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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jammin' - Clay George and Dave Harris

When I strolled along the causeway from where I took yesterday's photos I found one man band Dave Harris jamming with Clay George on some folk and country tunes. Below is a sample of sunset sounds from Victoria.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunset on the Inner Harbour Causeway

Victoria is usually sunny and warm during the daytime in summer but evenings are generally cool enough to require a sweater or light jacket (unless you're a teenager). Nevertheless, every summer there are a few evenings when it's warm enough after sunset to tempt me out. Usually they occur in July or August but Saturday night was an exception. It was hot all day and the heat lingered on past sunset. In the above photo the Legislature is just catching the last rays of the setting sun. The photo below is the view with just a slight turn to the right. Victoria's hanging flower baskets are in peak performance mode.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

War Canoes

Just like we have a variety of motor vehicles to meet various needs, First Nations people who lived on our coast had different canoes for different purposes. We are probably more used to imagining the very large sea-going canoes that are often pictured rather than the slender, shallow draught dugouts pictured here. These are war canoes and were designed to carry warriors on raiding expeditions along the coast. The canoes used in ferrying families and households from one campsite to another were much larger. The war canoe race above took place on Saturday and was the first such event here for more than 100 years. The canoes are here pictured as they swept past Laurel Point in the Inner Harbour on the way to the race's end at Ship Point.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Against the Wall

A set-up that professional photographers often use is to show passersby against a wall and I began to see the value of this setting on Sunday when I was downtown for No-Car day (see yesterday's post). Fifty feet away in any direction were crowded streets or packed public spaces so the city hall wall pictured here seemed a haven of peace and tranquility.

Above: When did the two fingers behind the head (rabbit ears?) of the person next to you in the group photo become a thing? I don't remember doing this when I was a small boy. It would be interesting to find the earliest example of this in old photos.

Below: Here is one of those photos that I like though I don't know why.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Green Dream

This is Victoria's main thoroughfare, Douglas Street, as it was last Sunday. Note the City Hall on the left. The street itself was paved over with real grass and closed to vehicle traffic through most of the downtown. There were lots of food vendors, boutique booths and music, music, music.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Leucistic House Finch

In a cunning segue from yesterday's post today's feature is a leucistic House Finch. When I saw this white finch this morning I nearly fell off my perch. Usually the male of this species has lots of red feathers and the female is like the brown bird pictured to the right. Leucism is when all or part of an animal is white. It differs from albinism in that the eyes are normally colored, not pink or red as with albinos.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Above is a rather monolitihic study of a perennial Causeway performer, Plasterman. Usually he is in the midst of a gawking crowd such as on the left though sometimes people walk by without even noticing him. In any case his mix of mime and humor never fails to amaze and amuse.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

National Aboriginal Day

National Aboriginal Day (NAD) in Canada takes place on June 21. It is a special day to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis peoples in Canada. Here in Victoria the celebration was spread out over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Today's photos are of some of the younger performers in Saturday's program. The young fellow above is waiting his turn to go onstage. I neglected to get his name though I enjoyed his dance and his magnificent costume. The girl pictured below is Amber Wells who performed an amazingly intricate hoop dance. Look at how she's got those hoops arranged!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Alyssa Jean

A majority of the performers on the Inner Harbour Causeway appear year after year but every year there are some new faces as well. In order to obtain a license to perform on the Causeway musicians must first audition and satisfy the judges that they are able to provide professional entertainment. Each year the few open spots are much sought after and not easily won. Here is Alyssa Jean, one of this year's new faces. Alyssa also plays as a member of the group, Snow Owl. Visit their website.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Night Bloom

Summer evenings are magic in the garden. - Fern
p.s. Happy Father's Day to one really great guy, Benjamin Madison. xoxo

Saturday, June 20, 2015


The artworks pictured here are selections from a couple of walls of graffiti on Discovery Street here in downtown Victoria. Most of what is on the walls are what I think are called "tags" - text signatures so distorted as to be almost illegible, such as the one above. But here and there are representational works like those pictured below. I can understand the representational drawings below as "art" but "tags" leave me mystified. Artists traditionally sign their work but the signature is not considered to be artistic expression in itself. I suspect there is more to "tags" than a juvenile "Kilroy was here" ego statement or joy in calligraphy but I must confess to being suspicious of art that requires much intellectual support. Any ideas?

Friday, June 19, 2015


Here's another garden plant flowering profusely while it climbs our backyard fence. This is a variety of Passionflower. There are about 500 species of this plant with many versions of its extraordinary blossoms. The "Passion" in its name does not refer to physical attraction between people but rather to Christ's crucifixion. There's a good explanation for this at this link to Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


There are many different varieties of Clematis (about 300 species) but this is surely one of the most spectacular. These blooms are huge (about 6 inches across) and there's lots of them. These are blooming in our front yard.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Useful Owl

Everyone likes to have wild birds in the neighborhood but sometimes they can make messes where you don't want them, like on your balcony. Here's a nifty solution - a fake owl.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Here's another one from Saturday's Vic West Skateboard Competition that illustrates something else I always notice at these events: determination. In this trick you shoot off the top step while kicking the board so it flips around and will land at the bottom of the stairs right side up so you can land on it and roll away. It doesn't take much imagination to see that a lot of things can go wrong and when they do you are likely to end up smashing down on the cement. That's what happened to the little guy pictured above. But he just picked himself up, ran up the stairs and gave it another shot. And another. And another. So what you see in this shot is not perfect form or grace and skill but admirable determination and perseverance.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vic West Skateboard Competition

Last weekend the annual Vic West Skateboard Competition was held at the Vic West Skateboard Park. As usual it was, in current parlance, "awesome". I am always impressed by the wonderful skills of the participants and the dedication and focus they bring to their sport. Despite this intensity it's not a cutthroat competition like many sports these days. Here the overall ambience is mutual support. Everyone is trying his best and when someone performs really well everyone is happy. What's more remarkable is that the kids seem to have created this ethos themselves in what is essentially a fringe, neglected sport. Here's a few photos that may suggest a little of the grace and skill displayed by even the youngest participants.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


I have to admit these are not out of my own garden but they are local and they are delicious. Trully one of the tastes of summer. - Fern

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Indian Pipe

While I was concentrating on the forest floor to photograph the orchids pictured here recently I also noticed another favorite plant that doesn't mind the darkness beneath the big trees near Matheson Lake. This is an emerging clump of Indian Pipe, a fascinating plant that, like the orchids, has no chlorophyll and gets it nourishment from its relationship with a fungus.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Oak Bay Tea Party

At this time of year there is one or more major events every weekend. Last weekend was the annual Oak Bay Tea Party. I missed the parade this year but here's a taste of the midway at Willows Beach.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


While out at Matheson Lake Park on Saturday I was pleased to see some of our small local orchids blooming. I didn't realize until I got home and examined the photos more closely that I had been looking at two species of Coralroot, the one pictured above with a plain white lower lip and the one pictured to the left with a spotted lover lip.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Booth Shot Lincoln

Here's a duo worth listening to if you like that old timey music. Adam (left) and Larry provide some great pickin' and singing down on the Inner Harbour Causeway, another example of the wonderful variety of musical styles available there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Johnson Street Bridge Update

Here we can see the new bridge supports built right next to the old bridge. It's nice to see some progress on this though it will be another year before it is completed.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Matheson Lake

Victoria's ocean beaches are popular in the summer but many are rocky rather than sandy and even in summer's heat the Pacific is cold. Many local residents prefer to swim in one of the many small lakes that can be found in the greater Victoria area. Here's one I've been visiting lately in the Westshore community of Metchosin. It's called Matheson Lake and lies in the Matheson Lake Regional Park.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Somewhere in Metchosin

This lovely spot is where I would like to have my next picnic. It's somewhere off the Galloping Goose Trail on a little deer trail meandering through the brush. Quite a nice surprise to come apon it and rest a moment drinking in the view. - Fern

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Point Ellice House

This lovely Italianate house sits in a grove like an oasis on the edge of the Rock Bay Industrial neighborhood. It was formerly the residence of the O'Reilly family who built it in 1861 and lived in it for about 100 years. It is possible to tour the house. Many of the original furnishings are still in place as well as family dishes, cutlery and photos that give the house a very lived-in feel. Point Ellice House also serves teas such as being enjoyed by the ladies in the photo. A new restaurant, "O'Reilly's at Point Ellice", has recently opened on the grounds and when I've had a chance to dine there I'll let you know more.

Friday, June 5, 2015

English Ivy

English Ivy (Hedera helix) has established itself prominently along the West Bay Walkway and in many other areas. Although it grows vigorously it is not a native plant but an invasive species that came along with early settlers. While the flowers, leaves and berries are used by numerous animals and insects it is classed as a noxious weed because of the damage it does to native plants and trees, often toppling them by its weight alone.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Popsicles were actually invented by someone, a man named Frank Epperson. He claimed to have invented it in 1905 when he was 11 years old. The invention came about when he left a stick in a glass of soda outside overnight and found it frozen in the morning. He called it the Epsicle. His friends and later, his kids, loved it. They called it "pop's sicle" Later he patented the name "Popsicle" then sold the patent to a larger company. The Creamsicle being advertised on this old sign, a creamy vanilla center surrounded with orange flavored frozen juice, seems to have been a later development. My personal favorite as a small boy was another spinoff, the Fudgesicle, a chocolate version of the Creamsicle. One summer I remember that I considered my deep appreciation of the Fudgesicle as a primary part of my identity. There were boys who liked Popsicles and there were boys who liked Creamsicles but I was a boy who liked Fudgesicles. I also liked Jelly Donuts but that's another story.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bay Street Bridge and Point Ellice

Yesterday's photo was taken looking up the Gorge towards the northeast. Today's photo was taken in the opposite direction looking down the Gorge towards the Bay Street Bridge. Most of the buildings on the right beyond the bridge are the Dockside Green development. The treed area on the left is Point Ellice, where the O'Reilly house is located. It's a great spot to visit and we'll have a look at it sometime in the next few days.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Halkett Island

Local Native Peoples used small islands for burials. The one pictured above is now called Halkett Island. A plaque on the Selkirk Walkway reads as follows:
In 1850, the "Island of the Dead" contained subsurface burials, but was mostly covered with small sheds, burial boxes and canoes containing human remains. The deceased were often placed in a fetal position and wrapped in a cedar bark mat. Adults were placed in a European-made, metal trimmed trunk and children were often placed in wooden cracker boxes.

Life sized carved wooden memorial figures representing prominent individuals were a common feature of burial locations.

The Lekwungen people, from the old Songhees reserve across the water, came to the island at twilight for feeding of the dead ceremonies. Sticks with chunks of sap were thrown into a fire to keep it blazing until midnight. Ritual words and chanting proceeded, as food to feed the dead was thrown into the fire.

Burials were no longer placed here after 1867, when a fire set by three Victoria boys got out of control and burned off the island. The boys' parents were heavily fined under the Indian Graves Protection Act. The island was taken away from the Songhees in 1924 by a Federal Indian Reserve Commission, but was restored to them by court order in 1993.

Joseph Pemberton, Victoria's most prolific early map maker, gave the name Halkett to the island in 1851. The Halketts were a well known, prominent British Navy family at the time.

(From a plaque placed on the shoreline near Halkett Island by the City of Victoria)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Wasp in Thyme

The small flowers are on our backyard Thyme plant and though each blossom can't have more than the tiniest sip of nectar it must be very good judging by the large number bees, wasps and flies that constantly visit. The bees spend barely a second on each little flower and move from one to another without a pause. That explains why you're getting a photo of a wasp today - the wasps spend much more time on each flower and often stop to ponder (and pose). I guess they have no hungry friends waiting anxiously back at the hive like bees do.