Reflections

Man is only a pilgrim on Earth

Reflections

One Camera, Many Stories

The campus ground of UBC is one of the many places that are conducive to walking and sightseeing. It’s a home for many students, with plants, trees and domestic birds. There is a particular gigantic tree that is adorned with birdhouses for finch, sparrow, chickadee, wren, woodpecker, crow and even bees. There is a wooden bench with stories of four students titled “Places of Refuge.”

What is a home? When I moved to Vancouver, I thought that a home is a safe place, a place of prosperity. But now I understand that home is home because of identity. Home is home because of your people. I don’t call Vancouver home because my parents are not here, but it is a good place. I have gained many things since being here — knowledge, experience, and a better understanding of how the world works. But, it is difficult to adapt to a new environment, to be what the environment wants you to be. You can experience challenges anywhere. People just collide sometimes. ~ Makerduek, South Sudan

Every time I think I might be taking my life for granted, I think about my parents. My father was a brilliant student at university and, just before he could graduate, they had to flee the country while my mother was pregnant with me. So, whenever I start to complain about university work, I think of my father and how he had to leave in the middle of his degree just because someone decided to start a war. My parents are proud to be immigrants; everything they have in Canada, they created for themselves. I feel disconnected sometimes when I realize how much other people take for granted. ~ Tara, Croatia

The most surprising thing about coming to Canada was seeing a person walking ahead of me and holding open a door until I could put my hand on it. Where I come from people were taught to kill. The first thing they would want to do if they saw me was hit me with a machete. And then, just two and half years later, the first person I see, their concern for me is: Can I hold open the door for you? I don’t think anyone else at UBC was walking around feeling so amazed at doors being opened. ~ Willy, Rwanda

My parents have lived in the same house for my entire life. It’s a quiet place — the yard ringed with trees where birds nest, close enough to the ocean that you can smell the salt. When I was young, we acted as a host family to students from the international school who stayed with us during breaks and sometimes for years after they graduated. The house was always filled with different voices and different stories. It was there that I first realized how lucky I was. While so many others came from such difficult circumstances, I had nothing to run from, nothing to escape. ~ Chris, Canada

This iPhone serves me well in documenting memories. One camera is all I need.

Timeline: Camera Obscura

First there was the photo booths, followed by Polaroid. Then came disposable cameras, point and shoot, Apple iPad, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 plus. These are photo devices that I used as far as I can remember.

I love the booths and Polaroid. Instant gratification of how the shots turn out. Gather as many peeps in the booth, the funnier the photos come out. For a mere buck, it gives four different pictures. Cheap thrills.

Then it gets expensive.

Disposable cameras are great on a need to have basis. Point and shoot requires rolls of films. Then the films have to be processed, developed and printed. What size do you want? Matted or glossy? Rush or regular? Cost all adds up. The finished product is a surprise. With 24 prints, maybe half is good if your lucky. Over exposure, blurry, or what is this? Storing the pictures into albums and the films in shoe boxes take spaces.

Photography became easier when the digital age came. No more films. Reusable gigs. Store them in the Clouds. Cost effective. Love it.

What do I do with these pictures?

One example is incorporating it with favourite poetry or essay. The prose remains, photos change in time.


Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

Poem: by William Martin, Make the Ordinary Come Alive


Lucy, my niece, was the first model used for this sage advice. She is all grown up studying in university. Our family is growing rapidly, more children. Death is part of living.

Looking Back as an ending from Albert Camus


“In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

– Albert Camus

Dear Lens Artists

I truly enjoy taking photos, there is so much to learn just reading your post. I kept one shot of 2022 as a reminder to pursue and learn. it’s one of the many journals on sale at Indigo/Chapters.

I’m not a photographer nor I own a real camera. I still have no idea how to be in your level. I just want to say thank you for this game.

Best Wishes, Perpetua

Photographs and Memories

“I am absolutely have no idea what I’m doing.” is the title of a 17-month 2022 day planner that I fancy. Took a picture just in case I want to buy it.

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms. – George Eliot

A gallery of pets from cat to dog to bird to snake. What is there not to like living when there take care of pets as companions.

Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords. – Richard Brautigan

Coffee. Who doesn’t enjoy a cup of Java. It really doesn’t matter the status in life: rich or poor, employed or bin diver, never give up going for coffee.

The truest test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching. John Wooden

Butt … everybody is watching …

People watching other people watching … with powerful camera on their iPhones … taking photos all over the place seems to be the norm. So, be on the lookout.

Part of the fascination that photography holds is its ability to unlock secrets kept even from ourselves. Like dreams, the photograph can uncork a heady bouquet of recognition which can escape into the cognitive world. – Jack Welpott

Gardening is a common passion for people. There are many groups of gardeners that are addicted to it and loads of humour garden all over the world. It may be winter here, but on the other side of the world, it’s blooming.

Cat, I’ll let you in on a little secret. We don’t all love our jobs every day. And doing something you have passion for doesn’t make the work part of it any easier…It just makes you less likely to quit. – Kate Jacobs

These are just a few activities that keep my interest going while I will continue trying to figure out the meaning of life.

I will carry on as if I know what I am doing.

Fate or Faith

Some says that the path we take is fate or faith. That it’s already written for us. That it’s only by faith your life depends on.

It’s all a mystery as I ponder about what has been and what could have been. There are so many roads I’ve taken without a thought following that small still voice that only the ear and the eye of my heart can discern.

I cannot, if I would, complain
Of a mean lot and curse my luck
(Though luck for luck, as gain for gain,
I cannot say that I’ve been struck
By how much mine exceeds) but hold
That this same luck has come to me
Never so empty-handed, cold,
As my more favored levity:
And if it casts off heaviness,
This is my burden, none the less.

The New Year’s Burden Catherine Davis

Final Encounter

Flight 2023 Instructions

ALL ARE WELCOME. PASSPORTS NOT REQUIRED,

Good blessed day and welcome to Flight 2023. We are ready to take off into the New Year.

Please make sure your Positive Attitude and Gratitude are secured and locked in the upright position. All self-destruct devices: pity, anger, selfishness, pride, and resentment should be turned off at this time. All negativity, hurt, and discouragement should be put away.

Should you lose your Positive Attitude under pressure during this flight, reach up and pull down a prayer. Prayers will automatically be activated by Faith. Once your Faith is activated, you can assist other passengers who are of little faith.

There will be NO BAGGAGE allowed on this flight.

God, our Captain, has cleared us for take-off. Destination – GREATNESS!

Wishing you all a New Year filled with new HOPE, new JOY, and new BEGINNINGS!

Wild about ‘shrooms

Fall is the best time foraging for wild mushrooms. They come in different colours and sizes.

Want to get high? There are wild mushrooms out there that can provide euphoria. Wild mushrooms may appear to be esculent and you have to be an expert in edible fungus.

Trial and error, you may see God for eternity or maybe in Purgatory or maybe in Dante’s Inferno.

Thank You Note

Hi everybody.
I have to start by saying thanks
Thanks for a wonderful year
Not only to you, to God number one
To you number two
And for all the wonderful things...
You know, when I look
at a beautiful day,
I’ll say, “God is there.”
I say it’s happy
because birds are tweetin’ ...
Sun i shinnin’ ...
Wind’s blowin’ ...
The leaves flyin’ ...

A fantastic monologue from the show “A Storm For Christmas.” It was perfect flick while viewing it during our snowstorm. Now back to liquid weather.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Halloween. Trick or treat. Wear a costume. Watch Stephen King’s movie in Netflix. Tell gruesome stories of ghost and haunted house. Better yet, read or watch the news!

STOP!

Hijab

This weekend, rally against Iran all day happened. Traffic was gruelling.

Stay safe. Be safe. Fireworks tonight. Protect your furry friends and love ones.

Flower Power

It’s the flower that draws you to a plant that would make you smile. Even when I plant just one sunflower on my deck in the third floor that blooms brightly and makes people smile when they see the tallest flower ever. My next door neighbour gets most of the flowers I planted.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

White flowers are my favourite especially mass planting. Sweet woodruff, lily of the valley and snow drops are common in my garden. These were planted as a sign of my passive resistance for those people that loves to pick flowers. Pluck away, there so much flower power with the dainty white petals.

Recently, I started taking photos of all the flowers in the garden and shared them with the gardening groups I joined in Facebook. Unfortunately, most of them will remain nameless since I did not take note of the name of the plants.

The flower of the giant wild cactus on top of the mountain in Cuba is a hummingbird magnet.

Cuban Hummingbird

As for the perfect flowers, Dandelions are the prime example of “bloom where you’re planted.” Children are drawn to these bright yellow petals. How many mothers have received a bouquet of dandelions from their children? For sentimental reasons, parents will keep the flowers and press them between the books for keepsake. Love or hate them, they are here to stay.

God’s perfect flower

Super Heroes

Be proud of your heroes and show the starbursts in your life. Wear your heart on your sleeves.

Praise

His van was covered with superheroes toy each representing a character in the Bible. Stickers galore … “ Smile. Jesus Loves You. (Yah, and me too.)

He told me his story. Fascinating man. More lucid than me. He’s a fool for Christ’s sake and proud of it.

Praise.

Cheap

Want to buy a negligee? Another meaning for dishabille.

When Rihanna attended a Paris Dior show in nothing but a black mesh negligee, proudly showing off her baby bump, legions of fans (and the audience in attendance) did not clutch their pearls but applauded.— Christina Binkley, Town & Country, 23 Aug. 2022

Photograph and Memories – Treasures Hunt

Dig – Dig – Dig

When I grow up. I want to be a digger. Buy the biggest digging machine and unearth what ever treasures I can hunt. Here, my nephew, loves to dig with his bare hands to find seashells. A sand dollar is rare to find.

Joni and Grace

Grace was just a kitten that my cousin Joni proudly added to her collection of cats as if three is not enough. Grace is now living with me with my cat, Lucy, when Joni died three years ago.

Sunrise at Mt. Beatitude

One has to experience the rising of the sun at least once in your lifetime. I woke up with the birds during my retreat on top of Mt. Beatitude. Priceless.

The Drop at Vancouver Convention Centre

Today is a clear cloudy day. Vancouver is known as wet coast. A single big blue drop of rain now sits at Vancouver Convention Centre overlooking the snow capped mountain of the North shore.

Walking the Santiago de Compostela

Ha! I can’t believe that I captured a perfect circle of the reflection of the bridge. I’m not even a professional photographer just using my IPad.

Big brother reading to little sister

Jimmy is so good to her little sister. I just love the intent look of Layla’s disheveled hair as Jimmy reads proudly to her ever since he learns to read.

Homeless man with his BFF

Have a dog. Have a cat. Have a pet companion, you’ll never feel lonely and homeless. I wonder how he received a Harbour Air umbrella. I did have one before. I found it abandoned downtown. What a treasure to find abandoned umbrella.

Soviet Truck in Cuba

There are plenty of Soviet trucks left behind in Cuba repurposed to haul a load full of tourists to take us to the jungle. Unfortunately, our trip was delayed due to tire problem.

Purple Berries

Autumn is the time when leaves and berries of this shrub turns purple. I want this shrub in my garden to go with my burning bush.

It was serendipity when I found this boat with the name Pilgrim. Pilgrim is the original name of this site.

In closing, this is the beginning of my long search of John Bunyan, author of the book Pilgrims Progress. This photo was taken in one of the canals in London not knowing that I will find the gravesite of Bunyan at Bone Hill as well as William Blake.

To quote his writings

As I walk’s through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a Denn; And I laid me down in that place to sleep: And as I slept I dreamed a Dream.

Follow your heart.

The Big Squeeze

View of Vancouver from the North Shore

“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely,
you can always go. Downtown.”

Vancouver has grown exponentially for a young city. Downtown is where the action to work and live. Many yuppies long to work for big firms and reside close to the beach. Buildings are now a combination of offices and residential area. Tall buildings are popping up like mushrooms. So far, the tallest building is Shangri-La, 62 storeys.

Leslie House – Heritage Home

“When you’ve got worries all the noise and the hurry, seems to help I know. Downtown.”

Here’s an interesting little yellow house beside a high rise condo. The two-storey 1400 square feet house was built in 1888. This can easily be replaced by another vertical dwelling but one has to find a place to relocate the house. Tag price of Leslie House is $18.7 million, last time I checked. That’s my sister posing for me as I was giving her a brief tour of the city.

View of North Shore from Jack Pool Plaza

“Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city. Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty. How can you lose?”

This area was built for Winter Olympics 2010. What a great venue for a party or protest. Another place I enjoy just sitting around watching the harbour planes, cargo ships, cruise ships, tug boats, SeaBus or people. In winter, this is the location for Christmas Market. My family has an annual tradition to rent a room at Pan Pacific Hotel for a night out at the market.

University Canada West

A new triangular shaped campus right at the centre of livable city by the Beach District. It opened in July 2020. Must be hard for students to study when the beach is just around the corner.

I used to work downtown and was static when I rented an apartment by the beach and aquatic centre. The office is walking distance. I loved it.

Metro Vancouver is one giant construction area

“Things will be great when you’re Downtown. No finer place for sure. Downtown.”

A new city is booming called Metropolis in Burnaby City. When I moved here 30 years ago, I loved the stillness of this area. Sleepy town. At the time, there was only one tower, Rogers tower. The buildings are ordinarily tall with low residential areas in between. One thing this area becomes attractive is the green spaces in the surrounding buildings.

Metropolis in Burnaby City

For the sake of “home improvement” many apartments were torn down and dwellers were displaced. Thankfully, renters were given five years notice and some moving incentives.

View from the Manor House

“The light’s so much brighter there. You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares. So go downtown. Where all the lights are bright. Downtown. Waiting for you tonight. Downtown.”

From the three storey Manor House where I live, night lights are constant. I no longer need to go Downtown. Currently, Manor House is on the market. Mind you, this whole area is slotted for redevelopment. Aaah … progress.

Photographs and Memories

There are at least 7,001 islands in the Philippines during low tide. The number might go down during high tide. That’s the on going joke. I was born in Davao far away from the mainland, Manila. The cheapest way to transport a family of 13 is by ship. Being on the ship is my first recollection of travelling. It took a week by sea voyage to get to Manila. My mother must have moved us two or three times. Was it fun? For a child, it was for me.

My nephew living the dream in False Creek.

My grandfather was a captain of a ship and he owned one of the islands, Stanlake. It’s a good place to live off grid with no electricity and running water. It now belongs to the Santa Cruz family but my mother made a wise decision to forfeit her rights. My cousin started a blog about it here.

Airplane was my next memory of major travelling moving to Canada. There were eight of us. My mother and seven siblings still dependent to her. A move running away from a country under martial law and dictatorship of Marcos. We never looked back.

Celebration of Life for Jim.
Canadian Airlines Model Plane

Recently, we finally celebrated my sister’s husband’s life, Jim, after two years of lockdown. He was a flight attendant for Canadian Airlines. Sometimes, I get a good deal in travelling as a standby tapping into his privileges. The only stipulation is that I have to “dress up” since I represent my brother-in-law and just in case I will be placed in first class.

When I was leaving Switzerland for DC, the flight was fully booked and there was no room in economy. I was placed in first class. Imagine being served champagne. Such a luxury. What a thrill that lasted briefly for another passenger was willing to pay for my free seat. I have to vacate the seat. Heh!

Four-wheels motorcycle

When I grow up, the next wheels I want to own is a red bike similar to this. My first car was a red four-door Ford eight cylinder sedan. It was heavyweight and powerful. I was the first one to own a car in the family. Needless to say, I became the chauffeur. This car was so solid that it protected me from a hit and run driver. The driver was caught and his car was more of a wreck. My car’s engine is still in good condition but the insurance company won’t pay for repair. Hence, I bought a used car this time, my sister’s Honda. That was my second and last car.

The Station

It was during Expo 86 when the Skytrain was introduced in Vancouver. I must say, the train changed my means of transportation. By year 2000, I no longer need the Honda to go to work. It was a major undertaking for the City to build a better mode of people mover from Skytrain (Canada, Expo and Millennium Lines) SeaBus, AquaBus, B-Lines, and West Coast Express. Many have utilized these means, became popular and now travelling within the city is packed!

I love train travelling and just watch the scenery as it zooms away. European and British trains provided me with the luxury to sit back and relax. In India, train ride was an experience that one has to have mettle.

“Man is only a pilgrim on earth.”

Seek and You Will Find

I have a favourite residential area that I make sure I walk around whenever I visit my doctor. The street is lined with all kinds of trees courtesy of Vancouver City. The city wants an image of having green environment.

Knock and the door will be opened

Even the residents created street garden. I think they are gorilla gardeners that want to beautify their sidewalks. The city doesn’t mind. It is most enjoyable to see every corner of different vegetation growing according to the gardeners taste.

Kids Library

Isn’t that a noble idea to find Little Free Kids Library along the street. This area must be family oriented. A good way to share books. I checked if it has Calvin and Hobbes, my favourite comic book but not luck.

Dog Library

Further down the street must be a hood of dog lovers. Take a stick, leave a stick. Behind is a note for the human to curb their dogs. No pee pee around this area, please.

Little Free Adults Library

Take a book, share a book with book lovers. As much as I want to take a book to add to my collections of unread books, a photo will suffice.

To complete the the title of this post, it goes: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

The best part of this find. I wasn’t even asking, seeking or knocking. It was all free.

Vancouver Sun

By royal decree, my sister, proclaimed that another month will be added called “Beachember.” She is a sun lover.

When we were growing up back in the Philippines, Mother used to send us out from 7 to 10 am to sun bathe. During this time, the heat of the sun is soft and we get our vitamin D.

As we grow older and wiser, instead of sunbathing, we prefer forest bathing. I introduced my sisters what I learned from a psychiatrist who provided group walks in MeetUp. We even signed up a UBC study group to help grad students for their thesis. The first session that we were supposed to attend, there was a warning of bear on the loose. Needless to say, that’s the end of our study group in this area.

As for me, I did gorilla gardening, with invitation. My neighbour has been watching me putter around at The Manor and asked me for help in having a floral garden instead of vegetable patch. It was fun transforming her front yard and moving some of my plants at her yard. I even made a small area of salad garden just for her.

Sun season is so short. When it’s out, here we come!

Means to an end

Photowalk Meetup is trending here in Vancouver. I joined it even though I’m not a photographer. My only means in taking pictures is an iPhone in order to go for structured walks. The group leader is a professional photographer and I heared about photographic niche, groove and ruts from him. None of these terminology is important to me since I just want to focus in fun.

Recently, I started cataloging photos of all the flowers I planted in my garden from full plant to close-up of a single flower. Most of these plants are nameless except for the lavenders. My motto is “plant your own garden, decorate your own soul.”

Photography and gardening keep me focused. Just as much I’ve taken so many photo shoots, only one is lucky enough to pass my myopic eyesight. However, I discovered that gardening and photography both have creative and therapeutic processes.

In old age, we should have enough passions strong enough to prevent us turning in on ourselves – Ursula K. Le Guin

One thing I know, rut will grow when joy is lucking. Images produced by photojournalist on “assignment” are unbelievable yet I can only take them in small dosage. I suppose I want to pretend life is Rosie, a well gardened mind.

From fragrant favorites like the honeysuckle and jasmine, to humble beauties like the daisy and wild wallflower, to literary symbol-corsages like the violet, which Emily Dickinson cherished above all other flowers for its “unsuspected” splendor, and the almond blossom, on which Albert Camus predicated his timeless metaphor for strength through difficult times – The Moral of Flowers, The Marginalian

Take time. To reclaim how to take time, say hello, exchange stories, fun and laughter is a basic formula in doubling enjoyment. I got lucky with this photo how it shows the warmth of their faces them holding a bouquet of lavenders.

Heavens, she’s in heaven embracing the best lavender in the garden. Provence lavenders. She only has to wait annually but worth it.

These are the faces of people that reap the rewards of my garden.

The one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

Favourite. It’s a secret.

I have so many nephews and nieces that it’s difficult to choose a favourite. So, when one of them asks me who my favourite child is, I whisper to his or her ear, “You are. Keep it a secret. Your cousins will be jealous.”

London

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you

Memorable Day. Imagine That!

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

A day in my life exercising my Freedom on January 22, 2022 amongst ten thousands marching a peaceful rally at Vancouver Downtown Core from 12 to 4 pm. This is yours truly at the end of a very long line ensuring that the peace keeper behind me is doing his job. Someone has to keep him honest.

FREEDOM RALLY

Flight 2022

Flight 2022 Instructions*

ALL ARE WELCOME. PASSPORTS NOT REQUIRED,

Good blessed day and welcome to Flight 2022. We are ready to take off into the New Year.

Please make sure your Positive Attitude and Gratitude are secured and locked in the upright position. All self-destruct devices: pity, anger, selfishness, pride, and resentment should be turned off at this time. All negativity, hurt, and discouragement should be put away.

Should you lose your Positive Attitude under pressure during this flight, reach up and pull down a prayer. Prayers will automatically be activated by Faith. Once your Faith is activated, you can assist other passengers who are of little faith.

There will be NO BAGGAGE allowed on this flight.

God, our Captain, has cleared us for take-off. Destination – GREATNESS!

Wishing you all a New Year filled with new HOPE, new JOY, and new BEGINNINGS!

Source: Unknown

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.

Cast in Stone

 A photo taken 33 years ago in Manila reminds me how sad and brave my grandmothers were as they bid us farewell for our journey to Vancouver.  After final blessings, embraces, and tears, we boarded the plane with suitcases crammed full of everything we could bring from our old life.  Everything except my cherished umbrella which we had somehow neglected to pack.  I loved that umbrella the way other four-year-olds treasure dolls or teddy bears.  My new friends were mystified by my broken spirit and broken English.  I did not know the word for umbrella.  “My payong, my payong.”  I repeated woefully.  I wanted the umbrella that had sheltered me from the hot sun. 

I wanted to escape this strange place where umbrellas held the wind and rain at bay.  As I got older the memory of my umbrella drizzled away.  I planned my getaway: Paris, Tel Aviv, New Delhi … even Toronto.  Anywhere but rainy, boring Vancouver.  Like my parents, I sought a better life elsewhere.  Unlike them, elsewhere left me disappointed.  I yearned for the seawall and for Granville Island and salad rolls.  In my homesick mind, I heard the seagulls at Kits Beach, and breathed in the deep green peace of a day spent at UBC.  I longed to smell the cedar tree in the backyard of my childhood in Marpole, and to taste the vegetables my parents tend there.  I ached for Vancouver. 

Today, I show the photo, taken all those years and countless lost umbrellas ago, to my husband and children.  I will leave umbrellas behind, but I don’t forget where I have been or how far I traveled to get here.  Once it was a distant destination promised in a photograph.  Now it is the place I love and call home.  ~ Bernadette Gonzales McGrath 

The story of Bernadette is in two places.  One in Marpole, close to where she used to live, attached to a lamp-post.  The second is a monumental rock where each word is cast in stone, at Queen Elizabeth Park, a forever chiseled story cast in stone. A masterpiece. 

Bernadette and I are cousins.

 

Expression

At the school setting, ask the students to express their nightmares. The EYE seems to be common in their artwork.


night·mare
the difference between you and i is when you have a nightmare you wake up and it ends
i wake up to get to school to relive my nightmare
the nightmare of seeing him
of feeling his presence
the honest to God fear he has me under is driving into insanity
i could use millions of words and not one could describe my hatred and fear


who i am?
where did this feeling come from
did it arrive after i understood the effect this will have
not understand leaves me wondering
clueless to the way this will follow me to my death bed
as i lay my head down to die
the flashes of images and emotions will fill my soul once more
nightmare


nightmares are real
just different from what i thought about as a kid
i used to think monsters lived under my bed
now i know they live within people
they bring you into washes
they rob you
they lie
they ****
they hurt
i am done letting him control me
i say that often
i say those words every time i see him
or when i need strength


i just need to repeat it enough times so i will start believing it
lord help me
live a life full of dreams not nightmares
i want more
i desire
desire is a fire that depends on power
power at which i don’t contain
powerthirst on control from others because of a lack oneself
the emotional security one can not give feeds into anger
mistakes are failed risks that seem to have this hold on our souls as if that has the power we have been searching for
so mistakes are our minds negative power
then successes are our positive power
nothing makes sense


we are flawed humans stitched up with cravings
these cravings can be used for glory or for the evil that we conform to
we should use the craving to move us out of the darkness instead of pain
we should push to the happiness that is reachable
we refuse to do what we were called to do
nightmare
the nightmare i can not wake up from
a life i did not choose but can not awake from

Poem by VOID

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.

Attention Seeking

Come on let’s get happy or angry, we may be able get what we want.

Since the word scot free is of Scandinavia origin, SKOT, meaning tax or payment, it reminded me of an angry child statue in Norway. Of all the statues in the park, created by Gustav Vigeland made Oslo famous in Norway. The artist agreed to donate all originals of previous and future artistic work to the city, as long as it would provide him with a place to live and work.

Quid pro quo.

Negative Space

The City of Vancouver provides this plaque with blue triangle as a decor of heritage places especially old house that are preserved by new tenants. It’s fascinating to see old homestead and bricks surrounded by modern homes.

Community gardens are also provided by the city for green space. You can plant what ever you want. When it comes to my humble abode, I like negative space. Hardly any decor at all.

Remember IKEA? (I Know Everything Already.) It’s the number one home decor store that is within your budget. The only thing is you have to assemble your furniture. I have no patience for reading adding instructions and deep six that idea. Needless to say, i have no IKEA stuff.

Koda-Kan

Koda-kan is a Filipino terminology we gave to Japanese tourist taking tons of pictures. It’s such a cliche in a fun way because when we Filipinos get together and wants our group photo, we say “Let’s go Koda-kan.”

Shūkabutsu is Japanese translation of bromide, an anime. I could never get tired watching Japanese anime. They are soothing more than boring.

Toph Beifon is my favourite blind bromide. She hates it when others think of her useless without sight. To use her line “Let’s see who is the blind one!” She’s a hero in the movie Avatar, the last air bender.

Sayonara.

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.

You light up my life. Not the sun, but the moon.

By the light, not the dark but the light
Of the silvery moon, not the sun but the moon
I wanna spoon, not croon, but spoon
To my honey, I’ll croon love’s tune

Honeymoon, honeymoon, honeymoon
Keep a-shinin’ in June
Your silvery beams will bring love’s dreams
We’ll be cuddlin’ soon
By the silvery moon

Wales or Whales

Hiraeth is often likened to nostalgia in English or saudade in Portuguese, and it shares qualities with the German concept of sehnsucht, but none quite match exactly. It combines elements of homesickness, nostalgia and longing. Interlaced, however, is the subtle acknowledgment of an irretrievable loss – a unique blend of place, time and people that can never be recreated. This unreachable nature adds an element of grief, but somehow it is not entirely unwelcome. – BBC Travel

On the far side, a true story of my travel in Ireland.

“I can see whales” says my traveling buddy.

” Yes, i can see Wales from here. Can we make a trip while it’s just accross the sea?

I’ll always cherish and get a good laugh that day we spent together, walking along Aran Island, looking at tide pools, rocks, whales and Wales.

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

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.

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

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.

 

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!>

100 days old and counting

It’s a celebration!

Happiness Square

For all those resilient folks returning to your old self that was your normal before becoming totally absorb having your cake and eat it, too, it’s time to celebrate life!

It has been more than 100 days since Covid became part of our daily vocabulary. We learned how to protect ourselves and others living in a bubble.

The old word bubble is back in style again.

How do you maintain your bubble? What old ways did you bring back to life to return to your old normal?

As for me, Covid or no Covid, I am normal as I can be until others changed their idea of what they think of me. Simple.

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.

List of Lies

One ear to another - Malta

Lies I’ve told my 4 year old recently

  • The mole men live in the subways.
  • The bird men live in the skies.
  • The monster doesn’t actually live under the bed (he’s hiding somewhere else nearby).
  • There are 71 flavors of snow, but only 63 flavors of water.
  • If you sing enough, you will never grow old.
  • Don’t worry, I lock up bad dreams in little cages.
  • Every good room has a ghost.
  • When we made you, we left part of ourselves behind so you would never be lonely.
  • Your shadow knows your secrets.
  • Books hide when they don’t want to be read.
  • Time moves faster when close your eyes.
  • You knew everything, but then you were born and forgot, and now you have to learn everything again.
  • Be nice to your brother, he will always be your best friend.
  • We’re not lost.
  • Moms and Dads never really get lost.
  • We know exactly where we’re going.

Memories found in my Facebook written by Kiki.

What lies have you told yourself lately?

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

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