Saturday, September 24, 2016

Imagine! Vancouver Love Stories and Taking Flight to Where?

 While I'm busy trying to cram organise ten weeks' worth of clothes into a carry-on case, downloading Boarding Passes, and entering a hand-written version of our digital itinerary into my always accessible little Moleskine notebook (TripIt is a great app, but especially on the day of take-off, it's too easy for me to imagine situations in which electronic info is not available) -- while I'm doing all those myriad pre-flight, slightly frantic activities, I thought I'd take a few minutes to load up some pretty pictures of a new addition to Vancouver's tourist delights for you to enjoy until I tell you where exactly I'll be playing tourist...
 Since I'll be traveling solo for my first two weeks away, I'm not going to be attaching love-locks to any bridges, but we've all seen some version of this once-was-romantic gesture. Before it became a civic nuisance, with cities spending bundles of cash to remove locks that threaten the integrity of various historic structures, there was something charming about the notion of locking two names, a date, and a declaration of love to a memorable and supposedly fixed spot.
 To provide this opportunity, without the accompanying budget headaches,  a Vancouver city councillor suggested commissioning a sculpture, and after a process which involved public consultation on best place, then a sculpture commissioned, this piece, Love in the Rain was designed by Vancouver artist Bruce Voyce, and recently installed in Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park on Little Mountain, where I was delighted to discover it serendipitously on my run last weekend.
 Of course, I immediately saw an excuse for a break from the heavy breathing, yanked out my camera, and thought I'd share All the Pretty with you. . .
 The sculpture's only been up for a few weeks, and already is filling up with locks. I'll be very curious to see what it looks like when I'm back in December.
Other sites have been troubled with the litter effect of all the keys discarded, but here the disposal also becomes part of the romantic gesture. . .
I've got to get back to my pre-travel tasks now, but I thought you might like to imagine stories prompted by some of these little locks and the messages written on them. In fact, I have an idea:

Leave me a Postcard-short story prompted by one of the images below. Keep it to the length you could write on the back of a psotcard -- 250 words or less, let's say -- and include details that make it clear which photograph your story is based on. I'll choose three of these stories, and, if you're willing to send me (by private email--we can do that later, once I've chosen the stories) your home mailing address, I'll send you a postcard from somehow on my travels.

Let me know, in your comment below, whether or not you'd like/be willing to receive a postcard or whether you're just leaving your story for the fun of it. And feel free, as always, to comment otherwise -- you don't need to leave a story if you're not so inclined.

There you go. I hope you've enjoyed these photos and perhaps will have fun imagining a variety of love stories to go with them. Next on my list is seeing my little ones before I have to leave them behind to grow for a few months without me. That includes a baby-sitting gig at 8:15, so I'd better get going. We'll chat soon, okay, and I'll let you know where I'm sitting as I read your love stories.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wordless Wednesday Wanderings

Word-less Wednesday, and I'm throwing a few things in a bag for a quick overnight trip to the island for some toddler snuggles; dinner with my son, daughter-in-law and said toddler; a visit to my hair stylist for a cut and highlights; and a catch-up lunch with a good friend.

When I get home Thursday evening, I'll have a couple of days to do some more packing and organising before I'm off for a much longer jaunt. You'll have to pop in again to find out where I'll land, but I can tell you it's somewhere that encourages wandering and admiring the architecture...
To get my eye ready, but also simply to enjoy my new neighbourhood in the splendid late-afternoon light of a sunny September day, I went for a long stroll yesterday.
Sadly, I suspect this old beauty may not be with us long. Zoning has not been her friend (she will have watched the area become light industrial, and while there's pressure now to introduce more high-density residential here, the market will not work in favour of preservation), but she was doing her faded-denim best to shine in yesterday's sun.
My stroll was actually through an adjoining neighbourhood, but I was back within four or five blocks of home when I discovered a wonderful old brick apartment building. I'm going to have to research a bit to see what I can find of its history. For now, just a few photos of architectural details
Edited to Add: It took my scarcely any time at all to discover this website offering a quick summary of the Quebec Manor's 104-year history. Those bare-breasted nymphs apparently caused some shock and consternation to barely-post-Victorian Vancouverites! I was delighted to find that the building has been a non-profit housing co-op since its tenants banded together to buy it over thirty years ago, incensed by exorbitantly rising rents. 

That's all I have time for this morning. Off to sail some local seas in search of a toddler's giggle....could there be a better quest?

Monday, September 19, 2016

What I Wore: Summer Whites as Fall Knocks on the Door

Super busy with a variety of delightful activities 'round here: grandkids; friends visiting from out of town; long bike rides; unpacking boxes and trying to figure out where to put things; trying to find things you put somewhere that doesn't yet have enough memory triggers. . . . Okay, those last two are not so delightful, but they are necessary, and slowly, but surely, we're getting it done. . .

We've had a couple of seriously rainy days lately, but punctuated by some beautifully sunny hours kissed by that crisp fall coolness. The weather forecast is warning us to expect more rain in the next while, but we're also looking at several more days of sunshine, although the temperature isn't predicted to climb above 15 degrees (Celsius). I've unpacked my sweaters and my boots, and I'm looking forward to wearing them, but I'm also trying to get a few more days out of my white jeans, especially since I just rediscovered these nude Vince flats. The top is a late-season, heavily discounted top from Aritzia, taupe cross-stitch embroidery on a cream field.

Sun and shadows and fountain supplied by Mother Nature and the former owners of our new home. Photography by Pater (who did a much better job than he did here, don't you agree, even if he's caught my face in a funny mix of light and dark)
What about you? Hanging on to summer just a bit longer? Or have you switched over to the sweaters and boots? I'm thinking I might work the white jeans into a fall sweater outfit -- do you make them work for their keep through the darker months or fold them away until next June? Or are you in that part of the world that is shaking all their summer gear out of those storage closets and heading to the beach?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Over-50 (and also Over-60!) Runner's Selfie . . .

You are so right! That Is a Selfie-in-a-Bathroom. And in a Public Bathroom. No, worse, it's in a very spartan Public Bathroom in a park, sporting a metal (so less vandalisable than glass) mirror.

Why, why, and why, you might justifiably ask? Well, in the interests of honesty about running post 50 (oh, who're we kidding here, I'm a well-over-60 runner). . . especially for running over 50 (I know, 60, but I'm trying to be inclusive, right?) when you've had a baby or four sit on your bladder for months at a time. . . Sometimes a runner has to find a toilet en route. And sometimes she has to find one relatively quickly. Sometimes she even plans her route to make sure one will be accessible.

In light of my recent posts on badassery (and how I have very little of said attribute), I thought perhaps you should know this. I don't think you can be a Badass Runner if you have to plot your marathons according to toilets. . . . On the other hand, the sheer audacity of snapping my red-faced, sweaty self in a mirror, in a public bathroom, that might earn me a Badass point or two, no?

And now, to make up for that spectacle, some more edifying photos, all taken on recent city runs. . .  These seem to multiply in my digital photo albums, and I need to share some before clearing them out. . .

This centuries-old pole once graced a First Nations longhouse in a village that was forcibly "moved" just over a century ago. Ironically, it's a welcome pole. . . .

 This industrial building is on a new-to-me running route. I love the sturdy regularity of its very practical architecture, boldly complemented by these tables on the adjoining sidewalk, placed out for workers' coffee or lunch or smoke breaks. That green!
 Is management doubting whether the colour still works this century? Is that why they've let the fading progress to this degree? Whatever, I love the patina almost as much as I find the colour. . . um, compelling? arresting? jarring? Wonderful?!
And just around the corner,  in the clean morning light. . .

 Does it perhaps seem that along with my bathroom breaks, I'm stopping surprisingly often on these runs to snap a photo or two?

You might be right. . . .

But I'm not trying to break any speed records, and there is just so much beauty in such varied, fascinating forms once you start looking around. . . .I can't resist sharing some of it. These back racks, for example. Yes, they're just utilitarian, but the sweet curve of their metal arcs pleases me and seems worth remarking. . .
And really, it's so much better to look at than a Selfie-in-a-Public-Bathroom, no?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Family Life in a Smaller Space -- Ça Marche. . .

 Surprising how much fun you can have at Nana and Granddad's new digs with a few empty packing boxes.  Seven-year old G'daughter constructed fifteen or twenty feet of tunnel with them on the weekend -- and convinced Nana to belly-crawl through them after her! -- and a few days later, the Three-year old G'daughter folded herself into one and pulled the lid down. Little Brother thought this might be the best game ever. . .
 I'm delighted to see how well the new, smaller space accommodates family life. After years of being able to host our kids and grandkids in a house with nearby tiny guest cottage, an entire beach as their playground, a small island's dirt roads to explore by foot or on bikes or in Granddad's wheelbarrow,  I worried about whether we could sustain our appeal.

I might write more about this fear and how much it is or isn't being assuaged as we settle into our new reality -- considerable identity may have coalesced around our roles as Providers of Parental Hospitality or something like that. Linen cupboards full, dinner plates and cutlery and coffee mugs to host twenty without borrowing from the neighbours (and neighbours who would readily have lent if needed), two kayaks, a canoe, a child-size kayak, a bicycle for whatever size the visiting grandkid might be. A garden (complete with a fishpond) dotted with tables and chairs, benches in just the spot you might like to sit and have Nana read you a story, hammocks for reading your own or whispering secrets to your doll. . .

And for the adult kids, room to put the littles down for the night within secure earshot but far enough away that Grown-ups could unwind with their siblings and/or with us, catching us up anecdote by anecdote over a weekend. . . . Being able to carry a few blankets down to the beach chairs to wrap my grown babies against the night's chill. . .

I suspected I'd miss all of that, miss being so clearly still in the role of Mom. And as I say, perhaps I'll write more about that as I experience and perhaps begin to analyse the shift. Or not.

But I will say that on Sunday, we had one of our families stop in for a short-notice dinner here, and it was a relaxed, rich, hugely enjoyable meal despite us currently having only six dinner plates and the cutlery sloshing around in a drawer without dividers. Earlier that afternoon, we'd got caught up in the purchase and delivery of a new sectional for the terrace, so instead of preparing a "proper" meal, we picked up Indian takeout for a restaurant I can see just across the road as I write this. Pater slipped around the corner, as he waited for the takeout to be ready, and bought a growler of beer from one of the three microbreweries in the immediate neighbourhood. Our daughter brought a cake she'd baked that afternoon and Granddaughter wielded the can of whipped cream she'd begged as a special treat.

 And between that lovely evening and the text message a few days later that Another Daughter was walking her two Littles over to our place, I'd found the highchair and the box marked Kids' Toys, and we played out on the terrace while Pater walked the few blocks to pick up ingredients for a simple pasta meal.

It's going to be more challenging, I know, when the rains set in and we lose that outdoor room, but why borrow trouble, right? For now, there are train tracks and dinosaurs and afternoon sunshine. Dads/Sons-in-law join us after work, filling a plate as their kids tell them about adventures with moving boxes, and we all move onto the terrace, soaking up the evening sunshine before Little People get scooped up, whisked off home for bedtime. Our new bathtub has been assessed (yes, I found the rubber duckies!), and we've agreed pyjamas might be included with provisions next visit.

And the next afternoon, Nana sits alone, listening to the echoes of the family meals (writing a new post for a Readalong you can join here) and thinking "This might just work."

As I round out this post -- which, honestly, began as a potentially Wordless Wednesday post until words somehow took over -- I'm wary of seeming to speak only to the mothers and grandmothers in this community. I don't want my blog to become a Nana's Blog, but there's no question that being a Nana is a big part of my life.

To keep the conversation open to all my readers, I'd like to know how moves that you've made or that you anticipate or consider making have changed the ways you interact with friends and/or family. Does the size of your home make a difference in your entertaining patterns? Do you wish for more or less space, for more or less control or responsibility in family entertaining?

Or, of course, any other question or comment you care to make. Off now to meet my sister for a run, our first since the move and one that's had to change to accommodate my new location. Still super early though -- she's such a lark, that sister!

Monday, September 12, 2016

good Monday, Good Morning

You may not be surprised to learn that moving is interfering with my blogging. We are beginning to settle in here: I've had three decent sleeps in the last six; the fridge and pantry have better than basic staples; and we've gratefully run several loads through dishwasher and the clothes washer.

But many boxes are still unpacked, and much needs to be sorted about the best options for making this space work for us. Meanwhile, some travel dates swoop closer, and I'm trying to maintain and recover some healthy habits and patterns before schedules are disrupted again.

And I've perhaps too ambitiously launched a Readalong of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend over on my reading blog. We've had some good conversations at the first two posts, this past week, but I've promised another for today, and I have to go write that now. 

I just couldn't let this Monday morning go by without saying "hello."

Oh, and I thought you might like to know that my piano has convinced us that there is room for it here. . .

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Settling In: A WIW photo and a peek at the new Garden

Bit of a whirlwind 'round here, as you might imagine, what with all the moving boxes and the trying to understand this new space, the new lifestyle we've embarked on, how we will want and be able to furnish and decorate for that. So just a few photos today before we head to our French lesson.

The top photo is, obviously, a What I Wore (one of my "uniforms" these days: jeans, white T, blazer, deck shoes, done...) taken in our new walk-through closet. Needless to say, that's the last time that closet will ever look So uncluttered....

This (below is more typical of the condo right now, although we've made some headway since this was snapped. You'll note that the piano is still with us. The plan has been to sell if from here, but it's making a strong argument for staying put. I mean, really, aren't dining tables overrated?

And before I run, a few photos from the terrace--the previous owners downsized and generously offered us their plants. I'm thrilled to discover a few old and new favourites and to get such a good head start. I'll be content to sit with the garden as it is while I learn the conditions here. The first day we were here, it was gloriously sunny, although breezy, a trifle cool. And there were bees in the lavender
tomatoes ripening on the vine  
hollyhocks going to seed rather sculpturally 

While yet throwing out new blooms

There was one of my dad's favourites which I would have loved to be able to show him -- he'd sniff its fragrance right away -- a wallflower, as scraggly as is their tendency
And I'm not positive, but I'm fairly sure, ever so hopeful, that there is a Star Magnolia, judging by this furry bud and the shape/size of the leaves. If you know better, disabuse me gently, would you?

That's all for now, but I do want to remind anyone interested in the Read-along of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend that the first post is up over at my reading blog.
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