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Spring Tulips

Tulips in the West End

I just finished sending an email to a friend who now lives in Europe, and it reminded me of a picture I had taken in the spring of this year.

In May, she and her husband, now living in Europe, came to Vancouver for a visit. The week before she arrived, I passed by this beautiful bed of spring tulips on my way back from the grocery store. Because Amsterdam was the first city she lived in after moving from Canada, the flowers made me think of her.

I hadn’t seen her for many years. When we met in a tea shop, we chatted for the better part of an afternoon, getting all caught up on each other’s news.

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Stone Wall

King Edward School Wall

This morning I had an interview at the Jim Pattison Pavillion for a library technician position. It was for 11 a.m. and I arrived at 10:19 a.m. I was just a little bit early. I left the house much earlier than I needed to because I wasn’t familiar with that part of Vancouver General Hospital and I didn’t know how far I’d have to walk once I arrived.

In my travels to where I needed to be, I discovered this low stone wall. This preserved section is from King Edward High School.  Built in 1905, the same year as the original Vancouver General Hospital, it was the first secondary school south of False Creek.

Since I had time to spare and it was Friday, I took a picture of it. If you’re curious, here’s how it looked in situ.

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Visiting PoCo

Port Coquitlam Veterans Park

On Saturday, this past Labour Day weekend, I took a little trip to Port Coquitlam. I wandered around for a while before discovering the delightful park near PoCo’s City Hall. In 2005, to honour the Year of the Veteran, it was renamed Veterans Park.

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Life After Mad Men

House with red door.

It’s been just over a year since the last episode of Mad Men aired. To be honest, I really haven’t watched a TV series on AMC since. Although I loved Shawshank Redemption (I own a copy; even replay the commentary every now and then), I can’t really get enthusiastic about walking dead people no matter who directs the show. I did watch the adaptation of John le Carré’s The Night Manager, but it was a mini series, only six episodes. And really good, but not on equal footing with Matt Weiner’s show.

Mad Men was something special. It was more than the fact it was the era in which I was a child. I was three when we are first introduced to Don sitting in a bar in March of 1960 writing ad copy on a napkin. But by Season 5 (May 1966 to March 1967), the landscape became more familiar – in fact, in one episode from this season Betty wore a cocktail dress in a similar style to one I remember my mother wearing. I always maintained, after seeing the “Smoke gets in Your Eyes” (S01, E01), that each episode wasn’t part of a TV series at all but rather a well-crafted film.

In honour of Mad Men’s first anniversary of its demise I wandered around one of the Vancouver neighbourhoods searching for Don and Betty Draper look-alike-house. This one with a red door will have to do.

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Vancouver as Seen from North Van

Cargo ship North Vancouver

Another get-out-of-the-house-before-the-walls-talk-back excursion earlier this week took me back to North Vancouver. I like how the cargo ship appears to be perfectly centered between the Vancouver and North Vancouver shorelines.

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Peacock Chair Demise

Pre-unraveling peacock chairs

My beautiful peacock chair (shown here in happier times), is now unraveling on the top left side arc. The wind plays havoc with the exposed twigs. I have no idea how to repair it. Duct tape?

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Chalk Drawing

Chalk drawing East Vancouver

I was taking a walk in East Vancouver last week, wandering with no particular destination in mind, when a mermaid swam up to me. In a whimsical, watery, wavering voice she declared, “I love you.” The complacent, conniving, circumspect feline warned, “She says that to everyone who passes by.”

This is a true story.

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Passel of Pigeons

Burrard Skytrain Station

It’s errand day – I try to be out of the house before I can change my mind. I bribe myself with breakfast at Mac’s before my errand run and then a trip to the library after I’ve finished everything on the list. After brekky, I passed by Burrard Skytrain Station and caught a passel of pigeons having brunch.

When I looked up the collective noun for a group of pigeons, there were several – flock (plain vanilla), flight (too fanciful), and kit (what a baby fox is called). So, I picked my favourite of the bunch.

I hope you didn’t get too pranked. Happy Friday!

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Escape to Echo Cafe

Art Wall Echo Cafe

I discovered Echo Cafe in North Vancouver a couple of years ago when I met with  a potential client regarding freelance work for his company’s website. It was a business meeting, so I only had a latte. But there was something about the place; an atmosphere that, while welcoming, it was also appealing in a way I couldn’t name. Ever since, I have been meaning to return.

My first solo visit for no other reason than the tactile and taste experience of something sweet accompanied by a 12 oz latte was February 1st. I have returned several times since then, including two weeks ago for a birthday lunch. It was during this particular Echo Cafe session that I discovered their sandwiches were as good as their desserts.

It was also around my birthday that my self-perception got a bop on the head – my friend certainly had a valid point. But her incident coincided with a job interview for another position I really wanted. In light of my track record with job interviews, (and I ended up not landing this one either), I began suspecting that the impression I think I make on people might not be in sync with what’s really happening.

Which brings me to today. I am happily sitting and sipping in Echo Cafe, reading a few pages before taking a people-watching break, when the ex-potential client walks in. We look directly at one another, and just as I’m getting ready to smile and say hello using his name, his eyes slide away from me before he steps up to the counter to give his order. He ended up sitting across the aisle one table to the left. For the remainder of his visit, it became clear to me he had no idea who I was or that we had ever met.

I was fine – nothing was going to spoil my enjoyment of a double choc brownie and a latte. But all the way home, I did wonder what my future is going to look like if the impression I make on others is no impression at all.

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Juliet and Her Balcony


Juliet Balcony Victorian Hotel

Where is Juliet standing when she’s talking to her Romeo? On a balcony, of course! I don’t know if studying Shakespeare’s plays at university are to blame for my total obsession with Juliet balconies, but I am. They seem to add charm and whimsy to the outside of building I’d otherwise pass right by. For some odd reason, a Juliet balcony captures my imagination and transports me elsewhere. I know, I know…I suffer from incurable romantic disease.

A Juliet balcony, also known as a balconette (or balconet), is an architectural term for the decorative railing typically installed as a safety measure in front of windows that reach the floor and can be opened. In Europe, they were a popular way of creating the illusion of a real balcony when the window is open.

These beauties grace the front and side of the Victorian Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

Victorian Hotel

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W.A.C Bennett Library at SFU

Library at SFU

Earlier this afternoon, I had an interview for a library position at Simon Fraser University. The place is huge, both the university grounds and the library itself. I was taken to the 7th floor for the interview. Now that’s my kind of place.

Walking through the front doors, the first thing I see is a circular glass pod housing the Loans and Reference desks. My second impression is of huge screens, several of them interactive maps of all three SFU libraries located at two other campuses.  My third observation, garnered from wandering around the first floor, was that there were of a lot of people in a space delineated for specific activities, surrounded by cutting-edge technology.

If I was scouting locations for a film taking place fifty plus years in the future, I’d pick the W.A.C. Bennett Library at Simon Fraser University. I don’t know exactly why it struck me a being any more modern than other university libraries I’ve worked at or visited. I think it’s because I’ve been here several times before, but I don’t remember it looking like it did today.

Of course, my previous visits to Bennett Library occurred when I attended Trinity Western University in the early 80s. The predominant impression I had of the SFU library back then was the 10-mile trek I had to make from the card catalogue to the book stacks. Ah…the good old days.

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Leg in Boot Square

Leg in Boot Square

Since today is a dreary and overcast with intermittent rain, I chose a picture from an excursion in July to Leg in Boot Square.

Occasionally, I go through my cover letter files searching for companies that might be worth contacting again now that some time has passed. I’m assuming that I didn’t land an interview or I would definitely have remembered the address. The name of the street intrigued me so much, it inspired me to go exploring.

In 1887, so the story goes, half a leg washed up on the shore of False Creek. The constabulary put the leg on display, hoping someone would claim it. Since 1887, the police station was torn down and Leg in Boot Square was designed as a pedestrian-only public space. To date, no one has claimed the leg.

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Spider Web

Spider Web

A couple of weeks ago I went shopping for a birthday present at a mall in the Vancouver area. Of course I had to spend some time at my office (translation: bookstore). I couldn’t resist capturing this creative book display of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the latest installment of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. According to a staff member I snagged as he was passing by, bookstore staff build these shapely book displays all the time. It takes them roughly 20 minutes.

I have mixed feelings about books written by other people after the original author has died. It’s a weird little conundrum – is it to keep beloved characters alive that the public aren’t quite ready to let go of yet or is it just a plain and simple money grab by book publishers? I totally understand the impulse when it comes to Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. But still, even though with the mostly good reviews, I think I’ll keep my last memory of these two, Salander a free woman resigned to having Blomkvist as a friend for the rest of their lives.



Robson and Granville

I don’t usually stop and listen to street musicians because it means being jostled by people passing by and trying to enjoy the music with traffic noise in the background. Turning onto Granville St. from Robson, these guys grabbed my attention by singing songs I actually recognized. I stopped for a while, listening to tunes by Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Dire Straits. They were really good; had great rapport with the crowd. They were so good that I didn’t bother writing down their names since I was on my way home and would remember. Sorry guys.

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Samson V at New Westminster Quay

Samson V

During my explorations of New Westminster Quay in June, I toured the Samson V. The tour was by donation and the guide was very good at fielding weird (mostly mine) questions. The steam boat was in service from 1937 when it was first launched, to 1980 when the sternwheeler was retired. Approximately 115 feet in length, its functions were to fish debris out of the water that would hinder commercial activities; maintain government docks; and conduct surveys. The first Samson steam boat sailed the Fraser River in 1884. Since steel was so expensive, any salvageable parts would be used in the production of newer models, including the Samson V.

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Granville Social Downtown Vancouver

On Granville Street

1970s Ambulance at The Granville Social

Last Saturday I wandered around downtown Vancouver looking for a place to write and read while having a cup of coffee. Never got there. Instead, I stumbled on The Granville Social, a two-day affair featuring a variety of entertainment. There was dancing in the street, art installations, other types of performers and lots of vendors. And of course food! But what do I take a picture of? I just had to capture a figment of my late 1960s, early 1970s years. There was no one around to ask, so I don’t know the exact year this beastie stalked the streets of Vancouver, but I do remember its cousins roaming the streets of my youth in Winnipeg.

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New Westminster Quay

Westminster Quay tugboatsOne Saturday in late June I headed off to New Westminster Quay and wandered around River Market. I toured the Samson V steam boat moored at the quay; watched kids being kids for a while; and read for a bit until I needed to cool off. I bought some fresh ingredients for Sunday dinner inside the River Market before heading home.

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Lunch in Alexandra Park

Alexandra Park Haywood Bandstand

By late morning, early afternoon I was hungry and done with freelancing for the day. Let the weekend begin! I threw some salad finger food veggies and rolled slices of deli black forest ham into a container, grabbed my camera and picked a book to read. I headed for Alexandra Park, essentially at the far end of my street. I settled down on a bench in the shade and ate my picnic lunch. When I got tired of reading, I people watched.

I love the Queen Anne style Haywood Bandstand, built in 1911. To me it’s the focal point; never mind the view of English Bay. The last time I came here to take pictures, it had a fence around it. On Sundays during the summer, Parks, Recreation and Culture (City of Vancouver) offer free concerts. I think I’ll check it out.

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I Voted No

TransLink Referendum

Back in March, my ballot package for the the Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite arrived in the mail. The deadline for mailing it in or delivering it in person is today, at 8 p.m. Essentially, it’s asking voters to approve a 0.5% tax hike to fund the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Fund for TransLink service improvements.

Shortly before the ballots were mailed out, a pollster representing the Yes Vote, asked if I was supporting them. I said no, and then made a comment about my restricted income paying for 2 salaries (one ex-CEO and one current). Then of course, there’s the glaring Compass Card fail. She explained that the money was not going to TransLink; it would be independently managed on behalf of the cities of Metro Vancouver for public transit improvements. And then I had to leave to go and catch a bus.

On the ride home, I was thinking, okay that makes sense. But by the time I got off the bus, I’m back to my original, knee jerk opinion. No, No and (a really loud resounding) No! Am I missing something? Isn’t providing workable public transit solutions already their job? Perhaps if TransLink had been properly managed in the past, the Mayors wouldn’t be asking now for people to dish out more money in financial times that are already challenging to the average person. Here’s my deal: stop wasting (my) money, improve on current services, overhaul upper management, and then have another referendum – I promise you I’ll vote “Yes.”

Bottom line is, I don’t really trust TransLink to use this new infusion of funds any wisely.  Past behaviour dictates otherwise. Fool me once…

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Arbutus Corridor Controversy

CP Rail Arbutus Corridor

I first discovered the Arbutus Corridor in 2013 when I had a client in Kerrisdale. Every now and then I go back and walk down sections of it I haven’t visited before.  I really like what they’ve done with the place. Along this 11-kilometre stretch of unused railway line, residents have created and maintained community gardens.

But last year, CP Rail informed the City of Vancouver they would be reactivating the railway line. They also warned they would remove any gardens and structures left standing. Recently in court, CP Rail challenged City of Vancouver’s assertion that using the Arbutus corridor to store railway cars poses a serious safety risk. By the end of August 2014, the company had cleared away about 150 metres of community gardens. But CP Rail voluntarily stopped to wait for the court’s decision.

Since the city lost its bid to stop CP Rail, the railway company has resumed the removal of gardens. They have also started to replace railway ties and clear away natural plant growth from the rail lines. City of Vancouver says that it’s open to further talks regarding the purchase of the Arbutus Corridor for Canadian Pacific Railway, but will only agree to what it considers to be a “fair market price.”

Technically, CP Rail is “in the right” – after all, it is their land. But since its deactivation as a freight line, the Arbutus Corridor has become a green space unique to Vancouver. And it would be a shame to see that disappear.


1. http://www.theprovince.com/lawyers+rail+cars+Arbutus+corridor+pose+major+safety+risks/10660623/story.html
2. http://www.insidevancouver.ca/2014/07/26/saving-vancouvers-secret-railway-the-arbutus-corridor-controversy/
3. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/robertson-open-to-talks-with-cp-rail-to-buy-arbutus-corridor/article23414293/

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People Watching is More Interesting than TV Sitcoms

People watching in Gas Town

I had a drum teacher that told me he never gave half hour lessons because he felt that it was too short a time frame. His reasoning was that by the time he explained a certain concept and then demonstrated what it should sound like, there was no time left for the student to explore the pattern before the lesson ended. This is exactly the way I feel about prime time sitcoms – I just start to get interested in the story and the programme’s finished. I need to be immersed in the unfolding of the tale in order to feel that my time’s not wasted.

Now that I work from home, I’m vigilant about getting out of the house at least once a day. It doesn’t matter where – a quick trip to the nearby postal outlet for stamps or a bus ride qualifies. Often, I end up in neighbourhoods I haven’t been before: if it’s not raining, I’ll walk around; if it is, I treat myself to a latte. Lately, it seems, I’ve been doing a lot of people watching. I like to write mental bios for those people who catch my eye. Rough hands with calluses on the fingers means the person is a guitarist (never a carpenter – a particular prejudice of my mine) still playing small jazz clubs to pay their dues.

I used to think that people watching was the purview of the creative process. Writers, visual artists, actors – anyone who wants to reflect some aspect of humanity back to the world – need grist for the mill, so to speak. How people walk, talk, sit still, sit fidgeting, could be useful to me when I’m creating characters that I hope will “live” on the page. But it’s not just the artist that benefits. People watching provides insight into and valuable information about the way we interact with others, which comes in handy for most everyone in any walk of life.

Yes, I people watch for all the above reasons. But my main motivation is that it’s fun.

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Carnegie Library Romance

Carnegie Library Vancouver

It might seem like an inconsequential thing to add to a bucket list, but it’s on mine for a reason. I always get the same reverent feeling walking into a library as I do entering a church, but there’s something about a Carnegie library that intensifies the experience. When I finally made my way to the Carnegie Community Centre, I wasn’t disappointed, even though the library itself is quite small and the actual structure has been re-purposed.

I was first introduced to Carnegie libraries in one of library technician courses, and I’ve been fascinated and inspired by them ever since. Through his foundation, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), an American industrialist, awarded to those who applied and agreed to meet certain conditions, construction grants for the express purpose of building a library. His intent was to foster lifelong learning.

Carnegie Community Centre

In doing so, he introduced the concept of the public lending library with which we are familiar today. Previously, most libraries were academic or privately operated, and largely inaccessible to the general public unless they were willing to pay for the privilege.

I originally had the impression that he funded the building of public libraries only in North America. He started small – building them in places to which he had a personal connection (Scotland, Pennsylvania). But by 1929, a total of 2,509 libraries had been built. And yes, while the majority were in the United States, Carnegie grant money funded the construction of library buildings world-wide including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Talk about giving back.

Big Three of English Lit

While each Carnegie library is unique, they do share some similar architectural features. Back when Carnegie first started funding the construction of community libraries, the designs were innovative, devised to impress yet welcome everyone (there were, for example, no separate reading rooms for women). Features that characterize a Carnegie library include, classical colonnades supporting triangular pediments and then crowned by a dome.



1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_library
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Carnegie_libraries_in_the_United_States
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Carnegie_libraries_in_Canada
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_Community_Centre
5. http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/styles.html


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Vancouver City Hall

West 12st Avenue Vancouver

Since reading City Making in Paradise, I have become more aware of why and how a city looks and functions in the way it does. In this spirit of pilgrimage, I visited Vancouver City Hall earlier this week, where many important decisions regarding Vancouver’s infrastructure, services, etc. are made.

This “new” Vancouver City Hall, in the Art Deco architectural style, was built in 1936, on West 12th Ave. The old city hall on Main St. near the Carnegie Library was in active use from 1897 to 1929, until it was moved into an existing building on Main St. In 1934, Mary Gerry McGeer struck a committee to find a new location for a building that would celebrate the city’s history and future while impressing its visitors.

City of Vancouver

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Peacock Chair with Moon

Moon from Balcony

Even though I’ve had my little camera for a couple of years, we’re still getting used to one another. Taken in mid-May of this year from my balcony, I tried to capture the full moon. I think I missed getting the setting right for a night sky picture, but I liked how it captured the peacock chair unraveling a little against the backdrop of the moon.

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One Room Schoolhouse

Gordon Wood School

Earlier today I took the bus to Broadway and MacDonald to do errands. On the way back, because it was such a beautiful, sunny day,  I randomly got off the bus and walked around. I ended up at MacDonald and West 7th Ave. This part of the street dead-ends into a park behind General Gordon Elementary School. Walking down the street toward the fence, I could only see a park bench. I decided to sit for a bit and read; it wasn’t until I entered the grassy area that I discovered the one room schoolhouse.

I don’t know what it is , but there’s something about abandoned buildings that inspires me; I ditched the book and did some journal writing instead. When I got home, a Google search turned up some interesting facts about this old wood school:

  • the schoolhouse was built in 1913-1914
  • at one time, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) originally planned to retain and restore the old wood schoolhouse
  • since then, there has been talk that the VSB has slated it for demolition
  • various public groups, including Heritage Vancouver, have petitioned to save it

Blissfully unaware of its unknown future, I enjoyed journaling out in the fresh air, in its charming presence.

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Belzberg Library

SFU Library at Harbour Centre

One of my clients used to rent office space in a building directly across from SFU Harbour Centre. Simon Fraser University has several campuses and buildings downtown. But ever since I caught a glimpse of a library through the large, front windows, I’ve wanted to check it out. So one day in May, I strode purposely toward a study space by the window and sat down on one of the stools. Using my pink psychedelic patterned Acme pen, writing by hand in a bound notebook, in amongst the laptops and computer stations made me feel a little like a Flickr Throwback Thursday picture. But I liked working in the Belzberg Library. It is on two levels. The second level houses non-circulating reference materials. Since my first visit in May when I took this photo, I’ve been back several times to work on one of personal writing projects.

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Dr. Coppelius gives me life,
pensive and poor.

You leave
a cigarette alive
in the ashtray.
My questions
go unanswered.
Promises are ashes.

I need you like a pen.
We are afterthoughts.

I wait
for Time to fill me
like an empty jug.

You appear
in my dreams
as a dragon,
leaving me seared
by revelation.

I don’t belong to time.

I see
your lips, nose, eyes
emerge flesh frail
as Picasso blue cubes
of dawn stain
walls of this room.

Kisses leave their scars.

Simon says
too little these days:
my past
was rich
with words and directions.

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Canadian Horse Extravaganza


The day (Aug. 23rd) I went to see the RCMP Musical Ride, was the same day I found out about the Canadian Horse, the National Horse of Canada. Needless to say, I had no idea that Canada had a National horse. Of course, since it’s the year of Canada’s 150th birthday, I’m including this discovery as one of the posts in my Canada 150 series.

The Canadian Horse Extravaganza show included dressage, a six horse quadrille team, and formations showcasing the breed’s versatility. It was presented by the Canadian Horse Heritage and Preservation Society (CHHAPS). The mandate of the society is to preserve and promote the Canadian Horse since it’s a critically endangered breed, declining in numbers since the 1970s.

The breed has evolved over the past 350 years, ever since King Louis XIV sent the first horses to Canada in 1665. They were bred in Quebec from Spanish, Norman, and Breton stock and are noted for qualities such as ruggedness, loyalty, resilience, strength, and courage.

The Canadian Horse is known by a number of names including Le Cheval Canadien and Le Petit Cheval de Fer (in English, The Little Iron Horse). Since they are a genetic mix of several horse breeds, they range from 14 to 16 hands in height and weight 1000 to 1400 pounds. They are frequently black in colour, with thick coats, but also may be brown, bay or chestnut.

I really enjoyed the show. As with the RCMP Musical Ride, I took a number of pictures, several of Louis XIV, but because I snapped them inside the PNE Agrodome, they didn’t turn out either. But the video is really worth viewing; I actually watched it again all the way through even though I had seen the show. This must have been shot earlier in the day because, as I mentioned in the Musical Ride post, the arena had been packed.

Source: CHHAPS | Canadian Horse Extravaganza Day | Demo #1 | Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) | August 23, 2017.



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Ritz Crackers – Fragment #80

Hilary stood in the shadows of the unfamiliar kitchen trying to remember where the light switch was located. Street lamps bled into the room enough for her to make out the fridge on the right-hand wall, the counter beside it, and the kitchen table with its four red padded chairs pushed up underneath the window at the opposite end. Everything felt upside down since they arrived in England four days ago. Now, at around three in the morning, Hilary was ravenous and didn’t know what to do about it.

Just as she was about to give up and go back to bed, the overhead light fluttered reluctantly on, causing Hilary to blink rapidly against the resulting glare.

“What are doing up?” her mother demanded gruffly. She didn’t like surprises.

“I woke up a while ago and couldn’t get back to sleep,” Hilary explained. “I got really hungry, so I came into the kitchen for a snack.”

Her mother pointed to the kitchen table, and Hilary pulled out a chair and sat down. Her mother filled the kettle with water, set it on a back burner before lighting the element closest to her, and then put the kettle down on top of the flickering blue flame. It fascinated Hilary; back home they had an electric stove, not gas.

Once settled across from her daughter with mugs of hot chocolate and a plate of Ritz crackers within easy reaching distance between them, her mother asked, “So, of all of the places we’ve seen so far, which one did you like best?”

Without hesitation, Hilary replied, “The Tower of London. It was really creepy. But the part I liked the most was how Mona laughed her raucous baby laugh every time we walked by a crow.”

At three in the morning in a strange kitchen in a strange country, still while the taste of sweet chocolate and salty cracker lingered on her tongue, Hilary was astounded to hear her mother, an elegant, formal woman, laugh, for the first time in her young memory, brayingly, unreservedly, out loud.

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RCMP Musical Ride 2017

My blouse distinctly smells of horse, but I don’t care! It can smell as horsey as it wants! Today I crossed off the RCMP Musical Ride from my Bucket List.

Growing up in Winnipeg, my parents mentioned every so often they would take us when it came to town, but for some reason or another, we never did go. Over the years I forgot about it. It wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver that I was reminded how much I had wanted to see the Musical Ride but never did when a co-worker mentioned he and his family had seen it three times since they moved to Canada

When I Googled it, I discovered that it came to the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition), although not every year. I kept putting it off. But this year, during Canada’s 150th birthday, I thought it was fitting to stop procrastinating and just do it.

I almost missed it! I had looked up dates and times for the Musical Ride on the weekend and knew that there were two shows on Aug. 22nd at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. But for some reason I thought yesterday was today. Lucky me I found out in time that one last show was scheduled for Aug. 23rd (today) at 1:30 p.m. I entered the PNE Agrodome with about 17 minutes to spare and I still had difficulty finding a seat – the place was packed.

Their warm-up was amazing, but when they came back into the ring to start the actual show, I must honestly say the RCMP Musical Ride was worth the fifty-plus year wait. In the past when I talked myself out of going, I watched footage on YouTube – they’re right: nothing compares to being there.

The troop is made up of 32 horses and riders, the riders wearing the famous red serge coats. The horses are black, no exceptions except for a small handful of feet wearing white “socks.” The music was a mix of rock, classical, military, pop, country, and jazz.

The announcer called out the formations. The main ones I personally enjoyed were: the four carousels, the wagon wheel, the star, thread the needle, and the swinging gate. The lance drill, designed to train officers how to defend themselves from all angles of attack, was pretty impressive, as was “The Charge” at the end of the programme.

Some random asides in no particular order:

  • I didn’t care if I was in the midst of a rabble of children with parental units hovering in the background – I was determined to pet a horse
  • I couldn’t spot the maple leaf stenciled on the horses’ rumps, even when I was up close
  • each star on an RCMP officer’s uniform represents five years of service
  • we were asked to stand for O Canada – yes, I did get the words mixed up
  • RCMP officers only get to do the Musical Ride for one 3-year stint, then they return to active duty
  • a boy behind me told his father he was bored and wanted to go – I turned around to tell them that it was just the warm-up, but they had already gone

I took a bunch of pictures at the PNE – every single one turned out just fine, except for the Musical Ride ones (hence the borrow from YouTube).

Source: Just2watch4fun YouTube channel: RCMP Musical Ride | South Interlake Rockwood Agricultural Society (SIRAS) | Stonewall, MB | August 2, 2016

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Canadian Provinces New and Old

Dream of Canada Exhibit

I recently went to Canada Place to see “The Dream of Canada” photo exhibit, documenting in pictures the provinces and territories of our country. I was surprised at how “small” it was – only 13 posters, one for each of the provinces and territories. But once I started looking at them, I realized that they contained a lot of interesting information besides just when the province or territory joined Confederation.

The idea of uniting the colonies of British North America gained momentum in the 1860s. The Charlottetown Conference was held in 1864, from Sept. 1 to 7, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to discuss Canadian Confederation. The significance of the first conference (some were also later held in Quebec) was the leaders’ intention – they wanted to form a country not founded on revolution or a clean break with Britain, but rather through negotiation, reason, and a plan for the country’s continuing future.

The four provinces that formed Canada in 1867 were Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Manitoba (where I am originally from) and the Northwest Territories joined Confederation in 1870.

British Columbia (where I now live) joined one year later, 1871.

The colony of Prince Edward Island that hosted one of the influential conferences discussing Confederation in 1864 didn’t actually join Canada as a province until 1873.

Yukon, formerly known as Yukon Territory, directly above BC on the map, was the last to join Confederation in the Nineteenth Century, in 1898.

In 1905 the remaining two prairie provinces, Saskatchewan and Alberta, officially became a part of Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t become a Canadian province until 1949.

In 1999 the last province to join in the Great Canadian Confederation Adventure was Nunavut. Originally a part of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut was incorporated as a territory in its own right as a result of the largest Aboriginal land claims agreement between the Canadian government and the Inuit people. Its name means “Our land” and Auyuittuq, one of Nunavut’s  four National Parks, means “The land that never melts.” Nunavut comprises one-fifth of Canada’s total land mass.

“The Dream of Canada” photo exhibit at Canada Place is a collaboration between Parks Canada and Heritage Canada. It was originally on display at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa.


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Bus Ride

Going back
the way I came,
clutching possessions
both acquired & lost,

I am no closer to love,
even after all this time,
resembling anything like truth.

Mountains tower & fade.
Leaves are mottled
by shadows and secrets.

A broken bird,
too far from anywhere,
I sit in this seat,
the miles passing beneath
these wheels
harsher than confessions.

Saskatchewan fills the window
with rich, yellow fields
dotted by green bushes
& brown, distant doll houses.

Going back the way I came,
by bus/without you,
all that any view yields

is trees & time;
words & weeds.

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Family Day – Fragment #79

Hilary was fine until around two o’clock when the party she had been invited to was scheduled to begin – hayride, barbecued hamburgers or hot dogs, bring a bathing suit if you want to use the pool. She sat in the red velvet wingback chair in the corner of the living room supposedly reading Cormier’s “The Chocolate Wars” for English Lit. But imperceptibly a fuming rage started to build in the pit of her stomach, rising past her rib cage, slowly filling her lungs until the words danced on the page, useless and stupid.

Her father, a relief projectionist, was at work for the entire afternoon and a good part of the evening. Her mother was in the kitchen preparing Sunday dinner (some kind of roast, some kind of potato, vegetable medley, gravy, Yorkshire pudding if the roast was beef), slated to be ready for dad’s supper break. Mona, her sister watched television in the other room, the faint background sounds of cheerful laughter and upbeat music only further fueling Hilary’s profound sense of injustice.

The reason she hadn’t been allowed to go to her classmate’s party was that “It’s Sunday, our family day when we spend it together,” her mother had reminded her, instructing her daughter to decline the invitation. “No exception to the rule,” she said, smiling gently at Hilary.

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