Friday, December 30, 2011

Frosty Patterns

Frosty Patterns by susanvg
Frosty Patterns, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Frost paintings hide the view as arctic temperatures embrace the city. While outdoors, the wind strokes faces with its icy fingers, indoors all is warm. A cup of tea, good company and time to relax.

My sunny amaryllis, newly opened, chases away thoughts of the cold.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Music in New France

Music in New France by susanvg
Music in New France, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Les Idées Heureuses concert
It was a delightful afternoon of music and dance from New France. With the exception of one piece, there is evidence that the music played in the concert was played and enjoyed in the early to mid 18th Century in New France (now the province of Quebec). Manuscripts of the pieces, many by French composers, others composed here, were found among the belongings of some of the early settlers.

Life was not easy for the early colonists who braved cold winters and other hardships. But they did have music, both secular and sacred as well as dance to take their minds off any difficulties. The wealthier settlers enjoyed balls and other entertainment, much as they would have in France.

Dance in New France

We had to brave rather frigid temperatures to get there, hardly the same kind of hardship with our modern winter clothing and modern heated vehicles. And then we enjoyed this concert, all done in costume, with excerpts of letters from a widowed colonist to her son. Madame Bégon described life among the well-to-do in her many letters. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wintry Stream

Wintry Stream by susanvg
Wintry Stream, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Another gentle snowfall has changed the landscape to wintry white. We walked at Bois de Liesse. Despite the small amount of snow, cross country skiers were out shushing through the trails. This stream has not frozen and a lone duck swam in the frigid waters. I hope its downy insulation is thick.

Swimming Through

Friday, December 23, 2011

Then Some Snow

Then Some Snow by susanvg
Then Some Snow, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Snow fell softly most of the day, dressing trees in bridal finery. With frigid temperatures expected, it should stay around for Christmas. The snow brightens everything up, even at night when the light from street lamps creates frosty diamonds.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Icy Branches

Icy Branches by susanvg
Icy Branches, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Treacherous weather leads to beauty when the sun shines on the icy branches. The frozen rain that coats the branches, now drips down belatedly. Winter does not seem to want to take hold this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emily Carr et ses amis

Emily Carr et ses amis by susanvg
Emily Carr et ses amis, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I love to come across public art. This one was new to me. It is a sculpture by Joe Fafard - Emily Carr et ses amis. I am a fan of both Fafard and Carr and it is nice to see an artist pay hommage to another.

Emily Carr was born in 1871. She certainly didn't follow tradition. A painter, a writer and a non-conformist, she is known best for her paintings of British Columbia, particularly those done in the Kwakiutl villages. You can learn more about her here. If you search for images on Google you will find many examples of her work as well as photographs of the artist herself.

Joe Fafard is a contemporary artist. I have photographed a cow he did, which lies near the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal. The cow has recently been moved around the corner and now lies on grass. Learn more about Joe Fafard here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sculpture in Progress

Sculpture in Progress by susanvg
Sculpture in Progress, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Finally some cold weather. Flutissimo played a concert at the Marché de Nöel in Vieux Longueuil. Usually the outdoor area is full of snow and ice sculptures. The snow has held off and the rainy weather would have washed away any ice. So today some blocks of ice waited for these ice sculptors to turn them into wintry creations.
  Ice Sculpture
Earlier in the day the blocks stood ready. Despite the lack of snow, people were in the festive spirit -shopping at the kiosques for hand made items, gourmet local food items, locally produced goods. As we arrived early for the concert, I was able to wander around. I now have a cosy hat for the cold weather made of alpaca wool. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Singing Tree

Singing Tree by susanvg
Singing Tree, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: December 16, 2011

Walking, I heard a singing tree. Its branches were full of a chorus of birds. Their voices sang of the sunshine whose rays still spread some warmth. Cold weather is coming, but the birds just enjoyed the moment.... as did I.

Climate Change

Climate Change by susanvg
Climate Change, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: December 14, 2001

Still no real snow. And I'm angry. The Harper Government puts economy before everything. Short term solutions for long term disaster. They have backed out of the Kyoto Accord, try to say that the tar sands are not only ethical but environmentally OK. It is an embarrassement to be Canadian.

November was unseasonably warm. December has been unseasonably warm. And this is no longer an anomaly. We have had several of the warmest years in a century just in the last decade. The climate IS changing, whether Harper wants to acknowledge it or not. And we all have to do something to pull in the reins before massive flooding leads to economic hardships in many parts of the world, before climate change leads to drought in other parts of the world. There was a time that Canada led, not just followed. Canada could be an example to others. Instead - if the US isn't on board we won't be either.

Sure, I want people to have jobs. But we have to start thinking longer term than the next quarter of the year. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Let your MPs know you are not happy.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Gone by susanvg
Gone, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.

There was a house here. In fact, I knew the people who lived here. I'm amazed that people would buy a house only to demolish it and build anew. I understand renovating; I understand adding on. But to pay the price for a property only to totally demolish is astonishing to me.

We'll see what appears, how it fits in with the neighbourhood. I can't help but feel a little piece of history is missing. I like the fact that my house has been lived in by others. I hope the next buyers will value some of the little touches I leave behind and then put their mark on it. Houses carry history.

Centaur Theatre

Centaur Theatre by susanvg
Centaur Theatre, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: December 11, 2011

I walked past Centaur Theatre on my way to dinner in a restaurant. I have photographed it in the day time. It has a very different feel from a night time shot. This year I have been going to the plays. Next up: In Absentia by Morris Panych. Although the acting has been good in the last two plays I saw, I did not find the plays very satisfying. But in Montreal, it is important to support English theatre.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Cyclamen by susanvg
Cyclamen, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Delicate petals hover over the leaves of the cyclamen, like butterflies waiting to land. I delight in my indoor garden where some new plants have joined my old stalwarts.

My Christmas cacti have been good to me, flowering one after another so I can appreciate each plant's blooms.


My summer garden bloomed in profusion - it was the mass of colour I appreciated. But indoors I treasure each flower. Such detail to examine and marvel over the myriad of patterns flowers can take.

I am tempted by the flowers I see for sale. Like an insect, I am attracted by their colours; they lure me in. Can one ever have too many flowers in a home? I don't think I have yet reached that limit!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Moon Rise

Moon Rise by susanvg
Moon Rise, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
How do you capture the moon. So often I am enchanted by the moon hanging low in the sky. I reach for my camera, but the image in my brain is so much clearer and majestic than my camera can capture.

I never seem to have the right camera or right lens to share the scene I am seeing. I guess that is a major difference between me, the casual hobby photographer and the professionals. They check for nature's phenomena - times of sunrises and sunsets, times of moon rise. I just happen upon these things unprepared.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Memorial by susanvg
Memorial, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Today is the twenty-second anniversary of the massacre at the École Polytechnique. I wrote about it before.  Out of this sad event, Canada enacted a gun registry. Now the "Harper Government" wants to sack the long gun registry, as it is, according to them, not fair to hunters and farmers. Odd that no one thinks registering a car is not fair but guns should be exempt. The police would like to keep the registry; they say it helps them know if there are guns present when called out. You can learn more here.

The government of Quebec wants to start its own gun registry and wants the records for Quebec owned guns. The Harper government wants to destroy all the records, which the tax payers have paid for. This government does not represent me.

We will remember the women who were killed and will, in their names, continue to fight for the conditions that prevent violence to women.

We will not forget
Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

Park to Remember

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker by susanvg
Downy Woodpecker, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A walk on Mount Royal always brings delight. The bird feeders have been filled, bringing chickadees to peck at the seeds, while underneath the squirrels gorge on the seeds that fall.

This downy woodpecker, visible without the foliage was flitting from branch to branch, foraging. He was pecking at the smaller branches so the rap-tapping was quiet.

Through the Branches

The air was nippy, with most walkers bundled in winter jackets, hats and gloves. The occasional jogger trotted past in shorts. I admire their fortitude and think back to my youth when I had to wear a tunic to school.  It was not chic to wear long pants under your tunic (even though you had to take them off at school) and knee socks were in, so I foolishly shivered while waiting for buses, with my bare legs under my just over the knee-length tunic. That was about the last time I have given in to fashion over warmth!

I love the way the bare branches open up the view, making buildings and the river visible. It's an ever-changing place with our many seasons.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Imprinted on the Sidewalk

Imprinted on the Sidewalk by susanvg
Imprinted on the Sidewalk, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: December 1, 2011
It's funny to think how these footprints may be interpreted far in the future. Now we study dinosaur footprints. What will these squirrel prints tell future archeologists?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Drops by susanvg
Drops, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Drops of water
to drip down
on unsuspecting heads


Stairways by susanvg
Stairways, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
As Montreal as outdoor staircases. This is so typical here, despite our snowy winters. I've written before about why they exist. The staircase to the third floor is indoors. I don't envy those who have to navigate these daily with packages, babies and other items in their arms. They are quite steep and despite anyone's best efforts, snow and ice accumulate. But such are the challenges of our climate and our city!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Spoon Man

The Spoon Man by susanvg
The Spoon Man, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
This man has been sitting outside Ogilvy's department store in Montreal for many years. He plays the spoons - a traditional percussion "instrument" in Quebec. People originally used kitchen spoons; now you can find wooden spoons that are attached at the top. At one time the store tried to get rid of Mr Spoonman as you can see in this article from 2004, but people rallied to his support and he is now quite a fixture.

At this time of year, he faces the Ogilvy's Christmas window - a long-standing tradition. It is full of animated Steiff animals - a whimsical scene. You can learn more about the history of the window here.

Ogilvy's Window 1

and more here.

Ogilvy's Window 2
This doesn't do it justice - as you cannot see the movement here. But here is a link to YouTube video that shows them in action along with Spoonman.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Night Lighting

Night Lighting by susanvg
Night Lighting, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I love it when care is taken to light up the architectural details on a building. This used to be a fire station. It was converted into a library / community centre. The recorder orchestra I play in rehearses there.

Recently it was in the news as the borough was looking at cutting the adult division of the library to save money. It got a last minute reprieve, but citizens of the area are working to ensure it stays open.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gamba Head of Young Charles I

Gamba Head of Young Charles I by susanvg
Gamba Head of Young Charles I, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
This head of Charles I as a young man sits on a new tenor viola da gamba made for Les Voix Humaines. He has not yet witnessed much music but he has a long illustrious concert life ahead of him.

More and more has been written lately about music being so essential to life. In fact, in one article I read it said that music may have come before speech. I know, for me, music has played many roles in my life. I have gone to music for solace, for joy, for relaxation, for stimulation and it has never disappointed me.

Musicians (other than those few pop stars) have a tough time. Instruments like this are very expensive to buy and expensive to keep. While sports figures get sponsors, advertising contracts to pay for their equipment, musicians are self-financed and their earnings are nothing like what a sports player earns.

I would hate to see Charles wear a company scarf to advertise a sponsor, but there has to be a way to make it possible for more musicians to have fine instruments. I had a chance to hear this viole played and it has a beautiful rich sound.

Shakespeare said, " Is it not strange that sheep's guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?"

This viola da gamba will speak for its players, communicating in ways mere words could never express.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Theo by susanvg
Theo, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I played music today with a good friend who has three cats. This is Theodore (Theo for short). I have featured his "brother" before, Noël. Theo is not as musically inclined. While Noël usually comes to play audience, Theo and Yuki remain aloof. After a few years, they no longer run away when I arrive. They sit, each on their favourite chair and tolerate my presence.


Five years ago, Yuki, pregnant and quite bedraggled, came from the SPCA to my friend. Since her kittens were born she has turned into quite a beauty - very regal and conscious of her place in cat society. Noël is one of her offspring.

Yet again, they kept their distance while we played music. Noël came and checked out our rehearsal. When we play in a student recital next month,  I will be picturing Noël as my audience to help allay performance fears. He has never complained yet about my playing.

Christmas Cactus in November

Christmas Cactus in November by susanvg
Christmas Cactus in November, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I'm cultivating my indoor garden as the dark of November closes in. No more orchids flowering (I had to dispose of a few due to aphids), my Christmas cactuses decided to flower. I need flowers.

They nourish my soul as I revel in their quirky shapes and bright colours. I particularly love it when plants re-flower. It's like winning an award for keeping them. But each year I get seduced by yet another flowering plant. Not a big price to pay to chase away the November blues. Who knows which one it will be this year...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Surprise Visitor

A Surprise Visitor by susanvg
A Surprise Visitor, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
My daughter called me outside to catch this visitor. I barely got this shot when he flew off. It's the second time I've seen a pileated woodpecker near my house. I hope this one comes back again soon.

The Internet - the pot of gold

The Internet - the pot of gold by susanvg
The Internet - the pot of gold, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
On sunny days the sun hits the bevel on a mirror on the wall and splits into a rainbow of colour. It fell across my computer and I thought about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Not so many years ago we simply didn't have access to the information, the virtual relationships, the virtual conferences, the many ways of connecting and learning. My computer really leads to the pot of gold.

The Global Education Conference is taking place this week. I managed to participate in a few sessions. It is amazing what I can access from my home at no cost - a pot of golden ideas, and gems to ponder and share.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Near Beaver Lake

Near Beaver Lake by susanvg
Near Beaver Lake, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
With early sunset, the end of the day has turned into night. I went walking with a friend near Beaver Lake - an artificial pond on Mount Royal. This building serves as an equipment rental place, a cafeteria, a bistro, a warming up place on a cold winter day.

It sparkles at night. There is something special about walking at night. We could hear sounds - the ducks quacking, the swoosh of their wings as they took flight, but could only see shadows.

Our "mountain" offers something for everyone - even the solitude of an evening stroll.


November by susanvg
November, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: November 13, 2011
November - that month when all turns grey. I sometimes feel we are all being pulled into a vortex of shorter and shorter days and more darkness. I fight November blahs each year - trying to focus on positives.

Photography pulls me outside to notice all the beauty - even as the world around me goes dormant. I find even when I don't have my camera handy, or can't get to it while I drive, I notice so much more. What some people call a dull drive turns interesting as I imagine the photographs I could have taken.

It's For the Birds

Walking, we passed a house with many bird houses. The woman there told us she decorates for the birds, placing berry laden branches around so they will have sustenance on cold days.

Gone to Seed

I'm always intrigued by the milkweed, gone to seed - each pod a delicate sculpture. And I think of the butterflies that may find their start on the plants that grow next spring from these seeds. 

On the Wing

And always the geese, whose haunting cries fill the air as they gather in ever larger flocks flying south. Nature exhibits such strength and resilience. It sets my mind wondering about so many things.

Photography makes me look, it makes me see in new ways and it makes me appreciate the many things around me. It opens my eyes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Barn in the Evening

Barn in the Evening by susanvg
Barn in the Evening, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The golden hour, when the sun lies low on the horizon and casts its warm glow on everything is the perfect time for photography. I was lucky to be out walking and catch the magic. What may seem mundane becomes beautiful

Golden Field

You can look up the golden hour here.

Early Morning

Early Morning by susanvg
Early Morning, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: November 9, 2011

The clocks have changed with the sun coming up earlier in the morning, but setting too early in the evening. I'm preparing for winter. I rose early to get the first appointment at the garage to have my snow tires put on my car. No snow in the forecast, but I'm treating this like an umbrella. If you have an umbrella with you, it doesn't seem to rain. Maybe my snow tires will stave off the snow ;-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Drying Up

Drying Up by susanvg
Drying Up, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The clocks have changed; sunset comes earlier. The low sun cast a rosy hue on these dried up plants. Everywhere, autumn is sapping the colour out of the landscape. Once vibrant greens turn sepia.


These feathery grasses drop their dried up seeds to wait out the winter. Promises for a new season.

Fly to the Moon

Each day more flocks of geese fly over, their constantly honking calling to others to join them. I wonder how long geese live and how many trips like this they take.

Low Sun

The sun sinks down and we head home. A chill is in the air as the darkness settles in.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Long Horn Cattle

Long Horn Cattle by susanvg
Long Horn Cattle, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Driving back from a walk in the woods, I noticed these cows. They are not a breed usually seen around here and reminded me a it of the highland cattle we saw in Scotland, but their faces weren't covered with hair. The babies had more hair covering their bodies.

Young Ones

We started to hear the sound of geese and soon flock after flock flew over on their journey south. The setting sun caught their underbellies, painting them gold. I thrill at their sound, watching in awe at the thought of the distance they will travel and how they find their way back and forth each year. 

Caught in the Glow

Night time temperatures drop below freezing. Autumn is waning.