Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 29/10: Sculpture

Sculpture, originally uploaded by susanvg.

OK - I cheated, but this year I am setting my own rules. This was actually taken on June 27. I love this sculpture; I always stop to spend some time with these women when I walk in this part of Old Montreal. This time I saw people posing with them, taking on some of the gestures of the women. Then I heard an interview with Ruth Abernethy, whose sculpture of Oscar Peterson has just been unveiled in Ottawa. She talked about this slightly larger than life statue of the great jazz pianist turning away from the piano after a performance. She explained that she wanted to let people visit with him, to interact with him, in a sense become part of the sculpture. And that was what some of the people posing were doing. They were joining this conversation (though these women are smaller than life-size). I think we can identify with the conversation going on her, the sense of friendship between these women.

Next time I stop by, I'll be thinking about Abenethy's words and will feel like less of a voyeur and more of a visitor who joins these friends for some gossip before continuing on my way.

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28/10: Grandparents

Grandparents, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Daily Shoot: Sunday challenge: Make a photograph with a photograph. Find a cherished print and compose it in a larger scene.

My mother's mother was married twice. This is a photograph of her with her second husband, my grandfather. Hanging on the photograph is a locket with photographs of her son from her first marriage and my grandfather as a much younger man. The locket was given to my grandmother by my grandfather when they became engaged. My cousin gave it to me when I became engaged. She also gave me the pin that is resting on the frame - you can see my grandmother wearing it in the photograph.

It is a privilege to be the caretaker of this piece of my family's history with photographic proof which records it.


June 27/10: Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria

Another day of concerts, discovering new venues in Old Montreal. We stopped by the cafe and heard Les Voix Humaines playing from Bach's Art of the Fugue. We then went to Chateau Ramezay to hear Viva Biancaluna, whose concert so impressed us on Friday evening, talk about improvisation and Italian frottola. It was a fascinating look at how poetry and music have served each other.

Another Old Montreal find, the afternoon concert, Amor, Fortuna y Ventura, Spanish Renaissance music played by flute trio, Dyscantus, was held in the garden of the Pierre du Calvet Hotel. The trio played on matching flutes made by Boaz Berney, who was also a member of the group. Birds added to the soundtrack.

June 27/10: Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Monteverdi's opera, Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria was performed in the atrium of a shopping area. The acoustics were too resonant and the fountain did not enhance the opera. But this was quite a spectacle! The musicians of the festival were joined by the Bread and Puppet Theater which provided the action to the musicians' voices.
From the website "Monteverdi’s last opera: a story of the magic of the ancient Gods who play with the fate of humankind, their puppets!" It was close to three hours of glorious music, delightful puppets - a mix of historical performance, serious issues and a large dollop of humour.

June 26/10: Starting the Parade

June 26/10: Starting the Parade, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Every year the Montreal Baroque Festival stages a parade. People bring instruments and play the piece written especially for the event. This year we were joined by puppets from the Bread and Puppet Theater of Vermont as they were part of Monteverdi's opera, Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Sunday's evening event). It's always fun to play in the parade which wends it way through Old Montreal. Professionals and amateurs play together. With the theme of the festival being spheres, a great bubble machine produced clouds of bubbles to add extra whimsy to the parade. This year we took longer route on our way to a concert of Handel's Watermusic - held outdoors on a stage that straddled water.

Water Music

While it was a delightful interpretation of the suite, it was also fun to watch people who were not festival regulars stop and listen for a while. Seagulls flew overhead and added their occasional calls to the music.

Susie Napper, the director of the festival always finds creative ways to showcase baroque music. She finds intriguing venues, imaginative themes and puts together an interesting programme performed by very high quality musicians. Young performers have the opportunity to play with more seasoned players. And the audience is encouraged to interact with the professionals at conferences and in the informal atmosphere of the "festival café". I wish I had half her energy as she plays in many of the concerts, interspersed with rehearsals, spends evenings in the café and is at even the earliest morning concerts.

At the Spherical Ball

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 25/10: Outdoor Entertainment

Outdoor Entertainment, originally uploaded by susanvg.

The festival in its many aspects continues. I attended a discussion on Baroque music, improvisation & the law with Desmond Menderson of the MaPs project and Elin Söderström who spoke about improvisation. Food for intellectual and music thought.

As part of the festival, there are free outdoor mini-concerts in Place Jacques Cartier. We caught a bit of one as we took time to get a bit of exercice in anticipation of sitting through concerts. And what wonderful, incredible concerts!


Cantatas: Miracles and Misfortunes
Monika Mauch, Franziska Gottwald, Charles Daniels, Harry van der Kamp, Bande Montréal Baroque, direction: Eric Milnes.J. S. Bach’s Celestial Cantatas for Epiphany (BWV 72, 155 et 156 et 81)

I had heard Monika Mauch, Charles Daniels and Harry van der Kamp before - their voices never disappoint - they continue to amaze me with their purity, their fluidity and colour. Franziska Gottwald was a new and delightful discovery. I love to hear these cantatas with just four voices - no large choir or large orchestra to muddy the sound, just the pureness of one to a part. And with such exceptional singers the sound was full but you could follow each line.

Next was a concert in the crypt of the church: Fermate il Passo with Viva BiancaLuna, an incredible performer from Italie. She sang frottola from the late middle ages. This was a magical experience as she sang and accompanied herself on a vielle-like instrument. Her voice, filled with emotion, sang of love, of loss, of lamentation. Her playing was astonishing - she got such a variety of sounds from her instrument as she bowed, strummed and even tapped on it. It was a privilege to hear her.

June 24/10: Flûtes Alors!

Flûtes alors!, originally uploaded by susanvg.

For me - summer has begun. Yes - there is still work to be finished, but each year when the Montreal Baroque Festival starts I spend a few days in Old Montreal, sauntering from concert to concert and feel that vacation feeling coming on.

As the line for the first concert snaked towards the door to the church, we were treated to music played by Flûtes Alors!, a young recorder quartet. I have followed these musicians since they were young teens, watched them develop as musicians (both as a group and as soloists) and know I will be treated to many wonderful concerts in the future.

Three plus days of music in different venues around Old Montreal with friends. It is a tiring but wonderful way to spend time.

Friday evening:

Monteverdi's Vespers
Les Voix humaines in Art of the Fugue

Then off to Café À Propos to chat and listen to some young musicians.

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 23/10: Stairway

June 23/10: Stairway, originally uploaded by susanvg.

A respite from city noise, our mountain park provides an oasis. A walk on Mount Royal always brings a sense of peace as I breathe the fresh air under the trees. Paths lead around the summit and through the woods. Staircases wind up the hills.

A stop at the lookout at the chalet brings views of the downtown and beyond to the river, the suburbs and then the hills in the distance.


There's a sculpture garden on the grassy slopes leading to Beaver Lake (a man-made pond). The mountain is one of Montreal's favourite playgrounds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22/10: Railway Crossing

June 22/10: Railway Crossing, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I watched the train pass, container after container. With these huge boxes which move from ship to train to truck, goods are moved around the world. I saw containers from many countries and many companies - from China, from the Netherlands and others of unknown origin. The railroad is what opened up the country. Now it keeps us supplied.

It's a time of difficulty for the railroads. There has been flooding in the west, with some tracks washed out and now our passenger rail is facing a strike. I'm hoping it will be settled soon. It is a favoured way of travel for me and summer plans include some rail travel.

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21/10: Longest Day

June 21/10: Longest Day, originally uploaded by susanvg.

It is the solstice, the longest day of the year. Here in Montreal the sun set at 8:47 pm. I love the longer days, the opportunity to linger over a dinner outdoors, evening strolls in daylight. The light gives a sense of well-being. And there is a lightness to living - as I step outside in the same clothes I wear indoors. No layers of clothes to insulate me against the weather, I can feel the weather on my skin. This evening, was a pleasant 20C (68F). Summer is officially here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20/10: Lachine Rapids

June 20/10: Lachine Rapids, originally uploaded by susanvg.

The Lachine Rapids kept ships from going further west than Montreal until the Lachine Canal was built and later the Seaway. . It was only then that ships could bypass the rapids and make their way into the Great Lakes.

I walked through Parc des Rapides, enjoying the views of the rapids as well as the flora and fauna. A fence kept people back from this nest. I am not sure what kind of bird it is (I believe it is a kind of warbler or vireo)

On the Nest

Redwing blackbirds are common here. My friend, with whom I was on this photo jaunt, said that they have been known to attack people if you get too close to their nests.

Redwing Blackbird

Ducks and herons nest in this area. You can watch them fishing or looking for tasty vegetation. Flowers abound - both native species and species that have been planted. As you walk, the scents change with the surroundings.


Wild Rose



So nice to have this a short drive away from home.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19/10: Old Chair

June 19/10: Old Chair, originally uploaded by susanvg.

More memories - I wonder what the story of this chair is. How many homes has it lived in? Who made it? It now sits in a bedroom. I've been thinking a lot about old items and the stories they carry. It is too bad that these items do not come with their history - where they have been and what they have witnessed. They carry the history of our country - the life of the people, not the events that get into history books.

June 18/10: Croatian Memories

June 18/10: Croatian Memories, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Objects carry memories. Some we can access, others not. This piece of pottery carries the touch of its maker whom I will never know. It carries the approval of the person who chose it to sell. And it brings with it the memories of where it was bought. After taking this photograph, the memories of its purchase led us to revisit of our time in Zadar on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. First with words, we recalled where we bought it, trying to picture the old part of the town and what we saw there. Then through photographs we renewed our memories, once again wandering the streets, looking out over the Adriatic Sea, breathing the fresh sea breezes and dining on the succulent catch of the day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17/10: Baby

June 17/10: Baby, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I was at a work party and one of my colleagues brought her baby. It is amazing how all eyes turned to her. She magically captured the attention of everyone there charming them with her personality. She ate with gusto enjoying avocado and other delicacies that usually are not on a child's menu. When it was time for her to go, she gave kisses to all. Never was there even a peep of whining sounds. Oh that all babies could be like her.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16/10: Basketweaving

DSC00273, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I'm always amazed at the ingenuity of man. How did people figure out how to make things? This basket is used for storing wood near my fireplace. I marvel at the patterns the weavers have made. Now this craftsmanship gets passed down as one person teaches another, but how did the first weavers figure out the techniques to create these utilitarian products?

I wonder about food, too? How did they get from wheat to bread? It's a lot of steps, from grinding to adding ingredients to heating and then the final product. Mankind continues to innovate and create new things. If only all this ingenuity was aimed at peaceful items that enhance our lives and not items of violence or waste.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14/10: Perching on Rocks

June 14/10: Perching on Rocks, originally uploaded by susanvg.

First I started taking photographs. Then I committed to a year of daily photographs. Then I started creating connections with others who embarked on the same journey; relationships formed. I admired their photographs (and often their writing) and wished I could capture images of the same quality. So after over a year of daily photographs I succumbed and bought a new camera and suddenly it's back to zero, trying to get a good shot.

Some days are just too busy for photo jaunts, but the drive to get a good photograph pushes me to go out. I have walked more, gone to more parks and noticed things I did not notice before - and now I am trying to "shoot" some birds. I guess I had better learn their names, be conscious of their habits if I wish to get the perfect shot.

You never know where photography will take you, but it takes you out of the house. I see fellow photographers and ask questions, look where their eyes look and start to see even more. Now I am thinking of joining the Montreal camera club, of taking a photography course in the fall.... I love to share my world with others, especially with those new friends from around the world who care enough to stop by this spot and leave a comment. Your words encourage me to try harder, to stay with it and to write.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 12/10: Cooking

June 12/10: Cooking, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Daily Shoot: Why wait for the perfect subject? Make a photo of something that is unfinished. (Food is not yet finished cooking)

Nothing says summer quite like meals outdoors. Barbeques, picnics or just a meal on the patio, dining al fresco encourages lingering over a meal. Food seems to taste better.

The aroma from our dinner filled the air fanning our appetites. And I wonder who else's. I know when I walk through the neighbourhood and catch the barbeque smells wafting through the air, I salivate. But we had no uninvited guests (other than the insects) and enjoyed the final product accompanied by the evening sounds of birds.

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 10/10: Detour

June 10/10: Detour, originally uploaded by susanvg.

A rainy trip home on a day of London like weather. The road took a detour. Life's like that. Detours can be long and annoying but they can also be the path to new adventures. Life is always throwing us curves that force us to take detours from our regular path. Often these detours cause us to reflect on our lives - what really matters, what we want to be doing and we come out of this enriched.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9/10: Refreshing

June 9/10: Refreshing, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I need to learn to pamper myself - in small ways. Today's daily shoot, (Place or find a subject floating on water today---boats, leaves, ice cubes, etc.---and make a photo! ) reminded me that a cool drink at the end of the day can be relaxing. This one happens to be non-alcoholic - St. Pellagrino with a touch of orange juice, but it hit the spot after a long day. Maybe later I'll take a bath with a bath bomb (no photos of that). Sometimes we (especially women) spend so much time taking care of others we forget to nurture ourselves. Little things can make a big difference.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8/10: The Art Budget

The Art Budget, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I was at a meeting at a vocational school. The building was only built two years ago. In Quebec all new public buildings must spend 1% of the building budget on art. This piece, Le souffle de l'avenir (the wind of the future) is by artists Joëlle and Rolf Morosoli.

It is wonderful to know that artists have some opportunity for public commissions. And it certainly adds flair to the building.

Not quite a manhole

Not quite a manhole, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Every time I see one of these I cringe. They sit innocently at the edge of the sidewalk, but I know their sinister side. Some years ago, in an attempt to be environmentally sound in the days before curbside recycling, I carefully collected my recycling at home. Every so often I would drive it to the local collection barrels. One day I pulled up to the sidewalk near the barrels and my tire caught on the metal edge that slightly reached beyond the sidewalk. Pssssst I heard as it slashed my tire and the tire deflated. It wasn't easy being green nor was it cheap. I waited for the automobile club to come and change the tire then had to replace it.
Fortunately we now have curbside recycling but I can tell you I never park near one of these things. I remember too well the sinking feeling as my car settled onto the rim of the wheel.

Daily Shoot: Manhole covers have character and quietly tell a story. Make a photo of a manhole cover in your neighborhood today.

I had already photographed one in Casselman

May 15/10: Danger

and this one was not so differentIMG_0059

so tried to find a different angle - with my story.

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7/10: Looking South

June 7/10: Looking South, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I never get tired of this view. I went to have a look as the sun was getting low and enjoyed the intense blue of the river. On this cooler day, the air is clear. The distant mountains beckon.

I can't imagine living in a city that is flat with no vistas. We are fortunate here with a few hills and views in every direction. I am reminded of the song, "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever". However on smoggy days you are aware of the putrid air we sometimes breathe.

June 6/10: After the Rain

After the Rain, originally uploaded by susanvg.

The sun streamed under the dark cloud after a rainy day turning an ordinary row of condos into a warmly glowing place. Funny how light can make such a difference.

I love the evening light after a storm. It is so intense. Colour just shouts out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 5/10: Casselman Church

June 5/10: Casselman Church, originally uploaded by susanvg.

A strip of yellow emergency tape flutters over the stairs to Casselman's church. The church is closed. During a funeral service, with about 100 people there, the balcony sank several centimeters. It was discovered that a crack in the foundation opened causing one of the columns that supported the "jubé" to settle. Ironically, the woman whose funeral was being held had been lobbying to have the church look into the state of the building. It seems the church is too heavy for its foundation.

Daily Shoot: Using contrast in your photography can give you very artistic shots. Make a color photo with high contrast today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4/10: Maman

June 4/10: Maman, originally uploaded by susanvg.

This enormous spider stands outside the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. In reading an article about the death of its sculptor, Louise Bourgeois, I discovered that Maman has twin in a number of cities around the world. The original work stands at the Tate Modern in London and is made of steel and marble. The siblings are bronze casts.

Maman II

At 9 metres, she towers over anyone walking near her. According to the artist:
The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.
(See the press release from the Tate Modern)

I initially did not like this mammoth piece, but she has grown on me. And now, I smile when I pass by her.

June 3/10: From the Past

June 3/10: From the Past, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Daily Shoot: Think of a favorite childhood sport, game, or activity. Make a nostalgic photo today.
I was never really into sports. My active mind lured me into games of the imagination. This rabbit, given to me when I was two by my proxy Scottish Grannie, has stayed with me while the other stuffed animals of my childhood have long gone away. All my animals had names and I would often play with them, imagining adventures they had. In play, animals that would be enemies in real life can be friends. I created a world of peace, harmony and friendship.
Stuffed animals have changed. This one is stuffed with what feels like wood fibre - not as cuddly as today's products. It lives in one of my drawers, a treasure from my past.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 2/10: Not Quite Wildlife

June 2/10: Not Quite Wildlife, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Daily Shoot: Sunday challenge time! Find any sort of wildlife today, and make a photo. Get in close if you can and focus on the eyes.
Some weeks (never mind days) are just not meant for stalking wildlife. And it's not even Sunday...
This turtle is one of my collection from the days I taught in elementary school and MicroWorlds was a major part of my program. The logo turtle (which was later a logo of a turtle as "turtles" could transform into so many things) was important and so the turtle collection started. I wrote about it in more detail here.

I am delighted in the upsurge of interest in Scratch - a free version which resembles MicroWorlds in some ways. The possibilities are endless - it is really a sandbox with limitless opportunities for creativity.

June 1/10: Rain

June 1/10: Rain, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Much needed rain
Big soil-soaking drops
hit the parched ground
falling steadily
quenching the thirsty plants