Days of twilight: days 276 — 280

Tuesday I decided to walk home along the Coal Harbour seawall again. It was quite a bit later, and the sun was seriously going down. Unbeknownst to me until I turned around, the near-full Moon was coming up at the same time, shining peacefully over the Convention Centre. Bonus: there was a little floating quay thingie that I could use to get a little distance from nearby buildings, thereby capturing as much natural sky as I could.

Fun fact: the default exposure seemed to result in way brighter photos than my eye was seeing, so I experimented with various exposure levels.

Less fun fact: the family had talked about doing another trip to Europe next year, this time to northern Italy—Venice and Florence and so on. Unfortunately I won’t have enough vacation days saved up. But we’re penciling in 2019 for Austria, which I’ve never visited, so that’s something to look forward to!

The last time I went to the Storm Crow quiz event, I stopped to take a photo of 4th Ave; really, though, that was only one of several I took that evening. Seen from afar, and especially at this time of day, downtown is gorgeous: the complex building-block texture, plus the water and mountains. And that night, it was neatly bisected by the horizon’s shadow. Amazing.

And I was just thinking, I could make a series of this, maybe? “Views of downtown from Granville Bridge.” Heh, five days ago wasn’t I worried about running out of material and inspiration?

Thursday, a morning photo that’s metaphorically about twilight. Because what is Fall, if not the twilight season?

Friday, a geometric perspective-y shot from the north steps of the Art Gallery. It’s overwhelmingly grey, and I experimented with different angles, taking in more of the background buildings, but I feel this works. This grey is not dull, it’s got texture. It’s got… oomph. I wasn’t that keen about this square’s redesign at first, feeling it too cold, too open, without enough green or shade or extra bits like the old fountain. But maybe it’s okay. I’m keeping an open mind.

And to cap things off, a semi-planned photo: I knew I was going to a seafood place for a friend’s birthday dinner Saturday, and I wanted to shoot something on the table. Unfortunately, for most of the meal I was distracted by actual delicious (and not very photogenic) food, but when a whole crab was deposited on the table, I grabbed my chance. Mind you, I could have held out for the lobster.

Pachelbel’s serial killer Eggs Benny: days 266 — 275

Weather has been pretty consistently sunny lately, with crisp mornings and warm afternoons, only a day or two of rain. I got a lovely view from Jericho Hill Centre after trying and failing to drop in Competitive; then, a week later, just before Intermediate, a lovely pre-dusk sky with half-shadowed trees.

That wasn’t really my plan. I spent most of that Sunday in New West playing board games with other queer gaymers, but I for to commemorate that with a photo just like I did a couple weeks before. Maybe it’s for the best since I don’t want to be too repetitive… but two lovely serene pics of the sky and distant trees and whatnot is just as repetitive.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I do notice Sundays tend to not be good days, inspiration-wise, which makes sense since I don’t have a lot going on besides volleyball. But what am I going to do about it? Something? Nothing? The year’s coming to an end; I want to keep going in 2018, but also push my limits. That means planning ahead. I used to be worried my routine wouldn’t give me enough material, but now it may actually be happening after 9 months.

Then again, that’s not actually the case. There’s still an infinite world out there, I just have to look at it to see. But that does mean breaking out of my routine even more.

Maybe a solution is right under my nose. Of my last 10 photos, 2 of them have people in them. For me that’s a lot, I’m much more comfortable, photography-wise, shooting buildings or landscapes or whatnot. Pointing my phone at people feels intrusive—but more than that, it feels scary for me. Because photography is a interaction, unless I’m sneaking up on them from behind a bush, which means I’m exposing myself to my subject too.

And yeah, one of them is some friends and me in a serial-killer-themed escape room, taken by one of the characters. But another is of a musician friend playing a funkified version of Pachelbel’s Canon. That was a nice evening.

And speaking of hanging with friends, I had lunch with an ex-client at Daisy Sandwiches And Such the other day. That was the first time I’d seen him or the place, since June 30th—my last day at my previous job. I still miss the hell out of it, especially their scrumptious eggs Benny. Just wish it wasn’t so far out of my way to eat on workdays…

D Minus 100: days 261 — 265

It’s hard to believe I’m less than 100 days (as of this posting) from completing my 2017 photo-a-day challenge. 265 days, at least one photo a day. I can’t celebrate just yet, but I can see the finish line

Monday: what really caught my eye was a bunch of flower bits on Robson Plaza. Was there some event over the weekend? Probably. Or maybe during the day. I took this photo a little after 6PM on the way home from work. Oh well, it’s a mystery, and my job is not to solve it but just to document it.

One thing I miss about my old commute is walking through quiet, green-roofed Davie Village. (I mean, I still could, I just need to leave the apartment earlier, and go to the gym earlier. And I’ve taken to walking the long way home along the Seawall, as you’ve seen in previous photos). But the downtown core is beautiful in its way. Soaring skyscrapers, complex building textures, interesting views… you just need to find new perspectives. Case in point: Dunsmuir Street looks a bit different from one storey up.

Next day, another street from high up. This time Fourth Avenue, from Granville Street Bridge. I was on my way to the Storm Crow for quiz night ( first time I’d gone in months!) and took many, many pics of the views: a look back at downtown, some closeups of the half-finished Vancouver House… but this sight is what grabbed me, so there we are

Thursday I decided to go all the way to English Bay Beach and take a picture of the sunset. I started out a little too late, though. Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped by Cafe Crepe to enjoy a banana cheesecake crepe? Ehh, I regret nothing. The building on Robson Street were glowing gold in the setting sun; I would have liked to shoot the clouds lit from underneath, but alas that was not to be. When I got to the beach, the sun was already below the horizons and the clouds just had a few pink accents. I hung around anyway, taking in the the ripply water, the brilliant band of gold far away… and then rested my weary feet on a nearby bench. And there it was: everything I’d shot before, plus dozens of residents who had the same idea as me. Sometimes it’s nice to be part of a community with a common goal, even just for an hour.

Friday, another sunset, this time from Britannia Community Centre where I play vball. Nothing much to add, really. You got your tree silhouettes, you got your clouds, you got your fading golden light, you got your soft blue background… pretty standard, really. But no less beautiful for that

It’s because the days are getting shorter: days 251 — 260

I shot a lot of sunsets and twilight pics in the last 10 days.

First up, a nice view of False Creek taken from near Science World. That was a Friday, and also the start of my Vancouver Fringe Festival season. I’d just come from seeing Multiple Organism, a weird sexyish multimedia-slash-theatre performance at the Firehall Theatre, and walked my theatre-going friend to the SkyTrain. Instead of taking the train myself I decided to enjoy a little me time, take in the scenery, and walk the long way home.

I’ve been doing a lot of walking since I started this new job. It feels nice.

Saturday, more Fringe, this time at Granville Island: Slumber Here, an outdoor interactive choose-your-own-adventure riff on A Midsummer Night’s Dream (awesome) and The Man Who Sold The World, a pretty disjointed but engaging one-man show about innocence and authoritarianism. The guy’s American, and it’s not about Trump. Or, not just about Trump; after the show, he told the audience that the play was really born after 9/11, but he kept it on the back-burner until a friend told him last year to get it out there. It’s all right, but could have used some polishing. Or maybe there was no really good way to shoehorn those songs in the narrative Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World, and The Talking Heads’ Nothing But Flowers. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

While grabbing lunch at the market, I considered taking a nice picture of Burrard Bridge, or maybe Yaletown, but I couldn’t resist this juvenile seagull next to a sign. I don’t remember seeing that sign before, and the gulls did seem unusually aggressive this summer. Guess the tourists have been feeding them too much.

Sunday, the first night of VGVA indoor play. My tryout scores landed me back in Intermediate after a year in Competitive and, not gonna lie, I was really disappointed. So, what the hell, I did what I’d been doing for years: dropped into Competitive and Advanced in the morning, and played Intermediate in the evening. And took this shot of the parking lot after play… I’m not really happy about it, but I hadn’t taken any pictures that day, and was worried I’d forget and break my streak. So, meh. Again, they can’t all be winners.

More Fringe on Sunday, this time at Studio 16 just a short stroll from Granville Island: ‘Tween Earth And Sky, a pretty good no-frills one-man retelling of several Irish fairy tales. Before the show I took several shots of the street, focusing specially on an outdoor sculpture of Emily Carr with several animal friends. I think they used to be her pets?

Speaking of walking, I’ve taken the very long way home from work a couple times, along the Seawall. One of these days, mark my words, I’m going to take the super-long way, around Stanley Park. Wonder if that’ll get me great sunset pics like this one?

Pivoting a bit: I need to hang out with more queer nerds. I’ve got nerd friends, and I’ve got queer friends, but there’s very little overlap between the two groups. But not for long! There’s this group that does not one, not two, but 3 monthly gaming meetups for LGBT people in the Lower Mainland. I went to their first get together at the Storm Crow, and had a great time. Played a bit of Epic Spell Wars, which I already knew about from Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop YouTube show. I’m still too much of a hermit sometimes, and groups like that are just what the doctor ordered.

Sometimes I really love the West End.

And sometimes I really love East Van. Especially when it’s advanced volleyball night at Britannia! Yes, another pic taken coming out of the gym, but I like this one much better.

And finally, I really love Granville Island. Especially when coming out of our last Fringe show of the season (Gutenberg: The Musical, Interstellar Elder and Chris & Travis). It’s the most magical time of day, isn’t it?

Mouse says “Thanks”: days 226 — 250

Okay, another not-planned break. Blame the Queer Film Fest, maybe, and blame the new job, which is still good and fun and WordPressy and hella challenging, but is not leaving me with much energy. I’d toyed with the idea of doing reviews as before, but turns out I couldn’t do that and my regular posts. Turns out I couldn’t do either, for a while. Oh well, this regular blogging stuff is still new. The important thing is to move forward.

As of Monday August 14 (day 226), I was still getting used to having blue skies again. So I took a picture of Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains. It’s nice. I love having a view of the North Shore that I can get to at lunchtime. Bad news, though: yellow skies came back for a few days, but I think as of today they’re gone. Amazing what a little rain can do. Today the air smelled all fresh and petrichor, instead of like a campfire.

On August 15 Gossamer Threads held a big clients BBQ, and I was asked to be a photographer. It was awkward—as it always is around strangers—and occasionally I’d disengage to look at some bees.

August 21, a solar eclipse! It was a pretty eerie experience, though honestly a little disappointing. The sky didn’t get nearly as dark as I expected from a 90% full eclipse, though it did dim somewhat, and the air got noticeably cooler. But then again, that might have been my eyes adapting to the gradually fading light, and I wouldn’t notice any big difference unless the sky was much more hidden? Huh, that never occurred to me until just now. What was cool was the light distorted into crescents, as you’d see by making a fist, or just looking at the shadows of leaves.

This was only the second eclipse I remember seeing, the first being a lunar eclipse in February 2008. Which was honestly a lot eerier. The moon turning to blood beats somewhat dimmer sunlight any day. Or any night.

Speaking of sunlight, I found an interesting spot the next day (on Cordova, just east of Burrard): having shamefully skipped the gym and taking the long way to work, I almost discovered how an ant must feel. I scoffed at the idea of that curvy building actually focusing enough light to be harmful… but apparently it does happen.

I could spend months just cataloguing the public art around. This piece at the Law Courts is not the first and it won’t be the last. Nitpicky as I am I had to take half a dozen shots until I was happy the bits were nicely concentric.

And hey, another train photo. Not my first by a long shot, even if you’re not counting this year. I took many, many pictures of the West Coast Express and assorted trains around PoCo Station. It felt like freedom, y’know? Trains must feel that way to most people, and after visiting Europe and taking lots of trains, I can see why.

Had another company barbecue the other day, where I made a stunning discovery. They grow a few veggies and herbs up on the rooftop deck, including Brussels sprouts. I had no idea this is how they grew! I’d vaguely thought that they grew like lettuces, each on their own. But no, turns out they grow like… tumours, on the stalk of a bigger plant. Weird. How did that happen? What do / did wild plants look like? Wikipedia says they’re related to cabbages, which isn’t that surprising, but nothing about their origins.

Not gonna lie, it can be a little embarrassing to admit to not knowing something… but then you learn something new, and that’s cool. Then you’re one of the lucky 10,000.

Speaking of learning… So the PNE has a special exhibition every year, with a different theme. This year, it was “Toytopia”. Games and toys over the decades. Board games, stupid old crap simple wholesome entertainment from before Kids Today ruined everything with their indie rock and their Yu-Gi-Oh, Legos (of course), train sets, action figures—oh yeah, I remember these babies, my brothers and I had them all. That little droid in the middle, the R5-D4? I loved that thing. I didn’t care (or remember) that we only saw it for one minute in A New Hope before it got fried, that little figurine was way cooler than R2-D2 in my eyes. He’s taller and orange, what’s not to like?

Anyway, games! The exhibit included a few old-school arcade games from when you had arcades, from when you put quarters in and games cost only one quarter. Although you didn’t put quarters into these games, that wouldn’t be any fun. I wanted to try Dig Dug or Ms Pac-Man, which I had rather enjoyed back in the day, but they were taken. So I chose Missile Command, which… I don’t think I’ve ever played before, though I’d watched it and knew the basics. It’s not too bad at first, but then gets overwhelmingly fast-paced. I wonder if there’s a way to predict where the bombs will go, just like I hear you can do in Pac-Man?

And I’ll end with a heartwarming story I only learned about from a poster: a lost cat that was returned to his human. I’d been walking around the Village looking for my daily pic and… well, there you go. I don’t know either of them, but I’m glad they’re together again.

Here comes the sun: days 221 — 225

In 2007 I was working at Accenture, and at some point it dawned on me I worked literally across the street from the Vancouver Public Library, and it might be fun to get a library card and check out some books.

I don’t remember what else I read, but I do remember it took me about a year to go through Les misérables, on and off. Now that I think about it I finished the book after being laid off—that was in November, and i took it with me back to Ottawa over the holidays.

If you’re curious, Les mis is one of the greatest works in the entire history of literature, French or otherwise.

Incidentally, though I don’t work next door anymore, the library isn’t far out of my way. Maybe I should reactivate that card and see what else it has to offer…

August 10th (day 222) was the Vancouver Queer Film Festival’s opening gala. I’m still not blogging reviews this year… except maybe one. I do have many thoughts about the opening gala film, I Dream In Another Language / Sueño en otro idioma. We’ll see how it evolves.

Friday, a quick look up Cordova Street from the Granville walkway. I think I took a daily pic in the opposite direction at some point, but that was a while ago and I can’t be bothered to look it up.

Saturday, clouds started forming. Real, rain-bearing clouds, not this apocalyptic smoky haze. Actually, he haze was gradually clearing—by Friday you could just about see both the North Shore mountains and Burnaby Mountains from Waterfront. But this promised to instantly clear all that grime from the atmosphere.

Which, it did during the night. Starting a little before 11, I think, a fine little drizzle came down. Nothing big, but we didn’t need anymore.

In fact, the rain was exactly what we needed, not just for the smoke but for volleyball. I played in VGVA’S Sets on the Beach tournament on Sunday and really enjoyed it, way more than all the other times I played this summer. The sand was all right, cool and damp at first and never getting uncomfortably hot even after the sun came out. And though the day started out overcast the sun did come out, so I got enough eye candy. And I got a little dirty from diving and rolling. That was fun. Taking a shirtless selfie (however partial) is also kind of a big step for me.

And now outdoor vball is over for me. I think there are still beach leagues going on, but I won’t be playing in them. And next Sunday is the first round of evaluations for VGVA’s indoor league. Sigh. The summer’s almost over…

PRIDE: days 216 — 220

It’s that time of year, and it’s been ages since I blogged about Pride. I think this resolution is really good for me! This weekend is always a bit rough for me; as a socially awkward introvert, it’s hard to look at everybody else having fun and partying without (a) wishing I could just join them and (b) knowing I wouldn’t have much energy for it.

But hey, I’m much more relaxed than I used to be. It’s all about building up social stamina and pushing my comfort zone a bit at a time.

I began celebrations with the Davie Street Party on Friday. I went by myself, but I knew I’d run into friends and then we’d just walk up and down the street running into other friends, checking out the hot ginger juggler. Lana Wachowski and some of the cast of Sense8 were in town, and they did a little fan meeting thing, but I didn’t get much out of it. They were behind a fence, got some selfies with a few fans who weren’t me, and then security hustled them out. I think I got half my face in one of Max Riemelt’s photos, though. So I guess that was nice?

Saturday I slept in waaay late and missed the pancake breakfast, but I was in time for the Dyke March. Which wouldn’t have happened without me. Well, the march itself would have happened, but the BC Humanists would not have been a part of it this year. I wanted to go, but didn’t want to go by myself, so I put out the call on FB, and enough people responded (including the guy with the banner, who was saving it for Sunday) that we had a group. Yay! And we walked behind some grumpy old dykes!

Afterwards we had a bite to eat at Storm Crow Tavern. They had a special thing going on, where they gave out and various Pride buttons with their logo on it. I got a Trans flag, and asked for a rainbow one. Imagine my surprise when I got the special Philadelphia one, with a black and a brown strip on top. I seriously didn’t think I’d see that outside of Philly, yet here we are. I believe it’s as good a Pride flag as any other, and I was happy to wear it for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday night: a little fireworks party. From a West End balcony I saw a very red sunset—it looks like the smoke’s clearing now, but damn did it look nasty for a few days, followed of course by some lovely fireworks courtesy of Team Canada. I was quite impressed with my little Samsung Galaxy S5 camera, it did quite well in the low light, even differentiating colours pretty nicely.

And then Sunday: the parade! My friend Colin went as a bearded and beglittered Wonder Woman, and as soon as I snapped his photo, I knew it would be my official daily pic. Although I’m kind of liking this other photo of me between Peter (who is maybe 6′ 6″) and Colin (wearing about 6″ heels).

Since I was helping to carry the GVAA banner in front of the truck, I had the chance to snap a few more pictures of the crowds. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to just watch the parade—from a nice comfy balcony in the shade, naturally, I ain’t sitting on the sidewalk for hours—but there’s a real rush to walking and drinking in the crowds. It’s kind of exhausting, but it feels amazing. With no plans afterwards, I checked out the festival at Sunset Beach, hugged a couple more friends, then went home. I could hear people still partying in the streets, but I was good.

Monday: nothing, and it felt great. It took me the longest time to get off my ass, and then I just didn’t know what to shoot. So I shot Davie Street, which is what I do when I’m not inspired.

Tuesday, walking through the Village for the first time in a while, I spied a quaint old fire station that I’d seen a million times but for some reason looked nice. Ending a weekend of modern, progressive things, with an old thing. Ehh, why not? It’s a heritage building, built in 1907, rehabilitated in 1988. How many people lived in the West end in 1907? Couldn’t have been that many.

On fire: days 211 — 215

Jesus, this heatwave. The smoke wafting in from the Interior isn’t helping things either—kind of maybe cooling us down a tad, but the grey sky, orange sky and smell more than makes up for it. I don’t feel it’s quite as bad as the last time this happened two years ago, mind you. Most of the time I don’t smell the smoke, though for a couple days my throat has been scratchy and sensitive, and I think my sinuses are reacting too.

Last time I played beach vball, I didn’t enjoy it that much. Yes, hot guys in skimpy shorts are a definite plus, but it’s really hot and dry and exhausting. I’d much rather play grass vball in the evening when it’s relatively cool, and there’s still quite a bit of eye candy.

But I still kind of wanted a photo of the place… so, avoiding creeper shots because they’re creepy, I spied a bit of green snuggling in the shade of a pole. Didn’t think anything could take root in this sand, which they supposedly rake regularly, but I guess life finds a way.

Monday I didn’t feel that inspired, so you got a photo of Granville Street. Not the first I’ve taken. Not even the first of the Vancouver Block Building. But meh, that’s okay. I can’t be on all the time.

Tuesday things got very bad for the Lower Mainland, when we got a little taste of what living in the Interior must be like. I’ll be honest, the orange sun and grey sky makes me feel helpless and scared. I don’t want to get used to this. I don’t want it to be the new normal.

Wednesay night, fireworks provided a nice distraction.

Thursday, a bit of construction on the way home. No real point to this, except I liked the composition and colours, and this is an angle I’ve never looked at before. So hey, let’s celebrate the whole point of this year-long exercise!

Coming up next: PRIIIIIIDE

Towers and burbs: days 206 — 210

It occurred to me a while ago that I was working almost right next door to a place where I worked in 2008 for about 8 months: Waterstreet Technologies, located on (you guessed it) Water Street in Gastown. I couldn’t remember the exact address but figured I’d recognise the place, so I went up and down Water St a couple times; but nothing rang any bells in the 300 block where I thought it used to be. Eventually I gave up and checked out their website, and… it’s at number 55? Really? I guess the 300 was just the suite number. The place still didn’t look familiar, and part of me is still thinking they moved in the last 9 years. But no, it’s just my weird brain playing tricks on me.

Anyway, I then decided to take the scenic route home through SFU Woodward’s, where I snapped a picture of coloured flags on… power lines? Is that what they are? It seems I’ve been noticing them a lot more recently.

Wednesday is volleyball at David Lam, so I took the usual pretty shots of Yaletown and False Creek. But it was the building under construction at Pacific & Richards that caught my eye. The Charleson, I think it’s called. Which is also the name of a nearby park right across the water from David Lam.

Thursday night a lot of queer (and other) nerds congregated on Jim Deva Plaza for a few hours of tabletop gaming. I’d made plans to meet a couple friends, but what with one thing and another we kept missing each other, and everybody already seemed to have their own boards and their own groups. But not to worry! Turns out playing giant Jenga is a great way to meet people. It’s loose and fast-paced, a lot of it is spent standing around either judging the active player or shouting suggestions, and when the thing comes crashing down, we all get to commiserate, and welcome new players. Hella good fun.

Friday I kept up the theme of “exploring Gastown” and on my lunch hour snapped this and that, finally deciding to post a nice picture of trains, with Canada Place and some cruise ship in the background. That‘s a blast from the past too: I took the West Coast Express for about two years when I worked downtown but lived in PoCo (including those 8 months with Waterstreet) and took many, many photos that I posted on Flickr. A few times I toyed with the idea of taking the train out past PoCo to see what life was like in the far-far suburbs. Which I did do once, stopping at Pitt Meadows, the next station over. It wasn’t that interesting, just more… suburbany. I didn’t like it.

Although I did like the ride, crossing the river in the still of night… I do like trains, but until my Europe trip only went on them a handful of times. It’s not something you can really enjoy out here.

And hey, speaking of blasts from the past. On Saturday I went into those same burbs for a games night with friends, and I had a hankering to check out my old stomping grounds. I stopped at the Shaughnessy Station Mall and hiked up the pedestrian overpass—I remember when they installed that thing!—and enjoyed the intensely suburban panorama. And then I got artsy. So that was fun.

Who knows, maybe I’ll take the train out there one of these days? But nah, I drove through Mission 10 days ago. I’ve seen the place. I’d rather not spend the night there if I can help it.

Too good to be true: days 201 — 205

Question: Is it that more interesting things are happening to me recently, or is that my new outlook on life is making me notice the interesting stuff more?

It’s the chicken and the egg, Will. The chicken and the egg.

It’s the same thing as photography, when I think about it. I remember being so worried about finding anything interesting to shoot, every single day. I figured it would just highlight how boring my daily routine was, or I’d just drop it after a while. But I learned there are beautiful things everywhere all the time, even on streets I walk every every day. I just need to keep my eyes open and yes, get off the beaten path once in a while.

Sometimes life comes at you fast. Sometimes life takes the form of out-of-this-world delicious donuts. Or attending a geeky wedding out in Harrison Mills where guests played board games, Mario console games, and I found a Blue Eyes White Dragon card in one of my cupcakes. Apparently it was the only BEWD in the whole lot, so I feel pretty damn special.

And sometimes you see something so perfect but you have to work to make your camera see it. So on Sunday I was walking along the seawall; it was windy, waves were high, and I saw a bunch of logs / large branches stuck amongst the rocks. Plus, a bunch of little inuksuit.

I didn’t want to make those the focus of my daily pic—been there, done that—but the crashing waves and setting sun were too good to resist. Still, I had to take a couple dozen shots until I found one I was happy with. The end result was absolutely perfect and totally worth it, though.

Besides birthday donuts, you know the other nice thing about working at Gossamer Threads? The rooftop patio overlooking Granville Street. Gawd, I love being downtown. I mean it’s kind of grey and a bit claustrophobic with the high-rises and sometimes I wish people would just walk faster already… but right now I wouldn’t have it any other way.