Monday, October 31, 2011

A Cat for the Season

A Cat for the Season by susanvg
A Cat for the Season, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I'm not into horror or excess. You can see another over the top Halloween display here. But this display strikes my fancy. I love the whimsy, the seasonal feel. Bring on the pumpkins and funny cats. Bring on the joy of children in costume!

But I won't be opening my door tonight - I did enough years of that when my children were young. No horror movies on my TV. I'll just sit with a good book and a real cat on my lap.

Autumn Carpet

Autumn Carpet by susanvg
Autumn Carpet, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The leafy curtain is falling turning into a forest carpet. Vistas are revealed - a peek at the river and the buildings of downtown Montreal. The air smells of autumn. I love the sound of the leaves as you walk on their dried remains.
Thorn Bush

There are still some bright blasts of colour, but slowly the world is turning sepia.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Bare

Getting Bare by susanvg
Getting Bare, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Spring starts like a pointilist painting - dots of greens dabbed onto the trees. Now fall goes out the same way, with dots of autumn colours on the almost bare branches.

Soon greys will take over. I'm feasting my eyes on the last of the colours.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Too Much Halloween

Too Much Halloween by susanvg
Too Much Halloween, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Everything about our lives has become commercial. And it seems, in this case, more is better. It's hard to teach taste. I remember when my daughter was young, she loved abundance - if one china figurine was good, then eight was terrific. But she grew out of it.

I used to love Halloween - the notion of disguise and ringing the bell of the neighbours we knew. My kids and I would carve the pumpkin after first deciding on a design. We had a few store bought decorations, but would also make our own - cat silhouettes, ghosts and jack-o'lanterns cut out of black bristol board and taped to the window. We roasted the pumpkin seeds. Costumes were made from things we had, making the missing pieces with fabric, cardboard and whatever else worked.

Now Halloween seems to be about candy. I admit - I no longer answer my door. There are no young children on my block, so all who ring are strangers and they seem to get older and older - barely in costume, but with giant pillow cases ready to catch as many treats as possible. I do enjoy some of the less decorated homes - but creativity counts, not just quantity!

By the way - here is the same house last Christmas.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday Evening

Friday Evening by susanvg
Friday Evening, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.

I've never been a big drinker. Bringing up two children on my own I had this fierce need to always be in control in case of all the "what ifs" As they are now adults, I've eased up on the demands I made on myself and have learned to enjoy the occasional pre-dinner drink. A little time to mellow out as the weekend sets in.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Into the Bourgie Concert Hall

Into the Bourgie Concert Hall by susanvg
Into the Bourgie Concert Hall, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
On Wednesday evening I went to a concert in the new Bourgie Concert Hall, part of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I say new, but it is really a newly resurrected hall. It was once part of the Erskine and American Church. Though it has been renovated since it became part of the museum, it retains much of the original architectural details.

Years ago I went to concerts there by Les Idées Heureuses. Their concerts will once again take place here. I still remember sitting in the front row when Jordi Savall played a concert. I was mesmerized by his playing. Wednesday's concert was by Les Violons du Roy, a Quebec City based group. Fun to be back in that space.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Harpsichord Keys

Harpsichord Keys by susanvg
Harpsichord Keys, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
What better way to spend time on a dreary October afternoon than playing music. As Baroque music lovers, my spouse and I play in Baroque pitch (A=415). His friend is equally immersed in music. In one room in his apartment he has an organ and two harpsichords - one in modern pitch (A=440) and this smaller one in Baroque pitch.

Small Harpsichord

We played through the afternoon - Corelli, Quantz and Bach. It keeps my brain flexible as I switch recorders depending on the piece - my alto in A, my voice flute in D. But mostly, playing music fills my soul with joy. A little house music - making our own - not just consuming it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Boat

The Boat by susanvg
The Boat, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I went to an event yesterday - the launch of a book and DVD Mapping Memories. It is a collection of stories by refugee youth using a variety of media tools. It pushed me to start scanning photographs I have in a large box from my parents.

Both my parents died over 10 years ago. Some of the photographs (on my mother's side of the family) go back to the 1800s. My goal is to create DVDs for the grandchildren so that I can share what I know of my parents' story with them. Unfortunately, I never really sat down with my parents to hear the stories behind the photographs. And many photographs, though interesting to look at, are meaningless to me as I don't know the identity of the people in them. The photograph above was taken on the boat on which my mother immigrated to Canada with her parents, grandfather and some other relatives. She is the youngest in the photograph.
Yale and Sheva
My grandparents

Now, with air travel, Skype, telephones, when people move from one part of the world to another they can easily stay in contact with those left behind. People who immigrated in the early 1920s stayed in touch by letters which could take some time to be delivered. I admire their courage and hope at starting over in a new place.
My Great-grandfather

I think it is important to collect stories, to know where we came from and to learn about daily life of the people who came before us. Too much of history that we are taught is only about wars and conquests. We need to know about the social history - the trials, the triumphs and the day to day realities.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes by susanvg
Heirloom Tomatoes, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.

I love the many varieties of vegetables you can find at the market now. These heirloom tomatoes not only look interesting, they are absolutely delicious. Tis the season for colour until it all drains away and leaves us with the greys of November.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Something for Every Taste

Something for Every Taste by susanvg
Something for Every Taste, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
This time of year it is a treat to go to the market. It is a real feast for the eyes - to say nothing of the real feast that follows a trip there. I came home with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner (this weekend in Canada). On weekends there are often tastings and this week it was beer - with tables lined up with bottles and tiny glasses so you could sample one of the many offerings from the local breweries. Not my drink - so I passed on that.

Autumn at the Market

The pumpkins are stacked up, ready for Halloween. There is a festive air at the market - a last celebration before the outdoor stalls get packed up until next year. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Church Door

Church Door by susanvg
Church Door, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: October 6, 2011
I have been in this church many times as many early music concerts take place here. The concert season has started and this was the first concert of the season for Les Boréades. What luck to live in a city with so much music and so many fine musicians. As the sun sets earlier the outdoor lights cast a warm glow, welcoming the concert goers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Orderly Garden

Orderly Garden by susanvg
Orderly Garden, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I was walking in my neighbourhood and spotted this garden - neatly planted and organized like a French garden. I started to wonder what that said about the people living there and what does my garden say about me. Mine is somewhat wild, with lots of perennials that are allowed to spread where they will. Some multiply and pop up in new locations; others stay in their little spot, diligently flowering each year. There is not a lot of order to my garden. I like it that way. I like the profusion of colour and the mixture. Maybe that says something about me - not always organized, sometimes spontaneous and interested in a variety of things. Don't box me in!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Leaves by the Brook

Leaves by the Brook by susanvg
Leaves by the Brook, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: September 30, 2011
Another day, another walk, this time on an old railway bed which is now a linear park. A friend of mine cycled for a couple of days on this route. I'll stick to walking, or shorter cycling trips.

Despite the clouds, the fall colours were glorious. Again, there was the dichotomy of the vibrant reds and oranges and the plants whose colour has faded.

Milkweed Seeds

The path twists and new vistas delight around each corner. Water rushes along the river, over rocks, making babbling noises.

Country Stream

These old train lines were the doorway to the Laurentians. While it is wonderful to see them put to new uses, it is a shame that train travel is now more restricted to "profitable routes" - those between larger cities. Getting to the countryside now has to be done in a car resulting in traffic jams along the routes leading there.

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours by susanvg
Autumn Colours, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A few days in the country surrounded by autumn's finery. Unfortunately the colours were somewhat muted by the clouds and rain showers. In a few moments of sunshine, I managed to capture some of the splendours.
Indian Paintbrush

I grew up with summers in the country. These flowers, which we called Indian Paintbrush (not sure if that is the correct botanical name) grew wild in the countryside. I love to see these hardy blossoms, still so colourful as many other flowers around them have faded.

Fallen Leaves

The rain and wind have brought many leaves down. Even on the ground their bright colours bring a sense of joy.


We managed to walk between the rain showers - great puddles reflected the view above.

Fading Ferns

As the trees put on their colourful show the ferns lose their zip, with sepia replacing their vibrant green. Changes happen from day to day. And the nip in the air had us sporting hats and gloves to ward off the chill.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Thunbergia by susanvg
Thunbergia, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: September 26, 2011
They wrap their tendrils around whatever is nearby, grabbing, creeping to the next spot. Flowers pop open along their long fingers. They like the cool days of autumn; the rain boosts them into further rambling. A lovely burst of colour in my fading garden.