Butler Hollow to Radium Hollow

March 15, 2017

For Spring Break 2017, Wendy and I returned to Sugar Ridge Resort on Arkansas’ Beaver Lake for a few days of relaxation. We first stayed there in June 2014, and it has been our Spring Break destination for each subsequent year. This time our usual cabin, #6, was booked, so we stayed at the almost identical cabin #2. Wendy had fun feeding the birds on the balcony, attracting a number of cardinals.

Back in April 2014 Wendy found a lovely small geode near Onyx Cave along the Sugar Camp Scenic Byway west of Eagle Rock, Missouri. (Not to be confused with the nearby commercial cave in Arkansas.) We decided to return there so she could scour the trail area for more pretty rocks.

Butler Hollow

In planning the outing, I mapped out a scenic drive from Sugar Ridge to Onyx Cave via Butler Hollow. For the uninitiated, “hollow” is a term used in New England, Appalachia, and the Ozarks for narrow valleys formed by streams running through mountainous regions, à la The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ozark hillbillies call them hollers.

The old Missouri and North Arkansas railway once followed Butler Hollow from Seligman, Missouri to Beaver, Arkansas. My great-grandmother Caldona Tennessee Burnett, who was called Dona, surely traveled this route, albeit not by train, since she was born near Beaver and married James Washington Weston in Seligman. My grandmother Effie was born in a log house her father built on Dona’s father’s place near Seligman.

Our scenic drive to Onyx Cave

Wendy and I drove northeast on state highways from Sugar Ridge to Butler Hollow. But instead of turning right to follow Highway 187 southeast to Beaver, we turned northwest, taking the gravel Farm Road 2285 up the hollow into Missouri until we could turn back east on FR 2280 to reach FR 2270, which is the gravel section of the Sugar Camp Scenic Byway.

We noticed some signs as we drove along Butler Hollow about “saving” the hollow. A later web search revealed that some residents opposed a forest service plan to restore glades in the area via logging, cedar tree removal, and rotating controlled burns. The forest service eventually adopted a plan that scaled down the project from 18,000 to about 3,600 acres; it is Alternative 4 in their online plan. The plan will now address Chute Ridge directly east of Roaring River State Park over to Highway 86 along with Pine Hollow, which is just south of Roaring River State Park and north of the Sugar Camp Byway.

The adopted “Butler Hollow Plan” to thin and burn areas east and south of Roaring River State Park; Butler Hollow actually runs a few miles south of the bottom edge of this map

A few years back there was a controlled burn of Chute Ridge to remove the debris left behind by a cedar tree removal project. I strongly dislike the invasive cedars I see spreading across Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Fire suppression has allowed them to flourish. I’ve seen over the decades the results of a small glade restoration project in Roaring River State Park where the Firetower Trail intersects Highway F. That highlighted for me how the forest in southern Missouri is now quite different from what it was 150-200 years ago. Back then it had fewer but larger oak trees, a canopy that was fairly closed, and a much more open forest floor. Cedars were uncommon, and glades were larger and more frequent.

1937 logging in what would become Mark Twain National Forest

My great-great-grandfather Nathaniel Meador arrived in Barry County, Missouri in 1849. That very year a survey of Butler Hollow in the southern part of the county showed no cedar trees and a large distance of 64 feet between trees. Before European settlement, fire swept the area on average every three years. Most of the area was logged in the early 20th century, with much of the pine and white oak removed. Open-range grazing with frequent burning became the norm until the Forest Service acquired the lands in the 1930s and 1940s, ending most agriculture. The second-growth forest is now dominated by eastern redcedar, black oak, and red oak rather than white oak and post oak.

The Forest Service would like to restore a fraction of the land to pre-settlement conditions, noting that the second-growth forest trees have reached maturity and are now in decline. Red oaks mature at around 60 years and by age 90 nearly all of them will show signs of decline. About half of the tree stands in the forest are now over 90 years old, and the other half almost entirely 50-90 years old.

I understand residents’ worries about the glade restoration project, with its periodic controlled burns and the use of herbicides to prevent cut cedars from returning. The compromise of a smaller project adjacent to the state park seems reasonable. It will be interesting to observe its outcomes in the coming decades.

Radium Hollow

Wendy and I navigated the gravel roads along and up from Butler Hollow without incident, reaching the Onyx Cave picnic area in the late afternoon. It overlooks Radium Hollow, so named because its Radium Spring produces water with detectable radioactivity from particles it picks up in the Chattanooga Shale it flows over.

There is a very tall tale of the discovery of a radium cave in the area. Back in the 1920s Douglas Cloe is said to have bottled five-gallon jugs of the Radium Spring water for its supposed medicinal properties, and in 1950 a group reportedly surveyed the area with an eye toward uranium mining. None of that panned out, but below are photos I found online of the former radium mine and a concrete water tank nearby. Today the hollow to the east of the spring is the site of the Eagle Rock Retreat Christian camp.

Onyx Cave Trail Track

Onyx cave is sealed off

A trail leads down the west hillside from the Onyx picnic area on the Sugar Camp Byway to a blocked-off crawlway called Onyx Cave. It reportedly goes back into the hillside about 100 feet. Wendy and I hiked about half a mile at the site, searching the trail and surrounding hillside for pretty rocks. While she didn’t find any more geodes, Wendy the rockhound still had fun. I joined in the search but also slammed rocks together to break them open and observe their interiors, which were sometimes quite different in appearance from their exterior rind.

We didn’t find much; Wendy would acquire many more rocks with crystals the following day when we returned to Lake Leatherwood, with her hunting rocks in a creekbed while I hiked an overlook trail. That will be the subject of the next blog post.

Our scenic loop

Leaving Onyx Cave, we dropped north out of the forest via FR 2265 and 1162 to make our way across Roaring River and past Munsey Cemetery to reach Highway F. From there we made a dash through Roaring River State Park to Cassville for some supplies before returning to Sugar Ridge via state highways. The loop we ended up making vaguely resembled a north-pointing arrowhead.

It was a fun outing, and someday we might return and venture down the side road off the Sugar Camp Scenic Byway (visible in satellite imagery but not shown in road maps) to Radium Spring.

Posted in day hike, photos, travel | 2 Comments

Standing Bear: “I am a man”

In January 2017, Wendy and I traveled to Ponca City to enjoy the Mexican food at Enrique’s restaurant. As we drove through town, we spied a large statue of a Native American just north of the Phillips refinery. Intrigued, we drove into Standing Bear Park. We found an elaborate trail with large sigils of various tribes, leading us to the 22-foot bronze statue of Standing Bear, gazing out across the land.

You need to know the story of Standing Bear

So who was Standing Bear? He was a Ponca Indian, of course, and he was the first Indian to be recognized as a person under the law of the U.S. Constitution. His tale is worth your time.

Three Tragic Treks

The story of the Poncas is, like so many tales of Native Americans forced to relocate to Oklahoma, a tale of greed, arrogance, and destruction. The tribe once lived along the Atlantic coast, moving sometime before 1500 C.E. to what would someday become Minnesota. Attacks by the Sioux led them to resettle between the Missouri and Niobrara rivers in what is now northern Nebraska and South Dakota.

Standing Bear was born there around 1830. In 1858, the Ponca signed a treaty giving up most of their land but allowing them to keep a small part by the Niobrara River in exchange for schools, mills, and thirty years of annuities. In 1865 they relinquished more land to gain access to their old burial grounds. But in 1868 a treaty with the Lakota nation mistakenly included the Poncas’ land in the Great Sioux Reservation. Brutal attacks by the Sioux led the Ponca chiefs to sign a document in 1875 which they thought meant they would live among the Omaha, their allies, on a Nebraska reservation. But the government used it to force their relocation six hundred miles south to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma.

The Poncas’ own Trail of Tears

In February 1877, ten Ponca chiefs, including Standing Bear, were taken to Indian Territory to select land. Unhappy with the stony and malarial land, they refused to choose. The government agent angrily abandoned them, leaving them without an interpreter, food, money, or documentation. So Standing Bear and seven other chiefs walked the six hundred miles back home, arriving in northern Nebraska with bare and bloodied feet, their moccasins having worn out after the first ten days of their trek.

In May all of the Poncas were forcibly removed. At the point of a bayonet, 523 individuals, including Standing Bear, set out with whatever they could carry. By the time they arrived near Baxter Springs, Kansas, nine of them had died, including Standing Bear’s daughter Prairie Flower.

Bright Eyes

Arriving too late to plant crops, they were left in the new country for months without rations or promised farming equipment, and more than one third of them died of starvation and malaria. Among these was Standing Bear’s sixteen-year-old son, Bear Shield. The middle-aged chief had promised his son before he died that he would return his body to their home in Nebraska to be buried among his ancestors.

So on January 2, 1879, in the depths of a harsh winter, the aging chief and 26 other Poncas set out for Nebraska with the body of his son. Two months later, they arrived at the reservation of the Omahas, where Chief Iron Eye and his daughter Bright Eyes gave them food and shelter. She would prove instrumental in helping Standing Bear win back his freedom.

A Plan for Justice

General George Crook

Thomas Henry Tibbles in his old age; he was 39 at the time of the trial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Interior had telegraphed General George Crook of Omaha, ordering him to arrest the wayward Poncas and return them to Indian Territory. Crook, noted for his exceptional service in the Civil War and Indian Wars, privately disapproved of the government’s policies toward Indians and felt the Poncas had been treated unfairly. He secretly spoke with Chief Iron Eye and Bright Eyes and formulated a plan.

Crook met with former abolitionist and minister Thomas Henry Tibbles, an editor of the Omaha Herald newspaper. He asked for Tibbles to assist the Poncas:

If we can do something for which good men will remember us when we’re gone, that’s the best legacy we can leave.

-General George Crook

John Lee Webster & Andrew Jackson Poppleton argued the case for Standing Bear’s release

Tibbles publicized the situation, and attorney John Lee Webster offered his services pro bono, joined by Andrew Jackson Poppleton, the chief attorney of the Union Pacific Railroad. General Crook discreetly suggested they seek a writ of habeas corpus for Standing Bear’s right to be released and return to his land. The government was not pleased: Indian Affairs Commissioner Ezra Hayt declared, “No attorney has the right or can appear for an Indian, until authorized to do so by the Indian Department.” But the trial proceeded in May 1879 in the court of District Judge Elmer Scipio Dundy.

Standing Bear with his surviving family

When questioned, Bright Eyes translated for Chief Standing Bear:

I wanted to go on my own land, land that I had never sold. That’s where I wanted to go. My son asked me when he was dying to take him back and bury him there, and I have his bones in a box with me now. I want to live there the rest of my life and be buried there.

Who is a man? Who is a citizen?

Webster and Poppleton argued that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants citizenship and equal protection and due process of the law to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, applied to all Indians. The government relied on the notorious case of Dred Scott v. Sandford to argue that an Indian was not a citizen and not entitled to sue in its courts.

Standing Bear

After the legal proceedings had ended, the judge broke from routine and allowed Standing Bear to stand up and address the court.

I see a great many of you here. I think a great many are my friends. You see me standing here. Where do you think I came from? From the water, the woods, or where? God made me and he put me on my land. But I was ordered to stand up and leave my land. Who the man was I don’t know. He told me to leave, and I had to go. It was hard for me to go. I objected to going. I looked around me for someone to help me, but I found none. Now I have found someone, and it makes me glad.

When I got down there it seemed as if I was in a big fire. One hundred and fifty-eight of my people were burned up; now I stand before you. I came away to save my wife and children and my friends. I never want to go there again. I want to go back to my old reservation to live there and be buried in the land of my fathers. If I can go there I may live some time longer.

He turned to Judge Dundy, and stretched out his right hand from beneath a red and blue blanket, saying:

That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man. I never committed any crime. If I had, I would not stand here to make a defense. I would suffer the punishment and make no complaint.

That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours.

Then he looked out of the courtroom window into the distance, and continued:

I seem to be standing on a high bank of a great river, with my wife and little girl at my side. I cannot cross the river, and impassable cliffs arise behind me. I hear the noise of great waters; I look and see a flood coming. The waters rise to our feet, and then to our knees. My little girl stretches her hands toward me and says, ‘Save me.’ I stand where no member of my race ever stood before. There is no tradition to guide me. The chiefs who preceded me knew nothing of the circumstances that surround me. I hear only my little girl say, ‘Save me.’ In despair I look toward the cliffs behind me, and I seem to see a dim trail that may lead to a way of life. But no Indian ever passed over that trail. It looks to be impassable. I make the attempt.

I take my child by the hand, and my wife follows after me. Our hands and our feet are torn by the sharp rocks, and our trail is marked by our blood. At last I see a rift in the rocks. A little way beyond there are green prairies. The swift-running water, the Niobrara, pours down between the green hills. There are the graves of my fathers. There again we will pitch our teepee and build our fires. I see the light of the world and of liberty just ahead.

I see the light of the world and of liberty just ahead.

Judge Elmer Scipio Dundy

The old chief became silent. After a long pause, he turned back toward Judge Dundy, saying:

But in the center of the path there stands a man. Behind him I see soldiers in number like the leaves of the trees. If that man gives me the permission, I may pass on to life and liberty. If he refuses, I must go back and sink beneath the flood.

You are that man.

There was silence in the court as the old chief sat down. Tears ran down over the judge’s face. General Crook leaned forward and covered his face with his hands. Some of the ladies in the audience sobbed.

A few days afterward, Judge Dundy handed down his decision:

  1. That an Indian is a ‘person’ within the meaning of the laws of the United States, and has, therefore, the right to sue out a writ of habeas corpus in a federal court, or before a federal judge, in all cases where he may be confined or in custody under color of authority of the United States, or where he is restrained of liberty in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States.
  2. That General George Crook, the respondent, being commander of the military department of the Platte, has the custody of the relators, under color of authority of the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof.
  3. That no rightful authority exists for removing by force any of the relators to the Indian Territory, as the respondent has been directed to do.
  4. That the Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation, as well as the more fortunate white race, and have the inalienable right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ so long as they obey the laws and do not trespass on forbidden ground.
  5. Being restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof, the relators must be discharged from custody, and it is so ordered.

Years later, attorney Poppleton reflected on his final court plea for Standing Bear, “I cannot recall any two hours’ work of my life with which I feel better satisfied.”

The next year, Judge Dundy was part of a lower court panel which asserted that Indians who had left their tribes and submitted to U.S. jurisdiction were U.S. citizens, but this was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1884.

Free, but without a tribe

The Niobrara River

After the trial, Standing Bear was left in a legal limbo. The legal argument used to establish his right to freedom as a citizen had also severed his tribal alliance. He was no longer allowed to live on any reservation as a ward of the government. It took the service of Native Americans in World War I to finally shame the U.S. into accepting tribal members as citizens in 1924 and the country did not accept all native-born people as citizens until 1940.

So Standing Bear was effectively exiled to Niobrara River island, a small bump of land not claimed by the Sioux in their treaty with the U.S. Later that summer, he slipped back to the mainland with the bones of his son, burying him somewhere along the bluffs.

In the fall, Tibbles and Bright Eyes persuaded Standing Bear to join them on a speaking tour of the eastern U.S. to publicize the plight of the Poncas. Those two would go on to marry in 1881 and continued their struggle of defending Indian rights. After her death in 1903, Bright Eyes was the first woman eulogized in the U.S. Senate.

Standing Bear in 1906 outside his Nebraska home

The U.S. government finally recognized the Northern Ponca in 1881 and paid restitution, returning 26,000 acres of land, a small part of what had been stripped away. Many of the Poncas in Oklahoma choose to remain there by the Arkansas River.

Still unable to live on tribal lands, Standing Bear wandered for a decade until, in 1890, when he was in his 60s, he was granted 300 acres through the Dawes Act. He built a farmhouse by the Niobrara River and remained there until the end of his days, dying in obscurity in 1908. He was buried near the village of his ancestors.

Perhaps it would do us well to pause, as our nation debates the fate of illegal aliens and walls along its southern border, and contemplate where each of us would be today if the Native Americans had been able to keep out European settlers. Let us consider our nation’s long history of injustice towards Native Americans, women, people of color, homosexuals, and on down the long list of suffering, humiliation, and destruction. The American Experiment has been a long and troubled road to freedom, with far too many people lost on its trails of tears.

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Bluestem Lake & Bird Creek School

March 12, 2017 | PHOTO ALBUM | SLIDESHOW

The first Sunday of Spring Break 2017 found me tramping down the spillway of Bluestem Lake while, 25 miles to the east, Wendy was at home building a new rose bed.

I had never visited Bluestem Lake before but had been intrigued by online photos of waterfalls along its spillway. A cold and overcast day in mid-March, with little rain of late, was hardly the time for waterfall photography. Yet I was eager to get out and walk about an area I had not yet explored. So I drove westward from Bartlesville on US 60 through a sleepy morning in Pawhuska over to Bluestem Lake, taking county road 4275 north from US 60 to reach the dam.

Bluestem Lake (click map for slideshow)

The lake was built in 1958 on Middle Bird Creek just before it intersects Bird Creek. That’s the same Bird Creek that traverses south Pawhuska and later flows past the Mohawk Park and Redbud Valley hiking areas in north Tulsa, 45 miles southeast of the lake. Designed as a secondary water supply source for Pawhuska, the lake also provides flood control and recreation. That recreation regrettably includes graffiti and beer drinking, with its inevitable littering, in the spillway area.

The spillway leading eastward from the dam was quite dry, with only a trickle of water coming in from a small stream to the north rather than the lake. There was a deep hole gouged in the limestone before the spillway made a sharp turn southward. When the water is up, this could be a dangerous swimming hole.

Deep hole in the spillway

The different bedding planes of limestone and sandstone were interesting, and there was a social trail running along the western bank of the spillway’s southbound channel, leading past a series of pools. One notable separation was by a large tilted plane of stone jutting from the earth and eroded by the water.

Along the southbound spillway

After I tramped about in the cold for awhile, I decided to drive away via the old lake road, now designated as county road 4070. It leads east over to Bird Creek, where it diverts south to make a crossing on a very old one-lane concrete bridge before turning east again to run to old US 60, now called Lynn Road.

Bird Creek School

Where road 4070 encounters Bird Creek one will find the old two-room Bird Creek School, once in District 17. It is draped with ivy on its north and west faces, but the front east facade is still quite recognizable. Abandoned Oklahoma has some nice photos of the interior. The red brick building is 77 feet long and 25′ wide, with a stepped gable roof. It was built in the late 1930s by the Works Progress Administration.

Ivy on Bird Creek School

Silly tales that Bird Creek School is haunted claim that if you write your name on the chalkboard and later return to the school, you’ll find your name scratched off. A harsher reality is the continued deterioration of the little oil field boom towns of Osage County. The population of Pawhuska has fallen steadily since the oil boom a century ago, although the success of the Pioneer Woman Mercantile has brought an influx of visitors as of late. Barnsdall is still home to the Baker Petrolite plant, which was once the world’s largest manufacturer of microcrystalline waxes. But the town continues to decline, with a downtown of empty shells, an all too familiar sight to those who travel through rural Oklahoma.

My adopted home of Bartlesville, just across the eastern edge of Osage County, is another oil boom town, but it benefited for decades from being the corporate headquarters to Phillips Petroleum and, until the late 1960s, Cities Service. Bartlesville has managed to stabilize its population in the mid-30,000s for the past 35 years but has suffered a noticeable decline in its socioeconomics since the early 2000s when Phillips Petroleum merged with Conoco and relocated its headquarters from Bartlesville to Houston. The two companies later separated again, into downstream and upstream operations, and each retains a large corporate presence in Bartlesville, but the headquarters remain in Houston.

Change is hard, especially amidst decline. But Bartlesville is proof it can be navigated, something I’ll discuss in a later post. Meanwhile, Wendy and I are grateful that Spring Break has finally arrived. We are headed to Beaver Lake in Arkansas to relax for a few days, giving us time to pause and reflect about all of the changes underway in our lives.

PHOTO ALBUMSLIDESHOW

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Revisiting my ABCs in my middle age

2/24/2017

And mostly all I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don’t like them as much as I do.

Nick Hornby

Most of these blog posts cover photographed travels and dayhikes t0 draw in a core group of armchair travellers. But there are also posts on technology, music, home repair, and various other interests. It is interesting to note that the relatively few home repair posts have the longest legs, reliably drawing in a trickle of daily readers searching for help with challenges such as a broken bathroom heater, a dishwasher installation, and upgrading an old car to connect to a modern device. The technology posts by their nature quickly become dated and have less broad appeal, but posts on music draw the least engagement. Yet here’s another one post on music, as it has always been an essential part of my life.

16 years old and ready to learn

16 years old and ready to learn

The relative lack of reader interest is understandable, as musical tastes vary so widely and musical styles fall out of fashion, often leaving their adherents stranded in nostalgia for the music of their youth. I enjoy a wide range of musical styles, only repelled by a few such as opera, rap/hip-hop, and metal. Yet I am certainly biased to prefer the pop music I enjoyed in my teenage and college years. My favorite album, by a long shot, arrived when I was 16 years old, primed to learn The Lexicon of Love.

abc lexicon of love

The theatrical video for Poison Arrow

The theatrical video for Poison Arrow

I was in my first romantic relationship when ABC released The Lexicon of Love in 1982. Those who lived in the 1980s won’t be surprised that I was introduced to the album through videos on MTV. The three hits featured on that cable channel drew me in with the theatricality of both the visuals and the music. Their blend of orchestral strings and dance music was certainly not the usual fare, and I decided to buy the album. On vinyl…I did not have a CD player yet.

The Lexicon of Love was a New Wave album unlike anything else I had heard…or seen, for that matter. The album cover was literally theatrical, with its Technicolor red stage curtain and mood lighting as Martin Fry points a gun at something unseen and holds up a fainting woman. The front also made a point of printing lyrical excerpts:

a-z affectionately, 1 to 10 alphabetically, from here to eternity without in betweens. still asking for a custom fit in an off the rack world? sales talk from sales assistants when all i want to do is lower your resistance. no rhythm in cymbals no tempo in drums. love’s on arrival, she comes when she comes. right on the target but wide of the…

This proclaimed itself to be literate dance music. Sure enough, the vocals were not drowned out in the mix. I don’t often pay particular attention to verses in pop music, focusing more on the music, rhythm, and chorus. But clearly this album wanted me to pay attention. It asked to be in that select group for which I would play a record in a dimmed room with a lamp illuminating the album insert, intensely reading and meditating on the lyrics as I listened.

Background

Vice Versa: Martin Fry, Stephen Singleton, & Mark White

Vice Versa: Martin Fry, Stephen Singleton, and Mark White

A couple of years earlier, in the struggling industrial city of Sheffield, England, young music writer Martin Fry had been recruited by guitarist and keyboardist Mark White and saxophonist Stephen Singleton to join their little band Vice Versa, first as a keyboardist and then as a vocalist.

Their group evolved into ABC, and they recruited Trevor Horn of The Buggles to produce their debut album. Horn described ABC’s songs as, “like disco, but in a Bob Dylan way.”

Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik, and Gary Langan

Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik, and Gary Langan would go on to found The Art of Noise

Thankfully, for this literate dance music, Horn brought in Anne Dudley to play keyboards, and she would go on to provide lush string arrangements to envelop several of their songs of failed romance, which pulsed with elements of funk, punk, and disco. Gary Langan engineered the album, and J. J. Jeczalik programmed a Fairlight CMI synthesizer for it. A year later, Horn, Dudley, Jeczalik, and Langan would form the group The Art of Noise.

Throughout the album, singer Martin Fry wasn’t afraid to use falsetto to evoke the elation and despair of a man’s heartaches as he tried and failed to establish a meaningful relationship. This is a mighty album about love, but it is failed, rejected, and lost love.

Marcello Carlin has structured his blog Then Play Long, about every number one album in the United Kingdom, around this album. He remarks about Fry’s achievement:

He made a pop record which continues to tower over all other ones, and not just number one albums either, in terms of ambition, cheek, purpose (not the same thing as ambition) and adventure. It is as if the rest of this tale has been leading up to Lexicon; then again, that is how I structured it. The album seems so much more complete than other ones. The point of it all – in terms of the high point, the apex.

Listening to The Lexicon of Love

The album was released in an era when two-sided vinyl still held sway. The five songs on the first side build on each other, with superb transitions. Show Me starts things off with somber low-volume strings and brass, which slowly build until the band suddenly blasts in with a thudding bass line and piano chords. The first lines?

Once I needed your love
But that was just one thing left on my mind
Then I needed to feel you near me
You said, “Don’t have the time.”

This is not going to be a happy-go-lucky record. The next song was a hit. Poison Arrow portrayed Fry’s anger and despair:

poison-arrowWho broke my heart?
You did you did
Bow to the target
Blame cupid, cupid
You think you’re smart
Stupid, stupid
Right from the start
When you knew we would part
Shoot that poison arrow to my heart

In the song, “the music resonates and rages all around him like an irate cathedral” according to Marcello Carlin in an epic blog post. He points out the way Fry stops singing to say, “I thought you loved me, but it seems you don’t care” only to have the woman reply, “I care enough to know, I can never love you.” And then “drums explode downwards like Zeus kicking a fridge down the side of Mount Olympus.” Power pop, indeed.

Many Happy Returns starts out calm, but then revs things back up. Fry lets loose toward the end, his emotions veering him into punk, only to be followed by Dudley’s meandering electric piano to remind us that there are real musicians at work here.

Many Happy Returns ends on a sustained note and then jump cuts into the frenetic dance number Tears Are Not Enough. This was the group’s first single and is forceful and angry in a dance music way. The album version has a harpischord section courtesy of Trevor Horn.

The first side concludes with Valentine’s Day. Its initial lyrics are more interlude than lead, but it then builds up toward the end, concluding with a fun tirade:

When I’m shaking a hand, I’m clenching a fist
If you gave me a pound for the moments I missed
And I got dancing lessons for all the lips I shoulda kissed
I’d be a millionaire, I’d be a Fred Astaire

Side Two launches with another hit, The Look of Love, which is an extended wry admission of failure and want:

look-of-loveWhen your girl has left you out on the pavement (Goodbye)
Then your dreams fall apart at the seams
Your reason for living’s your reason for leaving
Don’t ask me what it means.
Who got the look? I don’t know the answer to that question
Where’s the look? If I knew I would tell you
What’s the look? Look for your information
Yes there’s one thing, the one thing, that still holds true
What’s that?
That’s the look, that’s the look, the look of love

That song features string arrangements over a heavy moog basslineAnne Dudley recalled, “I remember hearing the mix of The Look of Love and being amazed at how loud Trevor had made the strings. It was really nailing the ABC colours to the mast: this was to be an unapologetically lush and epic album.”

There are at least four variations on The Look of Love, which the group called “Parts”. Only Parts One and Four were on the initial album:

Plus, since this is dance music, there was a wonderfully weird 12″ single version. I am always amused by the part where the bassline from the moog synthesizer takes over completely. Disco made 12″ singles popular as they allowed more dynamic range than the typical 7″ vinyl singles with their wider groove spacing, while preserving the better sound quality 45 rpm provided over long-playing albums played at 33 1/3.

Date Stamp brings us love as commerce, with its jangling cash registers and lyrics like:

So redevelop product, redesign this package
Still refuse to reach in your pocket
Everything is temporary written on that sand
Looking for the girl that meets supply with demand

Love has no guarantee (Yes, I’m date stamped)
Promise me eternity (Guess I’ll fade away)
Even with a pedigree (Yes, I’m date stamped)
Love has no guarantee

I get sales talk from sales assistants
When all I want to do girl is lower your resistance
Everything is temporary, written on that sand
Looking for the girl that meets supply with demand

We need an antidote to that cynicism. And we get it in spades, with the heartbreaking ballad All of My Heart.

allofmyheartWhat’s it like to have loved and to lose her touch?
What’s it like to have loved and to lose that much?
Well, I hope and I pray that maybe someday
You’ll walk in the room with my heart.
Add and subtract but as a matter of fact
Now that you’re gone I still want you back.
Remembering, surrendering,
Remembering that part – all of my heart.

It is an orchestral pop masterpiece. The last two lines of the chorus change each time, but always have that dash, that pause when all of the music stops, and Fry sings all of my heart a cappella, followed first by a tympanic crash, later by a string and rhythm section, and finally by a tickling of an electric piano.

But that’s not all, far from it, although the idiotic Vevo video shown above cuts it off at that point. Here’s the wonderful denouement I want you to hear:

As Marcello Carlin describes it, after Fry sobs that final all of my heart, “in the most sublime passage in all of British pop music, Dudley’s string orchestra rises to embrace him, to accommodate the sobbing singer in its bosom.” Another writer commented, “As he turns to weep, to sob, to mourn for a lost reality, the orchestra cushions him, cradles him in its bosom in what is one of the most compassionate and breathtaking moments in all of pop.” (Who doesn’t like an orchestral bosom? Or bosoms in general, for that matter.)

And then the orchestra very slowly dies away, leaving only Stephen Singleton’s lonely saxophone to conclude one of the longest fade-outs in pop music.

The album could end there, but it has more to say with 4 ever 2 gether, a dark and brooding track. Horn often distorts evil in the “Speak…no…evil” vocals so much you can’t really make it out. And the lyrics can be just as turgid:

I stuck a marriage proposal
In the waste disposal
If that’s the trash aesthetic,
I`d suggest that we forget it
Your 12 disciples might kiss and tell, but
You can tell me much more than they can,
Right now

A mathematical equation
Won`t describe my liaison
The stars in the sky might try persuading
But you can tell me, I won`t hear you
You can`t tell me, I gave up the listening
Years ago

4 ever together, 4 years 2 come
4 love 2 strong, 4 us 2 part

Wisely they choose to close out the album with the orchestral reprise of The Look of Love, Part Four, with strings, brass, xylophones, and harp.

Back in the early 1980s it was the greatest album I’d ever heard…not a clinker in the bunch. In the years to come I’d eagerly await the next ABC album, hoping for more.

More to come?

The second album lived up to its name - they stabbed beauty to death

The second album lived up to its name – they stabbed beauty to death

The sophomore slump hit ABC particularly hard. They followed up the lush Lexicon with the aptly named Beauty Stab, in which the only strings were on the guitars. It was harsh and thin, with them clearly trying to avoid a repeat of Lexicon, which makes it a loss all around. Their third album, How to be a Zillionaire!, was a hard turn back to dance, but of a cartoonishly bizarre bubble gum kind, with a flavor that quickly faded. And they added two non-performing band members. Uh, what?

Thankfully the later albums were more even-keeled, with 1997’s Skyscraping and 2008’s Traffic my favorite of their post-Lexicon releases. Here is Martin Fry’s own synopsis of each album:

Lexicon of Love (1982, Mercury): An orchestrated, polished neurotic affair of hysteria behind a red curtain. It’s the Yin & Yang of ABC.

Beauty Stab (1983, Mercury): An abrasive protest wrapped in anger and shrilled emotions.

How to be a Zillionaire! (1985, Mercury): A highly entertaining, irreverent coaster ride into outer space controlled by surreal cartoon characters on a quest to make guerilla pop. We built a machine!

Alphabet City (1987, Mercury): It wears the cuff-lengths of our career. It’s quite suave, like a midnight, seductive beam of moonlight.

Up (1989, Mercury): A weekend party rave to close the ‘80s. This was our swan dance to end the great decade.

Abracadabra (1991, MCA): A hybrid of different genres, it’s idealistic really. You can hear the civil war internally as our lucrative opportunity to make the album of our career slithered through our hands. We perfected the music and atmosphere that became the record, yet the process was indirectly intense.

Skyscraping (1997, Blatant, import-only): The jigsaw puzzle that challenged me to re-enter the ring after a long period of absence.

Traffic (2008, Borough Music): The joints are lubed and the muscles are flexed. There are nostalgic elements of déjà vu all over it, similar to Forrest Gump’s stories from the park bench. It stands firm and proud, despite the odds.

Lexicon lives on

The Lexicon of Love was performed live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009

The Lexicon of Love was performed live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009

I was thrilled in 2009 when Martin Fry, drummer David Palmer, and Anne Dudley reunited to perform the entire The Lexicon of Love album live at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Concert Orchestra. I managed to capture the audio from the online show, and it was such a treat! But then I heard nothing more for years.

Until this month, when I happened across a mention of the album The Lexicon of Love II. What?!? How could I have missed that? But a search in my Amazon Music Unlimited service yielded nothing. Nothing for sale in the iTunes store. Time to go to the source: abcmartinfry.com showed that yes, lo and behold, there was such an album. Martin Fry was inspired by the 2009 concert to create a sequel album, but it was only released in Britain in May 2016, followed by a British tour. No U.S. release.

Well, that just would NOT do. So I went to smile.amazon.com (which contributes a small fraction of my purchase cost to a charity of my choice; in my case, the high school’s parent support group) and ordered an imported CDYes, a CD! First one in a long time…after all, I sold off my collection of over 360 compact discs back in 2010.

abc-lexiconoflove2ukcda

The CD arrived in the mail a couple of days later (thank you, Amazon Prime). I popped it into my system’s optical drive (yes, my heavily upgraded 2009-vintage desktop still has one) and iTunes took forever to slowly convert it into 256 kbps MP3s and upload them into iCloud. That would let me play it on my desktop computer, Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. But I want my music available everywhere, so I then uploaded the files to my online Amazon music collection. That would let me play them on the Amazon Echos in the bedroom and the kitchen, on the television via its Amazon Fire Stick, as well on on my Chromebook. Plus I could then also play it on my desktop computer, iPhone, and iPad with Amazon Music apps.

Musical sequels

So…was the new album a worthy sequel to The Lexicon of Love? While successful musicians release multiple albums, few market later albums as full-fledged sequels. I do own a couple of album trilogies, with their entries spread out over decades. Meat Loaf released Bat Out of Hell in 1977, the superb Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell in 1993, and the far lesser Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose in 2006. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, joined by various country and bluegrass superstars, released Will the Circle Be Unbroken in 1972. Mother Maybelle Carter, a key part of making the original album work, had passed before they released Will the Circle Be Unbroken Volume Two in 1989, and Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume III in 2002 was a further diminishment.

The Lexicon of Love II is a fine album. But this sequel lacks the sweep and undiminished appeal, song after song, of the original. It also lacks a standout like All of My Heart. But, as Tim Sendra points out, it has “Dudley’s epic string arrangements embellished with grand pianos, some fluid fretless bass playing, impassioned backing vocals, and the occasional moment that, if you close your eyes, almost sounds like 1982 – not only because of the musical backing, but also because Fry’s voice is relatively untouched by age.”

The Flames of Desire is the closest to the spirit of the original album in its music and lyrics.

My favorite track musically is Kiss Me Goodbye, although it reminds me more of something from a later album than the group’s debut.

But my favorite lyrics are from the last vocal track, Brighter Than the Sun, which has a nice sentiment from a man who was looking in vain for love so long ago:

I am amazed and a little fazed
By what passes for wit these days
I’m not crazy about the trash they praise
Or the flags they wave these days

I’m amazed and a little fazed
By the drugs they crave these days
That’s just the way it plays
It’s a masquerade these days

I’m a man out of time
Until the stars realign
With taste so refined
I don’t know which way we’re heading

I’m a man out of time
With a mountain to climb
Just looking for a sign
Do you know which way we go?

I’ll ask the boy that I once was
About the man that I’ve become
About the days and days and days gone by
And the night still yet to come

That boy would turn to me and say
You’re not the only one
When all’s said and done
Our future’s looking brighter than the sun

I’m amazed and little fazed
By the way love stays today
By the facts that they portray
In a lover’s gaze today

I’m amazed and a little fazed
By the things you say to me
By the faith you place in me
And all that we can truly be

I’m a man out of time
Until the stars realign
With taste so refined
I don’t know which way we’re heading

I’m a man out of time
Trapped in rewind
Just looking for a sign
Do you know which way we go?

I’ll ask the boy that I once was
About the man that I’ve become
About the days and days and days gone by
And the night still yet to come

That boy would turn to me and say
You’re not the only one
When all’s said and done
Our future’s looking brighter than the sun

Martin Fry has been married for 30 years, survived Hodgkin’s Disease, and he and his wife have two grown children. He said, “When you’re with someone that length of time, they see the good, the bad and the ugly. Despite all the twists and turns and trials and tribulations, love can survive. That’s the most magical thing of all.”

I’m glad he found his love long ago. That’s the true sequel to his story. And like any good fairy tale, it has a happy ending.

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Love trumps hate amidst many losses

2/19/2017

In too many ways 2016 was a year of loss. I was surprised but not shocked at losing David BowieGlenn Frey, and Alan Rickman, who were all in their late 60s. Years of substance abuse claimed Carrie Fisher at 60, Prince at 57, and George Michael at 53.

But what truly hurt me, to my surprise, was the loss of artists who were in their 80s. On the acting front, I mourned Gene Wilder, who was so wonderful in Mel Brooks’ The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young FrankensteinWendy and I celebrated his legacy by attending a Labor Day weekend revival of Blazing Saddles on the big screen in Oklahoma City.

My favorite Gene Wilder role was his spot-on portrayal of Willy Wonka. Johnny Depp’s Wonka was sick and creepy in comparison. I love the office scene at the end of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

On the political front, the ascendance of Donald Trump was the product of the woes of a weary world, with his own victory sorely lacking in good deeds. I mourn the lack of civility, truth, and morality in presidential politics.

And then we come to poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen. A couple of years ago I read a great biography about him. In October 2016, at age 82, he released You Want It Darkerhis fourteenth studio album. He knew it would be his last.

Betty Henderson, my long-time friend and fellow science teacher, and I were introduced to the Canadian singer/songwriter’s works by Professor Bill Reynolds when we took a couple of graduate curriculum courses via compressed video from OSU in the 1990s. Prof. Reynolds had assigned us to watch the movie Pump Up the Volume, which featured Cohen’s hauntingly cynical Everybody Knows. We were both fascinated by the shattering bass voice linked to such powerful lyrics. That led us to the I’m Your Man album and beyond. I realize many folks might only know him as the guy who wrote Hallelujah.

Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen

Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen

I was grateful when the New Yorker offered a wonderful long last look at Leonard. But that article shook me to the core when I read in it the last note he wrote to his long lost muse, Marianne Ihlen, having learned she was dying of cancer:

Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.

When her family read that aloud to her, Marianne smiled. When she heard Leonard saying he was right behind, close enough to reach her, she lifted her hand. And two days later, Marianne slipped away. Leonard, true to his word, followed her four months later. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.

So 2016 was a year of love and loss. I will always delight in it as the year in which Wendy and I were married. But my emotions are quickly shredded if I listen to the reprises of Leonard Cohen’s Treaty or George Michael’s WaitingToo much loss. Too much pain.

Will 2017 be better? It hasn’t been much fun thus far. Our country is ripped apart by politics and partisanship. Anger, conflict, fear, and hatred pour out of Facebook every time I scan the newsfeed.

But love trumps hate. A few weeks ago I was tipped off by NPR Listeners’ Favorite 100 Albums of 2016 podcast to Sturgill Simpson’s album A Sailor’s Guide to EarthTaking his life as an object lesson, Simpson shares hard-won wisdom with his young son. I enjoy the boisterous Keep It Between The Lines, which has advice too many teenagers will ignore:

Keep your eyes on the prize
Everything will be fine
Long as you stay in school
Stay off the hard stuff
And keep between the lines

And I like how love “trumps” hate in his video for All Around You:

If you can’t make out the lyrics (Wendy says he sounds like a mush-mouthed Garth Brooks), here ya go:

There will be days
When the sun won’t shine
When it seems like the whole world is against you
Don’t be afraid
Life is unkind
You can let go of the pain if you choose to

‘Cause time slips away
Skies fall apart
It ain’t too hard
A universal heart
Glowing, flowing, all around you

There will be nights that go on forever
Like you’re long-lost at sea
Never to be found
Just know in your heart
That we’re always together
And long after I’m gone
I’ll still be around

‘Cause our bond is eternal
And so is love
God is inside you
All around you
And up above

Love me, show me you’re the way

‘Cause time slips away
Skies fall apart
It ain’t too hard
A universal heart
Glowing, flowing, all around you 

Now that’s more like it.

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Honeymoon, Days 14-16: Back to U.S.

TRIP DATE: July 15-17, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostFrankly, I never thought it would take me over six months to finish the posts about our honeymoon, but this school year has been a doozy for both Wendy and me. I’m juggling a lot of balls as I wrap up my final year of teaching and transition into running district communications and technology, and Wendy has had a challenging final year of teaching in special education. So it’s been nice to take a break from our endless work tasks to look at photos and share memories from our honeymoon adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s the final honeymoon post:

We spent part of our last day in Victoria at the Laundrolounge a few blocks from hotel. Perhaps we were preparing for our return home to domesticity after our long adventure in the Pacific Northwest.

Royal British Columbia Museum Mammoth

Royal British Columbia Museum Mammoth

I wanted Wendy to see the fun natural history dioramas and spooky First Peoples Galleries at the Royal British Columbia Museum. The big mammoth I remembered was there, along with a huge model of the dreaded Pine Beetle that has devastated forests in Colorado and elsewhere. A special exhibit was Lyuba, a 40,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth, the best-preserved specimen in existence. Found by a reindeer herder in frozen Siberia in 2007, the animal was about 30 days old when she suffocated after being trapped in mud along a riverbank. It was amazing to gaze upon her flesh 40,000 years later, over seven times longer than written human history.

Lyuba is 40,000 years old

Lyuba is 40,000 years old

Granger and the Great Bear

Granger and the Great Bear

I posed by a very intimidating bear, while Wendy braved the silent roar of a sabre tooth tiger. I especially enjoyed revisiting the Old Town exhibit, which is much like Prosperity Junction in the old Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

We walked back to our lovely room at the Magnolia for our final night in Canada, knowing we would have to catch the ferry back to Washington state the next morning.

Wendy had done her research for this second crossing, doubling up on the Dramamine and staying up top where she could watch the passing scenery. The water was calm as we thrummed away from Victoria. The stark view of the strait through the windscreen on the sparsely populated top deck after we lost sight of land reminded me of an Edward Hopper painting. I deliberately framed it with part of a fellow traveler’s arm in the shot to give a touch of humanity to the scene.

If Hopper had painted a ferry ride...

If Hopper had painted a ferry ride…

The calm gave way to choppy swells. The ferry heaved and rolled, turning westward to dodge the worst of the waves. The detour lengthened our journey back to Port Angeles, making for a long and sometimes violent ride across the rough sea. I worried that the rollicking boat ride would make Wendy miserable, but her strategies paid off and she did swell despite the swells. That reassured us that she need not dread ferry rides in the Pacific Northwest in future years.

We were both thankful and hungry when we reached Port Angeles. I drove to the nearby Chestnut Cottage Restaurant for a late lunch. My Goldminer roast beef sandwich was quite good, and Wendy enjoyed her ciabatta club sandwich with turkey, bacon, tomato, Swiss cheese, and delicious Italian dressing. We waited awhile for our food, so I mapped our car journey to reach the Seattle-Tacoma airport for our flight home on the following day.

I did not want to make the loop around the Hood Canal (which is actually a natural fjord created by the Vashon Glacier 10,000 years ago). Neither of us wanted to ride another ferry at Bainbridge Island, so I decided we’d take the long bridge on highway 104 across the Hood Canal to Port Gamble and gambol our way south through Tacoma and back up to SeaTac.

But while devising our route, I noticed a topographic pimple about 20 miles south of the highway 104 fork, with a road winding its way to the top. A web search told me there were north and south viewpoints there from atop Mount Walker, about 2600 feet above the surrounding countryside and 2800 feet above the Canal. Mister Panorama could not resist that!

So we drove around the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, did NOT take the fork in the road, and headed up Mount Walker. We passed a rockfall before the road turned to miles of gravel as we ground our way to the summit. There were fellow tourists at each viewpoint, with the one to the south affording a nice view of the Hood Canal. Through the haze we could barely see the skyscrapers of Seattle, one of the places I’ll share with Wendy on a future visit.

South view from Mount Walker

South view from Mount Walker

We passed under enormous trees on our way to the north end, where we could see Quilcene Bay, separated from Dabob Bay by the Bolton Peninsula.

The rest of our trip to SeaTac was uneventful, and we were tired and worn out as we pulled into the Coast Gateway Hotel for the night. I was too pooped to drive any more, so we were glad to find Sharps RoastHouse conveniently parked in the hotel lot. It wasn’t fast, and the meat was a bit dry, but we wolfed down our food and collapsed back at the hotel to rest before our late morning flight back to Oklahoma City.

The car rental return was as confusing and frustrating as ever at SeaTac, and I was quite annoyed by how the shysters at Hertz failed to honor some of the discounts I had arranged. I will look elsewhere for future rentals.

The flight home was a direct one back to Oklahoma City. We again flew first class, in larger and more comfortable seats but in a smaller plane than what I grew used to in the 1990s and 2000s. My folks picked us up at Will Rogers World Airport and by Monday, July 18 we were back in Bartlesville for the first time in 18 days.

Before we had left, Betty Henderson had arranged for the purchase of a new portable building, funded by her and other friends. Betty and I had picked it up from Costco in Tulsa back in June, leaving the huge boxes in the garage at Meador Manor. Wendy and I returned home to find the portable building assembled on a new platform in the yard, thanks to the skilled efforts of John, Betty’s husband, who has graciously helped us with several home improvement projects. After we got our bearings, Wendy and I would host an informal cookout at a shelter at Lake Copan for them and other dear friends. That’s as close to a wedding reception as we wanted to get.

John Henderson built this for us

John Henderson built this  building for us, which dear friends chipped in to purchase

Non-stop school work resumed as soon as we arrived home and continued on into 2017. But when we paused and reflected on our favorite experiences from the trip, Wendy recalled seeing all of the roses, collecting rocks, the Magnolia Hotel and spa, and the excellent salmon at several restaurants plus some great blueberry pie in Portland. She noted how the alcohol inks she picked up in Astoria, after seeing a Facebook video on making decorative tiles, started a long exploration of the craft.

Varied transportation was another highlight for Wendy. Even though the first ferry ride was miserable for her and the second one was violent, she found it a new and exciting experience. The plane rides were fun too; she said sleeping on the planes gave her some of the best sleep she ever got, and she marveled at seeing Mount Hood from the air during the golden hour as we landed in Portland. And she loved tracking the huge cargo vessels on her iPad and iPhone during our stay in Astoria.

Highlights for me included the windy but beautiful Loowit Viewpoint at Mt. St. Helens, Wendy giggling as she crafted a photo of me as Carmen Miranda, the forest pullout at La Poel, the orchards arranged before Mount Hood at Panorama Point, and Wendy joyfully scouring Ruby Beach for rocks.

We have many more shared adventures ahead of us, and look forward to sharing them with our gentle readers as well.

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Honeymoon Day 13: Art & Butchart

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Honeymoon, Day 13: Art & Butchart

TRIP DATE: July 14, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostOur second full day in Victoria was devoted to visual and botanical art. We headed out in the afternoon to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. It occupies and extends the 1889 Spencer Mansion, which was designed by William Ridgeway Wilson and built by George Mesher as Gyppeswyk, the Old-English name for the Suffolk town of Ipswich, for original owner Alexander Green, a banker who made his fortune in the Australian and American gold rushes. David Spencer was the last owner, having made his money in dry goods, and his family occupied the mansion from 1903 to 1951. His daughter Sara gave it to the city as an art gallery. The only intact feature of the mansion is the beautiful foyer, featuring gorgeous paneling.

A room with art for sale caught much of our attention, as I did not care for the exhibit on Emily Carr. Wendy snapped Michael Munday’s Abstract #1 and giggled at Cheryl Martin Bakke’s It’s A Good Day to Dance and I See You as well as Hare Boy by Karina Kalvaitis. We both liked the colors of Sunset by Stephanie, but not enough to pay $340 Canadian for it. Wendy liked Leah Patterson’s  A Long Walk on the Beach and TofinoI was very impressed by Elspeth McLean‘s Orca’s Kiss, Solstice Sunsetand Over the Hills.

Orca's Kiss by Elspeth McLean

Orca’s Kiss by Elspeth McLean

We ate at John’s Place before driving half an hour north to Butchart Gardens at Brentwood Bay. The huge collection of roses was the primary focus, and Wendy has posted about those previously. She delightedly made the rounds, admiring and photographing different blooms.

Wendy at Butchart Gardens

Wendy at Butchart Gardens

What a hosta!

What a hosta!

The garden brims with beautiful beds with specimens of various sorts in a variety of colors. Most have big blooms, some of which are quite stunning. Wendy posed beside a huge hosta to give it scale. Creative topiary and a barrage of plantings adorn the sunken garden, which we could admire from above and closer in. From most vantage points you see layers of color.

Big Blooms at Butchart

Big Blooms at Butchart

We saw specimens with black petals, a profusion of petals, a stack of petals, a cup of petals, and much more. I would go in close for a macro shot of a flower with its many stamens or the varying color of some petals, including some that reminded me of an explosion.

A brief shower had us ducking under some plants for shelter near the Butchart house at one point, opting again to forego another Japanese Garden overrun with visitors. We viewed, but did not ride, the Rose Carousel.

By the time we ended our visit by shopping at the large gift store, it was dark for the drive back to Victoria.

We had one more day to spend in Victoria, and then two days of travel to return home. I’ll cover that in the next and final post about our honeymoon.

Beauty at Butchart

Beauty at Butchart

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM

< Honeymoon, Day 12: A Walk in Victoria

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