Monday, May 30, 2011

Cystic Fibrosis Is No Picnic In The Park

THOUGHTS OF YOUNG PEOPLE dealing with a fatal disease followed us every step of the way during the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis at Queen’s Park in New Westminster, BC, on Sunday, May 29th.

May is Cystic Fibrosis (CF) awareness month in my world. I was personally made aware of the condition several years ago when my daughter introduced me to a bright young gymnast and classmate named Amanda who became a close friend.

Amanda lived a full, active and optimistic lifestyle despite the illness and bouts in the hospital. She eventually passed away in her mid-twenties leaving a huge imprint in our lives. In fact, my book With My Umbrella, I Can … The Magical Journey of Penelope Puddle is dedicated to Amanda and her energetic spirit.

Management of the disease has improved significantly since CF was officially recognized in the 1930s. Hope for a cure refuses to fade for the surprisingly common genetic illness that affects mainly the lungs. Although life expectancy has increased, there is a great deal more to do. Some 500 people sharing a goal got involved and worked their legs at the annual fundraiser.

Although the event last May was held at a different family friendly location, a great choice this year was Queen's Park. I haven't visited in quite a while and had forgotten how the mature trees reminded me of giant leafy umbrellas.

The weather was warm and the forest was the perfect setting not only to walk but to play. There were places to slide, swing and climb.

There was a craft table where children explored their artistic sides.

I realized nothing could top nature's art ...

when I saw the proud peacock nearby.

Its pretty feathers were eye-popping to say the least.

School children also entertained outdoors with plays, dance and song.

A cute pet with long lashes (click photo for detail) dressed for the occasion.

This fellow was not at all sheepish about being touched.

The Petting Zoo included a pair of adorable piglets.

The sun glinted on the ripples the ducks made in the pond at the park.

It was fun to cool off in the water ...

especially when running through the blast of sprinklers.

The Rainbow Playland theme fit the fundraising mood ...

where a real pot of gold would be to find the cure for CF.

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

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Making Waves In Burnaby

WE HAVE SEEN PLENTY OF CATASTROPHES of biblical proportions recently. But some folk make waves and stir up worries unnecessarily. The recent doomsday predictions I mentioned in my previous post were all over the media but did not materialize. Although I didn't find their message credible, there is always a fleeting thought ... what if it IS true?

Like the water's edge I captured in Burnaby, BC, last week at Metrotown Mall ... it only seemed as if something awful was about to happen.

Heaven knows there are more than enough genuine disasters without the need to invent new ones.

Even if the world as we know it is destined to end, I would rather be surprised about the timing.

I would be much more inclined to worry about my last moments than enjoy them if I knew the details.

Thankfully, misguided predictions are often illusions like the water in my top photo that appears dangerously close to the cars but is actually contained in a harmless basin of bubbling fountains.

You can soak in more sites from around the globe at Watery Wednesday.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Monday, May 23, 2011

Branching Out In Ocean Park

THE WEATHER FINALLY FELT like spring and the mood was carefree when I strolled the Ocean Park neighborhood in Surrey, BC, last week with a blogger many know in the virtual world. It was fun to branch out and meet face to face with Jen, the creator of Muddy Boot Dreams, a popular site for flower lovers and a gardener’s delight. Jen reveals interesting tidbits about local life and has an extensive knowledge about plants and how to grow them. She also transforms her lovely floral/countryside images into art cards.

I was glad I didn't believe the doomsday folk who said the world would end on Saturday, May 21, precisely at 6 p.m. I would have been much too worried to enjoy our shared passion for photography or to appreciate the surroundings.

There were bursts of greenery to discover around every corner.

We both had our cameras and could not resist capturing the journey.

We must have looked like a curious pair ...

as we snapped pictures along our way.

There were touches of charm tangled around arching gateways.

We walked by sun-brushed leaves that fluttered like flames in the trees.

Kwomais Point Park was nearby so we ventured in, passing the newly reconstructed Kwomais Lodge located on the expansive park property.

Bird songs filled the evergreen forest and bee houses hummed with activity.

Minature daisies scattered along the grassy carpet at our feet.

We paused over Semiahmoo Bay to enjoy the watery view.

The eagle soaring in the distance swayed in our direction as if to say, "While you are watching me, I'll be keeping my eyes on you!"

It was with a fresh jolt of appreciation that I explored the familiar area with my new friend. Although doomsday predictors got it wrong this time, they reminded me it could all suddenly end. It would be a shame to take life for granted and not enjoy this miracle of creation while we can.

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

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Inspiration Of Derek K. Miller

MY WORLD WAS SOPPING wet last Wednesday. I thought about grabbing my umbrella and going for a walk … but didn’t. On this rainy day, I decided to spend some time indoors reading. That's when I stumbled on a May 4th post by a unique blogger. I say unique because Derek K. Miller is no longer alive. He died at the age of 41 after a decade long struggle with cancer.

Strange I didn’t know Derek existed until he died. He had been blogging for years in BC from a Metro Vancouver community. I read his last words with curiosity.

I think he would be pleased at the many hundreds of comments his posts received and the interpretations his thoughts stirred. Some were upset that he did not believe in an afterlife.

What I got from his writings is that life is a puzzle unfolding. Plans can get sidetracked. Some are lost. But no matter how long, short or uncertain the path, there is love, joy and beauty to find in this fleeting wondrous existence.

It can't be easy when reality is a muddy puddle and constant clouds interrupt the view. Yet through his disappointments and health struggles, Derek's final message seems clear. Focus on what you love amid imperfect situations. Get hooked on travels of the imagination ... whether in a room with a window (and perhaps keyboard) or on a physical journey at home or across the globe. Be inspired. Be amazed. Be in the moment. What happens next is a mystery to all.

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

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blossom Street In Kitsilano

THE LIGHT DUSTING OF PINK on the street is a sign that fresh green leaves will soon unfurl to replace this arch of blossoms in Kitsilano.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Monday, May 9, 2011

Winging To Vancouver's Gastown

THIS PIG WITH WINGS that my daughter gave me on Mother’s Day is a gift she knew I would appreciate.

The tiny glass ornament represents a theme that is somewhat similar to our own fictional character Penelope Puddle.

Penelope the Piggie also flies in the face of the can't-do crowd.

When pigs fly
is an old expression that speaks to the near impossible odds of overcoming difficult situations and achieving challenging goals. In a world where dreams are often dashed and a meaningful life of longed-for achievements rarely seems realized, a can-do reminder is encouraging.

Heading to Gastown in Vancouver for Mother's Day dinner yesterday, I saw a sign that shows the high hopes of some are on a more global scale. Minimizing pollution is a great dream and a grand goal that many folk share.

The water taxi floating on False Creek and the surrounding apartments were reminders that toying with our natural world requires a balanced approach to the environment.

Trees clothed with blossoms softened the city streets. Fallen petals covered both grass and concrete.

As our car sped over the Cambie Street Bridge I saw that the Cirque du Soleil was in town. The acrobatic group in the white tents were sure to put on a spectacular show.

Ongoing construction included a new roof for BC Place, a huge stadium at the heart of the city.

Historic weaponry was exhibited along our way. Some might think when pigs fly when I suggest our current weapons and battles will be obsolete one day.

Finally we reached our destination. Gastown is a historic area of Vancouver that fell on hard times in the 1930s to be revitalized in more recent days.

An increasingly popular tourist hotspot, shops and restaurants merge with updated older heritage buildings and new office structures and residences.

Gastown is named after an entrepreneur known as Gassy Jack who opened a saloon in the 1800s as a retreat for nearby millworkers. It was a successful venture that expanded the Water Street area until the Great Depression when it disintegrated into a respite for the desperate and homeless.

Today the area has come full circle. There is a hubbub of activity and an atmosphere that is bright and airy ... rain or shine.

Since one never knows when showers will fall, cheery umbrellas are available for purchase as well as decoration.

This flowing fish fountain seemed appropriate in a nook along Water Street.

We arrived at The Old Spaghetti Factory. This restaurant chain across Canada has a decor that suits Gastown's historic theme perfectly.

Inside, a kaleidoscope of stained glass provided delicious eye candy.

The gorgeous colors were difficult to capture.

The lamps were dripping in bright hues.

The crowds were huge and there was a long waiting list. Eventually, we were seated in the indoor train portion of the restaurant.

More glass glittered when looking out from inside the train.

We were definitely hungry and you could say we truly enjoyed "pigging out" on the heaps of tasty spaghetti we ordered for dinner.

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

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms