Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Than Meets The Eye

SINCE FOLKS kindly commented on the vision issues I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to add a small clarification about what I wrote. Like many, I am increasingly near sighted and have had floaters for years. Floaters are common (and as I understand it) usually due to harmless bits of broken gel behind the eye that the brain, in time, can actually forget is there. My floaters increased significantly, however, after a torn retina to one eye over a year ago. Since then, the other eye has also had an increase in visual anomalies … but no torn retina. The best guess is that my most recent and differing anomalies are due simply to more debris from detaching gel. In addition, the fluorescein angiogram I had showed drusen deposits. Although this can signal macular degeneration development, my doctor suggested I need not fear this potential visual impairment any time soon and quite possibly never. We all treasure our eyesight but when it is threatened, gratitude for life’s visual wonders (and excellent eyewear) overflows.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Visions Of Long Life

LONG LIFE is what we all wish for knowing it is more possible when health is at its best. As questions of wellbeing come up, visits to Vancouver General Hospital and its enclave of buildings dealing with specific health issues seem inevitable. This includes the UBC Eye Care Centre near where the “Long Life Pl” street sign is and where my husband drove me to doctor appointments.

To get there, we went over the Oak Street bridge from where I saw a distant coastal mountain that looked much like an island floating in the clouds.

We arrived early so had time to explore the neighborhood.

First we had to park the car, however, which is expensive near the hospital. The cost can be about $15 for two hours. Since appointments sometimes take longer due to minutes (even hours) of waiting, it gets pricey. We were glad to find a parking lot nearby that charged $12 for the day.

Enjoying the sights, we discovered Vancouver City Hall just a few blocks from the hospital buildings.

There were lots of pretty flowers along the way. These Impatients are often the first to arrive in summer and the last to leave.

We saw modern architecture mingling with older buildings.

Of course, there is always new construction going on downtown.

Incorporating older and newer buildings works nicely in areas such as this where two distinctly different looks created the appealing City Square Mall.

Inside the mall there were many shops to explore and places to eat.

Prized fruit from local BC farms were displayed like works of art.

There were bouquets and plants of all sorts that begged to be taken home.

Mannequins tempted passersby with their charming outfits.

When I entered the building for my first appointment, I found many artistic renderings covering the walls. This portion of a work by BC artist Peter Winterhalter-Aspell, painted in 1987, gave me a little fright.

My photograph does not do justice to this gorgeous painting by Maria Sammarco donated to the Eye Care Centre. It gave me a lift as I went through various tests that took hours to complete, including a fluorescein angiogram. In the end, I found good news mixed with inconclusive results.

I walked to the car under an archway of trees appreciating all the wonders around me. Although it's unlikely I have blocked vessels in back of my eyes, I am left with some unexplained issues. But thankfully there have been no new tears to my retina or new floaters to plague me. Having had poor vision since childhood, my ability to see the world is valued beyond treasure.

In the mirror, I saw the sun trying to break through as we headed home. I looked past the clouds and enjoyed the view.

Explorers can discover more sites from around the globe at My World.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Award Winning Summer Finale

IT WAS AN AWARD WINNING blue-skies day but I didn’t find time to sit on the lounge chair in my backyard. There hasn’t been a heavy rainfall yet so a watering of the plants and trees was required. Warm as it was, I felt fall nearby and I could see the crimson leaves were saturated with colour as they normally are a few weeks before they drift into memories of summer.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pacific National Exhibition Comes Calling

PINK AND BLUE CLOUDS of cotton candy, sizzling hot donuts and deep-fried onions don’t sound very nutritious. But the whiff of sweet aromas from diverse food offerings at the Pacific National Exhibition always conjures up yummy memories.

It isn’t Disneyland … but the annual PNE in Vancouver, BC, does provide family fun that is treasured throughout the years. Wild carnival rides, games of chance, art and entertainment (including concerts, eco-sculptures, dog shows and the legendary RCMP Musical Ride) fill the city air from August 21st to September 6th.

That the event marks its 100th year is incredible, indeed, since the location of the exhibition at Hastings Park, as well as the exhibition concept itself, have been frequently challenged. When the brochure came to my door I marveled at how the event has survived and thrived. I also realized that some serious rain will likely fall in the southwest as it often does when the PNE comes to town. Rain or shine I was inspired to look through some family photos taken at the fair in years gone by and found this pretty lady posing in an olden day costume with an umbrella. Although the picture was taken more recently at a photo studio set up at the fair grounds, this could be how people dressed when the PNE first arrived in Vancouver a century ago.

Explorers can discover more sites from around the globe at My World.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

From Elephants To Pet Moths

THIS ILLUSTRATION by my daughter reminds me that family and friends come in many shapes, sizes, shades and species. A heartwarming video seen by millions (after the commercial) about a bond between an elephant and dog is also a reminder. The friendship between Tara and Bella seems strange. But it is definitely not as odd as empathizing with an insect.

What looks like a pin on the television reporter's lapel is a miniscule moth often found in clothes closets. I took its picture remembering a real event that resulted in a childhood poem about a moth I spared after having second thoughts. When a solitary bug creeps, crawls or wings into view, its existence hangs at the whim of human hand-swatting powers. We are like the man with the moth or the elephant with the dog. Although we can crush the more vulnerable, most often we should not.


There’s a moth asleep on the floor
Should I kill it … squash its powdery wings
For it has no soul and it chews on clothes
I will rid myself of the snoozing thing.

Yet this moth asleep on the floor
Could have a soul as big as my own
For it is alive and we breathe the same air
I will watch it dream; I will let it roam.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms
Illustration by Holly Pavlik
Post updated September 3, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MOOving Cattle Tales

GOING DOWN A COUNTRY ROAD in Langley, BC, often leads to animal sightings. There are sheep, llama, goats, horses, dairy cows and beef cattle. Although the Holstein males suffer the ultimate fate of death, dairy cows tolerate the discomfort of heavy udders that make it difficult for them to stand.

With no breeze, shade tree nearby or cloud in the sky, the beautifully patterned cattle baked in the scorching sun. They were infested with flies that darted away as my camera approached. The animals looked at the gadget in my hand with deep curiosity.

Although their intelligence was evident, I might have misread one cow that showed particular interest in me. I spoke kindly to the cow as if it were a cat or a dog. The cow replied with a long moo that sounded like the loud wail of a bagpipe.

Tail wagging and head swaying ensued as the cattle communicated with one another and gathered closer to where I stood. Were they saying, “Get us out of here!” Or were they wondering if I brought them food or water or had come to open the gate? Maybe they sensed I enjoyed a glass of milk now and then. In the face of their discomfort, I drank in some unpleasant realities about the purpose of their existence.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kindly Buddha Comes To BC Town

IT WAS A WEIGHTY MATTER when the four-ton Buddha was unveiled at the Nghiem Monastery courtyard in Aldergrove.

Carved in Thailand from BC jade, the statue took five years to complete and was consecrated by the Dalai Lama in 2009.

Its illuminating presence and friendly face captures the imagination and is intended to inspire universal compassion as it travels the globe.

Although hundreds of thousands of people have viewed the icon, many more were expected.

Few people could resist taking photographs of the imposing figure that gets star treatment wherever it goes.

Tea candles were lit to provide opportunities for individuals to participate.

People were able to light sticks at the foot of the statue ...

and place them in a bowl with their hopes and prayers.

I learned that the Buddha's design and kindly demeanor is based on the Buddha inside the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodh Gaya in India.

Inside the Monastery I saw a large bell and monks quietly eating a meal.

There was also a colourful drum nearby that was silent and still.

Further within the Monastery there was a sacred place that was open to all who were shoeless.

A dignified Buddha was displayed there with a distinctly more serious air.

In a small corner of the courtyard a pretty statue was easily overlooked. If it were human, it might have been green with envy at the attention the visiting Buddha was getting.

Soon the waiting crane in the background would take the large statue away.

The jade Buddha will next appear in Seattle and likely continue to travel for several more years before settling in the Great Stups of Universal Compassion, near Bendigo, Australia.

What an honor that this symbol of peace was created from gemstone discovered in the mountainous regions of British Columbia.

Explorers can discover more sites from around the globe at My World.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sweet Memories At Crescent Beach

AT FIRST GLANCE it seemed as if I stumbled into a prairie wheat field when I visited Crescent Beach in South Surrey. The days are rainless and umbellas are used more as protection against the sizzling sun than showers.

The high grasses bordering the beach around Mud Bay thrived magnificently this hot summer and seemed more stately than usual above the squishy sand and puddles along the beach at low tide.

Around the corner in a peaceful alley, the scent of tangled sweet peas filled the air. Their delicious aroma brought back memories of my mom who loved to nurture flowers in her garden.

Memories of my mother sharing her floral passions with me continue to unravel and grow. It was all so magical during my childhood. The more she cut sweet peas to put in a vase, the more plentifully they grew in her garden.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Spy A Purple Blush

POET AND ILLUSTRATOR Constance Miller once wrote: “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen. And waste its sweetness on the desert air.” Miller was inspired to catalogue the plant life she saw in Australia in the early 1900s … and she did so with hand-painted elegance. Nowadays a camera commonly unveils fleeting florals. When I spied a purplish blush on the blue hydrangea, I was not too shy to capture it with a quick click.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stars In My Garden

WHEN EXPLORING THE WONDERS of the environment with a microscope, camera or naked eye, it is sometimes easy to find universes within universes beyond comprehension of the finite mind. Atoms and molecules are forever shifting as cells gather and transform into objects. These objects do not exist separately from the space that surrounds them. A simple flower is a collection of petals and leaves rooted to the earth and nourished by the sky where sun and rain synchronize. The hydrangea with a lacey cap in my front yard is a piece of the cosmos that cannot be measured simply or captured in a box. In gardens everywhere there are flowers amid stars and stars amid the flowers.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mother Nature Has Something To Say

WE LIVE WHERE we do sometimes by choice, sometimes by birth. Some of the most compelling places on earth are the most threatening. We usually adapt, determined to carve homes in challenging environments. Whenever possible, we settle near water and food resources. We are also drawn to the beauty of the planet that is both nurturing and perilous.

The dancing raindrops on leaves, with its musical pitter-patter, is welcome in British Columbia due to weeks of unusually dry conditions causing hundreds of forest fires. Faraway in Moscow, the smoke is thick from neighboring wildfires. Experiencing an incredible heat wave, the city waits for rain.

In Pakistan, meanwhile, extreme rain flooded some areas, killing over a thousand people. Less deadly, and caused more by melting snow than monsoons, the Red River in Canada swells yearly and brings fear of flooding to the Manitoba prairies.

In southwest BC, a landslide into Meager Creek threatened lives creating a natural troublesome dam. According to earth sciences professor John Clague at Simon Fraser University, the slide can likely be traced to when warm weather melted part of a glacier. But this event becomes miniscule in light of massive mudslides, due to downpours, in heavily populated areas of China.

Near and far, whether it is global warming, problems with manmade drainage systems and dams, or the natural evolution of the earth that puts us at risk, Mother Nature can be bad-tempered in a topsy-turvy world.

Whether nestled by a field, forest, desert or ocean … perched on cliff or beneath it, Mother Nature warns us to be mindful where we hang our hats and fold our umbrellas.

Explorers can discover more sites from around the globe at My World.