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Archive for the ‘people’ Category

Penticton downtown Saturday market

June 18, 2010

mall moments

May 10, 2010
Out for a walk again, and on the way, wandering through the mall on a Monday mid-afternoon.  The first thing I noticed was that at least 9 out 10 stores had no customers in them!  I am sure the clerks wondered what I was up to peering into every store like that!

I wandered to the far end of the mall, where I discovered the real action:  the food court seating area quite full – of seniors having coffee.  But very few with food.

Makes me wonder how all those stores and restaurants survive?  Of course, much of what they offer is far from what I’d define as “needs.”  So I’m also wondering:  is it possible folks are really becoming more interested in simplifying their lives, and losing the shopaholic materialistic urge that has seemed to define our society for a long while?

And, hmmm…  Do I want to spend my “elder” days drinking coffee at the mall food court?  I wonder what seniors wish for?  Dream of?  Is this really where they thought they’d end up spending their days?  (oh dear…)

Note!  Most of the women sit in groups of 2 or 3 or 4, and chat.  While the men (other than a few who have women attached to them) sit mostly alone.  Some of the men read papers; most just sit and stare into space.  How sad is that?  I wonder why?

I suppose male relationships most of their lives (outside family) are centered on work or sports or hobbies.  And when those “hands-on” activities run out – they’re left pretty much alone.  While women mostly always seem to have sister-type-relationships with other women.  And those kinds of relationships are easier to carry on.  And even to make new ones.  (Not to mention that there seem to be lots more elder women around to be friends with…)

There are some new model cars on display in the mall today.  The men wander up and look them over.  Maybe say a word to two to the other men peering in the car windows, checking out the shiny paint-jobs.  But then they wander away in different directions.  Alone.  Just as they arrived.

Women, meanwhile, tend to come into the mall – and leave – together.  Or if alone, they have made plans ahead of time to meet together.  Or if truly alone, they are mostly “on a mission,”  shopping, getting their hair done, whatever.

But the men alone?  Mostly just wandering aimlessly, or sitting very alone (except for the ones poking around in the tech/electronics stores, waiting for their wives to finish shopping in the women’s stores).

Even the young adults wandering in the mall are couples, families, women together – or guys.  Alone.  And the clerks in the empty stores.  Alone.  Bored?

Interesting: People on benches.  Sitting as far apart as they can without falling off.  Facing opposite directions as much as possible.  And looking lonely.  Alone.  Go figure.

Elevator music.  “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing, Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago…?”  Haven’t heard that for a long time.  Somehow appropriate on a lazy, warm, sunny spring afternoon… at the mall… filled mostly with seniors…

(All the smiles, happiness, laughter, are in the bright spots where the children are.  And when they smile, even the lonely old mens’ faces light up, and they smile back.  And their day is brightened, and their aloneness is banished for a lovely moment).

surprise visits

May 10, 2010

I just had a wonderful, amazing, adventurous time!  As I walking around my neighborhood, I noticed that in behind some neat, tidy yards nearby, there were a bunch of wild scraggly-looking trees.  So I wandered around looking for a way to get back there.  I found an old paved path, full of cracks and frost heaves.  And at the end of it was a wild, scraggly meadow with clumps of trees and bushes scattered throughout it.  It was surrounded by the back sides of cement walls and fences, many of the latter backed with scrounged bits of graffitied wood.

Except for a broken bicycle, and a meandering path in the process of becoming overgrown, petering out in the middle of the meadow, it seemed like no one ever goes back there.  It was truly amazing!  A wild bit of green space hidden among many blocks of neatly manicured residential neighborhoods, wide stretches of neatly mowed school fields and city parks, apartment towers, and two malls surrounded by stretches of asphalt parking lots – all within a 5 minute walk of this secret wild spot.

As I was meandering all alone in the quietness of this hidden spot, wading through knee-deep grasses, a friendly little voice suddenly piped up, “Hello!”  I turned in surprise to see a pretty little face peering over the fence from a playhouse perched high against the fence line.

The next few minutes were a delightful conversation (mostly listening, on my part) with a sweet little five year old.  She cheerfully informed me, in great detail, about white butterflies, her daddy’s cactus garden that froze in the winter, the neighbour and his huge weeping willow tree (large enough to hold a real tree house!), her birthday, leaves, her parents’ favorite means of punishing her when she is “naughty,” and how she has no brothers and sisters so she is looking forward to kindergarten.  And then she announced that she needed to go pee, and that she hoped we could visit again sometime soon.  And with that, she jumped down from her perch and disappeared!

My day was brightened at least one hundred and ten percent!

I started walking homeward – a two minute walk away.  Amazing how I can have lived here for 7 months already, and walked all over the neighborhood – and never before discovered this secret wild space!  As I neared our complex, another little lass, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, was walking in front of me, blowing the seeds from a white dandelion puff-ball with all her might.  She stopped when she noticed me behind her, and started discussing making wishes with dandelions!  And then she said she’d like to take the long-stemmed dandelion to her dad who lives across town, and that led to an explanation about how she lives now with her mom and step-dad.  At that point we arrived at her front door-step … which is only 3 doors down from mine!  And like the other little gal, she too said she hopes we’ll get to visit again soon!  And then she opened her front door, stepped inside and disappeared.

And by then, my day was perfect!

poem

May 8, 2010

Beautiful sunshine, fine dancing raindrops
Interfacing summer and spring
Gilded clouds chased by wayward breeze.

Brilliant tulips, bold rainbow hues
Impressionist dabs on nature’s pallette
Green velvet canvas reflects their light.

Birdsong waltzes and pirouettes
Impertinent crow squawk answers back
Giggling together incongruously.

Blue water ripples, wispy spray
Illusory coolness slips away
Gauzy farewell to a perfect day.

(I belong to a small writing group where we take a random word every couple weeks and write a story, article, poem, whatever, based on that word. Can you guess the word for this one?  Hint: it really doesn’t have anything to do with the poem!)

spring has sprung!

May 4, 2010

When I went out for my mid-day walk, I wandered through a neighborhood I haven’t been by for a couple months.  And I saw the most amazing thing.  In the middle of a street of carefully groomed grassy front lawns, there was a yard (which previously looked just like the rest of the street) in which all the grass has disappeared.  And in its place are rows and rows of raised beds, full of all kinds of fresh, flourishing new veggies and strawberries and herbs and other plants!  I have to admit I stopped and gaped!  It was so unexpected in this tidy (predictable…) middle-class neighborhood.  But then my hanging-wide-open mouth started to stretch into a wide grin, because seeing that amazing garden was so wonderful!  I have no idea how their neighbours feel about it, but I am impressed and inspired.  Way to go!

Back home, I sat down at my laptop and started again with my researching.  But I had opened the windows first to let in fresh air.  And, hey!  It is a good thing to have your windows open (if a bit distracting).  For example:

– you hear birds, helicopters, people walking by, children laughing, and all kinds of other happy and inspiring and curiosity-creating sounds, including…

– water!  Sounds of great rushing water flowing down my street.  So of course I had to jump up and run outside.  There were the public works folks clearing out the pipes by opening the fire hydrant wide.  I grabbed my old camera and snapped some shots – I’ll post one once I get the film developed.  If I can find a place that still develops film!  (Note to myself: I really must borrow my digital camera back from my kids).  I was just wishing it was a little warmer outside, since my inner child was longing to kick off my shoes and run and splash in the instant river!

Spring has sprung!  I love it!

country roads

April 10, 2010

Our friend, D, came by yesterday afternoon, and invited us (hubby and me) out for a nice spring drive along the Shingle Creek Road from Penticton to Summerland.  It’s the “back way,” over a occasionally used dirt road through Penticton Indian Reserve.  Beautiful country.  Fields of buttercups everywhere.  Huge scattered Ponderosa pines – with almost no sign at all of pine-beetle infestation, hurrah!

I got some great shots of an old log cabin, roof gone, and full of young trees growing inside and poking vigorously out the top and through the old window and door openings.  A great addition to my collection of photos of old cabins.

We saw a little cemetery way out in the middle of nowhere, when at one point we came to a fork in the road and had to “guess” which way to go.  We apparently made the wrong choice, because after a while the dirt road became a narrow rutted road, and eventually a set of parallel tracks fading out across a wide meadow.

But it was well worth the side-trip, because we got to see the little cemetery way out there.  On the map was marked a community in the general area, called “Shingle Creek,” but other than a couple scattered sets of ranch buildings a fair distance apart, we didn’t see any sign of a town site.  Still, the little graveyard bore witness to the fact that at some point, folks who had chosen to live in this area were indeed a community.

When we got back to town, we went for Chinese food at a restaurant called “King’s Garden.”  A new start for a restaurant that for a long time had been well regarded, but then went downhill (after the previous owner passed away, so I’ve been told), and eventually closed down for awhile.  But now, here it is open again, and seems to be living up to its former good reputation.  I was thinking that the new owners might be a little overly brave to maintain the old name, since it really had gone through a very rough spot – but considering the friendly service and good food, and the number of customers, perhaps it was a good decision after all!

neighborhood moments

March 24, 2010
Sitting out front at our little townhouse, in my comfy lawn chair with my feet up on my little kitchen stool, my “coffee stool” (rather than coffee table!) beside me, a cup of chai tea, a piece of my son’s black forest birthday cake – and my journal, creative writing notebook, planner, Bible, and a free local alternative newspaper I picked up yesterday.

Perfect!  Sun shining, floppy hat on my head, Pippi Longstocking braids hanging down over my shoulders, and a cozy white blanket on my lap.  Just had a nice little chat with an elderly neighbor who was walking past with her dog, on her way to the post office.  Tonight is the strata AGM, so I am hoping to meet more of my neighbors.

Oh!  I just had an idea. Okay! So I just popped back into the house to bring out another lawn chair – in case a neighbor comes by and wants to sit down and visit!

another chance!

March 17, 2010

“Check it out!” Steve laughed, as he dumped half a dozen tattered plastic grocery bags onto the ground, and plopped himself cheerfully into a battered black lawn chair.

The rag-tag group, in the dirt parking lot, chilly hands curled around Styrofoam cups full of steaming coffee, turned to look in Steve’s direction.  Joe remarked, “Looks like you’ve been busy already this morning, buddy!”

Steve dug into the bag closest to him, and agreed, “Real back-alley treasure chests this morning!”  He held up a pet dish with an attached water container, and handed it to Marie.  “Your kitty is going to love this.”  Next, he pulled out a couple pairs of slightly used leather shoes, one pair white, the other black.  “Check out what great shape these are in!  Looks like they might have belonged to a nurse.  Anyway, they’re hardly used.”  He held them out to the shortest guy in the group.  “Maybe they’d fit you?”

Dave laughed and replied, “Don’t think so.  I’d have to take a sledge-hammer to my feet to try to squeeze them into those.  But yeah, they are in great shape.”

“%*@#%@*!” Bill hollered, as hot water splashed over his hand from the well-worn old thermos, which had tipped when he pushed down on the spigot.

“Hey! No swearing around here,” Vicky called out, and everyone chucked, for this was rule number one of the five street breakfast rules.  The other rules, as everyone knew, were no drugs or alcohol, no colors, no fighting – and rule number five, no yawning!  Nobody was sure where number five had come from, but it was somehow appropriate.  After all, coffee, juice, boiled eggs, fresh baked pigs-in-blankets or barbequed hot-dogs, and cereal and milk were placed out very early every morning on a battered old plastic folding table, year-round, no matter the weather.

A well-dressed couple, he in suit and tie, and she in dress and heels, walked sedately by on their way to work.  “Hello there!” hollered Pastor Pete.  The couple looked sideways rather nervously at the dozen or so guys and gals gathered round the table.  They started walking a bit faster, the woman’s heels tap-tapping more quickly on the paved sidewalk.  “Come on and join us for some coffee!” Pete offered.  The couple peeked again over their shoulders as they hurried past, and shook their heads, “No thanks,” with embarrassed smiles.  “Well, God bless!” Pete called after them.

The door at a nearby construction office opened, and a young woman stepped out, coffee mug in hand, and walked across to the group.  “Hi! My name’s Joanne!”  She walked around, shaking hands with everyone.  “I work over there, and I see you out here every morning.  The boss is out just at the moment, so I thought I’d come over and meet you all.”

Everyone cheerfully said hello, and Kevin asked, “Want some breakfast?”

“Oh, no thanks, I’ve already eaten,” she replied.  “But if it’s okay, I’d like to hang out for a bit, as there’s nothing happening over at the office right now.”  Within moments, Kevin and Joanne were deep in conversation about construction work, and others in the group were soon joining in.

Steve was still digging in his bags, and brought out a handful of keys and locks.  “Can you believe this?” he asked June.  “I actually found keys and locks that match!”

June laughed.  “That’s a rare find, for sure.”

“Yeah,” Steve added, “but of course I also found some keys that don’t have locks that go with them.”

June looked at the two keys he held out in his palm.  “Wow, those look just like the key I lost for my bike lock.  I was thinking I’ll have to get the lock cut off.”

Steve handed the keys to her.  “Here, take them and see if they fit.  I’d just have to throw them out otherwise.”

Just then Mike ran across the street, a big grin on his face.  Pastor Pete commented, “You look warmer this morning than usual.”

Mike answered, “Yeah, I actually slept well last night, even though it was raining and close to freezing!  Say thanks for me to whoever donated that blanket, eh?  First time I’ve been warm enough to sleep through the night since the downtown businesses got together and put those bars across the warm spots by the heat ducts!”

Three or four of the guys nodded sympathetically.  “Know just how you feel,” Marv said.

Fred wandered in from the street, and went quietly up to Kevin.  Fred was shaking with cold, even though he was wearing a jacket and warm gloves.  “Hey, Kev, buddy,” he spoke quietly, “Do you think you could do me a favor?”  He pulled off a glove and held out a hand with fingers that were stiff and white from the cold.  “I got terrible circulation.  Do you think you could pour me a coffee, so I can wrap my fingers around the cup and thaw them out?  If I try to do it myself, I’ll probably spill.”

“Sure,” Kevin responded, and poured him a cup of steaming coffee, around which Fred gratefully curled his fingers.

Dana quietly sidled up to Pastor Pete.  “I’m kinda having a rough time,” she confided quietly.  Pastor Pete gently took her by the elbow and they walked a few steps away from the rest of the group.  The others noticed, but respectfully kept their distance, as pretty near every one of them, at one time or another, had themselves confided in their street pastor.

They knew from experience that Dana would find help – a listening ear, a prayer, a gentle direction to relationship with God, some warm clothes, a place to sleep, a connection to professional care, a toothbrush and toothpaste, clean socks, food for her children…  It probably wouldn’t be fancy, but she would be treated with dignity and care, with God’s love shown in practical ways, and that was what mattered.  She, like hundreds before her, would be given another chance.

The sun was finally peeking over the mountain top, and its rays began to warm the chilly early morning air.  The thermoses of coffee had run dry, and the baked goodies had all disappeared.  Everyone pitched in to pack up the remaining cereal and milk to be saved for tomorrow’s street breakfast, and the last few boiled eggs were tucked into pockets for lunch snacks.  The table and lawn chairs were folded up and packed away into the truck of Kevin’s old beater car, and into Pastor Pete’s tired van.

Steve packed up his bags, and was getting ready to leave when he stopped, put the bags down again, and pulled out the shoes once more.  “Here,” he said to June, “I don’t know who can use these.  But you probably know someone.  Can you pass them on?”

“You bet!” June responded happily.  “I know someone who could use them, for sure!”

Once again, Steve gathered up his tattered bags of back-alley treasures, tied them together, and lifted them over his shoulder.  “Thanks for the coffee and goodies!  See y’all tomorrow morning!”  And, laughing, he headed down the alley to check out another dumpster’s treasure chest.

lots of little street churches?

March 14, 2010


It’s so cool at street church.  We’re sitting and standing around on lawn chairs, on steps, even sitting on the grass in warm weather, talking together about God, sharing our walks, praying with each other just naturally, eating and drinking coffee together, laughing, listening.   People walking by are always greeted and invited to have a coffee and snack; and they are chatted with (and the discussion takes a break to make them feel welcomed) and lots of them decide to have a coffee, and even sit down and listen in to, even join in, the conversation.

One couple came by this morning, and accepted coffee, but were apologizing for “interrupting.”  And someone just burst out cheerfully, “There is no interrupting around here!” And they said, “Really?  Okay! Can we sit down for a bit?”  And of course we told them to go ahead, chatted with them a bit, and carried on.  And that’s typical at street church!  That’s church!  That’s being in fellowship with God and His people – and reaching out, naturally, with friendship, relationship – to each other and to the world that’s passing by!

Hmmmm. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were little street churches outside church buildings all over town – and if churches all built old-fashioned “stoops” out front, lol!

Well, I just finished my French Vanilla, and rolled up the rim – and it says, “try again!”  LOL!  Well, chances to win are 1 in 9,and obviously I’m #8 after those 7 other people.  So I bet the person after me got that winning cup eh!

not a sign of life?

March 14, 2010

So, after committing myself to my new path in life (read my last blog entry!), I grabbed my “antique” camera (read non-digital!) to use up the film I’ve had in it for a long time… and I put my journal in my bag… and went out walkabout in the lovely spring sunshine.  Stopped for a little visit with my precious grandson…

And here I am sitting in the corner at Timmy’s, drinking my French Vanilla coffee so I can “roll up the rim to win!” LOL!  There are seven people at the next table (mostly in their seventies or so), and none of their rims won anything.  As one of the guys told the waitress, “We’re all losers!”  Anyway, I figure that since they were right ahead of me in the line, my cup should be a winner!  Anyway…

While I as walking home after street church I walked by several churches… and they were all surrounded by mostly fairly nice vehicles… and not a person in sight, not a sound escaping from the buildings… so quiet!

(I did see one guy sitting in his van drinking coffee… but it was packed with stuff…  maybe he was just borrowing their parking lot space? Or??)  Strange… kind of like those futuristic movies with no people… or like that series on the Discovery Channel that talks about what might happen if all humans suddenly died or disappeared.  The first few hours/days when all the signs of human habitation were still there – but no humans…  there weren’t even any animals/pets in sight, for that matter!

Anyway, I felt lonely walking by those churches.   Of course I know that I could just go in there and be welcomed (though I’m not so sure about my granny cart and/or backpack, and my blue jeans and wind-blown messy hair… especially if I wanted to take my cart into their sanctuary with me), but I’m wondering, what do “non-churched” people think when they walk by those beautiful big buildings surrounded by so many cars – and not a person in sight?  “Not a sign of life!”

Wouldn’t it be something if some of those church folks just stood around outside, on/by the public sidewalk, even during the “service,”  and greeted and chatted with people passing by, maybe handed out coffee.