Friday, December 27, 2013

Snowshoeing

Snow on the branches by susanvg
Snow on the branches, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
We strapped on our snowshoes for the first time this winter. Tramping through Summit Park our eyes feasted on the snow festooned branches.

Woodpeckers

The loud tapping of the woodpeckers echoed through the woods.

Snow

Clumps of snow nestled in the crooks of branches. Nature creates its own holiday decorations.

On the Windy Side

The long afternoon shadows signal the early setting of the sun. Winter's short days are to be enjoyed before night falls.

Perfectly Cooked

Perfectly Cooked by susanvg
Perfectly Cooked, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Dinner at the home of friends - a perfectly cooked turkey, quinoa stuffed squash, stuffing, vegetables, wine, good company - all the ingredients for a fine winter evening!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Early Morning

Early Morning by susanvg
Early Morning, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Golden light. It paints the trees and the ribbon of river casting a warm glow on a cold morning.

Wishing all my friends a holiday season wrapped in the warmth of friendship and family.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My indoor garden

My indoor garden by susanvg
My indoor garden, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Flowers put a smile on my face. I love to watch them grow and flourish. I have many flowering plants in my home, delighting in the way they grow. Orchids lie dormant and then present me with their intricate blooms which last for months.

My indoor garden by susanvg

This white one has surprised me with a multitude of blossoms. It now has a partner, another white orchid which belonged to my late cousin. We used to talk about our orchids and how they gave us such pleasure. It's funny how things can be ties to other people. My aunt was the first to show me that having orchids was not a difficult thing. When hers stopped flowering, she would place them by a window behind her couch, watering them, but otherwise ignoring them. After a time they would surprise her with a new stalk with the promise of buds. My orchids now delight me with their beauty and their memories.

My indoor garden by susanvg

This cyclamen has continued to flower for three years. It really seems to love my new home. Its bright pink flowers are such a contrast to the white and grey scene outside the window.

My indoor garden by susanvg

Even my kalanchoe, which had lost all its blooms, started producing new flowers - a bit of sunshine to enjoy indoors!

An African violet sits in my bedroom, its deep purple flowers a reminder of the first plant my mother gave me as a child as she wanted to instil in me her love of plants and flowers. My Christmas cactus celebrates different holidays each year, one year blooming for Remembrance Day another for St. Nicolas Day. This year's blossoms are slowly fading. A begonia blooms in my dining area, its new blooms creeping up the stalk with the old ones dropping to the floor. Each day I travel around my home, stopping to appreciate the beauty. Water and light and look how much they give back!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snowy Day

Snowy Day by susanvg
Snowy Day, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Winter is really here. Today it started out sunny and I will admit to loving the winter blue skies and the clean snow (that is until it turns city brown and grey). The biggest issues are foggy glasses and the need to turn your whole body to check traffic as hoods make it impossible to just turn your head. The temperatures have tempered somewhat and walking was pleasant. The sun didn't last long. More snow to come.

Frost

Frost by susanvg
Frost, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: December 14, 2013
We have been in a deep freeze with temperatures hovering around -18C. I dress in layers and venture out into the cold. I marvel at the young (and the not so young) who choose fashion over comfort - no hats, skirts and tights. I long ago abandoned that way of thinking. And along with that I enjoy my winter walk.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Quiet Dining

Quiet Dining by susanvg
Quiet Dining, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: November 23, 2013

Time to sit quietly, decompress and enjoy good food.

November has often been a difficult month for me. In my teens, one year after another, both my parents faced serious illnesses. Fortunately both went on to live long lives. Later my husband died in November. And others, too, have passed away in November. The calendar is filled with "land mines" - dates that trigger sad emotions. Two days after this picture was taken, I lost my very dear cousin. She was a wonderful woman - giving and loving and so positive about life. My son said, "her default was to give". And anyone who met her fell under her spell. She loved to listen to others, to ask questions and made everyone feel special. And she shared the stories from her past so we all got to know her and our families better. While her loss has left a huge hole in my heart, I know too, that is only so because our relationship was so special. November is always a time of remembrance and over time I will remember the joys of the times we spent together.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Yellow

Yellow by susanvg
Yellow, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
November sometimes gets me down. The bright fall foliage has been replaced by grey skies. I've learned strategies over the years to help chase away November blues.

Flower therapy! I stepped into the conservatory near my local library. The atmosphere is tranquil. People step in and just enjoy the serenity. These sunny blooms lightened my mood.



Sunny Flower

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Music in the Museum

Music in the Museum by susanvg
Music in the Museum, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The current exhibit, Splendore a Venizia, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal is an interesting mix of visual arts and music. You can rent listening devices to enhance your visit. Not only do they give more in depth information about what you are seeing, but you can listen to music tracks that enhance your experience. The day I went, there was a live musician, Sylvain Bergeron who played Venetian lute music.

I have been fortunate to be in classes given by Sylvain at CAMMAC, the music camp I attend each summer.

Museum Visitors

These two gentlemen were also exploring the exhibit. I guess they were really getting into the spirit of the times and in some ways became part of the exhibit as people viewed them along with the paintings, music scores and instruments!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

House Concert

Untitled by susanvg
Untitled, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Last night I had the privilege to attend a house concert in the home of someone who owns a marvelous harpsichord. The maker of the harpsichord also attended. The concert featured these two young musicians who are both incredibly talented and hard-working musicians.

It is always a treat to hear musicians in this kind of intimate setting. And a further treat to hear these two, both of whom I have heard play since they were young).

The concert was followed by wine and refreshments - a thoroughly delightful evening.

Vincent Lauzer and Melisande McNabney

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beside the Canal

Beside the Canal by susanvg
Beside the Canal, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Nature is displaying its last hurrah before the gloom of November really sets in.

Reds

There is still a fiery display, though many of the reds are gone. This swath of red dazzled in the sunshine.

Peace

Autumn has lingered longer this year. Even with the winds of Friday, there is still green to be seen. But we are moving to the greys of November.

The Peace Tower on the Canadian parliament buildings is peeking over this scene. As we approach Remembrance Day, it would be nice to think that all those soldiers did not die in vain - that this world can learn to live in peace.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Walking in Ottawa

Looking down the Canal by susanvg
Looking down the Canal, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: November 1, 2013

We spent a few days in Ottawa. The weather co-operated enough that we were able to walk (though there were moments went the winds made me feel I would fly). The Rideau Canal cuts through the city; it was once an important link between Ottawa and Kingston, with barges plying the waters. Now it is pleasure craft that use the waterway in summer and skaters in winter.

Locks

On the pedestrian bridge there were many locks - the tradition of love locks has reached Canada. Some had names written on them in markers; others were engraved. There were strings of locks attached together, combination locks, key locks, bicycle locks - each representing relationships.

Towards Quebec

And then there were the other locks - the ones that raise and lower the height of the water so boats can pass between the Ottawa River and the canal.

Stairs

After a stroll along the canal it was time to climb up to the city streets.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkins

Pumpkins by susanvg
Pumpkins, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I loved seeing these pumpkins climbing up the stairs. They speak of the combination of fall harvest and Halloween. I have fond memories of the pumpkins I carved with my children. We would usually shop together for the pumpkin. And then I would cover the table in newspaper as we cut and cleaned out  the pumpkin - I felt like I had pumpkin all the way up my arms as we scooped out the seeds. Then there was the aroma as we toasted seeds.

Inflated

Across the street from these pumpkins sits an inflatable pumpkin pile. I just can't find the magic.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Walking

Slow Decay by susanvg
Slow Decay, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: October 20, 2013

An early morning walk - I always like a destination. I needed a couple of things so I walked enjoying the cool autumn air.

Every Shape Size and Colour

Autumn brings new delights. The many varieties of pumpkins and gourds are always fun to see.

Looking Forward

Man made structures also bring visual interest. Walking, taking time, a great way to start a day.

I conquered

I conquered by susanvg
I conquered, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
History told from the point of view of the victors.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Outdoor Piano


Outdoor Piano by susanvg
Outdoor Piano, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: October 8, 2013
Montreal has placed a number of pianos in public spaces. They are there for anyone to play - to sit down and share some music with anyone around. They get covered at night and in bad weather. Each is decorated differently. This one has a special signature.

Signed by Oliver Jones

Oliver Jones, the great jazz pianist, grew up in this area. One of his first teachers was Daisy Peterson Sweeney, the sister of Oscar Peterson.

Maybe this piano will inspire a young person to take up playing; maybe it will just serve to allow passersby to sit a while and share their musical offerings. Either way, it can't help but enrich the community.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chihuly

Chihuly by susanvg
Chihuly, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I first saw the work of Chihuly in London at Kew Gardens in 2005. The glass forms were integrated with the plants in the green houses and glass sculptures of one kind or another were in various spots outdoors - in the pond, in front of the green house, near the tearoom... Yet this introduction could not prepare me for the magical world I found at the Montreal museum.

Chihuly

He plays with form, colour and light, creating fantastical settings. A smile broke out as I climbed the stairs and never left as I discovered each new space.

Chihuly

Playfulness, joy, exuberance, fantasy. What an adventure!

Chihuly

It is a voyage to other worlds - lands of whimsy.

Chihuly

You can see all my Chihuly photos here on Flickr

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Refuge faunique Marguerite-D-Youville

Wispy by susanvg
Wispy, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A splendid fall day and another drive out of the city - this time to the south of Montreal. The sun heightened the brilliant autumn colours.


Golden Time

After lunch is a country restaurant and a visit to a goat cheese producer (my spouse is a goat cheese aficionado) we went to Refuge faunique Marguerite-D'Youville. It is located on Île-Bernard just off Chateauguay. Aside from a quick visit in the spring, I had not been there in over 10 years. Then it belonged to the Catholic Church with a large convent being the main building. Now it is a nature preserve. What a delightful place to walk. There are paths that you around the island.

Late Afternoon

We walked first on the side that faces Lac St-Louis - a wide part of the St. Lawrence River. The water was perfectly still. There is a lot of wildlife on the island as, in that small space there is a variety of ecosystems. We walked through meadow, forest, shoreline and past wetlands. We spotted chickadees (two young women were feeding them by holding out bird seed in their hands), nuthatches, woodpeckers, egrets, a few kinds of ducks and many birds I could not identify.

DSC05914


We spotted a number of deer. They ambled across our path not quite afraid, but always keeping a wary eye out to check our behaviour.

Next visit we will remember binoculars, put on the telephoto lens and once again take time to be in the moment.




Sunday, October 6, 2013

Octoberfest at Atwater Market

Octoberfest at Atwater Market by susanvg
Octoberfest at Atwater Market, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
You never know what you will find at Atwater Market. These large-nosed musicians were rousing the crowds with oom-pah music and a little bluegrass. A tent had been set up where for a minimal amount you could taste beer from many of the local brewers. Ah well... I'm not a beer drinker.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Laurentian Lake

Laurentian Lake by susanvg
Laurentian Lake, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: September 25, 2013

It doesn't matter how many years I witness the change of seasons, each time it astonishes me with its beauty. We took a day to drive out to the Laurentians to enjoy the leaves. To me this is the height with the bold reds contrasted with the remaining greens.

Have a Seat

It was a day of taking time. Time to sit and take in the view.

DSC05857

Time to meander along country roads and stop to enjoy nature's gifts.

DSC05863

Time to walk and talk.

Evening

Time to enjoy the fading evening light before a lovely dinner. And then back on the road to home.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thirsty Lion

Thirsty Lion by susanvg
Thirsty Lion, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: September 15, 2013

This lion sits at the gates of Chinatown in Montreal. Its bottle was deposited by one of the homeless people that congregate in the area. It is sad that so many take to the streets - many due to drug addiction and/or mental illness. While the lion represents power and wealth, these downtrodden are at the opposite end of society.

There are more than 20,000 homeless in Montreal. While there are services, many don't know how to access them or don't feel comfortable accessing them. This photograph was taken on a warm evening. Winter will set in and their plight will take on a more desperate outlook. There is far too much disparity in our society.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cabbage

Cabbage by susanvg
Cabbage, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I've been remiss - not as many photos lately, and taking far longer to blog about them. I could make many excuses, but sometimes I think we just need time away from certain activities.


Cool Weather Flowers

This time of year I love to visit the market. The fall flowers fill parts of the parking area - a splash of colour fending off thoughts of cooler weather. I love the energy this weather gives and the flowers on my balcony are signalling their appreciation of this fresh feeling by rewarding me with blooms.