Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Mom-Day Adventure: Japanese Tea Gardens, Victoria Wildlife and the Old House

Hello, my friends! This is a big Mom-Day Adventure post, so grab a drink and get settled. 

We'll kick it off with what I wore for such a grand day, then some surprise pictures that I found on the camera (hint: wildlife is involved), a gaggle of pictures from our walk, and lastly, a glimpse of the past (and pics of very young me). 

As we dive into the last four weeks of summer, I'll be making an effort to wear all of the "backwards hangers" in my closet, aka the as-yet-unworn items. This gorgeous dress is one of them. 
I am a sucker for a black and white or black/cream mix in a dress - this one also has gold. 

  • Dress - Chetta B, thrifted; last worn here (3rd outfit) in February 2020 for a funky Friday
  • Shoes - Pegabo, thrifted; last seen here in April with velvet and a haori
  • Jacket (below) - Smoking Lily; last worn here in June with my orange jumpsuit

This fabric is woven, not printed - it's just gorgeous in person. 

What is it, Vizzini? 
"I see something suspicious."

I love the big gold zipper down the back. 

Showing my underlovelies. 
Bare legs so I can show off all my Ulti bruises. I got donked in the shin on Saturday and it's a doozy.

Masked up. Our province has restored its mask mandate due to increased Delta variant infections - we have to wear masks while indoors again. 
We're hoping to avoid the "Fourth Wave" - over 75% of our population is full-jabbed.

  • Mask - by Mom

The temps here are back down to the low 20s, which is our usual summer climate. 
"Fine, take your pictures. I'm not going to tell you about the things in the tree."

I was glad I'd pulled out a jacket.

This is a stretchy cotton brushed with silver to make it look like Space Fabric. 
This is how most people saw me. 

You know, your typical park outfit. 
All the shiny! 

  • Purse - Banana Republic, consignment

The stuff: 
I knew we wouldn't be doing any strenuous walking, but I still needed shoes for duration - we walked for close to two hours. 

Bold bling: 
First wearing of Mom's black earrings. 

  • Bracelet - thrifted, Sidney
  • Amber ring - c. 1996
  • Silver/onyx ring - Toccara, vintage fair
  • Cat pin - Charmaine's

I wore the cat pin on the jacket. 

So...I discovered these pictures on the camera when I was on my way home. We've been visited! 
L took these pictures with his "distance" glasses on before he left for work in the early morning, so he hoped for the best. 

We have racoons in the maple tree! 
There's one sleeping in the crook of the branches, and one on the side of the trunk. 

Another angle - the maple tree is in our condo's yard, beside the neighbouring apartment's driveway.
The awake racoon climbed up a smaller fork. 

Uh-oh, I think he spotted L! 
He's really close here - within 10 feet of our dining room window. 

Well, hello there. 
Trash bandit! 

Ooh, I think that made him mad. 
He looks like when Vizzini is scratching the bejeezus out of his post. 

Now, I definitely know he sees L. 
He looks super-pissed. 
Yikes, back away! 

This guy didn't move at all. 
Ah, I see the tips of the maple leaves are starting to turn golden. 

Speaking of trees...Mom picked me up in the morning and we drove to the Esquimalt Gorge Park. 
Mom is wearing a lovely blue top, a necklace from New Zealand, and this blue jacket (a thrifted gift from me), and a faux pearl brooch. Her sunglasses even matched. 

The Gorge waterway is an arm off Victoria's Inner Harbour and connects to Portage Inlet. It was a very popular holidaying destination for the early colonial settlers here. 
The official park website (here, all links 'cause I love) doesn't really tell you too much. Mom's mother came out here by tram (check out the BC Archives pic here and all the Archives' pics of the Gorge here), Mom also visited here and swam in the Gorge as a child...and so did I! We used to pack up the family VW van and bring our canoe to this park. 
It's a busy waterway, and because it's connected to the ocean it has tides. 

It was low tide when we arrived. We parked on the Esquimalt (that's pronounced "ess-KWAI-malt" side of the Gorge waterway and walked over the bridge. There were a lot of Canada geese (poop machines) all over. 
When I was a kid in the 1970s, this was a little loop of water that went right, under the bridge, forming a swimming hole. However, it was out of the tidal surges so the water got stagnant and icky. I remember that the bottom was quite slimy, but the water itself was always warm and the saltiness made you very buoyant.  

This field is where the swimming hole was - there is still sand on the left bank from the beach on the edge of it. 
This stream creation was a modern project to restore this area to its natural condition. 

It's worked, as we saw a ton of growth in the trees and bushes. 
I spotted a heron at the far bend. 

Crossing the bridge, we arrived at the walkway and playground. The walkway (the looped white chains) goes along both sides of the Gorge. 
I have not been to this park since at least the 90s, when I last came out here with Mom. 

I do remember this building - in the 70s, they sold chips and pop from it. It's the concession! 
It was open when we came back, and we made a donation and walked around - it's now a Nature House with a "touch tank" of water critters and fun things for kids to do. 

But our goal was to stroll to the Japanese Tea Gardens. 
Giant willows overhang the walkway. 
Looking north. There are houses along the left shore, some with docks. 

On the other side is Gorge Road, and a dense residential area, mostly built up between the early 1900s-1950s. 
See the paddleboarders? It's a popular sport. 

I checked the tide - it was going out (towards the harbour). 
The sea grasses are flat as the water rushes over them, and we saw one school of small silvery fish. 

Looking north again - big fluffy clouds! 
The mountains in the distance are up-Island (*waves vaguely*). 

We passed this half-built building/complex. 
They are building a new pavilion with amenities. 

I bet they will have a lot of wedding receptions here. 
The blue arrow is where we came in; the red arrow is where we're heading. The racket of the hammering sifted through the trees as we walked around the gardens, but it wasn't too intrusive. 

We know we're in the Japanese Tea Garden section - the lampposts changed to red. 
Following the shoreline path. 

We saw a lot of walkers along here. 
Tillicum Bridge is up ahead. 

Beautiful big Douglas Firs. 
This one's being smothered by the lace of ivy climbing up it. 

I love Japanese maples - the red leaves are so beautiful. 
We were so lucky to have such a glorious day. 

Here's Tillicum (TILL-uh-come) Bridge. I remember fishing for bullheads under this bridge when I was a kid (enjoy a pic of me around 9 years old, looking highly squeamish here). 
You can see the tidal surge under the bridge. This is known as "Tillicum Narrows" or the "Canal of Camosack" - it's one of the only reversing falls in Canada (interesting link about it here, including some pictures). 

I spied another heron amongst the hordes of Canada geese. 
Looking for lunch! 

I looked back, and couldn't resist taking a shot of Mom. 
Yes, that big smile expresses it perfectly. What a day!

From there, we walked up a very steep hill to the top of the gardens and worked our way down the meandering paths. 
Much like Finnerty Gardens (here, another Mom-Day Adventure), there are little side-paths and benches scattered throughout. 

The Japanese Tea Gardens were full restored in the early 2000s, and reopened in 2009. 
This is the entryway. 

A memorial to the creators of the garden. 
A good article here about how the gardens were created by Joe Kishida and Harry Takata; it doesn't skip the shamefulness of the Canadian internment of Japanese citizens during WWII. 

Another stone is a dedication to Jim Barlup. 
A link to the Jim Barlup Legacy Garden here (many pics of rhodos!). They were everywhere, many towering over our heads.

Mom took a picture of me. 
I left her shadow in. Hee. 

Looking back. 
The gardens were green and lush. 

This white rhododendron is going for a second bloom. 
But signs of impending fall were everywhere. 

This bench was tempting. 
Most of the path is compacted gravel, but there are also slab stone paths. 

Little ponds.
And little shrines everywhere. 

Towering trees. 
The bamboo was being kept in check. 

Mom admiring this giant tree. 
You had to just stop and look around. 

I see a red lamppost. 
The path curved downwards, following the stream running to the sea. 

A little waterfall. 
Algae along the edges of the ponds. 

Looking out over the slope.
I can see a bit of the construction through the trees. 

I liked this tiny house for guiding the water's path. 
The trickling sound of water wove in and out with the rustle of the bamboo. 

Victoria is proud of its gardens, but most people who live here haven't heard of this one. 
It was so worth a trip. 

Look at the colours! 
The foliage is just beautiful. 

Another small waterfall along the stream. 
That stream tumbled down to a larger pond. 

Another shrine (a birdhouse? I see a hole), and lily pads on the water. 
The lilies are just about to bloom.

I spy Mom on the far bridge. 
I took a path with stairs, but she stayed on the flatter sections. 

Isn't it picturesque?
You can't help but let your cares fall away. 

Ah, a lily that's bursting open. 
Dragonflies zoomed around. 

Looking back at the pond (this is where Mom had been standing). 
Mom has brought her art group here in the past to do "en plein aire" painting. 

Mom's painted in this park tons of times. 
We only saw a few people in this section, though. 

I liked this massive spiderweb. 
It was bigger than my hand. 

As we rested on a stone bench, a little rock lizard (invasive species) darted into the shadow of a leaf. 
Time to go...

Look at all that low-tide beach. 
This was such a lovely time. 

Aw, selfie with Mom! 
Before we headed to Montana's for lunch, Mom asked if I wanted to swing by our "old house" - it was on a street on the other side of the Gorge. This is the part of town that I lived in when I was a wee baby. Of course, I want to see it!  

This is the house Mom and Dad bought after they got married in 1965. I was born in 1967 and lived here until 1974. It's changed a bit, but the bones are still there. 
None of the bushes and trees were there when we lived there, according to Mom. It was quite open in the front yard and side area then. 

But I do remember this archway well. And that was my bedroom on the right, which I shared with my brother Dave when he was born in 1970.  
I think it was stranger for Mom to see the old house again, since I was only four when we left here. I still recall the layout, my bedroom wallpaper, baking with my mom in the kitchen (getting to stir the fruitcake), playing in the backyard. Just bits here and there. 

I dug up a couple of actual photograph pictures of me posing in that archway - it looks like the current owners are still using that mailbox on the wall above my head - I see a bit of it in the above pic. I think I'm two years old here, so 1969/70.
Note my hair barrette, cute dress, and socks and t-strap shoes. My poses still look like this!  

And this is probably a year later, when I'm 3, so 1970-71ish. 
Again, my hair is done, and I'm wearing a super-cute plaid dress (you know me and plaid!), and another sock-and-shoe combo. So stylish!

When I got home, I checked to see if the racoons were still there. 
Just the snoozy one. 

Vizzini, I'm sorry I didn't listen to you this morning! 
"Whatever. Let me sleep."

My own wildlife is hungry now, to time to go feed him. I hope you enjoyed our Mom-Day Adventure! 


  1. Couldn’t wait to see how you styled this dress. The colors, texture, and pattern is lovely with those shoes and jacket. I love Japanese Tea Gardens and find them such a respite. What a glorious time with your mom and what an adorable little one you were.

    1. Thank you, Chalotalo! It's a lovely dress - easy to style.

      The gardens were lovely, and it was so nice to spend time with Mom there. I did love my dresses back then too!

  2. Wow, looks like you had a fantastic day out :) love the raccoon pictures, what a bold little dude!

    1. Thanks, Katrina! It was awesome. I know, he's a saucy little guy, isn't he?

  3. The Gorge is gorgeous (haha!) with the dense planting, water features and themed areas it reminds me of Biddulph Grange Gardens, one of our favourite NT places. I can't get over all the bird life, it's incredible. Imagine living in one of those beautiful old houses that overlook the water.
    Talking of old houses, how lovely is your childhood home (and those adorable photos of baby Sheila!)
    Your blingy outfit is fantastic and your Mum looks gorgeous in blue, that jacket is such a good fit.
    I absolutely love those cheeky racoons, what cute faces! You, too Mr Vizzini, you're a handsome devil! xxx

    1. Ha ha, it really is! There is a lot of wildlife here, birds and animals. Those houses cost SO much (easily over a million dollars). Real estate here is ridiculously high.

      It's a lovely little house, and I was taken with my outfits!

      They are super-cute, but annoying when they get into the garbage bins! Vizzini is cutest of all, though.

  4. Baby raccoons, cute; middling and adult raccoons, go live elsewhere! Fred once met a raccoon in our backyard and was duly taken aback by how big they can be and decisively not cute! Has Vizzini noticed them? If so, what does he do, if anything?

    Ah yes, you were surely the classiest garden visitor of any, and I absolutely enjoy and appreciate that you dress for your Mom & Sheila Adventures! I recognized your dress and it’s on my internal list of favorite dresses of yours. As for the shoes, am always agog at your outing shoes; I’d be in sneakers. ;)

    The garden looked soothing and calm, the way Japanese Tea Gardens are designed to soften the psyche. I imagine to design a garden is like being an artist, with having to consider the place,ENT of each element and how it will be perceived from different angles. Why do you think many people in Victoria are not aware of the garden?

    So sweet to see the pictures of you as a wee toddler! Your love of dresses truly carried foreword! Your childhood home looks picturesque amd reminds me of the Shire. Maybe it’s the rounded arch and the placement of the trees and shrubs.

    A good time was had by all, your’s and your Mom’s smiles say it all! ❤️

    1. Yes, hence the 'Trash Bandit' moniker, right, Laurie? They are pests, but so cute. Vizzini is rather oblivious about the racoons (he's much more interested in the birds), but he makes a chittering noise when he sees them.

      I was easily the dressiest person we saw (as was Mom). It's a solid jammy dress, for sure. I have loads of flats for easy walks like this.

      It was very soothing and calm, very serene. There's also the seasonal considerations, of when different plant will bloom. The garden isn't really advertised, and unless you go hunting for gardens/walks in Victoria, it's easy to just not be aware of it.

      Yes, I was apparently quite a fan of my dresses and particular about my appearance, ha ha! It's a small arts & crafts house, I think, and those are often very "shire-like".

      Yes, it was awesome to spend the day with Mom. :) I love our outings.

  5. That dress is beautiful on you and I love your metallic outfit! I had no idea you had racoons in Canada! I thought they were a US animal. They look cute! :)

    And I really like the garden photos - it looks like such a nice place to visit!

    1. Thanks so much, Mica! Oh yes, we have racoons, loads of them. They don't recognize borders, lol.

      It was amazing, very calm and serene. Thank you!

  6. Boy oh boy Sheila, this outfit is so me! Boy could I "snaffle" that dress and shoes! I LOVE it. the shoes are perfect. You look so great Sheila and you know I loved to see little Sheila too. Our mum's always dressed their little girls up it would seem. I had similar plaid dresses and the shoes and sock combo when I was a little girl too ahh. What a lovely day with your mum, childhood home visits and thoses gardens oozing serenity. A really lovely post. Thank you Shazxx ps your Mum is beautiful in blue!

    1. Hello, Shaz! Glad I landed on one that felt like you! Aw, thank you - I was very much into clothes even at that age, according to Mom.

      It was a wonderful day spent with her. Mom often wears blue - it's one of her faves. Thank you!

  7. Your dress is such a classic design; it will never go out of style - love it!

    What a beautiful day and beautiful gardens. You are very fortunate to have some of the most wonderful vistas and gardens in Canada so close to your home.

    Racoons are so very cheeky! Love seeing them at a bit of a distance, wouldn't want to come face to face.

    You were certainly a very stylish cutie patootie when you were a little girl!

    1. I agree, Nana - it's timeless.

      It was such a great day to be in a lovely place like this and to spend time with Mom. We are so lucky to live here!

      They are so cute, but such a nuisance.

      I have always liked dresses, as you can see! :)

  8. That dress and jacket were made for each other and just perfect for swanning around a park. So glad I'm not the only one with bruises on her legs, only mine are from constantly bumping into things :-) Can't believe you've got raccoons so close to your home! They're so cheeky, but I was wondering whether Vizzini spotted them?
    The Gorge looks like an amazing place for a walk, doubling as a trip down memory lane for you! And what a cute - and stylish - little girl you were! Absolutely adorable! xxx

    1. I so agree, Ann - and thank you! Ha, yes, I always have bruises - I'm always banging my shins or tripping on things.

      I've seen racoons in the trees out front before but not for a while. Vizzini was clueless about these one, but when he spots critters (squirrels, birds), he starts making a chittering noise. It's very funny.

      It is a gorgeous place! It really did bring back a lot of memories. I was stylish then! Ha!

  9. What a gorgeous day and such a amazing area! I love all things with water, so relaxing. And what a lovely home! Why did they leave there? Looks like a perfect family home to me. That dress is gorgeous, I love the golden zipper!

    1. Thanks, Nancy! We are lucky that we can visit the waterfront here. My folks sold the house as it was too small for a family of 4 - it only had two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a living room with kitchen, what they call a "starter home." We moved to a 2-level, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house - much more room for all of us.

      Thank you!

  10. Very classy dress; looks expensive and I love the colours.

    Looks like you enjoyed a beautiful day out, it’s great to see your pics. Thanks for sharing. x

    1. Thank you so much, Phyl! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

  11. So lovely day!, the japanese tea gardens look really delightful, some beautiful paths and golden foliage which I love!, a really fab place for a walk.
    And love your dress, I'm also a huge fan of black&white motives in a dress, and this is a gorgeous dress. Lovely accessorizing indeed, this jacket rocks and your shiny bag goes perfectly!.
    Thanks for sharing these photos of your childhood!, looking so cute!

    1. It was a lovely day, for sure. Thank you - I love black and white dresses, there is just something about them.

      Glad you enjoyed the old pics - I loved my dresses then too!

  12. Okkkkayyyyy, we must connect about where that house is…..? Also, I’ve never been to the Japanese Garden. I had no idea it was so beautiful! xocaro

    1. Hey, honey! Isn't it funny that Casey used to live next door? You should go to the gardens, it's not far from your house!

  13. The Gorge Park looks like a lovely place to spend the day - no wonder your family has been going there for years. It's nice to re-visit places where you went on family vacations. You were a stylish little tyke! Your mom always looks beautifully put-together so the apple did not fall far from the tree.

    We have raccoons and skunks that explore our street at night; we make every attempt to stay out of their way. I don't think that raccoon looks annoyed that L is photographing him; I think he's saying "Yeah, go ahead, I know I'm photogenic".

    I would kill for temperatures in the mid to low twenties right now. There has been a humidex in the high 30's and even 40 the past few weeks and it's exhausting if you have to go outside.

    1. I really loved rediscovering it, and have promised to take L there as he's never been! I was very into my clothes when I was younger - these pics prompted all kinds of memories about me and my clothes! Mom's been my number 1 inspiration my entire life.

      We really don't see that many racoons around here - we see far more deer! Heh, you're right, maybe he was getting his movie star on! Ha!

      It's dropped by about 5 degrees overall - definitely a shift here. Sending you cool ocean breezes!

  14. I am going through the posts I have missed. This post holds a lot of cuteness: racoons (never seen one), your mum looking terrific in blue, you in your toddler days (ahhh). And beautiful nature. OK ... and a great dress on you.

    1. I appreciate that, Greetje, thank you! Never seen a racoon? You're not missing much, ha ha. Mom looks amazing in blue (she has tons of blue jackets). Thanks!

  15. Aww, what wonderfully cute raccoon snaps! We have a fair number of "trash pandas" (said wholly affectionately) around these parts. A roving gang of at least five of which we captured on our outdoor home security camera a few days ago.

    Loving raccoons something fierce (though always being mindful, of course, that they can be defensive in person - especially around cats and dogs), seeing that when I got up made my day and then some. :)

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. We don't actually see them very often - it's easily been about a year since I've spotted racoons in the 'hood. I bet it was fun to catch them on the security cam!

      Yay, glad to make you smile.


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