Wedding Wednesday: Meltdown

It seems most brides, or one member of the soon to be happily wed couple – political correctness here – eventually has a major, cry in your mother’s arms, meltdown. Usually over the dress. Which makes me wonder how much longer women – yes, I do mean women – will be harbouring dreams of being a princess on their day. I get it, a wedding, even if with only two witnesses in the courthouse, or is it City Hall these days, is an important commitment. Heck, a wedding is an EVENT! Which brings me back to dresses and tears.

Granted, my daughter did not actually fall weeping into my arms, these days, with families spread around the globe, many brides add wedding planning into their daily juggling of work, family, school, etc. with absolutely no idea of where, how, when to begin do so on their own. Fortunately there are mobile phones, Messenger, email, and whatever means of reaching out is needed even if from a distance. The wedding dress was purchased in October. The two women standing with the bride have their dresses. Even the men seem to have their attire. Surely this sounds like s woman well organized.

Until the fitting. My daughter is shorter than me, or was – I may have shrunk an inch; wedding dresses seem to be made for willowy women who stand at six feet in their stockings. Absolutely ridiculous. There are beautiful pieces of lace sewn onto the background fabric of my daughter’s dress that need to be removed by hand before cutting the thin backing and under dress to shorten everything. All those lovely pieces of lace then need to be hand stitched back onto the dress. Oh, and this means the absolutely stunning scalloped lacing at the hem. (I have a vague recollection I may have mentioned this before) Naturally an important part of making sure the dress fits perfectly is what goes with it. Hint, unseen by everyone but the groom.

Therein lay the tears. Over the phone. Everything had finally bubbled from inside and an explosion of self doubt burst forward from 4700kms away. The dress did not look right. Nothing fit. The dresses for ‘the girls’ (one is her younger sister so ‘girls’ Falls from her lips with ease) were wrong. Why was she doing this anyway? What if no one came? (At last count there were 75) No one understands my vision. My poor daughter had lost the one thing I told her to never lose – her sense of humour. (She reads these, I hope I am not in too much trouble) Humour keeps the hard stuff in life manageable. Anyone with any connection to a wedding has most likely heard similar tales.

I am happy to say this was two weeks ago and the bride had calmed down enough to apologize for ‘laying all of this on her mother’, or words to that effect; she was calm enough to meet a friend for lunch. I never did ask if it ended up being a liquid lunch. Salad seemed to be on her mind. My response, beyond telling her to breathe (my response to anyone having a major tearful moment – try it online in writing!) was that is what mother’s do. Of course all is going along, yes there are still some rough plans that need firming, but she is getting there. She even has all of the glass beads needed for her centrepieces, blue two extra bags! Just as well, I still say to expect 88 people.

the flowers we hunted for up and down Vancouver Island. Some were found in Kitchener/Waterloo. (Dear bride – some hints are allowed)

I think for each item crossed off our lists another one is added. Flowers, check. Cake, not sure now. Officiant, done ages ago. All the important stuff. I wonder if someone will remember to apply for the marriage license. After 25 years together they do not want to forget that!

Meanwhile, table floor plan, (some major discussion needed on that – I was looking at any photos I could find online of the venue besides their official website) horsd’œuvre menu, alcohol, whatever is usually needed at a reception.

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Mini-Adventure: Farewell to the Blue Bridge

One of my first memorable glimpses of downtown Victoria was of the Johnson Street blue bridge. All I can assume from that was that my father chose to drive into the city from the other side so as to let my sister and I see the magic of city unfold before us. This was in 1973, we were teens moving from the north coast to a city that eventually became home, and for me, an island haven in later years. The blue bridge was not actually painted blue until 1979 yet everyone harbours memories of it always being blue! I have no recollection of it ever being given a good, solid new paint job in all the years I have lived in Victoria. (I did not move permanently to the city until 1983) I do however have a few snapshots of family and personal experiences in which the bridge did play a minor role. Yesterday was the last time to walk over the bridge, first time ever on the car lanes. That was how I started and ended my time with the bridge – heading from the other side toward the city centre.

The view from Pandora Avenue. A shift over from Johnson Street. With construction still in progress I am not sure how traffic from the Vic West will now funnel to Johnson – the most sensible route into town.

The other side is generally known as Vic West. For many years it was an area of light industry, the train tracks and the quickest route to the Esquimalt Naval Base. It was the route taken when I brought my second daughter home after she was born. (I do sometimes wonder if that recollection is not actually a figment of my imagination as it seems so out of the way from the hospital she was born at – I will keep it though). I lived on the other side, the Esquimalt side, for a couple of years. Even my parents lived there for a short time after they had sold everything, including their Fairfield home (on the proper side of thebridge) to travel for a year. My sister was married in Esquimalt, at beautiful Saxe Point Park before embarking on a ride, in an open top car to, where else, cross the blue bridge. The groom spotted the bridge operator in his little hut, made the well recognized ‘Toot, Toot’ gesture with the resulting bridgeman response of a hearty Toot Toot!

The bridge operator’s hut. The last operator, retired in the 1990’s died three weeks before the opening of the new bridge. My sister thinks he was most likely the operator who tooted the horn as her wedding car drove into town.

Yes, it was with a bit sadness we crossed over the steel grid car lanes – scary – on foot, with some traces of memories of, early on, a less than pleasant walks before the pleasant waterfront Westsong Walkway was built, then extended to meet the iconic bridge. However, growing cities, and their neighbouring urban towns (there are nine municipalities that are townships under the postal umbrella of Victoria – perhaps addressing a letter to Langford or Oak Bay would arrive with the postal code) tend to outgrow their infrastructure. Bridges are no exception. Old Blue as some Victorians seemed to be calling it, was already elderly by the time the 2009 decision to replace her was made.

A quick look at her history, as early as 1911 the B.C. provincial government saw a need for a permanent connection to the busy industrial areas of Victoria and Vic West that would allow for land and water traffic. However, despite talks between the province, the City of Victoria, E&N Railway and the Electric Streetcar Company to share the cost an agreement, unsurprisingly, was not made. It was 1920, after a referendum, that the city took on the financial load and massive task to build the middle the much needed raised (lifting) bridge. 27% over budget at $918,000 the bridge opened in 1924. It was time, at 94 years, to let her retire with a grand introduction of her replacement standing erect at her side, and a fond farewell, rather than tearing her down with little fanfare. The public was invited to attend, to share a picnic on the steel grid (I was happy to just walk across), memories and dreams of the future as we streamed across the new, sleek bridge.

There were two sections to the bridge, one for cars to pass, another for the train. The track section with its counterweight was removed earlier.

The differences brought to mind how much fashion has changed over nearly 100 years. The blue bridge was all girders, heavy cement – dinosaur head appearance – counterweights, and in 1979, painted blue. She was out of her element aesthetically and functionally. Cosmetic surgery and a slap of paint would only give her maybe another 30 – 40 years. Therefore, a staggering 105 million expense (original budget was pegged at $40 million)for a seismically sound, three lane, two bike lanes to last at least 100 years, remains difficult for voters to swallow, but the deed is done and I, for one, appreciate the aesthetics of the bridge. I also live in one of the outer municipalities so my taxes will not be affected.

It was nostalgia that brought us, and hundreds of others, to walk to the span that crosses from the gentrified city side to the gentrified other side. The new bridge, that does not meet with Johnson Street – perhaps waiting for a new name – not only spans the two areas, it unites them. The landscape is changing, as with so many cities, will continue to change, we can only hope the changes are as easy to accept as the new view of this bridge provides.

Speech from the Mayor of Victoria from the other side of this antique fire truck. We then watched, smattering of clapping, as the bridge was lowered.

The Janion, built in 1891, abandoned for 35 years prior to 2013, refurbished and extended into micro units sits adjacent to the bridges. I nearly bought the third floor recessed space that connects the old & new until I read there was no guarantee I would actually have a decent view from the straight on windows. Made it easier to travel without a mortgage!

Of course, my mini-adventures are not complete without walking too far for too long and having lunch. We had originally planned to choose our lunch at one of the four food trucks, having decided carrying our meal was not going to happen. Unfortunately none of the trucks served anything my daughter could eat, they all appeared to have menus heavy on the burger/bun/chips choices. although we would all have enjoyed the one coffee truck – Discovery Coffee serves very good coffee – we decided to check out, as suggested by Mayor Lisa Helps during the opening ceremony, to partake of one of the local businesses that had been so patient during the four years of construction. I had hoped to visit Cafe Mexico, closed in 2015 after a major fire and reopened in 2017. 2 – 1 decision against my vote means I will go another time. We finally ended up at Willie’s Cafe & Bakery, then still just a coffee shop and bakery when I last visited, and when we still had the train arriving in Victoria. (Last train was in 2011)

I was unaware this eatery had expanded to become a popular breakfast/lunch spot, of course it was quite busy with bridge attendees. We did not have long to wait to be seated – right next to a roaring fire in what was once solely an outdoor summer patio. None of us sat next to fire. If it had been turned down we might have felt a bit of a chill despite the space being now fully enclosed. Service was spotty. Menus were handed out, our server hovered to answer questions and give suggestions, and took our coffee orders. Which arrived fairly quickly – unlike our water. My meal choice could not be made, at least I was informed before the order was put in, so I finally settled on the soup of the day – sweet potato with bacon and a slice of sourdough toast. My daughter chose a salmon omelette, no feta and no toast – thinking it would be only slice I said to get it as my order might not be enough for me. My sister had a waffle with maple cream icing. Everything sounded yummy.

Everything was not yummy. We waited over a half hour for our meals, and my soup was luke warm. It took far too long for a server to come around for me to complain, have the offending soup taken away to be warmed up, and not offer any real apology. The toast was good, I ate far too much of it. My sister declared the maple syrup was fake – yuck! However, my daughter enjoyed her omelette, her aunt and I left only on piece of her toast behind. The coffee was good. Always had been, as had the bakery. Did the owners bite off more than they can chew? Doubtful, breakfast is s big business in Victoria. Too bad the bakery seems to have nearly been set aside. It is unlikely I will ever return, no need to with so many other places and no early train to catch.

After all that toast I was happy we had made the decision to walk to town and back, although I had slowed down by the time we headed back after wearing my knee brace for so long. By the time we said our goodbyes we had walked 12kms. I still had one more stop, renew my insurance. Along with everyone else taking advantage of the long weekend. Happy Easter!

Mini Adventure: Wentworth Villa

In an effort to keep my mini-adventures interesting I often search for upcoming, preferably free, activities that could be interesting and provide some exercise. The Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum seemed like a perfect match. Two free tours were being offered on each weekend day over two weeks – maximum ten people per tour. I checked with my weekend adventurers who were definitely interested before registering the three of us through Eventbrite. Which nearly found me dropping the whole thing due to the ridiculous process for a free event. Too much information was requested, all three names, addresses, emails and phone numbers were requested (blood type optional) if we wanted confirmation and to print the tickets. Only after all this had been provided did we discover we did not have to print anything, nor were we asked our names on the day we attended.

To ensure a good walk I drove to my sister’s house to put in what we thought would a pleasant 45 minutes. A miscalculation meant we had time to spare to walk further down Fort St. then back up. Fort Street has been known as Antique Road since at least the 1970s. Sadly, most of the quirky stores have since closed their doors as interest in all things old started to wane some years ago. There are now only 2-3 stores left. Wentworth Villa, further up Fort Street, had been one of those quirky shops. I had even visited it once many years ago.

The pink paint was not the original colour; it was chosen to showcase the exterior workmanship.

Central hall. Visitors rarely went beyond the door to the private areas of the home. However, aesthetically pleasing stained glass does give a glimpse of the lovely banister on the stairs beyond. (There are only two stained glass windows, the other is in the attic! No easy access had the renovators think it was there purely for looks.

Only two families ever owned and lived in the Villa. Built in 1863 for Captain Ella, his wife Martha, who would eventually have seven children, and Martha’s aunt. Despite the grandeur quarters would have been quite cramped! Some of the family lived in the house until the 1930s. By the 1940s the home was a bit run down, back taxes were owed and Wentworth Villa was purchased by Faith Grant and her husband – paying 25 years of back taxes. Renovated, with plenty of living space, the antique store next door, and the Grant family were soon relocated to Wentworth Villa. Over time the only changes to house were an extension and paint. It was an antique store until 2012. Sold in 2011 to developers it seemed likely the once grand home where Fort St. met Cadboro Bay Rd. (Over time Fort St. was extended and Cadboro Rd. starts at the border of what is now Oak Bay) was slated to be converted into high end suites. Yet another piece of Victoria’s history lost to the almighty dollar.

The door from the other side.

Note the wood floor in the next room is covered – these are floorboards that are laid across the foundation before the walls go up. Floors were often left unstained in the centre of the room as rugs were used to cover that area.

Fortune must shine on the home as it was sold in 2012 with the purpose of renovating it to become a jewel of the Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum. We were taken through the house by Stefan, one of the extremely knowledgeable members. Although he did not say, I was under the impression he is one of the main people involved in ensuring all the work is completed as closely to the original structure as possible. This meant sifting through family photos from the Ella family, one of whom serves on the board, newspaper articles, and of course the fantastic B.C. Archives. After threes years the house has been fully restored and available for visitors.

As soon as I saw this I asked which cemetery it was stolen from. (I had learned of what happened to many missing stones) Ross Bay, the oldest cemetery in Victoria. Our guide said their renovators were quite surprised to discover tombstones used as paving stones. There are others, none as intact as this one. With names and dates in hand, researchers discovered the story of this, and other, individuals whose stones were found. Their stories are included in the history information boards.

Although we have many heritage designated homes in Victoria only four are open to the public. Emily Carr House, and Ross Bay Villa, and Ellice Point House have all been carefully restored, two with the furnishings of the original owners, one refurbished to appear as it would have been when first built. The plan for Wentworth Villa is to refurbish one room in the style of the Ella family. As their mandate is to show as a Museum of Architecture many of the renovated rooms have, or will have, models and information of various homes of architectural interest. In addition to these there is extensive information mounted on the walls about the process to renovate, the families and history of Wentworth Villa.

Royal Doulton sewer pipes. Ships from England used these pipes as ballast then sold them upon arrival to Victoria as no longer needed.

The architects and renovators could not find any blueprints or reason for why there is an arch from this room to the next. Nor did the very small space in between appear to have any functional use.

One of the finials removes while the roof was being repaired; when the initials carved on it were discovered the decision to make a replica to replace it was made and put the original on display.

Of course, all of this work is expensive, visitors will soon be charged to, and the extension put in by the Grants has been renovated as an intimate, acoustically sound, concert space. I checked out the seats – comfortable! The intention is to invite a variety of musical artists from Vancouver Island to perform. Concert goers will get quite a hit to the wallet though, $40.00 seemed to be the main ticket rate. Not terribly expensive if one considers the cost of movies these days. Our one hour tour stretched to nearly two – the passion of our guide was infectious as well as extensive! His mention of a few other familiar homes was interesting – one of which my daughter had lived in. Check out their growing website, http://www.wentworthvilla.com

bottom of one of the posts holding the house up.

Right hand side of the photo is where these posts were in the ground.

After our walk and two hours at the Villa we were all very hungry. With the house on the outskirts of Fairfield we headed down to Cook St. Village, to me the heart of Fairfield,where there are many choices of eateries, a few I have been fortunate to have already tried. Knowing there would be choices my daughter could have we headed to Bubby’s Kitchen. This place seems to be always busy. We were quickly seated at the end of the communal table (I think these are a great idea) and handed breakfast and lunch menus. My sister was disappointed to be told her choice of smoked salmon croissant had run out of croissants and found her half order Westcoast Benny on a tea biscuit expensive and not as tasty as she had hoped. I had the Falafel Naan Wrap. With French fries at the insistence of my sister – she wanted to share them. I was very pleased with the choice, after our server made the suggestion when I could not decide between that and another dish. Only ate half – carried the rest in a recyclable box for my dinner later. (No recollection of what my daughter had, just that she also took home leftovers)

Those boxes became a nuisance at times. I proposed we head to the ocean at the end of the street before veering off to Moss St. in the hope of seeing the cheery blossoms in full bloom. Moss Street is the best place for visitors in Victoria during cherry blossom season. They were still not in full show mode. Then to Rockland Ave where there are many grand old homes as well as the Lt. Governor’s House. We took a short stroll through the public park inside before wending our way back to the street. We had planned to find one house mentioned during our tour, too bad we recalled the street incorrectly. No matter, we were in very familiar territory, the weather was only slightly chilly and windy, and we were feeling hearty.

Keeping a watchful eye on everything.

On the way I discovered a little wonderland on the edges of one home. Such a delightful sight.

By the time we returned to my car we had walked nearly 14km! (I faithfully wore my knee brace until back at the car – it only helps a very little) No wonder I was tired. My daughter and I put in another 2km shopping before heading home. Another stress free, very little driving, adventure.

Wedding Wednesday: 94 Days

It came as a bit of a shock to discover I have not written anything about wedding plans when it seems I have been doing something for it every day. It came as a surprise when the days left were 100 – and now we are in the final stretch! Although some of do by dates for a few items had to change I think my daughter is on track. We did not factor in her getting sick!

Her wedding dress fitting, which will take at least two visits, had to be changed. The first to figure out how to shorten an A-line dress with a scalloped hem. There can absolutely be no seam across the front. Fortunately the back section does not need any alterations other than two buttons for bustling. (Or something) A friend of hers helped with photos the other day to show the shoes she will most likely wear. The dress still looks lovely on her, albeit still too long despite the 4″ heels. I keep worrying about the height of those heels onboard a boat.

I cannot show the wedding dress so here is the sheath of mine. I hope I have enough time to bring it in – cannot work on it until the week before the wedding with it in Kingston and me in Victoria!

In addition to changing the fitting, my daughter also had to change a meeting with the vendor coordinator. No need to spread cold germs. Perhaps feeding her garlic a week before the wedding will ensure she will not get sick. (She is s nurse, part of the job) Timelines are now being given more attention – vendors tend to need booking by now and larger chunks of money paid. I shudder to think what it must be like in larger cities where everything is written in stone. I made the mistake of making a list yesterday of what still needs to be done, I nearly had a yikes moment. Little bites at a time.

One of those bites is of course what guests will eat. It has been a long time since I had to plan anything for 50+ guests, and I am quite sure my daughter never had to consider 90 to feed. She had one very helpful co-worker assist with numbers and dollars to come up with a menu and enough food. The one worry was maybe too many platters and not enough of each. At times I wonder if I am overstepping my role as MOB; this meant that making suggestions to cut or replace items, and have fewer choices mad me thinking I was out of place. However, as with so many things, a second pair of eyes is always a good idea. I may have even managed to cut the cost by $400-$500.

Not that I expect there will be anything left over once everything is added up. Thank goodness my only job is to forward expenses paid, and to pay, to another daughter to input in a spreadsheet. The Knot, a great site for brides, does have a budget page and it appears some items have already been added, but none of us are accountants so money issues tend to be a bit hit and miss at times so long as there is no running out of it! It truth, although not written down anywhere it seem the bride is pearly in control of the purse strings.

I took charge of the centrepieces in Jan/Feb, managing to buy nearly everything needed for the bride’s vision. There was only moment of panic when she asked for another photo of the mock up I did, she thought it had too much purple in it. Or, the wrong purple. She has assured me that everything is good, and she will have a better idea once her sister visits in April. Some of the flowers and lights had to be purchased in Waterloo. Now to find nine more bags of blue glass beads. I am hoping they will show up at one of the stores in Kingston – the stones I bought are getting heavy!

At my end of the country I was happy to finally book a one way flight for my youngest daughter and a Via Rail ticket. The latter was a headache because I booked that for the wrong date. Despite all my attempts the fee was not forgiven. This was new to me – I never had to pay a fee for making Rail changes before. Only my sister has a return flight so I booked morning Via Rail tickets for both of us to have time to see Toronto. She has never been there. If I can fit in Casa Loma I will be happy. If not, I will most likely be staying in the city at least one night with my two daughters who do not live in Ontario. Which means I keep checking Via’s Discount Tuesday’s for cheaper tickets on July 3rd. I am nearly at the realization this will most likely not happen. Regular price, yes. Ka-ching. (Not my dollars)

Mini Adventure: Happy Holi

For something completely different from my usual local adventures I decided an outdoor, cultural experience sounded like an excellent mix. The University of Victoria Indian Association had an open invitation to the public to attend their Festival of Colour celebration. As it is unlikely I will ever visit India this seemed like a perfect alternate to participate in an event I have only seen in pictures, documentaries and travelogues. Of course it was geared to students by the fact it was held on the grounds of the university. However, that was not about to dissuade me – two of my daughters, me, and my parents, were students of Uvic. (I do not recall such frivolity)

Except for the shots of me, my daughter and my sister, all the unknown smiling faces happily posed for me.

guess who! We knew some of those baggy clothes would eventually come in handy. Somehow my camera survived.

Clothed in white, to let the colours pop, wearing a pair of sandals (with socks because the temp was in the low teens) that did not matter if the colour would not come off, and ready for getting messy, I set off with my daughter and sister. Although we arrived shortly after the event was slated to begin it appeared to be in full swing. We were there for about two hours, I was possibly the oldest participant. This brought about some interesting reactions when young men approached to smear coloured powder on my face with a “Happy Holi” or gently toss it. Which brought to mind the reason for the celebration, and the culture behind it.

Time to let loose before exams and papers in April.

What is Holi and why is it celebrated by wild swirls of colourful, perfumed powder? There is a lot of information on the Net that tells the tale far better than I can. However, some basic facts: Time to mention that this year Holi was on March 1st and 2nd,; I have no idea why the Uvic event was held on March 17th. It certainly coincided with a number of celebrations. Lots of green for anyone hoping to partake of St. Patrick’s Day activities later, or Naw Ruz (New Year’s for at least three faiths), and of course the first day of spring. Holi – Festival of , celebrated by Hindus, is an important observation of the arrival of spring, good harvest and triumph of good over evil. A lot to pack into just two days. Although these days there are many colours used to celebrate Holi, usually synthetic, gulal – made from flowers and herbs – originally came red, yellow, green and blue to represent a significant purpose.

I love that I captured the shot below of the blue faced girl. (Also my sister in the sunglasses)

The dunk tank looked verrry cold and did little to wash off the colour

A note about the synthetic powder, perfumed gulal has become very popular – not great for anyone with allergies. Synthetic is safer on the skin, but like the natural ingredients, is not easy to wash off. I saw one young woman wearing a (p)leather jacket that I was loathe to mar. There were also sweaters that would most likely maintain the marks of good luck forevermore. Not exactly good clean fun.

We noticed a group of future students clutching folders, walking along with parents (is that helicopter parenting?)- either the parents were saying no bloody way, or looks like a relaxed school. There was a perimeter that participants of the celebration never crossed. Somehow I doubt such restraint occurs at larger Holi gatherings!

One of the times a line was started. The Macarena was popular when it was played (the students would have been very young children when it was popular – they all seemed to have the right moves). Lots of modern Indian music – very danceable.

Food also plays an important role, sadly, we left before what I could smell cooking was served. I love Indian food and rarely have the opportunity to eat it. Unfortunately, my sister does not like it and my daughter can only eat it if there is no gluten. K think if it had not been advertised that refreshments would be served, as well as having that heavenly aroma in the air, I would not have felt rather cheated. Also hungry. After two hours or so of fun, dancing and enjoying the sun it was time to head home to wash the pink, green, blue, yellow and red out of our hair and clothes.

everyone had a great time.

The next day, despite having a shower as soon as I got home, I am still finding colour in my ears; and the one article of clothing my daughter most likely wanted to come clean now has a lovely rainbow hue.