My college buddy David coaches his son’s basketball team in Tacoma. This season he had to take a time out for health reasons, but the team still attended the 2013 Special Olympics Basketball Tournament in Bremerton last Sunday. Burtt, his son, is in action in the back here. He’s the one with the headband.
I’m not a great sports fan, but I love the Special Olympics. Even if they don’t take home medals everyone wins. Our team didn’t make it into playoff rounds, but it wasn’t for lack of effort by David’s replacement coach. She did a great job encouraging players and keeping them on track as the athletes stayed steady and tough in the face of stiff competition.
I was taken with this mail drop at the Empress Hotel when we were in Victoria last month. Beyond its polish, it was a surprise to see actual brass in use for an everyday utility like this.
Two of my very first jobs – in downtown San Francisco – were in an old office building that, in those days, still had old wood wainscotting and I think there was ample marble used in floor tiling and the restrooms. There was a mail drop on every floor, a slot into a tube that went all the way down to the lobby. And if I’m not mistaken the mail landed in a drop in the lobby with a proud looking brass front. I haven’t worked in a big city in decades. Do high rises have anything like this anymore, a mailbox with a fancy brass presence?
Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. today on a day that celebrates his legacy. The longer I live the greater my respect for the bravery of those who’ve fought for human and civil rights through history.
We often stop at Murchie’s on Government Street in Victoria. It’s an unassuming bakery – tea shop – cafe that suits us fine when we’re ready to take a break. The cakes above were some of the treats on offer. . .what I wanted.
Here’s what we had, French macaroons and coffee, just what you’d expect to have in a Canadian tea shop. It didn’t disappoint.
Butchart Gardens makes the best of the winter season by swapping flower blossoms for twinkling nighttime lighting for. There’s an ice skating rink for the agile or brave. And as visitors walk through the gardens there are lit displays illustrating the twelve days of Christmas. My favorite – and the only one close enough for my pocket camera to capture – was the “three French hens,” vignette shown above. That’s a miniature Eiffel Tower in the background, and on the plate? A croissant, of course!
The rendering of “four calling birds” included a parrot with a cell phone.
The gardens are spectacular, beautifully lit with lights that convey motion, magic, and color.
The Empress Hotel dominates the skyline for visitors who arrive in Victoria via the Coho Ferry. For many, afternoon tea at the Empress is on the must-do list. Although we march along the tourist circuit, we consider ourselves more neighbors than tourists and thus scale back our lists accordingly. But that doesn’t keep me from taking a look at what’s on offer.
Here’s a peek into the tea room. Weekday. Mid-December. Sliding toward the end of afternoon service. During the height of the tourist season this room would be packed with tea sippers.
Off season – now until December 31st – this will set you back $48.95 Canadian, per person. And I’m they do throw in a pot of tea. During the summer it runs $59.95 Canadian, though the offering might be different as well.
After a tough October and an even tougher November, we were ready for a December getaway. And, for me, what better place to go than one of my favorite cities, Victoria, British Columbia? We’d heard rave reviews of the Christmas lights at Butchart Gardens, so we booked ourselves onto a package offered by the Black Ball Ferry in Port Angeles, heading out last Monday morning. A piece of cake. . .except for the blizzard warnings on our cell phones Sunday evening. . .and gale force winds in the Strait on Monday morning.
The blizzard didn’t materialize and the ferry rocked us to sleep. Because the weather in Victoria promised to be inhospitable, I left the good camera home and relied on quick shots from the pocket Casio. I’ll post a few snapshots in the days to come. Above is the Parliament Building, one of the prominent sights in the Victoria harbour area.