Monday, December 28, 2015

At the dock, le deuxième: Views from Victoria

As follow-up to my previous post about the marina in which we live, here are a few pictures I've taken out and about in Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula.


1. Artful mermaid: There's a lot of public art in Victoria, although photographing much of it is challenging. We found this mermaid en route to Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub.

2. Sweets: There are dozens of souvenir stores on Government Street, including a Rogers' Chocolate shop and a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory shop, where this picture was taken. I haven't bought anything here so far ...

3. Sidney: A few weeks ago we took the bus to Sidney on a very stormy day. Here are two views of the Haro Strait in the middle of the storm. The second picture is looking toward the Sidney marina, where we stayed overnight in September. Not a great port in this storm, though.

4. Garrick's Head: I mentioned that we have a favourite pub. Here's the fire from my favourite seat in the place!

5. Pansies: This picture was taken on Saturday, December 19. Happy solstice! Some days I barely miss Edmonton. 

6. Xmas celebrations: As I've mentioned before, Victoria seems to take Christmas seriously. The lights are impressive — and I missed mentioning here the Lighted Truck Parade we watched at the beginning of December. These horses were taking families for rides around downtown.

Soon we'll be back in Edmonton for a brief visit. More pictures of "living the dream" in the new year. In the meantime, best wishes for 2016. Cheers!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

At the dock

A few weeks ago I promised to write about living at the dock in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Here are some pictures to try to explain our living and working situation.

1. At the dock: In the first picture you see Never for Ever docked for the first time in our berth, at the end of September. In the second picture, taken a few weeks later, you see our boat bow on, with a very large yacht called Attessa in the background. Attessa is 332 feet long, roughly the length of a Canadian football field; Never for Ever is about one-tenth that size.

2. Coming and going: This is the gate through which we enter and leave our dock; it is protected with a passcode lock. In the first picture, you see our boat on the left-hand side (with Attessa in the background again). The second picture is the night view, which is how we see the entrance most of the time lately. Frankly, I find the area outside our gate a little frightening at night and don't often venture out alone.

3. Looking north: This pictures looks north from the next dock. Never for Ever has the tall mast at almost exactly the centre of the image. This is the view from Red Fish Blue Fish, a very popular seafood restaurant that is closed right now (it will re-open in the spring); it is also the view from the marina showers, which is where we do our laundry (in washing machines and dryers, of course, not in the showers themselves!).

4. Looking northwest: Night views from the dock. These picture are from early December, when some of the other boats had raised seasonal lights on their masts and booms. The yellow lights give the marina an eerie glow at night.

5. Looking west/southwest: The first view is from Wharf Street, overlooking the marina and into the harbour itself. This is the water route we follow to leave the harbour — if we were taking a day sail to Race Rocks, for instance. It's a busy harbour, even in the fall and winter, in part because of the planes that come into and leave the Harbour Air dock several times a day, as you see in the second picture. When we told people we were spending the winter aboard at this marina, many warned us we'd find the planes loud and irritating, but that hasn't been the case. In the second picture, you can also see the marina showers (the small red-roofed building on the left-hand side of the image).

6. Looking south: If you've been in Victoria, you know the Parliament Buildings are lit at night. (By the way, they are "Parliament" buildings, and not legislative buildings, because Victoria was once a colonial capital. We took the tour!) Here's the view from our boat, including the Steamship Terminal, which is also lit at night. (If you were in Victoria when Mme Tussauds Wax Museum was still here, it was housed in the Steamship Terminal building.) Every morning I say hello to the lights in the southern sky, requiring that I stand on my tiptoes to look out the galley windows because I'm me-sized, aka short.

7. A better view: This picture was taken on Christmas Eve. This is the view from Ship's Point and gives you a much better sense of Victoria at Christmastime: lights everywhere!

8. Fort Street: Fort Street is our closest east–west road. This is the view looking back at the boat from halfway between Wharf Street and Government Street. The mast you see poking up behind the car is ours.

9. Our "office": Otherwise known at the Victoria Public Library on Broughton Street. Most days we arrive at about nine o'clock and work until four or five. We usually occupy the same table every morning, although it's catch as catch can if we leave for lunch and then return.

Amenities in downtown Victoria are great. We have our choice of three grocery stores, each about a kilometre away, and three liquor stores even closer — one around the corner from the library. We have memberships at the Royal BC Museum, which is next door to the Parliament Buildings, so we visit every week or two. (It's a wonderful place to rest one's mind.) We have also walked to the Victoria Art Gallery and visited a few private galleries. We have a post office about three blocks away, where we receive our mail, and a movie theatre a block beyond that. We have a favourite pizza-by-the-slice place, one block north of the library, and a favourite pub, about two blocks from our marina. And Capital Iron ("There's no store like it!") is close, but distant enough that we don't go there all the time — because a person could spend a lot of time and money there, especially in the kitchenware section. There's really not much else we need.

Next, I'll post some pictures of places and things in our Victoria landscape.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry merry merry

Happy Christmas! Here's how we spent our Xmas Eve: in the famous Bengal Lounge of the Empress Hotel, listening to Christmas songs from Maureen Washington & Karel.

It was a novel and lovely way to spend a mild Victoria evening. No appearance by the moon on our watch, however.

Here's to another grand year for all of us!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ninety-five percent of the way there

Here's my manuscript as of yesterday afternoon:

In this pile are some 280 pages of information about various aspects of book editing and publishing. (By the way, the yellow pages don't signify anything special. The copy shop made a mistake and I didn't mind the coloured paper.) The manuscript is lacking the printout of chapter 10, which should be complete today (or else tomorrow, since everything starts to shut down for the holidays around noon), and I haven't printed out the back matters, since they're pretty straightforward. (For the record, though, my appendixes, glossary, and bibliography currently total more than 50 pages.)

Now the real writing starts: rewriting. Also reconceptualizing, reorganizing, and restructuring. Though my deadlines are arbitrary and self-imposed, I'm hoping to complete rewrites and submit the manuscript to the publisher by the end of January. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Songs of the Season

I have a terrible, wholly nostalgic weakness for Christmas music.

Some of my fondest memories of elementary school are of singing carols in the gym after lunch during the last week of classes. (Also of the annual Christmas concert, but that's an entirely different strand of memory.) I grew up with Christmas music at home, of course, and I remember learning to play various songs on piano and violin, hearing the Band Aid single for the first time in 1984, and listening to radio and mall music at my various undergrad jobs — all neurally tied to potent emotions in themselves.

Add to that the fact that the melodies of some Christmas songs are very beautiful in themselves, particularly with the lush instrumentation that is common to seasonal interpretations. I am sometimes a sucker for sentimentality.

Close to a decade ago, I began collecting Christmas music. It's become somewhat comical at this point, as I have amassed nearly a thousand Christmas-themed songs.

The list that follows has endured for almost a decade. It has grown and contracted over that time as I've discovered new tracks and artists and grown tired of others, but the core has remained stable. Little did B know until this year, when our living proximity seems to have revealed all my strangest habits, but around the third week of November I start listening to selected songs from this playlist (interspersed with everything else I listen to, of course). By the second week of December I'm listening to most of it, and by the week before Christmas, I'm playing it in full, along with many other Christmas selections. (Some of these songs are really not appropriate until Christmas Eve, or a day or two before, in my imagination — and some of them can clearly hang on until at least December 27.)

And so: My Xmas Pop playlist. Every song embroidered with memory.

• Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Christmas Time Is Here"
• Rosanne Cash, "River"
• U2, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
• Band Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
• Casey Stratton "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" ("Like a Prayer" mashup)
• Boney M, "Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord" (long version)
• The Pogues, "Fairytale of New York"
• John Lennon, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
• Johnny Reid, "Waiting for Christmas to Come"
• Kate Bush, "Home for Christmas"
• Lawrence Gowan, "Ring the Bell for Christmas"
• Lenka, "All My Bells Are Ringing"
• Pink Martini, "Shchedryk (Ukrainian Bell Carol)"
• Paul McCartney, "Wonderful Christmastime"
• Billy Squier, "Christmas Is the Time to Say 'I Love You'"
• Chris De Burgh, "A Spaceman Came Travelling"
• Kate Bush, "December Will Be Magic Again"
• Sufjan Stevens, "Once in Royal David's City"
• Sarah McLachlan, "Silent Night"
• Sarah Slean, "What Child Is This?"
• Sugarland, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
• The Kinks, "Father Christmas"
• The Pretenders, "2000 Miles"
• Jane Siberry, "All Through the Night"
• Annie Villeneuve, "Minuit, chrétiens"
• Cat Power, "Merry Little Christmas"
• Prince, "Another Lonely Christmas"
• Murray McLauchlan, "Let the Good Guys Win"
• ABBA, "Happy New Year"
• Straight No Chaser, "Auld Lang Syne"

By the way, and not unrelated to my subject here, this year Sleeping at Last's Christmas song is "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," which would definitely make this list if U2 were not already on it.

Monday, December 07, 2015

The vault of lost lyrics, chapter 19

An adaptation from Molly Bloom's speech at the conclusion of Ulysses, this song is one my favourite Kate Bush singles. Both the vocal delivery and the instrumentation are so feminine! Sadly, like so much of her music, it was badly under-appreciated when it was released in 1989, despite a gorgeous video. So you've probably never heard this lyric — or Kate's original lyrical working of Molly's speech, which Kate released as "Flower of the Mountain" on her 2011 album Director's Cut.


"The Sensual World" (Kate Bush)

Mm, yes
Then I'd taken the kiss of seedcake back from his mouth
Going deep South, go down, mm yes
Took six big wheels and rolled our bodies
Off of Howth Head and into the flesh, mm yes
He said I was a flower of the mountain, yes
But now I've powers o'er a woman's body, yes

Stepping out, off the page
Into the sensual world
Stepping out

To where the water and the earth caress
And the down of a peach says mm yes
Do I look for those millionaires
Like a Machiavellian girl would
When I could wear a sunset? mm yes
And how we'd wished to live in the sensual world
You don't need words
Just one kiss then another

Stepping out, off the page
Into the sensual world
Stepping out, off the page
Into the sensual world

And then our arrows of desire rewrite the speech, mm yes
And then he whispered would I, mm yes
Be safe, mm yes, from mountain flowers?
And at first with the charm around him, mm yes
He loosened it so if it slipped between my breasts
He'd rescue it, mm yes
And his spark took life in my hand and mm yes
I said, mm yes
But not yet, mm yes, yes
Mm yes
Yes ...

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Blow away, blow away

So there's this about living in Victoria...