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Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer '09

The Inner Harbour is always a magical place but I suspect it is even moreso're ten, and you have your own boat.....and can take your friends on a tour in the last golden light of a summer evening.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When Cars Had Hips...

...And Boobs......And real Hood Ornaments.Seen at the Ford & Friends Car Show and Picnic, July 2009.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crow - Dallas Road

It is easy in our cities to forget the larger natural environment that is our true home. Victoria is perhaps more blessed than many cities since most streets are tree-lined, and there are lots of small parks and plenty of avid gardeners, but I am always particularly pleased to see wild animals co-existing with us in urban settings since they remind us that we are not the only inhabitants of this planet. This crow seemed to be a little doubtful when I first approached him for a photo but then he settled down and provided me with the nice profile above.

Wikipedia has a good article about crows and how intelligent they are. And, not suprisingly, crows have their own website,, where you can learn about their language and culture.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Calliope? Tube Worm Colony?

No, these splendid brushed aluminum tubes are the air intakes on a hot rod seen at the recent Ford & Friends Car Show and Picnic in Saanich. The jaunty whimsicality of these intakes is an inspiration and reminds me that fine art is probably as often seen outside of galleries as within, though it may not be recognized as such. Most of the cars shown at Ford & Friends can easily be seen as beautifully rendered sculptures. They are finished with loving attention to detail. Their paint jobs glow and sparkle with colors of dreamlike richness. The superb micro-decor sense that marks their interiors is like haute couture combined with the jewelers' art. And they not only look good. The rumble and thrum of finely tuned engines heard through dual mufflers delights the ear. But the icing on the cake is that these babies move, and they move with the lazy grace and power of giant predators. Even a Rembrandt seems pretty flat by comparison.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hollyhocks and Honeybees

Here are two of my favorite symbols of the glorious heat and light of summer - a honeybee in a hollyhock flower. Compared to many cities in the northern hemisphere this year Victoria has had a very pleasant spring and summer. I hope this season is treating you well wherever you are.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saanich Peninsula

Victoria lies more or less at the southernmost tip of Vancouver island. The coast line thus spreads away to the northwest and northeast. The west coast of the island tends to be rocky and precipitous, beautiful but not as inviting to the agriculturist as the eastern flank, known as the Saanich Peninsula, pictured above. These are the pumpkin (or squash) fields of Mitchell's farm market where one can buy all sorts of fresh produce.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Songhees Point 2

Songhees Point is named for the Songhees Nation. During the early days of Victoria's history, the native peoples lived on the opposite side of the harbour from Fort Victoria. Now this area is occupied by an ever-increasing number of condominiums. The totems on Songhees Point as well as being objects of beauty in themselves also serve to remind us of the original inhabitants of this area and their rich culture.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Songhees Point 1

Songhees Point marks the beginning of the Westsong Walkway and is a splendid place to catch the last rays of the day lighting the Inner Harbour. The large ship on the right is the M. V. Coho, a car and passenger ferry that operates between Victoria and Port Angeles in Washington State.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


About 20 kilometers northeast of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula is the small seaside town of Sidney, a delightful place to spend an afternoon.Just offshore from Sidney lies Sidney Spit, accessible by ferry from the town of Sidney or by sailboat if you're lucky enough to have one in the family. Below is a video I shot of a sailing excursion we made out to Sidney Spit, starring my two granddaughters, Molly and Rosie.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


No Roman emperor ever had a steed so sleek, so powerful or so beautiful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fords & Friends Car Show and Picnic

While I am happy that the gasoline powered vehicle is on the way out, I am sad to see the demise of the car as an objet d'art. The age of the automobile surely produced some of America's most stunning artistic designs and time only improves most classic cars. Last weekend I attended the Fords & Friends Car show and Picnic out at the Saanich Historical Artifacts Society grounds and discovered that almost nothing photographs better than a bunch of beautifully restored and customized cars, especially those from the nineteen forties, fifties and sixties. Here's a taste - more to come.

Monday, July 20, 2009


In the summertime an incredible number of talented performers take to the streets of Victoria and provide passersby with a wide variety of entertainment. For many performers the streets are a place to fine-tune their performance abilities and may serve as a stepping stone to greater things. Unlike performers on the Inner Harbour Causeway, street performers are not required to audition.* Nevertheless, most of our street musicians are quite talented. But occasionally I come across a young performer who is exceptionally talented, such as the remarkable musician pictured here. He was playing with another guitarist on Government Street but I neglected to get their names. If you see him, you won't be disappointed if you stop and listen. In five years it will cost you a lot of money to hear this young man play.
(*This information comes thanks to an anonymous commenter who kindly corrected some misinformation in the original post.)
UPDATE: I was lucky enough to catch him again the day after I wrote the above. His name is Quinn Bachand. You can hear Quinn and his fiddle-playing sister Qristina on their CD, called "Relative Minors."
Quinn and his sister are online at and on myspace. Lots of videos can be seen on their YouTube Channel, TheBachands.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Sleepers 2

Like most cities, Victoria has homeless people. This person is catching a bit of shut-eye on the lawn above Ship Point on the Inner Harbour.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer Sleepers 1

The Inner Harbour Causeway in summer is such a vibrant, busy place that I am never tempted to sleep there. This man, however, seems to find it a good place for a snooze.

Friday, July 17, 2009


A proper Italian Garden must have statuary and Hatley Castle's Italian Garden is no exception. There are several near life size statues amongst the flower beds and this one is particularly striking because of the white added around the eyes. On closer examination one can see that some teeth have been painted in as well, giving the appearance of a charming overbite. (I have a secret fondness for non-PC teeth, and no tolerance at all for the current obsession with ensuring that children's teeth have the mathematical precision of piano keys). I think this statue may be one of the three graces. There are at least two other similar statues in the garden.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Red at Hatley Castle

Here's one of the reds from Hatley Castle's Italian Garden. It's really a riot of blooms and the colours are only a part of the experience - there are some wonderful scents and sounds. And there are other things to see as well - check back tomorrow for a bit of an overbite....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blues at Hatley Castle

More flowers and a busy bumblebee from the Italian Garden at Hatley Castle.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yellow and White at Hatley Park

Yesterday I promised a bouquet from Hatley Castle Gardens and I thought we'd start with some yellow and white. These were photographed in the Italian Garden.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hatley Castle

Yesterday's photo of the doorbell was taken at the main entrance to Hatley Castle, a photo of which was posted HERE last year. The view above is from the gardens on the other side of the castle that faces the ocean. Hatley Castle was designed by Samuel MacLure. The Dunsmuir family lived in it from 1908 to 1937. I have yet to visit the interior of the castle and intend to go back another day. I always get sidetracked by the splendid gardens. There is the Italian Garden, the Rose Garden, the Bog Garden, and an extensive Japanese Garden, all immaculately cared for and blooming in rampant profusion - we'll have flower photos here for the next few days. Click HERE to visit the Hatley Castle website.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Castle Doorbell

In the spring we had a look at some of the rooms at Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. It was built by pioneer coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. One of his sons later became premier of this province and built Hatley Castle in nearby Colwood. I spent the morning today out at Hatley Castle and its gardens. To the right is a photo of the doorbell to the castle. It makes me think that one of the pleasures of being rich must be that even the details of your surroundings can be unique pieces of art and that something as mundane as a doorbell can be a thing of beauty. I'll post more photos of this castle and its gardens over the next few days.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dizi and Erhu

The gentleman above is named John Gao. He plays the dizi and the erhu. The dizi is a flute and the erhu is the Chinese two-stringed violin. John is a professional musician and expert on traditional Chinese music and draws haunting melodies from these two ancient Chinese instruments. If you're lucky enough to catch him performing on the Inner Harbour Causeway, slow down, stop, and tune in to sounds and rhythms that have been enchanting listeners for a thousand years.
You can find out more about the erhu and its history by clicking HERE.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Woolly Mammoth

The hands above belong to James Morrow. James is crafting another of his fine pieces of jewelry from genuine woolly mammoth tusks. James obtains the tusks from the northern areas where the mammoths roamed up to about 10,000 years ago. Climate change at the end of the last ice age is thought to have caused their extinction and tusks are often recovered from the tundra, especially during gold mining operations when they are found clogging up the jaws of the mining machines. Occasionally entire frozen specimens have been found with much of the flesh preserved and scientists are busily decoding the DNA of these recently extinct creatures. Wikipedia has a very interesting article on the woolly mammoth. Their tusks, like those of modern elephants, are made from ivory, a very hard and durable substance. When shaped and polished as in the picture above its creamy color and delicate grain are beautiful. James carves designs into the pieces and inlays semi-precious stones and gold to produce unique and beautiful jewelry. The ring on his finger is a fine example of his work. More can be seen and purchased on the Inner Harbour Causeway. Just look for the Woolly Mammoth sign. You can find out more about James and woolly mammoths and also see many examples of his work on his website, by clicking here.

*In order to protect and preserve elephants, their ivory is a prohibited material and it is illegal to buy or sell it. However, since woolly mammoths are already extinct and their remains are not needed for scientific purposes, items made from woolly mammoth tusks are completely legal and are not prohibited by any national or international agreements or treaties.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Westsong Walkway

Rainy, gray days lately so I've been catching up on housework and looking a little more closely at photos I've taken over the last few weeks. This is one from a short stroll I took down the Westsong Walkway, which provides a different beautiful view with nearly every step.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rabbit U

Idyllic woodland scene?

No, this is actually on the campus of my old alma mater, the University of Victoria, on the lawn beside the administration building. Though these bunnies are controversial I think they add a very pleasant quality to the rabbitless campus I left about 25 years ago. Not everybody agrees and there is an ongoing controversy about how to deal with the large (and growing) population of bunnies. There are not just a few - there are hundreds. They are all over the place and are spreading into nearby residential districts. It's an interesting problem that increased empathy and protection for wildlife is likely to make more common in the coming years. As well as the damage the rabbits do to the grounds and gardens (not actually very noticeable) there is some concern that the large numbers will attract cougars from nearby wilderness areas. Here's an article from the New York Times that discusses the situation in a little more depth.
And click here to read what the University has to say about these furry campus residents.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Camosun College

The greater Victoria area is home to a number of post-secondary educational institutions. Pictured above is the Young Building on the Lansdowne Campus of Camosun College. The Young Building and its distinctive Italianate clock tower date from 1913. It was originally built as the Normal School for training teachers and was incorporated into Camosun College when the latter was founded in 1971.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Apocalyptic Putting

In addition to a cricket oval and a lawn bowling green Beacon Hill Park also has a small putting green, pictured here beneath a forbidding sky. The putting green surrounds a statue of poet Robert Burns, thus presenting two of Scotland's gifts to the world in one place. There are no references in Burns' poetry to golf but, from the Robert Burns Club of Milwaukee, we do have the following verse.
Address to the Golf Ball
by Seiichiro Otsuka

Great Mischieftain o' the human race,
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's you traivel straight.
Ye aim tae reach that distant hill
Nae bother tae play wi' skylark shrill.
The dinky dimples o' your saucy face
Should stay awa safe frae ills o' life,
The whins, waters, traps an' trail
That lie between us and our holy grail.
Ay ye sleekit, tyrannous, drunken beastie, gae straight!
Why the hell do ye gae left and richt?
Now don't squat there deep drowned in bunker
Like a stupid fried egg in stinker.
Poor devil, I'll gie ye one last chance
Tae be my trusty, couthy crony.
If ye wish tae prove yersel worthy o' my gratefu' prayer
For once, gae straight and get in there.
Amen, and grant me a day sae groovy
And a glorious-ever bonnie burdie.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


While I've not done any rigorous content analysis of bird images posted online, I'm guessing that the most photographed birds are ducks. One reason is that, in North America, they occupy ponds in most parks and they are not particularly camera shy. But I suspect an even greater reason for their popularity is that they always seem to be smiling. Even a duck that might be considered homely like this Muscovy, wears such a pleasant expression on its face that it's a pleasure to look at. Makes me think I'll have to remember to smile more often.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Selkirk Waters

This view is from the eastern bank of the Gorge looking towards the city and the Inner Harbour. Beyond the Bay Street or Point Ellice Bridge can be seen the condo development known as Dockside Green. The brightly colored condos on the right are called the Railyards.

Today is the annual national holiday of our southern neighbors in the United States of America and I send them my best wishes for a happy holiday.