Monday, March 30, 2015

Lanterns

Lanterns in Victoria Chinatown...

Lanterns hang over the street of Victoria's Chinatown...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Philosophical Friday: The Door

Is The Door a blessing or a curse?

Before you is a mysterious door. This particular door has a special property though. It's a portal to an alternate universe... a universe where everything you ever wanted is waiting for you.

Your perfect life is waiting for you. Perfect spouse, perfect family, perfect career, all the possessions that you've ever dreamed about. All you have to do is just turn the handle and step through.

But...

... once you step through the door, you give up everything you have right now on this side of the door.

Everyone you know ceases to exist. All the memories that you have... gone.

They will all be re-set when you step through the door to your perfect, perfect life. A dream that you won't even remember.

Would you do it?

Would you trade everything you have for everything you've ever wanted?

What does the answer tell you about your happiness and your current situation?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slug-ger

A black slug at full gallop...

The black slug is a common sight on Vancouver Island. They are almost ubiquitous as moss (2).

From Wikipedia:

"The slug covers itself in a thick foul-tasting mucus which serves as both protection against predators as well as a measure to keep moist. It is somewhat difficult to wash off."
"Like all other species of the Arionidae family, the black slug is a hermaphrodite, meaning it can fertilize itself if needed, although a mate is preferred."
Well I think we can all agree that sex with someone else is always more fun than sex with yourself.

On the other hand, if your body is covered with a foul-tasting mucus, sex with yourself is probably the only sugar you're getting on a Saturday night.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Persistence of Moss

Moss slowly takes over an old shed.
Moist, green and yielding...
It inevitably spreads...
West Coast carpeting!
An emerald carpet slowly takes hold of a roadside wooden shed on the Saanich peninsula...

It's too bad that moss isn't a cash crop. We would all be very, very rich on Vancouver Island.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Everyone knows it's windy...

Tempting fate on the Victoria breakwater...
Tempting fate on the lower steps of the Victoria breakwater...
When the winds off the Victoria waterfront get strong and start kicking up white caps, a favourite activity of locals is to walk the Ogden Point breakwater, (2). When the waves hit the rock wall hard enough to crash over the top level you know you've got a storm on your hands.

If you're brave -- or stupid -- you can walk the outer lower level of rocks like the fellow in the photo above.

The downside is getting caught in white wash. Like the same fellow in the photo below. Can you see him?

A faceful of white wash...
I hope that camera was waterproof!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wayback Wednesday: To the end and beyond

"Til death do us part."
We vowed at our wedding.
I hope not... my love...
I've read obituaries for years. Often there are some fascinating characters and stories revealed in them. I've lived long enough to see the names of friends or social contacts listed in them as well... people no older than I am, sometimes much younger. I always have mixed emotions... survivor's guilt because it happened to someone else combined with relief to know that they were loved and will be missed by those left behind.

This pair of obituaries appeared in our local paper about six years ago. I recognized the name in the second obituary which caused me to go in search of the first one.

I kept a copy of them because, between them, they tell a beautifully bittersweet story. Read the one on the left first. Go ahead, if you haven't already. I'll wait here...

The final quote in that first column always leaves me with a lump in my throat.

I'm not a believer in an afterlife, but a small part of me likes to imagine them sailing together still to undiscovered places.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not a happy Kat...

Kat protests in Victoria, BC...
Kat protesting against Bill C-51...
On our way through town on the weekend, my wife and I came across the remnants of a protest against the federal government's proposed Bill C-51.

Canadian flag with a native motif...
The bill would expand the powers of federal law enforcement agencies to spy on citizens deemed to be a threat to Canada without any sort of counterbalancing oversight.

Prime Minister Harper's Conservatives have frequently labeled environmental and Aboriginal protesters opposed to pipeline/tanker projects within Canada as 'eco-terrorists' opposed to the economic security of Canada. The fear is that these people and others who participate in protests and civic activism could be swooped up in this wider legal net.

Kat (above) was one of those protesting the bill as well as Solomon Gomorrah (below).

Across Canada on Saturday, thousands of people marched in parades denouncing the bill. The bill itself is -- in my opinion -- an overreaction to various incidents in the past year in which people with clear mental health issues killed or attempted to kill Canadians under the banner of Islamic jihad.

Solomon Gomorrah on a mission...
Solomon Gomorrah voices his discontent...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Brentwood Bay

Brentwood Bay seen from the Malahat summit...
Brentwood Bay seen from the Malahat summit...
To the north of Victoria on the east shore of Saanich Inlet is bucolic Brentwood Bay. There are a couple of nice restaurants there but not much else. It's mostly a bedroom community for Victoria.

It's a nice staging point for a kayak ride down Todd Inlet which will take you in behind Butchart Gardens.

It's also one end of the Mill Bay ferry route, one of only two ways of getting past the Malahat. The ferry (see below) doesn't take a lot of cars though and periodically there are calls for a bridge across the Saanich Inlet.

I don't see it happening anytime soon -- the current provincial government doesn't see fit to spend much money on Vancouver Island for transportation issues. Honestly, I don't want to see it happen anyway. Where roads are built, developers are sure to follow and the semi-rural character of Brentwood Bay and surroundings would soon give way to condos and big box stores.

The Mill Bay ferry pulls into Brentwood Bay on Saanich Inlet.
The Mill Bay ferry pulls into Brentwood Bay.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Trestle

The fourteen-story high Kinsol Trestle near Shawnigan Lake, BC...
That's a lot of trestle!
The Kinsol Trestle is a former wooden railway trestle that crosses the Koksilah River north of Victoria.

It is 144 feet high and 617 feet long and was once one of the highest train trestles in the world.

In 2007, it was converted to a walking/cycling trestle and incorporated into the the Trans-Canada Trail on Vancouver Island.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Finlayson Arm

The view of Finlayson Arm from the balconies of the Moon Water Lodge...
Finlayson Arm leads out to Saanich Inlet.
Carrying on from the previous blog entry at the top of the Malahat you'll find the Malahat Chalet restaurant and the Moon Water Lodge. Both of them offer spectacular mountain and water views of Finlayson Arm which forms the southern portion of the larger Saanich Inlet.

My wife and I discovered that we casually know the owner of the restaurant. We haven't had an opportunity to eat there yet, but it's on our to-do list for this summer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Malahat

Mt Baker seen from the crest of the Malahat...
Mt Baker on the horizon...
To the north of Victoria lies the Malahat mountain. Victorians have a love-hate relationship with it.

We hate it for the fact that it can cut us off from the rest of the island. The only way to easily get to the rest of the island is to drive up and over the Malahat via the one available highway. If there is a serious accident or winter snow closes it we're pretty much pooched when it comes to getting out of Victoria.

We love it for the fact that it frequently protects us from some of the nastier weather that can thump the rest of Vancouver Island in the winter.

We also love it for the fantastic views it provides of the ocean scenery surrounding us.

As our early spring continues to warm up, motorists traveling over the Malahat this past weekend were treated to spectacular views of Mt Baker in Washington State across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Even this eagle below took time to admire the view out over the water.

Eagle perched in a tree overlooking Saanich Inlet...
An eagle surveys the Saanich Inlet.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Parrot Refuge

One of the sad members of the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs, BC...
One of the parrots at the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs, BC...
The World Parrot Refuge at Coombs, BC takes in parrots from all across Canada that have been abandoned or abused. Many of these birds have been smuggled into the country. Parrot smuggling is a lucrative trade. Many of the birds die in transit. The ones that make it through are often abandoned once the owners realize that they are high maintenance animals.

The facility is a large warehouse which contains hundreds and hundreds of birds. When they all get to squawking the noise is ridiculously loud. The cockatoos are the most talkative... one of the regulars will fly up and land on visitors with a cheerful, "Hi ya' bud!"

Another cockatoo  repeats the phrase:"Hello? Is anyone there?" -- the recorded message of a phone left off the hook.

Many of them are in rough shape (see above) as a result of their abuse. Some of them are ornery, but most of them are friendly. Many of them are kept behind fencing but in the 'socialization' room, they are free to fly about and land on visitors if they choose. It's not unusual to find two or three of the cockatoos on your shoulders as well as the large blue macaw who is a sort of mascot for the facility.

Inmates at the World Parrot Refuge near Coombs, BC...

Beware though... you might get the odd nip as they explore your body for things to chew on. During this particular visit, the macaw discovered my coconut shell bracelet and made short work of it in his powerful beak.

Faux jungle canopy for the parrots at the World Parrot Refuge...

Staff do their best to create an interesting environment for the birds while surviving on donations and limited government loans. Above is an example of the elaborate perch and toy structures that they build to entertain the animals.