Bike Tags and Murals

It’s so pleasant to walk around how the city is transformed into an outdoor gallery of painted walls in epic proportions in public spaces. It turned out to be a yearly mural festival since 2016.

Another event took place last year to encourage others to have fun in taking a shot of the street art and posting it in their Instagram hashtags #biketags.

“Why am I so damn cheerful? Because ain’t nobody got time to be moping about. The present is only a gift if you’re actually PRESENT for it. Open your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Absorb all the goodness around you until it overflows into the world around you.”

When you enter Mt. Pleasant, the larger than life murals of Past, Present and Future, welcome you. I see these in my daily commute to work.

Notice the bike? This is Tyrone Siglos’ bike. He started biking all over town maybe 10 years ago. At the start of Pandemic, he was layed-off. He made use of his bike to earn a living during this hard times by delivering food with Uber Eats.

While biking around, he found more things in life and still keep finding something new everyday.

I’ve always wanted to go to Hogan’s Alley where Jimi Hendrix stayed when he came to Vancouver. This is one area of the Black community in Vancouver. Most of the murals tell a story.

Nora Hendrix, the grandmother of Jim Hendrix, established a low income housing for black and indigenous community. Nora Hendrix Way is a new street named after her.

The big tag went into full swing.

“It’s an awesome way to bike around during the pandemic,” Siglos says in Vancouver is Awesome

Some Bike Tag locations are cool street murals or creative public art, others are beautiful spots for a ride — like this trail on Burnaby Mountain in Vancouver’s Bike Tag wrote West Coast Travellers.

The whole Vancouver is exploding with murals and there are gems off the beaten path.

This is my favourite. It symbolizes how an Angel has guided Tyrone, my nephew, to rise above it. He branched out to promoting local eats, raised fund and performed the challenge of Everesting.

The concept of Everesting is simple: Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mt Everest.

Tyrone biked the mountains of Grouse, Seymour and Cypress. His name is now recorded in the Hall of Fame in Everesting.

What I am so proud of him is how he managed his mental wealth through these activities.

Siglos struggled with depression, but noticed when he started riding his bicycle to work, he felt better. After being laid off from a job in the warehouse sector last spring, he decided to take a job delivering food on his bike with Uber Eats.

“I haven’t felt this good ever, just mentally, so that’s a big part of it,” he said. “I love … exploring the city, the freedom that it allows me.” – CBC

When I see a murals in town, I sometimes wonder if I beat Tyrone in finding this one first. Definitely, he hasn’t seen the FNATIC since this one was taken in London.

Talk of the town

Now all the babies are born, all three of them, one boy and two girls, the centre of our conversations is about the babies. You can just imagine the chin wagging on how to raise a child from the elders.

I for one hardly say on how to raise a child. I just want the child to see the ordinary and make it extraordinary.

This is Lucy. She’s now a grown up studying at UBC to become a lawyer. I don’t know if she remembers the simplicity in life. But I think she does. The other day, she sent us how fall is blooming in the grounds of the university reminding us that it’s time to visit and see the ordinary beauty of nature turning into extraordinary.

Can’t wait. This time bringing my other sister who wants to escape from intellectual conversation.

Photographs and memories

For the past 800 years, if the tree could talk, it would be able to tell us what it has witnessed on better days. For the tree to still stand and withstood the foibles of humanity, nothing is better than getting a good hug from it.

Dante Alighieri is another example who has seen better days. When he was exiled from his hometown, Florence, he was heartbroken. His heartache drove him to write the famous Divine Comedy.

In Canto 5, Dante met Francesca de Polenta. She said to Dante:

There is no greater pain
than to remember happy days
in days of misery.

Francesca committed adultery and was put in the circle of lust. She discovered that her happiness having a forbidden love is now her misery.

This year, we are celebrating the 700th year of Dante. What a better year to delve in his work as a poet and a pilgrim while we ride the wave of pandemic. So I joined reading 100 Days of Dante. It would go on until Easter 2022, by then we are hoping the malaise of the society has very little negative effective in our mental health.

When I think of better days, I think of a plum and prune.

What did the prune say to a plum?

I’ve seen better days.

Indian Summer

Blue sky, not a cloud in the horizon and the air crisp. The leaves of the Cherry Tree is blossoming with fiery orange. In spring time, it flowers first before the leaves come out.

At Forest Lawn, this place is so beautiful. No matter what time of the year, it’s stunning all around. I often wonder how the residents feel in close proximity at the cemetery.

A bursting crimson colour shrub in my garden is what we have been waiting for. The name of this plant is Euonymus but I cannot remember it, so I called it burning bush.

My sister came to visit bringing a small pumpkin wishing me happy fall. Already? I can’t believe it’s here and have forgotten the season of the year. It still feels summery. I suppose I have to start putting the rest of the plants to bed and winterized them. In the meantime, we are off for a walk to check out autumn colours and fall plants at UBC. This purple berries are so beautiful that I am planning to grow it in my garden. Sister looked great posing with Callicarpa.

“When the leaves fall,
the whole earth is a cemetery
pleasant to walk in.
I love to wander and muse over
them in their graves. Here
are no lying nor vain epitaphs.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Light Up

Each evening from dawn till dusk, Science World lights up using 198 LED lights. This became an iconic Vancouver Lights.

When Vancouver was lightless, In 1942 Earle Birney wrote Vancouver Lights.

Through the feckless years we have come to the time
when to look on this quilt of lamps is a troubling delight

In daytime, Science World still is a delight to see.

of nothing pulsing down from beyond and between
the fragile planets We are a spark beleaguered
by darkness this twinkle we make in a corner of emptiness

The stage red lighting in this production has the intensity of passion and love. If I remember this Filipino folk dance correctly, it’s called Maria Clara. The dress is an elegant formal outfit for women with clean lines that symbolize the virtues and nobility of a Filipino woman while the men wear Barong Tagalog, a traditional Filipino embroidered long-sleeve shirt made of pineapple fibre. He’s holding a castanets known as clackers.

Don’t they look fabulous with the lights on?

On a personal level, I use up a lot of artificial lights. This is my Day Light lamp 10,000 Lux therapy lamp for the living room. The lights mimic natural light to help me get through my seasonal affective disorder. The only months that they are unused are the months of August and September. I have another lamp in the bedroom.

These lamps are used first thing in the morning to wake up my brain. They are my lifeline.

Photographs and Memories

My feet carry me in different parts of the world to understand the divinity of Mother Earth.  I am grateful what Mother Earth provides beneath our feet.

Along the way, we encounter a bridge and calm water that create a perfect reflection of what is above the still water, ‘as above, so below.’

Passing a bridge walking along Santiago de Compostela

Passing a bridge walking along Santiago de Compostela

Pilgrimage takes me to sacred sites where I deepen my faith and understand other’s devotion. The road beneath our feet can be a rocky terrain. There are others that will go up hiking barefooted to feel more connected with the Earth.

Stony path hiking to the top of Medjugorje

A flat paved surface is a pleasure to walk along the groves of olive trees as we pray the rosary and meditate on the passion of Jesus Christ.

Flat surface at Fatima

For more adventure, climbing Mt. Sinai requires the help of a guide or a camel ride in the dark. At Mt. Sinai, we meditated about Moses’ encounter with the burning bush and talking to his God. At the top of the mountain, we welcome the rising of the sun. With the sun’s glorious light, a new day dawning and darkness dispelled, the walk down is more treacherous. A rock beneath your feet, one could take a tumble on a slippery slope.

Rugged terrain at Mt. Sinai

Walking a Sacred Labyrinth in tuned with every step and every breath we take quietens the mind. There is no right or wrong way to walk. There is no time limit. Meditating or staying prayerful as we step one foot forward, stop and pause as long as we want, then take the next step. One could never get lost going in the center with an open mind and heart . We walk out of the circle feeling rejuvenated and centered.

Labyrinth at Naramata

According Hermes Emerald Tablet ‘as above, so below’, I can only translate this according to my Catholic faith.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ~ Jesus Prayer

Church Cemetery at Oberammergau

As a pilgrim, I keep walking, passing through these places. In the end of it all, I will be the one lying beneath His feet.

Light Made it Visible.

To reach the peak of Mt. Sinai to witness the first light of the day, one has to start trekking at zero dark thirty.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways
to kneel and kiss the ground.” ~ Rumi

Dawn of a new day
On top of Mt. Sinai.
Half light, half dark
The light made it visible.

It is a place for everyone.
Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, Atheist.
All is welcome.

Zero dark thirty is a phrased I picked up from Tina.

Feet, wheels, shoes, tires, fetis

Our body is the best vehicle that will transport us to many places. Our feet is the wheel, while shoes are the tires. We need good tires to protect the wheels as much as good shoes to protect our feet.

For people who only see feet and shoes and not the sky, understand this:

“The whole universe is completely insane!”

I enjoy looking at shoes more than shoes. This converse high top shoe caught my eyes and would have been perfect as to what’s happening for the past two years. I did not buy the shoes because I was into high heels then.

Speaking of high heels, Stella knows what she wants if the shoe fits.

She feels sexy at her tender age what more when you are a woman. But, the red shoes created a stir when a movement of men wearing red shoes to walk a mile raising awareness in violence against women.

As for feeling sexy wearing stiletto, I resigned when i grew up at age 40.

Fun fact: Men were the first one who wore high heels as a symbol of supremacy and aristocratic status. Another reason is to protect their feet from the puddles and dirt.

Should you ever come to visit my place, be ready to be showered with affection by Lucy, my cat who has a fetish for feet and socks. By the time she’s finished with you, your feet is covered with slimy saliva, fur and dander. She is so sweet.

One foot missing? No problem. There’s always a solution. This cyclist did not deter him from doing what he loves. There is another person that has only one leg. He became a worldwide hero in raising awareness and funds to find a cure for cancer. He ran a marathon across Canada with just one leg and a prosthetic. He must have used thousands of running shoes in order to complete his goal. Recently, the foundation launched a video titled The Power of One. His name is Terry Fox.


Hot off the press, breaking news on August 15, 2021 at 11:57 am. Allow me to introduce a new born male feet, an addition to our growing family. His name is Bennett Logan Greirson.

I love feet. Why? Because …

Whenever there is a new born, we’ve been told not to kiss the baby. Not to touch the baby. What is allowed to touch is the feet. Face is still sensitive. Hands must be kept clean because babies tend to put them in their mouth. It would be awhile for the baby to discover his feet, therefore, it’s safe to worship his feet.

Fun fact: Do you know that solestry is known as foot reading most commonly practiced in India? Foot readers claim that they’re able to get a glimpse of a person’s character simply by taking a look at their foot.

Well, that is far fetched since our feet changes as we grow older, molded by our footwear, body weight and activities we do in life.

Just remember to thank your feet. Take good care of them for it will take you beyond. Relax, take off your shoes and socks, let your feet breath. Massage them while you are watching Netflix or just plain doing nothing as a couch potato.

The Grace of finding Veronica Shoffstall

Having different names can be inspirational. I, for example, have used many names from Seeker to Pilgrim to Perpetua. Then there is Grace.

I have posted “Plant your own garden, decorate your own soul” twice. The poem has been an inspiration to so many. However, it has been attributed to so many names such as Jorge Luis Borges, Shakespeare and Veronica Shoffstall.

Jimmy and GG

After a while, you learn the subtle difference Between holding a hand and chaining a soul And you learn that love doesn’t mean security, And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts And presents aren’t promises.

Grace found the poem posted in three different occasions at Ravenous Butterflies in Facebook attributed to Veronica Shoffstall. In the first post, Grace being ungraceful commented insisting that it was written by Borges. A Ronnie Shoffstall was inspired to reply that she and Veronica are the same. Still Grace is skeptic

On the second post, a quote showed up in Ravenous Butterflies:

So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for some to bring you flowers.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Grace commented: Kindly give us the full quote of Jose Luis Borge. And Butterflies obliged attributing it to Borges.

Pandemonium ensued that Veronica Shoffstall is the author commented by many.

Therefore, Butterflies changed the author to Shoffstall. Fair enough since it was originally posted as Shoffstall.

Enter Grace commenting again since she is so inspired by this poetry attaching it to her photos as an avid gardener.

“Ravenous Butterflies, what made you change the name of the writer from Borges to Shoffstall.”

Grace is the ability to redefine the boundaries of possibility. ~ MANNING MARABLE

garden

And you begin to accept your defeats With your head up and your eyes open, With the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child. And you learn to build all your roads on today, Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain. And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

The following is the conversation in Ravenous Butterflies third post between Grace Siglos and Ronnie Shoffstall (in italic).

RS: because Veronica A. Shoffstall is the author of this poem. Sr. Borges wrote a different poem, and someone (who would get pimples and hemorrhoids) taked my poem onto it.

GS: word for word added a few lines, wart and all, I suppose anyone can call it theirs. Just like I said, I wish the dead could speak. ( GS and RS had a previous conversation before in the first post).

RS: So do I, my fried. So Do I.

GS: unfortunately Jorge Lois Borges died when the poetry showed up written in English.

RS: Like I said, if you really want to know, do some honest research with the facts I’ve provided. Otherwise, please don’t spread misinformation. It’s hurting me.

GS: I am not spreading misinformation and I am not the only one that is questioning the validity of the poetry. I am hurting as well.

RS: So check it out. Satisfy yourself.

GS: hahaha … not buying your response. YOU have to provide th facts since it’s in your name.

Maple Tree

After a while, you learn that even sunshine Burns if you get too much. So you plant your own garden and decorate Your own soul, instead of waiting For someone to bring you flowers

RS: I have done. I will do again and again. *First published in The Ivy, yearbook of SUNY Mohawk Valley. 1972 Yearbook was late, so it was delivered in a boxed edition, with my poem beautifully printed on a piece of parchment.

This must have made this easy to copy, distribute, or hang on refrigerator doors. It made its way around the SUNY system and eventually showed up without my name.

By December 1982, it had found its way to the syndicated Ann Landers Advice Column. My mother was a dedicated Ann Fan and called me, all excited, when my poem appeared in the column, someone asking who wrote it. I was in contact with Ann Landers office at the Chicago Tribune, and Ms. Landers posted my poem many times afterward, correctly and properly attributed, calling it, in her book WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, one of her most requested items.

Since then it has been published in more than 40 books, ranging from a Jewish book of advice, a quilters manual, a lesbian live novel, and a Christian marriage manual, and in several novels. It was even recited in its entirety in a played called, NANTUCKET SLEIGH RIDE, by John Guarre. Each of those authors found me, researched me, and requested my consent. An excellent calligrapher. Sherry Locker, markets my poem and gives me a percentage of the profits to the Polycystic Kidney Foundation, a disease my brother, sister, dad, aunt and uncles, as well as myself, all experience(d).

People started showing up claiming this poem, changing this poem, or asking my permission to corroborate on a better version of my poem. Several have been given permission to set it to music. I haven’t made as much money from this poem (maybe $500 since 1982?) as I’ve spent to defend it, with a lawyer who told me it would be like “gathering feathers in the wind”. So now I depend on angels who know the truth about this poem’s creator and defend the truth.

You asked for this, Grace Siglos. I hope I don’t have to say all this again. I don’t know who makes up a story like this, but if it sounds MORE LIKELY TO YOU that I would put my name in the work of a FAMOUS poet, then you are certainly have freedom of belief. You are one of those blasted feathers in the wind.

GS: thank you. You should do more that this and write to the copyright powers to clear your name. Plus post it on your FB and your blog site. If I am the real writer, I wouldn’t be mad and start name calling but be thankful that this piece of poetry is associated with famous writer. It’s all a blessing similar to Madame Currie’s invention and became a Nobel Prize Winner.

RS: Grace, I think the only thing I called you was a feather in the wind. I apologize if my tone was filled with frustration and indignance but I’ve been dealing with this a very long time. I don’t have children so this poem is my only thing that will outlive me. I rarely ask for money, usually a signed copy of the book (I have KISS ME LIKE A STRANGER, by Gene Wilder!) or tickets to the play by Mr. Guarre (it sucked btw). Anyway I appreciate that you a seeker of truth — I belong to the Baha’i Faith and we’re big on that. And I’m an American, which at least proclaims itself to be. So I did not mean to offend you and I’m sorry if I did. I was just frustrated . And since you forced me to write all this out, I’ll save it so I don’t have to keep doing it. So thank you, Grace.

Bouquet of flowers

And you learn that you really can endure… That you really are strong, And you really do have worth And you learn and learn and learn. With every goodbye, you learn.

GS: I can understand your frustration. My background is mostly validation on facts, figures, science, legal and strength of materials. I have strong faith as well. You still have time to send notification without costing you to clear confusion as I mentioned above. BTW, thanks for visiting my site.

If any consolation to you, the Spanish community vehemently saying this is not the work of Borges or Shakespeare but yours. I doubt Shakespeare wrote this. Gosh, you’re famous amongst these literary writers. I suppose people are looking for Veronica and not Ronnie where the confusion lies.

RS: It’s crazy. Jorge Luis Borges has books of poetry, he’s got biographers! He’s an esteemed, productive poet! It boggles my mind that there is any confusion at all. I guess I should be honored, but it really makes a problem for me, particularly because it is already in so many books and publications. I hate that anyone thinks I’M the plagiarist.

GS: Just like I said the confusion lies on the name between Ronnie and Veronica. Hope you pinned a note on your FB and blog sites that Ronnie/Veronica is the same person.

In the meantime, Grace found the yearbook with the poetry, provided it to Butterflies that is was written by Ronnie Shoffstall and change the name to clear the confusion.

RS: Thank you, but my name is Veronica. Ronnie is a pretty standard abbreviation. Please don’t change my name. Ronnie is what my friends call me. It’s my “home name”. As far as the bank, the government, my insurance companies, and other matters of importance, I’m Veronica. If you are my friend you can call me Ronnie, but Veronica wrote the poem, copyrighted the poem, and attributed to the poem. None of my important papers say Ronnie. I doubt that my nickname was the problem. But thank you for your concern.

GS: To end this on a good note. Here’s the message I received from Centro Jorge Luis Borges Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno Republica Argentina:

I am writing to you in order to answer mail that I send you above the message.

By this means, I have to say that the text that you have sent us does not belong to Jorge Luis Borges and of course is not part of his Complete Works.

I think, is just a fake text that apparently appears in a page of googlereads (goodreads) as many others.

Best regards,
German Alvarez

Plant your own garden

My gardening days are winding down Inspiration to garden lives on passing it down

Post Card to myself

Although i may have travelled all the roads,
crossed mountains and valleys from East to West,
if i haved not discovered the freedom to be my self,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have shared all of my possessions
with people of other languages and cultures;
made friends with pilgrims of thousand paths,
or shared alberque with saints and princes,
if i am not capable of forgiving my neighbor tomorrow,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have carried my pack from beginning to end
and waited for every pilgrim in need of encouragement,
or given my bed to one who arrived later than i,
given my bottle of water in exchange for nothing;
if upon returning to my home and work,
i am not able to create brotherhood
or to make happiness, peace and unity,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have had food and water each day,
and enjoyed a roof and shower every night;
or may have had my injuries well attented,
if i have not discovered all that the love of God,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have seen all the monuments
and contemplated the best sunsets;
although i may have learned a greeting in every lanaguage
or tasted the clean water from every fountain;
if i have discovered who is the author
of so much free beauty and so much peace,
i have arrived nowhere.

If from today i do not continue walking on your path,
searching and living according to what i have learned;
in from today i do not see in every person, friend or foe
a companion on the Camino;
if from today i cannot recognize God,
the God of Jesus of Nazareth
as one God of my life,
i have arrived at nowhere.

This is a postcard titled “Pilgrim’s Prayer” written by Fraydino I bought not as a souvenir but a reminder that I am only a pilgrim on earth.

50 Things To Do Before You Die

in year 2009, I bought a BC Magazine to celebrate its 50 years featuring a list of what to do in the province I live for the past 45 years.  Here I will remain for the rest of my life.

We call this province beautiful British Columbia!

The list could go on. These are just a teaser.

Forest Bathing

A bird on guard for thee.

  1. HIKE the West Coast Trail
  2. DIVE the Emerald Sea
  3. HUNT for mythical monsters
  4. CYCLE the Trans Canada Trail
  5. BE ALONE with nature
  6. MOTORCYCLE through the Kootenays
  7. HURL YOURSELF from a great height
  8. SURF a West Coast wave
  9. BACKPACK the Chilkoot Trail
  10. SET FOOT on every Gulf Island
On top - Copy

Balu Pass

  1. SAUNTER along the Seawall
  2. GLIMPSE BC’s wild horses
  3. DANCE at a powwow
  4. GO TUBING in the Okanagan
  5. GAWK at Squamish eagles
  6. PADDLE the Bowron Lakes
  7. PHOTOGRAPH a wild bear
  8. BARE IT ALL on Wreck Beach
  9. MOSEY through hoodoo country
  10. SUMMIT a mountain
Atlin BC walking the highway

Walking towards the lake to check it out.

  1. TOUR the Duffrey Lake loop
  2. DRIVE BC”s Alaska Highway
  3. WHALE WATCH at Telegraph Cove
  4. RIDE the Seven Summits Trail
  5. WITNESS the northern lights
  6. SOAK in a natural hot spring
  7. DISCOVER ancient petroglyphs
  8. BOAT up Bute Inlet
  9. GET GOBSMACKED by mountain light
  10. BOARD a BC ferry
Atlin BC look out

View from higher grounds. Beyond is the frozen lake

  1. SKI into O’Hara Lodge
  2. RUN a wild river
  3. VISIT a volcano
  4. DEVOUR BC at Feast of Fields
  5. FOLLOW dinosaur footprints
  6. FLY A KITE on Wickaninnish Beach
  7. WALK BAREFOOT in the forest
  8. BOUNCE through Barkerville
  9. BITE into a BC apple
  10. TAKE the road less travelled

Jimmy and Green Apples
41. REVEL in a wildflower meadow
42. SCALE THE Stawamus Chief
43. MAKE A 50-YEAR PLAN to visit every BC Park
44. SAIL through Haida Gwaii
45. WAKE UP some place wonderful
46. PLAY HOMAGE to the Cheewhat Giant
47. ZIP across the sky
48. HEAR THE ROAR of a mighty waterfall
49. DO some good
50. RAISE A GLASS of BC wine

Sunflowers and Nicole

Well, I’ve only done half of this. If I was born here, probably, I would have done most on this list tripping along the back country roads with a bumper sticker “Get those rocks off my road!”

The rest is details

I want to know God,
The rest is details.

We chose to stay at home to be surrounded by love ones.

Photographers and people who have let themselves be photographed assume that someday people will see their images and do something in response to what they see, she argues. They imagined you, their future viewer, hovering above them at the moment the picture was taken, and you must live up to their expectations.

 Azoulay  asks her readers to project themselves into the scenes of photographs, to notice the power dynamics at play, to identify the participants, and to view the outcomes not as inevitable but as one possibility among many. Looking at photographs this way, Azoulay thinks, can loosen events from their seeming inevitability and reveal that history didn’t have to proceed the way it did. Things could have been different. Viewing a photograph becomes a kind of reanimation: the still photograph begins to move, and though this motion cannot erase inequality, it can trouble oppression that might otherwise seem intractable. Azoulay understands that actions in the past are irreversible, yet she insists that photography introduces a kind of malleability, the potential for change. “The photograph is out there, an object in the world,” she writes, “and anyone, always (at least in principle), can pull at one of its threads and trace it in such a way as to reopen the image and renegotiate what it shows, possibly even completely overturning what was seen in it before.

Quotes source: How We Should Respond to Photographs of Suffering

Beauty under my naked eyes

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket save it for a rainy day ~ Perry Como

Snowflake

It’s snowing. Finally, I’ve been waiting for it. The last time it snowed was on Christmas. As it falls, I tried catching a flake. As soon as it touches my skin, it melts into water. I figured that my body temperature is not cold enough to keep it for a second or two. Trying to take a photo using an iPhone 6 seemed to be a futile activity, but I persevered. This flake stayed long enough, and I have used a burst of shots.

Since it rains so much here in Vancouver, it’s so easy to forget the snow.

Snowflakes

Today is a good day to inspect the snow.  The air is so dry and the flakes are hardly sticking.  I tried looking at the snow on various surfaces and colours. Red, blue, green, yellow, orang, umbrella, nettings, plants and even on my jacket.  It’s was fascinating to seem them glitter like diamonds.  

The snowflake makes its first appearance in recorded history when people identified individual snow crystals—with their distinctive six-fold symmetry—as the constituent elements of falling snow. The earliest known account was in 135 B.C., when Chinese scholar Han Yin wrote “Flowers of plants and trees are generally five-pointed, but those of snow, which are called ying, are always six-pointed.”

Subsequent Chinese writers mentioned snowflake symmetry as well, an example being the 6th-century poet Hsiao Tung, who penned: “The ruddy clouds float in the four quarters of the cerulean sky. And the white snowflakes show forth their six-petaled flowers.”

“The snow crystals . . . come to us not only to reveal the wondrous beauty of the minute in Nature, but to teach us that all earthly beauty is transient and must soon fade way. But though the beauty of the snow is evanescent, like the beauties of the autumn, as of the evening sky, it fades but to come again.” ~ Wilson A. Bentley

Photographs and Memories

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

IMG_1179

Youngest cousin surrounded by older (Instamatic Camera)

Memories:  This is one of the very few prints I kept using simple instamatic disposable cameras. I can’t even remember who the baby was, for we had so many of them — looking at this photo brought back memories of me when I was maybe four or five. My brother was just born, the youngest in our family. My siblings and I were at the foot of the bed, watching the baby in awe. A fluid was dripping from my nose, stuck out my tongue to like it. 

It’s strange how my brain conjured this memory. Maybe my brain is telling me that what I see in my mind is essential versus what I see.

A lady bird landed on my arm. (Canon camera)

Symbolism and Meaning:  A ladybug landed on my arm when I was on one of my pilgrim walks. The other pilgrim said it’s a sign of luck that Mother Mary came to visit This belief is based on Christianity. One thing I know for sure, when I see a ladybug, it brings out the happiness in me.

The other day, I was watching “The Dig” on Netflix. It’s a true story that happened in 1939 that changed England’s history where they dug up a burial site of an elaborate ship filled with treasures. One of the items they found is a well preserved yellow ladybird. What’s fascinating is the treasures were carbon-dated during the early Anglo-Saxon period around 410 to 1055. 

I wonder what made them carry this object. Is it for divine protection for the afterlife?

Medjugorje Christ Statue (instamatic camera)

Pilgrimage:   Returning from spiritual travel, folks always ask for a photo to support stories I tell them. They want to see pictures of churches, masses, the incorruptible, and miracles such as a dancing sun or an apparition. Really!?! Maybe, I can photoshop some of my pictures. But I don’t. What you see is what you get.  

When I was at Medjugorje, an imposing larger than life, Christ Risen bronze statue stood at the square. I noticed a man wiping the knee of the sculpture. When he was gone, I went to inspect what he did. The statue is solid to the touch but hollow inside. Touching the knee, I cannot determine what the man saw. I just stood there baffled, and then I saw a trickle of water dripping down. Interesting. Where is this condensation coming from, I thought. I even checked if there’s a water valve attached to the statue to fill the hollow part. Nothing. So I wiped the water off with my hand. It has no smell. I looked at the knee with great intent and saw water forming like a tear. I wiped it again, checked if there is a hole on the knee. Nothing. The tear-life liquid leaks again. I was mystified. 

Did I take a photo of the liquid? Unfortunately not. I’m not a photographer equipped with all the proper camera. All I have is a story.

For those who believe no miracle is enough, for those who believe no miracle is necessary.”

Apparently, a liter of liquid comes out of the statue daily.  There are oral testimonies that it is can cure illness.  On the scientific level performed, it’s 99% water with traces of calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur and zinc.  The Church does not comment on the phenomenon.

Stripes over Checks

“London Bridge is falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.”  I was humming this in my head on my way to see the bridge before it gets darker.  I don’t know how far it was.  In my furious bambling to reach the destination, this wall stopped me on my track. 

The optical illusion was so mesmerizing that I need to get a shot of it.  Suddenly, I heard a commotion behind me.

Stop! Wait!

Turning around, three young men running towards me, giggling.

“Hey, mate, you just can’t take a picture of a blank wall,” said one lad with a twinkling in his eyes.

“Oh yeah? Why don’t you boys go ahead and pose for me to make the wall look pretty?”  I said.

You just got to love the Brits.

Six Women at the VAG

As the old saying goes, a good teacher shows you where to look but doesn’t tell you what to see.

Six women by Bharti Kher at VAG

An artist paints. The viewer looks and searches to find meaning in what they see. Texture. Color. Emotion. Intellect. Don’t let the artist’s thoughts change your views.

In black and white, seeing the world without colors helps me see the raw emotion in front of me. Colors emit mixed emotions. Red for anger. Blue for serenity. Yellow for mellow.

Having six women looking at a panel of painting will result to different emotions.

Six women by Bharti Kher at VAG

Obscuring their faces to concentrate on their body postures and contours will also ignite our feelings. Neck. Shoulders. Breast. Abdomen. Hands. Legs. Feet. Nakedness. Age.

And I thought they must have been very good looking when they were younger and elegant with clothes on — my, my, how our body changed. Many women are so proud of their bodies. Taking the utmost care to appear sexy. I was once like them. Full of vanity. In my aging body, mine is no different than theirs.

Six women by Bharti Kher at VAG

These are life-size plasters of women that appear to be meditating. This is my interpretation. No meaning. Sometimes, I prefer it that way. I don’t want to know. I am afraid to know. Fear seems to be the strongest emotion.

It’s better to play a game in my head.

Who are these six women. What if I call them female. Is being a female the same thing as a woman. What if one is not really female. Is the man trapped in a female body? Did the man have a sex change?

How about six generations. Which one is the great grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter, granddaughter, niece? Do they all live together? What kind of relationship do they have? Healthy? Loving? Caring? Obedient?

Ah, that sounds much better. My emotion is starting to feel positive.

Six women by Bharti Kher at VAG

I am so glad that these figures are colorless.  Devoid of race.  

How close was my imagination, I wonder. 

In every artwork, there is a brief description that I read last so that it will not influence my thoughts.  And it reads:

Six Women, 2013-15
plaster, wood, resin
Courtesy of the Artist and Hauser & Wirth

In her most recent work, Six Women, Bharti Kher cast the bodies of female sex workers living in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the capital of India’s West Bengal state and home to one of the country’s largest brothel-based sex industries.  The women were paid by the artist to sit and be cast in plaster by her.  These six individuals provide not only an arresting and unapologetic representation of the aging female body as a counterpoint to social pressures to stay forever young, but they also serve as witnesses to the disregard for women who have obliged the patriarchy.

A Year of Finding Things Out

Miracle.  All of it!  That’s the sum total of my year.

Pineapple Sage

There are miracles and miracles.  It is regarded as a miracle if God does someone’s will.  The best miracle is if someone does the will of God.

For two years, I nurtured the pineapple sage from sampling to maturity.  It grew into a huge bush, mostly leaves.  Pleading to the plant to please, please, please, flower for me; even just one flower.  It did not.  Maybe I placed it on the wrong side of the garden where it only receives 6 hours of full sun.  I thought, next year, I have to give this plant a rest.  On the first day of winter,  I saw the most beautiful shade of red. It’s flowering despite low temperature and snow.

I knitted you in your mother’s womb.

Oh, baby, baby.  Our newest addition to our family, Sawyer, finally moved closer to home, from the east coast to the west coast at the beginning of this year.  Needless to say, we are all ecstatic.  I am proud to say I knitted this blanket that he is finally growing into.  The pattern is called minted square.  One square is completely different from the rest — an error – I found out when it’s all finished.  That’s okay.  Sawyer wouldn’t notice the difference.

All good things are wild, and free.

The annual camping tradition was not canceled.  Thank goodness our provincial park did not close our playground due to the virus.  We were good abiding citizens and practiced social distancing during camping.  The kids booked their own campsite side by side and we have one big site for communal all day cooking and eating.  The pleasure of being simple in the woods, keeping voices low, not breaking the sound of silence, and kumbaya is the balm to these city slickers’ souls.

You Rock Garden Helpers

Just go with the flow, said the stone to the river and I’ll wait right here.

Apart from growing plants, painted rocks are additional ornaments to brighten the garden.  Inspirational and spreading kind words written on the rocks such as joy, love, peace, live life pass it on, you rock, gratitude, etc. is becoming the norm.  I must say I enjoy reading them.

Humans, eat your heart out, says a senior cat.

During the pandemic, people are keener on having pets to keep them company.  This senior cat got it made having a human servant to push her carriage around.  I am happy for the cat yet feeling a tinge of jealousy at the same time.  Jealous because I was thinking of those seniors in retirement, care, or nursing houses where their children cannot even visit them due to the restrictions.

The Peace of Wild Things

Pay attention to what gives you joy. These gifts of joy are meant to help us during times of desolation.

On my birthday, as the celebrant, I pick where I want to go with my golden ladies.  We are golden in terms of age.  There are three of us.  Trust me, I always take them where the wild things are.  This time destination Garry Point.  It’s a 75-acre waterfront part with an open and rolling landscape that provides spectacular vistas across the Salish Sea and beyond Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.  Snow geese are ubiquitous in this area.  Needless to say, it was another day to remember with the golden girls as we make memories and not count years.

Blowing kisses to Uncle Josh

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

Two days after my birthday is another day to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos,  The Day of the Dead.  No better way to spend it in the boneyard on a beautiful autumn day to rattle and wake the skeletons, bring food on the sacred ground to feed the hungry ghost, and blow kisses to the faithfully departed.

It’s all about Grace.

If you think long enough about what you see in a cat, you begin to suppose you will understand everything, but its eyes tell you there is nothing to understand; there is only life.

Back at the beginning of the year, I adopted a cat named Grace.  I remember when she was a kitten.  When I used to stay overnight at her home, I wake up with Grace beside me.  She is so adorable, charming, and loving.  Lucy loves her.  How did she come into my life?  Well, because my younger cousin died.  She left behind three cats.  I don’t know who took the others.  With my cousin’s demise, Grace will always remind me of her.

What did I truly find out this year?  I found out that 2020 made me live with little of what I have.  I laugh at myself a lot.  There’s not a hell lot I can do.

Ending 2020 with a high note, I watched the Death of 2020.  This is the best monologue that I replayed over and over again.

With no cure for Covid in sight, life for millions has been reduced to a creepy and a seemingly an endless lockdowns.

I live on my own and after a while got so lonely.  I developed multiple personalities on purpose, so I can keep myself company.   But, then, of course, I had to try and keep two meters away from myself at all times.  Don’t know if you’ve ever tried doing that, but it’s a bloody nightmare.  So I started doing video calls to keep sociable.  I did so many, I sometimes glitch in real life now. Like, I just freeze now and then.

Wicked as what the brits would say.  I went to bed in stitches with a smile on my face.

Christmas Time

Stonehenge, UK.

Today is Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter. It is the shortest day that celebrates light triumphing over darkness, and as the day ends, we prepare for a new year.

In 2018, we welcomed the winter solstice at Stonehenge, UK. We said goodbye to long days of darkness and rejoice in the coming of Christmas.

Lights of Hope

Let there be Light of Hope is the message of St. Paul’s Hospital Church. It’s the time of year that we remind the Star of Bethlehem shone brightly to light up the path for the three wise men. This year, the Star of Bethlehem will be visible on the horizon. Jupiter and Saturn will align in the night sky on Dec. 21, also referred to as the “Christmas Star” — marking the planets’ closest encounter in nearly 400 years. The two planets may appear as a bright light point that will be easily visible in the night sky.

Christmas Decorations

Every year, my sister sets up Christmas decorations for the children equipped with Santa’s workshop, electric train, angels, snow, christmas carols. Here’s little Jimmie is so proud to show off his twinkle toes.

Little born Henrik

To see a baby snuggly ensconced with a knitted baby blanket smiling in his sleep is the centerpiece that makes the Christmas atmosphere peaceful. But in reality, we were all gogo-gaga around Henrik, making noises to wake him so that we can all take turns to carry and play with him.

We are a family

Family: A crazy bunch of people who deeply care for each other, who live, laugh, forgive, dance and love together.

Mother

I think this is the last Christmas photo of my mother. Christmas for us is all about celebrating the birth of Infant Jesus.

Susan Hauck at the Church of Nativity, Holy Land

My sister is a Jesus freak in a good way. Here she is at the Church of Nativity carrying Infant Jesus. She managed to have her photo taken before the guardian of the church said to the crowd that the statue is off-limits to visitors. Too funny, that she was the only one who got away with holding the infant. When it comes to telling me the story, it’s really difficult for her to share stories of miracles about her experiences as a servant of Infant Jesus.

The center of the holiday season in my family is Christ-mas. It’s all about the birth of Jesus whether we lose faith, we always return to Him.

On Christmas, we gather around telling tales, jokes, memories, eating, drinking, singing. There is one great story of my sister Susan on lost and found.

One thing that I find miraculous is when I lost my mini statue in Mexico in 1997. While in Mexico, I went to church daily and prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe that I want my Baby Jesus back. I was so heartbroken leaving Mexico without him. Many years passed, in 1999, my friend contacted me if I am interested in receiving bales of clothing coming from Montreal for free. My first thought was it would be great to sell them for fundraising to pay for Novena booklets’ production. So I accepted 19 bales of clothing. I discovered when I opened the bales, they were second-hand clothing and not brand new. I was disappointed, left the clothes for three months, and did not do anything about them. My daughter and her friends opened two bales just for fun to check them out. My daughter found some clothing for her and left it on the kitchen table. I moved the clothes to another area of the house, and something fell off. It was a mini statue of the Infant, and I just put it with the rest of my alter. This happened on Holy Thursday. On Easter Sunday morning, I was praying the rosary. When I reached the 4th mystery, The Presentation of Child Jesus at the Temple, I heard a voice: “I came back to you.” I ignored it and returned to my prayers. As I recited the 5th Joyful Mystery, “Finding Jesus in the Temple,” I heard the voice again: “I came back to you. Remember, you’ve lost me?” When I listened to this, I remembered the statue that fell off from the clothing, and I quickly went down to look at it. When I honestly look at the figure, my Baby Jesus I lost in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, three years ago. I checked all the clothing tags to appease me, and it said: “Made in Mexico.” With the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Baby Jesus came back to me.

Christmas 2019

From my family to yours, we wish everyone a Blessed Christmas. We made it this far!

.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Resident Ladybug in Basil

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures, great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Resident Hummingbird in my backyard

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver, Canada

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

Bumper crop

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The world is our playground

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Alexander, Cecil Frances (1828 – 1895) wrote this poem to help explain to children the Apostles’ Creed’s opening words, a Christian statement of belief. She was known to be a generous woman who cared for the poor and opened a school for the deaf with her sister.

Portraits of Society

January

It was a busy night of shopping. January sales all over the city. Even though it was cold, shoppers are taking advantage of the event. I notice a group of men warming up to a good conversation field with laughter drinking Starbucks coffee. One man has a sign hanging from his neck, scrawled “Free Hugs.” People passed him by, not even glancing at him. Nobody wants a hug from him. But I did. It was that hug from a stranger that warmed me on a cold night in January, and I can still feel the memory lingering in my mind.

February

The day starts early for us to prepare healthy home cooked meals at the soup kitchen. Hundreds of people come here not just for food but also to warm up and meet common folks like me. We are the hoi polloi talking the talk and walking the walk. The hoity-toity will not survive here.

March

Oppenheimer Park across the soup kitchen was a tent city inhabited by the homeless. Some are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The combination of these could is deadly. The homeless take care of one another. They erected a first aid tent. Do not go to the park on your own was the first advice from the soup kitchen. But I did. One thing I noticed, they love their pets.

April

I love purchasing calendars for fundraising purposes. Megaphone features winning photos taken with disposable devices distributed in the Downtown Eastside. One of my favorite vendors has the most beautiful smile even though she is physically challenged, using an electric wheelchair to get around the city. This is her livelihood.

May

his vehicle has so many stories to tell, from reality to religious decals, such as: “You mean shopping for more useless crap isn’t the meaning of life?”; “Cheer for Canda!”; “Jesus is coming. look busy.” What a fascinating vehicle. The owner of the car has so many stories, too. One thing that stayed in my mind how it all started was due to a mid-life crisis. Yes, he is still married. Yes, he has a good job. Yes, he has children. They all are still together — what a fascinating man.

‘Everything’s a story. You are a story. I am a story.’ ~Frances Hodgson Burnett

Goodreads

As much as I enjoy writing, I prefer to read the fine prints.

A good chair, books and beverage are ways of promoting literacy in this area of Gastown. These are permanent fixtures for art lovers. Most folks bring their own reading materials and use the char.

This one is my favourite step in Lonsdale Quay. It reminds me of the book I give to my nephews or nieces once they graduated from high school. I bought one for myself.

Sidewalks are perfect for finding Goodreads. I am not sure if this is my photo I found on my iPhone.

Cultivating Creativity

Most of my topic is about gardening. Gardening involves a lot of cultivation that includes my whole being. It’s my way of being creative. Planting a seed and let it bloom is the best part.

Manobo boy and his Kudyapi

Don’t even think that this is Picasso. No siree. My brother painted this originally on a canvass. I challenged him to paint it on my leather jacket. And he did and not doing it again for anybody. I proudly wear this jacket and advertise his work.

Hills Where the Lord Hides

My brother and I seems to get along well when it comes to being creative in our own ways. He paints and sends me photos of his work-in-progress. I take a good look at his work, critique and provide my observation. I enjoyed writing about this piece “Hills Where the Lord Hides.”

Me: Beautiful landscape with blended colours that makes us follow the solid ground towards the Hill. Magnifique.

Him: Thanks for noticing, good eye!

Me: One has to really think and feel what the painting is for me, not just the eye. I could easily say something simple which is boring … tee hee

Him: It’s the eye that senses the painting. Then you feel and think.

Me: Not to mention the horizon is stunning that complements the rest of the painting. A cloudless sky and the sun has just set.

Him: Now you have pointed it, yes, a cloudless sky and the sun setting. Thanks.

I wrote a Haiku on this:

My reason for going
Chuck Mangione played to death
Hill Where the Lord Hides

The following day, he told me this piece is SOLD to the highest bidder in Thailand!

Dan S. Siglos, Painter

Currently, my brother is creating a comic style painting of our family. We are enjoying this activity as he paints from the oldest to the youngest in a huge canvass and I create a blurb. The blurb stays between me and him. Or maybe I will share it later.

This is Dan S. Siglos self-portrait (not Picasso), stepping on a snake. The snake is the symbol of evil. My brother is fearless. The meaning behind this is “Fear No Evil.” I understand what he means knowing what he has gone through.

I shall update and post more of the comic painting next time.

With my cats, I am contented in my sanctuary.

Lesson No. 1: A cat is quite content to be a cat.

Maurice

“If you think long enough about what you see in a cat, you begin to suppose you will understand everything, but its eyes tell you there is nothing to understand, there is only life.” Leonard Michaels

My cats helped me define myself, just to be, to have inner peace. Every since I started living on my own, without companionship, I will be suffering on my own. Being with the cats, they are very sensitive to my needs in such a way they will just sit beside me saying “Here I Am.”

Looking back in my old post, I want to include this to remind myself that the Earth is a sanctuary.

IMG_7816

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with a new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer from memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

An Ute Prayer via Education for Justice

Thinking of Winter in the Middle of Summer

I could really use an ice-cold drink as cold as winter.

Ice Cold Drink

Yesterday, I was speaking to a man who moved to BC from Ontario because his family cannot stand another winter or summer further up north.

nightime

In Vancouver, our winter is becoming milder and milder. We used to have plenty of snow and frozen city lakes. The temperature only goes down to -10 celsius. I miss those days when we can actually go cross country skiing in our city parks.

Vancouver Snowman

No more snow days.

 

 

Falling for Autumn

Autumn is my second best season next to spring. These are some of my favourite shots from the archive.

Dance

First, we celebrate labour day. Still warm enough to go dancing in the park for young at hearts. It’s one of the biggest gathering knowing that it’s the last party season as we end summer.

Autumn of our life

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.” ― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Garden or Cemetery

Combining festival of the dead and preparing a plot for fall garden is a sure way of having fun. Kales are the best to grow during cold season. As for the skeleton, we have to wait how it will mature or whether it will grow some bone spurs.

 

The Great Pumpkin

I want this one!

HA! Must have the biggest pumpkin to harvest from the patch. It would take a long time to carve this one.

Forget Me Not

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossom at Metrotown

My reason for going
Err in the side of caution
Sakura spring blooms

It’s so beautiful to see the Cherry trees in full bloom in spring. Japan Sakura Festival is one of the significant events in welcoming the arrival of a new season, a new beginning, a new life. Here I stand, in an empty parking lot at Metrotown, celebrating spring. The fragrance of the flowers permeates the entire lot—no exhaust fumes to contend with.

Bonsor Pipeline

Bonsor Pipeline skate rink.

You are limitless
Grown-up man springing along
Lone never lonely

It was exciting to watch him rolling away all by himself in the skating rink. Usually, this place is pack with people. The weather is mild and overcast, a typical spring day. There are so many ways to continue your daily activities on your own as long as we practice self-distancing.

Shangri La

Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite exhibition in 2010 located at the Wild Bird Trust sanctuary

Shangri La to Shangri La
Community of squatters
Springtimes and sweaters

Forest bathing at Wild Bird Trust Sanctuary is a perfect spot to go thoreau-ing. “I love to see clear crystalline water flowing out of a swamp over white sand and decayed wood, spring-like.—Journal, 18 July 1852.” A breath of fresh air, birds friendly enough to eat on my hand, red and green buds emerging from the branches and twigs, plenty of room for a quiet reflection and contemplation amidst the turmoil what this new virus brings about. The meditative journey gave our inner self to expand and make room to focus on what is essential in life.

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not garden

Forget Me Not fleurs
A gift that keeps on giving
Spring twenty twenty

Out of the blue, this plant suddenly appeared in my garden. I let it stayed. Two years later, I am delighted to see how beautiful it is to have a mass growing in the garden this spring.

Legend said that God named all the flowers except for this one tiny plant. As God was about to leave, the plant cried out: “Forget me not, O Lord!” The Lord decided, “That shall be your name.”

“I would like to use this little flower as a metaphor. The five petals of the little forget-me-not flower prompt me to consider five things we would be wise never to forget….first, forget not to be patient with yourself…second, forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice…third, forget not to be happy now…fourth, forget not the why of the gospel…fifth, forget not that the Lord loves you.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Forget Me Not

 

Plant your own garden, Decorate your own soul

Plant your own garden

Layla Pie and Miss Pretty planting the hydrangea

After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises. 

Summer rain

Weather forecast for the first day of summer. Rain.

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain.
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

Lavenders

Lavender Harvest. A good day. Rain the following day.

After a while, you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

Bouquet of flowers

Flower girl.

And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn and learn.
With every goodbye, you learn.

 

Note:
I originally posted this title on June 13, 2013, here. According to Dear Abby, it was a poem AFTER A WHILE by Veronica Shoffstall. Much to my surprise, this is my top post and most visited. As a curious person, I wonder who Veronica Shoffstall is?

In my searches, I cannot find a reliable source to indicate that Veronica is the real author. In the Urban 75 forum, this question Who is Veronica Shoffstall came up. Apparently, it was a Spanish poem written by Jorge Luis Borges. With the help of google translating it to English, much to my surprise (again} so it was his poetry.

I really don’t know whether it was plagiarism. That is not for me to judge. I just want to throw some more light into the validity of who I am quoting.

At any rate, it’s still beautiful poetry.

 

Punctuation

Tranquillity seems to ooze from this light, blue-grey that inspires moments of quiet meditation. This soothing shade creates a look of elegance and simplicity. – Benjamin Moore

IMG_1360

Meet Grace, a new addition in my sanctuary, another lifeline, for me.

Grace is a very quiet cat, hardly meows. Looking at her has a calming effect on me as well as my other feline companion, Lucy.

it’s funny to watch my cats after eating catnip zoning out. A whiff of this plant soothes me, as well. Catnip tea has the calming effect on humans, but I prefer Chamomile.

Miles Fly By

Moses at Mt. Nebo

At Mt. Nebo overlooking the Promised Land

It’s a long road to freedom, a winding steep and high.
But when you walk in love with the wind on your wing,
And cover the earth with the songs you sing,
The miles fly by. (Song by Medical Mission Sisters)

It was a hazy, hot day when I took this shot from the top of Mt. Nebo. I can’t even tell you what the Promised Land is? There are so many roads that would take you there, but the question is what path to take.

Santiago de Compostela The Way

The Road

From this road, it appears that the path I thread on was smooth. Paved. Hot on my feet. Vehicles zooming by. I wished for trees along the way to shelter from the blistering sun. There were no short cuts but to stick to this road until we reach our destination.

A thought came up recently from one of the articles I read.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Santiago de Compostela The Way

An elderly couple walking hand in hand

Metaphorically speaking, the road is the way to a destination. Roads have mostly been destroyed to use the comfort of a vehicle. Fast. Furious. Get those rocks off my road!

I’ve been thinking lately about my sister and her husband, who passed away recently. When her husband had his first bout of illness, the doctor gave my sister something to think about. The sickness is operable but no guarantee of a good result. It’s either the blood clot in his brain to be left alone, live a good quality of life and monitor his health.

My sister, with her infinite wisdom as a nurse, opted to provide a quality of life for her husband as she made a vow for richer or poorer; in sickness and in health at their wedding.

Santiago de Compostela The Way Fog

The fog of unknowing

From then on, we entered into a foggy road having to stick together along the path. We cannot see what’s ahead, nor can we know what’s behind us.

FOG. F.O.G. How can I eliminate this fog on the road? A light in my head and I thought. FOG. Focus on Gratitude. FOG. Focus on God. FOG. Focus on Goodness. I could think of so many meanings of fog.

Miles flew by.

Many events and memories happened between my sister and her husband. Their two younger children graduated from high school, entered university and received their diploma. Some got married and four grandchildren soon. They travelled. A lot. Two significant trips that they have wanted to do: Holy Land and going back home to New Zealand, the birthplace of her husband.

Five years. Ten years. Fifteen years.

Santiago de Compostela  Map

Map guide starting from France to Santiago de Compostela

To be on the road, we need a map to guide us to our destination to provide us with some knowledge of the place. But the path we take is more important than the roadmap. In our way, it becomes personal how we face the unknown, exploring the possibilities of quality life instead of quantity.

My brother-in-law lived for another 15 wonderful years receiving the best care one can ever get from my sister.

Back to the question: “Where do I see myself in 5 years?”

My answer: Alive.

 

Celebration of Life

Eulogy of Greg Logan

Good afternoon.

I want to start by saying thank you to all of our family and friends. Thank you for all the condolences, prayers, phone calls, texts, emails, memories shared, flowers delivered to Mom, food dropped at the house, and every assistance and support provided to our family. To know our Dad touched these many lives give us feelings of peace and happiness, in this difficult time. I also want to say thank you to the St. Joesph church, who have accommodated us on short notice in these unprecedented times.

In the days since our Dad, Jim Logan, passed away, we have gathered, shared memories, stories and prayers. We have cried together, and we have laughed together. Through this all, I had the opportunity to reflect on his life. And as I asked family and friends to help paint the full portrait of our Dad, several themes began to emerge. Themes of kindness, generosity, humility, and family. Themes that weave together to reveal the fabric of a good life, measured not in time or material things, but in the love and opportunity created for those left behind. So although there are sadness and mourning, this is also a time to honour and celebrate his amazing life. A life that has ultimately been defined by family and the legacy that endures in them.

Jim was born James Lochhead Logan, in Wellington, New Zealand. He grew up about 50 kilometres north, in a town called Paraparaumu, on the Kapiti Coast. His parents, James Logan senior and Mother Phyllis, had earlier immigrated from Scotland to New Zealand to escape the war. Jim was the youngest of 5 children, and with an age gap to his older siblings, he was always considered the baby of the family. Now…we all know Jim had a passion for golf, but it is important to understand where this came from.

The Logan family lived in a house backing onto the ninth hole of Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. This is a renowned and hallowed golf course, considered to be one of the top links-style courses in the Southern Hemisphere, and has played host to many professional tournaments. Golf was in the blood. Jim’s parents and siblings were competitive golfers, winning many tournaments and club championships. Jim’s youth was spent hopping the fence to play with his family and friends. Jim would also earn money working as a caddie for some of the wealthy members and a few famous professional golfers who passed through. Jim became an excellent golfer in his own right, competing with family and friends and winning junior tournaments. The game taught him many principles and values that would carry with him his entire life.

The young Jim Logan had other interests as well, such as rugby and cars. He purchased his first car at age 18, a Morris 8 Convertible. According to his childhood friends, his Mother loved this car, and when he took her for a drive around town, she would smile from ear to ear. At the age of 19, Jim left New Zealand for Canada, following his brother Jock in search of new adventures and career opportunities.

Jim arrived in Toronto in 1969. He spent several years working at a bank before applying to a job at Canadian Pacific Airlines. This involved re-locating West, and he moved to Vancouver in 1974. Jim would share a house in Richmond with several of his new colleagues at CP Air, which they dubbed the Aztec hotel. His work colleagues would become his best and life long friends, some of whom are here today. Jim would go on to work in the airline industry for 31 years. His job gave him the opportunity to travel the world. He always had exciting stories, exotic foods, and gifts for us when he came home from trips.

As children, we were incredibly fortunate to frequently travel on airplanes to new destinations. Dad loved Hawaii, and our family trips to the Islands would become a hallmark of our family memories.

Jim met Evelyn Siglos at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, in 1978. Jim was shy and reserved, Evelyn was the complete opposite. She complimented him perfectly, coaxing the fun and humorous side of his personality, and it was true love. After Mom finished nursing school, they married on September 26, 1981. They had six children, which, I believe, is a sign of a happy and devoted marriage. Many people who would meet and get to know Dad would say, “I never would have expected you to have six kids,” to which Dad would reply, “I’m not sure how it happened… “ Being a relatively new father myself, I often ask myself, how he did he do it?…

Well…I think we all know the answer to that question. Our Dad’s best fortune in life was meeting our Mom. She was his bedrock, his guiding light, and she has shown incredible strength and grace in the time since he has passed. We love you, Mom.

I believe Dad’s greatest passion was being a Father.

As the oldest sibling, I can remember eagerly awaiting his phone calls from the hospital to proudly announce the newest sister or brother in our growing family. He was involved in school, sports, scouting, travel, camping, fishing, and any interest his children displayed. Everything he did was for his family. The time Dad invested watching and driving us to activities is infinite. He was funny, a great storyteller, and a good listener. Being a grandfather was a feather in his cap. He adored his grandchildren, spending lots of time with them, and always asking Mom for the daily pictures or videos we had to share.

My time and words here cannot do full justice to our Dad’s life. We take comfort, knowing his story continues in his children and grandchildren. Children and grandchildren who carry on his name and traditions.

If anyone here has stories of our Dad they wish to share, please approach any of us after mass, we would be grateful to hear them.

We love you, Dad. We know you are in heaven now. Please watch over us, until the time that we will see you again.

Thank you.

Note:
This is the first time the church opens its door to the public as part of re-opening due to COVID. We are blessed and fortunate to celebrate my brothers-in-law, Jim Logan, Mass of Christian Burial.

We were allowed to have maximum 50 people including the body of Jim in the church. Having a big family, we cannot accommodate them all.

Needless to say, we gathered mostly in prayers by using Zoom. The funeral was lived streamed via Facebook. All something new.

Thank you for the new technology, over 500 viewed the video from all parts of the world that joined us celebrating the life of Jim Logan.

 

Saturated

I am using the word saturated instead after finding out that “All Wet” is a slang word during the 1920s, meaning “full of crap!” Please note that I am not implying that your post in this week’s Lens-Artist is cr*p but quite the contrary. You are all brilliant!

rain and ladybug

Phew… to save my skin, English is my second language, and I enjoy looking for meaning and definition of words and phrases.

Are you thinking of visiting the beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada? If you are, it’s essential and fashionable that you bring an umbrella. Out of 365 days in a year, we get at least 180 days of rain. It’s only water, and nothing stops us from staying outdoors.

Vancouver Rain

Another thing that is useful here is to bring your rubber boots with your rubber ducks to add fun to your adventure in the rain.

It’s raining, the children are splashing in the puddle, and I just have to join in.

depth puddle

Vancouver made a great impression on the world during the 2010 Olympics. To commemorate what an artist thinks of us is this “all wet” blue raindrop.

raindrop

The Drop at Vancouver Convention Centre

Now, that’s what I call “full of crap!>

Bloom where you are planted

At the Manor, there are 48 suites with two or one-bedrooms and bachelor suits. Most of the people who live here are immigrants from the Chez Republic, Bosnia, India, Ireland, Iran, Korea, Japan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Yugoslavia and other countries that I can’t think of.

I am one of them.

Bee Home

The Birdhouse took over by bees.

Now, we are citizens of Canada. We made The Manor our home.

“O Canada, our home and native land” is the first line of our National Anthem.

Rock Garden

Front entrance rock garden.

The residents here are lovely, approachable and pleasant. We enjoy chatting from the balcony, window or entranceway as I potter around the garden. I must admit the garden is an icebreaker for many, even from passersby.

Flowers from the Garden

Bloom where you are planted.

One of the tenants took up photography and had a field day taking macro shots of all the flowers in the garden. The end product was framed and gifted to our lovely manager of the building.

When I cut flowers from my hard-earned gardening, these go to the manager as well.

Our Doors

Our Doors.

From single to couple to third-generation residency, I’ve witnessed them. Most of these people love to have their family around living in the same roof. It’s good to see a couple having a child or two and be able to bring a surviving parent to add the responsibility of taking care of their children.

Of course, I get to play with the children when they were younger in the garden.

Lucy and Grace

The Blue Room

Kindness plays a big important role in living in this community. If you are unkind, who else will help you but your neighbour?

I must admit I find myself special because the manager allowed me to paint my suite when I had one of my episodes on mental breakdown. The activity kept my focus away from living in my head.

The end result was brilliant.

Pistachio green paint in the living room, kitchen and hallway. A hint of a rose colour for the bathroom.  Skyblue for my bedroom to calm me down.

Oh, these little things, I am grateful.

Morning Wake Up Call

April 2020 Full Moon

Note to me: Wake up early. Full Moon. April 16. 2020.

This is a rare day for me to get up early just to witness the full moon high up. Usually, the moon rises from the east and very low on the ground at night. With my balcony facing west, I get a good view.

Most days, I do nothing but watch the stillness of the morning. Breathing the fresh air, looking at the full moon waning as the dawn breaks, listening to the silence.

Plant your garden

The sight of the garden is enough for me to brighten my day all year round. The poem I posted here is a reminder to plant my own garden, decorate my soul.

Crow Nesting

Again, from my balcony, there is plenty to amuse myself, especially the birds. Crows. Starlings. Finches. Woodpeckers. Robins. Seagulls. Sparrows. Hummingbirds. We feed them. Currently, the crow is busy building a nest on the holly tree. Crows are the least of my favourite because the smaller birds disappeared since they started nesting. And that’s ok. It’s only during the spring.

I'm through with love

Life is short without coffee drinking from my precious cup. The cup’s original writing is, “Fortunately, there’s still sex.” I have to change that now.

Thinking of sex, one has to be mindful of sexually transmitted diseases. AIDS was the number one killer then, now it’s COVID, and you don’t even have to have sex!

So, the trending word now is CATS.

Our local SPCA is busy providing cats and dogs as companions for all those lonely people during this shelter in place.

Thank God, I have cats. I’m alone but not lonely.

Cats

And here they are, all over me, waking me up to feed them breakfast. The time is past 9 a.m.

Aloha and Mahalo

Hello Peeps!

Hawaii (2)

No, I didn’t forget to get a spray tan, it’s me, I’m dead. Let’s not get into the details, but I’m embracing the weightlessness of afterlife. I’m not usually one for surprises but get ready for the adventure of a — well your — lifetime.

Instead of gathering you all down the road at a church, park, or something totally average and un-me, I’m inviting my besties and a few people who owe me from my living days to my destination funeral in Tulum (please use #Tulumeral).

Hawaii Diamond Head

This isn’t your Grandma’s funeral. I flew around the world, took weekends off, and maybe went into credit card debt for your birthdays, bachelorettes, weddings, second weddings, children’s birthday parties, mixers, whatever, so I’ll be cashing in this last favor. Get your Pilates bodies and designer wallets ready to fiesta in the name of your girl.

As described in my will (written via Notes App), the schedule is STACKED. Please review the itinerary below and RSVP to my mom. See you on the beach.

DAY 1: Set Your Intention (To Party)

Hawaii Hanahuma Bay

Please coordinate to stay at the eco-lodge. It’s $400 (American) a night. A steal. While I won’t have to deal with the impending apocalypse, I took the liberty of ensuring we stay somewhere that is preserving your home, Earth. You’re welcome. A yoga class will be held on the roof while an art piece projecting collages of images of me mashed with audio from my voicemail greeting plays. If you have photos to contribute, please contact Jordan, that artsy guy I dated last summer.

DAY 2: Open Casket & Open Bar!

Hawaii Rest

I’ve arranged for a little bit of the funds from my Save The Goldendoodles Foundation to cover flying our fave hair and makeup girls from Glam Squad to do my open casket makeup1 and get you ready to mourn all morning and spend the night partying on behalf of the departed! The dress code is hot widow. There will be an open bar that my cashed out 401k is covering following the ceremony. A cash bar is getting very tacky post-30. Please take note of that for your future gatherings. Remember, now I’ll always be watching you.

Lauren, you are in charge of overseeing this to ensure my makeup is smoky, sultry, don’t you wish you had made a move while I was alive, etc.

DAY 3: A Weekend to Die For

Hawaii Sunset

Before you head back home, swing by the lobby to nurse your hangover and grab some brunch. The menu is limbo-themed, so enjoy eggs in purgatory and our signature cocktail, the Diablo Michelada. Vegan options will not be available. There’s nothing like creating an awkward vibe in the office when you’re asked about your weekend and extra day off and explain it was for a funeral. Revel in that. Use it to elicit empathy from your office crush, make an IG post dedicated to our times together using photos where you look hotter than me. Death has changed me. I’ll allow it.

See you there or see you in hell!

— Me

Source: 

A Gift To Be Simple

Nature is winning as the world is at a standstill. To think that life is for the birds, we got it all wrong. Birds have a simplistic view of life. Bird brain? Small they may be, they can thrive all year long at the Holly Tree growing in front of my balcony. It was fascinating to observe this bird to prepare a nest to lay her eggs.  When the fledglings were mature enough, they took a leap of faith from the birdhouse, flew and never to be seen.

Nest material

Staying home, staying safe and distancing oneself can be an opportunity to rest, have a healthy self-reflection, pick up the pieces where I had left off when I became too busy making a living and no life to enjoy the beauty that surrounds me.

Note to myself: Do not watch the news. Do Not watch the news. DO NOT WATCH THE NEWS. When I do, my mind goes into a curve of never-ending spiral of negativity. Binge on Netflix instead.

Oh, I do know what people are currently preoccupied with, the ‘c’ word. Whenever I say this godforsaken word, the curl of my lip is indescribable.

The other day, I spoke to my Jewish friend inquiring how she is managing with her children. Our conversation turned to excitement about how we are going to celebrate the next few days. She and the children will celebrate Passover Seder with her mother and sister. While I will be observing the Triduum alone watching the live broadcasts of the mass either from Vancouver or the Vatican.

Holy week for me is not complete without viewing The Ten Commandments, an old-time movie favourite with Yul Bryner and Charlton Heston. According to the bible, ten plagues happened in Egypt. The motion picture showed at least four: turning the Nile River into blood, the storm of fire, darkness and death of the firstborn humans.

Egypt

Go down, Mosses. Way down in Egypt land. Tell ole Pharaoh, let my people go!

In the movie, they found a cure against the 10th plague, death of the firstborn, by sacrificing a lamb and smear the blood on the door of their house. The epidemic passed over houses with the lamb’s blood.

I wish it’s that simple with COVID-19.  There I said the ‘c’ word.

The Door is Open

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The Power of One

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Crystal Clear

”No one is ever born into life alone. Everyone has shared the bond of family, at least at birth, and for many people, it is a bond that will follow them throughout life. For many people, it is the most essential bond of all.”

I was lucky enough to have in my life a family filled with love, compassion, acceptance, and tolerance. I am what I am as a direct result of a family life where belonging is imperative.  It is gratifying to my health and one of the reasons why I am still alive.  Without my family’s caring nature, I cannot conceive living alone.

Reflection 25 years ago

Reflection 25 years ago

When I was younger, I tagged along with my sister, her husband, and two boys.  Have a van, and we travelled anywhere. I was more than welcome to join since I can chop woods and carry water on top of being a babysitter. Stopping on a pristine crystal clear rocky river bed to cool off on the way to the campground is always part of the fun.

Reflection of my 17 year old nephew

Reflection of my 17-year-old nephew

I used to drive the children around and take them on a field trip.  Sometimes, I am the one that takes them out for the weekend of cub scouts or brings the boys along on a camping trip without the parents.  Yes, they trusted me with their children.  Trust is essential.

Years flew by, and I am the one being driven around by their fifth child. Making a short conversation so that I don’t distract him while driving, I asked: “Aren’t you much too young to drive as a sixteen-year-old?”  He quickly exclaimed: “I’m seventeen years old!”  “Oh, pardon me, young man,” I responded.  His father beside him was chuckling while he teaches his son to drive. No, I wasn’t scared of a young person driving me home.  I trust him.

Reflection of a one and half child

Reflection of a one and half-year-old child

Life is all about the play when I am with my sister’s grandson. At his age, everything is magical, even playing hide and seek behind a jug of water. ROAR, he screamed as he was trying to scare me with his dinosaur sound.

Through thick and thin, our family will pass the bonding to the younger generation. I am hopeful that we have shown them the importance of forming an intimate family unit as a cornerstone of our existence.

Hello Dali

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Pilgrim Progress: The Road I Travelled

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Dare to be something different

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I’ve kept these shots for the longest time and just don’t know when to share it. Now I dared myself to show and tell about my cousin, Jesse, taken when we were younger. The photos reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger … Continue reading

The nature of Emerald Isle

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“It’s the one place on earth heaven had kissed with melody, mirth, and meadow and mist.  ~ Irish Proverb.” Never have I seen so many shades of green in this rolling hills of Dingle Peninsula. According to the song Johnny … Continue reading

As Painter Paints the Language of Sphere, Color, Line and Form

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To see what a painter paints, one has to look at the unexpected form that jumps out of the canvas and not to look into his mind. Art is not escape, but a way of finding order in chaos, a … Continue reading

Meanwhile in Vancouver

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