Monday, 31 December 2018

Parting shot

And so 2018 ebbs away. I've got family to be with (and laundry to do -- because I'm that exciting -- and so I'll cheat, as usual.

I'd just like to point out that elder daughter, at age 26, didn't recognize any of these hit tunes, but I suspect it's the holiday lyrics that make them bearable.

See you next year.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

A horse in a hospital

This is not new.

Nothing on my blog is, it seems.

Elder daughter posted this on my Facebook wall last night.

It was only when I went looking for it this morning that I realized that this has been around for about a year and a half - long enough for people with loads of spare time to actually make animated YouTube videos of it. I've decided to stick with the video elder daughter shared.

Please be aware that it is rife with F-bombs and other salty language. Oh, and it may not be clear from the posting, but the comedian here is John Mulaney.

Trump is a horse in a hospital from Rich Porter on Vimeo.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Eating crow for Christmas

No one does a rant quite like David Mitchell, and we've been favoured with two Christmas rants this year. The first is as himself - or the grumpy public version of himself; I like to imagine that he is more cozy and affable in private with his wife and family.

The second is in his role as William Shakespeare in The Upstart Crow, a BBC comedy series which has been described as "Blackadderesque", mainly because it's written by Ben Elton, who also wrote Blackadder. It's witty, and more accurate than you might think.

However, I would like to point out a flaw in this latter rant. January 6th is Epiphany. Twelfth Night is actually January 5th. And today is the Fourth Day of Christmas, so make merry.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Tree rings

It's the third day of Christmas, and this post might be more appropriate for the fifth day of Christmas, but what the heck?

I was making my way home yesterday, and happened to glance to my left as I turned up Richmond Road for the zigzag that leads me to the crest of the hill where we are living. This minuscule tree, perhaps with pretensions of being a majestic evergreen someday, was festooned with four tiny plastic Christmas rings, rather than five gold ones.

(And yes, I know that "five golden rings" refer to a ring-necked pheasant - probably well-roasted.)

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

The usual snowfall for Christmas Day in Victoria

Younger daughter was so disappointed that there was no snow this morning, she refused to accompany the Resident Fan Boy to church. Elder daughter fled out into the morning, and surprised her father at the cathedral. (He was so surprised, he didn't initially recognize her. This will take years to live down.)

Younger daughter recovered, and diligently participated in our other rituals.

The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs, is about an unexpected snow on a Christmas Eve, like the Christmas miracle we had a year ago. The Christmas special, based on the book, continues to be a poignant favourite with both my daughters, now no longer children.

The song "Walking in the Air", which features in the special, was sung by a boy soprano named Peter Auty, but it was 15-year-old Aled Jones who made it famous. This video, made twenty-five years after Jones' recording, is already more than eight years old, but I'm tired and my resistance is low.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Our childhood's pattern

The light is fading from the sky.

Younger daughter is baking cookies for Santa. Judging from the paucity of chocolate chips in the grocery stores, I'd say Santa is going to be chocolated and chipped out.

Two more gifts to wrap and label, left to the last minute only because the gift I wanted to present has failed to arrive, along with another parcel. No matter. There's twelve days of Christmas to come, and Demeter's birthday is in early February.

Tonight, I plan to accompany the Resident Fan Boy to the midnight service, where he has warden duties. That's one of my Christmas gifts to him.

The service will probably begin with "Once in Royal David's City", but if there's a soloist, I'm sure he or she will not be subjected to the extra frisson of fright accorded to the King's College Choir soloist.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Flushed with triumph

The Resident Fan Boy and I had tickets for a "Festive Baroque Christmas Concert" at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church.

St Andrews is one of two St Andrews in downtown Victoria; the other is a Roman Catholic cathedral. Having lived in Victoria for several years - not counting those seventeen hellish years in Hades - I naturally assumed I'd been there at some point; I've passed it several times.

As soon as the RFB entered through one of the red inner doors leading to the sanctuary itself, I realized I'd never been there before. It's a lovely church but quite claustrophobic, and not just because the place was jammed for the concert. Each door leads to one aisle, or one balcony only, and consequently, it's really difficult to maneuver around the place, or get a clear idea of where the unoccupied pews are - if you're there for a jammed Christmas concert, that is.

You get up to the balconies by ascending one of four winding staircases. After trying three doors and finding the section of balcony behind each door appeared to be crammed, we made our way to the very front where we sat three rows up and overlooking the performance space from behind.
This was fine for hearing the musicians, although I couldn't really hear the soprano from behind. It turned out the ensemble was being led by violinist Jeanne Lamon, who, from 1981 to 2014, was the artistic director of Tafelmusik. Another featured guest musician Kris Kwapis, who is from Seattle, and plays her baroque trumpet all over the place. The baroque trumpet is a very long instrument that made her look like a plum pudding sort of Renaissance angel.

Scanning my programme in the dark balcony, I recognized a lot of the names of the fifteen musicians in the Victoria Baroque ensemble because a few of them play in the Victoria Symphony and a few of them bear the surnames of prominent musical families in the city.

At intermission, the lady next to me picked up my programme, stuffed it in her bag and departed with her companion. I was bemused, but reasoned I needed a leg stretch anyway, and decided to try the door behind us. It led to yet another red winding staircase and I descended into a long line of ladies waiting for the tiny washroom. "Good luck," one of them grinned.

My need was not yet desperate, so I wove in and out of doors, and aisles until I found a stack of programmes. Finding my way down the opposite side of the sanctuary, I tried another door, which led to another winding staircase. This one was also red, but very dark. At the top, another door, rather brown and ancient, which I thought might lead back across the church to my balcony. Instead I found a dark sort of seminar room, or kitchen -- I didn't want to linger to find out -- but there was also a cubicle with a toilet.

I was quick, because the cubicle didn't lock, and it was kind of creepy. I had one nasty moment, when I thought the big brown door through which I'd come might not open again, but it did, and I fled.

When I found my way back to the RFB, I told him of my explorations, and the bathroom no one else seems to have discovered.

"Where is it?" he asked.

"I'm not telling you! It's mine!" I said, and we settled to enjoy the rest of the concert.

One of the pieces was the first half of this concerto by Francesco Manfredini. It's called "Pastorale per il santissimo natale", but is also known as "Christmas Concerto", and was published in 1718. The group in the video is smaller than the ensemble we heard, but the swaying dancing motions of the violins is familiar.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Gold and Frankincense

Our second Christmas back in Victoria, and the memories from my daughters' early Christmases (to say nothing of my own) feel closer and spookier.

Elder daughter has once again crossed the continent to join us, despite arriving at Hades airport twenty minutes after the check-in dateline. Badly sleep-deprived, she had underestimated the travel time. She was scolded by the first agent, who passed her on to a kindlier agent when she burst into tears. Second agent passed her a box of tissues, and informed her she could still board -- if she sent her suitcase, laden with Christmas gifts, back to her apartment. More tears which sent him ticky-tacking at his computer, and for $75 dollars more, he rebooked her, with suitcase, on a later flight.

I'm beginning to think that airlines abuse their power, rather.

Demeter has secretly transferred the gold chocolate coins for the stockings to me, and this brought back a memory of elder daughter from twenty years ago. Unfortunately, I checked my blog, and I've told this story not once but twice. However, it's a long time since the last retelling, and I'm reasonably sure no one reads this blog but bots nowadays.

Here, slightly adjusted, is how it appeared in my journal of December 1998:

On the last day of school, I bring a Santa Hat for elder daughter to wear home. The schoolyard is full of kids in Santa hats. Elder daughter is so excited, she dashes into a driveway in front of a car, something she's never done before. After a shrill warning, she runs forward again, but stops carefully at each driveway in a semi-squat, looking several times each way. The pom-pom flips back and forth.

She's rather concerned about a few classmates with Santa agnosticism, but doesn't let this interfere with her own belief. Cookies, eggnog, and cheese are left out for the big guy, and she's thrilled to get the craft kit things she has itemized in her letter to Santa. Half awake, I can hear her enthusing about getting pencil sharpeners. She's mildly put out that some stocking-stuffers are from her aunt and uncle - "I don't get it!" - but is delighted to get "frankincense". (The chocolate coins have republique française inscribed on the tin foil.)

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Storm shelter

The wind moaned in the bathroom vents this morning, but didn't really get going until we were thinking of walking into town to catch the new version of Mary Poppins.

I looked out at the seagulls surfing on the invisible hurricane gusts roaring across the school field, and listened to the windows rattle. It was only the second day since Mary Poppins Returns opened, and I thought about being surrounded by tiny movie-goers at the matinée, but I had promised elder daughter that we would go see it as a family.

And it wasn't bad. I found the plot a bit cheese-clothy, flimsy and full of holes, but P.L. Travers' books didn't have plots so much as episodes, and this was striving to stay closer to the spirit of the sequels of the original, by being set in the 1930s (as it originally was), and with Mary Poppins being rather more snarky and forbidding.

Actually, although Emily Blunt played Mary Poppins less sweetly than Julie Andrews, she was still quite a bit more amicable than the nanny of the books. And who could complain when Dick Van Dyke showed up, singing and, heaven help us, dancing in his nineties?

The lights came up during the final titles, and I could see elder and younger daughter swaying to the music. As the endless track of gold-lettered credits spun out, a young boy appeared on the stage in front of the screen, spinning and leaping to the music. He was joined by five other children, all about seven or eight years old. They began cart-wheeling across the stage, as the music played on. We watched them, entranced.

I thought about being seven or eight, five days to Christmas and the second-to-last day of school, and having just seen Mary Poppins. Will the cartwheeling kids remember this? I think they might.

Some days, it's the right choice to go to the cinema, even if the hail stings your neck on the walk home.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Double-takes and ladders (Write of Passage Number Forty-eight)

It's a double-decker, but late afternoon on the last Wednesday before Christmas, and most of the seats are taken near the front. I squeeze to the back, where the long rear seat is unoccupied.

I'm rather startled when a young woman plops down next to me, as it isn't elder daughter, in town for Christmas and - I'd thought - on my heels. This girl is long and lanky, with laddered black leggings that she has evidently shredded herself. (I gather this is a thing.) She looks a bit tired -- or stoned. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Elder daughter slides into the seat facing me, and we exchange glances. As the bus rolls on, I remark, glancing up at the lack of headroom directly above my seat,"Good opportunities for concussion here, when we try to get out."

Before my daughter can reply, laddered lady drawls, "Yeah." After a pause, she adds, "I always come close to crashing down the stairs from the upper level."

This is Victoria, so I smile and nod amicably, while elder daughter carefully covers her confusion.

We all alight at the same stop - none of us has bumped our heads - and we see laddered lady saunter out ahead of us across Fort Street.

"That was so bizarre," chuckles elder daughter, who has lived in Hades for eighteen of her twenty-six years. "She thought you must have been a friendly lady just randomly chatting to her."

That's how we roll here, toots. Anyhow, judging the direction she's taken, she may very well be a neighbour in our building.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

It is the best of times....

It is the worst of times.

It's Advent.

Today, I was especially reminded of friendships.

And I was painfully reminded of my shortcomings as a mother of someone on the autistic spectrum.

I was locked out of this blog. Again. This time, it's something to do with Chrome. However, I went to Safari, of all places, and got back in.

I'm tired. Can we do this tomorrow?

I like this Advent carol. I've mentioned this before, but I like it.

People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The silencing of the guns - we hope

This morning, I took a different route to the library, and spotted this set-up in the garden of an ancient house near the cathedral. I used to know the people living there, but not well. I'd like to see this at night, when the nest of blue and yellow lights must cast an eerie green glow on the crosses and helmets.

Looks like Remembrance Day is going to be an extra big deal this year with the centenary of the Armistice.

This will be, so far as I can recall, my first Remembrance Day out of the country. We'll be in Seattle, seeing elder daughter, who has flown there for a conference. Years ago, a friend of mine, who lived on Mercer Island, was intrigued when I mentioned Remembrance Day. All those years living next door to Canada, and she had never heard of it. (She was unfamiliar with Boxing Day, as well.)

I've packed four poppies in my backpack, trusting we won't offend any Americans by wearing them. You never know these days.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Full circle

Sitting in the coffee shop at 10:30 this morning, I realized I was coming full circle.

About this time a year ago, the smaller plane from Vancouver to Victoria was curving over the Strait of Georgia.

I remember very little of the journey from Ottawa, begun at an insanely early hour; this is probably an indication that it was a mercifully uneventful trip.  However, I do remember craning to see my first glimpse of Vancouver Island, because, this time, we were finally returning for good.

Much like this morning, the mist was clumping like meringue in the inlets below.

When we flew into Victoria airport twelve months ago, it had been eighteen years since our last October 24th in the city, but the days between September 5th and October 23rd this year were the first of these dates that I had spent in Victoria since 1999 -- nineteen years.  We left for Ottawa on August 31st, 2000, and the longest summer house-sit I'd obtained in Victoria ended September 4th, 2004.

Today, I feel that, to a degree, I have reclaimed my hometown.  As much as I miss elder daughter, Hades has no pull on me.

I feel triumphant and defeated.  Persephone is home.  So much has been lost.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Slow vote to Fernwood

The Resident Fan Boy and I voted in one of the advanced polls in the recent municipal election for Victoria, partly to avoid the crowds and partly to plough the path for younger daughter, as this is her first election in British Columbia.

Good thing we did!  A civic election has to be the toughest of the three levels of elections; municipal politics get less press coverage than provincial and federal politics on the whole, and there's usually a huge selection of candidates, for more positions, so it's not a simple matter of ticking one square for an MLA or MP.

This election, for example, was for mayor, plus (up to) nine city councillors, (up to) eight school board trustees, and, to really complicate matters, a choice of which councillor to send to the Capital Region District, and a referendum.

On top of this, we had a number of hurdles to overcome.  Despite registering online, we were not yet on the voters' list, because that had been released to the elections officials over a month ago.  This meant registering in person at the polls.

When I showed up at City Hall for the advanced poll, I noted the other hurdles - particularly tough for younger daughter's autism spectrum challenges.

Four line-ups:  1) To enter the voting area.
2) To  register, which included answering some questions, and providing the correct ID.  The fellow registering me decided, on principle, to accept my library card (which I had mentioned, but not offered) as ID.  I'd already presented my passport, along with my provincial health card, which confirms my address.  "Library cards are on the list, and -- we can!" he declared.
"Great," I replied.  "I'm a literate voter.  Also well-read."

3) Another line-up to take one's turn in the voting booth.

4) Most daunting of all, a long curving line to "cast the ballot", that is, in this case, feed it carefully and singly, into the sole "ballot reader", a machine resembling a printer.  You had to wait for the confirming click, then they'd hand you your "I Voted" sticker.

The machine, which, I suppose, eliminates hand counting and sorting, takes waaaaaay longer than slipping one's folded ballot into a ballot box.  You can't fold your ballot for one thing; you have to conceal it from prying eyes in a yellow folder, although it wouldn't be hard to guess how you voted in the several seconds which elapse between taking it out of the damned folder and feeding it into the damned ballot reader.

Oh, yes, and the ballot itself had to be filled out by meticulously shading into an oval next to your choice(s) with, and only with, the provided pen, much like the dreaded provincial high school exams for university qualification that I remember with little relish.

On Election Day itself, I searched for illustrating photos on the internet to assist younger daughter with visualizing the process to come, because despite being a veteran of all three levels of elections in Hades, this would be a whole new procedure for her.

You can imagine that part of me was rather hoping she'd give this election a miss, and I did explain, more than once that voting in a municipal election in Victoria would involve four long line-ups and a complicated ballot.

However, even after a long day that included a practice session with her accompanist for an upcoming singing competition, and a trip to Pic-a-Flic to renew her DVDs, she was insistent.  Of course she wanted to vote.  It was Election Day, and she's twenty-two.

Far be it from me to disenfranchise anyone, let alone my own daughter.

We set off to the nearest polling place, the high school, at 6:30 in the gathering darkness, reasoning that we were bound to finish long before the polls' closure at 8 pm.

It took some time to locate the entrance and we were directed to the other side of the building -- where an enormous line snaked out into the parking lot.

After chatting companionably to our fellow queue occupants for - I dunno - twenty to twenty-five minutes, we were finally in the gymnasium, where younger daughter still had to be looked up on the voters' list, even though we told them she wasn't on it.

We joined the queue for registration.  At the advanced polls, this had been quick, but, even with four people at work, it was clear that the filling-out of the form took out an inordinate amount of time.  When younger daughter sat down, one of the questions put to her was if she knew the final three digits of her social insurance number.  This was after she presented her health card, passport, and birth certificate.  The Resident Fan Boy deflected some of the sillier questions.

We had told younger daughter that she need only to vote for mayor.  We were talking to someone on the spectrum.  She took several minutes filling out every part of the ballot.  I took some comfort in noting that others were also taking a long time, and somewhat less comfort in watching the line for the ballot reader grow longer and longer.  By the time the RFB and younger daughter joined this final queue, it had been over an hour since our arrival.

Worn out, I went to sit on the concrete steps leading out of the gymnasium.  In the hall behind me, a long line-up of people still waiting to enter had been brought inside so the outer doors of the school could be shut and locked.  The polls had closed - it was now 8 pm - but those inside would still be permitted to vote.

From my perch, I watched the long line of voters approaching the lone ballet-reading machine.  I marvelled at how different this population of the electorate was from those coming to the advanced poll.  When I voted, I was surrounded by mainly middle-aged and elderly, mostly smartly dressed people.  Tonight, it was a Fernwood crowd:  parents with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and primary graders; people with dogs;  people who looked like they rode motorcycles,  many, many young voters evidently casting a ballot for the first time.

Despite my weariness, I was touched by the faces as each person waited for the confirming click, then slapped their "I Voted" sticker into place, beaming.

One last heart-clutching moment when a young woman attempted the machine, then was directed back.  Evidently, her ballot was not quite correctly filled out.

Oh gawd,  I thought.  Will younger daughter's ballot be okay?  It's been over an hour and a half...

It was.  I gave her a thumbs-up, and we walked out under a night sky with planets glowing in it.

We got home two hours after we had left.

Somehow, we feel affirmed and confirmed as residents of this city.

Monday, 22 October 2018

If the dew should rise in the web

This morning, I looked out at a sea of fog.

As I sat on the edge of my bed, and applied my face, I saw vague figures emerge from the mist, getting clearer and more distinct - although still shadowy - as they approached the chain-link fence that surrounds the middle school across the street.

Then, just as suddenly, they retreated in a raggedy line strung out across the school yard, running, chasing and racing like the edge of the ebbing tide. They vanished, one by one, into the off-white.
And I saw spiderwebs everywhere, edged in moisture.
There's a web-wreath in this picture!  Click to enlarge and see if you find it!
When I had dressed, and was heading down the street that faces my balcony, on the way to my morning coffee, I got a closer look at the wreaths and doilies, so retrieved my camera from my knapsack.
As I snapped, a woman called to me.
"Have you seen these?" she asked, and I joined her to gaze open-mouthed at a shrub festooned with dripping webs, rather like a Christmas tree draped with spooky lace.
"It's like an infestation," she said. "There hasn't been rain or wind to destroy them."
I pointed out that spiders are actually a pretty good weapon against far nastier infestations, and told her how all this put me in mind of my favourite play. (You can say such things to a stranger in Fernwood.)
In The Lady's Not for Burning by Christopher Fry, Jennet Jourdemayne, an accused witch facing the prospect of immolation at dawn, describes how approaching death has brought her into a sharp awareness of life and time:

I've only one small silver night to spend
So show me no luxuries.  It will be enough
If you spare me one spider, and when it spins I'll see
The six days of Creation in a web
And a fly caught on the seventh.  And if the dew
Should rise in the web, I may well die a Christian.

Saturday, 20 October 2018


On this day, last year, we left our house in Ottawa for the final time, moving into a hotel for our final days in Hades.

Younger daughter and I have discovered that, if you make your way to the Sunken Garden at Butchart's in late October, you can have a taste of an Ontarian fall -- without the rest of the Ontarian year.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Artist and artisan

So I was heading up Cook Street this morning, and was startled to see this mural on the side of the dry-cleaners next to Wong Grocery.

How have I missed this? I asked myself, before noticing the painter on the scaffold.

I walked to the foot of the structure, and called up to the lovely young lady at work: "Was this always here, or have you just put it there?"

She gave me a dazzling smile. "I've just put it here! It's not done yet; I'll be adding to it!"

"Wow! And I'll be watching out for that!" I said, before marching on, as she wishes me a good day.

I think the figure is meant to be Chinese Canadian, although the hat that she's wearing looks a little like a Coast Salish cedar hat.

October in Victoria. I love it.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Look at those cavemen go

In this days when singers do auto-tuned eardrum-splitting calisthenics, I especially appreciate a vocalist who demonstrates beautiful dynamic control, to say nothing of a convincing muted trumpet imitation.

And yes, you can get off my lawn.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Wha' Who?

Sorry, gotta go to bed, but I found this -- which will only appeal to Doctor Who fans....

....although it's not an inaccurate intro for someone who has never seen the series. Might be a bit off-putting though.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Not so much a gallop as a trot

When I was a youngish girl, not quite a teenager, it was my almost daily habit to walk a long length of railway track behind my house. I was young, vigorous, and unafraid, and I would cross the middle of a unsided trestle high above Helmcken Road, and then stepping on the ancient railway ties, go for miles, although it probably wasn't much more than a kilometre or so. Did this for three years, and although I met with a handful of adventures, only met one creepy guy and got one tick - not at the same time.
That's the Bay Street Bridge through the berries

Some years later, they transformed the old unused line into a network of paved trails, leading from Vic West all the way to Sooke - easy for walkers to do sections, and safe cycling, as well.
A few years before we left Victoria for Hades, they rebuilt the old Selkirk Trestle, which links Vic West with the neighbourhood of Burnside across the Gorge Waterway.
Southern half of the Selkirk Trellis, taken from the middle hump
And yet, despite returning to Victoria for seventeen summers, I never made it over to the Selkirk Trestle, although I'd seen many beguiling pictures of it.

I was determined to right that omission today. CBC Radio informed me that it was "perfect autumn weather", and I had carefully checked my route, because Vic West is one of a handful of Victoria neighbourhoods that is unfamiliar to me, even though I lived in Esquimalt for years.

For the first time, I made my way over the new, silver Johnson Street Bridge, which, amid much controversy, has replaced the blue one. I turned right on Harbour Road and six minutes of trotting past industrial areas brought me to the winding path that hugs the shore looking out over the Upper Harbour, just below the Bay Street Bridge.
Harbour taxi
Pick-up points for the tiny Harbour Taxis double up as look-outs; they seemed to be doing a reasonable business taking Japanese tourists to and fro.
And kayakers were having a lovely time, ignoring the roar of machinery near Rock Bay and a pile of crushed cars sparkling in the clear October air.
I noted the locations of restaurants for future reference, and was grateful for a clearly indicated and well-timed public washroom, but on the whole, I was startled at how residential this leg of the Galloping Goose is. It's lined with colourful condominiums and apartments. Every picture I've seen of "the Goose" is quite rural-looking, and there have been a few news reports over the years of muggings and sexual assaults in the quieter areas.
I, however, was surrounded: by dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, cyclists, young families, snow-haired seniors, tourists and, of course, joggers. It wasn't crowded, y'understand - just not isolated.
Northern half of the Selkirk Trellis, taken from the middle hump
I reached the Selkirk Trestle much sooner than I'd expected. It's a long foot-bridge which curves across the Gorge, and has a hump in the middle to permit boats to pass underneath. You do have to watch out for the bikes - just as on any shared pathway. The bicycles do come zooming through, including one gentleman, who was old enough to know better, with his eyes glued to what I swear was his cell-phone in a special holder. He seemed to be swerving toward me, and he sort of glanced up casually, and frowned slightly, as I flattened myself against the railing.
The Gorge Waterway stretches way into the west
From the south end of the trestle, I could peer west into my own past. As a nine-year-old newly arrived in Victoria, I lived a couple of bridges down the Gorge, in the Craigflower area. (You can't quite see that from the Selkirk Trestle, but I know the Gorge quite well.)
From other angles I could gaze back to towards Victoria itself, shining behind a dazzling reflections of the sun in the water, or I could simply look down at the odd scales created by the shadow of the chain-link sides of the bridge.
Ancient arbutus

I had resolved to return home via Gorge Road, and had used Google Maps Street View to find the off-shoot from the trail on the Burnside side.
You can click on this to enlarge it.
As I climbed the rather steep path past yet more apartments and condos, I was confronted with this whimsical mural. (It wasn't until I got home that it occurred to me: Oh, yeah! A galloping goose!)
Take a closer look at it, yourself. One of the crows is real.

Monday, 15 October 2018


I must apologize to the bots scanning this - I'm pretty sure no one reads this blog anymore - for the inclusion of a video that is remarkably similar to one I posted a couple of weeks ago. The fact is, this one had me doubled over laughing and actually fist-pumping toward the end.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Midterminal illness

This sunny October Sunday morning, two blond Amazons have set up a study station looking out westward from Moka House. When they stand next to their high stools, they need to position themselves to avoid hitting the hanging lamps.

Their textbooks, blazing with multi-coloured tabs at the edges, are propped against the window. Their laptops (or tablets with keyboards, who knows these days?) are open to even more scanned pages. Their work-area is cluttered with thermoses, cups of various sizes, and glasses of water. They're clearly here for the long haul.

Along the south wall, a quartet of young men, each at a table of scrubbed wood, seated on a long bench that can accommodate plug-ins. Three stare fixedly at their respective laptops; one is hunched over his phone. One huddles in a grey hoody, and one blocks out the world with headphones.

Ah, mid-October in a town with a university and a community college. There is tension and concentration in the air, which I remember comfortably from a distance. I leave them to it.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

An unlucky day for rabbits

My Friend of the Right Hand learned that younger daughter (her goddaughter) had never been to the top of Mount Tolmie, so she drove us up there. I marvelled at the 360° view, which I haven't seen for years, and clutched a bit as I spotted my late in-laws' house below my feet -- something else I haven't seen for years and haven't missed one bit.

Younger daughter seemed somehow reluctant to get out of the car, but once she had, walked the perimeter of the viewpoint and snapped pictures. A hawk floated by the look-out, and spiralled down the south side of the drop. Younger daughter captured it as it began its descent.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Daze of morning

I have dealt with floods in my time, mostly connected with washing machines.

In our old house in Collinson Street, our machine was in the kitchen, one step down from the living room. The hose had to be settled and anchored into the kitchen sink, and on more than one occasion, one of us, in muddy-brained early-parental sleep deprivation, would forget and it took a matter of seconds for the east end of the kitchen to be awash.

I don't think it happened that frequently, but often enough for us to resignedly strip off socks and shoes, roll up our trouser-legs and wade in to begin damage control.

One of my favourite memories is of elder daughter, then about two or three, appearing on the living room step, barefooted and trousers rolled, declaring, "I weddy!"

There's no washing machine in our current apartment - which can't be helped - and no plug in our kitchen sink - which can. I took pictures, and procured a replacement from the hardware store.

Maybe this was a bad idea.

I was in bed just after dawn, keeping out of the way of my husband's Virgoan rituals of washing and dressing and preparing to go to work.

I may have been dozing when I heard a high pitched moan from beyond the bedroom door.

"Oh no! Oh, noooooooooooooo...."

No response to my inquiries, so I peered out into the hall and took in the slightly-less-than-alluring sight of the Resident Fan Boy in his half-pulled-on underwear. He continued his strange morning wail, gazing into the kitchen. I stepped up and peered over his shoulder.

There was about a quarter inch of water covering the floor and soaking into both ends of the wall-to-wall carpet, courtesy of the overflowing kitchen sink.

"Perhaps you could turn off the tap," I suggested. Years of teaching, hospice volunteering, home support work, and parenthood have taught me that panic only feeds panic.

He hesitated momentarily, no doubt loathe to soak his socks, and waded in.

He had decided to fill the sink, then absent-mindedly gone to get dressed, only realizing his predicament when he heard the water. He figured it had been running for about ten minutes.

"What do you want me to do? How can I help?" he pleaded.

"Just get dressed and go to work," I replied grimly, setting to mopping up with every towel in the house. The water had gotten into pretty well every drawer and lower cupboard on the east side of the kitchen, and had trickled into the stove. I tossed saturated towels into the now empty sink, and turned out the drawers, reasoning that it was a great opportunity to clean.

In between deposits and wringings, I slowly got dressed, in case someone came banging at the door.

Instead the phone rang, about an hour or so into my labours. It was the fellow filling in for the building manager, courteously inquiring if there had been a plumbing problem.

The dining room in the apartment downstairs had flooded.

The RFB, being a lawyer, checked our insurance, but nothing has been said, aside from arrangements to clean the wet parts of the carpets upstairs and downstairs.

I suspect our damage deposit has been washed away.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Sidewalk rage

Thursdays have become sacrosanct in our household -- a household with someone living on the autistic spectrum has many holy days from which it is perilous to deviate.

Thursday is Pic-a-Flic Day, when we make the pilgrimage to select the week's DVDs.

We usually walk back, but sometimes, the slow, upward incline is daunting, particularly if the weather isn't pleasant or if there are extra bags to carry, and we catch the bus to a stop a block or so from our apartment building.

It's taken me some months to have sufficient courage to describe the afternoon in question, when I alighted from the bus, and made the quick diagonal cut to the busy corner near the traffic light. Younger daughter, like Eurydice, was a few steps behind as usual, so I didn't see what happened.

The first indication of trouble was the outraged bellowing of a little old man, yelling at me about younger daughter.

"She stepped right in front of me!"

I was caught off-guard by his fury, but gazing at his contorted face, shouting at me about how he had to stop suddenly to avoid bumping into her - I should point out that he, like us, was on foot - it occurred to me that he was barking at me.

Not at younger daughter.

Which meant that he had figured out that I was in charge of her.

Any wish to placate him vanished with this realization.

"My daughter is on the autistic spectrum," I told him firmly. "What's your excuse?"
"That doesn't matter!" he shouts.  "She should know better!"

Mothers have an extra limbic layer.  Mothers of neurologically different people probably have several.

He stood by the curb, waiting for the cross signal, still sniping at me.  I was carrying a book bag.  I swung it back about six inches, then bopped him on his arm.

It didn't even unbalance him, but he was probably a bit unbalanced to begin with, and now really enraged. His voice jumped several decibels, but I was no longer listening.  I strode away from him, not looking back, and flipping a bird over my shoulder at the direction of his roars.

Younger daughter apologized all the way up the hill.

When I got home, I was in a cold sweat of shock and shame.

I knew I hadn't injured him, but my actions taught him nothing, and were a poor example to my daughter.  This isn't how grown-ups respond to insults, particularly childish and petty ones.

On top of this, Victoria is a small city, and I was clad in a distinctive, hot pink raincoat.

I didn't wear it for months.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Sea serpent

When I first came to Victoria, I was nine years old and not familiar with the sea. I'd come upon the kelp floating ominously in the water, or lying lifeless and stinky amid the driftwood, and I'd give it wide berth.

This was swimming threateningly in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the Ogden Point Breakwater on a breath-taking and flawless autumn day. Today, as a matter of fact.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Choral comprehension

The point has been made - many, many times - that the chord structure in Pachelbel's Canon is in the chord structure of many popular songs.  (Actually, back in my Prairie-Home-Companion-listening days, the very same point was made about Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".)

However, it's still great fun, and I ran across this video this week.

Incidentally, the choir here is the rather famous Crouch End Chorus, from North London.  I have a copy of the album they recorded with Ray Davies of a selection of classic Kinks songs.

However the earliest pot-shot at Pachelbel that I can recall is this YouTube classic from about ten years ago.  It was viral then, and perhaps enough time has elapsed that I can share it here:

Between these two offerings, there are well over a dozen songs -- although, frankly, I think they're stretching a bit with "Let It Be"...

Monday, 8 October 2018

Thanks a bunch, guys

Today was our first Thanksgiving in Victoria in nineteen years.

So I was really glad I didn't see this until bedtime, although whether I'm going to sleep now is debatable.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Get thee to a nunnery

I'm looking forward to the upcoming television version of Good Omens.

God knows when I'll actually see it, because, once again, they're releasing it on some channel I don't get.

In the meantime, here's a treat, delivered, inexplicably, by a woman who has dyed her hair to match her shoes. With fellows who really don't understand what schizophrenia is.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Brought up short

As we head into the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, our first in Victoria for nineteen years, it's occurred to elder daughter that this is her first Thanksgiving without her family ever.

Damn. I wish she hadn't reminded me...

Am I Demeter now?
The RFB and daughters - October 2005 - Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario

Friday, 5 October 2018

Please don't give me house plants as gifts....

I found this cartoon on the floor a few weeks ago. It must have fallen out of a file-folder or keep-sake box. It used to live on the refrigerator, and is a gentle rebuke to the lovely, generous, well-meaning people who think that a house-plant is a good gift for me.

Particularly those misguided benefactors who gave me plants just after I'd brought a newborn home.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Behind, as usual

Another song I heard in a coffee shop.

Apparently, it's four years old.

I'm so on top of things.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Junior hierarchy

Earlier this week, I lay in bed, trying to drift off to sleep, disturbed by the coverage I'd seen of Christine Blasey Ford testifying against Brett Kavanaugh, thinking of the courage this takes, a woman speaking out against an influential man, and, as a result, being exposed to accusations, ridicule, and threats.

I wondered if I'd have the courage. I doubt it. I can remember incidents in my girlhood and early womanhood, none as egregious as that failed rape Dr Ford was talking about, but disturbing enough.

Then, unbidden, the incident of Sam the Soccer Ball floated into my consciousness. I was either fifteen, or about to turn fifteen, so roughly the same age as Christine Blasey was when she was attacked. (And yes, I believe she was attacked.)

Our junior high was small, and thus not as clearly "cliqued" as the enormous high schools of the United States, but there was a vague sort of hierarchy, based mostly on looks, grooming, and economic standing.

Near the top, you'd find someone like Dylan.

I wouldn't describe him as popular exactly, but he was athletic, intelligent, and musically adept. He lacked the clumsy, thoughtless cruelty of the average adolescent boy. His brand of unkindness was sly and calculated, usually conducted where there were no witnesses, or only those he wished to impress.

He also had the gift of charm and flattery - which he turned on and off like a tap. I had been on the receiving end of both the charm and the meanness, mostly the latter. Through the sting, I couldn't help but notice his skill.

Somewhere in the bottom layer of the hierarchy was Sam.

Sam was relatively new to the school, unlike Dylan and me, and like Dylan and me, was in the school band, as about a quarter of the students were -- it was a small school of about 450 students.

Within a very short time, Sam was completely isolated. Within our tiny school, word got around that he had made a pass at someone in the mostly-male trumpet section where Dylan, of course played one of the first positions. From then on, Sam was a pariah. To this day, I don't know if he was actually gay, but homophobia was a predominant feature of this early adolescent bunch: a mild aversion amongst the girls, and a visceral hatred amongst the boys - a cover for the abiding terror of being treated the way schoolgirls were, and are, treated daily. They didn't view it that way, naturally.

One morning in late winter or early spring, I was packing up my instrument at the close of band period. As a clarinet, I sat in the lower tiers of the band-room. The trumpets were higher up, in the centre, in front of the percussion section. The room was emptying out, but there were still a dozen or so stragglers, chatting and getting ready to go. Our teacher had left.

I heard a sudden racket, and looked up into a surreal scene taking place just above my eye level.

Dylan was kicking Sam like a soccer ball from one side of the room to the other. Sam was curled up and rolling like a hedgehog.

It took me several seconds to register what I was seeing. I was frozen in shock, not only by the violence, but by the fact that Dylan was doing something so violent and so out in the open, which was not his style at all. His attacks were usually verbal, and on the quiet.

Peering down through the dim corridor of the years, I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I remember shouting, almost involuntarily and certainly without thinking, something like: "Cut it out! What are you doing???"

And Dylan stopped. He glanced at me blankly, and, as far as I can recall, simply walked away. I don't even know what Sam did next, or even what I did next.

I have no recollection of triumph, just of disbelief.

Dylan became a doctor. I have no idea of what became of Sam.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The days when her ball wasn't working

From my journals of 21 years ago:

"Elder daughter (age 5 1/2) talking to herself as she knocks toys around the living room: 'No one knows how she could do the world's greatest hockey goal . . . . Maybe it was because she practised a lot at home . . . . Her sister was always chasing her around . . . . Now she sat on her ball, thinking about the days when her ball wasn't working . . . . Then she hit the ball . . . .'

"This morning, she climbs into the bed and whispers to me, pointing at the ceiling: 'I can see my dream up there . . . . A person is putting out fruit . . . . It's gold, so it must be my dream . . . .There's another of my dreams next to it . . . . Can you see it?'"

Monday, 1 October 2018

You just don't understand

I'm either reading or writing in a cafe, where I can get a nice bowl of cinnamon and raisin oatmeal on this cool Scots-misty first morning of October. That's why I don't really pick up on the topic of conversation when the voices are raised.

It's the man at the other end, who has been chatting genially enough with whomever wanders within range. However, now he's declaiming angrily about the occupants of the latest tent village that has sprung up nearby.

The guy who runs this cafe, a gentle and easy-going bearded young father, suggests that the declaimer try offering the homeless campers someplace to stay. The man sits back in his seat and glowers.

"You just don't understand!"

"Try to make me understand," replies the cafe-owner reasonably.

"None of them want to work!" he growls. "They don't want to do anything to help themselves."

He seems to sink further down. "I didn't come here to argue; I'll just finish my cup of tea, and go," he says, and adds: "You just don't understand."

I return to whatever it was I was doing, thinking how children and teenagers often say, "You just don't understand." The underlying message is: If you understood, you wouldn't be disagreeing with me.

A few minutes later, the declaimer is happily chatting with anyone who will shoot the breeze, including the cafe owner, as if nothing happened.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Phishful thinking

Some weeks ago, the Resident Fan Boy and I were ambushed by a 6 am phone scam.

Here is a creative way to deal with some kinds of scams - obviously only an option with those with plenty of time to kill.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

A little fight music

Not long after the current President of the United States was inaugurated, Bernice King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, posted a list of guidelines for coping with the coming chaos. She evidently wasn't the originator, as she speaks of "wise advice circulating", but she was definitely taking the high road.

So, the following is definitely not the high road, but halfway through that man's administration (which is probably a misnomer in itself), I can't help but find this - oh, I dunno - a relief?

Be warned, the lyrics are simple, but profane:

Friday, 28 September 2018

Mapping out the sky

With the arrival of autumn, Victoria's limited but beautiful fall palette has appeared, along with cultural opportunities.

Last Saturday, we accompanied one of elder daughter's godmothers for a "live-streaming" (not live at all, but a specially filmed stage performance) of the Broadway musical version of An American in Paris at the Silver City Tillicum, courtesy of Cineplex. I really wish these streamed plays and ballets were better attended; they're a remarkable opportunity.

As a former subscriber to Broadway Across Canada, I've partaken of a number of movie-to-musical offerings, mostly of films I'd never cared that much for in the first place. Dirty Dancing? Meh. Flash Dance? Bleurgh.

As a result, I was expecting a pretty faithful rendering of the 1951 film, starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, and Oscar Levant.

Instead, we got a rather dark interpretation, showing a version of events set in a recently post-war Paris: disablement, displacement, retribution.

Also, rather more Gershwin tunes than were featured in the frothy, light-hearted film, where the darkest it got was Gene Kelly's character worried, in typical 1950s fashion, about being beholden to his older, more cynical, and, most critically, female, mentor. The male lead in the "live-stream", we saw, incidentally, was not the actor featured in the above trailer.

We were seeing the London West End production, and the singing was fabulous, and the dancing - wow. Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, whose CV in the ballet world is downright intimidating.

There was a high standard of acting, including a fine turn by Jane Asher, who, although a well-known and successful actor in Britain, will probably go down in history as the girl Paul McCartney never got around to marrying.

Seeing as WNET appears to have had a hand in the filming of this production, I expect it to show up on PBS soon.

On Sunday, we began our stint as subscribers to the Victoria Symphony. It turns out that a new Principal Pops conductor has taken over. His name is Sean O'Loughlin, and, of course he seems wildly qualified. Having been subscribers to the NAC Pops for a chunk of our time in Hades, we have grown to appreciate how a conductor can attract impressive guest artists. This certainly seemed to be the case for a concert celebrating Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim on Broadway (with Stephen Schwartz and Richard Rogers getting dragged in for good measure). We had a soprano named Lara Ciekiewicz, who is certainly Canadian-trained, and David Curry, who has connections to the Royal Academy of Music in London, and Le Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

I was enjoying them well enough until Curry stepped forward to sing "Finishing the Hat" which is probably my favourite song from what is probably my favourite Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George. (Completely coincidentally, I'm reading Sondheim's critique of his own pre-1980s works in a book called Finishing the Hat. Sadly, Sunday in the Park with George isn't included, being a 1980s musical.)

Anyway, Curry, who played the lead role in a Paris production, actually made my jaw drop. He was that good. I don't have a video of his rendition, but there's this rather fuzzy clip from the original Broadway production, starring a very young Mandy Pantinkin as French pointillist George Seurat:

After the intermission, they were going to do, naturally, numbers from West Side Story. And Curry got me again. It turns out that he's played Tony in a number of productions, and his control was stunning. (The songs from West Side Story are deceptive. Everyone knows them, but they are fiendishly difficult to sing.)

This is from about ten years ago, when he was considerably younger. As were we all.

At the close of the concert, we waiting to file up the aisles. Since we're fans of the front rows, this was taking some time, and suddenly Mr. Curry himself emerged, about to make a bee-line to greet the wife and young daughters of the conductor. I quickly grabbed the opportunity to tell him that "Finishing the Hat" is a particular favourite of mine and that I'd particularly enjoyed his performance. He thanked me courteously and I moved along promptly.

The Resident Fan Boy heard a lady tell David Curry that she hadn't realized how tall he was. He was undoubtedly gracious to her, as well.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Did you know Jake Gyllenhaal could sing? Me neither.

We've been entertaining a cousin from England this week, so, although I have several blog entries nearly ready, I'm falling back on a YouTube video that showed up when I was searching for something else.

This is Jake Gyllenhaal singing an oddly repressed version of "Finishing the Hat" from Stephen Sondheim's musical Sunday in the Park with George, but that's not the point.

The point is:
a) he's singing a difficult song (Sondheim's ditties are no walk in the park, even if they're from a musical entitled Sunday in the Park with George);
b) he's singing while descending a staircase;
c) I didn't know he could sing at all.

Have a listen.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Moon chaser

I walked fifteen kilometres today. One of the Resident Fan Boy's cousins is in town, and since the RFB is at work, I was escorting her.

For that, and a number of reasons I don't wish to discuss, I was making my way home through the dark streets. As I reached the corner of Cook and Fort, I looked east and nearly keeled over.

An enormous peach-coloured moon was rising over the hill. Of course, all I had was my phone, but I snapped and snapped anyway, chasing it up the street. This is the best I could do, shading the glare of the street lamps with the telephone poles. The orb is still blurred, and not nearly as clear and certainly not as peachy as it was.

I'm exhausted. G'night.

Monday, 24 September 2018

I know it sounds a bit bizarre

After a weekend of musical theatre - which I'll tell you about tomorrow, all being well -- I was in the mood for something shorter, but equally as musically pleasing and witty.

Gawd I love this guy. The production values, the incisive (with considerable incisors) commentary, the clever lyrics, the wigs, the pink pussy hats....

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Arise, arouse, a rose

It's something like this that really makes me miss my sense of smell. This was along my route home this morning. It used to be a bed-and-breakfast, which was bordered with many different roses, but there are a few left. The ones this colour usually had a glorious fragrance. I breathed in through my eyes instead.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Storm front

The first indication that anything was wrong came in an email on the Resident Fan Boy's computer at work.
Now, as it happens, the Resident Fan Boy was ensconced in his lonely basement office in Victoria. (Safe from any tornado in Ottawa, but safety is a relative term. Last winter, they cleared his building in a bomb scare, but no one remembered he was in the basement. He came up to look for someone to go for coffee, and found the floors deserted. Someone eventually ran back in to look for him.)

Our problem is that Elder Daughter and the Accent Snob live in Ottawa. The RFB texted me, I turned on the Weather Network, and sat clutching my phone as I gazed at maps featuring large swathes of violent pink and orage orange, which traced a line of storms making their way from the Great Lakes to the Ottawa River.

After a couple of worried texts from me, elder daughter, at work and about to go out to dinner, gave up and phoned me, assuring me that there had already been a tornado watch earlier in the summer that had come to nothing.

She seemed to forget that she was talking to someone who lived in Ottawa for seventeen years. Yes, I know that a tornado watch/warning usually pops up at least once every summer, and it usually comes to nothing -- but not always. About ten summers ago, the RFB was alone in the house in New Edinburgh, when the sky turned a kind of dark green, and the meteorologist on the Weather Network was burbling in excitement that a tornado was heading straight for the city. The RFB and our neighbour, who had the other half of our semi-detached, played chicken on the porch before heading down to their respective basements. The tornado veered and hit near Cornwall, a small city to the south-east.

Anyway, elder daughter assured me she was all right, and checked on the Accent Snob in her apartment, before hailing an Uber with a colleague to go to a farewell dinner for another coworker in some place called Cedarhill - which turned out to be about five kilometres west of the Merivale Power Station, which was completely knocked out by the tornado, or a related storm, and about five kilometres south of Arlington Woods and Craig Henry neighbourhoods, which looked like this today:

Gatineau, Québec, across the Ottawa River from the centre of the city, and Dunrobin, Ontario, a rural community to the northeast of Ottawa, got the worst of it. Casualty reports are still small; no reported deaths, but at least half a dozen seriously injured people, one with "life-threatening injuries".

Elder daughter and her coworkers ended up having a candle-lit dinner when the power failed, but the food was already cooked. She made it home safely to the Accent Snob, who apparently had a "panic poop" and covered it with a blanket. Elder daughter has power, but thousands across the city don't, including our former neighbour, who reports that it seems to be just "our block". She's had a baby recently, and was able to retreat to her own parents, while the food spoils in the fridge.

Elder daughter reported the strange post-tornado vibe: "The way the weather immediately cleared up is super misleading downtown, because it's all too easy to be like "huh what a lovely day . . . hey, why can't I buy bread?" (Massive line-ups at the stores that aren't closed.)

As for us, I think of where we were exactly a year ago -- having to vacate the house several times a week for showings -- so happy to be here.

Of course, we're in major earthquake territory here. Last winter, I slept through a tsumami alert.

My chief indicator of how serious the situation in Ottawa is?  The Ontario Genealogical Society cancelled their presentations today.  Try telling that to elder daughter....

Friday, 21 September 2018

The drums echoing tonight

As has been established, I love Postmodern Jukebox, and I love Casey Abrams in PMJ. Never been that crazy about the lyrics of Toto's "Africa", but what the heck:
I think this video is rather fun -- if not quite live, and I'm delighted to see the inclusion of Snuffy Walden, who is also known as "W.G. Snuffy Walden", and has scored several television shows, including My So-called Life, one of the few shows that showed high school life authentically. (Also loved the music of the opening.)

Thursday, 20 September 2018


A memory from late spring:

There are two logs where the turtles sunbathe on a sunny afternoon, such as this. The closest one is in a bed of water lilies, and today, we see it lazily rolling while a turtle clambers on and the others slowly shift to stay aboard.

I know younger daughter will take a long time gazing and snapping photos with her phone, so I make a beeline for a bench. The tall woman sitting there makes to move over, but I assure her there's plenty of room. We discuss the turtles and the high mortality rate amongst the ducklings.

The lady tells me that she saw a crow make off with a baby duck one day, and that the parents swam endlessly in circles where the little one had been.

As she speaks, I realize she's transgender. We sit companionably in silence, watching the turtles and ducks, while I ponder about how many LGBTQ people there seem to be nowadays, before it occurs to me that they were always there. She gets up and we both say it was nice to meet.

The wind has picked up, and I see younger daughter standing under the willow tree with the strands billowing out. It's the real Wind in the Willows, and I think that Kenneth Grahame may have had a scene like this in mind, with ducks and adolescent ducklings dabbling, up tails all.

It's not a river, though, and there's no sign of Mole nor Rat.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Shell game

I took this picture exactly eight years ago, by the Rideau River.

I have a Victoria story to tell. It involves turtles. A bit. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

A lousy choice for a first dance at a wedding

I heard this in a restaurant, identified it with "Shazam", and looked it up on YouTube. In the comments for the official video - a video which I found unfunny and slapdash - someone said it was the first song at her wedding reception. An odd choice, if you listen to the lyrics.

This isn't the official video, by the way.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Remembering September

Oh. A Victorian September after an absence of nineteen years.

The last full September I spent in Victoria was in 1999.

And it's green, with hints of gold and red. (I mean the leaves, not the riots of gold and red coming from the flowers in this photo. But that, too.)

The air is fresh and cool, even in the sunlight, which is warm but not oppressive.

If I could smell, I'd breathe in the wet pavement and damp leaves between showers that dampen, but do not soak.

I'd forgotten this.