Easily Drunk on Cycle-Touring in Wine Regions

It’s annoying to have my  health problem whenever we go cycle-touring in the wine regions of Canada, U.S. and Europe: I get easily drunk on alcohol. You could say I am afflicted by a common problem that isn’t just confined to some Asians (although there is that stereotyping). My ears become quite red: fast like a supremely…

St. George Rainway: Painting a Bygone Salmon Stream

On a misty grey summer morning, we hotfooted by bike to see a brand-new road painting that memorializes a bygone salmon stream that ran through the Mount Pleasant Vancouver neighbourhood. That’s right –a somewhat bumpy road surface was graced overnight with a blue-green swirly art stream of salmon, frogs, trees and sea life in a…

2010 Olympic Birthmarks in Neighbourhoods: Vancouver, BC

For locals,  the 2010 Winter Olympics legacy for some Vancouver buildings and artwork becomes paradoxically like a familiar face that we may longer notice its unique birthmarks over time. I haven’t spent any time researching, analyzing  nor comparing long lasting transformation of buildings, art and infrastructure in Vancouver and other Olympic cities worldwide.  So just take my…

How to Celebrate Bike-Pedestrian Bridges: Let Me Count Thy Ways

A shiny new bridge,  is a local cause célèbre in many ways, for expected and totally unexpected reasons. Sometimes it’s just a lovely architectural backdrop to frame not only cyclists and strollers, but also graduation parties, post-wedding photos, seminal reunions of family and friends. Peace Bridge, Calgary: Frames Grad, Wedding and Family Celebrations We were cycling…

Nurturing Life: In Praise of Gardeners, Keepers of the Earth

As a non-gardener, I couldn’t help giggling at a tiny stand of flower pots for sale when we stopped by the University of British Columbia’s Botanical Garden Shop, during a bike ride last month. One of the pots had a garden ceramic sign emblazoned:  Grow, damn it!  Do expert gardeners lose their patience too? Respect for…

Cherry Blossom Ballet in Vancouver: Nature and New Mural Art

I had been wanting to highlight this new outdoor public mural that featured cherry blossoms against the backdrop of West Coast Japanese-Canadian and aboriginal history. The St. James Community Service Society mural was commissioned in 2011 by the City of Vancouver, as part of their new public art works in celebration of the city’s 125th…

Asia in My Dreams: Romanticizing the East

After half a century, I still haven’t been to Asia yet.  Being Canadian-born and resident in Canada all my life ( Huron-Iroquois native Indian for “Kanata“, meaning village), I have only impressions and tenuous connections to ancestral land of China. As Asia hurtles along in the 21st century to remake itself, I have had to…

900 Years of Architectural Legacy: Why Prague is a Royal Empress

I had heard of Prague’s splendid old World charm.  But I was unprepared for the city’s dizzying variety and historical compression of architectural centuries at each street corner and with each turn of my head.  Good thing we could explore its astonishing richness of Romanesque, medieval, baroque, renaissance, gothic and art nouveau building wonders, by…

Lotus Flower- From Root to Flower to Seed, It Feeds Our Senses

To me, eating lotus root, is akin to eating water chestnuts.  Either cooked or raw, they add a slight sweetness and abit of fresh, crunchy fibre to a dish.  If eaten cooked, lotus root must be sautéed or cooked not too long, or else you’ve lost that crunch. One wonders who took the gamble to…

Maidei Touches Down in Vancouver, B.C.

Maidei continued her world-wind adventures during her TeamEstrogen global cycling relay,  but now in western Canada.  She  boarded on an Air Canada flight from Calgary to Vancouver. She wanted to escape the shenanigans of the annual Calgary Stampede in early July which features bronco horses, chuckwagon races, deep fried foods and nightly drunken partying for nearly 10…

Outdoor Art Work as a Thread of National History Across Canada: Monuments to Chinese-Canadian Railway Workers

In Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, where I have visited and lived, there is outdoor public art which commemorates the historic work by the Chinese Canadian railway workers on Canada’s transcontinental railroad. The Chinese labourers helped build the national Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from 1858 – 1885.  Each of the profiled city monuments were independently conceived, designed…

European City Museums More than Second Cousins: Centuries of Rich History

Some European city museums can be rich treasure troves of history and art  –meaning centuries of a municipal life. Maybe my North American view of the city museum, as the lesser cousin, was previously influenced by our shorter history — if we do not include aboriginal history nor the Vikings landing on Newfoundland’s shores. Social change, political…

Stained Glass Art – A European Sampler of Refracted Light and Colour

My interest in stained glass art stems from only two introductory courses I took evenings over 20 years ago. I learned stained glass-making, both by using the easy copper foil technique for small pieces  and also the traditional, more difficult use of soldering lead channels and grouting those channels to hold heavy, larger pieces of glass….

Freiburg, Germany: Cycling Among Medieval and Renaissance Restoration

Freiburg is seductive:  a well-preserved gem of German medieval and renaissance architecture with cycling embedded into its daily life.  We stayed and spent most of our  4 days in the historic downtown core.  However we did take 3 cycling side trips for a few hours each except our trip to Basel, Switzerland. Hotel Am Rasthaus…

Under the Shadow of Giant Sparrows: Sharing Public Space at Olympic and ParaOlympic Village Open House

Yesterday I cycled to the official public opening of the Olympic and ParaOlympic Village where I volunteer-assisted at Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s (VACC)  information table. Several thousand people gathered to hear speeches from Mayor Gregor Robertson, VANOC CEO John Furlong, Olympic ski-cross gold medalist, Ashleigh McIvor and Rick Hansen, Man in Motion wheelchair athlete. People lounged on…

People’s Oases: Community Gardens

Not far from home, there are more and more community gardens popping up each year. Some garden plots are quite tiny by the curbside, while others are larger and cunningly designed with a winding pathway, twisted tree branch arbour or even a park bench. Some gardeners must spend whole warm summer evenings basking in their patch of garden artistry…

Anointing the Night with Fireworks and Waterworks

Surely for every Olympics, the nightly free fireworks were rare times for unbridled photo shooting. Instead of packing ourselves with over 7,000 other people  for earlier, free concerts at David Lam Park, we staked ourselves along the waterfront Seaside Path for the light and water show. One clear night, we all waited for the grand…

On Art in Outdoor Public Spaces and Inside the Human Body

Several sections of downtown Vancouver streets have been closed and transformed temporarily during the Olympics and ParaOlympics,  into car-free public spaces for temporary public art installations, street performances and for people to  meet, sit down and chat. Earlier in this blog,  I  highlighted  the wonderful lantern art sculptures on Granville Street near Robson.  The crowds are…