting the world in that 3,000 sq. ft. home you live in that you can’t afford.

And across the globe young boys are being conditioned to serve a master that detests all you believe to be good and true.

They believe if they walk into a busy marketplace and blow themselves up and take a few of the bad guys with them, they are assured with their death that 76 virgins will greet them.

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that it’s the same 76 virgins for each and ever fool who tosses the gift of life away for an angry god.

And isn’t that the crux of it all?

We all think we know, believe we’ve been shown the way, the path….

The very fact that the man in black beside the victim to be persecuted is so well covered speaks volumes.

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They know it’s wrong. Gazing into that damnable camera they know it’s insidious.

That is why they are hiding, covering themselves.

Again, it is the human condition.

And I hurt for them as much as I do for the soul who is on his knees begging for mercy, for their life as they are remembering the love afforded them. In that moment they want to be enveloped by it, wrapped in it, lost in it.

And the one to take it from them, who stands shrouded in black covets it.  Yet he’ll never admit to it.

A week ago I stood in this town of mine and watched and took some shots as we commemorated a photograph that was taken at the beginning of World War II.

A young boy broke from his mother’s grasp reaching for his father who was marching off to war.

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I am a photographer, albeit an amateur. But I know why this shot struck a nerve worldwide and still does.

There is an honesty to the anguish, to the fear….

It is the last photo of the family as a unit.  A small boy in that moment knew somewhere deep within that his life was about to be forever changed.

And as I continue to see horrific images of people dying horrific deaths, I’ve no answers.

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I got up this morning and readied myself for work.

God, it was beautiful out! The moon still flirted in her magnificence, while the clouds that lingered shone pink and a mist hung mysteriously on the river wrapping the trees in a sultry manner.

I stopped to get my morning coffee and man I see frequently was curled up on the sidewalk.

“Could you mange a coffee for me this morning?” he asked.

“ Sure. You good with cream and sugar?”

I got him a muffin as well.

We exchanged pleasantries when I delivered the goods and he thanked me.

As I drove into work, an obscure thought slipped through the grey matter.

“What if this guy were Jesus in the expected second coming?”

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How many of us see these people as being invisible?  There are so many out there now, too many.  I don’t know what brought him to this point, in his life but as stated earlier, we make our choices then we live with the results.

Still, for some, well likely for many, the road is not quite as conquerable as we’d like.

I am a bit odd in that I’ve got the tenacity of a badger and the heart of horse. I look for the good, seek the good yet I’ve known enough crap to appreciate life on a whole different level.

And we only have this day.

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I wake each morning grateful. Another shot at doing, another chance to make a difference, another opportunity to influence change?

And I’m no one special; just a woman who has far too many things running through her head at any given time.

I am preparing at 8:39 PM to head home. The ad in the bathroom stall is somewhat confusing.

Collectible plastic toys are being offered. There are 800 in all. And as I do my business I find myself saddened. Sell your condoms, your taxis, your warnings about smoking or drinking too much…but toys?

What does that say about our footprint?

Another poster of the UFC guy is hanging in the bathroom.

Pausing I look at the image. I wash my hands and leave.

Nothing much to say really. They are selling a product. One I don’t adhere to and it makes me feel sad simply because of it’s physicality and intent.

Oh, I can assure you that when I watch hockey this year I won’t turn in horror when the gloves come off.

And again, it comes down to conditioning.

I am feeling chilled. Time to head home and wrap a fleece blanket about my feet.

We only this moment.

Enjoy it.

Peace be with you always and may love always shine its light.

Learning to Exhale…..


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I have been a member of the Royal City Literary Arts Society for a few months now.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several very talented and well renowned poets and writers.

This group offers several workshops and open mic events.  This, I realized, was something I desperately needed to work on.  Public speaking is rather intimidating to me.  By the time I get up to do my piece , typically I’ve inhaled and am sweating buckets.

I remind myself to breathe and do so rather raggedly.

Seventy-four years ago an iconic photograph was taken here in New Westminster has Canada advanced into World War II.  On October 4th, 2014 a monument will be unveiled commemorating this event at the very location that the photograph was taken from.

The City of New Westminster approached the Royal City Arts Society (a.k.a. RCLAS) and asked the members to submit poems regarding the photograph titled ‘Wait for Me, Daddy.”  It was taken by Charles Detloff of the Daily Province newspaper and later that  month would make it onto page 37 of TIME magazine.

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RCLAS posted the poetry challenge to its members.   I opted to give it a shot and my submission was one of the poems selected.

Tonight we had the poetry reading at the newly opened Anvil Centre here in New Westminster.  This was apparently the first cultural event there.  Personally this would be the first ‘formal’ reading I would be participating in.

I got home from work then paced my living room reading the poem aloud repeatedly.

I have watched many of the seasoned poets in this group get up and perform their pieces.  And I thought perhaps I should try this approach.  This was only my fourth time reading and if my furniture was any indication they were captivated by my reading.  I rendered the inanimate things speechless!

Now it was time for the real deal.

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I walked over to the centre. It’s only about four and half blocks away from my home.  We’ve had several days of much needed rain, quite heavy at times, but the skies had softened and the clouds had broken as I stepped out into the evening.

As the poets were called forth with a brief bio to introduce each, I felt the nerves set in.  When my name was called I rose in my liquid state and performed the piece kinda sorta the way I wanted to.  I was a little emotional and when the paper I was holding began to tremble I just tried not to think about it and pushed through.

I was humbled by the response to my reading and very grateful for the opportunity to be part of this event.

Below is my submission.

If you would like to check out the other submissions I have provided the link at the end of this post.

Thanks for stopping by.

Phone Pics July 2014 070

Nancy Pilling

A native of Vancouver, Nancy Pilling moved to New Westminster in 2010. She is currently employed as an accountant in North Vancouver. She has had a lifelong love of writing and is dedicated to this passion of hers. It is Nancy’s desire to continue exploring the many avenues of the written word and to publish her work.

A Single Moment
by Nancy Pilling

It is a single moment captured and frozen in a frame,
A photographer’s dream,
A small piece of history now has a face, a single image and its power,
Still felt to this day,
It spoke to the agony of a people, to a nation, to the world.

The world back then was tough and gritty,
The Great Depression had weathered us all,
War now held us in its grip,
We were a young country then, just finding our feet,
Collectively we stood together.
Canada would fight for the liberties we were coming to know,
We’d fight for the vision of a country imagined in a world gone mad,
And we’d fight for the freedom that was ours to defend,
And we would do so with innocent bravado.

An outstretched hand son to father,
The line of troops in perfect symmetry,
Expressions, the angst and determination,
Emotions, the love and fear,
Immortalized as time stood still.
He lived and I wonder who walked back into his son’s life?
Was it a familiar stranger, or was it Dad?
Did he bear the confidence once shown?
Or was the gift of his time in hell
Memories of a bloody field that would haunt the rest of his days?

My father too fought in this war,
A young man, he was eighteen and so brave,
Dad’s stories were never told, he held tight to those terrors,
That hell of his remained a mystery and died with him,
But we lived his horror every day,
At least that’s the reason I’d like think as to why he turned out that way,
Maligned and damaged, so dark his soul barring the shadow of a boy who was no more.

The innocence of youth saw young men march to war who sacrificed a promised life,
What was that boy losing the day his father marched away?

http://rclas.com/waitforme#