Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Photo: November 28, 2016
I've been trying to get more serious about practising my recorder. Here are a couple of tools that help me. The metronome is a task master, keeping me to a selected speed. It is great for exercises and for practising tough passages in a sonata, but once you start really finding the music, it does not allow for nuance. The tuner, another tough teacher is about trying to keep a note at pitch without wavering - much harder than it sounds. I'm working on it and am now experimenting with alternate fingerings - a tough challenge for both body and mind!
Monday, November 28, 2016
Photo: November 27, 2016
Some people go to double header baseball games, or double features at a movie theatre (I think I did that forty years ago - I'm not sure they even have them any more). I went to two concerts, or should I say, one and a half concerts. Somehow one of the concerts was not in my agenda and we bought tickets for a second one. The first one was held in the church-like building just past the building with columns in front (the first building of the Musée des Beaux Arts). It was once a church but is now part of the museum. This concert was a joint venture of Les Boréades and the St. Lawrence Choir - four Bach chorales. I heard two and then just as they invited everyone to stand to sing the chorale at the end together, I dashed out. The next concert was held at the church to the left of the museum in St. Andrew's and St. Paul's Church. This one, part of the Bach Festival, was all instrumental. The Ensemble Café Zimmermann performed instrumental works by Bach. I managed to hear this concert in its entirety. And it was well worth it!
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Photo: November 26, 2016
St-Henri is a neighbourhood of contrasts. Much of it reflects the working class neighbourhood it has been for many years. But gentrification is creeping in and there are those who live here who don't like the way their neighbourhood is changing. Can the old and the new - those upscale restaurants, cafés and quirky shops - live side by side? Or will one oust the other? Only time will tell.
Photos: November 25, 2016
Each day the light fades earlier as we move towards the solstice just a few weeks away. I fight the sense of the need for hibernation and venture out in the evening.
The last of the light shows a tree, still clinging to its drying leaves. The light changes quickly.
Indoor lights beckon, but I continue on. Messages to do.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Photos: November 24, 2016
William Notman was a Scottish-Canadian photographer who spent most of his life in Montreal. He lived from 1826-1891. He photographed the elite of Montreal as well as many others. His studio (including his son and others) also produced photographs of landscapes across Canada. The McCord museum holds his archives and is holding an exhibit of some of his work.
He was an innovator in many ways, exploring stereoscopic photography among many other things. Above you can see an old stereoscopic viewer. He also created a sort of photo collage, combining many photos which were done in his studio with a painting backdrop to recreate scenes from large events.
He is most known for his portraits some detail of which you can see here. You can explore may of the photographs in the Notman archives here.
Photo: November 23, 2016
Some things are in my home because of their history and their usefulness. This chair is one. It originally belonged to my in-laws who, when they retired, moved south. My late husband, single at the time, kept the chair. It has been reupholstered a couple of times, but otherwise looks much as it did then. It has followed me whenever I moved. I discovered its true use as my relatives aged - a chair with arms is perfect for older people who need something stable to help push themselves up. My late father-in-law, Opa to my children, was one who used the chair whenever he was in Montreal. And so, the chair was dubbed the Opa Chair. It has served many people well over the years. It suffered some damage on my last move, but I had it repaired. It continues to be the chair of choice for those who need that extra boost to help them stand up after sitting a while.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Photo: November 22, 2016
I was walking along President-Kennedy Boulevard and passed this sculpture - appropriate on the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. It was one of those events when everyone seems to remember where they were when they heard... I had just finished exams and was baking, waiting for my friend to arrive for an afternoon of fun. The radio was on and the news reporter interrupted the broadcast to share the shocking story. I remember answering the door and repeating what I had heard to my friend. Memory is odd - the details around where I was and what I was doing are etched in my brain along with the event. I can tell you about a number of historic events and where I was, who was with me and what we were doing as the news came. The memories become intertwined.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Photos: November 23, 2016
Our first snow fell, decorating the landscape with its pristine white. For at least a day the city looks cleaner before the cars churn up slush and splash it around.
Everyone hunts for snow wear and car brushes, stored carefully away last spring.
Trees take on a whole new look as each branch is outlined in white.
This first fall will no doubt melt.
The market is ready for Christmas. Trees, wreaths, decorations have moved in. The snow tries to convince everyone that holiday time is near, but it is not even December!
Monday, November 21, 2016
Photo: November 20, 2016
A I write this these flowers are sprinkled with some of the snow that has fallen over our city - not a huge storm, but there is snow coverage. I'm curious to see if these flowers survive the week. It is not the snow that will get them, but the below freezing temperatures (although the thermometer has been hovering on either side of freezing). Yesterday was the end of our glorious autumn. Though the snow is not likely to last, it does herald a real change in season. The bright autumn colours have been replaced by gray and later white as winter really sets in.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Photos: November 19, 2016
The last warm days for a while - and the last of the leaves are dropping quickly. In a strange way there is more intensity to the sun when it shines as there is much less shade.
A single leave glows in the late afternoon sun.
This is not a cemetery - rather it is the work of a conscientious gardener who is protecting the plants from the ravages of winter. Our weather can be tough and the splashes of slush from cars even tougher on the plants as it is full of the salt and sand that is spread on the roads. We are not there yet, but snow is around the corner.
Photos: November 18, 2016
I was driving home after visiting a friend when a wave of nostalgia swept over me. I realized I was driving very close to the neighbourhood where I grew up and decided to take a slight detour. This is the house where I grew up. The window on the left was my brother's room, the one on the right was mine. I lived there until just before my last year of high school when my father decided he would love to live downtown. As it happens, the house was sold to the mother of a friend of mine. She had been widowed and was remarrying. I went back to see it once - a mistake I will not repeat. I like to keep my memories intact - I can see where every piece of furniture was. Some pieces now live with me. I like the connections.
I drove past my old elementary school - Willingdon School. It was the height of the baby boom and schools were over-crowded. This old bulding still had desks fastened to the floor when I was in grade one. Some of us had to change schools part way through the year as a new school was built. For a year and half I went to Somerled School which in turn was bursting at the seams. As we lived on the border, we were shipped back to Willingdon where I started grade three. By that time they had replaced the desks with free-standing ones - though they may as well have been nailed down as they always were kept perfectly lined up in rows. In those days there were separate entrances for the girls and the boys and the playground was also divided so the girls and boys did not play together. Fortunately times have changed.
I discovered, in researching the artist Fred Taylor ( I own a couple of his paintings) that he had a connection to the school. He had a four month summer job as a clerk while the school was being built; he had to make sure the school was being built according to the architect's specifications. He found himself in some difficult situations, but saw the job through until he returned to university. I like finding these connections.
Photos: November 17, 2016
This is the aftermath of a fire which caused severe damage to two restaurants as well as the other tenants of the building. I don't know how long it will take to make all repairs. The restaurants were owned by Antonio Park, who not only is a chef but has appeared as a judge on Canada's version of Chopped. They are working hard to repair the building and to clean all that was damaged by soot and water.
A number of dumpsters will be needed to clear out all the debris. Fortunately no one was hurt in this fire. It is a reminder that things can change in an instant.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Photos: November 15, 2016
As I wrote yesterday, I often walk the same path - to and from the bank, to and from an activity at McGill, to and from the grocery store. Yet each time my eyes are drawn to things I may not have noticed before, or to things that were not there before. New Quebec buildings must allocate 1% of the budget to integrating public art. these leaves are by Geneviève Cadieux.
Sometimes it is more prosaic things that catch my eye - these plastic flowers that decorate a basket on a bicycle. Beautiful? Not quite - but they do make an individual statement.
I found this fallen cone amusing - was it pouring something into these bottles? Much of the work being done on our infrastructure is to replace leaking water pipes. It just seemed appropriate to think of the cone being a conduit, though the water looks more like sewage water than clean drinking water.
Our beautiful November has been good to us - warm enough to enjoy a quiet sit in the part. Take some time to enjoy the sights around you.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Photos: November 14, 2016
I walk the same path quite often, through the nearby park and along an east/west street on my way to a variety of places. I still find surprises - a flower still blooming amidst the fallen leaves. A moment to stop and wonder.
The lack of leaves reveals new sights - a dried out nest. I wonder who lived here, which stinging insects called this home?
The trees, stripped of leaves, hang on to their fruit, a great source of food, now and into the winter.
As the flowers succumb to cooler nights, some gardeners plant ornamental cabbages to prolong the colour in their gardens.
My camera has trained my eyes to observe, to look, to notice and enriches my walks.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Photos: November 13, 2016
It has been a most magnificent autumn with the colours lasting longer, plenty of sunny days and many days with above average temperatures. There are still trees that hang on to their leaves. With some exceptions, the yellows and reds have given way to the bronzes.
I love the crunching sound as I walk through the drying leaves. As I did as a child, the children play in the leaves - it says autumn to me.
Squirrels are feasting in the crab apple trees, fattening up before the temperatures drop and they spend more time in their dens. Now there is plenty to eat. Winter will be harder.
Night falls early. The supermoon rose on the horizon - a beautiful sight. A peaceful end to a beautiful autumn day.
Photo: November 12, 2016
It's that time of year when warm comfort food starts to look appealing. As the winds blow I think of soup and slowly braised meat. I was tempted by these leeks, but they will have to wait for another time. I no longer have a big freezer so have to curb my desire to cook big pots of soups to fill the freezer. I need to free up space first.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Photo: November 11, 2016
A cold, damp wind was blowing. This squirrel took refuge at the side of a tree. I trudged on, my layers of clothing and movement keeping me warm. I met neighbours who had been to the local Remembrance Day ceremony, who stood still in this cold wind to honour those who gave their lives. I think of the younger generations where the world wars are a very distant past. Although I was born after the second world war, it was still very much present in the psyche of people around me - not ancient history. Some wars, unfortunately have to be fought. Men of my father's generation and younger knew they were fighting for the dignity of all people, for the freedom that democracy afforded, for equality of all people. Have we been conscientious keepers of these values? We must not let them be eroded but continue to honour, not just those whose lives were lost, but also to honour what they were fighting for.
I learned of the death of Leonard Cohen, whose poetry and music have been part of the soundtrack of my life. His words, his lyrics, his way of life embodied dignity and respect. I honour him and the war dead with his recitation of John McCrae's, iconic war poem, In Flanders Fields.
Photo: November 10, 2016
It's that time of year when vegetables seem to lose their flavour. No longer can we get local crops. The vegetables travel farther to get to our plates. We do get local tomatoes, grown in hot houses, but the bulk of our produce has been trucked or flown in. Back to the guilt of a deeper carbon footprint as we try to eat healthy food. But I won't be giving up my fresh vegetables.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Photos: November 9, 2016
I usually try not to comment on politics, especially what is happening in other countries, but waking up to the aftermath of the U.S. election I feel that I must speak out. I feel that the world as I knew it has taken a terrible turn backwards. The values of inclusion, of equality, of diversity seem to be at risk. I look at those predicted to be in that man's cabinet - not a single woman, no one of colour - no surprise after the rhetoric that has been spouted.
I'm searching for beauty in this chaos - for a place of serenity and peace.
My orchids remind me to pause and admire, to enjoy their diversity, to revel at their promise and growth. I need to cultivate my inner garden to find the strength to speak out against the ugliness being spouted. I have to try to remain positive that ultimately good triumphs over evil, but right now I am feeling that he who shall not be mentioned has cast a pall over the world. Breathe in. Breathe out. Sometimes the world takes two steps backwards before moving forward again.
O tempores, o mores
Photos: November 8, 2016
Perhaps the title sounds unusual, but it was a day of pipes and strings, starting with walking past the inevitable road work as corroded pipes and other ancient infrastructure are slowly being replaced.
These pink pipes will soon be snaking their way under the street. I wonder what they will carry - fibre optic cable, electricity, telephone lines, water? - I don't know...
Pipes are also the organ pipes I heard in concert in the evening - and what a concert it was - organized by Geneviève Soly to raise funds for Les Idées Heureuses, an early music group which she co-founded in Montreal. It featured the Lagacé / Soly family several of whom are organ and harpsichord players. The organ was built by the late Hellmuth Wolff, who had been married to Mireille Lagacé's (the matriarch of the family) sister. I would also hazard a guess that some of the string players were using bows made by Louis Bégin, brother of Mireille. Pictured above is Bernard Lagacé, patriarch of the family with Geneviève. What an honour to hear him play again. The first movement of the 4 harpsichord (lots of strings) concerto by Bach was played by three generations of the family. In all, eight members of the family performed during the evening along with some other of Montreal's finest baroque musicians - a moving event, beautiful music. It lasted over two hours filled with Bach's music.
If only the magic of the evening had lasted and we were not met with the results of the U.S. election on reaching home.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Photos: November 7, 2016
In the not so late afternoon the sun is low on the horizon, casting its golden glow. Each nice day I feel compelled to be outdoors, to catch the last of the rays as the longer nights settle in.
Golden trees become more golden still, painted by the sun. This time of day - around sunrise and sunset is known as the golden hour to photographers. It is a time of almost magical light with colours saturated by the light.
I stop to enjoy the last of the flowers. Any day now a hard frost will send the last of them away - to lie dormant for the winter months. Each warm sunny day to be cherished.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Photo: November 6, 2016
I always find the changing of the clocks back to standard time a bit of a shock. Night falls so early. Although the hours of daylight have not changed appreciably, it feels as though they have with the sun setting just after 4:30. Suddenly it turns into the dark time of year with November being the gloomiest, despite the sunshine earlier in the day.