Wedding Wednesday: the aftermath

I had intended to write something the last Wednesday leading up to the big day; seems the final countdown means all sorts of last minute running around and the day ran away from me! It was not until the next day someone in the family mentioned they had not seen a post. (Nice to note some of them read my posts) However, now that the momentous day has come and gone I am free to include photos!

Big however here, I only took the first two of the following photos although they were taken on my phone. Why did I not take many? The mother of the bride should not be hiding behind a camera or iPhone. There were so many people with phones I knew I would not have to worry. I am waiting for some to be sent to me as I write – which tells the tale I started this before Wednesday. Just in case I am overwhelmed with exhaustion. Ensconced in my room, with AC and a fan going full blast I hope I can capture some of the magic of the day and chaos leading up to it.

My eldest, the bride, and two of her sisters

I had only managed two paragraphs before I started to doze off. Perhaps becoming a wedding coordinator is not in my future. Although I am quite sure I could teach the person in charge of the venue a few things about appropriate attitude when working with a bride. Fortunately nearly everything went smoothly. The worse incident was with a special glass pumpkin my daughter bought with their names and the date of the wedding engraved on plaques, As she said, “Seems wheels and boats don’t mix.” Funny considering we were on a paddle wheel.

My daughter, her soon to be husband (photos done before ceremony) and me

The bride was beautiful. The groom was handsome. The ladies and men were perfect. The venue was as ready as it would ever be. Guests arrived, listened to the piper (yes, there was a Piper), had a photo taken at a ship’s wheel and boarded. To add some humour water came running, taplike, from the roof above us just as the bride and her father were to walk down the aisle, right in the middle.

A wonderful gift of Scottish piping from the mother of the groom

The set up was lovely, once my daughter and a friend of her sister, stepped in to assist. We had fishbowls, minus the fish, (my grandson suggested goldfish crackers) with orchids and fairy lights flanking small, white bouquets in mason jars (these are actually great as decorative vases and found in nearly any cupboard). I never did understand if it was a fishbowl or a mason jar that was broken during the set up. The blue table runners and chair sashes were carefully laid and tied. Try ironing 100 sashes and 20 table runners, the. Keep the, from becoming creased before the big day!

just a bit of chaos before everything was boxed for the ride to the venue

We partied like there was no tomorrow. Anyone with slippers was happy to have remembered them – that includes me. The bride and groom serenaded the guests for the last song/dance. She lost her voice. Four days later she is still hoarse! Perhaps it was just as well the bridal table did not have any wine served to them during toasts – many drinks were being bought for them. That is said in jest, fortunately the bride snagged a bottle from the parents table – I had one short glass of red wine that I promptly gave to my youngest at the table across from me after the first toast. The rest of the toasts I had to use my water glass. Oops.

It is difficult to convey in words how wonderful everything was and even photographs will only provide a glimpse of how to do a wedding right. With lots of family, love, laughter and dancing to the hours. I hope everyone enjoys the photos I have been able to gather.

Wasn’t that a party?!

Advertisements

Mini Adventure: Transformation

After being deterred from visiting the Hatley Park Gardens due to the rather hefty fee I was pleased to discover that Father’s Day was slated for free entry. Gardens only, the castle was closed to the public. All we had to pay for was parking, $3.00 for three hours seemed like plenty and it was. I ended up passing along my parking receipt to another visitor. My friendly good deed for the day.

I stand by my beliefs that entry was free due to all the film paraphernalia and areas close to the castle, as well as some garden sections were closed off. My astute daughter took a quick look at the recently added embellishments hanging from the castle and flowers tucked into bushes before stating this was the setting for the Disney TV film Descendants. She was even able to provide some background information about the show. I had no idea she still harboured interest in the film industry. Look closely at one of the banners to see the Beast. The blue flowers in the bushes and front garden are all fake. According to my daughter blue flowers are the go to choice for the movies! (We do get blue hydrangea) The castle itself, and it is a real castle, depicts the school where the children of well known fairy tale characters attend. Ergo, Descendants. The fact the whole space was – since the 1940s -and remains, a university is a fun fact. The history is interesting, more can be found at http://hatleypark.ca/

Unfortunately the Italian Garden was closed. Most likely the most appropriate section for filming outdoor scenes: walled in, formal and a lovely loggia and pergola make this a romantic or eerie setting depending on lighting and the imagination. I can see Belle hanging over the balustrade dreaming of home; or the prince from Sleeping Beauty grabbing a low hanging wisteria to pull himself over a low sandstone railing to discover the castle glimpsed was not a vision.

There are benches dedicated to individuals for visitors to have a pleasant rest or to drink in the fragrances and feast the eyes. One couple commented on the filming, they said the helpful security person told them the set was for the Big Sleep. When I expressed doubt, it being a well known Bogart & Bacall movie and that this is a Disney film they were adamant. I mentioned this to my daughter who laughed before she told me many film settings have a false title to prevent crowds from descending on the setting. She did say, however, it may be the title of the latest installation – so I looked it up and indeed that is the case. Even at 60 I am learning things.

who needs fake flowers when nature provides beauties like these!

The castle had not been our focus so we were not too disappointed, I had already been inside on a few occasions many years ago. We headed to the rose garden, an enclosed space to keep foraging deer from decimating the rose bushes, a delicacy for them. Although beginning to look a little worse for wear as we approach the final days of spring the bushes and vines had enough colour and fragrance – without overwhelming allergies my daughter has – to encourage guests to linger before leaving through the rose handle gate at the far end into the fruit bearing garden. We found apple and pear trees roped along the fences, beginning to plump up, yet again having missed the full glory of flowering. This bounty does not go to waste, all the fruit is donated to food banks. I guess students are not considered in desperate enough need for fresh fruit in mid-September. (Student loans tend to last at least to mid-October)

We returned through the rose garden, remembering to carefully close the door behind us, to head to the Bog Garden and Japanese Garden. My daughter was not about to miss a Bog Garden! For some reason I was expecting something more along the line of a peat bog, but this was far more interesting for how clear it was. The underwater flora was just as interesting as the variety floating atop the water. Swift dragonflies and smaller insects did not always outrace the small birds skimming above, slight splashes indicated a successful catch and meal. These were some very happy birds. In addition to the splashes there were tiny bubbles rising from the depths – although we tried to figure out what caused these we really had no idea. We could see to the bottom, we could not see any living creatures. I was intrigued by the thin green spines rising from the water, they appeared to be horsetails. Upon closer inspection we were convinced they were, albeit much thinner, and not at all spread out as ones along banks of ditches.

No idea what this giant leafy plant is – it looks dangerous!

As with most of the plants in the various gardens the Japanese Garden was no longer as full of flowers as it would have been even two weeks earlier. However, it is still rather magical with its three hump curved bridge to a pavilion sitting on the manmade lake. The quiet, trees, slight breeze and water had me wishing I still lived in the little cottage at Grouches Lair (of course the name enthralled me) I rented for several months now nearly ten years ago. How fortunate we are to live so nearby such lovely gardens and wilderness.

Despite missing the rhododendrons in full bloom, the cherry blossoms and wisteria the gardens still remain welcoming. Perhaps the giant, ancient Douglas Firs providing natural shade, and soft ground for laying down a picnic blanket, the rugged appearing paths that are actually easy to traverse, and the mountains in the far distance beyond the ocean are enough. It was a pleasant, easy afternoon wander.

All it needs is a Prince, or these days a princess, to scale the walls

Mini Adventure: Francis/King Park (path less travelled)

The Victoria Day long weekend tends to make me want to stay put. The long waits to catch a ferry, longer lines of vehicles clogging the highways, and crowds downtown do not mean a relaxing time. Fortunately we do have places to visit that are within a 5-15 minute drive and many of them can be visited without seeing another person. Expecting a slightly clouded over lazy Sunday I had hoped to visit the Hatley Park Gardens – once a family castle and gardens, then a military college and now the Royal Roads University I had enjoyed the gardens a few times over the 33+ years I have lived in Victoria. It was not to be – the summer months now see a fee being charged to see the gardens. Plus parking unless walking or transit. Thank goodness we always look for a second possibility when making plans.

We wanted an easy walk. Francis/King Regional Park, a 15 minute drive without highway driving, is the perfect spot with its accessible, cedar boardwalk and gravel, Elsie King Trail, to the moderate Centennial Trail that has more difficult offshoot trails. After passing 2-3 interpretive sidebars (pleasant seating, excellent information, and space for more than one stroller, scooter, or wheelchair) we tripped past a post pointing towards a Shooting Star Trail. I could not resist latching onto the trail of a shooting star! We were leaving the comfort of the manmade trail for the depths of the less travelled yet still within the limits of safety for us and the forest. With eleven trails in this 107 hectare park there is enough nature, ranging from 500 year old Douglas Firs to tiny meadow flowers and giant skunk cabbage, to please all visitors. A small, largely untouched, oasis surrounded by farms and modern life.

We enjoyed a peaceful, enchanting two hours, roughly six kilometres, accompanied by the light thunk thunk of a lone woodpecker, the far off call of a raven, light birdsong and many insects. Everything seemed muted by the soft sphagnum mosses in meadow, Grandpa’s Beard moss hanging from trees and the deeper green mosses wrapping the branches of grand, bare limbs. Roots and rock provided natural steps and designs far more original than any paintings. I was on the hunt for fungi knowing this was perfect weather. I hit the mother lode! To add to the perfect day we also discovered a small, floral clad roof cave – I could almost see the magic beginning to peek out.

There were a few trees that appeared to have been hit by lightening, shot through their cores and split; the remains of one lay across the side of the path, already renewed with growth. Although we did not seek out Skunk Cabbage Loop Trail we were happy to find that Shooting Star Trail closed the loop. The leaves reached up and across 2-3 feet up and over one foot across, out of a relatively small marsh. These beautiful plants (even the smell) always make me think of the arrival of spring, we had entered the stage of full renewal. (No photos, I could not figure out how to do the leaves justice)

I love looking up when on walks, in the notch of this host tree a holly plant was growing.

One of the still standing split, blackened trunks with a gnarled tree to its right that I only discovered when going through my photos

Sometimes taking the path less travelled, or at least giving the sense of unexplored, makes for the best adventure.

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.

Chemainus: the little town that did

What does a small town falling into wrack and ruin do when all of its resource jobs are rapidly disappearing? Pull out the paint and brushes! This little town understood the concept of “build it and they will come.” They did, into the millions, from around the world, since the early 1980s. Which is how I first heard about this out of the way little town.

Named for a local Cowichan First Nations band, “Tsa-mee’-nis” that had been living off the land and sea for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived in 1791. By 1858 settlers were felling trees to clear the land, within four years the first sawmill was up and running and took advantage of the naturally deep port to move logs and board. Although iron ore was mined in the area and fishing was important, the forests provided the majority of jobs. Until everything fell apart with the downturn of the markets. As this was happening I was moving to Vancouver Island. By 1983 the last sawmill in Chemainus had shut down. Five murals had been painted in 1982 as part of a revitalization plan. With the closure of the mill plans were put in place to keep on painting. The theme was the history of the area – trains, logging, the working man, the immigrants, the festivals. Although the mill did re-open in 1985 the locals had discovered a new way to earn money. Tourism.

Street heading to the docks from the main park.

My first trip to Chemainus was probably some time between 1986 – 1989, the murals were so fresh it seemed that wet paint would be left on your hands if you dared to touch a wall. Wood walls, brick walls, rough and smooth walls, were painted with stunning, and not so great, murals. They were impressive, present and approachable. These were our people depicted in giant form. Over the years I would return a few times, my children encouraging me to hurry up and look. They were always interested – and each had a favourite. They also had an uncanny memory for where to find the best ice cream cones.

check out the upstairs windows! This is a candy shop. I wonder if my children could find the ice cream store now.

It has been probably 15+ years since my last visit. My mission was to drive to Nanaimo, north of Chemainus, to purchase some wedding centrepiece items – the store would not send to the either of the Victoria stores. That accomplished, two hours from home to store and back on the road, I felt we needed a little adventure. I chose Chemainus.

I cannot swear to this however I am quite sure this building was a new build in the ’80s

Today was out of season, many shops were still closed, or only open Tuesday to Saturday. This gave my daughter and I the freedom to just wander without jostling elbows, avoiding tour buses and cars. We checked out the Chemainus Theatre, I have heard their shows are high quality. I finally picked up a list and schedule of the plays for this coming year – with a goal to see one. I love trains, so was quite happy to find some murals of various trains. Of course there were others, 44 is the number I read. We did not make a full tour of them, perhaps when it is less chilly.

Mural showing iron ore being mined. I do not see the hardship in this one. Perhaps the artist did not want to upset tourists

One I liked, not of trains, was of float festival winners from 1939. This was a Japanese float, all I could think of was if any of the people who had been part of the float were forced to one of the Japanese interment camps in Canada during the Second World War. I looked it up. Despite being Canadian citizens, even second or third generation, perhaps 200 were displaced out of Chemainus. Many never returned, their homes, businesses, property had been seized.

where else but on the wall of the Post Office

I bought a rather yummy sausage roll, an apple turnover and a coffee (except I think it had a different name) at Utopia Bakery, hidden around a corner. The sausage rolls, including the meat, are house made, beef and pork with a little spice for a bite. Warmed just enough rather than piping hot like many places do. The coffee was bold, probably because we managed to get caught in the only rain during the five hours we were up Island! I ended up not eating the turnover until I was home, it was quite good. Not overly sweet, always a bonus, and flaky, yet sturdy, pastry. (I never appreciate having pastry crumbs flying about)

Many of the homes built over 100 years ago are still in use, or sadly, sitting empty and looking rather forlorn. I was rather intrigued by Castle B&B, so much so I suggested we might want to rent the small ‘castle’. The rent was reasonable, Chemainus perhaps not so much.

There are some problems with living in a tourist town, particularly one that operates seasonally- what to do when the tourists leave. Of course there are still some mills. Outdoor activities are thriving, still mainly during warmer weather. Which is a pretty decent window – usually March to October. However, I could not help but notice the once bright yellow footprints showing the way are fading, the paint is chipping on a few murals, several shops have closed permanently.

We came across this and a similar one in the garden of a house. Look closely to see the white orchid

Once a shop filled with a variety of items to entice tourists. Now it sits unloved, draperies pulled tight.

Spectacular mountain, ocean and forest views

We left home at 7:30AM and were home by 12:30PM. A five hour trip up island and return with a wonderful little break in ‘the little town that did’ where we were refreshed, walked and enjoyed the art. It is suggested visitors stay a little longer. Perhaps I will when the place comes out of hibernation, to be drawn into the full magic of Chemainus just as my children were over twenty years ago.