Friday, October 29, 2010

Café au lait

Café au lait, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Mmmmm.... A trip to the market just because
... I love to stop at the bakery and sip a café au lait
... I revel in the colours of the fruit and vegetables
... I love to interact with the people who work there
... it has atmosphere
... I can buy from the butcher who raised the animals
... well - just because.

Pansy in the Autumn

Pansy in the Autumn, originally uploaded by susanvg.
As autumn's grasp brings decay, I admire the hardy flowers that persist. Pansies are amazingly resilient, sometimes surviving under the winter's snow only to start growing again as soon as it melts. This happy face brightened an otherwise grey day. Oh, to be like the pansy always smiling no matter what nature throws at it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No More Picnics

No More Picnics, originally uploaded by susanvg.
As the weather gets colder you have to grab any moment of sunshine and get outdoors. I glanced out of my window and saw that moment after a few days of rain. Well the rain held off by by the time I got into my car to go to this park the sky was overcast again. A damp wind blew off the river. Autumn's decay was everywhere.
The water looked grey as it rushed over the submerged rocks. These are the Lachine Rapids, the reason ships could not get further up the St. Lawrence River until the seaway was built.

Bits of bright colours peeked out here and there - the rose hips that had not yet dried out. And here and there some hardy flowers still bloomed.

Rose Hips            Hardy Flowers
You can always find people fishing here, but I wouldn't want to consume fish from the river. We have managed to fill most of our waterways with toxic pollutants. Laws have been enacted which have helped things slowly improve, but PCBs lurk on the river bottom. Sometimes it's better not to think below the surface.
Gone Fishing
The sun tried to come out, but a haze covered the scene. It was a grey October day.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mile End

Mile End, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Mile End is an area of Montreal; it has buildings dating to the 1800s and early 1900s. Triplexes (apartments on each of three stories) are common with outdoor staircases despite our snowy winters. The area has been home to different waves of immigrants. My own parents went to schools in Mile End when they were growing up. Each wave of immigrants has left its mark, even after they moved on. Mile End is home to the two original bagel bakeries, to Greek pastry shops, to Portuguese restaurants, to Italian cafés - and the variety of nationalities keeps growing. And of course it is also home to the descendants of the earliest Montreal settlers - the French and later the English, Irish and Scottish.

Market Madness

Market Madness, originally uploaded by susanvg.
As Halloween approaches the local market fills with pumpkins and crazy decorations. This year I've noticed more decorations that, though made with vegetables, are painted and shellacked. I love the way this one incorporates the vegetable display with the decorations.

I like the whimsy I see at the market - the creative ways they use the seasonal vegetables to create. The market always makes shopping more delightful.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Handmade Pottery

Handmade Pottery, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Double your art today. Make a photo of something you've created or crafted.

I made these many years ago. I featured one of my creations previously but the daily shoot pushed me to feature these. They are coil pots - ropes of clay meticulously placed and then finger push by finger push, attached to the coil before it. I've tried a number of handicrafts over the years, from pottery to a variety of needlework. There is such satisfaction in homemade things, whether crafts or a home cooked meal. That's part of what makes each home unique.

Evening Light

Evening Light, originally uploaded by susanvg.
(Taken October 18) There is something magical about evening light. Photographers call the early morning and early evening light the golden hour. There is even a site where you can go to calculate when it is in your area. I was working and glanced up to see the tree across the street from me on fire. The intensity of colour in the autumn leaves was enhanced by the golden setting sun. I grabbed a camera and went out to try to capture it. I was not really satisfied with my photographs. I couldn't quite get the angle I wanted to display the incredible colour. So this will have to suffice - a glimpse at the setting sun.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Changeable Weather

Changeable Weather, originally uploaded by susanvg.
A gusty wind pushed the dark clouds away letting the sun dance on the water.

Autumn Walk

Autumn Walk, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Autumn is in a state of decay in Eastern Ontario. Many of the leaves are down, crumbling underfoot. Flowers have gone to seed, their feathery bits float in the wind like snowflakes.

Gone to Seed

Seed pods turn into fantastic sculptures as they dry out .
Seed Pod            Milkweed

There is beauty in this decay as the colour palette changes to browns. In the plant world decay is temporary. Spring will bring rebirth.
Edge of the Cornfield

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Gourds, originally uploaded by susanvg.
These oddballs were among a display of squash. The varieties of fruit and vegetables are proliferating. Tomatoes are no longer just red; peppers can be found in several colours and many shapes. We embrace the differences and the hybrids. In fact we try to create new varieties and celebrate diversity.

On the human front diversity is still not always celebrated. We have seen several instances of genocide over the last number of years. And there is often suspicion about "the other". I have certainly seen progress in North America in terms of discrimination due to race, religion, sex. However there has been a lot in the news about teasing and bullying due to homophobia with very sad results. When will we learn that while humans have many differences, we are all human with far more similarities. Diversity just adds colour to humankind - more reasons to learn from one another.

My New Tripod

My New Tripod, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Ah - photography is an addiction. After years of using a point and shoot camera, I bought myself a DSLR with two lenses. That only created more "needs". Here's my new tripod - a gorilla tripod. I saw someone using one on the trip I was on this summer. It can stand anywhere and even wrap around things to stabilize the camera. And then there is that macro lens that would be nice to have...
And with each new purchase lots more to learn.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Catching the Sun

Catching the Sun, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I passed this "gentleman" catching a few rays of sun on his lounge chair. His "wife is doing the same on the other side of the walk. It just seemed such a delightful scene. I felt like pulling up a chair, grabbing a book and a cool drink and joining them.

As a child the only decorating we did for Halloween was to carve a jack-o'-lantern. Over the years people have started to decorate earlier and to create more elaborate decorations. Some lean toward the more ghoulish themes. I like the once that celebrate autumn as this scene does.

Sun Life Building

Sunlife Building, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I like to walk in downtown Montreal and look at the different architecture. There are a number of buildings that reflect the architectural style of the early 1930s but the Sun Life Building is one of the best. It announced through its massive size (it had the most square feet of any building in the British Empire when it was completed in 1931) it announced the solidity of the Sun Life Insurance Company.

There is lots to admire with the variety of architectural features. I don't know if it is true, but one web site said that the crown jewels of England as well as bullion from the Bank of England were stored in the basement vaults during World War II. This building was built to last; it dominates Dorchester Square.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Montreal Looking East

Montreal Looking East, originally uploaded by susanvg.
A magnificent day for this time in October - much to give thanks for. I took advantage of the day and spent part of this Canadian holiday walking on Mount Royal. I was not alone; people of all ages were out strolling, running, pushing baby carriages, cycling and just enjoying the clear fall air, the warmth of the sun and the colours. The city's trees are slowly putting on their autumn splendour. While some trees have already dropped their leaves, others linger in their summer greens.

A Flash of Red

I love to see the dogs out walking from tiny miniatures to great big pooches - all enjoying the atmosphere. The mountain is a happy place. I looked down towards Beaver Lake...

Beaver Lake

... admiring the reflection. The walk energized me with autumn's clear air and cool temperature. It was wonderful to breathe in the magic of the season.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Towards Downtown

Towards Downtown, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I sometimes have meetings in a building on Fullum Street in Montreal. Inside it is typically bureaucratic, with little cubicles and many people. Those who are lucky enough to be by a window have magnificent view. This was taken through the windows in the cafeteria.

A little further to the right of this photograph is "the mountain" - actually not much more than a hill at 233 m (764 ft). The city has a bylaw restricting the height of buildings so that Mount Royal remains higher thus preserving the wonderful view from the summit. So while Montreal has buildings, some of which top 40 stories, it does not have the skyscrapers that tower over some cities.


Decay, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I love street art - murals that cover otherwise blank, concrete walls. However, I don't love what happens to it. This mural is on the side wall of a building that houses a club - a music venue. At the level of pedestrians some of the plaster has pitted and the wall it has been attacked by graffiti. I know I have railed about this before - but I just don't get how it is OK to damage the creation of another person. The artwork adds colour and delight to the city, in this case celebrating the use of the building. Graffiti tags are just self-serving, advertising that the spray painter has passed by. I do make a distinction between tagging and graffiti artists. The latter have created some interesting images (and yes sometimes they are elaborately done tags), but they don't do it on top of someone else's work.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Resisting Temptation

Resisting Temptation, originally uploaded by susanvg.
What a way to start the day - guests are coming later this week so I made an early morning foray to the market. Instead of having breakfast at home, I treated myself to a bowl of café au lait and a croissant at Première Moisson, the bakery at Atwater Market. Every corner of the store offers mouthwatering views as well as being a feast for the eyes. At 8:30 in the morning it was easier to resist these rich concoctions. I'm not sure my will power would have held later in the day.

The rest of my visit to the market included far healthier items - but eye catching in their own way.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Apple Time

Apple Time, originally uploaded by susanvg.
The market is overflowing with apples as the orchards are harvesting their bounty. The diversity of sizes, colours and flavours sometimes makes choosing a challenge. I'll be baking apple cake and making applesauce. I have to deal with the bags I bought. What a delicious problem!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Splash of Sunshine

A Splash of Sunshine, originally uploaded by susanvg.
The sun shone
saturating the leaves
with its golden rays.
Flaming branches flickered
in the gentle breeze

Autumn is an enigma
Bright displays
Reach to the sky
While on the ground
the fallen leaves
dry and crumble

Fallen Leaf

Fallen Leaf, originally uploaded by susanvg.

There is something melancholy about autumn. While the trees put on a colourful show, they slowly lose these leaves. Autumn is also about loss. This single leaf lies on the ground, riddled with holes - was it food for a parasite?

I suddenly thought of the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan - in the glory of youth. Some make it home riddled by bullets or shrapnel or by the invisible wounds of post traumatic stress. While this leaf will never see its former glory, the tree it came from will rest over the winter and then once again grow foliage and shade the forest. The men come home needing that long winter rest, to heal and to learn to live again. We are only slowly recognizing the need for time and even that does not heal all wounds

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I just read Anne Michael's latest book, The Winter Vault. It deals a lot with memory and place. Interesting ideas to mull over and I like her way of writing - very poetic.

On a rainy day, I brought my spouse to St. Donat to see the house and grounds where I spent my summers and weekends from the mid-50s to 1986. I wanted him to peek into my memories. For me the place had layers - with ghosts and visions of years past. I saw not only what was there that day, but also the people and events I lived with and through here. Even the house, renovated and expanded since my parents sold it, I saw as it was. Many of the people who populated that life are now gone - they too are memories.

Autumn Display

I have not gone often since the house was sold. And when I do, I go when I know no one will be there. I need to feel that I am not tresspassing. It's hard to go back, to see a place that was home and no longer is, to stare at the view across the lake as a stranger. But every so often I need to look again at the place that is still so much part of who I am.

Autumn Glory

Autumn's Glory, originally uploaded by susanvg.

This annual spectacle never ceases to amaze me. The hills seem to catch on fire with flames of red, orange, yellow and gold leaves. I feast on the colour knowing that gray November will follow.