Woodpecker therapy in Central Park

(In which I took some time this afternoon to stroll around Central Park in Burnaby.)

Okay, I can’t really say woodpeckers would offer much in the way of therapy, unless you were looking for the cheapest, most excruciating trepanation possible. But I did see a woodpecker, not up in a tree, but sitting on a fallen one (also known as a log) and it was following script, merrily pecking away at it.

I didn’t want to get too close and scare it off, so the photo is kind of blah (optical zoom is something I definitely miss on typical smartphone cameras), but here ya go:

And at the lower pond, things were ducky. It’s also tough to shoot ducks (with a camera), not because they frighten easily, but because you have to be a worm to get down low enough for a good angle.

I took a photo of some of the fish they have stocked in the same pond, but due to reflection, refraction and the dull colors of the fish, I have not included the photo here. Just imagine a beluga whale majestically breaching or something. Yes, I know whales aren’t fish. But they breach a lot better.

There’s no Waldo hiding in this shot, I just like the interplay of light and shadow. The weird, bleached out color is accurate.

And now flowers!

And a few more on the way out of the park:

Finally, on one of the trails I don’t usually hit I saw this atop a giant tree stump. I don’t know.

Flower (and tree and bird) therapy at Burnaby Lake

I usually have two speeds at Burnaby Lake: fast and faster.

Today, I tried a new speed: not fast. That’s not entirely true, as I did power along for six km to reach the Nature House and Piper Spit along the trail. But once there I took my time to saunter around, enjoy the feel of the sun, watch the birds do bird things and then strolled back out of the park, stopping to take pictures along the way.

In other words, I acted like my alternate universe opposite. Slow, mellow, taking in the sights.

The walk into the park off of Cariboo Road parallels a commercial complex for a few hundred meters, though there are some nice plants and flowers along the fence that divides the two. Just be careful if you try to pick them.

At the Nature House:

Baby ducks, adorable as always:

Duck butt:

Birds on the boardwalk. I want to caption this with something funny, but I don’t know what kinds of funny things birds would say to each other.

This is from the viewpoint looking back toward the boardwalk pictured above. You can see most of the lake from here, the opposite of when I am running around it.

Baby geese. Not as adorable as baby ducks, but pretty cute. Too bad they grow into poopmonsters (seen to the left and right).

I have never seen a turtle in this turtle area. (The area is fenced off, I’m just standing right beside the fence.)

I have added what I think is probably a pretty accurate depiction of a turtle, if one ever actually showed up here.

A lot of the land around the lake is marsh, which tends to be quite soggy. This has a certain effect on trees in the area. I call this The Leaning Tower of Treesa (sorry).

On the way out of the park I didn’t see too much to photograph in the way of flowers, but if you imagine a hundred pictures of thousands of buttercups, it would be a good approximation of what I could have shot (ironically, none are visible in the shot above, one of the few stretches that wasn’t festooned with the things).

Yet more flower therapy at Langara Golf Course

I didn’t actually go golfing.

Instead, I went for my usual stroll along the trail around the golf course, except this time I only did one loop (about 2.7 km) instead of my usual two, walked slower, and took the time to stop and take pictures of some of the flowers along the way.

These pink blossoms are in one of the gardens of a home adjacent to the trail (the path in the background is a private one, not the one I was walking along).

Pink blossoms near Langara Golf Course, May 22 2018.

I believe these are Lydian Broom (Genista lydia), growing wild on the perimeter of the golf course. The wooden fence ringing the course can be seen in the lower-left.

Lydian Broom at Langara Golf Course, May 22 2018.

Finally, what might be some orange daisies…or possibly something else. A botanist I ain’t. There’s a pleasant, dream-like softness to the flowers, especially the one in the left of the frame. The miniature picket fence is also kind of adorable. These flowers are part of a small public garden maintained presumably by some public people. I took photos of some of the other flowers, but didn’t like how they turned out. I may try again on my next walk.

Orange flowers and tiny picket fence near Langara Golf Course, May 22 2018.

More flower therapy along the Brunette River

I went for another walk today, a little longer, but at a still-slower pace as befits a statutory holiday when one moves more deliberately in order to sop up all that “would otherwise be working” time. I ventured from home, down the Brunette River trail, then up to the Production Way SkyTrain station, where I let mass transit do most of the walk back home.

This time I did tap the camera “viewfinder” to tell it what to focus on. It worked surprisingly well on one shot.

I’ve also developed a sudden appreciation for flower therapy (I’m sure this is an official term, I’m not even going to check), where you go out, find pretty flowers, then take pictures of them, just to help you relax, unwind and center yourself. It beats thinking about how you spent a long weekend fighting then recovering from a kidney infection.

Anyway, a few more pics!

The first is an artificial pond that was created as part of the restoration work done in 2012 when they expanded the nearby No. 1 Highway by two extra lanes. The pond has a spillover (unseen in the photo) and a stream on the east side that eventually reconnects to the river (also not visible). The white fluff is cottonwood seeds and plenty of them. It’s the time of year when they start piling up like snow. If I was allergic to cottonwood seeds I would still be at the spot I took this photo, unconscious and blown up like a puffer fish.

Cottonwood seeds gather on the surface of an artificial pond along the Brunette River, May 21 2018.

These pink blossoms are in the vegetation alongside Government Street, not far from Brunette River. The best part is how you can’t see the dual railroad tracks that are about five meters behind the flowers, nor the giant Costco warehouse that was directly behind me.

Pink blossoms along Government Street, May 21, 2018.

The final shot is a bunch of daisies not far from the above flowers. You may be able to guess which one I focused on.

Daisies along Government Street, May 21 2018.

That shot almost makes me look like I know what I’m doing with a camera. Sometimes I do.

Another little stroll around the nooks of Lower Hume Park

Yesterday I went for my first post-infection walk, noodling around Lower Hume Park and some of the upper area, taking photos of all this nature stuff while walking at a pace much unlike my usual (which is silly-fast). It was a mild early evening and the sun was just about to dip into its sunset colors.

The first photo is a broader view of the shot I posted on May 15th. The sun is more diffuse here, so the color doesn’t pop nearly as much. It’s like pulling back the curtain to show the weird man behind it. Still kind of mesmerizing.

Flowering tree near swimming pool at Hume Park, May 20, 2018.

I’m not sure if it’s bad composition or pushing the limits of a smartphone camera or just “be grateful I didn’t stick my finger over the lens” but the blowout of the sky is unfortunate in this shot. It otherwise vividly captures the scariest tree in Lower Hume Park. It looks like it ate a bunch of people, then died with them trapped inside. Pleasant dreams!

Definitely not the Tree of Life, seen on a trail in Lower Hume Park, May 20, 2018.

Here’s something far less creepy, a pleasing mix of yellow and white blooms a few steps away from the Brunette River. You can see the camera and I had a bit of a disagreement on what to focus on. I should note that I don’t use any of the available controls–I just aim and tap the “take photo” button. I’ll probably look more into actually shaping the photos soon. The clarity on the leaves is nice, though.

Splashes of color near the Brunette River in Lower Hume Park, May 20, 2018.

This is a cropped photo of a pink blossom located on the far side of a drainage ditch, not far from the covered seating area. Fortunately the ditch is dry, so I didn’t have to get wet and stinky to grab this shot (the travails of not having optical zoom).

Pink bloom in Lower Hume Park, May 20, 2018.

And finally this low-perspective shot of flowers and vegetation leading off into the not-easily-traversed bits of Lower Hume Park, which are probably inhabited by coyotes, snakes and hill giants.

Leading off into the less-accessible area of Lower Hume Park, near the Brunette River, May 20, 2018.

Overall, it was a pleasant walk and I took the time to find little details I’d missed before or had forgotten about (like that delightfully hideous tree pictured above).

The Great Horseshoe Bay Parking Adventure

This afternoon Nic and I drove down to Horseshoe Bay so Nic could use his keen photographer’s eye to get some pics of ferries so I might ponder how to use them for a potential book cover. We had it all planned out. Mostly.

It was a beautiful and unusually warm day–my watch told me it got up to 26°C, which is much warmer than normal for not-quite mid-May. Not that I’m complaining. I got downtown early, so I strolled around seeing what has changed, then went to Sunset Beach, where two women were in the water, not exactly swimming, but up to their waists in it and wearing what may have been, “What were we thinking?” looks on their faces. A short distance away several crows were pestering a seagull. I couldn’t determine why as there was no sign of food and I doubt the crows were nesting right where the tide comes in. They flow off after a few minutes, having forced the seagull to move about one meter away from its original position.

i wasn’t standing very close to the feathered fracas–I’m not big on volunteering to get pecked–so this is a fuzzy, zoomed-in shot of the action in which one of the crows looks more like abstract art, but when I have an iPhone 18 with super telephoto lens as standard, this would look way better. So just pretend for now.

Crows vs. seagull. No matter who wins, somebody is getting pooped on.

I then met Nic and we had a nice lunch at the Fountainhead Pub on Davie Street. Given the weirdly warm weather, there was lots to look at, namely hot young guys that made me feel like a dirty old man. I remember walking down Davie Street when I was their age. It was when parachute pants were legitimately in style. For a few weeks, anyway.

Off we went to Horseshoe Bay next. Getting there was pretty straightforward, though we were caught in the middle of the lanes reversing when we got on the Stanley Park causeway (strangely, this happened on the way back, too. I’m still amazed there aren’t more accidents when they switch the traffic flow). Once we got to Horseshoe Bay we spent literally the same amount of time that it took to drive there (30+ minutes) looking for anywhere to park. About half a dozen drivers managed to nab spots just before we got to them. At first it was annoying, then maddening and finally, as expected, kind of hilarious. On one of our final go-rounds we actually came across a spot and parked in glorious triumph (for two hours, anyway).

We headed a few blocks down to the bay to await the ferry’s arrival, which we didn’t actually have to do at all, since it came in while we were trying to park. I was more worried it would leave before we could get out of the car to take any pics.

But we did get pics and I’m perusing them now. We’ve made tentative plans for a zany day trip to Nanaimo, as I suspect we can get even better images at Departure Bay.

Also, I got a sunburn on my neck. I have no idea how that happened. I mean, I understand the science behind getting burned skin from exposure to the sun, I just have no idea how my seemingly minimal time out in the sun led to a burn. So yes, the neck is feeling a little warm. Also my upper arms, too. At least I’m not getting a sunburn on top of my allergic reaction rash. I’d probably look like a boiled zombie.

Before leaving we got a couple of waffle cones and they were good. I did not dribble ice cream on myself, something I do almost as if it is a requirement every time I have an ice cream cone, so that was nice.

Here’s one shot of the ferry I grabbed. It’s the Queen of Oak Bay in all her marina-crushing potential:

Queen of Oak Bay tooting out of Horseshoe Bay. A bay in a bay, as it were.

On the way back to the car I got a photo of a children’s boot perched near a giant propeller because why not? (Nic also took a shot of this, but my angle was approximately 500 times more dramatic.)

Big prop, little boot.

All in all, a pleasant little outing, other than the (unexpected) difficulty in parking and the (in hindsight, inevitable) sunburn. I really ought to just slather myself in sunscreen from now until October. And next time we’ll probably take the bus.

Spring springing

Nothing here, just a picture I took while walking along the Brunette River.

(I kind of wished the phone or I was smart enough to keep the flowers in focus. Maybe there’s an app for that. At least it’s not shot from the standard “hold camera out in front of you” height like every other picture I take.)

Flowers at Brunette River

A picture of me, enhanced Blade Runner-style

(Not really enhanced Blade Runner-style. Sorry.)

A couple of days ago I was strangely and suddenly compelled to take a picture of myself in the mirror, like how people used to do selfies in the old days. Perhaps it was because I always seem to look better in the mirror vs. when I take an actual selfie and the selfie comes out horrible and ugly. Maybe I look better in reverse.

After looking over the image I noticed how filthy the bathroom mirror, which is also reminiscent of the old days when people took selfies in front of mirrors. No one thinks to clean the mirror first.

I could have cleaned the mirror and taken another photo, but I was afraid I would lose the moment, so I used Affinity Photo to clean all the splotches from the mirror. It worked reasonably well, so hooray for technology.

And the photo:

The dirty mirror and me, March 30, 2018.

By the way, it’s not graininess you see on the bottom of my face, it’s stubble. It’s also deliberate and looks way better in person. For real. Yep.

Signs of spring, 2018 edition

While heading out for my run yesterday I spotted these flowers coming up through the dead leaves. Spring will soon be…springing. Yay.

Addendum: The sun was out, as you can see, and I didn’t fiddle with the photo so it looks a little blown out. I thought these fancy new smartphone cameras were supposed to magically turn me into a great photographer. Maybe next year.

The one moment of fall I like

This is in reference to fall the season, not fall when you snag your foot on a tree root and splat on the ground.

Coming back along the Brunette River trail from my run two days ago, I took this shot. It was tricky to get one without people in it because it was mild and sunny and the weekend. I’m not anti-people, mind you (unless they’re cyclists at Burnaby Lake), I just prefer my scenery shots without people wandering through them, unless they’re people I know.

Mid to late October is that one time in fall I can enjoy. It’s not always raining, it can be fairly mild (today I went for my noon walk wearing a t-shirt) and most of the trees still have their leaves and the leaves have donned their pretty autumn colors.

Brunette River trail, October 28, 2017

I adjusted the white balance a bit in Affinity Photo, using the default “warm” setting. It actually makes the colors, especially of the leaves on the ground, more accurate. My iPhone 6 tends to take photos with a cool tinge to them, which is handy for giving everything a vague dystopian quality, but not entirely accurate vs. reality (or is it? Dun dun dun.)

In a few more weeks it will be much cooler, the trees will look like the blasted skeletal remains of the post-apocalypse and the daylight will last for about twenty minutes. But at least it’ll be nice to snuggle under the blanket on the couch.