dreaminghope: (Paisley Hat)
Every morning, the crows of Vancouver fly from one end of the city to the other. At the end of the day, they fly back. The exact times vary seasonally - crows fly by the sun, not the clock - but for at least a couple of weeks in the winter, their evening commute coincides with my walk home.

At the height of the commute, you can see a river of crows that stretches across the sky, from horizon to horizon. This picture doesn't capture it adequately, but every dot is a bird:

Crow Commute

I don't know which is more fascinating: the periods when hundreds of crows are sitting on the trees and power lines, still and nearly silent, or when the hundreds of crows nearly simultaneously take off in huge swooping flocks.

At least none of them are attacking me.

There's a crow in my neighbourhood that hates me. Or maybe it just hates my summer hat (the one in my userpic); I haven't been willing to run the tests necessary to know. I was walking to work one morning when a crow started swooping at my head, screaming. It didn't hit me, but flew at me over and over as I dodged. I ran across the street, the crow still following, still screaming, and hide under some trees. An old man already on that side of the street laughed at me and said something that sounded sympathetically amused in Chinese. I kept close to trees and sprinted down the sidewalk until I was apparently out of the crow's territory. No crows attacked the old man.

A couple of mornings later, I had decided to myself that it was just a one-time occurrence and I walked along that same route wearing the same hat. I got to the same intersection and then a crow started swooping at my head, screaming. I assume it was the same crow, but I can't be completely sure. If it wasn't the same one, it hated me just as much as the other crow did.

This time, I ran to an industrial building and flattened myself along the wall. It was a two story building with no windows and a flat roof. The crow wheeled above me, repeatedly diving as steeply as it could from the edge of the roof down the side of the building. As I edged along the base of the building, the crow kept following and kept screaming and diving. It couldn't get to me, but it sure seemed to want to try. It gave up after about three-quarters of a block and I speed-walked to work, hugging the edge of buildings and keeping under trees whenever possible.

I don't walk that way to work anymore.

I like the crow commute, but a little bit like someone likes scary movies; I get a little adrenalin rush just hearing the crows cawing.
dreaminghope: (Cherry Blossom)
Though the car's thermostat read 2 degrees Celsius this morning, the first signs of Spring provided us with some hope that warmer weather is on the way. On a short walk through my neighbourhood, I saw my very first cherry blossoms of the year:

Another sign of Spring around here:

Those are Russ and I's paragliding wings draped across kitchen chairs set on either side of our bed (our bedroom being the easiest room to shut the cats out of - cats and wings don't mix).

We finally went kiting again this weekend! They were short sessions: a couple of hours on Friday evening and a couple more hours today. The wind wasn't perfect either time and the ground was saturated from a winter's worth of rain, but it gave us a taste of what we've been craving. It was a chance to remember how to put everything on, how to sort out our lines, how to line up with the wind. Though my ability to keep my wing up in the air is still pretty limited, I had a couple of pretty successful forward and reverse launches, which felt really good. It was well worth getting the wings a bit damp and muddy.

Spring is coming!
dreaminghope: (Apple Picking)
We had one of those blessed sunny autumn days in Vancouver today. It was a day to love fall: bright, but cool enough to wear a hat and sweater, and the smell of crushed dried leaves was in the wind.

I needed vacuum bags. After failing to find them at The Bay earlier this week, I found them on a website for a local vacuum service store and headed there this morning after the gym and farmers’ market.

It was like stepping back in time. Most of the stock was behind the counter, so rather than being on your own to find what you need and take it to the register, we stand in line and the man bustles about and brings everything to us. He was packing up someone's new vacuum when I arrived. The next person in line had a bag of parts with him and the man checked each one and let him know whether or not they needed to be replaced. He also explained to the customer how he could check to see whether or not his vacuum’s belt needs to be replaced – apparently a common problem for that type of vacuum. When it was my turn, the man brought me two options: the brand name bags and the aftermarket versions, which were half the price. He also told me about the most common repair needed for my type of vacuum and that I should make sure no one charges me more than a dollar for the part required to fix it. And he gave me a sticker with his shop information on it to put on my vacuum at home. I did it.

I went to the grand opening of a new location of a huge chain craft store. I have a lot of craft supplies (I am probably pretty close to S.A.B.L.E.: stash amassed beyond life expectancy), but there's always something else I need, for some definition of "need". Right now, I need a couple of tapestry needles. I have some already, but I can't find them. The store was chaotic. The whole time I was there, someone was ringing a big brass bell – the kind an old school marm would ring to call students in to start the day – which had something to do with a wheel people were spinning to win discounts and stickers. By the time I found my tapestry needles – a two dollar item – the ringing and the crowds were getting a bit much and I was done. I moved towards the front of the store but found that the line for the registers wound all the way to the back of the store. I didn't want to waste that much more of the beautiful autumn sun. I'll go back for the needles another day. I wonder if the vacuum guy would consider opening a craft store.

The Girl Guides were out selling cookies. Today was also Apple Day – the day Scouts sell apples as a fundraiser. There were adorable kids in uniforms on almost every corner. The Scouts were supposed to say "apples by donation", but the ones outside the SkyTrain station were enthusiastically yelling "apples for donation". I gave some little boys a couple of dollars but declined the apple. As I dug out my wallet, I told them that my husband used to be a Scout when he was a little boy and loved it. I doubt they cared, but they nodded and smiled politely. I remember doing the nod and thank-you when people used to reminisce about their days in the blue uniform while buying Girl Guide cookies.

I found Ivan E. Coyote's new book – Missed Her – in a bookstore even though I thought it wasn't coming out for another month yet. I immediately went to one of the ubiquitous coffee shops and read half the book over a pumpkin spice latté, while trying not laugh out loud or cry while sitting in the front window on a busy corner.

A lady in the coffee shop was trying to give away apples because she'd bought one apple from every Scout she saw, but she'd also already bought a bunch of apples at the grocery store. The staff took some off her hands and got themselves a nice fall snack. I went back out into the sun and started walking home.
dreaminghope: (Cherry Blossom)
Though Autumn will always have my heart (apples! pumpkins! red and orange leaves dancing! cold nights for curling up in a blanket!), Spring is winning me over. I have fairly new seasonal allergies, which had been putting a damper on my love of cherry blossom season, but today made that all irrelevant.

The air felt sticky this afternoon; the gym was warm and humid. When I stepped out the door, there was this light misting rain and a breeze bearing the scent of cherry blossoms and baby leaves.

As I started along the walk to the bus stop, the rain began to fall harder, but it also got brighter out. I walked under a dark cloud edged by bright blue, nearly cloudless sky. I was moving under the edge of the storm; it looked like the rain stopped less than a half block from me. The rain was pouring down on me while the sun shone in my eyes. I turned and saw a complete rainbow arc, every colour bright.

The rain lightened as I crossed the street to the bus stop, so I found myself waiting for the bus with the finest of rains - more rain dripping off my hair than falling on to it - with the warm sun on my face.

I'm sorry, Autumn; I'm seeing Spring on the side. Just 'til you come back in September, I swear.
dreaminghope: (Cherry Blossom)
Despite the cherry blossoms that snowed down during our "Spring Olympics", Vancouver's spring has been fading in and out this year. We've had wind storms, hail, and cold days, as well as sunny days and some of our usual rain, rain, and more rain.

Usually by April, I've been able to downgrade to just wearing a fleece hoody, even for my morning walking commute. Usually by now, I can stop using my electric heater at work.

I still have my headband and gloves in my winter jacket pockets, and I'm wearing them at least once a day. I'm still keeping my office door shut tight all the time and using the heater at least once a day. I did finally get to wash my wool hat and my mittens this weekend and put them into storage for the year. Spring is coming, slowly but eventually.
dreaminghope: (Cherry Blossom)
Beautiful clear blue skies. Irises popping up. Very early cherry blossoms. A perfect pink peony laying in the middle of the sidewalk like it's floating on a still cement pond. We're having a lovely early spring.

Shame about the ski slopes.

I am unsure about why we wanted the Winter Olympics to begin with, much less why our bid was accepted. Gee-whiz, Vancouver is warm in February and has a lot of protesters... who could have seen that coming?

However, it was nice to watch speed skating on the big screen at the O Zone while sitting in the sunshine in a t-shirt.
dreaminghope: (Dancing Cat)
There's Valentine's Day, of course. And there's the Lunar New Year, widely and extravagantly celebrated in the Vancouver area due to our high Chinese population. And there's this international sporting event inspiring rarely-seen displays of Canadian patriotism. There are the red tents for the homeless. And there's this display about Delta and Richmond's cranberry fields:

Vancouver's very red right now.

Today, Russ and I joined my family to watch my Dad take part in a unique event. As part of the Olympic celebrations at suburban Richmond's O Zone, the Taoist Tai Chi Society that he is a part of brought North America's longest Chinese dragons across Canada from Ontario to B.C. to take place in a double dragon dance. Dad was one of the people carrying the large dragon; he was one of the people carrying the head.

Left: The smaller dragon: 75 metres / 246 feet. Right: The larger dragon: 150 meters / 492 feet (my Dad's holding the centre pole of the head; his face is obscured by the dragon's open mouth).

The dragons circled around the stadium, sweeping and twisting, then they each coiled up tight to watch a large demonstration of tai chi. Then they did a double dragon spiral, where they ended up coiled tight together. Many Pagans know how physically challenging a huge spiral dance can be - the strain of keeping up the pace while doing the sweeping curves - and can probably imagine doing that while holding a stick supporting a piece of dragon up above their head. Uncoiling was even more work - they literally ran to keep everything in one piece.

While the two dragons were spiralled together, they moved in for a kiss, bringing together the Lunar New Year at the Olympics with Valentine's Day:

Gung Hei Fat Choi!
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
I wake at about four in the morning. The wind is pushing against the city. It voices its wildness in the shake of windows, in the screech of tree branches across glass, in the rumble of recycling boxes tumbling against fences. My house groans under the assault; its old bones creak.

Part of me wishes that the power would fail. Nature could win, just for a little while, and the constant lights of the city would go out. Part of me wants to go out into the storm: to stand barefoot in the empty street, let the rain soak my skin, and howl back to the wind. Be a wild thing in the wild dark.

Our ancestors hid in caves from storms and animals and the dangers of the wild; I feel the tug of blood and instinct to build a fort of pillows, a cave of blankets with a flashlight campfire to hold back the unknown. I pull my blankets over my ears and sleep fitfully, between freedom and fear.
dreaminghope: (Squinty Puck)
The Vancouver winter smell has set in. It's the sour, musty smell of a jacket hung up wet day after day, never quite drying all the way through.

Every time I went outside today, the weather seemed to get worse. When I walked to work, the day was just grey and cloudy. When I left work, it was drizzling. When I left the gym, it was raining. When I left the grocery store, it was pouring. For everyone's safety, I'm staying home for the rest of the night; if I go out again, there might be Biblical-scale flooding.
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
I like goals and lists. When I went to New York City with my Mom and sister many years ago, I went with a list of foods I wanted to try while there: a piece of New York cheesecake, a soft pretzel from a street vender, a bagel from a Jewish bakery, and an egg cream. Completely doable, and delicious, goals. I proudly achieved them all (I actually achieved cheesecake several times over).

I have goals for this summer. They are fairly straightforward:

1. Finish my cloak (the one I've been "working" on since March). I finally started weaving the second half today, after warping it many weeks ago.

2. Figure out the two heddle technique on my loom so I can do a double-width piece. I want to use this technique to make a baby blanket for my first niece or nephew; I am not convinced that I will complete it before "Bean" is born (due at the end of July), but I want to finish it before the end of the summer.

3. Buy an ice cream treat off an ice cream truck.

The last one is the one I'm having the most trouble with. For the first two, I have written instructions to follow. If I have trouble with the instructions, there's the rigid heddle YahooGroups email list or the forums on Weavolution to help me out. But I don't understand how to buy from an ice cream truck.

I don't think they had any ice cream trucks in the small town where I grew up, and if they did, the trucks certainly didn't come down the mining road where I lived. And I only see ice cream trucks on the move in Vancouver. I hear them pass, music tinkling away, from my office (why they are in my work neighbourhood at all, I don't really know; maybe the hookers, addicts, and Maritime Labour onion members are big lovers of the Rocket Pop), but I would never have time to get my money out and get out in time to catch them. Even when I see the trucks near the park, they are driving past. I don't know how they sell anything, but I'm determined to figure it out.

Of course, once I've caught one of these elusive venders, I will have to figure out what to buy. I'm rather fond of Drumsticks - do they sell those from trucks?
dreaminghope: (Christmas)
Russ and I spent many hours working on our house over the last month. We tidied and cleaned inside and out. We hung art work we've owned for years. Russ finished the living room floor, a project that's been pending since we moved in more than three years ago. My sister's Christmas present to us was a custom-made bedroom curtain, replacing the cat-covered sheets we'd pinned up.

The prompt for this sudden productivity was Christmas Eve: We were to host my extended family, including Grandma.

In classic upper-middle-class WASP style, I spent much of my time cultivating a "oh, this old thing" style. The Star Trek books get tucked behind everything else where they can't be found, but Harry Potter stays visible – not too embarrassing, and too many high brow books might look fake. But I do leave my old poli sci books and Charles Dickens out too.

Everything was ready: seasonal music in the CD player, egg nog and homemade ginger beer in the fridge, red and green towels in the bathroom… and we watched the snow come down. And come down.

Vancouver doesn't do snow.

At mid-afternoon, after consulting with my parents and aunts and uncles, we had to call it:

Christmas Eve was cancelled.

We were left with a lot of egg nog and Satsuma mandarins and the promise that we can host next year. That gives me one more year to get the bathroom ceiling repaired, replace the sagging futon in the living room, and get a better stand for our water filtration system.
dreaminghope: (Faerie Wings)
It's not raining anymore. And, for the first time in a week, it isn't dark as I leave work.

Deep breath. Clean fall air. The smell of damp decay.

The trees and the sunset are painted with the same fiery watercolour palette.

Deep breath. Wood smoke. Someone's got their fireplace lit. Cozy.

Deep breath. Pot smoke. Ah, East Vancouver.

Layers of leaves squish beneath my boots.

I hate leaf blowers. I'm sure there are times when they are genuinely useful, but I assure you that right after the rain stops is not one of those times. The leaves aren't moving because they are soggy. They are glued to the sidewalk. They are not going to move. Get a rake. Or a broom.

I'm two blocks past the noisy beast, and I can still hear it. Three blocks, and the whine continues in the background. It's more annoying than when the upstairs faucet breaks and I can hear it squealing in the bedroom wall when I'm trying to sleep and I have to ball my blanket up over my ears to try to block it out and all I can think is I just want it to be quiet again and though it's been quiet for a couple of weeks now, it's only a matter of time before Russ' latest fix fails and the squealing starts again and I wish I knew when Bath Fitters is going to come and fix it once and for all...

Five blocks, and I can't hear it anymore.

Deep breath. Onion, garlic, curry; someone's making dinner.

Deep breath. My mittens smell like wet wool.

Deep breath.


Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:06 am
dreaminghope: (Quiet Gargoyle)
It's a wet, wet morning in Vancouver. My boots leak.

I walk past a senior's semi-independent living facility every morning. This morning, two ambulances were pulling out of their driveway. No flashing lights; no sirens.
dreaminghope: (Cave Gargoyle)
It's that Vancouver Autumn rain. Even though my jacket is very waterproof, the chill creeps under my collar and I feel soggy. The man in front of me is smoking a cigar that smells like blueberry flowers, serving to make the day seem heavier and grayer compared to the summer scent.

There's a funeral home near the SkyTrain station at Broadway and Commercial. It's been closed and empty for awhile now, collecting graffiti tags while it waits for rezoning. The long awning over the front walk is still intact.

Today, someone is under the awning. He has a little room set up: a sleeping bag with a pillow and extra blanket, a box as a side table with a clock on it, even a little battery-operated lamp. He is sitting in the sleeping bag, cuddled down a bit, eating something hot out of a Styrofoam container.

The sidewalk is only a meter from the man's bedroom; it's like seeing someone through their front window making coffee or reading the newspaper in their bathrobe. Their real life going on and I see them and they don't see me. For a moment, his set-up looks cozy and almost normal. And than I become aware of the roar of rush hour traffic over wet pavement again, and I'm past the funeral home.
dreaminghope: (Starry Starry Night)
Today, there was the sweetness of the cherry blossoms on the cold wind; the same cold wind that tossed the fluffy snow in a swirling dance. Sometimes some pink petals would fall with the snow.

Flowers shivered and complete strangers stood together and wondered aloud at snow in Vancouver in March.
dreaminghope: (Quiet Gargoyle)
We're having a perfect autumn day. I walked to Main Street and went to an organic and fair trade café where the man behind the counter taste-tested the almond syrup before making my drink. He made my latté backwards – pulled the shots before steaming the milk – but it still tasted lovely. And he poured the milk so that the foam made a swirled heart on top. I drank the heart before putting my travel mug's lid on.

I sit outside of the café at a little ironwork table. I want to write – there's a certain mysticism to The Café as a place to write (or program) – but I end up just reading in the sun.

When I resume my walk, I pull my paisley hat down firmly against the fall breeze. When I get to the corner, I don't start walking at the light but wait until the bus comes to a complete stop. Buses in Vancouver often run red lights, and there'd be something just too silly about someone as bohemian-looking as I – paisley hat, tie-died dress, hemp shoes, naturally worn (out) jean jacket – being killed by public transportation.

There's no one out behind the Ivanhoe yet. I guess anyone drinking at noon on a Friday doesn't want to be out in the golden sun, even for a smoke. It isn't a place for business lunches.

A block down, at the next corner, there's a slick faux-brick condo building, six floors high. The top floor has a larger balcony with a wide cement wall for a railing. Someone has placed a gargoyle on the corner of the rail, overlooking the corner of Main and Prior. He is very easy to spot, but only if you look up; most people don't.

I sit on a short cement wall across the street, where the gargoyle can see me, and that's where I write.

I think about what the gargoyle can see. He can see the daily parade of buses and cars up and down Main Street. He can see the old Italian immigrants heading into the European Deli Warehouse – the import business and warehouse that almost burned down in the rash of arsons in the summer of 2006 – and leaving with their fancy cheeses and French sodas. He can see the sign that says "Welcome to Historic Chinatown" and the graffiti that offers the cryptic comment "I have never been out of love with the mall".

And the gargoyle can see the people who shoot up and who sleep under the underpass across the street. It must be frustrating to be a gargoyle – see it all, and never be able to do anything. It isn't demons we need protecting from anymore, but that's all he knows how to do.

I think about going into the deli warehouse, but entering a dark maze of rooms doesn't appeal, and we have a lot of cheese at home already.

I go home and read science fiction in the sun on my back porch while drinking a glass of red wine, and feel so decadent that it's like there could never be any despair in this beautiful city.
dreaminghope: (Firelight)
Last week and all weekend was hot and sunny and... hot. Hot enough to boil away other adjectives.

Last night, at ten at night, I finally thought that it was cool enough out to try to wash the dishes that had piled up over the hot weekend. The lemon-scented steam rose and the sweat ran down my face and the back of my t-shirt. The air outside was too still to bring any relief through the open window. Then I heard a wonderful noise.

I stepped out the back door and moved to stand in the middle of the back deck and the rain poured down on me in fat, cool drops. Though I was surrounded by the city, the world was quiet and still and dark. It felt like the universe could hear my prayers.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
The streets and sidewalks are covered in cherry blossom petals, like there was a secret parade last night that no one swept up after.

A flock of bike riders play leap-frog with the bus. Every time the bus pulls into a stop, the bikes fly past on the left hand side – about a dozen blue jays, cardinals, canaries – chirping in the sharp voices of bicycle bells. They swoop back to the right, towards the sidewalk. Moments later, the bus driver gives a playful tap on the horn as she passes them again.

Old clichés and over-stretched metaphors are a little more forgivable in the Spring. Even a little madness is acceptable. The poet writes the image; the madman believes the image. The cyclists are birds and the petals are confetti, and I'll be both poet and madman tonight.
dreaminghope: (Happy Bug)
With apologies to those buried in snow – I don't mean to gloat – but in Vancouver, the weather is on the verge of becoming Spring. Despite dire predictions of gloom and rain, we had sun today. The crocuses are up and there are buds on the trees, but nothing is open yet. The whole city is about to have its fresh start; it's a good time to welcome a New Year.

Living on the edge of Chinatown was very convenient for enjoying today's Lunar New Year celebration. Russ and I took Russ' parents to see the big parade. Last year's crowd was estimated at 50,000 people; it was probably even bigger this year.

I am in love with the Chinese Lions. I've always had a thing for bright colours and almost over-the-top theatrics, and they bobbed along with a life that seemed separate from the dancers that were in the costumes. Some made their Lions rear into the air – the head dancer would jumped up and down from the shoulders of the back dancer. And I especially loved the littlest Lions – some of whom were probably just eight or nine years old – who just make me giggle helplessly with the adorable-ness of it all. They were dancing as hard as they could, except when they got distracted by watching the adult Lions around them.

At every pause in the parade, where a gap would form between groups, there seemed to be someone in a "volunteer" hat, tossing firecrackers into the street. The smoke was drifting along the whole route. I never did figure out where the periodic showers of confetti – big squares of colourful streamers – came from. A tall man near me got beaned by a candy thrown from a flat bed truck where a Lion lounged, only his wagging tail indicating that anyone was inside.

I loved the big drums being pulled on trolleys, and the way the gongs and cymbals sent vibrations right through me.

The little boy in front of me, who was visiting Vancouver from the Yukon, had handfuls of hard candies and of red envelopes with chocolate coins in them by the end of the parade. His mother received a fortune cookie; her fortune said "Happy New Year from Stephen Harper*". She carefully put the fortune in her wallet to take home with her. The hard candies were just sweet, with no real flavour.

Sometimes, we could have been in China. Sometimes, we could only have been in Vancouver. Amongst the Benevolent Societies and the Chinese Free Masons, the Lions and the Dragons, and the martial arts displays and traditional dance groups from all over the Eastern world, there were also the Asian Line Dancers (in vaguely Eastern dress with vaguely authentic cowboy hats), the Brazilian dancers in stomach-baring and frilly outfits handing out fliers for their Carnival next weekend, the hippy pick-up band of drums and horns that plays at Illuminares every year, and a couple of First Nations groups drumming and chanting.

We escaped the chaos of post-parade Chinatown for a late lunch. It was a little tricky freeing ourselves from the milling masses after the parade. We ended up completely encircled, with the crowds and the parade between us and home. We finally "salmoned" our way through an area that looked thinner than everywhere else. Then, to one of my very favourite restaurants: a vegetarian Chinese restaurant called Bo Kong.

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to the Year of the Pig!

*For non-Canadian-philes, Stephen Harper is our current prime minister.
dreaminghope: (Flying Demon Girl)

We carved pumpkins last night: four small ones, now sitting along the top of our fence, and one large one, on our front stoop.

My job was to pick the seeds out from the huge bowl of pumpkin guts, so we can roast them. I love roasted and salted pumpkin seeds. I even roasted acorn squash seeds once, because I didn't have a pumpkin.

Five pumpkins mean a lot of pumpkin seeds. The pile is more then an inch deep in our large colander. I had a "no seed left behind" policy when separating seeds from pulp.

I need to rescue all the pumpkin seeds. I go through every wet and stringy blob, seeking out even the smallest seeds.

I don't have obsessive-compulsive disorder; I have a story.

The seeds want to be roasted and eaten. They don't want to go to waste. I assure them that I will find each and every one of them.


dreaminghope: (Default)

February 2014



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