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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Censored Cigars

On the corner of Johnson and Store Streets just opposite The Swans Hotel is the Goodfellas Cigar Shop. All their windows are papered over with these signs in order to comply with the Tobacco Control Act, which limits the way tobacco products can be advertised, displayed and sold in British Columbia. The act also defines areas where smoking is prohibited. Smoking is essentially prohibited in all public indoor locations (restaurants, bars, stores, malls, office buildings, etc.) Generally, anyone who wants to smoke must go outside. What kind of restrictions on tobacco do you have in your country?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dead Arbutus

Even in death these gnarly arbutus trees are beautiful.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ducks, Ducks, Ducks....

The roads are clear enough now so that I was able to get out on my bike yesterday and take a quick spin down to Beacon Hill Park. Though most of the snow is gone the duck ponds are still frozen and the ducks are hanging out on the lawns. As soon as they saw me pull up they all came charging over and, while a duck or two is not very threatening, several hundred are a bit daunting. However, when they realized I was not a bread bearer they dispersed with querulous quacks.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Our snow is melting rapidly so before it goes, here's more snow on one of my favorite locations with some earlier shots below,

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Hope you're enjoying this holiday season as much as my granddaughter's young friend here. This photo pretty much sums up what I think is a good attitude to life in general. It was taken by my daughter, Fern Long, and I am grateful to her for letting me post it here so that we can all enjoy it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

More Westsong Walkway II

I almost forgot to post today so here's one from a walk to town I took a few days ago on the Westsong Walkway. We still have snow here but it's melting a little and is getting grungy and slushy now.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope on this day you are all with your loved ones and are at peace with yourself and the world. I have tried to get out and greet most of my regular visitors in the comments areas of their blogs but for those I have missed, you have my best wishes for a very Merry Christmas!

Anyone who knows anything about birds will please inform me what kind of ducks are in the photo. I'm guessing they are Common Mergansers....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow Light

Something I've never noticed before is how the light changes when it snows. This photo was taken around ten at night during quite a heavy snowfall. You can't see the flakes falling because of the long exposure (30 seconds) but what is remarkable is that one can see anything at all under heavy cloud at that time of night. Yet the yard was nearly as bright as if it were under moonlight. My only explanation is that it is the city lights reflecting off the low clouds and the snow as it is falling and also bouncing back off the white snow below. Whatever the reason, it's a lovely soft light.

The photo above is my back yard. Even in the photo below, taken shortly afterwards out front, the snow seems to soften the normally harsh street lighting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Life on the Canadian Riviera

Cold? Who says it's cold up here? We have palm trees. Do you have palm trees where it's cold? NO! And robins, those little red-breasted harbingers of warm weather. Take a look below. Can a robin be wrong? I guess not!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I've gone into hibernation. My daughter, Fern Long, provided the photo. And I'm depending on all you wonderfully creative and witty visitors to provide a caption. Go ahead, give it a shot.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


When winter's icy winds howl across the frozen wastes we may go for a long time without seeing our friends, but we always welcome with open arms any guests who pass our way....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dockside Green Totem Pole

Though we had more snow last night, today was another bright and sunny day so I went down and had a look at the nearby Dockside Green condominiums. I've written a little about this project here and here and it continues to be an interesting subject. In May of this year they erected the totem pole pictured above. It was carved by Charles Elliot, master carver of the Tsartlip Nation. In the photo below, newly erected Dockside Green buildings are in the background. The Galloping Goose Cycling Trail passes directly in front of this pole.

Friday, December 19, 2008


More snow last night and a busy day trying to fit some Christmas shopping in with work so here's another shot taken a few days ago from the Westsong Walkway, looking towards Westbay Marina in Esquimalt.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Westsong Walkway

While the Westsong Walkway skirts urban residential areas throughout its route, it nevertheless offers glimpses of what the shoreline must have been like before it became urbanized. Above, evergreen arbutus and ivy and the rusty red arbutus bark make a nice contrast against the snow. Below, a picnic table waits for spring.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


We've seen this before (see below) but it's a favorite view of mine, looking a little different from the last time I pictured it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

West Bay Marina

Lovely bright day today and the wind has finally died down so I was able to walk around and take some photos of the neighborhood. I crept and slid down to the Westsong Walkway and took this photo of the West Bay Marina in Esquimalt.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Clear and sunny today but still a wicked wind and below-freezing temperatures. Our snow is only a few inches deep but I wanted in this picture to show how the wind has been forming it into drifts like desert dunes. Below is a photo of the upper harbor taken from the Victoria West side of the Gorge. The large blue building on the left is the Value Village thrift store, from the back window of which I took this photo during the relatively balmy days of October.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More Snow

Well, I tried to get out today but didn't get much further than yesterday. It's cold enough to make the snow squeak and crunch when you walk through it. The picture looks peaceful but there's a wicked wind blowing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Well, it may not look like much but this is what is happening outside right now. And posting this mediocre photo is a triumph of sorts in that I suffered a computer crash yesterday afternoon that deprived me not only of access to the internet but also to all my photo files and processing software. However, as of this afternoon I have a new computer and some hope of recovering lost files and software from the old one, so I am enjoying the white stuff piling up out there and feeling cozy and busy inside. Tomorrow I'll get out there and take some real photos.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Café Bliss

About a week ago I mentioned that there were only two genuine vegetarian restaurants in Victoria. I didn't know about Café Bliss, which is not only vegetarian, but is vegan, organic and RAW. In short, you can't get any closer to natural eating without getting down on all fours and grazing. But it's not just natural, it's good. In that display case just next to friendly counter-person Tyler, on the left hand side of top shelf is a platter of Bliss Bars, one of which melted in my mouth. I washed it down with a jar of Mo's Morning Mocha, a delicious warm mixture of cold-pressed coffee, cacao, coconut, hemp, cinnamon, maca, and nut cream. Despite a rather gloomy black exterior, the inside of Café Bliss is beautifully bright and pleasant and I propose to return soon to sample more of the food. It's downtown, 556 Pandora Street, opposite Market Square and just up the street from the Swans Hotel.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Town That Time Forgot

Sometimes I look at pictures I take of Victoria and I feel like I'm in some kind of time warp. Here we are in the throbbing heart of Victoria's downtown and, if it weren't for the new model cars, the photo might have been taken in the 1950's. Anyway, here's a treat for all the red neon and classic movie marquee fans out there, Victoria's Odeon Cinema, built in 1946. Inside, of course, it's been transformed into seven little mini-theatres but outside it still looks just like movie houses all used to look. The Odeon Cinema is on Yates Street, between Douglas and Blanshard Streets. Odeon, for those interested in etymology, means "music hall."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Cathedral

Soaring skywards with its bold array of of coloured brick, stone and slate, St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Cathedral displays the confident spirituality that characterizes the best religious architecture of the High Victorian Gothic style. Designed in 1892 by Perrault and Mesnard of Montreal, St. Andrew's was inspired by the medieval cathedrals of Europe, whose emphatic verticality and picturesque asymmetry greatly appealed to the 19th-century Roman Catholic taste. The wall patterns, created by combining building materials of different colours, are a distinctive feature of the mature phase of the Gothic Revival style.
Thus states the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, and who am I to argue? This cathedral is right downtown, on the corner of Blanshard and View Streets and I hope I can show you the inside at some later date.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


...try this at home!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Well, yes, it looks pretty small from here but it's 1,317 times the size of this little rock we live on. That's Jupiter there, second bright blob on the right. The slightly brighter blob is Venus. Quite accidentally they are visible over the entrance to Victoria's Inner Harbor. All those lights on the left are Ogden Point seen from the Westsong Walkway. My fingers got so cold taking this photo for you I get to stay home tomorrow if I want and post something from the archives.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Old Buildings

I've posted a few pictures of restored heritage buildings in downtown Victoria and they are quite numerous. However, there are others like this one that have been derelict for years. I suspect the reasons are economic and as such are not likely to change in the near future. One can only hope that such buildings will last until they can be brought back to life profitably. Those pictured here are on Pandora Street on the opposite side of the street from Market Square.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ogden Point

Another rainy, gray day today so here's a slightly archival photo from a few days ago. This is Ogden Point Breakwater. The large gray building is the cruise ship terminal. I have no idea what they do in there since most cruise passengers only get off to look around for a few hours and then get back on the ship. Oh well, another of life's little mysteries.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Market Square

I mentioned in yesterday's post that Market Square deserves a post of its own. There's a bit of mystery attached to Market Square. Here's a venue that appears to have everything going for it. It's all 19th century heritage brick that has been well-restored and it's located right on the edge of the heaviest tourist track. Yet it is largely deserted with many of its retail spaces empty and few long-time tenants. One tenant (now moved elsewhere) confided in me that the rent was so high it was difficult to make any money. But I suspect the problem has more to do with Victoria's weather. There is a local mind-set that refuses to recognize that Victoria is a cold place and persists in wondering why people don't throng to outdoor venues in mid-winter. The malls are full because they are warm and well-lighted. Put a transparent roof on this place and warm it up a bit and I'll bet it would begin to attract people. As it is....

MKHansen asks in a comment on the above photo, "What did you do to this picture? - It looks almost like a painting." so I'll have to confess to doing a bit of post-processing with Photomatix HDR. While many people still don't like HDR processing, I become more enamored of it every day, though my use of it is still quite heavy-handed. To me, the HDR treated photo above looks more like what I was seeing when I took the photo than what traditional processing produces. In the (same) photo below, the left side is the normal digital output and while the right side has been processed with HDR. What I like about this is the way the HDR treatment rescues the blown-out highlights of the original and lightens the darker areas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Green Cuisine

There are only two genuinely vegetarian restaurants in Victoria, Green Cuisine and The Lotus Pond. I eat at both from time to time though I generally prefer Green Cuisine. I'll do a post on The Lotus Pond some day so today I'll just write a little about Green Cuisine. It's located in Market Square, in the heart of the oldest part of Victoria. (Market Square also deserves a post of its own - but later!) Green Cuisine serves a delicious cafeteria style selection of soups, salads and entrees. One selects what one wants and pays by weight. The food is what I would call eclectic fusion - vegetarian recipes from around the world, and some from out of this world - especially the desserts. It's hard to find good vegan desserts and the tofu mousses and cheesecakes here are simply beyond compare. I had lunch here today - a bowl of yam and garbanzo soup, a chunk of focaccia bread and a chocolate cheesecake. $5.90

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sunny Day

Today the clouds blew away and we had a bright and balmy afternoon so I went along to my favorite spot on Dallas Road and photographed the scene above (again! - you can see a November shot of the same place HERE.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ducklike Object Surprises Grumpy Blogger

I was grumping along today under these unremitting gray skies doing the "been there, done that" litany with occasional riffs of "same old, same old" and dropped down below the Westsong Walkway to see if could photograph some grass (I'm that desperate for green) and not the kind of grass you smoke but the kind you walk on. I was envisioning grass and rocks and ocean combined in a simple yet unique and profound shot that would somehow express the exact opposite of the boredom and mild despair creeping over me. The little plot of bright green I'd seen from a distance proved on closer examination to have recently been grazed by a flock of Canada Geese whose thickly scattered droppings caused a brief fit of cynical nodding and muttered curses. While scraping my shoes off with a handy bit of driftwood I heard a cascade of splashy plops along with some low grunting quack-like noises, and looked up to see a small flock of Hooded Mergansers dropping into the small bay just in front of me, looking as if they were just minted, fresh-made, so crisp and clean. I've never seen a Hooded Merganser before and I hope you enjoy the one above as much as I did.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Royal BC Museum

Diagonally opposite to the Crystal Gardens is the Royal BC Museum, pictured above. As well as an impressive collection of artifacts and displays, it also houses the Imax theatre. The BC Provincial Archives is also located on the same property.

On the satellite photo below, upper left is the Inner Harbor, lower left is the Legislative Assembly Buildings, bottom center (large white-roofed building) is the Royal BC Museum, right middle (large white roof) is the Crystal Gardens, large white roof top center/right is the Victoria Conference Centre. The dark area between the Conference Centre and the Inner Harbor is the Fairmont Empress Hotel. The orange letter "A" is very near where I was standing when I took the above photo. And yes, this will all be on the final exam so wake up now and read this again from the beginning while locating each feature carefully on the map.

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