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...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Embracing the fog...

Here is one of my favorite places, any season...
Pass through these cast iron gates into the past...
Here you'll find an enchanting place...
Full of history and mystery...
This is Hatley Castle. 
Once home to coal baron James Dunsmuir.
When it was being built, he was quoted as saying "money doesn't matter, just build what I want."
And so it was.
He lived here until his death in 1920 and his wife, until her death in 1937 and their daughter lived there until her death 6 months later.
For 3 years it was home to the caretaker.
Imagine rattling around in this huge place all on your own.
It's situated on the water and I'm sure there was many a 'dark and stormy night'.
I was hoping for a sunny day to show off the fall colours but the fog really did lend atmosphere to the place and so I crept around the walls in the quietness that only fog can bring...
No details were left out...
Including these 2 lovely stone lions near the front entrance...
One calm and sleepy...
The other, ready, on guard...
Around the side of the castle is the entrance to the Italian gardens...
Grandiose columns uphold the 100 year old wisteria vines...
Secret doorways beckon those brave enough to peek in...
Although very pretty with it's lovely bones, the Italian garden is much more picturesque in summer with all of its roses in bloom.
I came to see this...
The Japanese Garden in all of it's splendid colour...
At one point during it's glory days, there was a small Chinatown which housed the 120 gardeners it took to maintain all of this.
Yes, money was certainly no object to James Dunsmuir.
For the 40 years following the sale of the Castle to the government, it housed a military college.
In 1994 it was sold and is now an extended campus of the University of Victoria, called Royal Roads.
Now for the unexplained...(cue spooky music)
A mysterious woman tugging on blankets at night,
a white figure floating through the air and pots banging in a vacant kitchen.
"Cadets used to sleep on the top floor which had been the ballroom," said RRU spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.
"Sometimes they had been wakened by a woman tugging down their blankets at night."
It's thought that Laura Dunsmuir was drawn to the young cadets after she lost a son overseas in the First World War.
There's an unconfirmed story of a maid of Laura Dunsmuir who was jilted by her lover and killed herself by leaping from a third-floor window.
It's believed that maid is still floating around the castle, and her presence was picked up by the ghost-hunters.
 So these are the stories that are whispered through the hallways of this grand house...
Who knows?.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Song for Friday...one of the many...




On King Street West, in downtown Toronto, we have something called 'Canada's Walk of Fame.
It showcases our best.
Our hero's, our genious', our writers, artists,  musicians, sports greats and so on.
The names range from
Gordie Howe to Gordon Lightfoot.
From John Candy to Joni Mitchell.
Even Fay Wray , from the original King Kong movie is there.
Last night a few more names were added including
David Clayton Thomas.
You might remember him from the band 
Blood Sweat and Tears.
They were big in the '60's and '70's and one of their big hits was this one.
It has some of the most simple, yet profound lyrics.
Go on...sing along...and have a great weekend!

I'm not scared of dying,
And I don't really care.
If it's peace you find in dying,
Well then let the time be near.
If it's peace you find in dying,
And if dying time is here,
Just bundle up my coffin
'Cause it's cold way down there.
I hear that its cold way down their.
Yeah, crazy cold way down their.

                                                          [Chorus:]

               And when I die, and when I'm gone,
                There'll be one child born
           In this world to carry on,
       to carry on.

Now troubles are many, they're as deep as a well.
I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell.
Swear there ain't no heaven and I pray there ain't no hell,
But I'll never know by living, only my dying will tell.
Yes only my dying will tell.
Yeah, only my dying will tell.

[Chorus]

Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
And all I ask of dying is to go naturally.
Oh I want to go naturally.

Here I go,
Hey Hey!
Here comes the devil,
Right Behind.
Look out children,
Here he comes!
Here he comes! Hey...

Don't want to go by the devil.
Don't want to go by demon.
Don't want to go by Satan,
Don't want to die uneasy.
Just let me go naturally.

and when I die,
When I'm dead, dead and gone,
There'll be one child born in our world to carry on,
To carry on.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My turn...

When I got back from my dog walk yesterday afternoon, the UPS guy showed up...
Aaahhhh...nothin like seeing the UPS guy standing there in all of his khaki with a parcel in his hands.
Some of you may have read about the  autumn swap I joined and I was thrilled to see that my surprise was here...all the way from Brooklyn, New York.
The other side of the continent from me!
My fellow swapper's name is Amber and she lives there with her husband and 2 cats.
I liked her already!
The elegant writing and that big brass key were signs of a creative soul.
As I opened the package, I felt like it was my birthday or something...
So many special things inside including these simply beautiful bars of soap.
Now maybe some of you may not think soap as something special, but these soaps are such a treat.
Rarely do I buy myself such luxurious bars of delightful smells!
Next up was 'a book that she loved'.
Amber sent me not one, but TWO books and they both look so intriguing, especially 'The Mysterious Benedict Society'. 
I can't wait to read them.
Her card told me that she lives in the neighborhood pictured here called Brooklyn Heights.
Looks so 'New York' with the bridge in the background and all.
....and the 'thing from nature' was these pressed leaves from her street.
Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a push-over for pressed leaves.
Her neighborhood must look lovely this time of year.
I miss all of those eastern fall colors of my childhood in Toronto.
Next up...'a postcard with a favorite quote or saying'...
Amber not only sent me the top two quotes on the postcard but a few more which I absolutely love...
Especially the one that is hard to see in the photo which says 
"Cinderella's trouble was that she sat waiting for some Fairy Godmother"
Amen to that!
I then filled in the blank she had left on one of the sticky notes...
I cut these quotes out and put them in various spots in my studio...
 So now this big key hangs with a few other skeleton keys I have and waits to unlock the mystery of the universe...
I think I might wait a while though...
I like a good mystery.
Cheers Amber.
Say hi to Brooklyn for me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The olden days...


That's what we use to say when we were kids, talking about ancient times..."back in the olden days".
As the trees begin to go to sleep for the winter and the air is crisp and cool,
I am in a melancholy mood.
I know that my nieces and nephews are thinking of Halloween and I am thinking of my own childhood days getting prepared for the BIG NIGHT.
We didn't buy costumes, EVER!
We made, begged, borrowed or just about stole whatever we needed.
(one of those 'last minute mime' costumes)
(Stephanie Jones and I in our' not so politically correct' costumes)
(brother Jeff, pirate style...notice the bulky coat under dad's t-shirt)
Hobo's, gypsies, princess' witches and ghosts were other, popular choices.
There were some kids who might buy a costume of a simple plastic cape thing that had to fit over warm clothing.
Along with it came a cheap mask with eye holes and barely a hole to breath out of.
My neighbour always had this type of costume, and I envied her until I tried on the mask and nearly died from the sweat and stench of my own breath, suffocating me.
I lived in the city and always went out with siblings or friends.
Our parents could trust the world we lived in.
Filling up a pillow case, at least half way, was our biggest worry.
The only thing we weren't allowed to keep were those dangerous apples.
It was in the first days of razor blade scares.
Now kids are driven to the mall for trick or treating.
Costumes are elaborate, ghoulish, sexy and store bought.
I'm happy to have lived in these simpler times...'the olden days'.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The heart of Saturday night...

O.K, it's Saturday afternoon...
You've been workin' for the Man all week...
Payday came yesterday...you take a look in the local entertainment paper to see whats going on...
Back in the late '70s and into the '80s this was the place to go...
 You put on your red shoes and your party dress and headed downtown...
Stopping at the local pub for a pint before the gig...
Sometimes, the name of the band was unknown, but you went anyway because this was the hip...
the happening...the hangout.
The place where you saw friends...met lovers...danced your feet off into the wee hours...
Last night we were over at some friends for dinner and while listening to LP's (yes the old vinyl came out!)
started reminiscing about Harpos.
After a while, Bill came out with a  t-shirt as a gift for me...
On the back is printed a history of who played there in it's heyday...check out some of the names...
Some were local, some were world famous...
Some were one hit wonders and some were old veterans...
I have to admit, I saw quite a few of these shows and was never disappointed...
So here's to some of the good old days...
Cheers for the shirt Bill!