“Line them up right here.”

East Van Foliage

It’s been quite a week, with the implications of Brexit to decipher, Vancouver developers making the most of the perfect spin on our housing crisis, and the end of that most perfect corner of the Internet looming.

East Van Flowers

Next week, it’s all cookbook clubs all the time, but I’ll have a little something more for you the week after that.

East Van Corn

In the meantime, enjoy a few photos of my neighbourhood’s gardens. I’m going to return to watching my way through the Thin Man movies. Nick and Nora’s cocktail-fuelled shenanigans are a welcome oasis in a complicated world.

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Midsummer Garden

I may get impatient for the harvest. I may worry that my flower beds are too sparse. But, something I never forget to do is to take pleasure in the bits of beauty the plants in my garden create. I’d much rather look at the plants and watch their progression than weed. And I often do.

seed

nasturtiums

Veg

potato vine

Bean

Flower

What Eclipse?

Night Street

Last night there was a total eclipse of the moon, also known as a Blood Moon. As is most often the case, you wouldn’t have known it in Vancouver. Our stretch of sunny weather ended just in time for cloud cover to gather along with the darkness, making this celestial occurrence a non-event here. I went out with my camera and a tripod anyway, hoping for a break in the clouds. None came.

I took some photos anyway.

Dust on the lens
Dust on the lens, in place of the moon.

Fire truck
A fire truck passes.

Gardening at Night
My garden at night.

We’ll have a few more chances to see a lunar eclipse over the next year. Perhaps the weather here will co-operate for at least one of them. Probably not. But, I think I might try my hand at night photography again and see if I can improve my results. I rather enjoyed running around the neighbourhood in the middle of the night with a camera and a tripod.

New Westminster’s Downtown Renaissance

Tugtastic

The trajectory of New Westminster’s historic downtown has embodied a lot of the conversations around downtown renewal over the last few decades. For years, Columbia Street struggled to compete with newer shopping centres, while the surrounding area declined. In the mid-eighties, the construction of the Skytrain and Westminster Quay shopping centre were promised to bring new life to the area, but that didn’t last. After its novelty wore off, Westminster Quay languished through several reincarnations and was largely empty for a long while, while Columbia Street relied on wedding shops for its primary retail strength.

Tea 4

It’s been said that the real estate boom in Vancouver is responsible for New West’s downtown renaissance, along with the construction of many residential towers on redeveloped industrial lands. Independent small businesses are now thriving alongside the wedding shops on Columbia Street and Sixth Avenue, while Westminster Quay has rebranded itself as the River Market at Westminster Quay and focused on food and the creative sector to allow it to become a community hub.

Re Up

I spent the day in the area today, exploring the River Market with my Mom. The cold snap didn’t allow us to wander as far as we’d have liked, but we found more than enough to keep us busy at the Quay and in the surrounding area. The Quay is divided into the “Hungry Floor” (which is just as you’d expect) and the “Curious Floor” (which is dominated by arts organizations and creative sector businesses). We predictably spent most of our time in the food zone. There are a number of Vancouver transplants, anchored by a branch of Donald’s Market and including La Grotta Del Formaggio, Wild Rice, Re-Up BBQ, Longtail Restaurant, and Wally’s Burgers. When you include Fratelli Bakery’s branch farther up Columbia, it’s no wonder people have taken to calling New Westminster East Van East.

Dim Sum 3

Crepes 3

My mother and I limited our tasting today to Dim Sum at Wild Rice and sweet crêpes at Crêpe Des Amis (expertly made by its Parisian proprietor). Unfortunately, after that we had room for no more. It would be fun to go back with a larger group and do a proper tasting tour of all the River Market has to offer.

Growing

Books

The management has also done a good job of making the Quay a community magnet, with lots of seating, family-friendly events, and initiatives like a book-sharing station. It creates a city square sensibility, provides indoor amenities that connect with the riverside boardwalk and Quayside Park, as well as providing incentive for walkers to move beyond the Quay into the revitalized Columbia Street shopping district. I’m looking forward to going back on a warmer day and exploring further.

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Hello, August

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The organized folks I know are planning (maybe even planting) their fall vegetable gardens, now. I need to take some time away from tracking the development of my beans and squash and plot out the chards and kales and lettuces of the coming cooler weather, I guess. It’s awfully tempting to stare at my sunflowers a while, instead.

Even so, I’ve managed to clear out the garden space that’s destined to become a tiny meditation garden for Kevin. I’m excited because it’s going to include a fig tree from the garden of my mother’s friend Gina, who also provided me with about seventeen dahlias that are getting ready to bloom, now.

Summer’s full of things to do beyond the backyard, though. Here are a few that might tempt Vancouverites away from home in the next little while:

We’re in the midst of Pride Week here, with a raft of activities, including the enormous Parade, which has been officially declared a civic event for the first time in Vancouver. Then, starting mid-August, it’s the 25th Anniversary edition of the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.

Twenty-five years may seem like a long run, but the Powell Street Festival, is in its 37th year of celebrating Vancouver’s Japanese community. It’s this coming weekend and it’s always great.

West Vancouver (a separate country, really) has a festival this weekend, too. The Harmony Arts Festival includes music, film, food, visual arts, and performance.

Or for some genuine high culture, with a view to boot, head down to Bard on the Beach. They’ve got a fantastic line up this year and my personal pick is Elizabeth Rex, by the much missed Timothy Findley.

Emily Carr University’s Yellow Crane Festival is running from August 1st through 4th. You can pick up some pieces from current students or recent alumni, while enjoying the atmosphere of one of Vancouver’s prettiest urban spots.

That’s just a smidgen of what’s on offer here, of course. So tell me, what’s going on in your neck of the woods this summer?

Vintage Bikes

I happened upon the Vancouver Wheelmen Vintage Bicycle Club’s Bike Swap as I was on my way to the library, several weeks ago. I’ve been meaning to post this ever since.

Cellphone cameras are ubiquitous now and often rightly criticized for removing us from our experiences, while sometimes encouraging our more self-involved impulses. But they can also offer us opportunities for experimenting with photography that might otherwise elude us.

I didn’t bother to carry my camera with me on that short trip to the library, but having my cellphone with me allowed me to have a little fun with photography, as I explored a community I hadn’t known existed.

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Aquatic Inspiration

The school group beside us called this the 'Finding Nemo' exhibit.

Vancouver Public Library, along with about twenty partners, has introduced a new way for locals to experience the attractions that are usually left to visitors to Vancouver. Over a two-week borrowing period, the Vancouver Inspiration Pass allows patrons of the library to visit local attractions and recreation facilities for free. It’s a nice way to play tourist in your own town.

My friend Tricia has one of the passes right now and today she took me along with her to the Vancouver Aquarium for a photo visit. It was a challenging environment for photography and I only got a few shots that I was really pleased with. I’m sharing a few that I like for photographic reasons, and a few more that I’m fond of despite their flaws. (You can find some more professional shots from Tricia, here.)

Vibrant green sea anenome

A red and black butterfly in the tropical rainforest exhibit.

Reptilian still life.

Spot the frog.

This frog might be poisonous, or posing as a poisonous species.

Bullfrog at rest.

Oh, how I wish I'd written down the name of this adorable amphibian...

Luminous beluga, doing the backstroke.

Beluga of mystery.

South African penguins, through a glass darkly.

Artic char, ever moving.

Blossoms

Blossoms running along a branch.

Someone once said to me that that the flowers of spring are the most beautiful. I don’t know if it’s because the contrast to winter’s muted colours heightens their beauty, or because they are more delicate and less obvious than the big, blowsy blooms of summer, but spring flowers are my favourites, too.

Closeup of pink blossoms.

Now that the trees are in full bloom, it’s time for the Cherry Blossom Festival, including Bike the Blossoms and the Cherry Jam.

Blossoms against a fence.

How does your community celebrate the first blooms of spring?

Fort Langley, Again

Flowers on Fort Langley's Brae Island

Last week, I wandered around Fort Langley for an afternoon, while waiting for my mother to get her hair done. I took Roxy to Brae Island Park, then met my mother for lunch. It wasn’t as leisurely a stroll as we’d been expecting – there was a new television program filming up and down the main street. I’m pretty sure that Roxy’s barking ruined at least one of their takes…

Set-building near Jacob Haldi Bridge in Fort Langley

What we thought was a new ice cream shop turned out to be a set for a new series called Cedar Cove, which was filming all around us as we looked for a place to have lunch.

Say Cheese in Fort Langley (with bonus film industry reflection)

I think I may have offended one of the actors, who was leaning against the glass of this sandwich shop, when I asked her to move a little out of the frame. You can see the crew in the reflection. It was a busy day in Fort Langley.

Say Cheese in Fort Langley

Say Cheese is tiny, but their sandwiches are good – we opted for the Butter Chicken, which wasn’t as Indian-spiced as we’d hoped, but enjoyable all the same.

The sandwiches at Fort Langley's Say Cheese

The sandwiches, in all their glory.

Gasoline Alley in Fort Langley

We took a look down Gasoline Alley, which has small shops, including Cranberries, Naturally (famous for being included in the Oscars gift extravaganza last year). We stopped in at a new store, Mangia e Scappa, then popped in to watch the beans pour out of the roaster at Republica Coffee.

Mangia e Scappa

We walked away with two pizzas (one was a gluten-free treat for my partner) and a small sample of bread. Giulia, the owner, makes everything herself, even growing the herbs she uses.

Roasted beans pouring out at Republica Coffee Roasters

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans.

Fort Langley's main drag

The main drag.

The view from Brae Island Park in Fort Langley

The view from Brae Island Park