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THEY CHANGED EVERYTHING Forty years after the Status of Women report, activists tell their stories of anger, hope and achievement
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volume XX ISsUE 4 may/june 2010
10 EDITOR’S LETTER Two heads are better than one 11 LETTERS to the EDITOR Made in Victoria, read everywhere
features 14 WOMEN OF ACTION Forty years later, feminists reunite By Denise Rudnicki
36 PHOTOS BY Meet the talented winners of our annual photo contest By Tristin Hopper
26 PAINT WARS Graffiti taggers get the brush-off By Tristin Hopper
42 RIDING HABIT Cycling groups do more than spin their wheels By Alex Van Tol
46 COWICHAN Chief Lydia Hwitsum is building the future By Georgina Montgomery 56 WEED HEEDERS Can we learn to love (gulp) the dandelion? By Thelma Fayle
112 TRAVEL NEAR A Galiano getaway doesn’t require a car By Suzanne Morphet
12 CONTRIBUTORS Faces new and familiar
116 TRAVEL FAR Eat like a president when you’re on the road By Tom Hawthorn
60 CREATIVE MINDS Noah Becker wins an artistic trifecta By Rick Gibbs
120 LIBATIONS Our new wine columnist teaches the art of tasting By Sharon McLean
68 FRONT ROW Get Fired-Up! over the anatomy of pots in Metchosin; the Uno Festival scales down, but looks impressive; the Victoria Symphony offers Rachmaninoff and Mary Lou Fallis; the AGGV spins an aboriginal weaving exhibit; plus theatre, jazz and more By Robert Moyes
124 EATING IN Buying half a cow or lamb makes a whole lot of sense By Elizabeth Levinson
76 HOT PROPERTIES Carefully eclectic, a condo really rocks By Denise Rudnicki 92 HOT DESIGN The season’s new garden gear is as green as grass By Rachel Goldsworthy 98 TECHNOLOGIA Tips for tuning into TV via the web By Darryl Gittins 102 BOULEVARD BOOK CLUB Gift from the Sea is a gift from the past By Adrienne Dyer
128 EATING OUT Local chefs create Ocean Wise dishes By Jason Brown 133 SECRETS & LIES All the news that fits Lucinda Chodan By Shannon Moneo
columns 22 Hawthorn Is a ukulele revival good news or bad? By Tom Hawthorn 32 Public Citizen Go ahead, you can poll me on anything By Ross Crockford 64 State of the Arts House concerts make magical music moments By Alisa Gordaneer
ON OUR COVER: A portrait montage by photographer Vince Klassen: Clockwise from left: former Victoria Status of Women Action Group members Christina Johnson-Dean, Linda Sproule-Jones, Betty Andrews, Norrie Preston, and, in the centre, Susan Nickum. See story page 14.
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A sharp-eyed reader noticed that in our March/April issue, this letter was not signed: you had to go to the masthead page to see my name. It was one of those so-obvious-we-missed-it mistakes that cause editors to laugh, sigh and cry in equal measures. But luckily, the timing of our glitch is perfect, as I am switching jobs with Associate Editor Anne Mullens. In our July/August issue, her face, letter — and name — will greet you. Anne and I have been sharing editing duties at Boulevard for a year, learning from each other and discovering that we have a well-matched set of skills. Now, as I move to help develop other Boulevard projects, it is her turn to take the editorial reins. I’ll still work on stories here, delighted to be part of Anne’s team. Our new arrangement reflects both our own needs and those of our employer, and shows that the term “flexible workplace” does not have to be an oxymoron. For this issue, we have gathered together some of the women in the Victoria area who paved the way for us, and for our daughters, to take our rightful place in all areas of the workforce, a battle not yet completely won. But that is not all the local members of SWAG (the Status of Women Action Group) accomplished in the wake of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, whose recommendations came down 40 years ago. These early activists changed everything for Canadian women, from family law to reproductive rights to being able to get a bank loan without a husband’s consent: those are signatures nobody has to go looking for anymore. We salute the women of SWAG. And as summer nears, I hope you can welcome whatever warm winds of change are stirring in your lives. Vivian Smith Managing Editor NOTE: In our March/April issue, we neglected to credit make-up artist Lorraine Esplen, who did the make-up for the photos of our cover profile subject, Jane Butler McGregor. Our apologies, Lorraine. Victoria Boulevard welcomes your letters. Please include your name, address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for brevity and/or clarity. Write to Letters, 1845B Fort Street, Victoria, BC, V8R 1J6, or you can e-mail us at email@example.com. Check out our website: victoriaboulevard.com. VB
Kudos for online ease Just a note to let you know that the tools you have used to allow readers to access the online version of the magazine are great! Pages are quick to view; the next/previous buttons enable a reader to turn pages just as you would with the paper version. And if you would like to read a page, the zoom feature takes care of that. Well done. Geoff and Susan Orr North Saanich Everyone loves Darryl . . . Darryl Gittins’ Technologia column is fabulous: a wealth of information for the layperson. I also e-mailed him about a program problem and he came to my rescue with many suggestions. He’s now on the top of my list of nice people. I look forward to more columns by Darryl. Love your publication. Jean Lorhan Victoria . . . and his fans span the globe A big thank you to you and Darryl Gittins in your January/February edition for making my life so much easier from now on. Until reading Gittins’ column called E-mail Avalanche, I had been saving each important e-mail laboriously one by one and was unable to find the folder where they were hidden. Now the back-up is a breeze, so whoopee and thank you both. In case you are
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BOULEVARD the magazine of urban living the arts people food homes
President John Simmons Vice President & Publisher Peter Baillie VP Finance Melissa Sands Associate Publisher Linda Hensellek Managing Editor Vivian Smith Associate Editor Anne Mullens Art Director Jaki Jefferson Production Jaki Graphics, Kelli Brunton Principal Photographers Gary McKinstry, Vince Klassen Advertising Linda Hensellek, Alicia Cormier Pat Montgomery-Brindle Administration Coordinator Janet Dessureault Pre-press Kelli Brunton Printing Central Web 46,000 copies of Victoria Boulevard ® are published bimonthly by Boulevard Lifestyles Inc. Mailing address:1845B Fort Street, Victoria, BC V8R 1J6. Tel: 250-598-8111. Fax: 250-598-3183. E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: victoriaboulevard.com Victoria Boulevard ® is a registered trademark of Boulevard Lifestyles Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. Printed in Canada.
ourcontributors JASON BROWN is another Ontario transplant living in Victoria. A former food columnist for Monday Magazine and an award-winning fiction writer, he’s got a passion for cast-iron cookware and bamboo cutting boards. Dutifully researching his Eating Out piece on the Ocean Wise program reconfirmed his opinion that locally caught halibut, with its large, clean flake, makes a superior fish and chips. Happily, it’s a better choice for the health of the oceans as well. RACHEL GOLDSWORTHY writes for magazines and
newspapers across Canada, covering subjects from public art to chicken feed. Her favourite assignments include writing about creative people, whether they’re crafting stories, designing green buildings or donning gumboots to plant a pizza garden. While she was researching this issue’s Hot Design, Rachel developed an overwhelming urge to prune something. We haven’t seen her since and her secateurs are missing, too. TRISTIN HOPPER was born and raised in Victoria and
is a relative newcomer to freelance writing. He spends most of his time as an associate editor for Up Here magazine, but his writing can also be seen in everything from Boulevard to national newspapers to the back pages of in-flight helicopter magazines. In speaking with the winners of Photos By, Tristin was impressed by the diversity and charm of the six profiled photographers. SHARON McLEAN, our new Libations writer, enjoys sharing her wine passion and knowledge. She teaches advanced sommelier courses on Vancouver Island for the International Culinary School and is a director of the Victoria Wine Society. A frequent guest speaker and presenter at public and private wine tastings, Sharon has earned diplomas from the International Sommeliers Guild and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Boulevard is delighted to welcome her. ALEX VAN TOL, who wrote our piece on cycling groups,
thinks every bike should look as cool as Kate Miller’s Pepto-pink wheeling machine. Although she has fond memories of racing around Calgary on her nimble blue Apollo as a teen, Alex has long since hung up her padded shorts for a comfortable seat at the keyboard. Alex, a veteran freelancer, has a first novel with Orca Book Publishers due out this fall. VB
Celebrating activism and each other,
Victoria’s early feminists mark a historic anniversary
In this photo montage by photographer Vince Klassen, former SWAG members are framed by UVic’s Archives
and Special Collections Reading Room, where the group’s historical documents are kept. From left to right: Betty Andrews, Norrie Preston, Susan Nickum, Christina Johnson-Dean and Linda Sproule-Jones.
By Denise Rudnicki Photo by Vince Klassen
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Susan Nickum is perched in front of the fireplace with a faraway look on her face, remembering what life was like in 1973 when she was a 30-year-old mother. She wanted to work, but she needed to be home with her youngest, just five. Besides, day care and flexible work hours were non-existent. “I promised I would stay home for a bit but I craved intellectual stimulation,” she says. She looks around at the women who gathered recently in the living room of a Victoria home. “I found it with you.” Donna Dippie recalls her move to Victoria from Austin, Texas in 1970, when her husband took a job teaching history at the University of Victoria. She didn’t have a job and didn’t know a soul. She speaks quickly, excitedly. “I was really lonely. You became my family — you were my mother, my sister.” victoriaboulevard.com 15
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These 12 women first met because of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, formed in 1967 by then Prime Minister Lester Pearson. The government was forced to form the commission after a six-month lobbying effort by 33 women’s groups, representing two million Canadian women. The Royal Commission was unlike others. It was “a national consciousness-raising exercise” about the lack of equal opportunities for Canadian women, says Heather McIvor, who writes and lectures on the commission’s work. When the commission reported to Parliament in December 1970, its 167 recommendations provided Perhaps it takes a rallying cry for women who were primed and ready for women who are change. battle-scarred and It led to the formation of a new, national federation of who know the highs women’s organizations, including the National Action and lows of the Committee on the Status of Women. All across Canada, fight for equality community-based action to recognize how groups sprang up. In Victoria, the Status of Women Action much more work Group, or SWAG, was formed in 1971. Its mandate, like the there is to do. other groups across the country, was to promote the full participation of women in the social, political and economic life of the country, helping implement the commission’s recommendations. “This was one of the most successful Royal Commissions ever,” says Barbara Freeman, a Canadian author, scholar and feminist. “One of the reasons it was not put on the shelf to collect dust was because of groups like SWAG.” To commemorate the report’s 40th anniversary, the SWAG women have been invited to get together. It’s as if no time has passed. They are older. Many have grandchildren. They joke about grey hair and wider hips but fall into each other’s arms in greeting, quickly settle onto couches and chairs, look at old clippings and photos, and the remembering begins. “Women were marginal citizens, especially in the workplace,” says former president Norrie Preston. “You could be fired if you got pregnant,” says Avis Rasmussen. “Married women couldn’t get a bank loan without their husband’s signature,” says Mimi Robertson. “BC Tel wouldn’t let a married woman have her own
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listing in the phone book! Unless she paid extra,” says founding member Linda Sproule-Jones. “People don’t realize how bad things were then.” The women are quiet for a moment. They talk about a time when marriage was not an equal partnership under the law; when a man’s savings and assets were his own and a wife had no right to a share in a divorce. Many jobs were closed to women. Women could be tellers but not bank managers; they could be matrons in jails but not They had a mandate police officers. In whatever jobs they did hold, they were to change the world paid much less than men and fired first in hard times. but couldn’t afford Sproule-Jones laughs at a typewriter and the how naive she was. “We thought that now the $1 membership fee commission has reported, government would see what wasn’t going very far. was wrong — that now things would change.” But she remembers the moment she realized that change would not come without a fight. “James Chabot was BC Labour Minister. He made the outrageous statement that the Royal Commission report was written for the rest of Canada. It did not apply to BC. That gave us incentive.” Incentive to do a lot with very little. They had a mandate to change the world but couldn’t afford a typewriter and the $1 membership fee wasn’t going very far. In Victoria, some 200 women were members in the 1970s but $200 a year was hardly enough to run an organization. SWAG president Preston kept a Gestetner machine in the basement on top of her dryer. Nickum brought it home when it was her turn to crank out the newsletter. It was these volunteers — the stay-at-home moms, the university students, the activists — who dragooned new members, researched issues, wrote briefs and lobbied for change. SWAG formed committees on day care, equal employment and pay, family law and education. Some members, like Christina Johnson-Dean, did a little sleuthing in the pursuit of equality. Posing as a mother with twins — one boy, one girl — the-then UVic student called Victoria schools to find out if her daughter could take shop and if her boy could take home economics. “Very few schools entertained the idea,” she says. “Now children have a choice.” The women in this room lobbied for changes to labour legislation that discriminated against women. They raised awareness of issues such as the idea of equal pay for work of equal value. They pointed out the inequalities
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that hurt wives both during marriage and after its breakdown. They changed the lives of Canadian women and in the process, changed their own lives. Betty Andrews, now 83, was a nurse and a mother of four daughters in 1972. Married at 21, a hospital nurse, caring for her children, she says she felt as though she was spending her whole life looking after other people. Then she joined SWAG. “I felt as soon as I walked into the place that I was home. These were interesting people who showed me “I felt as soon respect,” she says. She left nursing, became a museum docent, studied as I walked into photography and started travelling, spending six months in Africa. the place that “SWAG taught me to have a life of I was home.” my own.” Her daughters all have careers, as do the daughters of all the women here today. SprouleJones says, “We opened those doors for our daughters.” Ironically, that starts a lively discussion about what it’s like for modern women, juggling home and career, doing the work of two people, feeling obligated to work. Nickum blurts out a startling question. “What have we done to our daughters?” Silence. Then the old fighting spirits surface because not one woman in this room would want to go back to how things were. “It’s an issue of a lack of day care,” says Preston. “And not enough flexibility in the workplace,” says Robertson. “And that hurts women and men.” Each generation fights its own issues. Modern women try to balance work and home and fight for public policies that support families in which both parents work full time. Perhaps it takes women who are battle-scarred and who know the highs and lows of the fight for equality to recognize how much more work there is to do. But Victoria’s SWAG shut down in 2007. There wasn’t enough money to keep it going. It lives on, however, in the Women’s Movement Archives at the University of Victoria. Annalee Lepp, who chairs the Department of Women’s Studies, says, “This collection provides students and other researchers a chance to explore the complexities, challenges and successes of women’s organizing in Victoria — local histories that might otherwise be lost or forgotten among subsequent generations.” “We see our daughters struggling,” says Nickum to the nods of the others. “It isn’t over.” For more information on the Women’s Movement Archives and the SWAG collection at UVic, see http://library.uvic.ca/ site/archives/featured_collections/vwma/index.html. VB
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When a Victoria music store invited would-be musicians to try out the humble uke, the throngs descended: is a plinking revival afoot?
On the final Saturday of each month, Larsen Music dedicates a few hours to free instruction for the public. The family-owned business encourages music lovers to try their chops. Should a budding trombonist stick with the instrument, well, as it happens, Larsen has in stock a fine selection of instruments. Earlier this year, it seemed a propitious time to offer a free ukulele lesson. The store had plenty of ukes on hand. Come to our uke workshop, the shop urged. Bring your ukulele or borrow one of ours. Weâ€™ll jam. The first hint of the popularity of the invitation was the sheer number of telephone calls. Figuring the session was going to attract a larger audience than usual, the staff cleared away about half the floor space. On the big day, they quickly realized they would need more space. 22 victoriaboulevard.com
Could the uke be on the cusp of a global revival? Could it at least get some respect? Until recently, the ukulele has been the Rodney Dangerfield of stringed instruments, a children’s plaything that looks like a guitar left out in the rain. The four-stringed instrument is associated with Hawaii, where it developed after the arrival of a shipload of Portuguese immigrants in 1879. Among them were three instrument makers. Popular lore has it that a musician celebrated the ship’s landing in the Pacific paradise by playing frenzied folk tunes on his cavaquinho, a small, four-stringed instrument. In time, the locals developed a modified version of their own, some with a narrow waist, like a miniature guitar, others with a gently rounded body like a pineapple. A native wood, koa, lent itself to the instrument, which came to be called the ukulele, or “dancing flea,” after the demented motion of fast-moving fingers plucking the strings. The ukulele likely made its way to British Columbia with sailors and Kanaka immigrants, the contract labourers from Hawaii who eventually established communities in Victoria, Maple Ridge and Salt Spring Island. Ukulele fever swept North America after Jonah Kumalae presented his instruments at the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco in 1915. His performances at the Hawaii pavilion captured the public imagination. Soon, all kinds of parlour musicians were taking up the easy-to-learn instrument, a fad still apparent in the sheet music of the 1920s. The instrument waned in popularity before enjoying a revival sparked by servicemen returning from the American naval base in Hawaii. Polynesian-themed restaurants offering mai tais and other umbrella-laden drinks were the height of sophisticated exotica in the 1950s and early 1960s, a time when a mellow, easy-listening Hawaiian musician named Don (Tiny Bubbles) Ho became a well-known cultural figure, appearing in cameos on several hit television shows. The lei-bedecked Ho played Hammond organ, but his band made good use of the ukulele as both prop and instrument. In retrospect, the uke was doomed when Bob Dylan, of all people, went electric, acoustic strings overwhelmed by the guitar-bass-drums lineup of rock groups. Only a few years later, the ukulele was reduced to a novelty instrument played by such plucky acts as the falsetto-singing Tiny Tim, who tiptoed through the tulips while strumming. For the next four decades, the ukulele remained a little-regarded instrument most often used to introduce children to music. “It was always a sort of peripheral thing. Hangs on the wall,” says musician Paul Laverick, an English-born, 32-year-
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old guitarist who helped organize the ukulele workshop at Larsen. “Yet, it’s portable. It’s easy to work out chords and rhythms. It’s a good little cool instrument. It’s almost perfect.” Unlike the recorder, you can also sing while playing. He attributes its recent popularity to a return to folk music and kitchen concerts, as ukes, banjos and mandolins find an audience weary of arena extravaganza. Back in his native land, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, formed in 1985, has helped revive interest following tours of North America. A shop in London is called The Duke of Uke, while a player in California calls himself Cool Hand Uke. The instrument just seems like fun. Not to mention that teaching it is as easy as child’s play. “I can get a group playing and singing within an hour,” Laverick pronounces. So, on a Saturday afternoon, novice uke players aged from seven to 75 began to file into the music store. The staff counted the arrivals — one dozen, two dozen, three dozen. More flocked into the shop as the staff hurriedly cleared the entire sales floor. In time, more than six dozen aspiring musicians jammed into the space. Folks filled every rental chair. They lined up against the wall, stood behind the cash counter, blocked the windows at the rear. Some shared music stands, while others balanced sheet music on their knee, furiously turning a page mid-strum. Their instructor taught a handful of basic chords, then
instructed the pupils in what can be thought of as the ukulele’s greatest hits — You Are My Sunshine and Oh! Susanna. The makeshift ensemble sang, “I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee.” “OK, so the third verse,” Laverick said, while plinking away. “You just go from C to G again. Here we go.” They did so. Then they played Stand By Me, the Ben E. King tune, and the irresistible ballad, Over the Rainbow. “That’s one of the songs where everyone who hears it,” Laverick said, “wants to buy a ukulele.” He’s right. The first plink places me amid palms and Polynesians on a Pacific island. It sounds even better when used to cover a familiar rock tune. Sure, it’s a bit comical at first, but the uke is a versatile instrument, one even an untalented music lover like me can learn. The ukulele doesn’t need a video-game version of Guitar Hero, because it’s already so easy to play. Laverick has performed Stevie Wonder’s Superstition on his favourite ukulele, as well as songs by Tom Waits and Dylan, bringing the Bobster back to his roots. A Victoria Ukulele Circle meets every Wednesday at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre and local instructors are thinking of organizing a uke festival for next year. Sometimes, Laverick imagines recruiting an army of ukulelestrumming acolytes, spreading the word about the perfect little instrument anyone can play. VB
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A tag mars a mural on the Galloping Goose Trail.
By Tristin Hopper
photo by gary mckinstry
WAR of the
WALLS When graffiti taggers take on the law, whoever has
There was a time when Mike Reed didn’t notice the sheer volume of scrawls, scribbles and stylized signatures — known as tags — pocking the streets of Greater Victoria. But then Esquimalt put him in charge of graffiti eradication. Now, graffiti haunts Reed from every power pole, mailbox and wall. He calls it “the curse.” Each night, anonymous graffiti writers apply a fresh batch of tags to Esquimalt streets. Reed must blot them out by sunset. He’s never met his invisible foes, but he’s memorized their monikers. He points to two tags scrawled next to each other on a warehouse. “Those two are dating,” he says. Nearby, he motions to an awkwardly drawn tag on a cinderblock wall and says “that guy’s new, he’s just starting out.” Painting over graffiti is boring, unrewarding work, says Reed, 54, but he insists he’s gaining ground. Why? “We have 10 times more paint than they do.” Each year, graffiti causes upwards of $1-million in damage to businesses and municipalities around Victoria. Some call it a valuable art subculture. Others call it vandalism. Whatever your opinion, creating graffiti is a crime (police usually lay a mischief charge) and Victoria’s battle against it is ramping up.
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Seven days a week, the Downtown Victoria Business Association dispatches green-vested youths to rub out the graffiti of downtown Victoria. Each year, the crews scrub, scratch and paint out more than 5,000 tags, equal to 14 per day. “We’re battling the forces of darkness,” says Ken Kelly, president of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. “Graffiti is a blight on the urban landscape, there’s no mincing the words.” To cut back on graffiti-susceptible spaces, downtown Victoria’s electrical boxes have been wrapped with paintproof maps. Mailboxes are being wrapped with detailed motifs. Blank, tagging-susceptible walls have been covered with community murals. Taggers hit everything from private homes to monuments to those murals. Last September, a graffiti writer spray-painted St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, causing permanent damage to an unpainted brick wall. “It’s devastating for our heritage buildings, absolutely devastating,” says Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Despite years of damage, only recently have graffiti’s creators started to hit the police radar. Const. Chantal Ziegler was a newcomer to the Victoria Police Department when she started doing anti-graffiti work from the side of her desk. A 15-year veteran of the Calgary Police Service, her interest was quickly piqued by Victoria’s waves of un-addressed graffiti. On the surface, it would seem nearly impossible to catch a graffiti writer. They work quickly, at night and mainly in vacant areas. But their Achilles’ heel is a consistent tag. When they start out, they pick a four-letter moniker and stick to it over their career. By keeping track of tags, police keep tabs on specific writers. Then, if a writer is caught in the act, police lay charges based on their accumulated portfolio. Whenever a tag hits a building in the Victoria area, Const. Ziegler has it photographed and filed. “I read absolutely every graffiti tag that comes through the City of Victoria,” she says. Her efforts are starting to pull graffiti writers out of the woodwork, but not always into a courtroom. “I believe in consequence, but not necessarily always through the court system,” says Const. Ziegler. At times, a simple chat with parents will suffice, she said. “Often, it’s a cry for help and if you’re willing to listen to what’s going on, then together, parents, community, police, we can all come to a better resolution.” In Langford, restorative justice wasn’t cutting it, says Wayne Brown, a Langford bylaw officer. Graffiti artists were causing thousands of dollars in damage per year and then leaving the courtroom with “a $325 fine and a handful of community service hours,” he says. The municipality
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decided to take its graffiti writers to civil court. Last October, Langford was awarded $6,400 in damages from a 20-year-old tagger. “There’s one kid out there we’re looking for whose damage is pushing $1-million . . . I guarantee there’ll be a civil suit,” says Brown. Peter Allen is Victoria’s go-to graffiti defender. An artist and former graffiti writer, he often hit newspaper pages as the practice’s most high-profile champion. But lately, he’s been backing off. In the early 1990s, Allen’s graffiti scene was all about art, he said. Today, it’s more about Illegality is part of audacious vandalism. Bus stops are etched with acid. the form, says former Private property is hit. Car windshields are spraybombed. “I can’t speak for the tagger Peter Allen. people that run around doing really bad vandalism,” says The thrill of getting Allen, “it’s so different than when I was coming up.” caught distils an artist Allen, 30, gave up tagging two years ago, but a graffitiesque style still permeates his into a raw “primal” canvas–based art. Sharp lines, bright colours and high state of mind, which energy hearken back to his days on the street with a spray colours the work. can and a respirator. “It was my art school,” says Allen. Illegality is part of the form, he explains. The thrill of getting caught distils an artist into a raw “primal” state of mind, which colours the work, he says. Art or not, it all comes down to permission, says Reed. “If you come out and find the side of your house tagged, it doesn’t really matter how artistic it is, you wouldn’t want it there,” he says. No matter how colourful, how skilled or how original, when graffiti blankets a city, it makes the community look like it doesn’t care, he adds. According to Allen, that’s part of the idea. It’s a graffiti writer’s job to hit forgotten areas. Graffiti is like a neglect indicator: the more graffiti, the more an area needs attention. Reed, meanwhile, parks his truck in front of an electrical utility box and pulls out a historical photo of an old E & N locomotive. For $5,000, he explains, the box was going to be covered with a graffiti-proof coating stamped with the picture. All across Esquimalt, Reed has covered utility boxes with images ranging from historical photos to pictures of wildlife. Finding new pictures is one of the best parts of his job, he says. “You’re limited only by your imagination.” VB
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publiccitizen By ROSS crockford
Pollsters want to mine our lives for reasons that may or may not serve us. They think they have my opinions figured out, but I know how to resist
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The young woman on the phone had a few questions. She was calling from a market-research firm in Toronto to inquire about my “experience” at a bank I’d visited that week. Before I could even think to ask how she knew I’d been there, she started reading from her script. “The teller treated my transaction as carefully as if it were their own. One (strongly disagree) to seven (strongly agree)?” “It was only a deposit,” I replied. “I’d still like a number.” “Okay, seven,” I said, probably cancelling out a one given by someone who’d been advised to invest heavily in Greek mutual funds. 32 victoriaboulevard.com
We 21st-century North Americans are the most metered generation in history. Our every click on the Internet is recorded somewhere. If you’ve got a land-based phone line, you’re bombarded with questionnaires. Every week I get calls from surveyors and pollsters. I dutifully respond to them, because I know the answers could affect everything from the flavour of my toothpaste to federal climate-change policy. I may only get to vote every couple of years, but every week my opinions are sought. Like it or not, such research is often the closest we come to enjoying direct democracy. Canvassing public opinion has probably been around since chiefs worried whether their tribes would revolt, but it didn’t become systematic until the late 19th century, when newspapers started conducting crude “straw polls” of readers to see which way the political winds were blowing. In 1916, the U.S. weekly Literary Digest began predicting presidential races, based on surveys it mailed to millions of registered automobile and telephone owners — a system that won huge readership. But in 1936, an Iowa advertising researcher named George Gallup, reasoning many Depression-era voters didn’t own cars or phones, used small but demographically representative samples to predict accurately that Franklin Roosevelt would defeat Alf Landon, who was favoured by the Digest polls. Gallup became a star. In his America Speaks! column for the Washington Post, he published the results of national surveys on such topics as Roosevelt’s New Deal, the minimum wage, Prohibition and men’s topless bathing suits. His sampling method transformed the field of businessmarket research and pundits around the world trumpeted polls as a great instrument of democracy. (In Finland, the word for “poll” is gallup.) Times have changed. Today, only 40 per cent of Canadians trust what pollsters say — if you believe an Ipsos Reid poll published last year — and whistleblowers have denounced the opinion-research industry. In his 2008 book The Opinion Makers, David W. Moore, who worked for the Gallup Organization for 13 years, says that poll samples have become increasingly unreliable. Only 20 per cent of people respond to surveys when called and the rate is dropping further as many switch to unlisted cell phones. Worse yet, Moore says, “we pollsters have systematically misled the American people,” by manufacturing “a false public consensus.” As he points out, most political polls are commissioned (or run) by media organizations, which insist on asking forced-choice, yes/no questions because public opinion is only newsworthy when it appears decisive. The consequences can be devastating. As proof, Moore points to the Iraq war. In early 2003, several media polls
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showed 60 to 70 per cent of Americans favouring invasion, which persuaded Democrats in Congress to vote for it, too. But Moore asked a follow-up question and found that more than half the pro-war respondents didn’t care whether the U.S. actually invaded or not: hardly a ringing endorsement for military action. “If people don’t care that the views they tell pollsters are ignored by their political leaders, then it hardly makes sense for pollsters to treat such responses as the Holy Grail,” Moore concludes. “Yet, typically we do, making no distinction between those who express deeply held views and those who have hardly, if at all, thought about an issue.” To be fair, opinion-research firms have been banding together in national organizations and drafting codes of conduct to boost their flagging credibility. But they’re never required to say who commissioned their research or how their questions are generated. Consequently, dodgy surveys keep appearing. (Remember when polls showed the NDP winning last year’s provincial election?) We keep hearing about them because they’re easy news. One suspects similar problems crop up in business-market research. Theoretically, big corporations can’t afford to deceive themselves with unreliable numbers, because they’ll get squashed by the competition. But, like political parties, they possess their own institutional motivations. Why would my bank commission a survey guaranteed to show they had great
customer service? Perhaps it was to provide numbers for an ad campaign rather than to learn the truth. The truth does matter to some people, however, and to maintain a tenuous grip upon it, market-research firms are trying new tactics. Some spend the extra money involved in calling cell phone owners; others conduct their surveys online; and still others are building up their own databases of “known responders.” But each new method comes with new problems. I know, because I’m one of them. Recently, as a dedicated responder, I was given the greatest trophy in public-opinion research: BBM/Neilsen sent me one of its pager-sized “people meters” to log every TV and radio program I tune to, so as to determine the broadcast ratings. (Ever wonder how CTV could claim that 26 million Canadians watched the men’s gold-medal hockey game? It’s because 82 per cent of BBM’s 7,000 guinea pigs were watching.) In quantum physics, the act of observing a phenomenon changes the phenomenon itself and the same is true of opinion research. Now that broadcast executives monitor every click of my remote, I make a point of setting my meter in front of the TV when I’m on Knowledge Network and hiding it during Entertainment Tonight. I must do my part to skew our culture to smarter programming. If politicians and corporations are going to use public-opinion research for their own ends, I figure the public should do it, too. VB
photos by tristin hopper
In the mid-19th century, photo sessions were clumsy, labour-intensive affairs. In horse-drawn darkrooms, each photograph would require a metal plate to be painted with a coat of silver solution. Then, following exposure, the photographer would develop the plate by holding it over a cup of hot mercury. With so much effort going into one image, early photographers made sure to try to get it right. Now, with cameras embedded in everything from phones to computer screens, quick, out-of-focus snapshots have become a daily reality. However, as these six images show, the delicate craft of photography remains unharmed. Taken across five countries, these Photos By winning photos prove that while anybody — and anything — can snap an image, it takes committed and talented artists to capture a great one.
Snap globally, win locally: Six superb photographers win our annual contest Jerry Shulman Dogs and cats are Jerry Shulman’s subjects of choice. For more than 20 years he’s been a professional domestic pet photographer in Victoria, supplying images of dog and cats to calendars and magazines across North America. Dogs are usually easier to pose than people, says Shulman. Puppies, however, pose a bit of a challenge. “It often happens that I’m flat on my stomach photographing one or two puppies while the others are on my back or licking my camera,” he says. Also, “never pose a cat,” he says. Shulman, 65, is a regular at dog shows, where he goes to make contact with the owners of photogenic dogs. In the case of this image, he was at the veterinarian when a family walked in with their Rottweiler puppy. Shulman offered to try and get the puppy in a calendar and the family agreed to a photo shoot at their home. After clicking off a few rolls of slide film, Shulman asked the parents if he could photograph their children together with the dog. “I just kept clicking away,” says Shulman. Canon EOS-3, wide-angle
Gunnar Freyr Steinsson Leaping sheep are a well-kept secret of the Icelandic countryside. “To city dwellers it’s a surprise that they jump that high, and that they jump at all . . . they’re on springs, really,” says Gunnar Freyr Steinsson. Raised in the tiny Icelandic town of Hofsós until he was 11, Steinsson grew up surrounded by sheep. Every May, the town would release sheep into the mountains and by September they would be rounded up by townsfolk on horseback. In one day, 3,000 to 5,000 sheep would thunder back into town, greeted by music, food and dancing. Last year, on a pilgrimage to the sheep roundup, Steinsson, 34, captured a black sheep mid-flight. “I get a laugh out of it; it’s the black sheep of the family trying to get away,” says Steinsson. Since September, Steinsson has been studying at Victoria’s Western Academy of Photography. Only two years ago, he was a Reykjavik-based web designer who harboured dreams of becoming a full-time photographer. “After [Iceland declared bankruptcy] I decided, ‘why not just do it,’ ” he says. With his wife and 10-year-old, Steinsson put the furniture in storage and flew to Victoria. “We only had our luggage,” he says. Canon 40D, 75-300 mm
Brad Schaffer Few Canadians ever see an olive in its natural form. Grown primarily in the Mediterranean, most olives have been pressed or brined by the time they get to North American supermarkets. They’re “disgusting” when eaten off the tree, said Brad Schaffer, 44. A Victoria land developer by trade, Schaffer took two weeks off last fall to help a British friend harvest his Tuscan olive grove. The whole time, Schaffer made sure to keep a camera dangling from his shoulder. “It’s the first time I’ve actually been there when the fruit is ripe and ready to pick, so I got a little camera-happy,” said Schaffer. An amateur photographer for 15 years, Schaffer took hundreds of shots of olive trees, olive groves and gangs of olive pickers, but picked an extreme close-up as his favourite shot. “These were just hanging perfectly,” he said. Canon 40D, EF-S 17-85 mm
Photo by to Lilo Binakaj
Tracey Harper Crammed into a 14-passenger Toyota minibus last July, professional (and award-winning) photographer Tracey Harper of Victoria was travelling across Rwanda taking photos of orphans for Emote360, an Oregon-based non-profit. Whenever Harper, 42, brought out her camera, it was sure to cause a commotion. “Kids would start swamping you everywhere,” she says. While her entourage stopped to buy well water at a village, she noticed a farmer in tattered pants, drenched in sweat and absorbed in his work. “He was just working so hard and so diligently; integrity, care, workmanship, everything was there,” says Harper. “He was oblivious to me.” At one stop Harper was invited to speak about empowerment to a Rwandan women’s group. “They had a really hard time with the fact that my husband was looking after the kids while I was allowed to go on this trip halfway across the world,” she says. Nikon D3X, 70-200 mm VR
Randy Storey By day, Randy Storey of Victoria is embroiled in the fast-paced world of finance. When the weekend rolls around he shoulders a camera and looks for scenery. Requiring patience and deliberation, landscape photography is the polar opposite of the “act now” world of finance, explains Storey, 51. “And that’s exactly why I do it.” For this image, Storey rigged his camera with an extra-dark filter and snapped a 72-second exposure. It was a wavy, windy day on the Point Roberts, Washington beach, says Storey, but the image reveals a hazy dreamland. “When you get the long exposures on, you get an almost surreal look of the ocean,” says Storey. It’s been years since the original dock was removed or rotted away but the pillars have been left to poke awkwardly out of the water. “It adds a little mystery to the picture, I think,” says Storey. Nikon D-80, 18-200 mm
Larry Melious Whenever Larry Melious comes to Victoria from his Salt Spring Island home, he always tries to park behind Christ Church Cathedral. “It’s the only free parking [downtown],” says Melious, 52. Last fall, while walking from his parking spot, Melious was struck by the autumn scene before him. The leaves were bright orange, the sun glinted off the cathedral windows and two men completed the tableau by sitting on a bench. “Luck favours the prepared and I always carry my camera with me,” says Melious. A professional photographer for more than 25 years, Melious is a relative newcomer to colour photography.
Originally from northwestern California, for 17 years Melious and his wife (also a photographer) ran an exclusively black-and-white photo studio. Much of the work that came in was from museums bringing in 19th-century photographs to be restored. “I was always struck by the look of those old photographs and it’s bled over into the way I see things now,” says Melious. When Melious and his family moved to Salt Spring in 2004, he gave up film for digital, mostly because their septic system couldn’t handle the photographic chemicals. Melious says he doesn’t miss a thing about film. “I’m not a real technical guy, but I’m pretty good if you want to discuss light,” says Melious. Nikon D70, 35-120 mm VB
The Wheels of Life Victoria’s cycling groups offer novel challenges and new friendships
When an overworked back forced her to hang up her running shoes three years ago, Kate Miller wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on staying active. “I’ve always liked physical exercise,” says the 56-yearold nurse. “And I like a fast sport,” she adds, with a cheeky sparkle in her eye. Unable to row or play tennis anymore, Miller cast about for something to fill the void and decided it might be nice to spend time behind bars.
Handlebars, that is. “I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 12,” says Miller. Now she whips off 80-kilometre rides twice weekly, plus shorter ones in between. She joined a couple of cycling groups and enjoys being engaged in an individual sport within the larger group dynamic. “You’re working hard as a team,” says the diminutive mother of two university-aged children. “Riding in a pace line is a great feeling. It’s a feeling of pulling together.”
This Victoria cycling group meets Wednesday mornings to ride for a few hours and stop for coffee along the way.
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photo by Gary Mckinstry
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On a typical cross-peninsula ride, Miller spends around three and a half hours in the saddle — and they always stop for coffee along the way. That’s where the group sometimes divides, so the more competitive riders (usually men) can go ahead and get their macho fix. Ken Bonner, who leads Miller’s Wednesday-morning riding group, says group cycling is a great way to exercise and make friends. “After age 30 in North America,” says Bonner, “most people gain about a pound a year. By the time you’re 40 you’ve probably gained a few pounds and maybe should do something about it. Cycling can be one of those things you do.” Easy enough for a fitnik to say. After all, the guy still runs marathons and has recently made the leap to ultra cycling (200 to 2,000-kilometre rides). But what about, you know, mainstream folk who are looking to take up a sport? Completely doable. In biking, as with many team travel sports, the group only goes as fast as its slowest member. And who says you have to sign up with a competitive group? Cycling is for nearly everyone, especially given Victoria’s mild climate. You can ride alone or with friends. You can invite your spouse, like Miller, or leave your beloved to putter happily in the garden, like Bonner. Unlike running, road cycling doesn’t involve repetitive pounding and if you’re careful to keep your gears low and your legs spinning, you won’t tax your knees with heavy pushing. “It’s great for your legs,” says Miller. “Even your abs and arms get a workout.” There’s no age limit, either. The youngest member in Bonner’s group is in his mid-30s; the oldest just cracked 71. Bonner himself is 67. But you can bike way, way longer than that. Just look at Bob McInnes, a self-professed “transport bicyclist” who still does his daily errands on two wheels — at the age of 82. McInnes is part of an informal weekly cycling group — the “Over the Hill Cycling Club” — that has kept rolling since its inception 20 years ago at the downtown Y. The median age in McInnes’ group? Eighty. “In addition to cycling, it’s a geriatric support group,” he chuckles. “We talk about how much hearing aids cost and about our troubles in getting our computers to work.” Cycling is ideal for retirees and those who are edging out of the nine-to-five working world. “To do longer rides,” says Bonner, “you need to have the time.” Most recreational cyclists are middle-aged and older, he says. “There’s a big
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lump around 40 to 45. People have figured out their occupations so they can ride. They work it around work and family commitments.” Any Victoria cycling store can set you up with a bike and fit you properly to it. You can go high-end and get tricked out with a $5,000 bike and all the latest accessories. But it’s not necessary. Miller and Bonner chose to sink a bit of dough into their machines, but they ride fast and light. In other groups, you’ll find
A few careless cyclists can give all cyclists a bad name. But if you’re willing to play fair with cars, biking is as safe as any other activity out there. more of a mixed bag. McInnes, who totes his folding bike with him on the bus and train, notes that in his group, any bike will do. “They’re not obsessed with the latest and greatest.” Every group out there meets with a different kind of ride in mind. Most groups — especially those composed of a wide range of ages — are careful to obey the rules of the road. “Normally pace lines are single,” says Miller. “It’s good for cars and safety. Sometimes we ride in a double line if we’re way out in the
country where there are no cars.” She acknowledges the frustration felt by many drivers who come upon cyclists biking in double — or triple — lines on city roads. “They really shouldn’t, because it’s very stressful for vehicles,” she says. “A few cyclists will give cyclists a bad name.” But if you’re willing to play fair with cars, biking is as safe as any other activity out there. For the super-keen, opportunities abound to connect with groups that go the distance. The long, long distance. Bonner, who in 2006 won the North American distinction of riding the most “centuries” in a year (that’s 100-mile rides), prefers randonneur cycling — a passion that sees him completing multi-day rides like the upcoming Van Isle 1200 (yes, 1,200 kilometres) in July. For those who prefer the idea of cruising peacefully through the scenery, other groups cater to that, too (see below for how to get started). Though they may come at it from different backgrounds and for different reasons, cyclists all share one feeling: the bicycle is the key to a sense of incredible freedom. Remember getting that first set of wheels when you were a kid? McInnes does. “It was a magic carpet to get around,” he recalls. “And it’s still true.” Ready to roll? Victoria is home to more than a dozen formal and informal cycling groups. Google the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition to get started or pop in to any of Victoria’s biking stores and ask about their groups. VB
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It’s only a half-hour ferry ride from Chemainus to Kuper Island. But for generations of Cowichan and other Coast Salish children forced to attend the Kuper Island residential school, it could have been a planet away from home. The school’s aim, like all residential schools across Canada, was assimilation of native children into Western culture. The formula: separate kids from their families; forbid them to speak their language; apply harsh discipline as needed to teach white, Christian values. Today, the abuses of that long era are well documented and apologies have come from many heads of state. And while the red-brick building that stood on the hillside above Kuper’s ferry dock is also gone, its toxic residue lives on in the minds and spirits of former students, their children and their grandchildren. No one is more aware of this than Lydia Hwitsum, the 45-year-old Chief of Cowichan Tribes, BC’s largest First Nation group. Meeting her over lunch at a busy restaurant near her Duncan office, an interviewer doesn’t initially think of residential school’s dark history as a part of Hwitsum and how she has come to be a four-time elected chief. That past seems so far away as the smartly dressed, BlackBerrytoting woman, every bit the polished senior executive, orders a spinach salad. It’s enough to discover that this one-time high school dropout has a law degree and several other academic credentials; sits on the University of Victoria’s Board of Governors; has served on the board of the Montreal-based International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development; and has worked since 2000 for indigenous and women’s rights at the
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United Nations in New York. On top of all that, she’s been the elected leader of a group that manages annual combined revenues of well over $60-million. Many British Columbians know of her through media coverage of the North American Indigenous Games hosted by Cowichan Tribes in 2008 and of Hwitsum’s help to negotiate with VANOC and the Hudson’s Bay Company to sell authentic Cowichan sweaters during the recent Olympics. However, shortly into the conversation, the subject of residential schools comes up, as well as the topics of systemic prejudice and racism. The Quamichan-born Hwitsum states these facts pleasantly but instructionally, colouring her story indelibly. While she didn’t go to Kuper Island Indian Residential School, her mother did “It drove me crazy to and so too did four of Hwitsum’s older brothers. think that society would The institutional incarceration was one treat this kind of good thing. Equally intolerable, human being with such Hwitsum observed even as a youngster, was the low regard simply widespread disrespect with which the nonbecause she was native community treated her people. She cites her Cowichan,” says Hwitsum mother’s experience: “Here was one of the of seeing her mother most compassionate people I’ve ever known, scorned in town. a woman who worked hard all her life and was so generous. Yet whenever we were in town, I saw how she was looked down on. It drove me crazy to think that society would treat this kind of good human being with such low regard simply because she was Cowichan.” When her early marriage ended in the mid-1990s, Hwitsum was ready to take a big step. She had come to think that many of the problems of people in her community were grounded in legal devices, especially the Indian Act. Equipping herself with a law degree seemed necessary to make changes. After completing her high school leaving certificate, she studied law at the University of Victoria. She lived at home near Cowichan Bay and commuted daily to classes in Victoria. It was a gruelling four years as she juggled studying, working part time and raising her two children. At one point Hwitsum considered quitting, but not because of workload stress. A family ceremony two years in
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the planning approached and Hwitsum needed a few days to prepare. Unexpectedly a course event that involved compulsory attendance came up at the same time. She explained to her professor the significance of the cultural ceremony and asked to be excused from class, making up for it later. He wouldn’t hear of it. As Hwitsum recalls, “Essentially, he told me, ‘That business has nothing to do with me. You’re at law school and it comes first.’” She felt she had no option but to leave the program. As modern as the Cowichan are, she explains, “our ancient cultural and spiritual ceremonies, rituals and customs are integral to who we are and how we live our lives.” Fortunately, intervention by the dean meant she met both commitments. She graduated in 1997, the first in her family to earn a university degree. That fall, Hwitsum tried for the position of Chief of Cowichan Tribes. She was 33 and hadn’t even run for band council before. Still, she was keen to get going with new ideas, especially around governance and constitutional reform. In a landslide win, she became the youngest woman elected to the position. After a two-year term, she was re-elected for a second. A six-year break from politics followed, when Hwitsum pursued consulting work that let her spend more time with her teenage
children. She became chief again in 2007 and started a fourth term last fall. Duncan Mayor Phil Kent speaks highly of what Hwitsum has accomplished in reaching out to his and other local administrations to forge new working relationships. “Lydia is very outward-looking and open to collaboration,” Kent says. “She’s responsible for starting a dialogue that wasn’t there before.” Her primary goal in office remains that of creating a Cowichanmade governance model and constitution. Additional priorities include improving programs for Cowichan youth and on-reserve infrastructure. Hwitsum points to the proposed band-owned and operated water/wastewater utility company in the works, a first in Canada. It will enable Cowichan Tribes to build and manage its own water and sewer infrastructure to service on-reserve homes — another step toward self-governing, Hwitsum says. While once Hwitsum might have described her mission as dealing with the after-effects of colonization, today she prefers to focus on human development. “Canadian society generally has come a long way in recognizing that prejudice and racism are not acceptable,” she says. “And our own people have made progress in 20 years overcoming the past oppression. Many are still suffering, but we are moving back to a place of being regarded with respect and value in society.” VB
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seaside garden that has provided Margaret Argue with decades of meditative joy. “We dig them out,” says the Saanich gardener. And she adds with emphasis, “I don’t want them in my peonies.” As of May 1, a bylaw banning most garden pesticides used for cosmetic reasons (unless you have a permit) comes into effect in Saanich, which is following the lead of more than 150 municipalities across Canada, including Esquimalt and the City of Victoria. Local gardeners who are concerned about pesticides’ impact on the environment and health may want to consider two options when dealing with dandelions: dig them up, as Argue does; or treat them as a welcome guest rather than scourge. A dozen gardeners interviewed for this story admit they would have trouble celebrating the bright yellow presence of dandelions: they hate them. Catherine Campbell, for example, who is a master gardener, says she is simply not prepared to tolerate dandelions in her garden. But she acknowledges that long ago, her Italian grandmother welcomed dandelions as healthful greens for her children. With 10 years as a landscape designer on Vancouver Island, Kevin Travland rates dandelion tolerance at zero among his customers. Then there are gardeners who must treat the dandelion
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in a contradictory manner. “Personally, I don’t mind dandelions; I have them at home,” says Rick Los, the Butchart Gardens’ director of horticulture with 21 years on the job. “But since we are at such a high level of maintenance at Butchart Gardens, weeds just don’t stand a chance,” Los says. “We don’t spray, but we do pull them.” It wasn’t always this way for the humble Taraxacum officinale, whose botanical name – roughly translated as “the official remedy for disorders” – is a testament to its glorious past. According to world-renowned ethnobotanist Nancy Turner, dandelions have a long history of service to humans. In her University of Victoria office, she has a copy of a beautiful edition of Gerard’s Herbal, first published in 1595, in which dandelions are touted as being highly valued as food and medicine. “A decoction made of the whole plant helps the yellow jaundice,” it advises in an elegant script. Much of the literature on the diversity of current dandelion use comes from Europeans and Asians. While Italians use dandelion greens in salads and the flowers for a spring celebration of dandelion wine, Asians have used dandelions in medicine preparations for thousands of years. Pugongying, as it is called in China, is used as a herbal remedy. Nutritionally, dandelion greens are rich in iron, calcium, vitamins C and A, and folic acid. According to Euell Gibbons, a man who devoted much of his life during the 1950s and
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1960s to foraging for and writing about wild plants, “dandelion buds are as far above artichoke hearts (in flavour) as artichoke hearts are above turnip greens.” Dandelions can be dried to be used in teas, cooked in soup and omelettes, and the roots can be ground as a coffee substitute. But if you are going to pick dandelions to eat or drink, don’t pick them from roadsides Dandelion Muffins or places where they can 2 cups whole wheat flour absorb toxins from engine 2 tsp baking powder exhaust or pesticides. 1/2 tsp salt In the animal kingdom, 1 cup dandelion petals even healthy, big-bodied bears choose to eat dandelions as a 1/4 cup canola oil staple food when they come 4 tbsp honey out of hibernation. 1 egg Dandelions may not be a 1 1/2 cups milk welcome addition to a lawn Combine dry ingredients in many places, but in Quebec in large bowl and mix. they actually sell dandelion In separate bowl mix seed with grass seed in a lawn together milk, honey, oil mix. Dandelions are and beat in egg. Add appreciated as being liquid ingredients to dry advantageous to a garden and stir. Batter should be ecosystem as well as to human fairly wet and lumpy. health. At the very least, Pour into oiled muffin dandelions attract beneficial tin. Bake at 400 degrees. ladybugs. A dozen muffins will Our dislike of dandelions take 20 to 25 minutes. may come from “a manicure mentality” that has been force-fed to us, suggests Turner. “If we consider the time and energy we spend, not to mention the pollution we cause, by trying to create these green monocultures, we begin to see a misdirected perception at play as we are fed images of unrealistic garden perfection.” Turner fondly recalls a conversation with the late Adam Szczawinski, a provincial botanist for BC, with whom she co-authored Edible Garden Weeds of Canada in 1978. “We were imagining the one plant we would want to have with us if we were stranded on an island. Adam chose dandelion — for its versatility.” After considering Turner’s comments about the history of dandelions, Saanich gardener Margaret Argue decided she is willing to reconsider. “As a longtime gardener you can’t help but continually become more aware of ecosystems and the breadth of plant life. Maybe you have spurred my interest to think more about the place of dandelions in our ecosystem,” she says. For more information about the Saanich ban on most pesticides, google the District of Saanich and put “pesticide” in the search box. VB
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minds Player, painter, publisher:
Noah Becker’s career is Whitehot It’s tempting to steal a line from Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life to describe Noah Becker, Victoria’s local Renaissance man. While “puppet,” “pauper” and “pirate” may not fit, player, painter and publisher most certainly do, not to mention successful self-promoter. Noah Becker the saxophonist regularly performs at Hermann’s Jazz Club and has worked with serious players in jazz, hip-hop and world music. Noah Becker the oil painter was one of 15 semi-finalists in the prestigious Canada-wide RBC art competition last year and has recently seen his work exhibited in major centres like Toronto and New York. And Noah Becker
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the magazine publisher has taken Whitehot, the contemporary art magazine he founded, from “a crazy idea” that he wasn’t sure would even work to a respected online and print publication with international reach in a few short years. Curious to know how one 39-year-old came to be the apparent king of so much creative activity, I arranged to meet him at his downtown Chatham Street studio, where I discovered he has quite a story to tell. When he was two, Becker’s parents loaded him, his brother and two dogs into a trailer and headed west from Cleveland, with no clear destination in mind but with the determination to live a different life from the one offered by Nixon-era Middle America. They found it on Thetis Island, where they bought land, built a house, established a farm and eventually opened a pottery studio. There, Becker, along with his piano-playing brother, lived an isolated, home-schooled life juxtaposed with winter stints in, of all places, Las Vegas, where he took up the saxophone. In 1985 their Thetis Island home burned down, melting the sax, incinerating his art supplies and precipitating a family move to Victoria. “When I came to Victoria, I felt like a complete alien,” says Becker, noting that it took him a long time to figure out the socialization process that most kids get by attending school. And he was angry at the loss of his home. “I had tremendous anger and needed to channel it into something positive.” Music and art proved to be suitable vehicles for a distraught 15-year-old. In 1997, having completed a year in the jazz program at Toronto’s Humber College and finished art school, he followed a few musician friends to New York, North America’s jazz and art Mecca. There he stayed for nearly five years, imbibing his dual passions until that stage of his life also came to a fiery end. Becker vividly remembers riding the train northwards along the East River in October 2001, saxophone case in hand, smoke still rising from ground zero. “It felt like the end of an era,” he says, adding that post-9/11 New York, its attention torn from art and music to terrorism and tragedy, frightened him enough to trigger a return to Victoria, where he has happily remained, although lately he’s been revisiting New York and other international cities to promote his magazine. Whitehot may be Becker’s greatest accomplishment. Frustrated by unsuccessful cold calls to international galleries to advance his own work and inspired by the success of Cardblanks.com, an online business created by his parents, Becker, with no writing or publishing experience, envisaged a magazine that would give him a significant media presence. “I realized that my ideas could be a little more international in scope,” he says.
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He put the word out to artists, critics and writers he knew and was quickly rewarded for his vision. “After a week I had about 300 e-mails in my Hotmail from people wanting to know if they could write for it — it wasn’t even online yet.” Jill Connor, a New York critic, curator and writer, thinks the magazine has caught on because the galleries don’t have to wait for reviews of their shows to appear as they would for a print publication. “It’s really fast, it’s really accurate,” she says. “It’s gained a lot of traction in New York.” Besides reviews, Whitehot runs artist interviews and prints high-quality images supplied by galleries. Becker also produces a print version, which he markets in Canada through Chapters. A recent copy features Andy Warhol on the cover and stories on shows in New York, Berlin, Los Angeles, Vancouver, London and Venice. Local gallery owner Kirsten Wright thinks more people in Victoria should know what Becker has accomplished. “I’ve always liked his “If I die tomorrow I want to know attitude about the arts,” she says, that I have created what I wanted noting that when he launched the to create,” says Noah Becker. magazine in 2006, she realized “he wasn’t kidding” and that he really did have a broad vision. Becker seems to have the energy to pursue that vision. He’ll stay up all night painting and has music projects on the go. He also works for his parents at Artworld and Cardblanks and writes for other art magazines. “I’m just trying to get things done before I have the inability to do those things,” he says. “If I die tomorrow I want to know that I have created what I wanted to create.” He’s honest and reflective enough to recognize that one of the forces fuelling that creativity, besides mortality, is the need for recognition. “Artists are addicted to approval,” he says. Approval has come with his “Realms” series, the Bruegellike oil paintings and drawings that caught the eye of both the RBC jury and the Vancouver Art Gallery, which included him in its 2009 “How Soon Is Now” show. In these works he conjures up worlds unto themselves teeming with activity. “Winter Scene,” for example, includes a yeti warming his hands over a swirling glass snow ball, a boyish figure on ice skates offering a pipe to a penguin in a red suit, and a naked man basking in a hot tub with a red devil. Given all that he’s packed into his own world, art and life seem to be busily imitating each other for this peripatetic painter, publisher, player and promoter.
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Noah Becker’s music is available on iTunes, his art can be viewed at noahbeckerart.blogspot.co, and his magazine read at whitehotmagazine.com VB victoriaboulevard.com 63
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TheArts The power of music to heal and connect can be felt powerfully in an intimate home concert
Ever been to a concert so musically satisfying that you come away feeling as though you’ve been on a vacation, or a spa retreat or to another planet for a few hours? It’s the sense of having been a part of something that is, dare I say, almost spiritual, which is one of the reasons why I like to listen to good live jazz or an excellent chamber concert or just about any performance in which the musicians and the audience are, for a sacred space of time, of one mind and one body. A world seems to have been created within the space of the concert. Having experienced that world, the audience is transformed into a small, content community. It doesn’t happen at every concert, of course. Sometimes, the transcendent moment just doesn’t arrive, even after the final note is played. But fortunately for those of us who seek out such
moments, we can find them within a growing phenomenon here in Victoria, one that seeks to create those superlative concert experiences in settings as intimate as a living room. Actually, they are in a living room. I’m talking about house concerts, in which individuals host musicians in their own homes and invite whoever wants to listen to the music. House concerts aren’t a new idea. In many communities, particularly on the East Coast, kitchen parties and ceilidhs are a time-honoured musical and community tradition. But in Victoria, they’re a growing trend, something that speaks not only to the need for more venues where local musicians can perform, but to our community’s need to gather and hear music in a setting that’s less formal than a concert hall and more focused on the music than it can be in a bar or club. “It’s something that used to be done a lot,” says Nicole Moen, a local event organizer, whose Heal the Heart House Concert series has been offering monthly events since last November. Inviting strangers to your home to listen to music might seem like a daunting proposition, but for Moen, it’s a natural step that grew out of a health and wellness conference she and Geoff Gossin organized in 2008. Participants had commented on how important it was to have music integrated into the conference experience: “The arts are an essential element, they’re interwoven with everything else,” says Moen. After that, Moen knew it made sense to offer music in a setting as interwoven as her own James Bay home. “We have a house that accommodates that well,” says Moen. Her collection of 50 or so chairs provides seating for everyone, and while a full house means it’s a cosy affair, that intimacy — with the music, the performers and the audience — creates the unique, close energy that defines a house concert. “It’s tight, but that’s part of it. The intimacy and immediacy, the participation with the music. It’s because it’s so close.” Moen explains that an almost healing energy reverberates around the room. “There’s something different about music, because it has a physical resonance,” she explains. “Especially listening to people sing or play guitar, mandolin, violin. It’s something that really opens people up, connects them to the people around them.” Those moments speak to the way our lives often lack connection or a sense of purpose and meaning. If part of the reason for attending a concert is to share an experience with others, a house concert provides that in an immediate way. “It feeds their hearts and souls, in ways that they haven’t been,” says Moen. “People are doing a lot of shifting in their lives,” observes
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Moen. “People are becoming more and more conscious of the need to be in communities, living their lives in a way that’s more sustainable. At the same time, they’re looking for more meaning. . . . That sterile work silo isn’t feeding anybody’s needs.”
audience in a collective experience of intimacy that brings friends, family and strangers together in a very gentle way,” he says. “Being on the same level as the audience removes some of the potential separation that elevated stages, curtains or other formalities can impose on the relationship between
“Playing live music in someone’s living room is a life-affirming activity,” says harpist Philipp Gawthrop. Some of the house concert attendees have already become regulars, because they enjoy the experience so much. As Linda Storey says, “I felt as though a healing of sorts took place for me. . . . The sense of completion and state of grace has stayed with me ever since.” She’s not alone in that impression, says Moen. “So many people we know are going through tough times, with their relationships, work, families and a lot of people are seeming to need that place to just settle into and allow themselves to nurse themselves, to heal, in a place they’re not even quite conscious of.” After one concert with harpist Philipp Gawthrop, Moen noticed that even she, as the busy organizer, felt transformed. “I woke up the next morning feeling more relaxed than I have in years.” Gawthrop explains there’s something special about performing in this kind of venue, too. “Playing live music in someone’s living room is a life-affirming activity. It connects performer and
player and listener. Music-making as an offering, more than a performance, is always more rewarding for me.” Among those offering their music so far include fiddler Calvin Cairns and singer-songwriter Paul O’Brien, and Junonominated musician Chris Frye and his band the Analog Ghosts. “Victoria is rich, rich, rich in musical talent. It’s not like this everywhere,” says Moen. Other Victoria residents are organizing similar events, some of which are semi-private affairs to which friends are invited, while others are open to the public. In a way, it’s not unlike hosting a party, only you never know who will show up, you charge $10 or $15 and the evening’s events have a focus. But regardless of how it unfolds, a house concert is a chance to literally bring the arts home. Find out more about the Heal the Heart House Concert Series at animatecommunity.com. VB
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By Robert Moyes
FEET OF CLAY (and HANDS and NECKS and BELLIES, TOO) For more than a quarter-century the potters and ceramic artists of FiredUp! have mounted a popular annual exhibition in Metchosin. Aside from the core group of nine artists, five are invited guests this year. These veteran artists from all over the Island cover the gamut of contemporary ceramic practice from large, figurative sculptures and mixed-media pieces to the more familiar expressions of decorative and functional pottery. This yearâ€™s funky-sounding
At left: Kinichi Shigeno’s Mass Gloves, cone 10 porcelain with enamels; (inset) Pat Webber’s playful designs feature this howling dog atop a raku pot. Below: Gordon Hutchens’ plate, cone 10 porcelain, Denman Luster Glaze.
theme — “Bellies, Bodies, Feet and Necks” — is an invitation to explore the anatomy of a pot. A few representative potters include Denman Island’s Gordon Hutchens, celebrated for his technical refinement in everything from raku to crystallineglazed porcelain; Meira Mathison, known nationally and internationally for highly expressive porcelain design; and Gary Merkel, who transforms everyday objects into pieces of sculpture whose organic shapes are colourful and exuberant. At Metchosin Community Hall, 4401 William Head Road, Friday, May 28, 6:30 to 9 pm; continuing Saturday and Sunday, May 29 to 30, 10 am to 4 pm. For information, call 250-383-3893.
V I C T O R I A S Y M P H O N Y 1 0 /1 1
the 70th season of the victoria symphony: the best year yet! Cirque de la Symphonie • Laplante Plays Beethoven’s Emperor The Nylons • Rach 2 • Christmas with The Canadian Tenors Verdi Requiem • all 6 Brandenburg Concertos • and so much more
Call for a 2010/2011 season brochure today! 250.385.6515 victoriasymphony.ca victoriaboulevard.com 69
RACH ‘EM UP Few concertos are more thrilling for the audience — or more challenging for the soloist and symphony — than the fiendishly difficult Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The so-called “Rach 3” is the season closer for the Victoria Symphony and Maestra Tania Miller can’t wait to return to a masterwork she last conducted in 2004 — especially because the soloist will be acclaimed Polish virtuoso Krzysztof Jablonski. “He has an enormous resonance and power,” explains Miller. “Plus he’s able to rise above the technical challenges of the piece and project a seemingly effortless, flowing lyricism.” Rachmaninoff stayed a true romantic in the spirit of Tchaikovsky and his compositions have an overt emotionalism with which even casual listeners connect. “This is an epic work, one that can take the audience soaring into a euphoric place,” Miller says. “The challenge for the symphony is that the soloist has a lot of interpretive freedom and we have to be incredibly focused to stay in synch.” Rounding out the Krzysztof Jablonski program is the Brahms Fourth Symphony. The two performances at the Royal Theatre are May 16, 2:30 PM and May 17, 8 PM. For tickets, call 250-386-6121. The Victoria Symphony also stars in An Unforgettable Charman Event, a lavish fundraiser at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Organized by the indefatigable Eric Charman, who Mary Lou Fallis had been running similar events for two decades and literally came out of “retirement” for this one, “Unforgettable” intends to raise $300,000 to replace monies lost by the symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria due to recent government cuts. The evening starts with a bubbly and hors d’oeuvre reception, followed by an hour-long performance by the symphony and guest star Mary Lou Fallis, a gifted soprano and a great comic unmatched in her ability to spoof operatic pretensions. After that comes a big grazing party, as well as silent and live auctions “until all the food and booze is gone,” quips the amiable Charman. Tickets are $250, with a $125 tax receipt. The gala is May 15, 6 PM. Those interested should call Charman at 250-213-8108. 70 victoriaboulevard.com
SWEET SPELL OF SUCCESS The Belfry Theatre is presenting the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a wildly popular Broadway musical that won a 2005 Tony award (and delighted critics from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal), thanks to a story featuring six 13-year-old spelling nerds (and their almost equally neurotic parents). Rollicking, irreverent and full of improvisation, the show also includes some audience participation. Three volunteers are conscripted before each show and participate onstage in a real spelling bee (that has a wacky sting in its tail). Can you spell c•r•o•w•d•p•l•e•a•s•e•r? This season-capper continues at the Belfry Theatre until May 16. For tickets, call 250-385-6815.
Morris Gallery David Goatley “Looking Back”
a ten year journey
Belfry actor Josh Epstein spells “exuberant.”
THE POWER OF ONE This is the 13th annual Uno Festival of solo performance presented by Intrepid Theatre, and 13 hasn’t been such a lucky number for them. After being slammed by a $35,000 shortfall last fall when guaranteed provincial gaming funds were suddenly withdrawn after the money was spent, Intrepid contemplated cancelling its internationally recognized festival, one of only a few anywhere. “Luckily, almost all the missing money was made up with fundraising and private donations,” says Intrepid’s artistic director, Janet Munsil. Trimmed back to about 30 performances of a dozen different shows, the lineup is still impressive. Quirky funnyman Chris Gibbs, of The Power of Ignorance fame, is back with a new show; Like Father, Like Eric Davis is Son? Sorry, is mostly stand-up inspired the Red by the challenges of becoming a father. Bastard. Much edgier material comes via Manhattan’s Eric Davis. This master of bouffon clowning revels in mockery and parody and his grotesquely hilarious Red Bastard is a roller-coaster ride that simultaneously inspires terror and mirth. Held May 20 to 30 at Metro Studio, corner of Quadra and Johnson streets. For information, call 250-383-2663 or visit intrepidtheatre.com.
Field of Remembrance oil 24 x 36
Opening Reception May 13, 7:00 - 9:00 pm Show runs May 13 - June 5
“Paint, Canvas & a Big Brush” Opening Reception June 10 7:00 - 9:00 pm Show runs June 10 - June 30 On Alpha St. at 428 Burnside Road East 250-388-6652 morrisgallery.ca victoriaboulevard.com 71
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DARK, DANGEROUS FARCE As if he didn’t have enough on his hands as chair of UVic’s Department of Theatre, Brian Richmond helped found Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre last summer and met with instant critical and popular success. BBRT’s second season starts with Joe Orton’s Loot, a notoriously dark farce from the 1970s that takes jabs at the Roman Catholic Church, social attitudes to death and police incompetence. The script centres on two young, gay men who have robbed a bank and hide the money in the coffin of the recently deceased mother of one of them: terribly funny things result. “I’ve been an Orton fan for decades and Loot really is a masterpiece of comic writing,” says Richmond, the show’s producer. Orton wrote only three full-length plays before being bludgeoned to death at age 34 by his jealous lover, but continues to be an enormously influential, albeit under-performed, playwright. “He was one of the earliest practitioners of black comedy and it took a long time for the world to catch up to him,” notes Richmond. “Satirists like Sacha Baron Cohen and Ricky Gervais are very much Orton’s descendants.” Runs June 8 to 20 at the McPherson Playhouse. For tickets, call 250-386-6121.
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WEAVING INTER-TRIBAL CONNECTIONS A unique show of traditional and contemporary aboriginal weaving has just opened at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, curated in-house by the AGGV’s Rose Spahan, Canada Council Aboriginal Curator-in-Residence. The SMASH-International Weaving Exhibition 2010 draws widely from indigenous cultures of Southwest, Mi’kmaq,
Alaskan, Salish and Hawaiian origin. Featuring over 60 pieces by 14 artists, the show includes intricately woven baskets, blankets, mats made from bulrush and cedar, plus various hats and robes. Also included is the stunning ceremonial jacket worn by BC Lieutenant-Governor Steven
Form rearranged group abstract exhibition FEATURING PAINTINGS BY
Adelle Andrew, Michael den Hertog, Laura Harris, Mark Heine, Jutta Kaiser, Joyce Kamikura, Philip Mix, Renato Muccillo, Joan Skeet and Andrew Wooldridge
Exhibition and Sale May 2nd - 15th Opening reception with artists present May 2nd 12 – 4 pm
2184 OAK BAY AVENUE, VICTORIA 250-598-2184 www.theavenuegallery.com
Art . . . no longer just for walls. At Left: Rena Point-Bolten’s Salish Baskets. Collection of the Artist. Photo by Stephen Topfer. This page at top: Ravens Tail Dance
Furniture, Doors & Interior Décor By Artist Don Bastian
Apron, Chas’koow tl’aa, Tlingit by Teri Rofkar. Photo by Stephen Topfer. Above: Elders~Overseers, 1997, by Barb P. Marchand Syilx. Photo by Glenn Clark, Art Gallery of the South Okanagan.
Point, which incorporates aboriginal imagery in its design. (Point’s mother, herself a master weaver, has several pieces in the show.) “I’ve also included some rope woven out of cedar,” says Spahan. “Some of the pieces come with interesting stories and the rope relates to a great flood that happened in Saanich many centuries ago, in what’s now John Dean Park.” From traditional Navajo geometric design to avant-garde wall hangings made of recycled materials, SMASH will revel in the rich, sensuous diversity of indigenous weaving. “Texturally the show will be a feast,” says Spahan. “And the inter-tribal dialogue will be amazing.” Runs April 30 to August 22 at the AGGV. For information, call 250-384-4171.
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BREEZIN’ INTO VICTORIA Usually pigeonholed as a jazz guitarist of the “smooth” school, George Benson is a versatile, prolific and sophisticated instrumentalist and vocalist with 10 Grammys earned over a 45-year career that has seen him overlay elements of pop, soul and R&B onto a jazz base. A consummate entertainer, Benson maintains his musical relevance and is much more than just the cool cat who brought out the Platinum-selling Breezin’ way back in 1976 and then sang that killer version of On Broadway two years later. In short, Benson brings real marquee value to this year’s TD Victoria International JazzFest. Benson’s gypsy-
George Benson breezes into town this June.
style jazz guitar originally got him work with organist Jack McDuff and then Miles Davis in the 1960s. Later, he went on to a brilliant, best-selling solo career and collaborations with everyone from Minnie Ripperton to Chet Atkins. “We’ve been trying to get Benson for many years,” says Darryl Mar, festival producer. “He’s one of the greatest jazz guitarists living today and it’s a real coup he’s our headliner for 2010.” Benson performs June 25, 8 PM, Royal Theatre; JazzFest runs June 25 to July 4. For tickets, call 250-386-6121. VB 74 victoriaboulevard.com
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Walking into Deborah Page Schneider’s condominium is like entering a museum, but not the airless kind full of fossils, stuffed animals and dusty dioramas depicting life in prehistoric times. This is a museum of contemporary art — the life-sized cosmorama of a woman who collects pieces from around the world and mixes them with Italian furniture and yard-sale castoffs to create an oasis of modern design.
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armchair — black, and planning fit for Cruella wrap-around is lit 100,000 i AWARD-WINNING EXCELLENCE FOR OVER 60 YEARS i Best single Familypatio Residence i Best sleek landscape and de Vil. of the Year i Best conDominium unDer $200,000 i Best renovation $50,000 - $100,000 i Best marketing camPaign BY There a is the punk-pop mural by by UK designer Tom in customer service i 4-TIME RECIPIENT PROJECT OF THE YEAR i Best condominium under Alejandro Gehry, son of architect Frank Dixon’s award-winning CaMpaign By a BuildeR/developeR i Best single FaMily ResidenCe i Best landsCape planning and design i Gehry. There is the Memphis cabinet, “Jack Light.” Above: created by the Milan-based rule The living room breakers of the 1980s, a perfect example features leather of the designers’ choice of gaudy colours, kitsch motifs and Cassini ‘Maralunga’ unconventional materials. couches, Moroso’s But Schneider doesn’t have any ‘Anti-Body’ chair and a snobbishness about her collection. It credenza by Ennezero. isn’t all high-end. Two bedside tables Right: Brad Miller’s in the guestroom were bought at large twig sculpture Surroundings in Cook Street Village, whose owner found them left in the separates the living rain by the side of the road on Salt and dining rooms. Spring Island. An outdoor table and chair set were bought at London Drugs. The two-ton San Francisco safe was found at Price’s Lock & Safe in Victoria. It’s a combination that ought not to work and might not under another’s care, but Schneider has a curator’s eye for mixing the beautiful with the highly unusual. This becomes CUSTOM HOMES AND RENOVATIONS exceedingly clear in her choice of accent table — a life-sized, www.tidmangroup.com 250.652.1101 black hog made of fibreglass from the Netherlands and with a
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round table top centred on its massive head. Only a woman who is confident not only of her taste but of her sense of humour could pull this off. “I love the giant pig,” says Schneider, who had an art gallery in Santa Monica, Calif. for three years. “I love the highs and lows of art. I love gallery to garage sale.” Schneider, 57, is on the phone from Austin, Texas where she and her husband live most of the year. They took a condo
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in this building 12 years ago when their two sons attended Brentwood College marble counters come in Mill Bay. The youngest graduated in from Campbell River. 2004 and the Schneiders realized Right: The dining something about their temporary home: room features a Peder they didn’t want to give it up. Mooi table with Flos “We thought we’d leave when the Skygarden lighting. kids grew up but we fell in love with the city. Victoria is the most relaxing place on the planet for us,” says Schneider. One of her neighbours was George Kidd, the first Canadian ambassador to Israel, and Canada’s ambassador to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Schneider says Kidd was an avid art and book collector. She remembers meeting him in the elevator and talking to him about art. “He invited me up to see his etchings,” she laughs. That visit never happened but when Kidd died in 2004, Schneider bought his penthouse condo. The first thing she did was gut it. The second thing she did was hire Victoriabased Bruce Wilkin as her designer. Schneider knew she wanted a black and white palette. “I love colour,” she says. “But for contemporary art, I adore black and white.” To deliver on Schneider’s vision, Wilkin sourced carpeting from California to cover the 2,682-square foot space and had Above: The kitchen’s
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it custom-coloured a rich charcoal. The floors in the kitchen and bathroom are covered in tiling — tiny black, white and grey tiles the size of micro dots, 1,000 tiles per square foot. The walls are white and much of the furniture is black. The counter tops in the kitchen and bathrooms are made of charcoal-coloured marble quarried in Campbell River. The same marble surrounds the fireplace in the living room. The black and white motif is saved from feeling cold by slashes of red — a pillow, a piece of art, small objects here and there. Schneider is quick to credit Wilkin for his openness to her unique style. “We collaborated very well,” she says. “Bruce can put himself into any situation and not force his own tastes on the space.”
Details abound from benches of art magazines to a bed custom-made by Victoria’s Gabriel Ross. The bathroom’s black and white theme has birch wallpaper, mini chandeliers and micro-mosaic floor tiles.
Wilkin is showing me through the condo and mulling over the question about how he would describe Schneider’s style. He agrees eclectic is overused and has lost its meaning. He coins a new phrase. “Considered eclecticism,” he says. “There are no boundaries. This is a one-ofa-kind space that reflects Deb’s personality and exuberance.” Evidence of that exuberance is everywhere, from the line of sardine-can 82 victoriaboulevard.com
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art that snakes across her counter to the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers pillow on her living room couch. An old church pew is in the bedroom, while in the hallway, an 80s chandelier has just been installed. She says some pieces were chosen for the space and others were taken from her collection in Austin. “This space has been edited,” says Schneider. “I put something in and really look at it. If it doesn’t work, I take it away.” Schneider’s international tastes include Canadian art. She has pieces by prominent Canadians such as Marion Scott and Ronald Bloore and up-and-coming Victoria artists including Tyler Hodgins, Robert Randall and Shawn Shepherd. Like collectors everywhere, Schneider admits she does not always know where to stop. She collects art glass, Canadian souvenir plates – even McDonald’s mugs. Wilkin laughs. “Dejunking Deb was a challenge,” he says. Schneider says her favourite room is the living room. “When you sit in that room and look out you see Mount Baker and the ocean, the Sooke Hills and downtown. At night, the lights below look like a fairy land. It’s a very peaceful spot.” A large, sculptural object hangs on one wall between the living room and kitchen. By American artist Brad Miller, it takes up most of the wall. Schneider explains that it is made of branches that have been dipped in liquid truck-bed liner and formed to create a large, black ball-like structure full
of complicated shapes. Wilkin looks at it. “The blob,” he says with the bemused tone of a designer who came to love his client’s enthusiasm for art. It seems to symbolize both the joys and the challenges of creating Schneider’s vision for her Victoria home. “How do you hang a 100-pound blob of sticks and tar on the wall?” How do you? After a little head-scratching, Wilkin used a two-inch number 10 screw in a reinforced wood backing behind the drywall. “It held. You don’t want it falling off during a dinner party.” Suppliers and trades
Designer/contractor/interior design: Bruce Wilkin Design; Painter (interior/exterior): Mettes Painting & Decorating Ltd.; Cabinetry (bathroom): Jason Good Custom Cabinets Inc.; Counters: Matrix Marble & Stone; Tiles: Pacific Stone Tile Ltd.; Plumbing fixtures/hardware: Victoria Speciality Hardware, Cantu Bathrooms & Hardware Ltd.; Flooring: Fabrica Fine Carpets & Rugs; Window fashions: Bruce Wilkin Design; Furnishings: Gabriel Ross Canada, Only Human (Victoria); Inform Interiors Inc., Livingspace (Vancouver); Neinkämper Furniture & Accessories Inc. (Toronto); Lighting: Gabriel Ross Canada; Theatre/home audio: Atlas Stereo & TV Ltd.; Wallpaper: Alejandro Gehry, Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics Inc. VB
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GREAThomes GREATrealtors BOULEVARD MAGAZINE’S REAL ESTATE advertising SECTION May/June 2010
WORLD-CLASS WATERFRONT! Exclusive 10 Mile Point’s premier estate . . . 2.21 acres with magnificent 8000 sq. ft. residence, beautiful southwest exposure & low bank access! $8,490,000. Contact LISA WILLIAMS, Century 21 Queenswood Realty Ltd.
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GREAThomes GREATrealtors Welcome to Boulevard ’s Great Homes, Great Realtors. This advertising section, showcasing prominent Victoria realtors and a hand-picked selection of currently available property listings, appears in each issue of the magazine. We hope that you will enjoy it!
LISA WILLIAMS — CENTURY 21 QUEENSWOOD REALTY LTD. A third generation Victorian, my passions are architecture, design and our fabulous West Coast lifestyle. Working in Victoria since 1990, I specialize in waterfront, unique and luxury properties and have sold many of Victoria’s highest priced homes. My mission is to exceed expectations, rise to every challenge and to always look for innovative ways to connect buyers and sellers!
LESLEE FARRELL MACDONALD REALTY I am a Simon Fraser University graduate and passionate about boating, the arts and charity service. After 30 years in my profession, I feel as committed to my clients today as I did on day one. I provide expertise in luxury and waterfront properties, along with a top-ranking internet presence that is combined with leading-edge marketing tools. My wish is to deliver the ultimate concierge service to all of my real estate transactions.
DALLAS CHAPPLE RE/MAX CAMOSUN Named after my father, bandleader Dal Richards, I have a Mass Communications degree from Paris’ Sorbonne University. I’ve been a Victoria realtor for 18 years specializing in Oak Bay and have consistently placed in the top 100 of RE/MAX’s 6,000 agents in Western Canada. My goal is to help clients find their dream home and ensure their decisions are wise, long-term investments.
DEEDRIE BALLARD RE/MAX CAMOSUN During my 17 year career in Real Estate, I have been listing homes in Greater Victoria. Diversification and knowledge combined with personalized service has made me one of Victoria’s Top Realtors. Giving back to my community has been a vital part of my life, having served on many boards over the past 35 years. When you work with Deedrie Ballard; Expect Excellence.
LYNNE SAGER RE/MAX CAMOSUN I’ve been selling unique and waterfront homes in Victoria for 25 years and offer knowledge in construction and interior design from my family business. I’ve been a member of the Education Committee for VREB for four years and am presently on the Community Relations Committee. I pride myself on keeping my negotiating skills and personal contacts current.
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SPECTACULAR OCEANFRONT ESTATE! On gated 8.39 ac. property just 17 mins. from downtown! This exceptional 10,000 sq.ft. hm boasts hi-end finishing & luxurious appointments, amazing waterfall & terraced patios, non-stop views and total privacy! $12,990,000
WORLD CLASS GATED ESTATE . . . 10 Mile Point’s premier oceanfront property with 2.21 acres & incredible 8000 sq.ft. custom residence, sunny southwest exposure & low bank waterfront access with ‘water lease’ for permanent boat hoist! $8,490,000
WEDGEWOOD POINT LUXURY! Gorgeous executive hm totally reno’d to the highest level . . . stunning! 3 bedrm + den, amazing gourmet kitchen, top-of-the-line finishing, expansive decks w/ocean views & so many extras! $1,498,000
LUXURY BAYVIEW VICTORIA CONDO! Enjoy exceptional harbour, ocean & mtn. views from this luxurious, custom, 2 bedrm corner unit in prestigious new bldg w/24 hr concierge . . . just mins. from the Inner Harbour & vibrant downtown! $1,569,000
SPACIOUS & ELEGANT FAIRFIELD HOME 5 bedrms, 4 bths, 4192 sq.ft. and fully self-contained 1 bedrm suite! Extremely bright w/super design, gourmet kitchen, HW flrs, huge rec rm, family rm off kitchen & so much more! 1/2 blk to waterfront & 1 blk to Beacon Hill Park & Cook St. Village! $1,198,000
UPLANDS WATERFRONT ESTATE! Private, gated 1.3 ac. property w/9000 sq.ft. hm & access to gorgeous sandy beach! Dramatic design w/5 bedrms/ 6 bths, incredible views & lots of privacy. Beautiful mature gardens w/gazebo, waterfall, terraces & easy access for small boats & kayaks! $7,450,000
SPECTACULAR WATERFRONT ESTATE! Over 6600 sq.ft. on prime 1.24 ac. in Oak Bay. Exceptional views, seaside pool, & tons of privacy! Elegant entry, formal lvg & dg rms, kitchen w/FP, eating area, family room, conservatory & office, gorgeous master suite plus 5 bedrms & 6 bths, lrg. games room, nanny suite & much more! $5,500,000
UPSCALE COUNTRY LIVING! Lovely 4880 sq.ft. hm on private, sunny 5 acre property just 15 mins from downtown, yet a world away! Sunny S/W facing deck & lawns, fenced orchard, 2 stall barn with hay loft . . . a truly relaxing oasis! $1,219,000
PROSPECT LAKE! Gorgeous, sunny lakefront property with spacious & elegant 4-5 bedroom custom home and PRIVATE DOCK! . . . just minutes from town . . . a true oasis! Super design, great for family & entertaining . . . cosy nanny suite too! $1,498,000
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Leslee Farrel Boulevard ad Dec 21 1
Aptly named Eagle’s Perch, this exceptional West Coast Retreat combines the strength of west coast architecture with serene Asian influences. This residence artfully blends into it’s setting with extensive use of large stone pillars, exotic woods and massive beams and a cantilevered wing suspending part of the home in the forest. This home is designed for complete privacy and entertaining. Simply best in class! Offered at $4, 900,000. MLS#272705
Situated in the heart of South Oak Bay this incredible waterfront hideaway offers .71 acres and breathtaking views over McNeill Bay and Trail Island. The property enjoys privacy and abundant light. Built in 1946 and recently upgraded, it is a most charming family home. Offered at $2,595,000. MLS#273171
Truly an Architectural masterpiece, situated high within the Uplands overlooking Cadboro Bay offering south east facing views. The massive floor to ceiling windows and soaring beamed ceilings are engineered to perfections. Special features include the German Poggenpohl kitchen with special granite countertops, marble and French white Oak flooring. Minimalist in design, artful in presentation. Offered at $3,500,000. MLS#273042
Elegance and light epitomize this south west facing suite atop of the Aria, with a spectacular 1000 square foot deck. The south facing exposure provides amazing 180 degree views over the Olympics with the Empress and Parliament Buildings at your feet below. The 40’ living/dining room combination are perfect for entertaining, ready for the most discerning buyer. Bonus 3 parking spots and 2 storage locks. Offered at $1,995,000. MLS#273581
The executive luxury condominium sits in a premier view position on the 7th floor in Swallows Landing. Ocean views encompass the Inner Harbour, the Olympics and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Enjoy the ever changing marine activity on the spacious deck off the living room. Enjoy 9’ ceilings, hardwood floors, spa baths and two parking spots. Easy access into town along the Songhees walkway. Offered at $1,150,000. MLS#274753
This executive two bedroom suite in award-winning Shoal Point faces the Inner Harbour and is beautifully presented with recently updated décor! Enjoy the lifestyle experience offered with full lap pool, whirl pool, steam room, sauna, weight room, bonus putting green and concierge service 5 days a week. Recent upgrades include engineered wood floors. Don’t miss this one! Offered at $929,000. MLS#272771
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by rachel Goldsworthy photo by gary mckinstry
Colourful planters and flowers, funky functional boots, and a host of practical tools are all on gardenersâ€™ shopping lists this season. Courtesy, Dig This, Oak Bay.
Gardeners are going ultra-green, from seeds to tools
to ‘bog gardens’
85% Protected Forest Kimberly Snider, 36, has always valued flowers, trees, plants and vegetable gardens. Last spring, wanting to act on that feeling and to learn how to grow her own food, she took a University of Victoria course in Deep Ecology, which posits a radical shift in how humans view our relationship with nature. “It awakened my inner gardener,” says Snider, who is the office manager for eco-tour operator Maple Leaf Adventures. Snider, excited at the prospect of getting her hands dirty, wants the right, well-designed tools for the job. Retailers like Rachelle Westman, who manages the Dig This store downtown, says Snider is a prime example of a growing number of young Victorians who want to experience the satisfactions of gardening. “People just want to grow something,” says Westman, “and what they mostly want to grow right now is food.” Whether a beginner like Snider or an old gardening pro is the customer, the operative word these days is green: not just in plant colour, but in tools, services, products and new landscape features that reflect a concern for the environment and good design. People are planting veggies from seed; choosing bright flowers as if
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to ward off the recession blues; installing water features that don’t need much water; and seeking out a range of tools and accessories designed to make gardening much easier to get into, whether they have a strong young back or arthritic fingers and knees. Let’s start with functional, fun footwear, like Bogs boots covered in daisies or ferns. (But not the men’s; they’re black.) They’re waterproof, warm and have an antimicrobial lining so they never get smelly and are $85 for the mid-calf height or $125 for full height. Westman has worn hers every day for three years to garden and walk her dog, and their blooms are as bright as ever. The Pallina quick-dry vegan gloves ($35) are made of recycled fabric with seamless fingertips, a gelpack on the palm and thumb, and a Velcro wrist closure to keep the dirt in the garden, where it can do the most good for flowers, shrubs and the new trend in planting — food. Westman sees a huge growth in the number of Victorians like Snider plowing into vegetable plots as they return to an era when growing dinner was natural. They want seeds, often organic and, increasingly, non-hybridized, A patio can be home open-pollinated seeds that to a water feature as they can harvest and plant and that will grow true year elaborate as a cascade after year. Another change is that, or as subdued as an unlike their grandparents, whose kitchen gardens and overflowing pot. flowerbeds took up lots of space, gardeners using new technologies no longer need big yards. Lightweight containers allow salads and herbs to flourish right on the condo balcony, and a new product means they don’t even need that outdoor room. Baby Blanket ($6.95 for a 30-by-100 cm section) is a BC-grown mat of organic grass stalks that can be cut to fit into a tray, soaked in liquid seaweed and used to grow salads right on the kitchen counter. But while growing food is appealing and essential, the human connection to water is even more basic. Gord Nickel, owner of Victoria’s Cannor Nursery garden centres, points out that people used to think they needed acreage to enjoy the sensory pleasures of water, but now a city lot or a patio can be home to a water feature as elaborate as a cascade or as subdued as an overflowing pot. Nickel, for example, has a two-by-four-metre-long pondless waterfall in his small front yard. The water flow is about .5 by 1.5 metres and the rest is large rocks, and he explains that these features are easy to make — there are even kits for about $1,200. “They come with everything except imagination, rock
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and a little elbow grease,” he says. Along with pleasure for the homeowners, water features can be a community boon as neighbours and passersby enjoy them. “So many people comment on the sound,” Nickel says. “That nice calm, trickling sound.” In fact, one of Cannor’s most popular items last year was an aquatic bowl customized with four plants and a spitter like a bamboo pipe or frog, with prices beginning at less than $100. People put them on their patios to enjoy the sound of flowing water and the beauty of the foliage, says Nickel. Carnivorous flora like pitcher plants are the hot thing for the other hot thing — bog gardens — says Nickel. A pond backfilled with cobble and fitted with a system that keeps the water moving is ideal for irises and other exotics. It’s also safer than a pool for small children and has less buffet potential for raccoons and herons. Nickel also points out that other than a bit of evaporation, recirculating ponds use little water and that’s good news in our dry summers. Colour is another big trend: Nickel sees the urge to buy bright planters. “Black is still big, but the popping colours have been big too.” He speculates: “When times are tough, do wild colours come out more? I’ve seen it before.” Along with food, water and cheerful hues, Westman says,
“Every gardener needs a good pair of shears.” The Falco #8, $61.95, is her top seller, thanks to its ergonomic handle, narrow blade for getting into tight spaces and a sap groove to prevent that irritating sticky-blade problem. “The Fiskars garden knife ($15.95) is one of my other favourite tools,” she says. One side is serrated and is “fabulous for dividing perennials and rootbound container plants.” It has a weeding tip and a straight edge, which Westman used last year to slice through a thick mat of water-clover roots. “This thing cuts like you wouldn’t believe,” she says. “It’s like cutting through butter.” Westman also loves the new Potlifter — two adjustable handles with a strap that clips around a container or even a rock for easy transport by two people, $31.95. That urge to transform the landscape and spend time in the natural world extends beyond the herbaceous border. “We’re still trying to bring the outside in and the inside out,” Westman says. That means people are choosing more comfortable outdoor furniture, bird motifs on serving dishes and outdoor placemats and egg-shaped decorations. “I think it coincides with us wanting to grow our own food,” Westman says. “We’re becoming very conscious of the environment and how we’re treating it.” VB
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Don’t ever tell me who won the hockey game. After the kids are down, I watch it recorded on my Media Center computer. It’s not the same as watching live, but it doesn’t take three hours out of my life. I skip past the commercials, most of the second period, and right past Ron MacLean. Computers now dominate the television world. Most TVs sold today are actually computer monitors that have TV tuners built in. With the right cable, you can connect nearly any current TV to the video output on your computer. PVRs (Personal Video Recorders) such as TiVo, Moxi and Shaw PVR are actually computers with hard drives that can record TV. You can add a TV tuner to any computer and then use it as a PVR, by using software such as Windows Media Center for the PC, or MythTV for the Mac. But you don’t need PVRs or fancy software to watch TV on your computer. All you need is a reasonably fast Internet connection and a few tweaks to your system. The payoff is a bazillion hours of free TV, with virtually no commercials. And you are not tied to networks’ schedules. First, let’s clarify the difference between streaming video and downloads. With streaming video you watch “in real time” over the Internet, whereas with downloads you play files that you have stored on your computer. YouTube
streams video but with iTunes you download files to watch offline. Streaming sites typically don’t allow you to save the media files to your computer. The Hardware Most current computers should have no trouble playing either type of video but to get the best performance and avoid most of the typical problems, be sure to use the latest drivers. • On a Mac, click Software Update on the Apple and your drivers will be updated automatically. • On a PC, right-click the desktop, and then click Properties. Click the Settings tab, and then note the video card model. Then, visit the manufacturer’s website. This is likely to be Nvidia.com, ATI.com, or Intel.com. Find their Support section and then look for an option to download graphics drivers. Nvidia and Intel both provide an option to automatically detect and update drivers. If the driver update process looks daunting, the DriverAgent.com site will find the right drivers for you. It’s not free, but $29.95 for a 12-month subscription might be worth it. The Players Avoid Windows Media Player for playing downloaded content. I’ve found that it has trouble with many video files and it tends to hang and crash frequently. Instead grab the GOM or VLC players, which are easy to use and play just about any media format without a hitch. Get them from Ninite.com. Just click to select the check boxes for the programs you want, then click the big Get Installer button. Many websites demand RealPlayer for streaming video, but the company earned a bad rap for not disclosing that it secretly installs advertising software. The BBC, however, has procured a stripped-down version. RealPlayer is still on my watch list for “badware,” but I have heard the BBC version is good. Search Google for “Install RealPlayer at BBC Webwise” for the article on bbc.co.uk. Where to get the TV shows First, if pop-ups prompt you to install ActiveX components or other executable programs, even if they claim the add-on is from a reputable manufacturer like Microsoft, don’t install. It’s not worth the risk. Now for the elephant in the room: Yes, you can use a point-to-point sharing program such as uTorrent or Limewire to download just about any video for free, but be warned that you could be violating copyright laws or even downloading files that contain malware. Also, these programs could share personal data if they are configured incorrectly. Search Wikipedia for “File_sharing_in_Canada” for a good article on this.
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Unfortunately, some of the coolest TV-watching sites don’t work in Canada . . . yet! The best is “hulu Desktop” (hulu.com). Others, such as fancast.com or Veoh.com, piggy-back on the hulu content so they also won’t work. If you are feeling intrepid though, you can get hulu working if you have access to a VPN-based (Virtual Private Network) proxy server hosted in the U.S. Search Google for “hulu in Canada” for hints on how to do this. However, there’s no shortage of good free TV content. Many TV networks such as CHTV.com, CTV.ca, Globaltv.ca, CBC.ca, BBC.co.uk, or Fox.com allow you to watch their shows. Also, cable channels such as Comedy Central (thecomedynetwork.ca) feature terrific shows on their sites. Check out Clicker.com for a huge catalog of links where you can find shows. You can rent TV shows and movies online, too, for a reasonable cost — and no late fees — from Netflix, iTunes, Blockbuster and others. Troubleshooting If you are still seeing choppy playback, or other weird video issues, try some of these tips: • If both video and audio are choppy, the problem is probably your Internet connection. If the video stutters and the audio is OK, it’s more likely a problem with the computer’s hardware or software. • Test your Internet connection speed at speedtest.net. You need at least 1 Mbps to watch streaming video. If it’s much slower than that, give your ISP a call. Don’t expect great video streaming over a wireless connection. • When you watch streaming video, part of the content is “buffered” or stored in memory as you watch. If the buffer isn’t fast enough, the video may be choppy. Try pausing the video for a while, until more video is buffered and then play the show.
CAN YOUR RUG PASS THE 3-SECOND RULE?
• Make sure no other programs are running that could hog resources. To do this on a PC, right-click the taskbar, and then click Start Task Manager. Click the Processes tab and then look at the CPU column for any programs with a high number. Note that it’s normal for the “System Idle process” to show a high number. If anything else has a high number, the program could be causing problems. Close it.
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• On a Mac, to look for running programs, open Applications and then open Utilities. Start the Activity Monitor. If CPU usage is higher than 50 per cent close any unnecessary programs. • Lastly, make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Flash installed from adobe.com/support/flash/downloads. html. Darryl Gittins welcomes your questions. You can reach him at Darryl_gittins@hotmail.com VB
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The Book: Gift from the Sea, Non-Fiction Author: Anne Morrow Lindbergh Publisher: Pantheon, 1955; re-released Vintage Books, 1983 Length: 138 pages Group: The Nameless Book Club THE CLUB: The Nameless Book Club was founded in 2003 by a handful of dragon boat team members who loved chatting about books before practice. Although only three original members are still involved, the Saanich Peninsula-based group now includes 13 women ranging in age from their 30s to 60s who like their reading list as varied as possible. Like every club featured so far in this column, The Nameless Book Club places great emphasis on friendship and most discussions lead to deeply personal revelations and philosophical reflections on life. The Nameless Book Club meets monthly from September through June. THE AUTHOR: Born in 1906, Anne Morrow Lindbergh is famous for her literary works and her contributions to aviation history through the air explorations she completed with her husband, pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh. Though her fame led to personal tragedy early on in her life — the Lindberghs’ first son was kidnapped in infancy and murdered — Anne Morrow went on to have five more children with Charles and published over a dozen literary works. She died in 2001 at 96. THE PLOT: “I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships.” So begins Lindbergh’s 1955 account of her meditative and solitary
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holiday on Florida’s Captiva Island, where she drew inspiration from her surroundings to reflect upon common human experiences facing women of her time. Using shells as metaphors for the various stages of life, Lindbergh’s essay-style book is often classified as inspirational literature and remains one of her most popular works. DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS: Love. Marriage. Motherhood. Friendship. Personal identity. These universal themes are as relevant today as in the mid-1950s, when Anne Morrow took a pen to paper to reflect upon her extraordinary life and discovered that her emotional experiences were, in fact, rather ordinary. To the members of The Nameless Book Club, Gift from the Sea is a quick read filled with beautiful language, imagery and a powerful message about the importance of nurturing one’s soul. “This author’s meditative attitude is almost Buddhist in the way she studies the shells in such incredible detail,” observed one member. “She comes to accept change, to realize that nothing is The book is a permanent. Not love, not her concepts of marriage, not her timeless reminder of role as a mother. Bad things, too, are only temporary.” One member found the the importance of author’s ability to lead such a productive life despite early solitude in all stages tragedy profound. “She lost her first child, yet her marriage survived until her husband’s of a person’s life. death and she went on to have five more children.” This observation sparked speculation among members about how they would handle the loss of a child. They wondered: do women become lost when they have kids? Or is the ability to put a child’s needs completely above one’s own an integral part of a mother’s identity? “I find the idea of being that tied to your children amazing,” said one member, who does not have children, though there are many children in her life. She notes that women are often identified through their kids. For women who aren’t mothers, social situations often become awkward, as the question, “how many children do you have?” invariably comes up. One member noted with pleasure how Anne Morrow’s friends on the island were very different from each other and although the author didn’t choose them, they all enriched her life. This led to a discussion about how adults tend to look either forward or backward, but never victoriaboulevard.com 105
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at the present. This message leapt out for one member, whose teenage son displays a natural ability to live in the present even as he adapts to a life-stage of profound change. “We never question the evolution of a teenager. Yet we don’t allow ourselves to adjust to middle age, despite the fact that we’re going through many of the same changes!” Another member, who read and loved the book before reading Anne Morrow’s biography, said she was devastated to learn that both Anne and Charles were unfaithful to each other. “I first read this book just before turning 40, and loved the author’s beautiful reflections on the evolution of marriage. But before reading it again this time around, I learned that Anne had a three-year affair with her doctor that ended just before she wrote this book! And Charles kept a mistress for more than 15 years and had three kids with her! Knowing this really took away from my reading experience.” Even so, members agreed that the book carries a powerful message about a woman’s need to be replenished; to take care of one’s own inner needs in order to truly banish loneliness. “I hated this book, actually — I don’t like flowery language and I felt the author wasn’t saying anything truly profound,” said one member. “Yet I agree with the book’s message. In our society, people spend so much time connected — to each other, to technology, to the daily chaos of life — that we are almost afraid to be alone.”
Everyone agreed, noting how many people today cannot exist without being “plugged in” to technological gadgets, their lives filled with virtual relationships and little time engaged in mindless activities like walking the dog, swimming laps, running, watching fish in an aquarium. We forget that those mindless activities allow us to disconnect from the daily chaos of life, giving us a chance to be alone with our thoughts and reconnect with our inner selves. CLUB VERDICT: All members, save one, loved this book. Though written in another era, it is a timeless reminder of the importance of solitude throughout life. For the book’s beautiful expression of this theme, members of The Nameless Book Club highly recommend Gift from the Sea. Questions or comments? Want your book club featured in the magazine? Please e-mail Adrienne Dyer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you liked Gift from the Sea, Russell Books on Fort St. also recommends: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson The Not So Big Life, by Sarah Susanka The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho VB
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Carefree and car-free on Galiano Island We’re walking along a forest trail on Galiano Island, enjoying lush greenery and the occasional glimpse of greyblue ocean beyond. A small pile of fresh sawdust at the base of a cedar tree brings my husband to a sudden stop. A closer look reveals a crevice in the trunk, right at eye level, where the bark has peeled back. Half a dozen large, black ants climb out, each toting a tiny load of finely shredded yellow cedar. We watch, spellbound, as each ant releases its load over the side, sending it fluttering to the forest floor, then disappears into the crack for another one. Is this Galiano or Lilliput? We watch this miniature world for several minutes, fascinated by the tireless routine of the ants, back and forth, oblivious to our presence. Of course, we didn’t come to Galiano Island to see ants at work — we’ve come to Galiano on foot to relax, get outdoors and enjoy a stress-free weekend on an island where it’s possible to get around without a car. On our first evening we’re already reminded that when you leave your car behind, it’s easier to stop and smell the roses, or in our case, observe the bug life. Galiano is a little more than a one-hour ferry ride, non-stop, from Swartz Bay. It’s a 30-kilometre-long sliver of land that could easily have been designed by a developer wanting to maximize waterfront real estate. Fortunately, the island remains largely undeveloped, with more land dedicated for park than any of the other Gulf Islands — seven parks in total. Most of the necessities — a grocery store, ice cream parlour, pub and a few resorts — are at the south end, close to the ferry terminal. Although we look forward to walking everywhere, or hitchhiking if need be, we’re pleasantly surprised to discover numerous other options to get around. You can rent bikes, boats, kayaks and mopeds. The Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa resort is well located for car-free guests, just a short walk from the ferry terminal. If you stay there, and can’t go completely car-free you can rent
one of five Smart Cars for $80 for eight hours. With 10 oceanfront suites, an oceanside restaurant, extensive gardens, a full service spa, and a wine and gift shop, little is left wanting. An underground cistern collects rainwater and refillable containers dispense locally made soaps and shampoos in guest rooms. After paddling in a kayak for three hours, I visit the resort spa and happily submit to a lavender sugar scrub, while my husband enjoys a massage in the garden cottage. When you are ready to leave, you can watch your ferry come in while you stand on the terrace and still arrive in time to catch it — no car, no wait. At the south end of the island, Driftwood Village has private housekeeping cottages, but it is more of a hike than a stroll from the ferry. Or, bring your bike and camping gear and head to Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park, which has 15 walk-in campsites. That’s where we head, on foot, on our first afternoon, for a three-hour guided kayak tour with Ben Miltner, owner of Galiano Kayaks. Galiano is the driest of the Gulf Islands and with so much shoreline, it’s no wonder kayaking is a year-round activity here. Paddling across the sheltered water of Montague Harbour, Ben points out the Atrevida Bakery, a refurbished ferry whose owners anchor here each summer weekend. As we paddle past, we smell fresh coffee and can almost taste the buttery “cin-buns” for which the baker is famous. “We’ll be back,” we call to the woman on deck. We see Montague Harbour’s exquisite white shell beach, dotted with sunbathers. Beyond the harbour, towering sandstone cliffs rise straight out of the ocean, their bases carved into sensuous curves and oddball shapes by years of wind and waves. One large slab of rock resembles a wave itself, hollowed out and curling forward, threatening to break over us.
From left to right: The floating Atrevida Bakery is a popular stop for kayakers; Hilltop view from Galiano takes in neighbouring islands; Towering sandstone cliffs rise
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straight out of the ocean; Harmony with nature literally sprouts from the
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It’s raining lightly on our final morning. I go for a hike, planning to get the top of Mt. Galiano, leaving my husband to sleep in. The trail is well marked at first, but then splits, with no further signage. I make the wrong choice, backtrack, try again. Still no luck. I’m on a dead end road on the wrong side of the ridge. Half a dozen deer silently watch me. I can’t go forward, so I backtrack to the inn, dry off, then suggest we rent a Smart Car. We bounce along a twisty, potholed road, surprised by the car’s peppy power on the steep incline. Soon we’ve crested the top and step out to admire the churning water of Active Pass far below. A ferry whistles a warning to oncoming traffic. It’s also a signal for us that the weekend is over much too soon. We drive back to the inn, turn in the car and walk to the ferry, all the while planning our return. TRAVEL TIPS Google Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa or Driftwood Village Resort for more information and reservations. Google Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park to learn more about park services and reserving sites. Day-tripper Shuttle: From July 1 until Labour Day weekend, a shuttle bus takes people between the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa and Montague Harbour Marina for $5 return. Check the inn’s website for the schedule. Galiano Kayak offers kayak rentals, guided tours and camping expeditions: 250-539-2442.
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Galiano Bicycle rents everything from mountain bikes to tandems: 250-539-9906. Galiano Boat Rental: Even novice boaters can rent small boats with no special license required: 250-539-0233. Galiano Mopeds: if walking and biking are painfully slow, rent a moped: 250-539-0233. VB
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Salt spring Island Unwind on Salt Spring Island Leave the hectic life behind and get away to the heart of the Gulf Islands. Stay a few days at a charming B&B or luxury resort, shop the many boutiques and galleries, sample the local culinary delights, or just sleuth out a good book and relax. Make time for yourself with a soothing spa treatment or explore the natural beauty of this coastal paradise. We have everything you need to unwind and recharge. Visit us soon, our island awaits you. For more information: www.saltspringtourism.com
SACRED MOUNTAIN LAVENDER. Tour and relax in two acres of glorious lavender, listen to the murmur of bees and inhale the sweet aromas of nature’s natural spa. Peruse our newly expanded farm shop offering hand crafted spa and culinary products, created from our organically grown and distilled lavender and essential oils. Join us at the Lavender Festival, Sunday July 4th, 10am-5pm. SACRED MOUNTAIN LAVENDER, 401 Musgrave Rd. Open 10-5pm: May-June & Sept: Wed to Fri & Sun (Sat at Ganges Market) and July-Aug: Wed to Sun, 250-653-2334 www.sacredmountainlavender.com
Salt Spring Island’s ➤ newest fine art gallery. Andrea Collins recently opened Starfish Gallery & Studio, where she sells her own work along with the work of fellow artists, photographers, painters and sculptors. Located Harbourside at Grace Point Square, Starfish Gallery offers an extensive collection of fine art, photography, contemporary sculpture, limited edition prints and art books. Starfish Gallery & Studio, Grace Point Square, 1108-115 Fulford- Ganges Rd., 250-537-4425 www.starfishgalleryandstudio.com
At Garry Oaks we grow grapes sustainably, respecting the natural conditions — sun, wind, soil — of our vineyard. Our whites carry a backbone of minerality from our stony slopes. Our reds have a hint of spice we taste in the air. All have a trademark freshness that echoes our Salt Spring breezes. Come visit, or ask for our wines at fine wine stores. Garry Oaks Vineyard and Winery 1880 Fulford-Ganges Rd., 250-653-4687 www.garryoakswinery.com
➤ YOU DESERVE TO ESCAPE from daily stress by making your visit to Salt Spring Island as deeply relaxing an experience as possible. The soothing fingertips of our spa care experts will help rejuvenate your body and soul. Treat yourself to a massage, a facial, a manicure, a pedicure, or any of our other rejuvenating treatments; all important steps in maintaining your health and balance. Check our website for daily and monthly specials. SKIN SENSATIONS, Grace Point Square, 2102-115 Fulford-Ganges Rd. 250-537-8807, www.skinsensations.ca
2nd Annual “Masterpiece Weekend”, Friday thru Sunday, June 18-20th, ArtSpring Islands Art Centre, SALT SPRING. Join us for a stunning weekend with the arts at ArtSpring Islands Art Centre on Salt Spring Island. Home to a world class art community recognized for its gifted population of artists and artisans, the 2nd annual Masterpiece Weekend showcases twenty four of Salt Spring’s very best. The premise is unique in that each artist will create a single “masterpiece” specifically for this show. Meet the artists on Friday June 18th from 6 to 8pm. During your visit, use the “Gallery Walk” map to explore the many fine art galleries in Ganges village. Make a day of it, or stay the weekend. If you need an excuse to come to Salt Spring, this show is it! Mark June 18th thru June 20th on your calendar. 2nd annual masterpiece weekend www.saltspringfineart.com
A CUSTOM ➤ OCEANFRONT HOME TO CALL YOUR OWN. This spectacular Salt Spring Island home boasts an award-winning renovation and offers easy access to deep-water moorage and dock. Enjoy the panoramic vistas from the sunny decking while relaxing in the oceanview hot tub. Prepare a feast for family and friends in the wonderful dream-like kitchen. Then rest peacefully in the luxurious master suite. A joy! LiRead.com/1661.htm $3,125,000. Li Read, Sea to Sky Premier Properties 250-537-7647, LiRead33@Gmail.com
Salt Spring NatureWorks, The Island’s Health Food Store. Shop the bounty of locally grown vegetables and fruit, handcrafted artisan breads and cheeses, organic bulk foods, herbs, spices, teas, grocery staples and high quality natural remedies and supplements. Located in Ganges under the red roof of the Island Trading Building, across from the firehall. Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm and summer Sun 10am-5pm. Salt Spring Natureworks, 116 Lower Ganges Rd. 250-537-2325
VISIT SALT SPRING’S MUST-SEE AND MUST-SHOP STOP offering islanders and visitors an outstanding selection of clothing. From edgy Italian designs to kids gumboots, Mouat’s Clothing Co. never fails to delight with the new and totally unexpected. Manager Marnie McAughtrie extends a warm invitation to all visitors to find their way to the historic heart of Ganges and experience this landmark business first hand. Visit our new web site at www.mouatsclothingco.com MOUAT’S CLOTHING CO., 1-877-490-5593, 1-250-537-5593, 106 Fulford-Ganges Rd.
COME LIVE, BOAT OR SWIM ➤ ON CANADA’S BEAUTIFUL WEST COAST GULF ISLANDS! Call Li Read, Managing Broker, Sea to Sky Premier Properties, (Salt Spring), an affiliate of Christie’s Great Estates. Li offers you wise advice on all real estate matters, and will help you find your dream home! Visit LiRead.com to learn more about the islands, and to view Li’s extensive selection of fine properties! Why keep the islands waiting? CONTACT LI READ 250-537-8763 or LiRead33@gmail.com www.LiRead.com
By tom hawthorn
Photos courtesy of Nizam B. Ali, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington, d.c.
Chow down and eat like a prez on a tour of famous Eastern eateries In 1958, Ben and Virginia Ali opened a modest eatery in Washington, DC along a then-segregated commercial strip known as the Black Broadway. Ben’s Chili Bowl drew clientele like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Nat King Cole and Martin Luther King, Jr. The lineups were longest from midnight to four in the morning. Bill Cosby always visited after a performance and even proposed to Camille Hanks in the restaurant on their sixth date. Two decades later, in 1985, Ben’s was where Cosby celebrated the success of his hit television sitcom. A grateful owner pledged Cosby would never again pay for a hot dog covered with chili, the house specialty, or anything else. He put up a sign behind the counter: “Who eats free at Ben’s — Bill Cosby.” That is, until Barack Obama paid a visit. Ten days before his inauguration, the U.S. president-elect dropped by Ben’s for a half-smoke with chili sauce. The owner soon after altered the sign. When I visited last summer, it read: Who eats free at Ben’s — Bill Cosby, the Obama family. Underneath, someone had written in hand: “But HE PAID.” I figured if Ben’s was good enough for the president of the United States of America, it’d be good enough for me. Knowing where to eat when out of town can be a dilemma.
So, while on a budget tour of New York, Baltimore and Washington last summer, I narrowed the limitless choice to restaurants visited at least once by a future, former or sitting president. I ended up eating soul food near Harlem, pastrami in Baltimore and a killer hamburger in the capital, while also bending an elbow at a bar with stuffed animal heads. First stop: a taste of barbecue and southern soul food at New York’s Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too. Located just west of the north end of Central Park, the restaurant is a favourite of students at nearby Columbia University and of Bill Clinton, a man known for his appetites, gastronomic and otherwise. Clinton, who has had an office in Harlem since leaving the White House, favours the Miss Mamie Sampler of shrimp, chicken and short ribs. We arrived just before noon. The restaurant was empty. No customers. No waitress. Ominous signs. The server, appearing from the kitchen, told us they were out of seafood gumbo, which seemed odd considering the time of day and lack of clientele. We ordered a chopped barbecue sandwich and fried chicken. The room’s red-and-white checkerboard pattern, the Formica tables and padded chairs gave a diner feel. The menu includes oxtails, smothered pork chops and Louisiana catfish with such traditional, rib-sticking side dishes
Clockwise from top left: As Ben’s looked when it opened in 1958, and today. The comedian Bill Cosby has a special relationship with Ben’s, where a sign behind the lunch counter notes he does not have to pay for his meals. The
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as candied yams, collard greens and macaroni and cheese. The restaurant began to fill. And with one taste we knew we had found a Southern oasis at the Manhattan junction of the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights and Harlem. A good place to start. Next, Baltimore. Before the white flight of the 1960s, Baltimore boasted a Corned Beef Row of delicatessens. Today, Attman’s remains a lonely outpost where you order cafeteria-style from a huge menu. Among the goofy combination sandwiches are the Tongue Fu, the Lox O’Luck and the Gay Liveration. We killed time in line by checking out the fantastic, hand-painted signs. In the Kibbitz Room, we picked a table overlooked by a framed photograph of Jimmy Carter enjoying a sandwich. Our pastrami was good, but not outstanding. However, we did score free parking in the vacant lot next door. In Washington, Ben’s Chili Bowl is a District of Columbia institution. In the fierce hours following the heart-breaking assassination of Dr. King, the Ali family kept its doors open while all around burned. The owners thought it important to keep firefighters and policemen nourished. The restaurant was featured in the movie State of Play: Russell Crowe is victoriaboulevard.com 117
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about to order when he discovers his attaché case has been stolen. On our visit, I went with the Original Chili Half-Smoke, a spicy hot dog with an outer casing grilled to blackness (but not burnt), covered with a molten sea of chili. It was delicious and surprisingly satisfying. No wonder Obama made a pit stop. Another black-owned institution is the Florida Avenue Grill, a not-so-greasy spoon with booths and a long counter. Like Ben’s, the restaurant survived the 1968 riots that devastated DC neighbourhoods. (The owner stood in the front door with a shotgun.) We went with a standard bacon and eggs breakfast with side dishes of grits and greens. The walls are filled with autographed photos, including such dignitaries as Rev. Al Sharpton and Supreme Court Justice Thomas Clarence. Obama ate here while serving in the Senate. Each night in the capital we Bill Clinton retired to the Old Ebbitt Grill, favours the sidling up to a bar over which stared the unblinking heads of Miss Mamie stuffed creatures such as a walrus, a gazelle and a warthog, said to Sampler of have been bagged as trophies by Teddy Roosevelt. shrimp, chicken Here we plotted our final stop, and short ribs. an out-of-the-way eatery in a strip mall across the Potomac in Arlington, Va. It took some time to find the sign-less Ray’s Hell-Burger, opened by chef Michael Landrum, a prominent steakhouse owner, but the hunt came with a reward: a 10-ounce burger of prime rib cooked as we wished. (We went with the recommended warm, red centre, though we could have had “mooing” or “cooked throughout.”) Bacon, fine cheeses, even guacamole are offered as toppings, but the quality of the meat makes adornment unnecessary. Each table is outfitted with a paper-towel dispenser, a requirement for juicy burgers, quite simply the best I’ve ever had from a commercial establishment. No wonder Obama and Joe Biden crashed the joint shortly after taking office. After downing my burger and cleaning up as best as possible, I was left with the entirely satisfying thought about my week-long excursion: I had eaten like a president.
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Attman’s, 1019 East Lombard St., Baltimore, Md. Ben’s Chili Bowl, 1213 U St., NW, Washington, DC Florida Avenue Grill, 1100 Florida Ave., NW, Washington, DC Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too, 366 W. 110th St., New York, N.Y. Old Ebbitt Grill, 675 15th St. NW, Washington, DC, Ray’s Hell Burger, 1713 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. VB victoriaboulevard.com 119
CUSTOM SCULPTURAL ARTGLASS
libations By sharon mclean
Wine 101: How to move from drinking to tasting — really tasting — the fruit of the vine
charles gabriel GL ASS WORKS
photo by darryl gittins
www.gabrielglassworks.com 250 881 5440
I vividly remember standing in a London wine store 15 years ago, fussing about what bottle I should take to a party. The store descriptions added to my sense of doom. Olives? Violets? Cedar box and leather? All I wanted was something that tasted good. That was the start of my wine journey. We all have different reasons for wanting to learn more about wine, but to really know wines, you need to switch from drinking to tasting. Here is a short course on how to taste wine: 1) The glass: Make sure it is clean and the rim curves in slightly so that aromas are channelled to your nose. Do not pour too much. 2) The look: Tip your glass over a white background and note: Is the wine clear? Look for brightness and clarity. A slight haziness could be an indication of a fault or it could mean the wine hasn’t been filtered or fined (a coagulant is added to remove particles). 120 victoriaboulevard.com
Colour: White wines get darker as they mature, so a deeper colour could be an indication of age or it could mean that there has been some oak treatment. Red wines start out looking purple and then lose colour with age, moving toward orange and then brown shades. Tilt the glass and look at the wine’s edge. 3) The sniff: Swirl the wine by holding the glass by the stem on a table and moving it in small circles. Stick your nose in and sniff. Ahh! Is it clean? Check for any off-notes like musty wet cardboard (cork taint), barnyard, rotten eggs, nail polish remover, onions, burnt matches or even geraniums. All of these indicate a flaw. Some may blow off, but if not, take it back to the store. Aromas: What fruit do you smell? Are there floral elements? Spices? What about vegetal notes like forest floor, grass or herbs? Can you smell leather or sandalwood? Professional tasters are as objective as possible and use standard descriptors. Saying a wine smells “like Aunt Ena’s kitchen” does not communicate to others. If fruit flavours predominate it is a relatively youthful wine. If fruits are complemented by other “tertiary” aromas like leather, then the wine is developing and is on its way to its peak. If the fruits are no longer fresh, but are dried (think raisins, figs, dried blackcurrant) and distinct tertiary aromas are present then it is a mature wine. Or, perish the thought, if the wine is flat with no aromas of interest at all, it’s over the hill. 4) The taste: Take a small sip of the wine and roll it all around your mouth so it reaches all your taste buds. If this is your first wine of the day, swirl and spit: you need to “season” your mouth. Then take another sip and check for each of the key components in turn. Sweetness: Focus on the very tip of your tongue. The more it tingles, the sweeter the wine. Test the difference between almost any red wine (dry) and a port (sweet). Acidity: Let your tongue “hang” in your mouth (i.e., not touching your teeth or cheeks) and watch how much your mouth waters, especially the sides of your tongue. The more it waters, the higher the acidity. Acid sounds bad but plays a huge role in wine. It adds to the freshness, helps bring balance to sweet sweets (Sauternes need their shockingly high acidity), aids stability and helps preserve the colour of red wines. It’s a good thing. Test the difference between a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (high acid) and an Alsatian Gewürztraminer (low-medium acid). Tannins: Tannins are mouth-drying and feel furry on your gums and teeth. The drier this feel, the higher the victoriaboulevard.com 121
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tannins. To check what tannins feel like, suck a tea bag. Tannins come from skins, stems and pips. White wines are fermented without skin contact and, while there may be a few tannins from barrel contact, tannins are not a major component. Red wines, however, are fermented with the skins and the tannins add to the wine’s structure and ability to age. Skin thickness and therefore tannin levels, vary by variety. Test the difference between a Cabernet Sauvignon (high in tannins) and a Beaujolais or simple Burgundy (much lower tannins). Alcohol: Hold some wine in the “cup” of your curled tongue. Open your mouth slightly and slowly breathe in. Do you feel a “burn” at the back of your throat? The higher the alcohol content, the hotter it will feel. A wine will need a higher fruit concentration to support higher alcohol or else it will become “hot” and unbalanced. Test the difference between a Californian Zinfandel (typically 14.5 to 15 per cent alcohol by volume) and a German Kabinett Riesling (typically under 10 per cent). Flavours: What do you taste? Is it the same as what you smelled? In a good-quality wine expect concentration, complexity and the aromas found on the nose to follow through to the palate. Body: How does the wine feel in your mouth? Think of the difference between skim milk, 2 per cent milk and cream. Alcohol, flavour intensity and oak are three factors that add to the body of a wine. A German Kabinett Riesling at 9 per cent alcohol is going to be light-bodied; a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will typically be medium-bodied; and an oaky Californian Chardonnay at 14.5 per cent alcohol is going to be full-bodied. No inherent relationship exists between body and quality, but when you are looking to pair food and wines, the aim is to match the weight of the wine to the dish. Length: A wine will always show its pedigree in its length. Sip, spit, wait and watch. In a great wine the flavours will linger, evolve and unfold for minutes. Wine tasting is not a science, it’s an art and a journey of a thousand wines. Pay attention to every wine you drink. Smell everything, even jube-jubes in the bulk food bin. Try tasting wine blind. Take notes. Enjoy.
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This issue’s recommendations: 2008 Stift Gottieg, Messein, Gruner Veltiner, Austria $21.99. A beautiful summer sipper. 2007 Poggio Morino, Rosso, Maremma Toscanna IGT, Italy $14.99. Red and black cherries interweave with blackberries and herbal notes in this fantastic value wine. 2008 Laporte, Les Duchesses, Pouilly-Fume, Loire $29.99. A classic Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberries, grass, lime and notes of minerality. Note the high acidity! VB victoriaboulevard.com 123
By elizabeth levinson Photo By gary mckinstry
don’t have a cow: halve one Buying local meat in quantity means a barbecue season of taste, variety and savings
Make these delicious lamb burgers with red onion marmalade and lemon aioli at home this summer. Recipe courtesy of Fire & Water Fish and Chop House.
With barbecue season on the horizon, it’s time to think about stocking the freezer with some succulent beef steaks and luscious lamb chops. While veggies simply must be bought fresh, savvy home cooks know the value of placing a “locker order” for a whole lamb or a side of beef. With an enticing variety of cuts in your freezer, you can always whip up something new for family and friends. Bring out some short ribs or strip loin. Do up a baby roast just for the two of you. Meat bought in quantity pays off. “You save $50 to $70 buying a whole lamb versus buying individual cuts,” says Geoff Martin,
co-owner of Slater’s Meats in Victoria. People can have a greater sense of confidence in the quality and consistency of the cuts knowing they have all come from the same animal. Buying local product from a neighbourhood butcher also means you support sustainable agriculture and the local economy. I dropped into Slater’s one busy Monday morning to size up a lamb, which co-owner Cameron Doyle was about to butcher for a customer. The initial consultation had already taken place, in which the customers outlined their preferences. For example, some people want roasts from the shoulders, others prefer chops.
Typically, the lambs weigh around 23 to 25 kilograms (50 to 55 pounds) before being butchered — only 10 to 15 per cent is not used. A whole lamb, at about $13 per kilo, runs around $300 to $350. I asked how long it will take to break down the whole animal into two legs, two shoulders, two shanks, two racks, 12 loin chops and a few kilos of stewing or ground meat. With a wink at Martin, Doyle tells me: “That depends on who’s doing the butchering!” Doyle has a nine-year history with the company and a sharp knife. “It will take him about 25 minutes,” Martin says. Slater’s buys lamb from Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island farms. The lambs are grass-fed and no antibiotics or hormones are used in their husbandry. The requisite BC government-supervised processing and inspection take place in Metchosin before the animals are stamped and delivered to the shop. Buying whole sides of hormone-free, grass-fed beef cattle is also popular, but most customers buy one of three sections of the animal. A side of beef is a lot of meat — about 165 kgs — and usually starts around $6.50 per kg so it can get pricey. Buying a third still provides a lot of choice. The hind produces top and bottom roasts, sirloin tips, round roast and eye of round cuts. The front, though tougher, contains the highly prized prime rib along with brisket, chuck and short ribs; and the long loin cuts into top sirloin, tenderloin and strip loin. Knowing your cuts and how to prepare them will give you a greater range of options on the grill this summer. Martin and Doyle are always happy to give advice and they’ll write cooking times on the brown-paper meat packets. If you have the chance to venture further afield, the Cowichan Valley Meat Market, on Koksilah Frontage Road in Duncan, stocks beef and lamb that is raised at the Quist family farm in Westholme (between Duncan and Crofton). A fourth-generation operation, the 100-hectare farm is home to Angus and Hereford cross cattle as well as Schwyzer Braunviehs, the Swiss “dual purpose” milk and beef cows. The Quists’ animals are not medicated at birth, nor do they receive hormones or animal by-products in their food. They are fed grass silage, hay and barley. They’re slaughtered at a government-inspected facility on the farm and sold from the family’s immaculate meat market in Duncan. “You can’t get any more local than this,” says Dave Quist, behind the counter at Cowichan Valley Meat Market,
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as he helps customers select a rack of lamb that he’s raised himself. Quist’s customers buy beef by the side — usually weighing around 160 kg “on the rail” (translation: hanging from a hook in the meat locker). “Depending on how the customer wants it cut up — bone-in or boneless, small roasts, big roasts or a lot in hamburger — the finished, cut-and-wrapped weight can be up to 30 per cent lighter,” says Quist. Of the whole lambs sold, one of the most popular is the Texel breed, whose deep loin produces a proportionately larger quantity of the best loin and rack cuts. Now, got that grill smokin’? Here’s one of my favourite ways to prepare a lamb burger, courtesy of executive chef David Roger of the Victoria Mariott Inner Harbour. They serve it on a soft bun with a delicious red onion marmalade, lemon aioli and gorgonzola. The recipes for red onion marmalade and lemon aioli are available by e-mailing email@example.com. All you need to add is a salad harvested from your neighbourhood farmers’ market and a bottle of 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Sidney’s Muse Winery.
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Recipe courtesy of Fire & Water Fish and Chop House, Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour.
chefs and international food celebrities.
1 lb ground lamb ½ onion, brunoise (finely diced) 1 shallot, brunoise 1 garlic clove, brunoise 1 tbsp grainy mustard 2 egg yolks, beaten ¼ c soft bread crumbs 1 tbsp chopped rosemary 1 tbsp chopped mint salt and pepper In a bowl, mix together all ingredients and divide into four patties ½-inch thick. Refrigerate until needed. Grill lamb burger to 150°F. Spread lemon aioli on the bottom of a soft bun. Place burger on top, then red onion marmalade and thinly sliced gorgonzola. Top with other half of bun, cut in half and serve with tossed salad. Slater’s First Class Meats, 2577 Cadboro Bay Road; 250-592-0823. Cowichan Valley Meat Market, 5191 Koksilah Road, Duncan; 250-746-8732. VB
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By jason brown Photo By gary mckinstry
Canoe Brew Pub and Marina’s Ocean Wise Wild BC Halibut Tacos feature chili marinated halibut, soft corn tortillas, tomato, red onion, cilantro and lime in cumin crème fraîche.
more than just great steaks
Ordering seafood the “Ocean Wise” way:
where taste, price and sustainability meet
You may have noticed the logo of a bright-eyed fish diving for kelp on the menus of your favourite restaurants. That logo signifies that the fish is certified by Ocean Wise, a system developed by the Vancouver Aquarium. Ocean Wise is a relatively recent addition to the growing pool of bodies whose food labelling programs advertise that products meet a variety of acceptable standards. Want to ensure that the person who farmed the coffee beans in your morning cup got a fair deal for his or her labour? Look for the “Fair Trade” logo. Want to be assured your carrots really are organic? Look for the new federal “Canada Organic” label. Want to make sure that the fish you’re eating has been harvested sustainably and with minimal impact on the environment? Look for the “Ocean Wise” logo on menu items at more than a dozen Victoria establishments, including some of the region’s top restaurants. The idea grew from the Seafood Watch program run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, whose “Best Choice/Good Alternative/Avoid” seafood rating system created wallet-sized guides that the Vancouver Aquarium distributed in Canada. As feedback rolled in from Canadian users of the California guide, the Vancouver Aquarium saw an appetite for expansion. “Restaurants and retailers didn’t necessarily know the information themselves, so someone out for dinner couldn’t say if what they were buying was ethical or not,” says Mike McDermid, Ocean Wise’s program manager in Vancouver. So the aquarium launched the Ocean Wise program in 2005, an educational program targeting restaurants and seafood wholesalers. “These businesses have always wanted to help, they just didn’t necessarily have the expertise or the time to filter through all the scientific literature to determine
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what’s best,” says McDermid. By making sustainable seafood easy to identify and source, the hope is that enough people will start buying it and demand will mean the end of harmful fishing practices. Ocean Wise started with only one partner — C restaurant in Vancouver — but now more than 2,700 locations across Canada carry its logo on menu items, including almost three dozen restaurants on Vancouver Island. Some local restaurants find Ocean Wise paternalistic: Becky Eert, who manages Pescatores, says “We are proud of the sustainable local products that we serve to our guests and do not feel it necessary to join another bureaucratic organization that says so.” However, other restaurants are happy for the free expertise and marketing. “People recognize the logo,” says Lisa Hartley, executive chef at Nautical Nellie’s, a partner since 2007. “Many of our menu items already did qualify for Ocean Wise certification, we just weren’t aware of it until we partnered with them.” It was a simple Ah yes, the price. step to stamp the logo and In the end, like organic let the customer know, too. Concern about the health and free trade products, of our waters and dwindling numbers of sea life was the sustainably harvested number one reason chefs cited why they partnered seafood simply with Ocean Wise. “The costs more. onus is on restaurants to buy responsibly,” says Canoe Brewpub & Restaurant’s Ian Dustin. “We need to do something about it now.” Dustin was willing to sacrifice or substitute for popular menu items in order to keep to Ocean Wise standards, which expect that a partner restaurant will gradually phase out all non-certified menu items over several years. It’s easy enough to substitute halibut for cod or eliminate tasty but lesser known items like Chilean sea bass. Most restaurants, however, have difficulty dealing with certain popular items, like tiger prawns and squid, that are redflagged by Ocean Wise. “Tiger prawns were absolutely massive,” says Dustin. “We use an Oregon shrimp now and BC spot prawns, but these can really increase the price.” Ah yes, the price. In the end, like organic and free trade products, sustainably harvested seafoods simply cost more: the challenge for Ocean Wise restaurants is to convince customers that the extra charge is worth it. Canoe’s Potted Wild Oregon Shrimp in a dill and chive crème fraiche, for example, at $10.75, is a couple of dollars more than the same dish might have been, had it used conventionally farmed tiger prawns. But diners know their appetizer isn’t 130 victoriaboulevard.com
contributing to the slow death of the world’s mangrove swamps. Over at Lure, one of the first Ocean Wise restaurants on Vancouver Island, chef Mike Weaver says there were “big time” hesitations going with Ocean Wise-certified products at first, which “can be as much as two or three times as expensive.” Still, he figures by now his menu is almost completely Ocean Wise certified. Red-fleshed ahi tuna, for which there’s only recently been an acceptably sustainable fishery, is now served regularly again at Lure in starters and entrees. An example is the Coriander Crusted Ahi Tuna on a couscous tabouli with mint yogurt and mustard greens ($28.95). Nautical Nellie’s, too, has also brought the delicacy back, featuring it at a new sushi bar ($2.35 for each cool, fresh and unadorned mouthful). At Aura Restaurant, at the Inn at Laurel Point, popular Ocean Wise dishes include Island Clam and Mussel Gramigna, with chili garlic butter, white wine, cherry tomatoes and torn basil ($22), and Pan Seared Arctic Char, with baby vegetable casserole, chanterelle duxelle and sourdough spaetzle ($24). The success or failure of Ocean Wise rests on spreading the word. Sustainably harvested, tantalizingly tasty seafood is available if the public is willing to pay the price. Victoria’s Ocean Wise Restaurants: Aura Restaurant, Inn at Laurel Point, 680 Montreal Street; 250-414-6739 The Bengal Lounge and the Empress Room, Fairmont Empress Hotel, 721 Government Street; 250-389-2727 The Strathcona Hotel (all five restaurants), 919 Douglas Street; 250-383-7137 Blue Crab Bar and Grill, Coast Hotel, 146 Kingston Street; 250-480-1999 Cactus Club Café, 1125 Douglas Street; 250-361-3233 Canoe Brewpub, Restaurant and Marina, 450 Swift Street; 250-361-1940 Lure Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort, 45 Songhees Road; 250-360-5873 Marina Restaurant, 1327 Beach Drive; 250-598-8555 The Mark, and Pacific Lounge and Restaurant, Hotel Grand Pacific, 463 Belleville Street; 250-380-4487 Nautical Nellie’s Steak and Seafood House, 1001 Wharf Street; 250-380-2260 Panago Pizza (all four Victoria locations), panago.com; 250-310-0001 Red Fish Blue Fish, Broughton St Pier, 1006 Wharf Street; 250-298-6877 The Reef Caribbean Restaurant, 533 Yates Street; 250-388-5375 Spinnakers Gastro BrewPub, 308 Catherine Street; 250-386-2739 VB victoriaboulevard.com 131
Why do you write song lyrics? After having been a typesetter and a proofreader, my first job in the newsroom was writing rock reviews. Because I started my career in Edmonton, there was at least as much country music as rock. I heard so many great country lyrics and so many miserable country lyrics that I thought surely I can do better than that and that’s how it started. My songs are more reportorial than emotional. There’s a lot of stuff about what I see, probably because I spent so many years as a reporter. One of my greatest hits is Big Sky Blues. It’s all about Alberta. How did you meet your husband, musician Dave Clarke? I met him in a bar in Montreal, a country bar called the Blue Angel. He was a performer and I was in the audience and his girlfriend introduced us. He had to shed his girlfriend. We probably
started dating about a year after we met. And I had nothing to do with the breakup. Who would you like to write a song for? From a singing point of view, Alison Krauss or Joe Nichols. From a financial point of view, for Shania Twain. What is the biggest challenge facing Victoria? It’s very hard to administer a community with 13 different municipalities in terms of everything from policing and the handling of domestic violence to arts funding for facilities like the Royal (Theatre). It just makes a lot more sense to have one large municipality with one set of governors. No individual mayor or council wants to give up the power and people within the communities have an allegiance to their own community. No
one ever willingly gives up power. It would require the provincial government to do it rather than having the citizens or the individual councils vote it in. That will never happen.
hard work and a real sense of connectedness to the land, the environment.
What did growing up in Northern Alberta teach you? I spent a lot of time on my uncle’s farm. He had a threequarter section, mixed farm. As kids we spent all our spare time working on the farm (she drove a tractor at age 10). I think it gave me a real appreciation for
You’re stranded on an island. What three items do you have? I’ve never even thought about this. My BlackBerry. And iPod and a limitless supply of batteries. At least I can keep checking memos. You’re in a high-stress business. How do you relax? A lot of gym time. Quite a lot of cardio, the elliptical trainer or StairMaster or treadmill and some weights. That’s the best thing. I also read. Watch spy TV. I have a fondness for shows like MI-5, 24, the old show Nikita. Listen to music obviously. Write music. There’s only a handful of female editors-in-chief in Canada. Why? Journalism is a profession that takes a very significant toll on females. It’s a job where you can’t ever ➤
&lies Lucinda chodan, 55
Times Colonist Editor-in-Chief By shannon moneo photo by gary mckinstry
GARY MCKINSTRY PHOTO
Pump it Up
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guarantee that you’re gonna be leaving at a particular time. News doesn’t keep an appointed schedule and if you want to be a manager, you can’t just say, here’s a story. It’s breaking, but I’m sorry I’ve got to go pick up my child at day care. As long as women remain chiefly responsible for child care, it’s hard for them to have the infinitely flexible schedule that you need to have to be a senior manager in a newsroom. Has not having children influenced your career path? I think so. It’s a lot easier for me to say, OK well, look, I’m just going to gut it out. Stay ‘til 9 o’clock until that story’s rewritten ‘cause I’m not happy with it right now. It’s easier now because we have tools that allow you to see the newspaper pages from home. You can have stories, photographs e-mailed to you at home so that would make a significant difference to young women who are contemplating a job in newspaper management. Just in terms of picking up a child at day care, if you’re working on a breaking news story, it’s not going to happen. I think my family and possibly my husband would say that I’ve always been pig-headed and obsessed with achievement. What does a good day at work look like to you? A bad day? Both involve a lot of coffee. A good day at work is
enough time to read all the papers I read from end-toend. Then enough time to respond to the 120 or so e-mails that I get. Ideally, I respond to 10 or 15 of them from readers. Have an exclusive news-breaking story ready to go for Page One that will result in significant change in the community . . . A bad day will usually start with a phone call from a lawyer about a story. Followed by a whole bunch of people calling in sick. Followed by a news meeting in which there is no significant local story available. Even worse when we don’t have a nice local photograph to offer. And it would end with a technological problem and information that I have to take part in a conference call the next morning. What’s the best thing you’ve done at the newspaper? I think recognizing the importance of developing of our online platform and recognizing the importance of local news. The worst? There are days when I pick up the paper, at least once a month and say I wish I hadn’t called that story for the front page or we underplayed this story or that’s a pretty crappy story. I wish we hadn’t done that. So, it’s a continuous self-correction. There are tons of things that I regret but you know what, there’s just so much that goes on every day that you can’t spend a lot of time beating yourself up about it. VB
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Familiar Faces, Familiar Places
This is MARSHA
CRAWFORD, realtor WITH RE/MAX CAMOSUN,
Photographed at the Selkirk Waterway by Gary Mckinstry
When Marsha Crawford walks into a house that is a perfect fit for her clients she just knows it. “I’m intuitive,” says Marsha. Yes, she does her homework, spending lots of time getting to know her clients’ likes and dislikes and the vision of the ideal home they cherish, but there is a voice from within that says ‘this is it’ when she walks into the right home. And she knew ‘this is it’ the first time she sat at the wheel of a Lexus IS 250. Marsha had taken a number of other cars for test drives, but only the Lexus triggered that response. “It’s perfect for the work I do, incredibly comfortable for my passengers. There are no blind spots and the turning radius is superior to any of the other vehicles I took for a test drive.“ But what does Marsha like best about her Lexus IS 250? “It is fun to drive.” For this hard working self-starter, now in her third year as a realtor with Re/Max Camosun and already in the top one-third in her field, a vehicle is an integral part of her work. The Lexus meets her needs on all dimensions
LEXUS IS 250
— excellent safety features, an elegant interior (or as Marsha says, “The interior is a step above.”) and superior comfort for driver and passengers from its 4 doors to separate climate control features. As a volunteer President of the Board of the Vancouver Island School of Art and avid boater she knows esthetics, design and the value of recreation. The IS 250 fits the mould. On the morning of Thursday December 31st when Marsha walked into Metro Lexus most of the city was gearing up for New Year’s parties. But the staff at Metro Lexus jumped in to help Marsha find the right vehicle. “They were incredible. It is the most welcoming, friendly and pleasant place to visit.” She told the sales professionals that she wanted something sporty but classy, fun but appropriate for work. They took her over to the Lexus IS 250 and she knew she had found her car. “Not only did I fall in love with it, I was really surprised with its terrific value.”
2010 Lexus IS 250 Very well equipped from $36,295.00 Includes freight and pre-delivery inspection
the pursuit of perfection
Douglas at Finlayson, Victoria 250-386-3516
BOULEVARD MAGAZINE is designed to capture the personality, culture and vitality that is Victoria by focusing on the Arts, People, Trends, Fo...
Published on May 1, 2010
BOULEVARD MAGAZINE is designed to capture the personality, culture and vitality that is Victoria by focusing on the Arts, People, Trends, Fo...