Monday, December 29, 2014

(Un)Discovered

Sculpture 'Hide and Seek'
Ninja urban art!
Walking down Government Street one evening last week I was surprised to come across this sculpture. It appears as a tree growing from the sidewalk, its branches entwined around the adjacent lamppost.

Among the branches were plaques printed with a verse.

Amazingly, some research tells me that the sculpture has been there for FIVE YEARS! How I have never noticed it before now is a complete mystery.

The artist's name is Glenn Closson. The script is called 'Hide and Seek' and was written by Victoria's first Poet Laureate Carla Funk.

I'll have to take a closer look at this during daylight hours. The artist states that he has hidden an old English penny in the trunk of the tree.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Captain Cook's Christmas

Captain Cook sculpture at the Victoria inner harbour...
Too busy exploring to celebrate Christmas...
This sculpture of a stern-looking Captain Cook faces the Empress Hotel along Victoria's inner harbour.

He does not appear to be into the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ice Time

Victorians enjoying the ice rink in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC...
A rare chance to skate the real thing in Victoria...
Victorians are being treated to a rarity... authentic outdoor winter skating on a 60’ by 90’ covered rink, courtesy of the Empress Hotel.

In the past, local malls have periodically featured seasonal rinks where the 'ice' was a type of high tech plastic. The Empress is doing it old school with the real deal -- genuine ice.

It must be popular. This photo was taken on an otherwise slow downtown Monday night and there was a solid line up of people waiting to take their turn on the rink.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

One of the Christmas trees in the Empress' Festival of Trees...
One of the entries in The Festival of Trees...
Infused with strands of berries, this old-school decorated tree was my personal favourite of the many trees in the Empress' Festival of Trees.

However, aside from that tree, glance down to the fugly pattern of that carpet below it. This is the sort of the drab, dated details that I hope will disappear with the recently announced $30 million dollar face lift of the institute. I'm looking forward to it...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Griswald Delight

Massive Christmas tree in the foyer of the Empress Hotel...
Clark would be ecstatic!
Every holiday season in the lobby of our venerable Empress Hotel, this massive Christmas tree greets guests and visitors...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trucks on Parade

Victoria's Lighted Trucks Tour always falls on the weekend following the Santa Claus Parade. It's over pretty quickly... typically the trucks roll past in about ten to fifteen minutes.
This year it was a relatively warm night which brought out a lot of crowds. Despite all the 'ooh-ing' and 'aah-ing' from the crowd though Stump the dog seemed totally indifferent to it all.

Stump is less than enthused about the lights and music...
Stump endures the parade lights and music...



Friday, December 12, 2014

Sandra Davis-Callon

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
-- Dr. Seuss
I called her Mom...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Portrait of a Woman

Portrait of a woman in Value Village...
A life forgotten?
One of my guilty pleasures is trolling Value Village for castoffs. It's a great place for finding the odd... the unique... and sometimes the plain weird.

Recently, I was checking out the wall art section for funky frames or inspiring ideas when this sketched portrait jumped out at me. I think it was the compelling look in the eyes that drew me to it. Her enigmatic expression fascinated me. It was impossible to say for certain if she was serene, wistful, bored... but something about the set of her face also suggested anger or disappointment.

Studying it closer, I saw from the signature that it was done in 1983. Assuming the woman in the portrait was about forty-ish at the time, that would make her seventy-ish today.

If I was to guess, I would assume that she had recently died and the portrait was among the donated estate items. In a way, this discarded portrait in a thrift shop perfectly summarizes the ephemeral nature of our existence.

Angry, bored or ?
Who was she and whatever became of her?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Here Comes Santa Claus...

A Coca-Cola moment courtesy of the Victoria Christmas Parade...
SC looking like he freshly stepped out of a Coca-Cola ad...
Scenes from our recent Santa Claus parade. Unlike the rest of Canada, Victorians don't have to put up with they annoying snow during our parade.  ;)

The worst we might have to endure is cold rain. Fortunately, this year's parade was both snow-free and rain-free although temperatures were sub-zero

Getting into the spirit of Rudolpy...

Making moose eyes...
The moose has eyes... tiny, tiny eyes...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Tree

A giant Christmas tree overlooks Uptown Centre in Saanich, BC...
Christmas tree at Uptown Centre...
This is the bright Christmas tree that lights up the centre court of the nearby Uptown Centre for the next few weeks. It probably stands about fifty to sixty feet high.

Man, I would hate to be the person who has to dig out and untangle THAT strand of Christmas lights when they set it up.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Empress Alight

Christmas lights of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC...
The Empress Hotel dressed in her finest colours for Christmas.
Christmas is only a few weeks away. Victoria's landmarks are lit up in their traditional seasonal colours.

It was announced a month ago that the Empress will be undergoing a major renovation over the next two to three years. Part of that reno will see our long-outdated bus depot torn down and replaced with high end condos.

Some will disagree, but I'm looking forward to the changes as part of a massive overhaul of Victoria's harbour vistas.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Changing seasons

Two views of Little Qualicum Falls on Vancouver Island...
Same view, different seasons...
Looking through my photo archives recently, I came across two separate photos of Little Qualicum Falls which I've featured here and in my old blog several times.

I realized that I have never compared the summer flow with the winter flow though. Rectified! The falls in the summer are much more subdued compared to their winter flow rate.

In the summer local teenagers sometimes tempt fate by hopping over the protective fence to jump into the upper cauldron. Bad idea though... A memorial in place on the fence overlooking the cauldron has been in place for several years and is testament to the dangers that the falls pose even when they are at their low point.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sun's Journey

Morning sun highlights the mainland mountains of BC...
Morning...
Early morning sun above eventually gives way to the pink and orange hues of sunset below, changing the look and feel of the mountains visible from the balcony of our mid-island condo...

BC mainland mountains pink and orange with the setting sun...
... and evening...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ebony and Ivory

Birds of a feather, they ain't.
Birds of a feather, they ain't...
No harmony here, folks... just an opportunistic crow waiting for one slip of the beak by this gull who managed to snag a tasty bit of seafood from the Gorge Inlet behind them.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ladybug Ladybug

Ladybugs get amorous at Victoria Butterfly World.
Get a room, you two.
Seen recently at Butterfly World in Victoria...
Would this be considered an example of 'paradox'... or 'irony'?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Landlocked in Lantzville

A blue boat covered in green.
Blue boat, green trees...
Drive along the main drag through the barely-there community of Lantzville on Vancouver Island and you'll pass the 'drydocked' Benjamin Daniel peeking out from the trees growing over it and through it...

The official community motto of Lantzville is:
"Provide a high level of affordable services in an environmentally and economically sustainable fashion while managing growth of the Community and respecting the unique rural character and charm."
It sounds like a lofty mission statement until you realize that Lantzville only has a population of 4000 -- how hard could it be to 'manage growth'?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Elk Falls

Water spills over the Elk Falls near Campbell River.
Water surges and spills over Elk Falls.
Elk Falls are located just outside Campbell River, about 3 hours north-west of Victoria. Thanks to recent rains which flooded the upriver lake, BC Hydro decided to open the dam floodgates for a few weeks sending a deluge of water over the falls.

Lots of crowds came out to 'ooh' and 'aah' over the impressive vista...

Mist rolls off the water in the late afternoon.
The late-afternoon sun captures the mist over the water.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shadow leaves

The 'shadows' of leaves created on damp sidewalks...
the memory dims
like autumn leaves that fall and
fade into amber
On a sidewalk in Parksville, autumn leaves lie adrift next to the dye from previously fallen leaves producing a transient work of art...

Fall leaves leave an impression...
Nature and urban environment combine to create art...



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

To get home follow the... well, you know...
To get home, follow the... well, you know...
Is somebody in the Parksville planning department crushing on Judy Garland?

What to make of these unique street names in a Parksville suburb?

You gotta have heart, brains and courage to live here...
To live here, you need heart, brains and courage...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Artist Ursula Funke

The very accommodating Ursula Funke...
A carved gourde... one of Ursula's creations...
Catching up on my stock of photos, this one was taken in September at Parksville's P-Art-y on the Block event. Resort Drive at one end of town was closed to allow a huge number of local artists to demonstrate and sell their wares.

The talent on display was mindboggling. Every conceivable form of art was on display. What was surprising was how inexpensive everything was.

This is artist Ursula Funke -- I wanted to give her a special shoutout. She turns gourdes into art, carefully carving and shaving intricate patterns into them and then dying them a variety of colours.

We bought this particular gourd. It was priced at $55. We were digging around our pockets, purse and wallet for the cash, had $45 in hand and were still looking for the rest, when she graciously offered to take the lower amount instead.

Thank you, Ursula! Your dragonfly-themed creation now holds a place of honour on a top shelf in our living room.

To see more of Ursula's creations, you can check out her website.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rooftop hideaway

A cozy urban getaway...
A cozy urban oasis...
Walking down a flight of stairs in a downtown parkade, I noticed this little gathering place tucked away among the maze of rooftop ladders, aerials, skylights, vents and ducting.

It would be cozy to sit here sipping wine... listening to the ambience of the downtown nightlife three stories below you... until the bars let out and the fights and sirens started.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Love, Exciting and New...

The upper deck of the cruise ship...
Lounge chairs on parade...
The title of this post? That was the promise made every week in the 70s as Jack Jones crooned the theme from The Love Boat.

The reality of cruise ships is a lot less romantic.

These photos were taken several months ago. An acquaintance in the travel industry arranged for a group of us to tour this particular ship as part of a promotion.

My wife periodically tries to talk me into taking a cruise. Unfortunately, although this particular ship was beautiful to walk about, the tour simply confirmed all the reasons why I am NOT interested in a cruise.

A cruise ship is like staying at a fancy resort… one where you can only leave the resort for a few hours every few days. Once you subtract the gambling and the night shows there really isn’t a lot else to do except eat and lounge around the decks staring at an expanse of water that never or rarely changes.

During the familiarization briefing, I glanced around a sea of silver hair, glasses and hearing aids. At 56, I was probably the youngest person by a decade.

The tour allowed us to stroll around the ship at our leisure after an admittedly awesome lunch. That's where I came across this bundle of energy snoozing in the library, open book in his lap, head lolling gently on his chest...

Contain your excitement, sir!
Could things get anymore exciting around here?
To really get the testosterone flowing, this ship also offered a small mini-golf course at the fore end.

How to make golf even more boring...
I thought golf couldn't get more boring. I was wrong...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yes, you are...

Points for the message, no points for the artwork...
Uplifting message... shame about the artwork.
Seen along a local beach...

Sometimes we just need a periodic reminder.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chemainus

One of the murals at Chemainus, BC...
One of the murals at Chemainus, BC...
Recently I was in Chemainus to enjoy dinner and some theatre at the Chemainus Theatre. The play Over the River and Through the Woods was billed as a comedy. From the photos and ad copy I was expecting some sort of broad farce and wasn’t particularly enthused about it… but, hey, the tickets were free and the food is excellent.

The play was funny, but it balanced that with some drama and poignant monologues about growing up and growing old. The cast knocked it out of the park and earned a well-deserved standing oh.

Before the dinner and the play my wife and I walked about, admiring the newly repainted murals that put Chemainus on the map thirty years ago. No new ones that I could tell, but where previously they looked tired and faded, they now had a fresh zing to them.



One of the murals at Chemainus, BC...

One of the panoramic murals at Chemainus, BC...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fast versus slow

Background image:Vladimir Manyuhina

How do YOU prefer your zombies?

I grew up with the slow zombies of Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead and similar movies in which the creatures slowly shuffled after the living.

For me, the scare-factor came from the relentless nature of the monsters... Sure, you could outrun one or two of them individually, but eventually, through sheer numbers, they overwhelmed you, dragged you down and then SLOWLY started to gnaw on you.

Somewhere in the early-2000s with movies like 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead, zombies were re-invented as these sprinting creatures that took you down like a pack of wolves. Which is why fast zombies don't scare me so much... because there really isn't any difference between them and a pack of, say, crazed weasels.

Plus the science geek inside me wonders how zombies could run with muscles that are decaying and decomposing. Slow zombies are consistent with the idea that their muscles are atrophying and no longer function efficiently.

And with those thoughts... Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cabin

An apparition stares out of a lonely cabin...
What is that staring out of the window?
One of the staples of horror movies is the creepy cabin in the woods. There really is a horror movie called The Cabin in the Woods. There is also Cabin Fever. Going back a few decades there is The Evil Dead.

This particular deserted cabin is on the south shore of Woss Lake. Decades ago the forestry company that owns the land allowed parcels to be leased so that about fifteen small cabins could be built by leaseholders.

For the most part they sit empty, prey to the occasional squatter or critter. Some are in total disrepair and are slowly succumbing to the gloomy forest closing in on them.

Mechanized fossil...
Death of a car...
Around the back of this cabin, I discovered the remains of this car. I nearly missed it altogether beneath its blanket of leaves and branches.

It's a sobering reminder of how quickly evidence of our civilization will vanish when our species becomes extinct. I once saw a show on Discovery Channel that estimated it will take less than one thousand years for most of our buildings, monuments, and infrastructure to disappear completely.

All that will be left are the ghosts...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bad Moon Rising

War of the Worlds...
Mars attacks!!!
Victoria's Craigdarroch Castle has been used by Giggling Iguana Productions for years to stage a Halloween appropriate play. Several years ago, we saw their production of War of the Worlds and last year it was an entertaining production of Dracula.

The productions typically moved about inside the castle (actually more of a mansion), moving around from room to room while the audience follows along.

Last year, the group announced that THIS year's production would be The Wolfman. I was anticipating one of their typically entertaining evenings, but it turns out that the key organizer recently decided to take some time off from producing plays at the castle.

Colour me sad...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Haunted

Every day she waves at me
That woman only I can see
I wish she would stay over there
I don't like her hungry stare

This alley in Bastion Square is next to Victoria's now defunct Maritime Museum. The building once served as Victoria's old courthouse/jail and is rumoured to be haunted by a number of ghosts.

The area in and around Bastion Square generally is considered a centre of supernatural activity.

The Maritime Museum is not gone forever. Over the winter and spring it will be re-locating to a new location on the Victoria waterfront... a much more natural fit for it, and close to the Royal BC Museum.

As for what will become of the old building and its paranormal population? No one knows yet.

The roofline of the Maritime Museum...
The roofline of the Maritime Museum...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Waiting for company...


These two solid Adirondack chairs sit at the top of a rocky promontory overlooking the beach at Greenpoint near Tofino. They are barely visible from beach level unless you happen to glance up at the right spot.

They appeared to be newly installed and were chained down. That suggests maybe the park itself installed them.

With a good pair of binoculars you could watch the sea lion colonies on nearby rock islands or take in the morning sunrise.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Railway to Nowhere

Abandoned rail bed of the former E&N line on Vancouver Island, BC...

You know what you don't see in this photo?

A cougar!

I have lived on the West Coast for two-thirds of my life. One of the items on my bucket list is to take a photo of a cougar in the wild. So far it hasn't happened, but I'll keep hiking in the early morning bush in the hopes that my luck will change one day.

The other thing you don't see in this photo is a train. This is the rail bed of the former E&N (Esquimalt and Nanaimo) passenger train that stopped running between Victoria and communities north about four years ago due to a myriad of issues. Mostly what killed it was lack of maintenance on the track combined with a lack of ridership. It's a shame because my wife and I had taken the train and it was a great way to see parts of the island not visible from the Island highway.

A local group has been working hard to secure financing to re-start the service, although it will travel in the opposite directions than it did previously. In this way they hope to sell it as a daily commuter service and increase ridership.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Heron


The wonders of modern photography allow a person to transform a so-so shot into something… less so-so. During my recent travelling I took a photo of a heron by the shoreline. It was a spur-of-the-moment shot and it suffered from poor lighting. A bit of software manipulation later and – voilĂ  – a piece of art is created!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Flash


I first published this photo over a year ago on this blog.

According to my blog stats, visits to that particular page are 10x higher than the next nearest page this week. I thought that was weird until I remembered that a new TV series The Flash just started on the CW Network this week.

Google searches must be trending for the character and my website is fortuitous 'collateral damage'.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Zombies! Run!


Victoria's Zombie Walk drew several hundred of the undead for the event. Zombies are the monster du jour and show no signs of dying anytime soon. ;)

The usual theory to explain their continuing popularity is that they are a metaphor for any mindless group -- consumers, Republicans, the viewers of Duck Dynasty ...

I'm always impressed by the lavish attention that people give to their makeup for this event. I typically take photos that I then play around with in Photoshop to make them more entertaining.

I also produced this short video to share with the group...


This fellow reminded me less of a zombie and more of a Batman villain...