Canada Day at Canada Place

This is another photo op from my Canada Day 2014 adventures at Canada Place.  I couldn’t resist this shot of a baby in a stroller trying to take the family dog for a walk.

Canada Place Main Stage

Wandering around Canada Place on Canada Day, I had just come outside in front of the Main Stage when this band was introduced. I had never heard of Said the Whale before. This indie rock band is from Vancouver and in 2011, they won a Juno for New Group of the Year. I stayed for the full hour set. I thoroughly enjoyed their music. Said the Whale  has a new fan to add the their following. Jaycelyn Brown/keyboards, Spencer Schoening/drums, Tyler Bancroft/guitar-vocals, Ben Worcester/guitar-vocals and my sincerest apologies to Nathan Shaw/bass but this picture turned out to be the best one of the bunch (and with most of the band members in the same frame).

Busker Festival 2014

Sunday morning, on my way back from returning an overdue library book, I noticed that Granville Street was blocked off. So I went to investigate. Turns out, I had discovered the Vancouver International Busker Festival (day 2). Local entertainers to performers from as far away as Australia and New Zealand took part.

La Chocolateria Booth

There were plenty of street vendors to add to the festive atmosphere. But of course this one, La Chocolaterie, especially won my heart. If you look at the front row where there is only one container, the chocolates are in the shape of vegetables (including broccoli and carrot) and apparently taste like the veggies too. I had to ask the owner how popular they were – and he replied “Very popular.” After several samples, I chose the mango (white chocolate) and ginger (dark chocolate). I don’t usually enjoy white chocolate because it tastes waxy to me, but the mango sample was so smooth and tasty I had to have more.

2014 Busker Fest

The busker called Byron from England (red shirt) is actually from Vancouver. Here he has persuaded a volunteer from the audience to climb on the pole, which will then be lit on fire. I’ve seen him perform before, mainly on Granville Island. On Sunday, he didn’t disappoint; he was as funny and entertaining as I remembered.

She is seven, in some class – she can’t remember if it’s Social Studies, History or English – some class they are asked to relate a personal encounter with a hero. Her classmates share their stories about how strangers or family members saved them from accidents and other bad situations. She racks her brain for her own story, but nothing comes to mind. Apparently she is a boring, safe person to whom nothing interesting happens. Now it is her turn and she stands, hoping the panic doesn’t show in her face or voice.

Then she is speaking. She tells them the story of her mother and the girl in the water. Her family is at the beach; they are in the middle of a picnic lunch when it happens. Her mother, chicken salad sandwich in her right hand, looks out at the lake. Suddenly, her mother drops the sandwich, running like a maniac into the water, pushing people out of her way. She finds the log of the girl bobbing in the water struggling for breath, swims frantically towards her and fishes her out, dragging the child back to shore.

At supper that evening, she asks her mother why she never goes into the water when they spend the weekends at the beach. “Well,” her mother replies with a nervous laugh, “I’ve never learned to swim, and to be truthful, I’m a little afraid of the water.”

Peacock Wicker Chair

In the 70s, this style of wicker chair was known as a Chinese reading chair. And I wanted one for my bedroom – a chair dedicated to the pursuit of reading seemed like a wondrous thing to own. It never happened until I had been living in Vancouver for about three years. Accompanying a friend on a trip to a thrift store, I spotted one tucked unobtrusively in a corner. It said “Buy me.” I did. But when I tried to make it fit into my bedroom decor, my peacock chair wouldn’t cooperate. So I put it out on my balcony, where I can look up from my book and see the ocean when I want a break from reading.

Over a year ago now, I was working at the computer when I glanced up at the wall above the couch. I’ve been trying to capture it “on film” ever since. In the late morning, the sun threw the shadow of the wicker chair on my balcony onto the living room wall. Finally, the other day I captured an image I was somewhat happy with.

When my 10-cup coffee maker suddenly died (several years ago now), a friend gave me his Black and Decker Brew n Go coffee maker. Then about four years ago, the permanent mesh filter split away on the right hand side from its plastic skeleton and ever since I’ve been using makeshift filters creatively crafted from paper towel, Kleenex or even (close your eyes, put your hands over your ears) toilet paper.

I finally got tired of the makeshift filter dance and went out and bought a new machine. I knew I didn’t want the pod type. After rifling through the personal coffee maker section, I discovered that the most economical, user-friendly model seemed to be the Black and Decker Single Serve Coffee Maker (the new version of the Brew n Go).

I’m basically happy with my new coffee maker. However, there are two major differences between the old model and the new one I can’t ignore. The new mug has no handle and is cylindrical rather than round.  It’s designed so that you can brew coffee with the lid on, but I think it makes the coffee taste too plasticky. Consequently, I leave the lid off. As the level goes down toward the bottom of the mug, after taking a sip, the remaining liquid whirlpools, and can splash coffee up into my left eye. This has occurred several times now – fortunately by the time it happens, it’s never hot enough to do any real harm.

Which brings to mind the first time I became aware that progress was not necessarily a good thing. When I moved into my first apartment, I inherited my grandmother’s vacuum cleaner. It was made of metal; it had weight; it sucked dust up from my carpet and floor like it meant it. Eventually, I had to replace it. I bought a state-of-the-art canister model with seven attachments. The first time I used it, it sent me flying – I had forgotten that the new vacuum was made mostly of plastic, and when I gave it hefty tug to change direction, I lost my balance.

The moral of the story is, if you’re not careful, progress can spit in your eye or throw you off-balance. In the meantime, I’m adjusting – less coffee in mug means taking slower sips.

This is the way I have always viewed the writing process – words are bridges. I have always seen them that way. Maybe it’s the poet in me, but whenever I hear or use the phrase “Don’t burn your bridges behind you,” I often picture words on fire.

A bridge over a river or some other geographical feature shares several aspects in common with one constructed of words. I become a little annoyed when people express the sentiment, “Oh, they’re just words.” The nursery rhyme that claims “…But names will never hurt me” has always left me baffled. I’ve always known their power to build up or tear down. Words, like bridges, connect us physically to people and places.

Bridges made out of steel and concrete are built by design and with purpose. While they are sometimes created to be esthetically pleasing, bridges are always functional. Aside from looking ridiculous, one leading nowhere would be a waste of time, money and resources. They come into being on paper, then work their way through various planning stages until they are transformed into concrete and steel – fashioned into a structure that can bear weight and weather the elements.

Like a well-designed bridge, a well-crafted sentence, that succinctly expresses the precise thing you want to communicate, should take you somewhere. A bridge made of words conveys new ideas, diminishes the distances between two minds and creates an environment for dialogue or a place to start anew.

 

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