7 April 2018 – No thematic unity to these images, except that they are all part of the Vancouver cityscape, and they have all recently snagged my eye.

Sometimes from amusement, as here at an entrance to Mountain View Cemetery — not a location one traditionally associates with amusement.

Got that? Rover-on-a-leash, yes. Rover-no-leash has to stay home with your pet elephant and pet camel.

(Amusement mixed with admiration, I should add. What a gentle way to remind people how to behave.)

More amusement and admiration across the street from the cemetery. A very handsome, beautifully maintained yellow home — that’s the admiration part.

Amusement comes with the family’s Little Free Library box, there in the foreground, built and painted to copy the home.

Even more amusement when we come close. Lovely details on all sides, including two tiny figures on the balcony.

Speaking of homes … Here’s one to snag the eye!

We’re bundled up for a fitful grey day, but all this blue & orange blazes through.

The house is special for more than its colour scheme.

It is a surviving, and prettied-up, example of the Vancouver Special — the city’s one indigenous house form, says the Vancouver Heritage Foundation.

Built 1965-85, sometimes described as a “two-storey rancher turned at right angles to the street,” the Vancouver Special was a response to setback by-laws and the need for economic housing. Almost all the Specials quickly became multi-generational housing, reconfigured for a ground-level suite. Today, each survivor is a history lesson, reflecting both that civic moment in time, and its own succession of owners.

So my delight has a whole vernacular-architecture streak to it.

Another Vancouver “special” – i.e., something else that is Very Vancouver.


Clusters of bicycles, whole art-installations of bicycles.

I’m passing the Tandem Bike Café (which fixes bikes and feeds people), with its distinctive, of-course, form of advertising out there at the street corner.

It’s what’s behind that snags my eye, makes me pause on yet another misty day.

First I see that red trike, touched to see it carefully fastened to the bicycle stand. Then I notice the very-Vancouver adaptations of those other bicycles, each with a front carrier, each prepared for rain. (Also the burgeoning Grape Hyacinth, thriving in the showers.)

Rain City!

As I type this, my chimes sing in the breeze, and we have just had the season’s first flash of lightning, first clap of thunder.



Weaving Harbord

7 December 2015 – I tell you, I was a walking fool this weekend, with an as-usual solo walk on Saturday & a wonderful bonus walk on Sunday with fellow blogger Mary C. (As I Walk Toronto). Next post, that Sunday walk.

This post, all around Harbord St., with me playing N/S shuttle — between Bloor & Ulster — to its E/W axis, eastward from Ossington.

Sometimes on streets, mostly in alleys. A few of the alleys look dully functional …

e of Oss & s to Harbord

but even they reward a closer look.

e of Ossington & s from Bloor

Yes, indeed. That fish. (You saw him in the first shot, right?)

The fish is exceptional, because it is wood & a sculpture. Much more common: wildly colourful scenes painted onto walls & garage doors.

e of Ossington & s to Harbord

This one carries on around the corner of the garage, a whole bevy of prancing flamingos, with stars to keep them company.

I’m leaving this alley, just east of Ossington, and almost trip over the corner guard. Which compels me to look at it and see the art. Haida West Coast! I think. (Well, referencing that school of desgn.)

a Spudbomb, to keep corners safe

Silly me, it’s Spudbomb.

Out to a street corner, Roxton & Harbord, and proof that not all the wonders are tucked away in back alleys.

corner Roxton & Harbord

I look closer. Then very close. I see that even the background bricks bear texturing detail.

detail, Roxton & Harbord

I repeat the process when I see this mural in the alley east of Roxton.

e of Roxton n from Harbord

I lean in for the close-up. It’s only when I do that, that I can really appreciate the skill of the brush work. And the added detail of rain-streaks!

detail, e of Roxton n from Harbord

Onto another real-street-not-lane, with another reward: a “branch” of the Little Free Library movement on Shaw St.

Shaw St. Little Free Library box

I thumb the possibilities. Everybody from W.O. Mitchell to J. Fenmore Cooper, from mediaeval English verse to a child’s book of riddles, from Françoise Sagan’s Un Certain Sourire to Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes. I take the Murakami, reminding myself I can enjoy my reactions to his work without worrying whether I fully “understand” it. (Rather like my attitude now to contemporary art, as you know.)

Back to the alleys, now east of Crawford, south from Harbord. Some bright colour-blocking in one stretch …

e of Crawford s from Harbord

and a muted late-fall palette elsewhere.

e of Crawford s from Harbord

Into the wonderfully named Peperonata Lane at Harbord, facing east into Bickord Park. The park is sunken (marking the now-buried creek beneath), so these chairs provide in effect a first-balcony view of whatever is on offer below.

Peperonata Ln, facing Bickford Park

But frankly, you’ll see more if, instead, you turn around and check out the lane. One garage mural after another, including this splendid Shalak Attack cat …

Shalak Attack cat, in Pepronata Ln

tucked between murals she and husband Bruno Smoky have done together under the name Los Clandestinos.

Again, I come in close. Shalak has the most amazing intensity and range of colour. I want to study it.

detail, Shalak cat

A heart-warming sight at Harbord & Grace, and, happily, one we see more and more frequently. Retailers like Bean and Baker Malt Shop provide full access with a simple wedge, obtained from the not-for-profit StopGap Foundation. wedge -- & dog bowl!


(I almost forgot to point out the dog bowl. Another considerate act.)

Still on Harbord, farther east at Jersey Avenue, and I’m whacked upside the head by Batwoman.

Harbord & Jersey Av.

Vroom, vroom!

Now I’m finally working my way farther south, dropping down from Ulster via an alley near Palmerston. There’s a different mood in this alley, more peacefully rustic somehow, but still full of art.

nr Ulster & Palmerston

At first I think that closest image is Cycling Guy With Bike Wheel. Now I’m not so sure. But I still like it.

One last installation, in this alley …

alley nr Ulster & Palmerston

A reminder that, sometimes, time & nature provide the tone & texture that make the art.


Coming & Going

6 September 2015 – Another hot-steamy day, but here I am on Coxwell — the shady side of the street, you bet — heading south from Danforth. Worth the effort, I tell myself; I want to see the new, community-based Transitions Mural that has just gone up on the blank wall of the streetcar barns.

Or maybe is now going up. I’m not sure.

Transitions Mural, Coxwell s. of Danforth

Hmmm! Or … is about to go up. But look, the prep work has been done, the grid is neatly established.

So this project is coming. It is definitely coming.

I double back to Danforth, & almost immediately see another dramatic long view in the little parkette near the corner.

But this one is definitely going.

parkette on Danforth w of Coxwell

The last fling of the season’s rudbeckia — totally sassy & one of my favourite flowers.

This gets me thinking of Coming-&-Going, not a bad theme for the beginning of September, with the great seasonal shift just getting underway. I decide to look for evidence, as I continue west on Danforth.

Even so, I’m willing to enjoy delights that don’t fit the theme.

This canoeist, for example.

wire art on Danforth at Chester

He, with his female companion at the rear, is forever guiding their canoe across the Danforth/Chester T-junction. They are going nowhere, of course, firmly wired to the metal bar on the south-side sidewalk.

Then back to my theme, and it’s not hard. There are Comings & Goings all over the place.

For example, this lovely, but badly faded, sidewalk painting of a frog & a turtle.

on Danforth nr Monarch Park

Going headed for Gone, unless the artist returns to touch up the colours.

Also Going: summer patio accessories, heaped into sidewalk-sale buckets.

in front of Kitchen Stuff, nr Pape

Hibiscus string lights, anyone? Half price!

Ah, but merchants are looking ahead, as well. There is money to be made, in either direction.

window display, iQ Living

I watch a very stylish young mother (with a very stylish fore-arm tattoo) lead her daughter up the shop steps. The child is still wearing her bike helmet — tiger-striped, with two moulded tiger ears to complete the look.

Put that window on the Coming side of the ledger. Along with this banner, being yoiked into place in front of a party-accessory store a little farther down the street.

banner for party accessory shop on Danforth

Oh no, please no, not Hallowe’en already! But yes, oh yes, there it is. Every marketable event is being promoted ever-earlier, every year. Sulk. Grumble.

And I walk and I walk, and I stop for water and I walk some more, and I think of hopping on a streetcar for the final leg — but by then I’m just close enough that giving up would be really wimpy. So I walk down Broadview from Danforth, briefly consider visiting Rooster café for a latte despite the heat but decide against it: too hot for hot coffee and I don’t like iced coffee.

Down through Riverdale Park East, one sunbather only; across the pedestrian bridge over the Don River, and up again through Riverdale Park West. No sunbathers; several dog-walkers; many squealing kiddies running in & out of the wading pool.

I watch sunlight glint off the ripples caused by all those kiddie legs; I admire the maze design on the floor of the pool, new-painted this spring & still bright.

pool in Riverdale Park West

This too is Going, I realize. Soon the weather will turn, and the pond will be drained for the year.

Down Sackville next, where this home-owner has a front-yard “branch” of the Little Free Library movement. His box is particularly trim and well-maintained: books here are always safe from the elements. (The glass reflection of the streetscape opposite is a bonus.)

on Sackville St.

People take books; people leave books.

And I laugh. Coming and Going, both. The perfect grand finale for my theme.





    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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