Archive for the ‘journeys on public transit’ Category

Hello Kitty graffiti

July 18, 2012

It’s been awhile since I posted any graffiti images, but I couldn’t resist sharing this photo I took at Vancouver’s Commercial Drive Skytrain station a couple days ago. Who put the friendly feline there? How? Why? Were they trying to spread cheerful cuteness, or saying something more cynical?


Celebrating Cherry Blossoms -Vancouver style

April 9, 2012

This year’s Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival got off to a perfect start Thursday, April 5, with sunshine and cherry blossoms both cooperating. The Akebono cherry trees alongside Burrard Skytrain station (site of the festival kick-off) were in full bloom!

The event included Taiko drumming and other performances of Japanese music, as well as energetic Bollywood-influenced dancing that got the crowd joining in (led by Shiamak dancers, who are choreographing a flashmob umbrella dance to happen April 14).

The blossoms, people, and multicultural celebration inspired this haiku:

downtown Vancouver
oasis of blossoms
welcomes everyone

(Note: the festival also hosts an annual international haiku contest)

The celebration of blossoms continued at Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden over the weekend with Sakura Days Japan Fair.

Spring arrives in Vancouver’s Chinatown

April 11, 2011

I have been spending a lot of time on the computer lately, preparing for the launch of my new book (more info in a future post). But I was lured away by the spring sunshine Friday afternoon and decided to visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

As I neared Chinatown (walking from Stadium Skytrain station) I was met by these two Canada Geese who also seemed out for a spring walk (it’s the time of year when paired geese and their nests turn up in some strange locations around town).

Vancouver’s Chinatown is the second largest in North America (after San Francisco’s). It’s been in existence since the late 1800s, surging in growth after the Canadian railroad was completed in 1885 and many out-of-work Chinese railway workers found employment in Vancouver.

I love the colors and historic buildings in this part of the city and couldn’t resist posting some photos.

(Gate to Chinatown, looking east on Pender St. near Carrall St.)

(Shops along Pender St. –near entrance to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden)

(Tiny pink building is “Kitty’s Beauty Studio”)

(I’m not sure what purpose the niches in this old brick wall served originally, but they seem to have no current one other than to act as cozy pigoen perches)

(Like the two geese, and perhaps the pigeon pair, these crows seem to be a couple with nesting on their mind)

(Chinatown banners)

Ooops, I hadn’t mean to post so many photos of Chinatown, but actually meant to focus on Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden. So, if you’re still with me, garden photos are next.

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden is modeled after private classical gardens of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is the first full-scale classical Chinese garden constructed outside of China, and was built through the cooperation of Canada, China, and the Chinese and non-Chinese communities in Vancouver. It is named in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the “Father” of modern China, who played a role in leading the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and was the first president of the Republic of China.

(You can glimpse the moon-shaped gate to the public park section of the garden beyond the stone lion)

When I stepped into the garden, I left behind the hussle and bustle of the surrounding city (and the shouts from a nearby soccer game), and entered a tranquil oasis.

The design and materials of the garden reflect the Daoist philosophy of yin and yang. Light is balanced by dark, rugged and hard are balanced by soft and flowing, small is blanced by large. It also has the four main elements of a classical Chinese garden: buildings, rocks, plants, water.

Even the pebbled courtyard ground has symbolism. The stones are rough to balance the smooth of the water, and the pattern of one section represents “masculine,” while the pattern of the opposite section represents “feminine.”

Bamboo represents quiet resilience, bending but never breaking.

Turtles symbolize long-life, while the koi fish represent strength and perseverance (due to their ability to swim a long way against the current).

The drip tiles at the edge of the roof represent bats, which are symbols of good luck (the Chinese word for “bat”, bianfu, sounds like the Chinese word for “Good luck”). Bat images can be found throughout the garden.

The water is intentionally cloudy to intensify the reflections (Magnolia tree reflected in above photo).

The garden is open all year, with something different to see with each season. There is a fee to enter the inner courtyard and associated buildings, but the public park section (seen in the above photo) is free. More info is available on the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden website.

Graffiti variety pack

June 6, 2010

It feels like ages since I last blogged and even longer since I posted any graffiti images, so I decided to share a few of my favourite graffiti discoveries over the past few months. I heard a rumour (maybe it was a Tweet) that stencil images of the original Spock had appeared at various locations along Vancouver’s Commerical Drive. So I went down to search them out about a week ago. I walked up and down the drive between First Ave and Venables (stopping for lunch at Cafe de Soleil, candy at Dutch Girl Chocolates, etc), but no sign of Spock. It wasn’t until I gave up and headed home that I finally spotted this one at the Commerical Drive entrance to the Broadway Sytrain station:

Another image from Commerical Drive (is the crow checking out what looks like a giant bug graffitied across the dumpsters?):

In April I was cutting through the parking lot at Georgia and Cambie (proposed site for a new Vancouver Art Gallery building) and came across this shopping cart (?) art:

I liked the colour against the torquoise wall. Unfortunately, the cart wasn’t there the last time I walked through the lot.

And finally, these last two images are of knitted graffiti that I stumbled upon on a visit to a Gabriola Island beach in March (my first live sighting of yarn bombing!):

What I like about winter

March 16, 2010

Winter in Vancouver is damp, grey and colourless. Or is it? There are so many subtle colour variations that I enjoy in winter –muted greys and browns, unexpected yellows and purples.  Nothing bright and showy, but perhaps more rewarding because you have to look more carefully to see them. I also love the shapes of trees in winter and the secrets the bare branches reveal. I don’t think of their shapes so much when they are covered with leaves, but with their branches exposed, the shapes seems more emphasized to me — like hollow wire sculptures or woven baskets.


row of bare-branched trees

each, a lacy sphere or cup

to hold a bird’s nest


(photo of trees along Marine Drive, taken out the bus window)

Time travel via fog

January 15, 2009

Downtown on Robson Street today, looking down Granville Street, something seemed wrong with the picture. Then I realized that the fog had erased the tall buldings normally looming behind the two-story older ones and had also erased the Granville Street bridge. As I walked away, a haiku started to form. By the time, I thought of going back to take a photo, the fog had dissipated, but you can still get the idea from the photo below, which I took a couple blocks west. I walked all around Robson St. and side streets looking at old apartment buildings and old Victorian houses, imagining (with the fog’s help) what the streets must have looked like when the old low-rise buildings lined every street, and high-rises, cellphones, etc. were still the stuff of science fiction.


fog turns back the clock

old buildings reclaim the street

new ones disappear


Can you make out the hint of taller buildings behind the old ones?

More wet stuff

December 13, 2008

Yesterday was a rainy day sandwiched between two rare sunny days. Unfortunately, I was stuck inside on the sunny days and was out and about on the rainy day. As I left the house, giant wet snowflakes were coming down. By the time I got to Commerical Drive and downtown Vancouver, there was just giant wet. I still ended up enjoying myself — perhaps because haiku kept happening (and creating anything always puts me in a good mood), and perhaps because I was still feeling high from good news I received the day before.

The haiku:



 rain on bus windows

 blurrs neon and car headlights

 into Christmas colours






buildings, sidewalk, street

everything is cloaked in gray

except a red coat


The good news:

My first picture book story has been accepted by Orca Book Publishers (for publication in Fall 2010)!!


Down at the bay…

September 30, 2008

I took a break today and headed down to English Bay to enjoy the sun and sea. Here are a couple photos.

The humans look reluctant to go in. The dog was not.

Thinking me a tourist, this friendly guy offered to take my photo, but I said I’d rather take his. Great spot under big trees just starting to shift into fall colour.

Where do you stand on doors?

July 12, 2008

Photos of picturesque doors have become a bit of a chiche in recent years. There is even a Simpsons episode in which Bart and Lisa go antiquing with a new gay friend of Homer’s, and Bart photographs doors.

I admit that I too like to photograph doors. Perhaps it’s their mundaneness and, conversely, their universally symbolic quality. Doors are an ordinary part of everyday existence, but they can also imprison and hide secrets or they can open to freedom and new possibilities. They contain thresholds over which we may fear or yearn to step.

Here are some doors that caught my eye in Vancouver this past year:

And one more that I stumbled across when I was somewhat lost in East Vancouver recently:

Dances with Fabric

November 18, 2007

Today I headed down to the Grandview Legion Hall on Commerical Drive for Swap-O-Rama-Rama, a clothes swap and re-fashion extravaganza.

Commercial Drive

A great day to get out on “The Drive” and do something creative (and environmentally positive)!


Participants pay a small fee and contribute a bag of clothes, then help themselves to clothes up for grabs on several tables. Take the clothing as is, alter items at stenciling, collage, sewing and other creative work stations, or just dance to the music….


The stenciling and stamping stations were my favourite:


Here’s a glimpse of something I worked on (which will remain secret until after Christmas):


I’ve had a bunch of old t-shirts at home that I’ve been wanting to renovate for quite awhile, but I never seem ready to take scissors or paint to them. What was fun about Swap-o-rama-rama today is I didn’t stop to think and plan, I just picked up some pieces of clothing that caught my eye and went with what they suggested to me. Working quickly and without worrying about achieving perfection was freeing, playful, empowering. Now, if I can just keep that inspiration going now that I’m back home…..

Note: To find out more about Swap-o-rama-rama or to find one coming to your area, click here.