Monday, May 21, 2012

Beacon Hill Birthday Visit: Peacocks, Squirrels and Bands, oh my!

Linda and Cheryl helped me to Beacon Hill Park on Saturday where it was light overcast to sunny in the late afternoon.
Today, the Monday, is Victoria Day, to Celebrate Queen Victoria, even though she is dead for over 110 years now, and we are celebrating the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (only a distant great aunt, hardly any relation to me). For the Parade, there are bands, and dozens of them come from Canada but mostly the USA, over on the Coho in school buses and other transport to be part of the Victoria Day Celebration. We are a Steam-Punk Town which still celebrates the eternal reign of her highness, Queen Victoria, long may she reign!

The apple and pear blossoms had started to fall making a carpet of flowers around the benches. A small flock of Canada Geese had arrived last week and camped out near the central pond (look down by the second bench to see them on the grass).

The squirrels we saw that day were either small and twitchy, or starving and fearless. Linda, sitting on her walk with her ski boot (no weight bearing), had a squirrel who would take his loot away for hiding.
However he was followed by a crow, who would watch where it dug and then after it returned for another peanut, go and eat the one that was buried. So the squirrel became more and more paranoid, pretending to dig the peanut multiple times, and sometimes disappearing over fields to hide his hoard. Sometimes going up a tree to see all potential enemies.

Cheryl found a young and tiny grey squirrel, a little twitchy.
His habit, like the messy boy gobbling his meal, got more and more exciting while eating a peanut that he literally stretched upward and back, sometimes almost falling off the root he was standing on he had his head so far back. He was ‘pounding down peanut shots.’
It seems she got the Frat Boy of squirrels.

I found a squirrel who would bound towards me, totally fearless. I even ended with a video of him coming all the way in to my hand for a peanut (to be uploaded later today, a still pic for now).

However, she would take the peanut and disappear so far away that after a few minutes I would give up on her returning. But she did. You just needed a book to read while waiting for her.

Meanwhile, three buses pulled up and at least one school emptied out, the students leaving the instruments by the stage while a small ensemble played various Jazz, band and mix pieces. The Double Bass player, like all double Bass players, kept dropping measures, and sometimes came in a beat off.

The bad part of being in such a small group was that your mistakes are evident, though the Bass Player was playing soft often, while the Tenor Sax was cutting it up, making the most out of the solos.

Our squirrels had been ousted by a Peahen and a male Peacock, with his iridescent blue to purple neck and breast and flashing colours putting the flowers to shame.

The problem with Peacocks are two: first they can’t open the peanut themselves so they DEMAND you crack the shell and open the peanut FOR THEM – at least the large male did. And second, with a wicked hooked beak and cobra-like jabbing motion of the neck toward your fingers, it can be a bit intimidating, particularly when you have a irritated peacock less than two feet from your face making the full haunting cry ‘AAAiiiiiiiiiiOWWWWWWWWwwwwww.’ It was telling not, ‘Hurry up please’ but ‘How would you like me to rearrange your face!’ – so moody!

The squirrel did return, and approached, just about to take the peanut from in front of the wheelchair when suddenly it started to retreat. I couldn’t figure it out until I saw the two peacocks, like battleships, strut past my chair so close they bushed the sides, silently telling crows and squirrels alike, “The one with the peanuts, She’s MINE now!”

During this, three teen girls from the band approached taking pictures on cell phones and ipods. As Linda had the bag of peanuts and I had a zip lock bag, I keep under my wheelchair for emergency squirrel feeding (be prepared!), I offered the bag to the girls, or specifically to Alto (she played the Alto Sax). The three girls were in a state of near hyperventilation and all talking at once frenzy usually saved for boy bands.

“Oh you’re so pretty, and you know it, you should be models, yes, you are a model aren’t you, you and your girlfriend.”

They called over their band teacher, who was either gay or a naturally camp Asian man. He coo’d over the peacocks and the squirrels and ran off to get pictures of flowers. I convinced Alto to take the rest of the peanuts and try feeding the squirrels who were across the green by the tree. For them it was exciting and wonderful wildlife. For us, having peacocks, ducks in overabundance, Canada Geese, squirrels eating from your hand, along with robins virtually hopping in your lap and giant Koi Fish in the ponds, all a block or two from downtown is just normal. We are Victoria, and host many different animal panhandlers. Worry not, the peanuts were no salt, and all bought specifically to be fed to squirrels, having checked out the types can cause problems with animals.

We went back to the apartment for our picnic and ended up watching a couple hours of BBC’s documentary on Planet earth, including the Elephants and lions of the Sand Dunes and Deserts as well as lizards like rainbows in South Africa. Linda and Cheryl had been to the farmers market that morning and picked up fresh cheese curds brought down from Parksville, 80-90 miles north of town, as well as a new citrus grapefruit soap to scent the room and freshly made donuts.

I sent out 80-90 postcards the last week or two to invite all to have a picnic or celebrate this week, having some fun to be glad for being alive.

Yes, things are bleak, probably the bleakest I’ve ever been in my life, because while I’ve been homeless (though working full time – money going to tuition), I’ve always had a sleeping bag, and my health. Without the choices of a stable condition, I am physically and emotionally helpless, but the same damage to my brain which makes a song that sounds good to me make me listen to it for 145 minutes until I pass out, or unable to stop the thoughts of worry in my mind, like racing gerbils, it also allows me to appreciate everything good in life. So whether it is a hug, a fun conversation, to reading postcards, or just thinking about each person, how I have oxygen now due to D., or re-reading a manga gift from a year or two ago, and seeing the name on a post-it note on the cover, and I shiver with happiness, or find a tear of joy on my cheek. I enjoy a sunset, or the Super-moon which rose over Victoria the last time I was able to get out, 10 days ago, rising over the Empress Hotel (Photo Credit: Weather Network)

Have a great week, I hope you take time to enjoy life, as having had three ‘almost’ dying in the last four weeks, including one that lasted a week, I have hope in each day. I’d like to see the last Batman movie, but don’t know if I will live that long (July 15-30th). I have no advance manga orders for Aug or Sept because neither I or Linda can see that future from here. We’d love to be surprised. And to send out almost 100 postcards.…that was a surprise weekend. And we edge at almost 6,500 postcards

If you are in Europe, I notice that this week is Eurovision with next weekend being the wonderfully camp singing competition that brought you Abba 30 years ago, as there is over 50 years of Eurovision. Here is the 25 finalists in under seven minutes in HD from 2011 if you don’t know about Eurovision. I like Finland, Hungary and Moldovia for just ‘out there’. A gay favorite, with people watching in large screen in most gay pubs in the UK and Ireland, I miss hearing the semi-closeted church music directors eyes light up at the word ‘Eurovision’ – the year we left, 2007, was when the lesbian heart song edged out the drag queen singer to win – that could only occur in Eurovision (LGBTQI performers are common).


carl can said...

I am to submit a report on this niche your post has been very very helpfull speakers

JaneB said...

Yay for squirrels, wildlife and a little bit of a social life. Sending good thoughts your way.

Neil said...

Hurray for a good day out! For any good days...

6500 postcards. Wow. You are amazing, my dear.

I WAS going to tell you to stop being mean to bass players, but then I remembered the bass player in my band 15 years ago: he was a beat late, and when he had us trying to play something he had written, the rhythm didn't make sense until the fiddler asked to see the sheet music. It was written in 3/4 time and he was playing it in 4/4. So I guess your assessment of bass players is right. :)

I hope Linda was able to destress a little too, yesterday. Good thoughts and positive energy is being sent for all three of you!

Love and zen hugs,

Anonymous said...

so so very glad you guys had a good day.. watch out for the squirrels they can get larcenous and make you save vs cuteness..


Anonymous said...

Linda here...

I love reading your commentary of the squirrels - you make it sound so much more exciting than it is at the time. I guess part of that is you can skip the witing around and waiting around, wondering whether a squirrel will ever come back for another squirrel.

Great photos of the squirrels - especially the frat boy!

I am really glad we were able to go see the squirrels. Maybe we can go out again in the next few days.

You were amaing getting all those postcards written. I am glad we were able to all stamp some cards. That's the most fun part - escpecially when done together.

Anonymous said...

It was nice to go to the park with you. Your descriptions of the squirrels really sum up their personalities.

It was fun to stamp postcards. Reaching 6500 postcards sent is a great accomplishment and shows what a kind and caring person you are.


Elizabeth McClung said...

Jane: Squirrels are good friends. I hope you have a great weekend - watching Eurovision?

Neil: Well, as a Double Bass player and meeting and playing with dozens, I kind of get the problems and style of many double bass players. I love the instrument but there aren't a lot of double bass solos.

Hill: hopefully we can see some more this weekend - thanks and Peace to you.

Linda: It was that exciting for me, and you seemed to have some fun. But yes, lots of waiting that day.

Cheryl: I think helping so much so we reached the 6,500 together and helping me to the park shows what kind of person you are, thank you.

Vanessa said...

I love the pics and I'm glad Linda is moving around better and that you guys got to go out for a nice afternoon. :D