Monday, January 31, 2011


Orchids, originally uploaded by susanvg.
You can never go wrong with a photo of flowers. And with -20C temperatures today, I went for the indoor shot. Trying to get together a variety of photographs for my photo class on Wednesday. I'm playing with shutter speed and aperture as I learn to shoot on manual.

Though we haven't had a lot of snow this winter, we have had a lot of grey days with sprinklings of snow. It has slowly accumulated, leaving us with a constantly white landscape. My indoor garden brings me smiles, as the bright colours counteract the monochrome outdoors.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Decorate the Bark

Decorate the Bark, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Walking through the woods. Snow decorates every upturned surface. While primary colours have been replaced by browns and white, there are many textures to catch the eye. Details that are overlooked in the riot of summer call attention to themselves in winter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter in White

Winter in White, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Walking, I came upon this view - an old barn from another time with a cell tower behind. Even rural scenes are dotted with modern technology.

Street Scene

Street Scene, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Pavement, slick from the gentle snow, shines with the night time lights. It's hard to think what cities were like before cars, before electricity. No office towers - without the invention of elevators. Now almost every window glows in the evening. City lights...

Office Buildings

Friday, January 28, 2011


Curve, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Make a photograph that features a very distinct curved line or surface today.
I've started a photography course - and it has thrown me a curve - no more shooting on automatic. I'm really trying to get my head around F-stops and shutter speed and which to set when to get what and what do I want out of a photograph? There may be some very wonky photographs over the next while (though I may cheat and use my point and shoot as I always have it with me).

I like to set myself challenges - keeps the brain cells flexible. Living lifelong learning...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Drip drip drip FREEZE

Drip drip drip FREEZE, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Driving home, I was astonished to see that someone had added colour to the ice that forms on the large rocks that meet Cedar Avenue. I had to stop and get a better look. There was quite a variety of colours. The icicles spread the hues as they lengthened.

Rainbow Ice
Someone certainly had fun with buckets of paint. The "sculpture" must change as the thawing and freezing continues. The colour drips, one into another, creating new hues.


Further up the hill, the ice was untouched by this riot of colour. Stately beauty, brushed by new fallen snow. This ever-changing landscape fashioned just by water.


Snowflakes, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Snow fell with its lacy flakes. Each a unique crystal. It's hard to believe there can be so many different shapes.
Students, too come in every shape and size. Why do we accept that their bodies can be so different one from another, but think their brains should all fit one mould? Teachers know this can't be the case, that one size education cannot fit all. Why do politicians think they know better?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Music is a Beautiful Thing

Music is a Beautiful Thing, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Notes on a page don't mean a lot until you let them come alive through voice or instruments. Today I played this sonata by Handel with a friend playing the continuo line on her cello (with one of her cats playing the audience).

What a treat to find the music in the notes, the sense of elegance and joy. The instruments carry on a conversation, sometimes supporting each other, sometimes answering each other. It is a challenge to find what the composer wanted to say and at the same time to add something of yourself in the playing.

Daily Shoot: Celebrate the pretty things in life. Make a photograph of the most beautiful thing you see today.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fair Trade Shelves

Fair Trade Shelves, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Shopping with a conscience - I like to buy fair trade coffee and chocolate. It assuages my guilt at eating these life enhancers that travel such a long distance. At least I know the workers are properly recompensed, and in many cases, the items are also organic. It's hard to walk gently on this earth, both in terms of our environmental footprint and our social footprint. While I live in a country of plenty, so many live from hand to mouth. I stopped in Dix milles villages (Ten Thousand Villages) to look for some espresso coffee. This display of goods was in that store. They also sell a variety of gift items, all made by small co-ops where people are paid a fair wage for what they produce. I have often bought gifts there - a small act to make this world better.

Bicycle Rack

Bicycle Rack, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Some brave souls cycle all winter. While we have many bicycle lanes, the snow blocks some and the slippery conditions make cycling hazardous. In addition, we have hit a cold snap, with temperatures hovering around -20C (-4F). Give me an enclosed vehicle - I don't need the wind in my face!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where does it lead...

Where does it lead..., originally uploaded by susanvg.
Montreal has many underground passageways to let people move from one building to the next without going outside. Some are lined with shops. This one twists and goes up and down.

A busker along the way

A busker takes advantage of the warm spot to ply his trade. The sound reverberates along the passageway just as his image reverberates through the mirrors. He seemed to have charmed many passers-by as his case had amassed a tidy sum. Fortunately no snakes were dancing out of it.

What's Around the Corner

Down the stairs you can see beyond as the mirrors let us glimpse around the corner.

This path leads one way with no branches, no decisions, so unlike the path our life takes with choices, back-tracking, breaking trails, and finding new paths to take.

Daily Shoot: Make a photograph featuring a path, road, or trail that leads the eye through the photograph.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Up to the Door

Up to the Door, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I was at the Westmount Library for a lecture. I love the idea of libraries, but I am an inveterate book buyer. I love to own books, and like a librarian, every so often I painfully have to weed books from my collection. I have stacks still unread. I know I should join a library. I'm actually a member of the provincial library (BANQ), but mainly use some online databases. It's just that I'm not good with reading to a deadline and if a book is good, I like to see it on my book shelf reminding me of the treasures lying within.

Daily Shoot: Make a photograph with a triangular composition.
I got out too late - so the triangle is somewhat obscured by the darkness.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Cracked, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I love to find sculpture in nature. This cracked branch created so many interesting forms. Art found in the woods.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book and Book Mark

Book and Book Mark, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Make a photograph of two complementary objects arranged to show their relationship to each other.
I'm reading "The Anthologist" - so far not a favourite. My bookmark keeps my place as I come back. The bookmark was given to me; it is from a Montreal organization: 60 Million Girls which supports education projects for girls in the developing world. They are hosting an event in May which will feature Greg Mortenson of the Central Asia Institute (read about him in his books: Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools)
"When you educate a girl you educate a whole family"
Good reminder as I read, how important literacy and education is to people around the world.

Winding Up

Winding Up, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I was admiring the fat flakes of snow that were gently falling when I noticed this stairway - a spiral. Utilitarian, it serves as a fire escape.
I always think of learning as a spiral and have never understood people who think it is a straight line. Each time we revisit an idea or concept, our understanding deepens. While we build on past learning, we also need to constantly go back. And all of this takes time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Tag, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Illustrate one of the various meanings of the word tag today in a photograph.
Just read the tag!
Buying clothing has become more complicated with moral decisions accompanying fashion decisions. There was a time when I shopped that I bought something if I liked it and I could afford it. Now many criteria affect my decision. Where was it made? Do I want to support outsourcing or goods made in my country? Was it made in a sweat shop? What is the fabric? Does it breathe? What are the washing requirements? Does it have to be dry cleaned? What about environmental questions - if it comes from far is this a good choice? Is it made from a renewable resource? ... So many questions with answers often conflicting. Complications...

Cyclamen Flowers

Cyclamen Flowers, originally uploaded by susanvg.
This time of year I need flowers. I featured this plant a few days ago. Some of the buds have now opened. As I check out my online friends' photostreams, I linger over the flowers in Florida and southern Australia. Greenery and colour abound. I have to be satisfied with my indoor garden. But today the sun shone, with brilliant blue skies.

Yellow Spotted Orchid

This yellow orchid sits on my window sill. putting a splash of colour in front of the sometimes white or grey landscape. I follow the growth of each plant, delighting in new buds, waiting patiently for them to open. Four of my orchids have sent up shoots. More flowers to come soon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Water, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Make a photograph today that features or uses a liquid as a subject
Water - it seems so innocuous. Yet if you read the news today, visit Australia and see the devastating effects of water gone wild. My thoughts are with my virtual friend in Brisbane, who though she is on higher ground, is witnessing the inundation there. Today is the first anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Clean water there is still a problem resulting in many suffering from cholera.
It flows clear and clean from my tap. No shortages. This is a resource to be treasured.


Stacking, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Create a photograph today that illustrates or shows rhythm.
Chairs stacked.
We don't need them all.
Time to play.
Complicated rhythms.
Complicated metre - 5/8 time.
Sometimes with the other parts
Sometimes against.
It just adds to the excitement
When the rhythms play off each other.
I guess that's like life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Late Sun on the Milkweed

Late Sun on the Milkweed, originally uploaded by susanvg.
January 9
Some long rays of sun reached us this afternoon. But cold, damp windy gusts kept us from taking a long walk. I've always loved the look of the dried flowers and grasses sticking up through the snow. Many years ago, my late husband and I wanted to start buying art for our home. We saw a painting by William Allister that we loved, but it was too expensive. We settled on a small canvas - very reminiscent of this winter scene.


My photograph doesn't do it justice. Allister was a distant friend of my parents. He was a Canadian artist and writer who wrote a novel of his time as a POW during the second world war: A Handful of Rice. You can learn more about Allister here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another Grey Day

Another Grey Day, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Craving sunshine, I was faced with another grey day. Snow fell gently accompanied by a damp wind. Cocooning with book and computer and a cup of Earl Gray tea.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Criss Cross

Criss Cross, originally uploaded by susanvg.
This blog helps me stay fit. I feel compelled to go out and take a photograph, so off I went for a good walk, but still did not get a shot that made me happy. The day was grey - no bright sun to create strong converging lines (daily shoot), just grey mist making the lines disappear in the distance.
The railroad bisects Casselman and the haunting sound of the train whistles can frequently be heard.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lever Handle

Lever Handle, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Many of the handles in my house are of this variety - a lever not a knob. My daughter has a cat that lives in our basement along with my daughter. She (the cat, not my daughter) was supposed to stay for one night, but about 5 years later she is still here. As my spouse of a few years is allergic to cats and barely tolerates my less allergenic Cornish Rexes, I have not allowed the basement cat upstairs. But that did not stop her. She learned to jump at the basement door and swat the lever, thus releasing the catch and pushing on the door to open it. Every so often I would find her wandering around the house, much to the chagrin of the upstairs cats. So we changed the handle. She still bravely launches herself at the door and swats, but unless someone has left the door ajar, which occasionally happens, her efforts are futile.

I did catch her wandering around the house the other morning. She quite enjoyed exploring and my old cats no longer seem bothered by her presence.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Larch Cones

Larch Cones, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I often like things that are a little out of the ordinary, that don't always follow all the rules. Larch trees are one of those things - conifers, but they lose their needles. So autumn is a time for them to change colour from green to a golden yellow. Some of the cones stay on the trees providing food for squirrels and some birds. Without the needles, I have a good view as they stop and feast on a winter's day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fire Station Tower

Fire Station Tower, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I often find myself driving past buildings and thinking I should stop and take a picture. Architectural details interest me - old doors, stained glass windows, decorative details. This time I stopped by the fire station on Gatineau in Montreal. The tower once must have been used to watch for fires. The building was constructed in 1908. At the time the tower probably was higher than all other buildings around. Though most of the buildings nearby are still two stories, there are newer apartments and office buildings that surpass this tower.

Here is what the main part of the building looks like.
Fire Station

This fire station adds character to its surroundings, unlike many of the utilitarian buildings of more recent times.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Noël, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I played music with a friend today (Vivaldi, Handel and some suites by an anonymous composer) and Noël kept us company. He seems to really like music, always sitting through our sessions (and the lessons of my friend's cello students). His two feline family members stay well-hidden. What makes an animal partial to music? Or does he just crave the companionship?

There is a cat, Nora, who plays the piano with her piano teacher owner. Her YouTube video came to the attention of a composer, Mindaugas Piecaitis, who wrote a concerto with her music.  Noël has not yet started playing music nor has he joined in with feline vocalizations, but he makes a great audience.


Beginnings, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Make a photo illustrating a fresh start, a new beginning, or the first step to a goal.
This cyclamen rewards me with new blooms. Like me, the plant has been around a while but it constantly creates new growth. New Year's is always a time to stop and reflect, to ponder whether the path we are on is the one we want to be taking, to set goals to tweak our lives and thus create new growth. Life is in constant change - the changes that happen to us and the changes we make happen. We have to tend our inner gardens well, to nourish, to find the sunshine and to revel in our own blooms.
Wishing all my friends new growth and a year full of blossoming dreams.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


map, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Looking back at the year, what was your favorite memory? Illustrate it with a photograph.

This map is used courtesy of World Sites Atlas
In 2010, there is no doubt in my mind that my trip to the Arctic was the highlight. You can read about it in my August entries. Our trip left from Toronto. We flew to Greenland (Kangerlusuak) and boarded a ship for our adventure. The approximate itinerary can be seen below.


Our itinerary changed due to weather, ice conditions, and the need to meet the Canada customs agents who, due to hotel space, had to go to Qiqiqtarjuaq instead of Clyde River. What an experience!

Chocolate Store Window

Chocolate Store Window, originally uploaded by susanvg.
December 30
I passed this store window and thought it was delightful. Several things in the window are made of chocolate. If I had not been in a hurry, I certainly would have been enticed inside by the display. It's an art to create a good display. So many store windows fall short. But then not all stores are selling chocolate!