A Few Delightful Sights on a Victoria Spring Day

Out garage sailing today and as we were on our way from one sale to the next I happened to glance to my right as we were passing Goodacre Lake in Beacon Hill Park.  And I saw a row of turtles sunning themselves.  I have no idea if they are native turtles or former pets.  They were quite large as you can see by comparison to the nearby duck.  They were so obviously happy with their faces turned to the sun.

 

turtles-sunning

And then, close by our feet, at the edge of the “lake” a little family of ducks.  The young ones speckled and downey still.

ducklings swimming

Bill likes to take an almost daily walk oceanside and the other day came upon rather a lot of kites flying about in a gorgeous blue blue sky.

 

kites-in-blue-sky

 

more-kites

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Strawberries and the long way home…

strawberriesWhat a lovely weekend, hot, sunny and full of surprises.

We went out yesterday to get strawberries. We go every year to the same place, a little stand on Veyaness Rd where a grandmother in her sari sells us a flat of lovely strawberries. This afternoon, they will become a few jars of freezer jam. And will taste as fresh as they are today. Nothing like local strawberries.

Then after a stop for lunch and iced tea in Sidney we decided to take the long way home. Does that make you think of that song by Supertramp? Oh go on and enjoy it on youtube.  I apologize in advance for the youtube ads.

And headed off to Island View Beach. Ah lovely ocean breezes, so cool and refreshing.

sunbatherskids-on-beachWith the strawberries keeping cold in a cooler ( we think of everything, dontcha know) we spent a bit of time walking the beach.

After making another stop to get the smallest of new potatoes for a summer salad, we headed up a road we’d never been on before. Isn’t that what you might do on holiday, discover somewhere you’ve never been before?

As I’ve maybe mentioned before, since we live in our fave holiday destination and actually don’t take the usual holidays we designate every summer weekend as our holidays. And this one little diversion ended up feeling like a holiday in the south of France … except, all the signs were in English.  Ok I admit I’ve never been, but I’m pretty sure it’s just like this, except for the signs….

So here we are, meandering in lovely green countryside….

road-near-grapes1

with a farm lady whizzing by on a tractor…

tractor

on our right, a dappled horse grazing in a meadow.

horse-grazingWe discovered acres of grape vines for wine? Mind you looking at the photo today, I’m wondering….maybe kiwi? Never mind, imagine grapes in the south of France, ripening in the hot sun….

grapekiwinear rolling farm land.

hay-fieldIt felt like a holiday to us as we meandered along, drinking iced tea and stopping at every good photo spot on the long way home.

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Not a Host of Golden Daffodils…

erythronium

We weren’t even on our way to Beacon Hill Park. We were on our way to China Town but Bill got into the wrong lane by mistake and we had to turn right . We ended up along the North end of Beacon Hill Park. And what did I see? Not Golden Daffodils, oh no, not those, but I must admit there are hosts of them are all over the Park. No, these were little lovely white flowers, a whole swath of them.

erythroniums-swath

I’m so glad we went the wrong way because I’ve never seen this before, must have missed it somehow in all the years we’ve been here. I didn’t know what they were until today. “White Beauty”, Erythronium Californium they are called, I’m pretty sure. I looked them up in my book and on Google.

erythronims-cls-up3

And then, in the distance I saw a bit of pink and made my way over and found Shooting Stars! Don’t you just love them.

shooting-stars

Ah, Spring is here. And I’m so glad Bill took the wrong lane by mistake.

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The Usual and Slightly Unusual Sights Found on Fall Strolls

Now that Garage Sale season is over, we’ve taken to having strolls instead. And we always take our little camera, since we never know what we might see on our travels. Last week had it’s share of interesting sights.

First off, the usual, but still lovely, sites like this backlit sunflower on the Gorge Walkway.

sunflower-in-sun

Or the Arbutus tree angling upward in a blue sky.

arbutus-in-light

Or the eye-catching orange berries set off so nicely by the leaves. Mother Nature never gets her colors wrong.

orange-berries

Then to the more unusual…. like this tree. Is it half dead or is it half alive? Sorta like half full or half empty. But an oddity all the same.

half-dead2

This weekend we headed out to Beacon Ave Beach. Well, that’s what I call it. It’s at the end of Beacon Ave in Sidney and it’s a gravely beach. But the real reason we go there is to find the lovely beach pottery shards and beach glass that is, for some reason, quite plentiful there.

This Saturday’s unusual site was some divers doing exercises.

divers-at-beacon-ave-beach

And when they emerged they did look a little bit otherworldly. But look closely to the bottom left and you will see a little Pixie with pink wings looking for beach glass too. I’m pretty sure she’ll have those wings on tonight for Halloween don’t you?

divers-and-pixie

Then off to a cafe for a Decaf Cafe Mocha for me and a Dark Roast for Bill, along with some rather nice Carrot cake. From the window of the cafe, we saw another unusual site. A little horse, drawing lots of attention for its owner, who just happened to be running as a candidate for election. Here Buckley (his name) is getting a nice scratch for an irritating itch.

candidate-with-little-horse1

We finished up having another stroll on Island View Beach. This beach just stretches out forever it seems. Hardly anyone there that day and it was lovely. We made a promise to come back much more often.

island-view-beach

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Mile 0, A Lovely Black Cat and a Beautiful Sewing Machine

girls-at-mile-0

Bill and I have our little route when we’re out garage sailing. We cruise down the Gorge, swing up to Craigflower, head Downtown making sure to check if anything interesting is berthed in the Inner Harbour and then head out to James Bay. Usually after scouring all the garage sales we can in James Bay, we head over to Fairfield, passing Mile 0 on our way.

Mile 0, purportedly the beginning of the Trans Canada Highway starts at the ocean or at least the junction of Dallas Road and Douglas. Bill and I never really pay much attention to it but we do enjoy watching the holiday makers who feel it is important or at least funny, to have themselves photographed at this “milestone” of sorts. Today I was photographing the photographers. They were clustered around the sign as they snapped shots of the smiling faces of those posed in front of this very touristy photo op spot.  A little something to remind them later of all the sites odd or beautiful that they’d seen.

Since Saturdays are our little holidays, I loved that the bus that brought all these photogenic holiday makers, was called Charming Holidays. A rather charming name I’d say.

charming-holiday-bus

A glance to the right, on our way to Fairfield showed a wedge of cloud rather striking above the mountains that were partially hidden by mist. There was just something about that view, which I tend to refer to as my “ocean fix”. Love it.

sky-over-clover-point

And then in Fairfield, at the next garage sale, we became a bit confused by the sign on a pillar, on which rested a rather large black and white cat. Were we to make our offers to the cat or was the cat himself on offer? It soon became clear that the cat was neither on offer nor waiting to consider offers. And after receiving all the obligatory compliments on his beauty and softness and getting petted he became bored with us and wandered off to sleep in the shade. Obviously believing, as we do, that black cats look better in the shade. (Bet you’re thinking of that song now about Black Cars by Gino Vinelli, aren’t you? Sorry couldn’t be helped. This video is a hoot, very 80’s and everyone in it  looks like a Drag Queen )

cat-on-offer

Every now and then we find something on our travels that completely arrests our artistic eyes. A few weeks ago it was the book illustrated by Paxton Chadwick. This week it was a 1929 Singer treadle sewing machine. Sewing machines today are not things of beauty or style. My own is a beige, blocky thing made from plastic but it has all the stitches that I need and is at the most, fairly serviceable. But this beautiful Singer sewing machine was built at a time when a sewing machine was not only meant to work well but to be a thing of beauty too. And this model had a definite elegance and style with its sensuous curves and lines.

sewing-machine

The decoration on its shiny black metal surface was amazingly intricate and colorful recalling the deco era. We didn’t buy it and only ,like the cat earlier, admired its graceful beauty and made sure to have a photo to remind us.  Much like those photographers at Mile 0 keeping a photo record of what they discovered on their travels.

singer-closeup

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A Perfect Day at the Beaches with Boats, Umbrellas and Gliders

sailboats-and-mt-baker

It’s been rather hectic around here and I’ve gotten a bit behind with my posts. But I just had to share a rather perfect day we spent just a short while ago. We’d decided at the outset to have a whole day of it. A Holiday in our little Tourist Town so to speak. Bill and I never take holidays, you know the structured ones where you pack up and go away for two or more weeks. No, we stay here in our holiday destination, where we happen to live anyway and spread our two weeks vacation out over each week end of the summer. Works for us. The itinerary was simplicity itself. Go garage sailing of course, goes without saying. Then carry on to whatever beaches and enjoy, enjoy.

The first beach we chose was Willows Beach in Oak Bay. The day was blue and white, blue ocean, white sails, blue skies and off in the distance a white capped Mt Baker.

But there was more color, in the umbrellas. The one was an old one we picked up ages ago at where else, a garage sale. I love the look of the fade on the fabric, it looks like a photo print.

two-umbrellas

The beach to the left…

beach-to-left

And the beach to the right, not too busy, not too lonely, just a happy vibe in the sunshine…

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and a perfect spot for sitting, a driftwood plank.

sitting-on-a-drifwood-plank

Then on we went to Clover Point. To see the Para gliders. Two aloft, enjoying the breeze.

2-paragliders-up

Here a few jockeying for position to take off…

4-gliders

Well you knew that was going to happen didn’t you?

paraglider-crash

And then to round out the perfect day perfectly, we stopped at Beacon Bills to get a soft ice cream cone dipped in Chocolate. Ah bliss.

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Garage Sale Loot, A Russian Tall Ship and a Real Find – Paxton Chadwick’s Illustrations

dog-garage-sale-sign

Last Saturday, unlike my last entry, was the most perfect summer day ever, sunny, warm and just generally full of promise. A good day for garage sailing.

I always have this little superstition that you must find something at the first sale or it won’t be a good day. OK I made up that superstition myself but it often proves true. Garage sailing, as I’m fond of saying is a lot like fishing, sometimes you catch something, and sometimes no luck at all. If we don’t find much I just pocket that weeks garage sale allotment and save it for the next week. The first stop yielded three big pots of plants for the garden at $1 a pot! Now that’s a good start. And we were off to find even more good loot.

And speaking of fishing we found these colorful lures, which will make a nice present for Eric and Scarlette, the avid fishers of the family. Personally, I just like the colors.

lures

How do you like the Garage Sale sign at the top of today’s post? Oddly enough this sign was for a garage sale to raise funds for a group that rescues street cats. Anything to do with cats is something I’ll support and I found a lovely Cat bag and a book of Cats in Art cards. That’ll make a lovely gift for some cat lover don’t you think?

cat-bag

We found a garage sale given by a fellow who claimed that he “used to go garage sale-ing”. How is it possible to be a former garage sailor? I can’t imagine stopping. It’s hard enough to wait for spring and the season for it.

Like a true bargain hunter he had picked up these wooden rings from a friend who was closing up a shop. No idea what they were for… we all guessed for macramé. But they were so lovely that I had to take a couple of photos.

blue-yellow-rings

yellow-grn-rings

And also a pic of this ornament, which I suppose is supposed to be a Sword Fish. But just a pic, didn’t buy it. I’ve been trying to leave something for others, you know.

dolphin

Then as we drove on to James Bay by way of the Harbour we spied sitting moored a HUGE three masted tall ship. So of course, we had to go and check it out. Turns out it was a Russian Training ship in port just for a few days. They were giving free tours to anyone who wanted to check it out. It was called the Pallada. I’ve left the cars in the photo just so you can get an idea of the size of this ship.

Pallado Russian Tall ship

In James Bay we found a few more treasures. This little arrangement of garage sale loot shows the vintage colored dominoes I found. We played Dominoes later that night and I must admit Bill won 4 times in a row. A rematch is imminent. Plus I found a glass cream and sugar set, which reminded me of my childhood for some reason. The birds were from the same sale as the dolphin pictured earlier and may feature someday in a mosaic. The cat card is from the book of Cats in Art cards found earlier. This is my fave card in the bunch.

cat-card-dominoes

Also found these cement pillars which will end up mosaic-ed soon, I hope and become rather nice plant pot stands.
cement-pilars

To get an idea, here’s what happened to a chimney we did years ago.
mosaic-chimney
And yet another little arrangement of treasures. The bedside table will I think get redone and painted, but I’ll leave the drawer which has the greatest texture. We had to snap up these vintage lamps and clock too. Bill is planning to rewire the clock. He loves these old clocks and this one has a most lovely shape.

tablelamps-clock

In Fairfield, I had to snap these colorful buckets of flowers. This store has always been here, a spot I always slowed down to enjoy when walking home years ago when we lived in this area .

flower-stand

But now, for the best, which I have saved for last. For those of you who already know of Paxton Chadwick, this won’t be a surprise. You may enjoy reading a bit more about him, since not only was he a very talented illustrator but oddly enough a Communist in England. What I found out about him could only be found on Communist or Labour blogs.  I’d never heard of him before, but when I found this little beat up book illustrated by him I was enchanted. They have the look of printmaking to them, almost wood block. The detail is fantastic and the colors, well, just enjoy. Now I’ll have to find other books done by him for Penguin Books in England so many years ago. This book was published in 1952. So I leave you enjoy just a few of these fabulous illustrations. I did find a few more illustrations here on Google images. And all this enjoyment for only 50 cents!

pond-life-scan

frog-left-page

frog-right-page1

dragonflies-yellow

divng-beetles-on-purple

moorhen-and-cody

water-vole

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Fog, An Old Chinese Cemetery, Art, a Chevy Truck? An Odd little Visual Tour of Last Saturday

stones-closer

You may wonder at my header of beautifully worn grave stones in the mist.  But it’s all part of our day last Saturday.

It started with the rain bucketing down Saturday morning when first we woke up.  But by the time we were ready to go out and do some garage sailing it had let up considerably. Anyway, a little rain wasn’t going to stop us. I love rain here, love the smell, love the cool, love the moist moist air. And fog is like the icing on the cake for me. LOVE fog. And oh, the sound of fog horns….

And our first stop after a few lucky finds at a garage sale, was to take a little coffee and muffin break while enjoying the silence and mist over the Chinese Cemetery as the fog curled in from the water.

pillars

chinese-graveyard

Then on again to find more treasures and a quick stop at the Oak Bay Library. Little hint, libraries here have the nicest washrooms when you are out and about, garage sailing. And I can never resist checking out the magazines and books that my two usual libraries don’t carry. In the parking lot we admired an old Chevy truck and particularly noticed the attention to detail on the carefully painted wheel covers.

chevy-truck

wheel

We picked up a quick lunch at a local Grocery store deli, salads, buns and a sweet (too sweet it turned out) desert. Then enjoyed a leasurely lunch while parked overlooking the ocean. We ended our day with a long trek up Moss Street. It was the day of the Moss Street Paint In. Even on a gray day that had started with rain, it was packed. It usually draws over 35000 people! Not to mention showcasing over 150 wonderful artists. This is my attempt at giving a feeling of the crowds, but go to the Moss Street images for more of the crowds and the art.

top-shot-crowd

low-shot-crowd

Part way up the street is the Moss Street Market and Bill took this lovely shot of the some veggies, gorgeous, even the veggies are artful today!

purple-tops

Then, as we headed, footsore, back to the car, we were drawn to these exuberant Peonies!
pink-peony

And what I think may be Calendulas.

calendula

A glance at the still overcast sky brought us this beautiful scene of rain falling in the distance. All in all, a full and enjoyable day. All of today’s photos were done by Bill, gotta give credit where it’s due, he does take a great photo!

rain-on-the-horizon

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Off to See the Flutterbys At the Victoria Butterfly Gardens

hibiscus

Near the end of May, our son Paul, along with his lovely wife Olya, and our one and only grandchild, Andrew, flew into our little town for a short visit, very short. It was a whirlwind visit but fun. We built a sand castle at the beach with Andrew. We followed Andrew around like the doting grandparents that we are, as he petted goats and tried to catch renegade chickens at the petting zoo at Beacon Hill Park. All of this had to fit in around nap times and supper get togethers with the rest of the family. On the way to the airport to go home again, they decided to squeeze in one last thing, one last fun experience for Andrew. And it was a good one too!

The Victoria Butterfly Gardens had always been on our “to do ” list but we’d never gotten around to it. Paul and Olya had been before and couldn’t wait to show Andrew. It was fun watching a two year old react to butterflies fluttering around him.  We thoroughly enjoyed every second. But we had to hurry through, checking watches for the time, you have to get to airports so early nowadays, what with all the security checks . So, after saying sad goodbyes and lots of kisses for Andrew, we saw them off back home.

Well, we thought, might as well go back to the Butterfly Gardens since it was on the way home for us anyway. Luckily, they do stamp your hand at the entry and you can go back and enjoy for the rest of day. So back we went to enjoy a more leisurely visit to the gardens. If you don’t know it, it’s on the way to Butchart Gardens. Can’t miss it.

The first thing that hits you as you go into the gardens is the warm moist air. It’s a lovely tropical feeling and my sinuses loved it! The Hibiscus at the top of this post is just one of the gorgeous flowers in this little jungle, alive with sound of parrots and falling water.

Right at the entrance in a glassed in enclosure, is where Butterflies of all kinds come out of their cocoons, unfurling their wings and drying before being set free to fly.
This Zebra butterfly really caught my eye, so much like a batik. As an artist I really have to bow to Mother Nature. She always gets it right!

zebra-bttrfly

In a box in the entry we found what may have been a Monarch getting ready for flight. At the time I thought it was one butterfly with an orange pattern on one side and a blue green pattern on the top side as camoflage. Not really sure.

Maybe monarch, maybe not

You do get a sheet with pics of the butterflies so you can identify them. The list we had counted over 33 types. But I’m just giving you a few highlights. This is, after checking with my Butterfly identifier list, is a Golden Helicon. Such a lovely name too. Hope I got that right.

golden-helicon

On our way around the path we were approached by a little bird who insisted on pecking at our shoes and the bottoms of our jeans. He really liked Bill. Not remembering what he’s actually called, I’ve decided to call him the Peruvian Foot Pecker. He is apparently from Peru so that part’s right.

peruvian-foot-pecker

Next, I got lucky with this shot of two White Tree Nymphs.

white-tree-nymph

Perched on a cocoon was a huge moth, aptly named the Giant Atlas Moth. The sign said that he took over three years in the cocoon to morph into this gorgeous Moth only to live about five days. Now that’s just not right! What a rip off for the moth!

giant-atlas-moth

There’s so much more to see. If you go, prepare to spend some time. There is a waterfall, a pond and I’ve saved the silliest for last. The Flamingoes. This one stood squawking, with it’s neck straight, not a very appealing sounding squawk either . You must agree that he looks much more elegant and graceful in the next pose.

flamingo

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Dragon Alley and the Shadow Portraits

carving-bastion-sq

The garage sale season is pretty well over so, for the last two weekends, we’ve been giving ourselves little gallery tours. Interesting things happen when you do this, especially if you are artistically inclined. You start to really notice more around you. Looking at art recharges your creative batteries and we found ourselves taking in our surroundings with a bit more interest, a bit more spark.

For instance the lovely carving in the header was in Bastion Square and I honestly don’t believe I’d noticed it before.

Although our little tours took us all over Victoria downtown, Fort Street and Oak Bay Ave. today I’m just going to focus on a little corridor of live/work condos in Dragon Alley. Dragon Alley is in Chinatown, and on our way to Chinatown by way of Fan Tan Alley, we noticed this sign in the window of a coffee shop.

hippies-use-back-door

Now, we are a couple of old hippies ourselves and got quite a laugh out of this sign, obviously a collectible. But it made me pause when I think of how back in the 60’s and 70’s we were really into organic and all those values like fair trade.   We had such a hard time finding those kinds of products. And now, here they are, ubiquitous. I like to think that those hippie ideals are finally coming to fruition. Took a while but all the signs are here at last.

Ok, on with my little tour. The first thing you find when entering Dragon Alley from Fisgard St is Lyle Ink Gallery. It’s actually in the former dining room of the occupant’s condo. It’s tiny but full to bursting with exuberant art, most made by Lyle with a few pieces by a good artist from the 60’s, Roy Lichtenstein thrown in too.

gallery-lyle-ink

The architects who designed this space had the artistic sensitivity to keep the flavour and texture of the place. This wall created from rusty panels becomes an abstract art installation with it’s rusts and color and texture.

sheathing

The Alley is full of all sorts of little businesses, even a gift shop for dogs! Right next to it, we came upon this water feature wall in the space between two condos. Love the plantings and the quiet water falling into the pool below. But couldn’t help feeling that it really could have used one of our Summer House Studio cast stone sculptures. Maybe I should have dropped them a card…..

water-feature

You enter Dragon Alley through a long brick lined corridor between two buildings. You exit the same way. I had to catch this long view as we left the Alley.

alley-exit

Leaving the Alley, I just happened to look down as I crossed the street in the bright sunshine and really noticed my shadow. It sparked a little impromptu art photography. Bill and I quickly got into the fun of it, playing and creating portraits with our shadows. See what a little gallery hopping can do?  The last one is my favourite.

b-h-pondering

helen-gesture

red-pillar-with-b-h

I leave you with a few of the relatively new galleries, not in Dragon Alley, but all eclectic, experimental, and fun that we re-discovered and in one case, discovered for the first time. One is View Art Gallery on, you guessed it, View Street, also in a condo main floor. The other is Polychrome Fine Arts on Fort Street. And the last in Oak Bay, a photography gallery called Luz Gallery.  And thinking back to the Hippie sign in the window, maybe just my imagination, but all these galleries sort of bring to mind those “hippie” days so full of new ideas and new ways of thinking.

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