Thursday, August 30, 2007

Temptation 6 ---- Queen Elizabeth Park

I'm back from Philadelphia and I have lots of things to tell you about it and our time here in New York, but later. In the meantime, another temptation.

Vancouver is famous for Stanley Park, but there's another park which is a treasure too. Queen Elizabeth Park is quite large and situated on Little Mountain. Once it was a rock quarry so the photo of the beautiful scene you see here is the sunken garden, built in the old quarry and giving it very interesting terrain. It is a very popular location for wedding photos so you have to make a booking and pay money. You can see the Northshore Mountains over the tops of the trees and at one lookout you can see Mount Baker which is in Washington State.

Besides the gardens there is a lovely restaurant with a splendid view of downtown in the distance and very good food, a conservatory with a geodesic glass dome (click on the link for some lovely photos), a pitch and putt course, tennis courts and two well known sculptures are showcased here. The first I used for my Photo Hunt Rare here. The other is a huge Henry Moore which you can see in the conservatory link above.

How can you resist this very beautiful place? I should get a job at the Tourist Bureau.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Temptation 5 ---- Aquabus

As well as previously posting photos of the Aquabus, I have talked about it before. It is a unique and convenient way to get about in False Creek, which includes Granville Island. I took this photo while travelling on one, as this one passed nearby.

Below is a map of the area of False Creek, which is crossed by three bridges within a very short distance of each other. The map shows the route of the Aquabuses and the relationship between False Creek and the main harbour, the Burrard Inlet. At the end of False Creek you can see Science World, which is an Aquabus stop.

The Thursday Walking group often walks along the south side of False Creek, from the Planetarium parking lot, which is on the left side, outside the range of the map, to the third bridge you see here, a walk of five miles return, with a stop for lunch at the Granville Island market on the return journey.

Wouldn't you like to take a ride on one of these colourful little ferries? I'll be happy to accompany you.

Tomorrow I leave for Philadelphia for three days. I will take my computer but I am not sure about posting anything. If the internet connection is free I will take advantage. If ridiculously expensive I will be forced to suffer withdrawal symptoms, since I'm half Scottish you know. Thursday for sure.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Happy


I have to make an admission here. This is not my photo, but taken from my daughter's archives. I felt that it was so much better than anything I had in my collection to fit the theme, so I hope you forgive me.

My daughter is a French teacher and every Spring, for 26 years, students from her school have participated in an exchange program with a school in La Rochelle, France. In fact the other French teacher at the school went as a student on the very first exchange, all those years ago. This photo was taken last year in a wooded area outside La Rochelle. You can see how happy the young student is to be in France. I think it is a lovely photo of an exuberant young woman.

I'm out of town but will visit the photo hunters soon.


To join the Saturday Photo Hunt, click here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Temptation 4 ---- Houseboats at Granville Island

When I win the lottery, I have a plan. Well two actually, but the first one, about always travelling first class, has nothing to do with Vancouver. The second plan involves me going down to Granville Island where there is a community of beautiful house boats and knocking on all the doors with an offer to purchase said houseboat, until someone accepts. As an owner, not only do you live on the water in a wonderful house, in a sheltered offshoot of the main harbour, with a spectacular view and your very own mooreage, but you can walk up to the market and do your food shopping every day. Now that sounds like heaven to me.

I took this photo from a little Aquabus as I sailed in False Creek

The little village of houseboats is called Sea Village and it is right at Granville Island market. If you follow this link to see other photos of this unique community, you will see why I would like to live there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Temptation 3 ---- The Lions

To my mind, the thing that makes Vancouver a uniquely beautiful place is the way that the mountains rise out of the water of the harbour. For surely there are more beautiful harbours in the world, but this makes Vancouver special.

Above you see a view looking from the south shore of the harbour across to the North shore mountains, past a ship in dock on the foreshore, next to the sulphur pile which is the bright yellow colour on the right. Above the mountain you can see the two snow covered twin peaks called the Lions which obviously have the appearance of two lions lying down. It is a very challenging hike to get to the top of these peaks but the view is spectacular.

The Lions is the name used by so many things associated with Vancouver, like the Lions' Gate Bridge and the Vancouver Lions football team. We all drive around the city, constantly checking the status of the snow on these peaks.

Here's a little fun poem about the sulphur pile taken from Mountain Highway blog, written by David Thorvald Olsen:

There are just a few things
that i know about the sulphur pile

first, is that i am not sure it is actually sulphur
second, the pile is not harmed by rain
next, the (assumed) sulphur is used for something
somewhere else
trains bring it here, ships take it somewhere beyond

and the pile never changes in size

glowing like Van Gogh’s pool table
under cafe lamps

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Temptation 2 ---- Science World, Vancouver

This beautiful geodesic dome, based on a Buckminster Fuller design, situated at the end of False Creek, was built as the Expo Centre for the Expo 86 World's Fair, which was held in Vancouver.

Later, with government and private funding, it was reborn as Science World which also includes an Omnimax Theatre. A very interactive venue, it makes learning Science fun and there is something for all ages. Covered with lights on every point, at night it sparkles in the landscape.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Two

The theme for this week is TWO. Since I'm out of town, I searched my archives and came up with these photos. Click on them to enhance them.

Two ducks looking pretty sorrow for themselves in the cold and the wet

Two blue and gold macaws having a chat

Two friends having fun in the park,
my granddaughter and a little friend she acquired there


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blogpower Round-up

The inaugural Blogpower round-up has been posted here, over at An Insomniac.

Matt has done a sterling job of hosting this event and I have the honour of my post, Australia --- Some Thoughts and Introductions, being included.

Blogpower members, please make sure you visit Matt's round-up and The Thunder Dragon has given an excellent explanation for this round-up, in case you missed it before.

Non Blogpower members, who happen by this post, may find of interest some of the diverse posts of this group, which have been highlighted in the round-up. May I recommend Communism, a sad legacy of Russia written by James Higham, the founder of Blogpower, in which he discusses the situtation in his current home in the former USSR.


Decorated VW Beetle -- a rerun, but video this time.

Recently I had an email from a producer at the local CBC television station, who wanted to know if I knew anything about the owner of the highly decorated VW beetle which appeared in my Photo Hunt for Creative here. She said she wanted to do a story about him, but I was no help unfortunately, just being an admirer of the work he had put into the car.

I wanted to do a follow up post myself, but when I googled it earlier the only reference I found was my blog entry. Not much help there, so I forgot about it. This time I found a YouTube video and since it gives a view of the interior as well as the exterior, I thought you might be interested to see it. It certainly is remarkable.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Inspirational Award

Two people graciously awarded this honour to me recently. The first was Eurodog at Eurodogtraining who keeps on top of what's happening in the dog world. She also does me the honour of considering me her Help Desk and I do try my best. My theory is if I don't know then I shall find out, somehow, somewhere.

The other person was James at Nourishing Obscurity, who was awarded it himself, for not only having a very fine prolific blog, but also for initiating the idea of Blogpower, to which I have the honour to belong.

Frankly I think my only role of being an inspirational blogger is to tempt you to come to Vancouver, or to Italy, or Japan, or any of the other places I've travelled to and tout so vociferously here.

I think a lot of people have already received this award long before me. But if you have already received it and are on this list just consider it a confirmation.

Sarabeth, at I once was HP, is a very inspirational young woman. At the moment she is devoting herself to her three young children and doctor husband, running a large home and garden, involved with her sorority, has two blogs, and has written a very good book in her spare time. Did I say she is a very good photographer?

Ipanema, everyone's favourite blogger, trolls the news for interesting reports and adds her own insightful thoughts to the mix. She answers every single comment with care and humour and she visits and comments all over the blogosphere. You see her here, you see her there, you see her everywhere.

Cathy, a medblog aficionado like myself, who, despite health issues of her own, blogged for 24 hours straight recently as part of Blogathon 2007, in order to raise money for St Jude's Hospital for Children. Well done Cathy.

Moof, again a medblog aficionado, but so much more, who was so supportive of everyone during the recent medblog problems, which saw some medbloggers leave the arena, but found a creative solution and devoted many hours to setting it up.

Gledwood, who is a young man with drug addiction problems, but every day blogs about his life, the good and the bad.

Thanks to those who gave me the award and thanks to my recipients for inspiring me.


Late tonight I found out that Vic Grace at Cariboo Ponderer has awarded me another Thoughtful Blogger Award. Thank you for passing that to me Vic Grace and I'll pass it on when I get back from vacation.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Things are going to get pretty quiet around here for the next few weeks. I'm leaving on Friday for New York (just outside the city) for two weeks to visit my daughter and her family so I need to organize for this. I'm taking my laptop with me and hopefully I'll be able to post something. I'll be a bit irregular visiting you all, my blogfriends, but I hope to leave my Westie avatar in your comments sections occasionally and I certainly will be thinking about you all. I won't have time to write anything intelligent or witty, but to keep you interested in coming back I have decided to post, daily or every second day, a series of photos showcasing Vancouver. I'm calling this series of posts Temptation.

The Marina at Granville Island, a mixture of pleasure craft
and fishing boats
Water and mountains are the trademark of Vancouver
The large yellow building top right is Bridges, a seafood restaurant with
a huge deck overlooking the marina. Click on the link to see close up.

I'm trying to tempt you all to come by and visit me at one of the most beautiful spots in the world. I'd love to meet the wonderful people I've encountered in the blogosphere from all over the world. In fact, Lady Mac, of Braveheart-does-the-Maghreb, world traveller extraordinaire, currently resident in Morocco, is coming here in October to attend a writers' festival and she'll be able to assure you that what I say is true. We plan to have dinner together and I am so looking forward to meeting my blog friend in First Life, so to speak.

So when you see the Temptation label in your Bloglines feed or Google reader expect to see a photo of Vancouver. On my travels I'll be gathering material for posts that hopefully will be of interest to you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Healthcare Blogger --- Not

You may notice that I have put up a new display in my sidebar. I'm sure you all know that I spend a lot of time reading medblogs, due to my fascination, academic I assure you, with medical care and because I miss all that since my retirement from hospital pharmacy, almost nine years ago.

It was pointed out to me that even though I do not have a healthcare blog myself, this code of ethics applies to blogging in general. So you now see this emblem proudly displayed to the right. Click on it and you will be taken to its home site when you will find general thoughts on the subject and a new feature, the highlighting of different medbloggers.

However, to justify its inclusion, I'm going to narrate a little story from my days in hospital pharmacy which I hope will amuse you.

In August of 1980, the acute care pavilion of the hospital at the University of British Columbia finally opened. The psychiatric and extended care pavilions had been opened some years earlier with separate small pharmacies, but with the acute care a new large centralized pharmacy opened and I began working there.

Everything was very new and one of our great pieces of equipment was a digital electronic weighing scale or balance which was unbelievably accurate and had a tare feature. This means that you put a container on the scale, hit the tare button which returned the value to zero and you added whatever it was you were weighing until the right weight was achieved. Well you young folk are wondering, what the heck? What's great about that? Weren't they always like that? Not at all. In 1980 this was very new to us and we loved it. We no longer had to fiddle about adding weights and taring the container in a tedious operation. Every time we weighed anything we raved on about how wonderful this scale was, so convenient, so easy to use, blah, blah, blah.

One night, about 6pm, the two people working the evening shift were approached by a young man telling them that he had been sent to take the scale in for service. Assuming that this had been arranged by the day staff, one of the pharmacists invited him into the secured area and belatedly she asked him for identification. Oh, he'd left it in his truck, he'd just take the balance and come right back with it. That's right, you've guessed it, never seen again. Of course that poor girl never heard the end of it, how she gave away the best piece of equipment in the whole pharmacy. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) were called in, she had to try to give an accurate description of this person, how tall was he, etc. In fact one of the results of this was that the RCMP came back and attached a paper tape measure to the door so that we could give a more accurate estimate of height for the next time. Can you believe it?

After all the moaning and bewailing about the loss of this gem by the staff, the Director of Pharmacy spent the $2500 required to replace it, thank heaven so all was well again.

Yes the story has a twist. About 18 months later, the balance was discovered in a drug bust by the RCMP. It had been stolen for use by drug traffickers, although how anyone knew we had one, we never knew. We didn't get it back right away because it was kept as evidence, but eventually it returned to its former home in our department, so we then had two of these wonderful pieces of equipment.

Nowadays these scales are much more reasonable and I have a quite high quality one in my kitchen which cost about $75, so I guess the drug traffickers just buy one at the kitchenware store as needed.

This is probably the one and only healthcare related tale you will ever find on this blog. I hope you enjoyed it.

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Row


tnChick said that the theme for this week meant things in a row. No problem, anyone can put things in a row and photograph them. I thought about that for about five seconds. But wait, let's look around and see what there is out there in the big wide world, already in a row. Here you see what I found on my walk with my group to Granville Island yesterday on a cloudy day.

Of course today I checked and tnChick has added lots of other definitions, but too late. Things in a row it is from JMB. Please click on the images to get a better view.

You can't go to Granville Island without seeing boats in a row, at their mooreage. Do you wonder, as I do, why some are bow in and others are bow out?

Four town houses in a row, overlooking a lagoon, with beautiful water lilies in bloom

You don't often see a yacht with all its flags out in a row, fully displayed as for a sail past.

If you would like to become a Saturday Photo Hunt participant click here


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Australia --- Some Thoughts and Some Introductions

Most of you know that I am Australian and that I left Australia 47 years ago to do what myriads of young Australians did in those days. I wanted to travel and discover the history and the treasures of the Old World, so off I went on a working holiday, centred in London.

Somehow I ended up living in Canada, not even because I married a Canadian, for in fact I married another Australian. But Australians are always Australians till the day they die, wherever they are. Although Canada allowed dual citizenship, until recently, Australia would not, except under special circumstances. My children could be dual citizens but I could not under the Australian regulations. Because there was no way I would ever give up my Australian citizenship, I remained a bit of an outsider here. The longer it went on the more embarrassed I became about not becoming Canadian, while all my immigrant friends became dual citizens. Even the USA came to allow dual citizenship, while Australia still held out. Finally, in 2002 the laws in Australia were changed and we applied to become Canadian citizens immediately.

But once an Australian, always an Australian. We tend to think of the strong patriotism of the Americans but I don't think that Australians are any slouch in this department. Patriotism is said to describe feelings and emotions, an identification with compatriots and with the land. For Australians it means loving the land and defending it. It means celebrating with pride Australia Day and most solemnly of all, Anzac Day, April 25th, the day when all Australians remember the sacrifice made at Gallipoli in 1915 by the Australian and New Zealand troops. It means supporting the Australian sportsmen wherever they are competing, in the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games or wherever.

For me it means all those things, but mostly I have always admired the Australian love of the land. It has never been expressed more beautifully than by Dorothea MacKellar in this poem, My Country, which she wrote at the age of 19, while homesick in England in the early twentieth century. Partly reproduced here, these famous verses bring tears to any Australian's eye. (Full text is here.)

I love a sunburned country

A land of sweeping plains

of rugged mountain ranges

of drought and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons

I love her jewel-sea

Her beauty and her terror

This wide brown land for me.

An opal-hearted country

A wilful, lavish land –

All you who have not loved her

You will not understand

Though earth holds many splendours

Wherever I may die

I know to what brown country

My homing thoughts will fly.

You might ask, "Why this sudden burst of Australian patriotism, JMB ?" I guess I'm feeling a little nostalgic because of two Australian blog friends I have made in these past few months. Both of them demonstrate so well the Australians' love of the land, but in different ways. Reading them these past months has made me realize what being Australian has always meant to me, because I love everything I see on their blogs. Both live in states that I have never visited but the photos and stories are very familiar to me because this is my heritage that they are describing.

May I introduce the first one, Sienna, who blogs at Audio, Video, Disco...I Hear...I See...I Learn
where she posts the most wonderful photos of where she lives in the country, in the state of Victoria. She's a nurse but with her partner she raises sheep, horses for harness racing and wonderful working sheep dogs. Most of her posts are photos of what she sees as she travels around and on her walks. You never know what you will see when you go there, racehorses, kangaroos with joeys in their pouches, sheep, an emu, a kookaburra, those special sheep dogs and wonderful photos of the land and beautiful sunsets.

Sienna, at my suggestion, posted some of her beautiful photos over at Nos regards, the Belgium photo website. The theme for August is trees so please click here to see five tree photos which will show you how special these Australian trees are. The first is the biggest wattle tree I've ever seen in full bloom with the others various eucalypts or gum trees. Even if you don't follow any other link, please humour me and go see Sienna's tree photos.

The second one is Lee. She blogs at Kitchen Connection. where as a writer extraordinaire she narrates the adventures of her life in and around her home state of Queensland. She has had many different careers and some of these have been in the tourist and hospitality area. She has special talents as a chef and often posts wonderful photos of food with accompanying recipes on her blog. Her stories are mesmerizing as she tells with her dry sense of humour some of the remarkable things which have happened to her and she introduces us to the people she has met on her journey through this life.

She often writes about a place where she spent a great deal of time, running the resort there and which is very special to her. This is Hinchinbrook Island, Australia's largest island National Park, which is within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Both these bloggers, in different ways, display this love of their land and by reading them I have discovered once again what it means to be an Australian.

Monday, August 6, 2007

More This and That No 2

You can't have a post without an image to my mind, so here is my photo of the Anchor where the Walking Group meets to do the Spanish Banks walk which we did last Thursday. The walk is along the south side of the Vancouver Harbour, with scenery like this all the way. The large concrete anchor commemorates Don Jose Maria Narvaez, a Spanish explorer, who was the first European to drop anchor here in 1791.

So why two posts in one day? I didn't want to jam too much in the previous post so I moved some of it here.

About the this of Post No 2:

I received an invitation to submit an interview to, which of course I did, although it's not especially interesting or informative. However you can read the interview here and vote for my blog if you are so inclined. The highest number of votes in a month merits a small cash prize and you can vote once daily. I've even made it easy for you by putting a little widget at the top of my sidebar. So click and vote, if you can be bothered. Am I voting for myself? You can bet your last dollar on that. I couldn't stand it if I didn't get one vote, so I made sure that didn't happen.

Now for something completely different:

A little while ago I posted about the Thursday Walking group outing to a nearby village called Steveston, with photos. You may remember the Belted Galloway cows if nothing else. I received an email from the Webmaster of the Steveston Website, asking for permission to use my post and photos for the site. Of course I agreed and he added a few small things to the text, highlighting Steveston a little more, which is understandable, and he turned my photos into a little slideshow. You might like to see it here.

This is definitely the last that:

After I posted about the New York busker, Saw Lady, I sent her an email telling her about it. She replied today, a little truncated here, as she described her computer woes. I also thank you all for following the links to her delightful blog and website.

Dear JMB,
THANK YOU for the nice post you wrote about me!!! This is the best thing that has happened to me today and totally cheered me up ...........
Anyway - I really appreciate all the nice things you and your friends said about me and I am very grateful to you.
All the best,

Don't forget the post below.

Kyoto is coming soon, I assure you.

More This and That

Bloghopping recently, I commented on a post on Lady Mac's site at Braveheart-does-the Maghreb. When I finished I discovered that there was a new post above and I found myself the recipient of this award so graciously passed on by Lady M.

The creator of the award at Writer's Reviews, says the following about the award and explains the rules here:

The Thoughtful Blogger Award

For those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for all of those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping others bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.

I have to laugh because in my short blogging career, I have received four different requests for tech help, mostly in establishing blogrolls. Yes, the old lady has been considered to be a techie by some. But far more often, she has been the one requesting help from different bloggers who have all graciously helped her. Trust me, a blogroll I can help you with, but for designing, improving and fixing your site please look elsewhere.

I do hope you feel at home here and I will always answer your comments and emails. Any lack of courtesy and consideration is unintentional I assure you.

In this case I will pass on the award and Lady Mac has beat me to it with Welshcakes and James, both of whom fit the criterion of the award. However I'm going to count those two as part of my five, because I want to reinforce that they are indeed worthy recipients.

The others are:

Moof, a fellow medblog reader, who has been described as the Den Mother for the entire Blogosphere, and a first class techie on all fronts. It has been my privilege to make her cyber-acquaintance.

Josie, a fellow Vancouverite, but unmet as yet. Josie epitomizes the Gracious Host at her blog, where she writes very well indeed and dialogues back and forth charmingly with her commenters. Let's have tea some day soon Josie.

Janice, who hosts a delightful blog at Pursuance of Truth, is the last of my nominees. Not only is her blog a visual delight, she weaves her thoughts on life and nature into Haiku, Haiga, Tanka and other poetry, along with her artwork. Bits of wisdom as she sometimes calls them. She always acknowledges her commenters and leaves thoughtful comments when she visits. I like to start my day with a little inspiration from Janice. I know you won't mar the beauty and serenity of your blog with this award Janice, but I bestow it on you anyway.

Well that's it for this. As for that, there's not much room for that after this, so I'll leave you with a photo from Thursday's walk at Spanish Banks.

Vancouver, land of evergreens, of logs and driftwood floating up onto the shore where it is carefully arranged.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Google Earth Challenge ---Where do you Work, Live and Play

I saw this over at Vijay's site. It's a challenge issued by meeyauw, to show where you work, live and play, using Google Earth and Skitch, some fabulous program designed for the owners of Macs.

This let's me out, but there's more than one way to skin a cat as they say, so I just used Google Earth and none of the ways that Vijay suggested, since frankly I haven't got a clue even though I do have some of the programs he suggested. You'll definitely have to click to get a decent view.

I present a satellite view of Vancouver and its environs, which you can see is on the border of Canada and the United States of America. Although surrounded by water, with Vancouver harbour and the Fraser River enclosing it, Vancouver sits protected from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island, which is itself 286 miles long by 50 miles wide. Yes look at all those green forests and snow capped mountains nearby. You can go skiing half hour from the city, although Whistler, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, along with Vancouver, is two hours north. What you've always imagined Canada to look like is the reality here in British Columbia. Huge evergreen trees and snow covered mountains.

You can get to Seattle in three hours and many do to go there for the opera or perhaps to a major league baseball game. When the old scientist still played cricket we would drive down and back for the day to play the Seattle team, which competed in the Vancouver league.

Now you see where JMB lives, by the mighty Fraser River. This peninsula is called Point Grey completely surrounded by the harbour and the river. The University of British Columbia is right at the end of it, enclosed by the trees of the Pacific Spirit Park. The hospital where I worked for the last 18 years of my career is there on the campus, just four miles away and I could be there in 10 minutes from door to door.

Tucked against the lower part of Point Grey, just west of where I am, you can just make out a huge area of log booms in the water which stretches to almost the end of the point.

So more information than you really wanted to know, but I think it is really neat, even if no one else does. Now I'm off to tell meeyauw that I've entered the challenge, at the low tech end.

Update: For some reason the images disappeared overnight. I have uploaded them again. The mysteries of blogging. I have my fingers and toes and eyes crossed, hopefully.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Funky


Well Good Luck to all you Saturday Photo Hunters out there with the theme for this week.

Let's look at a few carefully culled definitions of this word which appeal to me.

Funky: Having a moldy or musty smell: eg funky cheese

I have no idea if these cheeses were mouldy or musty smelling but I am assuming they are funky since I need them to be. Photo from my archives at Granville Island.

Funky: Modern slang for an "earthy" wine with strongly organic qualities, may be complimentary, neutral or negative depending on its intensity and the taster's personal preference

I'm teetotal so I can't tell if this bottle of funky wine from my cellar fits the description of "earthy" but the definition is so broad how can it not? Even the name, The Fork in the Road is funky according to the definition below.
Funky: Characterized by originality and modishness; unconventional

Last, but not least, because the civic workers in Vancouver have been on strike for two weeks, the definition below is rather apt for my garbage can. We'll be using a gas mask soon if they don't go back to work.

Funky: Offensively malodorous; "a putrid smell"

If you want to join Saturday Photo Hunt or look at the blog roll, click on my sidebar in the appropriate place.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.

Maybe I'm stretching the definition of this word here but I want to tell you about a person I discovered in a serendipitous way. On my post about the busker at Granville Island, I received an anonymous comment from a busker in NYC who left her URL which of course, being the curious person that I am, I followed.

There I found the blog (and later her website) of Natalia Paruz, commonly known as Saw Lady, musician extraordinaire, who regularly busks in New York City. She performs on her musical saw as part of the MUNY (Music under New York) program run by the MTA Arts for Transit program.

James Higham commented on my busker post: "There's a lot of talent at rail stations behind the hat and the case."

Nothing could be truer than that statement as applied to Saw Lady. Not only has she busked all over the world in New York, Paris, Prague, Rome, Florence and Tel Aviv, she has performed with leading symphony orchestras, appeared on TV, been featured in movies and on radio and made recordings with major recording studios.

I have spent an enjoyable amount of time exploring Natalia's blog and her website. On her blog she tells stories of her life as a busker on the streets of New York and the people she meets there which have intrigued me so much that I have added her blog to my Bloglines feed. She also talks about busking in general. Here is part of what she says on the subject:

A lot of people feel sorry for buskers, thinking we perform on the street because we can't get gigs elsewhere, but they've got it all wrong. We love the street. I have played with orchestras in big concert halls such as Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. But the subway is my preferred venue.
I am part of an explosion in street performers around the world. Competition for a piece of sidewalk is greater than it has ever been. And performers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. So many buskers have a cell phone, a digital organizer, a web site and a travel agent.

One of the things that delights Saw Lady is the vast array of non monetary offerings which are cast into her donations box, currently a gold painted plastic bucket with fake diamonds glued to it. She has a special list of these items which have included roses, a Teddy bear, a new Seiko watch and also a new Swiss army watch, packages of cat food, an origami swan. But one of her most treasured items was a poem written on gold and orange paper which is reproduced below.

Amazing How/Pat Christiano

Amazing how at noon
you're there
among a hundred
bikes and cars and buses,
tractors, trucks and taxis
and a lone arthritic horse,
among children, men and women,
the hundred million
who must live
in this immediate city.
Amazing how at noon,
in the midst of all this traffic,
human and inhuman,
suddenly there is nothing
and no one but you.

© 2000, Pat Christian

I have given you but a taste of this fascinating young woman and I urge you to explore her blog and website for yourselves. I found that I spent an inordinate amount of time there and have returned again and again with much enjoyment. In fact, thanks to Natalia, I have learned more about the talented group of buskers who add so much to life in the wonderful city of New York.

The photo of Natalia is from her blog and was taken by Cisco Gamez.