And Away We Go

This post is just a quick note to say I’m off on an adventure, and won’t be able to post for about a week. I’m going to Amsterdam for a brief but thrilling getaway. I’ve been there several times, but not for a couple of years. I look forward to revisiting familiar spots and exploring new ones. Some of the time I’ll be with my husband, but I’ll have free time to do as I please while he works- the best of both worlds!  Talk to you when I get back!

Vancouver’s Siren Song

Modern photography has  forever changed my travel memory process. Is anyone else  out there  old enough to remember being invited to your friends’ and relatives’ homes to sit   in their darkened living rooms to see  their slides of the Grand Canyon? Or, when Polaroids came into vogue,  to see eighteen envelopes of newly developed pictures from the beach? Well, I  certainly remember those times. When I was growing up  it seemed that our family  would have  one endless  evening of viewing  either our own travel pictures or those of our relatives, and then we never saw the pictures again.

Today, thanks to technology,  we can see our pictures as often as we want to. And we can  delete the awful ones so that no one is subjected to seeing blurred photo after blurred photo while smiling  and agreeing that yes, the Smokies are breathtaking at this time of year. Having such easy access to my photos lets me savor  my memories over and over again. While looking at my photos, what happened months ago seems to have occurred only yesterday.  Since I will be traveling to Amsterdam at the end of this week I  thought you might like to look back with me  on the  last day  of my trip to  Vancouver in June.

For those not numbered among my thousands of regular readers, I will say that I have posted about Vancouver several times before. To bring you up to date, after we had been in Vancouver for  a few days we had seen many of the “must sees” for first time visitors. But I was anxious  to do at least a tiny bit of exploring off the beaten path. At the last minute, I found the Vancouver blog I wish I had known about earlier, Miss 604. If you go to Vancouver, check out her blog! It is full of daily events in the Vancouver area. Anyway, scrolling through the  blog I found a listing of Vancouver’s hidden gems. And there it was: the Punjabi Market. That was the perfect outing for our last day!

We reached the Punjabi  Market by bus, crossing over into Kitsilano,  going straight down Main Street. As we passed through shopping districts in the drizzly rain, I was kind enough to point out to my husband the many inviting  thrift stores we passed. He did seem relieved when I said what a shame it was we wouldn’t have time to go to them. Maybe next time?

As soon as we arrived in the market area, my companion and I parted ways, he to find a place where he could sit and read, and I to find and capture shiny objects of beauty. I walked up and down the street a few times, looking at the variety of stores. Which ones should I visit? Stores which sold food and large kitchen items were just not practical; this gal does not check bags on an airplane.  And saris? I love them, but a red haired woman in the sari store was going to be a bit conspicuous. Ah, here was a store that  could accommodate my needs!

This may have been the place. Source:

I don’t know the name of the place, but it was narrow, and filled with shiny glittering bracelets and other bibelots seemingly designed for the magpie in me. The gracious  shopkeeper, seeing  I was about to have the vapors from the effects of all the delicious shininess, allowed me to look at my leisure and did not object to my taking pictures. When I wanted some of the hanging pretties ( I don’t know how else to describe them) , she agreed to my climbing a step ladder and trying to release said pretties from their perches on the ceiling. She asked where I  was from, and I told her, but she did not seem to have heard of it. When I am striking up a conversation while out of the United States, and the person I am speaking with has not heard of Elvis Presley, I give up and say, ” I’m not from these parts.”

How was I going to decide what to buy from all these treats?Be still, my heart!So I had to have some bangles, and I had to have some of the hanging pretties. Then there were the shoes. I bought two pair, but wish I had bought ten, because these lovely shoes OWN me. I wear them everywhere.They match whatever I plan to wear. If they want to go to the swimming pool I take them. If they want to go to dinner I take them. You would do the same if you had these shoes. May they last long and delight me for years.

Here they are hanging out by the pool.

Seriously shiny!

These too!

About the time I left that store was the time at which I had agreed to meet  with my companion. I found that he had conveniently parked himself at a bar which served  local draft beer. I wound my way up the street and joined him. After a beer, I  suggested we investigate the clothing store opposite the bar. I felt somewhat timid about taking pictures in the store, so my companion approached the lady behind the counter on my behalf.  He  asked her if I might take pictures; he thought  she replied affirmatively. However, after I took one shot she began to exclaim that I must NOT take pictures! Yikes! At least I got one!

These delicacies will have to wait until next time.

It seemed to be time to move on. We caught a bus and went into Gastown. Both of us were sad that our lovely trip was coming to an end. In Gastown we stopped for dinner at the Black Frog Pub.

Hey! Who’s that woman in there with my man?

After dinner we took one last long walk back to our hotel. When we arrived back at  our suite, we were rewarded with a lovely sunset view from our living room window. As we packed we reflected upon the way we had been welcomed in Vancouver at every turn. Surely the city was encouraging us to at least return some future  day if we could not extend our visit today. It was too soon to leave, but we have heard the siren song. We shall return!

Saturday in the Neighborhood

When you’re zipping around in the car, bustling back and forth between home and places unknown, do you ever look longingly at places you pass, and wish you could stop and go in?  All along my daily routes I notice what is new, or what is familiar and resist the urge to pull off the road and investigate. I think I am drawn not so much by the places themselves but by the freedom to interrupt an annoying trip to the post office, or to forgo a business meeting entirely because I wanted to try out a new walking path or take pictures of the changing leaves.

But just because  I cannot excuse myself from adult responsibilities all the time  does not mean  I can’t mix  some small adventures in with the drudgery. Today I had a pressing  errand I had put off for a week – returning some tile samples for the condo to the tile showroom, about twenty miles away. Mr. Tile Man was eager for me to return these tiles, and I was eager not to have then whumping around in the back of  my car.

After returning the tiles to the showroom, I got back into my car, turned to my companion  in the front seat and said, “Let’s have a little fun!” Who is my companion you ask? It is none other than my darling Nikon D3000, which I had remembered to bring along. With this  stylish little friend I would reward myself for having had to run such an obnoxious errand.

For the two of us had plans. We were going to drive around  the neighborhood  with no particular destination in mind, taking pictures of whatever  caught our eye. I was in no hurry. My camera was in no hurry. If I saw something I wanted to record , fine. If I did not, that was fine also.  That’s the way life should be! Here is what we saw.

Unused railroad depot against the blue sky.

I retraced the route I take at least twice a week to the gym. My personal training appointment is at 7:30, so there is no hope of dallying along the way, and on my way back, after having been subjected to a challenging workout, I only want to get home and drink coffee as soon as possible.

It says stop! I often wish I could!

The door of the depot.

The roof of the depot.

The depot is actually for sale. The unused railroad line is being transformed into a Green Line trail which will connect the city from east to west. Part of it is already open. When it opens out here, maybe someone will turn this little depot into a coffee shop!

Across the street from the depot are some old buildings, such as this former grocery store. It used to be open as a sundry when I first moved out here, but I don’t know if it is still open.

 This old house is a restaurant, the Cafe Fontana, where Italian food from fresh local ingredients  is made  daily. It hasn’t been open very long, but I’ve already been there several times and was not disappointed. I love that the place is owned by a family in the neighborhood. And when you go in you are welcomed like a neighbor. It’s a good feeling!  This is an old post office which has been preserved by the community. In the background is a church cemetery as well as some new construction. I’m thinking this building may have  been a where people lingered and visited after getting their mail, once upon a time.   In front of the post office is an old school turned into a community center. Alumnae of the school have kept the building from destruction, and committed citizens have made a small museum inside. 

 I guess I had to have a reminder that I am in suburbia! These empty swings and picnic tables are available! Well, for now I DO live in suburbia, which is  not as diverse as I would like, with not as much culture as I would like. But that is another story. For today I would rather concentrate on how no matter where I am, things catch my eye. And that it is important to stop all the busy-ness sometimes and just look around. What about you? What do you go by all the time but never seem to have time to investigate? I hope you’ll make the time soon. You won’t be sorry!

Fall: A Quiet Welcome

Shhh! The weather has ears! Pass it on! Don’t let your neighbors, after a day of vigorous gardening  exult about the glorious moderate temperatures we are having here in the South. Stop your spouse before he can say out loud how invigorated he feels after washing the cars in the perky  sunshine. Write in your journal; don’t talk  about the delicate breezes you felt this morning on the patio, or  that you could sit on the patio at all.  Because we all know that speaking in superlative terms about the glorious fall weather causes the crisp, clean air to devolve into a sticky miasma, the carefree butterflies to be replaced with menacing mosquitoes, and the rays of the sun to turn from a soft blanket into a relentless roasting ember.

After a lifetime in the South, I know to take advantage of the brief  weather respites, quickly and quietly. Excruciating  heat is always right around the corner, and it is not too  late for us to have more of it. This past Saturday morning, finding myself with no other pressing duties, I slipped out of the house with my camera, walking very softly, in shoes that covered my toes instead of flip flops.

The mission was to enjoy oops, observe how my plants were faring thus far in October. Would I find that my plants had  survived the summer making the best of things  with their heads facing down for protection from the sun? Had some been able to revive themselves after a recent rain? Had others, largely untended by me, given up the struggle? Which of my so enthusiastically placed plants would live to brave another summer? Here are the results!

First I contemplated the gourd vines. After some weeks of thinking I was watering them for no purpose, baby gourds  have  appeared! I don’t think they will grow to cover the pergola this year as originally planned.

But that’s alright with me. I think the pergola is lovely all by itself.

These asters are making a late appearance. The Four O’Clocks are going strong. These came up from seed.There is still lots  of trusty Century Vine.

I’ll be expecting more peppers and okra. I’ve had some lovely eggplants too but I didn’t see any new blossoms on them. These cosmos of course are not ready to give up the ghost. I planted these from seed and they grew six feet tall even after I trimmed them back several times.The sweet potato vine is vigorous, and adding nice color and texture to the pool deck.There is no shortage of lantana blooms. I think the plant  is trying extra hard to be pleasing, as it barely escaped being uprooted  and sent , like an unruly child, to North Carolina this summer.But fig season is certainly over. The changing leaves will not be far behind.

As long as everyone knows I am whispering to avoid an adverse change in weather  I will confess that I never feel so alive as I do in the fall. The very air with its nippy breezes suggests change and excitement. The swirling gold and orange leaves glow with brilliance. The mornings may be cool,  but when the sun comes up we will be bathed in warmth that is just the right temperature. For the moment my garden is enjoying all of this right along with me. I hope you enjoy it as well!