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


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.


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.


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 )


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.


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.



The Japanese Shirt that Inspired a Little Flurry of Pillow Making


The thing with shopping at garage sales is that A. you never know what you will find and B. you never know where what you find will lead you.
I like to call it creative shopping.

This summer I snapped up a lovely pillow with a Japanese theme of a pagoda and a scooter. A few months later I found this shirt, full of lovely geishas.


Now it just so happens that I have a little collection of Japanese fans, that grace the mosaic I created of Birds and Geishas, that I posted about last year.



A few years ago I’d created another Japanese themed mosaic that also resides in our bedroom. I titled it my Marriage Mosaic. Just to quickly explain, it turned out that after I had put this little tableau together, I found out that, in Japan, the pair of geese or ducks are symbolic of a long marriage. And although I am nothing like the shy little bride on my mosaic, I love the idea that this little mosaic symbolized our long marriage.


Now it also just happened that, being someone who hardly ever throws anything out, I still had a few shirts stashed from our holiday in Hawaii that I’d found at garage sales there. All with Japanese themes and all just waiting to be recycled.


All that was needed was to play with the material and come up with some pieced fabric designs. Almost  like making a mosaic but with fabric. A little trick I like to use when making pillows from old shirts is to use the button front as part of the design. Much easier to undo buttons and insert the pillow than to have to sew in a zipper.



Also a good way to recycle most of the whole shirt, buttons and all. But just a word about my kind of sewing, it’s pretty fast and loose, I cut things out by eye, not one for measuring much. In fact, I just piece things together til I like the look and then cut it all to size.

Of course, I couldn’t stop at just one. This lovely shirt with its gorgeous picture of a Japanese fishing scene just had to become part of another little pillow.


And that’s it, pillow making is over for now. All the little scraps still left over will be saved for another day and another inspiration. But there’s nothing like creating something new to look at and enjoy.


Garage Sale Travels


Another Saturday morning of garage sailing has come and gone. We had a good morning, found a few things that will be useful for very little money. Things like a new wicker hamper for the bathroom, never used for $2. And some shelving perfect for drying and curing sculpture in the sculpture studio for just $4.  We love to find bargains but  we’re really out to enjoy ourselves too.  As we drive around looking for next sale, enjoying the sun, glimpsing lovely front gardens, we enjoy listening to whatever tape we’ve found at some garage sale.  Today we sang along with Cat Stevens and songs of the “Tea for the Tillerman”album.

Sometimes you come across things that are a bit different, not always necessarily useful and you get a bit of history to go with your purchases.

Like the post cards we bought from a fellow with a couple of tables set up on the street corner in James Bay. The seller, an older man, told us they had been his late sister’s cards, who had traveled a lot in her day and collected post cards of the places she’d been or just whatever caught her fancy.
The odd ones at the top of today’s post, were a happy find, which we may use in a collage or even send to a friend for fun.

Or like the post cards of these colorful sunsets from Firenze in Italy..

Gazing over the seller’s shoulders we noticed this very bountiful community garden.


But what really drew our attention was this little softly-rounded straw bale shed  topped with a roof garden sprouting grasses and succulents.  We wandered over  to admire it and the roses…

Which brings me indirectly to my next photos. But first let me tell you about why I have been inspired to present the following photos as diptychs.

For the past many months, each week I have been waiting for the next installment of blog from Australia. Louise, a very talented photographer features another suburb in a colorful photo journal of the over 600 suburbs of Sydney. Her goal is to present 52 suburbs.  What makes her posts so special?  Why do so many followers check every week for her latest photo journals?   Well, I’d say it is her unique way of presenting photos in pairs, sometimes connected by color, sometimes by content or sometimes by similarities in curve or line. Go and see it, spend a little time, you don’t have to know Sydney to appreciate her amazing photos.  I’d hoped to introduce Louise’s blog by doing a little photo journal of my own neighbourhood.  But I found what Louise does much more difficult than it looks. So instead I’ve just taken a page from her diptychs and tried to emulate what she does.
So these next photos displays are my little tribute to Louise’s blog. My attempt at making those connections.
Like the Paint by Numbers of roses done by the next sellers Mom, now in her 80’s. And the roses in the community garden.

Or the colors in a pair of flamingos in a porch window (ok they do look a bit amourous) and the colors of a box of fishing lures at another sale.

Which brings me to my last little pairing of today’s bounty – an old kettle, soon to be a home for a trailing plant, some heirloom squash plants found at the Moss Street Market, the old muffin tin which I hope to make into planters for Hen and Chicks. But then I decided to clean up that old kettle, and somehow it’s just a bit too brilliant now. But I’ll leave it outside, and soon it’ll lose it’s shine and fit in nicely with the old grate in the herb garden.



Looking for Plant Sales and Other Treasures


Saturday found us getting up late and dithering about whether or not the weather would hold out for garage sailing. But I found an ad for a plant sale or two so off we went. And you really couldn’t miss this sign.


And although I loved the way they’d planted things up in these lovely red cups, we didn’t find anything we really needed at this one. Although we did spend a few minutes trying to justify a couple of things.

But that’s not to say we didn’t find anything. I found these Cleome starts at a flea market later


and Bill found this Firetail at another sale. Ok it had a latin name on the tag too but I can’t make it out. The bloom is a sort of thistle like flower in magenta.


As you can see, Bill has been very efficient and planted his find already, right next to the Cardoon. I, on the other hand haven’t got around to quite a few things that need planting. But I will, I will…..


Couldn’t resist a photo of the seller’s cat sitting in the sunlight.

The next garage sale was overlooking the ocean on Dallas Road and I had to catch a photo of the very ocean flavoured fence of driftwood. I might borrow this idea, I like it so much.


Then, as we made our way to another sale we passed Beacon Hill Park and practically screeched to a stop for this photo. Lovely, isn’t it?


Here’s a close up to see what produced this car stopping scene.


Then on to have lunch in front of this pond where we could enjoy not only the view of the pond with it’s geese but a glimpse of the ocean beyond.


The find for the day were these pillows, especially this one with the Japanese scene. Love it and I may even have to totally redo the decor in the living room to accommodate it. There was another good find but I’ll have to keep it secret for now, it’s going to be birthday present for Hart and I don’t want him to see it yet.



The End of Garage Sailing Season

Today, after checking the paper for garage sale ads and noticing so little out there, we have not gone out garage sailing. We’ve decided what is there is so far apart that it would waste gas, so it looks like last week was our last outing. And last week we went all over and spent a dollar, just a dollar. Got 5 CDs but found nothing else we could really use.

So today as a little wrap up, I thought I’d show the sights, the fun stuff, we’ve enjoyed along the way to sales. Because part of the fun of cruising around looking for garage sales is the stuff you run into along the way.

This is something we spied, drove past and backed up again to see it. OK we’re old hippies and here was this van, that just expressed those days. It was flower painted, a VW van known as Hippie haulers in those days, but the bumper had such a fun message. Had to get a photo.

Our flash-backs are all natural
Our flash-backs are all natural

Then one morning we came across this veggie garden out in the street, on the boulevard, in the front yard. Something that’s becoming a trend is growing your own food and getting rid of front lawns. Whoever grew this certainly had green thumbs. Everything was just totally and abundantly sprawling almost over the curb!

Potatoes and squash sprawling over the curb
Potatoes and squash sprawling over the curb
front yard veggie abundance
front yard veggie abundance

Now, we’ve always had a thing about Jaguars, the cars that is, especially the one that Morse drove in the Inspector Morse Mysteries. There is just something about a Jag, the old ones especially.

Look at all those curves
Look at all those curves

They have a beautiful design to them, lots of curves, and to us, they just suit having people in them. That’s something to notice, whether a car actually looks good with a human in it. So many new cars don’t, people look proportionately wrong or squashed or maybe the car looks so aerodynamic that you only notice that. Anyway, we came across the Jag Show in Oak Bay one afternoon.

Not quite
Not quite

We tried to make our little Subaru look like a Jag one morning this summer but these were the real thing.

Just dreaming
Just dreaming

That’s Will with his choice. I guess, as artists, we are just attracted to this car that is itself a work of art, right down to the hood ornament.

Sculpted right down to the hood ornament
Sculpted right down to the hood ornament

All summer we’ve tried to take in Jazz in the Park. Often during intermission we wander around Beacon Hill Park taking in the sights. Now what is it about a duck with it’s bottom pointing up as it looks for food underwater that I just can’t resist taking a photo?

Upturned duck
Upturned duck

And this photo, of the trees, just behind the bandshell, brought to mind Emily Carr, an eccentric, now finally famous, local artist and writer.

Emily's trees
Emily’s trees

If you’ve never heard of her, you must look her up. She’s been an inspiration to me most of my life. I love all of her work but the trees she painted are my favourites. Just looking at these trees you can see how she felt moved to capture the flow, the strength and beauty of these coastal trees.

So that’s it, a hodge podge of our little travels. The garage sailing season is over and that time will now be spent on other things, like work in the studio on mosaics or work on sculpture. Or maybe finishing up projects started and forgotten over the summer. An end to one season and the start of another.


The Creeping Jaguar, Jazz, Brides and a Crimson Dragonfly

Saturday was one of those days that dawns with cloudless blue skies, warm breezes and the whole day ahead of us to enjoy. We had our cereal on the deck while surveying our wild garden. Just a couple of days before a hummingbird had come right up on the deck to drink nectar from a flowering succulent right before our eyes, oblivious of our presence. I had to take a memory shot, hoping to keep this forever in my memory, since as is usual when something like this happens, no camera at hand.

The day was planned, garage sailing in the morning and Jazz in the Park in the afternoon and maybe a little gardening as the top off at the end of the day.
Garage sailing started off well. Free stuff! Got a nice big basket to hide an ugly plant pot in the green house that houses what I like to call the Avocadon’t, an avocado plant grown froma sprouted avocado pit that Will had rescued from the compost heap. It is now about 4 feet tall! No avocados though. Just this big hulking plant that requires lots of water.

Then on to Esquimalt to find more good stuff at other sales. On the way, while stopped at a little store, I spied this odd assembly in a window.

The goose ornament and it's rooster buddy
The goose ornament and it’s rooster buddy

A large goose ornament almost tipping out of the window, seemed to be enjoying the day, with a rooster inside next to it.

Odd graffiti in an odd spot
Odd graffiti in an odd spot

And on the wall outside, for some unknown reason, a graffiti artist had chosen this spot to do some work which was colorful and oddly funny.

Picked up our good friend Mary Lou whom I’d convinced to leave her work behind and enjoy some good garage sailing.

This garden may be even wilder than mine
This garden may be even wilder than mine

While waiting for her to join us I spied this rampant garden, which may be even wilder than mine, I think.

Our little Subaru always wanted to be a Jaguar
Our little Subaru always wanted to be a Jaguar

In James Bay we found this stealthy black jaguar ornament with plastic orange roses that got my kitsch radar going. Had to have it. Decided to give our car a little transformation. For a few moments it was a kitschy jaguar complete with hood ornament. Ah we’re flying high now.

Later, we scarfed down a quick deli lunch complete with Nanaimo bars for dessert (Hey only one calorie, ok one very big calorie) while listening to the great jazz of Paul Wainright and his group.

Paul Wainright and the band on Stage in the park
Paul Wainright and the band on Stage in the park

This Jazz in the Park is free and can be enjoyed every Saturday afternoon at the Beacon Hill Park Bandshell. We enjoyed this immensely last summer and never heard a band we didn’t like. If you live here or are visiting, you must check this out as well as other events.

The park seemed to be full of weddings. The band had apparently been asked to stop playing jazz for 15 minutes at a certain point so that wedding vows given near the bandshell would not be overwhelmed by the concert. Before this intermission they’d jokingly played the theme to ‘Mission Impossible”.

Strolling, while the band took their break,

A beautiful crimson dragonfly by the lagoon in Beacon Hill Park
A beautiful crimson dragonfly by the lagoon in Beacon Hill Park

we came upon this stunningly gorgeous crimson dragon fly. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Then hot and tired, we headed home, ostensibly to do some gardening, but decided instead to indulge in what those who live in hot countries do, siesta.

Sunday morning found us in the garden at last. It’s amazing how good you feel after a few hours of gardening on a cool morning. Doesn’t matter what is on your mind or what aches and pains you have, somehow being out in the garden, just makes you feel great, better than any antidepressant. All in all, a very, very good weekend!


Finding the Wonderful, Whimsical, Just Silly and Fun

Sometimes I think that garage sailing is the most fun when you find the unexpected, whimsical, odd or wonderful. As in odd juxtapositions of the beautiful and spiritual with the junk. For instance, we were out looking for good stuff and wandered into a flea market given by the Tai Chi society here in Victoria. And there, amongst all the dribs and drabs of goodies was this wonderful shrine.

A shrine amongst the dribs and drabs.
A shrine amongst the dribs and drabs.
The shrine without the distractions
The shrine without the distractions

It was beautiful, replete with offerings of fruit carefully piled up in bowls.

Another day, over in the Vic West area of Victoria, we found this rather whimsical and thought provoking and well, just silly front yard sculpture. A bike supposedly growing out of the rock? Or had it dissolved into the rock? Who knows but obviously someone was having some fun and having a creative moment.

A bike "set in stone".
A bike “set in stone”.


And I have to admit I rather liked this sign. I sometimes feel like my garden is an Experimental Dandelion Farm too. Too bad the sign wasn’t part of the garage sale offerings or I would have snapped it up.

Love this sign!
Love this sign!


As for fun, we always find that we just can’t ever pass up an opportunity to pet a dog. And this one has the facial expression down to an art.

Can you resist me?
Can you resist me?

Who can resist those ” pet me, pet me” eyes. Not us.


Making Space in the Garden

Last night it rained, a lot. I could hear it drumming on the greenhouse roof as I fell asleep. So, as every gardener knows the best time for weeding is right after a good rain. Those weeds just come out a lot easier. Well, ok, some of them did. Quite a few of them required a bit more effort having established themselves quite well. And for once, I made myself come in after an hour or so. It’s always easy to forget that you are not in shape yet and overdo it. Gotta get those weeding muscles in tune yet.

But first, even before I got started, I had to get some photos of the goodies that have come up and are doing great. I love our garden and am always in awe of the way it all seems to just pop up in the spring. We’ve got poppies already full of heavy buds. And the Cardoon is just motoring and will be a giant soon.

Our Cardoon (May 18)
Our Cardoon (May 14)
Mystery Plant?
Mystery Plant
Hellebore (Peeking out from behind it, a Native Bleeding Heart)
Hellebore (Peeking out from behind it, a Native Bleeding Heart)
My fave Hosta, which later becomes a beautiful blue.
My fave Hosta, which later becomes a beautiful blue.
And suddenly, a Solomon's Seal
And suddenly, a Solomon’s Seal

The dirt here in Victoria is so wonderful. Such a change from our gardens in the past in Calgary. Dirt in Calgary is dryer and harder and requires a lot of work. Sometimes I felt,  when a tulip would struggle up in that hard dirt, like I should just stand back and cheer. Here you have to actually cut things back. Which reminds me that we’ll have to check on the compost we worked so hard on last fall. Hopefully, it’s at the stage we like to call “black gold”.

Besides weeding I was really looking over the garden to find spaces. I need spaces for all the things I have to plant. We went a little wild at the Seedy Saturday back in February and got some veggie seeds like beets, parsnips, chard  (the pretty rainbow variety of course, I am an artist after all) and dill. And to top it off, last weekend, out garage sailing, I brought home starters for Acorn and Butternut Squash and Zucchini. Now to find some spots for them. So having weeded out a few areas I’ve found a bit of space but I fear that this weekend there will have to be a lot of moving around going on.

my handy Weed Wagon

Knee saver weeding stool
Knee saver weeding stool

You may be wondering why I have included this photo of my little green wheelbarrow. Now we’ve got a lot of wheelbarrows, we find them everywhere at garage sales and as giveaways. But this one is special. I just love this little thing. It’s got a wonderful shape and colour to it, sort of bright and friendly. It’s my favourite for weeding. It’s light and just is so easy to drag around after me as I weed. I found it, where else, garage sailing and snapped it up. And then there is the little stool, a freebie at a garage sale last summer. I’m finding it’s just right for sitting on as I weed, a real savior for my poor knees. Doesn’t take much to make me happy.