Thursday, February 24, 2011

Peace and Harmony

Peace and Harmony, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Illustrate your idea of peace and harmony--or maybe just peace and quiet--today with a photograph.
What can be more relaxing than a cup of something hot and some beautiful music? Winter drags on, with its weather whims. Snow expected tomorrow with winds to whip it around. Then rain on Monday. No chance to really enjoy the snowfall before it turns to slush and then freezes into treacherous ice. I create a calm oasis at home with music, my hot drink and a good book - oh and a cat or two on my lap.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal, originally uploaded by susanvg.
A couple of very mild days have passed and winter has taken hold again. Not much snow for snowshoeing, but the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is full of skaters. Young and old enjoy the rink which stretches almost 8km through Ottawa. You can stop and buy refreshments, warm up by a fire and just enjoy the fresh air.

Rideau Canal

I'm not a skater, but a walk near the canal was most enjoyable. I was working on action shots - for my photography class homework. Using various shutter speeds to try and capture motion. Not as easy as it sounds to get all the camera settings right. Here's one of my better attempts.

Skating Past

Music music

Music music, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Make a photograph of something that captures a small bit the flavor of where you live or your culture.
There is no doubt - a big part of my culture is baroque music - playing it (alone or with friends), listening at home or going to concerts. Here are just a few of the CDs my spouse and I own. Many are by Montreal artists.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sitting in the Snow

Sitting in the Snow, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I spend part of each month in small town eastern Ontario. The town itself is not that picturesque. Like many places, there had been a major fire early in the last century, so there are few old buildings. And just when I thought there was nothing left to photograph, I came across this old car. I was surprised to see it sitting outside. It has obviously been there through the winter. It seems to be in perfect condition, complete with crank to start it. I hope when the weather warms up, to see it cruising around the town. That would be quite a spectacle.

Old MG

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shadow Puppets

Shadow Puppets, originally uploaded by susanvg.
In my volunteer time at the Montreal Children's Library, I was fortunate to be present when Fantôme Design came to tell a story with shadow puppets. A daycare class was the lucky audience. This fire-breathing dragon was one of the featured characters.

It was delightful to see how entranced the children were and how excited they were to have the opportunity to try out the puppets. Being the dragon was quite popular with the boys and the girls gravitated to the princess. I think we still have a ways to go with gender models.

Shadow Puppets

The puppeteers were great with the group, gearing the activities and story perfectly to their level. Brava!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dreary Day

Dreary Day, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Not a great day for walking, light rain changing to sleet changing to snow. As I started walking the temperature hovered above freezing and a mist was in the air as the snow started to evaporate. The squirrels were out, scavenging food that had fallen from the bird feeders. Cardinals sang in the trees.

Scavengers         Female Cardinal

The cold, wet precipitation was not conducive to photography. So with one last shot, I headed home.

Smith House

Blue Orchid

Blue Orchid, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I have never seen a blue orchid before - this one has just been added to my collection of orchids - a valentine gift. So many people feel blue on Valentine's Day. I've had my share of partnerless years, though now I am fortunate to have a wonderful man in my life. . It's time to reframe Valentine's Day to make it more about love in a more generic way. Celebrate with a friend - friends are one of the more important relationships we have. Celebrate with a child who still sees everything with open-eyed wonder.

It's the old glass half empty vs glass half full. If we focus on the many positives in our lives - the many relationships that make our life full, then Valentine's Day is just another day in the year when we have the opportunity to share love with others.

Happy Valentine's Day to all my virtual friends who have brought a special richness to my life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Snowshoes, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Snowshoes are strapped on. Fresh snow is ready for us. Off we went tramping through the woods, enjoying the crisp winter air. We heard the knock knock of the woodpeckers, the sound of the chickadees and the happy barks of the dogs who are allowed to run free in this wooded park. Winter at its best.

(My snowshoes are the modern aluminum ones - you can see them here. )


Fortepiano 2, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I went to a wonderful concert in an art gallery. On the programme were three piano trios by Haydn, played on historic instruments (Ellie Nimeroski: baroque violin, Amanda Keesmaat: baroque cello and Tim Beghin: pianoforte), so the music sounded as it would have in Haydn's time. This is the pianoforte. The pianoforte is an early piano, only 5 octaves and no sustain pedal. The hammers are lighter so the sound is clearer and brighter. This one is made in the style of a Walter pianoforte, which is one of the pianos Mozart owned. If you want to learn more about it, go to The History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects and scroll down to Prog. 4.

Here's another view of the instrument.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Fun

Winter Fun, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I went to Mount Royal in pursuit of photographic opportunities to complete my photo course assignments. These involve changing settings (aperture and shutter speed) on the camera to see the results. I did manage to take some photos, but fiddling with the controls with bare hands in the frigid air was not an enjoyable activity. So recommendation number one - in future, take photo courses in warmer months.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Skating, originally uploaded by susanvg.
These are hardy souls - it was cold (though they didn't have to take their gloves off to skate - photography was brutal). The lights around the rink were just coming on and the African music helped to heat up the atmosphere.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring, originally uploaded by susanvg.
The snow is slowly creeping up, burying the bottom of the slides. The equipment stands forgotten in the wintry weather. No youngsters climbing and exploring. The surfaces are too slick.

The bright colours stand in contrast to the colour-bleached surroundings. More weeks of winter to come.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Painted Windows

Painted Windows, originally uploaded by susanvg.
When I moved into my home over 20 years ago, the windows between the kitchen and a small room which at one time had been a sun porch, were painted over. I bought the house from someone whose son had been in my class in high school. According to him, these two windows were painted by his father, the bottom two (not shown here) by his mother, one evening as they enjoyed some wine. The picture on the left is my house - though there are trees and houses nearby not shown here.

Somehow, they add to the history of the house.

Daily Shoot: Use a window or a door as a frame for your subject today in a photograph.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Taste of Sunshine

The Taste of Sunshine, originally uploaded by susanvg.
In winter, it is important to have strategies to get through the grey days. Participating in winter sports definitely makes winter enjoyable. Eating sunshiny fruit is another strategy. The colour and flavour bring a burst of warmer climates.
I love the look and taste of blood oranges. The first time I saw one was in Italy and I thought the orange was spoiled. That was years ago and I have since learned to enjoy them.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow Plow

Snow Plow, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Snow clearance in Montreal takes several steps. First signs are posted warning you not to park. Then tow trucks come around honking their horns near any cars that are parked on the side where snow clearance is about to happen. If you don't move your car, you will get a ticket and the car will be towed. Next step - the plows (large ones on the street and smaller ones on the sidewalk) move the snow into on line. Snow blowers then blow the snow into large trucks which truck the snow away. It can take up to about five days to clear the whole city.

When I was young, snow blowers used to blow the snow onto our lawn. As winter went on, the snow mountain grew. I remember feeling like a mountain climber when I got to the top, but by adult standards, it was not that high - perhaps six feet.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

After the Storm

After the Storm, originally uploaded by susanvg.
The best part of a storm is the next day. The blue sky is intense; the snow sparkles. Trees wear their pristine white petticoats. And the air just has a fresher smell.

Snowing and Blowing

Snowing and Blowing, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Pretend you're a stringer for your local newspaper today. Make a photo that captures something newsworthy to you.

It's nice to live in a place where a snowstorm (and not even a major one) is the news. As I watch the evening news with stories of violence from Egypt, of protests in other countries in the Middle East, of a major cyclone in Australia, I feel safe and warm here.

Montreal is prepared for winter storms. Public transportation still ran (I walked down to the metro and went to my volunteer "job" at the Atwater Children's Library). In the evening, with a bit of shovelling, I was able to get my car out and go to my photography course. Our homes are insulated, our layers of clothing keep us warm.

And the bonus - sunny weather follows and there will be plenty of snow for snowshoeing!

Looking at You

Looking at You, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Photo taken: February 1
I know I have featured this fellow on the blog before, but the Daily Shoot's challenge was to "Fill the frame of a photograph with a single subject today" He just seemed to call out for some attention. Perhaps this is because the creator was my son, when he was in high school. And the photo was taken on his birthday. Birthdays are about getting older. Yet I hope they are not about getting stodgier. I wish for my son to always keep that sense of whimsy, the sense of joy of childhood. And I hope to always set a good example.