Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Apr 27/10: April Snow

Apr 27/10: April Snow, originally uploaded by susanvg.
It came
heavy wet snow
weighing down the flowers
It coated the trees
with their newly opened leaves
Then trees
dropped the snow
on what was below
in plops of wet snowballs
Spring storm
a damp reminder
that weather too
has its mood swings

Apr 26/10: Looking Up

Apr 26/10: Looking Up, originally uploaded by susanvg.

These perky flowers are among the first wild flowers to open in spring. I find it odd that they face the earth instead of the sun. My camera was close to the ground aiming up to reveal the heart of this bloom. They hang their heads modestly, lest anyone see their bright sunny faces.

Dog-toothed Lily

It is a shame they hide their wild abandon - like people wearing masks to keep others from seeing their true personalities.

Apr 25/10: Transparency

Apr 25/10: Transparency, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Daily Shoot's challenge was : Challenge: Side lighting can emphasize texture and add depth to a photo. Make a dramatic photo with side lighting today.

I discovered, for me it was also about transparency - how light goes through and casts a coloured shadow.

Interesting how transparency can be about honesty - about being open about the facts. Or a person who is transparent has no guiles. If sidelighting can emphasize, transparency can clarify. Seeing in new ways...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Apr 24/10: Old Ford Truck

Apr 24/10: Old Ford Truck, originally uploaded by susanvg.

When I laid eyes on this truck I felt there was something odd about it. It looked pristine - the body shone with not a single scratch, yet its design was from the past. As I checked it out, I was reminded of cars from my childhood with door handles that locked with the push of a button, small triangular windows beside the main window which opened by pivoting and the tinny windshield wipers. The truck was low to the ground with a running board - easy to hop in and out. I searched on the Internet and found similar trucks from the 50s.

In the window of this truck was a handicapped permit - I wondered if it was for the truck or the driver!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Apr 23/10: Planting Soon

Apr 23/10: Planting Soon, originally uploaded by susanvg.

These pots of pansies sit ready to be sold and planted. While my perennials come up, I start to think of what I will need to fill in some of the gaps. I have always loved pansies, with their velvety faces.

The sign below says "Food at its best" and it made me think how our notion of edibles has blurred. Many flowers are edible ( I found this site that describes many). I prefer to keep my flowers on view, but many fancy restaurants put flowers sparingly in salads and as garnishes. I had a friend who froze flowers in ice cubes to put in summer drinks.

I'll stick with vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower for my flower consumption.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 21/10: Contemplating Spring

I have used this window before to show the changing seasons - from autumn to winter. Now it frames the delicate spring colours. The wildlife is busy now. Robins gather nesting material. The air is alive with their songs. Squirrels are jumping from branch to branch looking for food. For my cats, this is a wonderful time to watch the activity - the window as a television set for them with a constantly changing program.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Apr 19/10: The curtain is closing

The leaves are filling in, hiding the long view to the river. I can still see through the dappled veil, but not for much longer. Spring is really here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 18/10: Nature's Paintbrush

April 18/10: Nature's Paintbrush, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Mother Nature paints
with her light spring palette
delicate greens
soft yellows
Colours dabbed on
like an impressionist painting
Dots of paint added each day
Until they start to take shape
Hiding the branches.
Colour darkening
As riotous spring matures.

I marvel at her handiwork
as the lacy leaves
slowly cover up
what was revealed in the autumn
The canopy returns
To provide the welcome summer shade.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Apr 17/10: Front and Centre

Apr 17/10: Looking at You
Daily Shoot: Break a rule today! Centered composition is generally considered boring and taboo, but can be interesting. Try it!

I know - another pet photo. But they are photogenic. And Basil either likes to be off on his own or right in your face - front and centre. I think he was a parrot in another life - he loves to perch on my shoulder. Basil is getting on in years - soon to be 14. He can still be rambunctious, but now he often is content to plop himself down on a lap for his share of pats and cuddles - and to benefit from the physical warmth of a human being.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Apr 16/10: Good Morning

Apr 16/10: Good Morning, originally uploaded by susanvg.

April is always full of surprises. While in the Montreal it rained, in the Laurentians it snowed - wet, soggy, heavy snow - not enough to get in the way but enough to coat things. Yesterday's bright blue skies and warm sun gave way to damp penetrating weather. April is changeable.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Apr 15/10: Symmetry

Apr 15/10: Symmetry, originally uploaded by susanvg.

The stillness is broken only by the morning songs of the birds. The crisp air smells of spring. The countryside slows my city brain, letting me stop, breathe and admire and reminds me to get in touch with nature more often to bring that sense of peace.

Apr 14/10: Will Power

Apr 14/10: Will Power, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I am at a meeting where meals are provided - table d'hôte so dessert is included. I'm trying to exercise my will power, difficult when confronted with these artistic creations. This was the dessert of the person next to me - sorbet with "plate decorations". The crême brulée, chocolate plates and other delicacies were all beautifully presented and mouth-watering.

One meal down - will power won. It's a good thing I'm not confronted with this every day!

Apr 13/10: One on One

Apr 13/10: One on One, originally uploaded by susanvg.

In the driveway between my house and my neighbour's is this basketball net. It has served not only my children and my neighbour's three boys, but others on the street for almost twenty years. As the snow melts I start to hear the familiar thump of the ball hitting the backboard. The sound is the rhythm by which I wash the dishes. It is less appealing when it starts early on weekend mornings. Some evenings, the play continues lit by the outdoor lights.

My son has left home, my daughter's interest in basketball has waned, but the boys next door, now in their twenties continue the bounce and shoot - the sound of play.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apr 12/10 Coming Soon

Apr 12/10 Coming Soon, originally uploaded by susanvg.

In this all too early spring, the tulips are poking their heads through the leaves. And my garden has a northern exposure with growth slower than the sunnier side. I have seen tulips that are open wide. Our temperatures are back down to about seasonal which means possibilities of frost. The hardy tulips will survive, but the delicate blossoms that are emerging too soon may not. Climate change has its challenges.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apr 11: A Flower for Jen

Apr 11: A Flower for Jen, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Turning Sixty
Seems last year we celebrated fifty
We both agreed it was a productive decade
building a home
building relationships
Watching our children launch

Jen is paving the way for me
As I follow in a few months
So I'm sending a flower
To my friend Jen
To trumpet the festivities
To smile on the occasion
To celebrate the beauty
Of turning sixty

Apr 10/10: Dog Day Afternoon

Apr 10/10: Looking Out, originally uploaded by susanvg.

It's a dog's life being stuck in a car when right across the street there are two more dogs. But try as they might, there is no escape. My neighbourhood is home to many dogs. Many are part of the "M" team - dogs that are walked by our local dog-walker.


Each day Martin picks up dogs from various homes to walk them in packs of about 8. You can see him at different times of the day, always with a variety of canines. It doesn't matter what the combination of dogs is, they all seem to get along and enjoy being together. He controls them, in English and in French and they respect him in return. I wrote about him once before.

Apr 9/10 Heat Lamp

Apr 9/10 Heat Lamp, originally uploaded by susanvg.

My reading lamp doubles as a heat lamp for my cats. They love to sit under the lamp's glow and soak up the heat. Not sure how they can tolerate the temperature as the bulb is quite intense, but they seek it out.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Apr 7/10 Start of Magnolias

Apr 7/10 Start of Magnolias, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Henri-Cartier Bresson said "Photography is nothing – it's life that interests me." Make a photo that reflects this quote.
This time of year I find myself documenting every change happening outside. This magnolia tree is beginning to bloom ahead of schedule due to our unseasonably warm temperatures. This week will be a little cooler so it may slow things down. Spring lets us watch life happen quickly as the spring blossoms appear so briefly then die off to let the next process begin. While plants flourish in summer, the changes are not so fast. Spring brings a frenzy of growth.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Apr 5/10 Blue Blanket

Apr 5/10 Blue Blanket, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Nothing says spring to me quite like scylla. They blanket whole lawns and spread where they will. Their bright blue colour is a welcome change from the whites of winter and the sepia of early spring.

If blue is hope, then scylla personify it - dancing across the landscape leading us to the time of the earth waking up.

Daily shoot: Blue is the color of sky and water. Many call it the color of hope. Make a photo with blue and what it represents to you.

Apr 4/10 Happy

Apr 4/10 Happy, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Sometimes life gets you down. Some people go shopping for clothes or shoes. For me it is always flowers. They bring joy and pleasure to me. This orchid just joined my collection. It seems to be sticking its tongue out at me, teasing a provoking a grin.

I have many flowering plants in the house that surprise me with their blooms. Their re-flowering is like a gift. The joy they bring is priceless.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Apr 3/10 Paper earrings

Apr 3/10 Paper earrings, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Daily Shoot: Paper is versatile and malleable. From napkins to origami, it's all around. Make a photo of something made of paper.

I bought these earrings about 8 years ago. I met the person who was responsible for a web site on hypergami. With this program you could design the paper and then print it with instructions on where to cut and fold to create creatures and other shapes. From the site "a software environment for designing paper models using polyhedra and user-created variants of polyhedra." I admit - I bought the earrings; I did not make them. But I do enjoy wearing them. They are lightweight (after all they are paper) and fun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Apr 2/10 Beginnings and Endings

Apr 2/10 Beginnings and Endings, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Spring brings rebirth as nature wakes up. Today also brought the death of my late husband's mother. She was one month short of her 102nd birthday, long past her "best before" date. Her stubborn and tenacious attitude kept her alive. I have written about her before.

She was born in Rotterdam in 1908 to a middle class family. She married at 21 and shortly thereafter left for Indonesia with her husband who was in the Dutch colonial service. Though she had servants, as the wife of a high-ranking official, she also had to get used to living in more primitive housing, at times without electricity, in a time when contact with "home" could take months. Her first two children were born there. When the Second World War reached Indonesia, the family, along with all the Dutch civilians, was interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, my father-in-law in one camp, their son in another and my mother-in-law and their daughter in a third. They all survived, though they lost many family members in Europe. When my mother-in-law became pregnant after the war, they decided it would be best for her to return to Holland to give birth, as the infrastructure in Indonesia was decimated. She stayed there until my husband was about 8 months old and then flew back to Indonesia, a lengthy ordeal in 1947.

When Indonesia got its independence from the Netherlands, the family returned to Holland and a year later moved to Montreal where my husband was raised. His older brother and sister started families. When my father-in-law retired in 1969, he and my mother-in-law moved to Florida where they remained until the mid 1980s. 1982 was the beginning of tough times for my mother-in-law. Within the span of 13 years she lost her youngest son, her husband and her daughter. Then in 2005, the last of her three children died. I am sure she had grown a thick carapace to shield her from more hurt.

She was never an easy woman, demanding attention and expecting others to bend to her wishes. She had a sharp tongue and was never afraid to criticize. I was often the brunt of her comments. Snobbish, perhaps from her days as the wife of a colonial bigwig, she had a sense of entitlement. She considered herself above many people, who did not travel, or did not think the way she did. This limited friendships and activities that she would join. And at her advanced age, friends and relatives had pre-deceased her. My mother-in-law was very independent and fought against her diminishing autonomy, angry that she could no longer go off shopping or sit over coffee in a café with friends. Despite all that, I respected her; she has been my responsibility for the last four years. After her 100th birthday her cognitive function diminished and she blurred time, asking about her long-deceased relatives and why they weren’t visiting. She did not go down quietly and fought for her dignity. In her prime she could be formidable. It was hard to watch her crumble.

I think about the changes she has seen in the world in her lifetime and the places she has been. She has witnessed the birth of air travel, two world wars, the end of European colonialism and so much more. She has lived on three continents and has travelled to five. I feel as if an era has ended. She was from another time and now her time is over.

April 1/10 Spring

April 1/10 Spring, originally uploaded by susanvg.

The warm sun is coaxing flowers to blossom. Each day brings new wonders, new delights. The birds' songs can be heard in the early morning as they stake out their territory and prepare their nests. Chipmunks have emerged from their winter nests, scampering around searching for whatever is edible. Spring surprises. My world is waking up.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mar 30/10 Green

Mar 30/10 Green, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Daily Shoot: Today's theme is the color green. Make a photograph dominated by green and post it.

Getting ready for dinner - time to "eat your greens". Living in a northern climate it is not always possible to be "green" at the table. So much of our produce gets shipped from Florida, California and even farther. Asparagus comes from Peru much of the year and those wonderful clementines come from Morocco. Life is always a juggle of doing what is best, for oneself, for the planet.