Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup by susanvg
Lentil Soup, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I love it when my daughter cooks. The house was filled with the enticing smells of garlic and onion. Lentil soup - perfect for a winter day. Tasty, nourishing and warming from the inside out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking Down

Looking Down by susanvg
Looking Down, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A travel day - taxi to subway, subway to Union Station, Porter shuttle to ferry terminal, ferry to Toronto Island (3 minutes), plane to Montreal, taxi home. And so good to be home.

High Flight

Flying from Billy Bishop airport is stress-free. No long lineups at security. I got to the airport early and enjoyed my free cappuccino and cookies. The little touches make flying feel like  a human experience rather than feel like roundup of cattle that get herded through.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Utensils by susanvg
Utensils, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
We're house-sitting, dog-sitting, being a support to father / in-law. I find it hard to cook in someone else's kitchen. Nothing is where I expect it to be and the herbs or spices I usually use are not necessarily available. So cooking simple meals is sometimes complicated - a treasure hunt through drawers and cupboards to find what I need.


Nora by susanvg
Nora, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
My spouse and I have been dog-sitting for Nora. Nora was found wandering the streets of Montreal. When her owners couldn't be found, she was adopted through a slightly circuitous route by my sister-in-law in Toronto. She is very cute, very enthusiastic and very happy to be in such a good home.

I admire dog owners more. I don't love pulling on my clothes at 7:00 am to walk her. But there is no fenced in yard, so a walk it is. And then there is the late evening walk. When I would love to be finding a cosy spot, it's time to go out again. But Nora's delight and appreciation make it worthwhile.

Looking forward to being home with my cat :-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dual Purpose

Dual Purpose by susanvg
Dual Purpose, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Today I had lunch at the restaurant in Osgoode Hall in Toronto. What a treat! This is the restaurant of the Ontario Law Society. The decor is from another era. The great hall in which it is located is lined with legal books. Dishes, necessary to the restaurant perch on the shelves beside them.

Large stained glass windows are located above the shelving letting light into the room. It is not uncommon to see lawyers in their robes, dining here as the courts are also located in this building.  We took the opportunity to wander around part of the building, enjoying all the architectural details. The Great Library is a jewel - with an ornate ceiling and beautiful etched class windows.

Year of the Dragon
 Here is a wood carving from the Barristers' Lounge - my hommage to the Year of the Dragon. I certainly hope to go back and explore more. It is an amazing historical building.

Oh- and the food was fantastic - lobster bisque, Arctic char, a crepe filled with bananas and served with ice cream with pistachios, wonderfully brewed coffee - a feast.

Turkish Passport

Turkish Passport by susanvg
Turkish Passport, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A friend invited us to go to a screening of Turkish Passport, a documentary film about what the Turkish ambassador and consuls did to save the Turkish Jews who were living in France. The film was the work of a young Turkish film-maker. It was incredibly well-researched and highlights the sense of moral duty these men felt to stand up for the citizens of their country. In many cases they risked their own lives to ensure the safety of their citizens.

It is a wonderful example of how the Turks viewed all people as equal. If only that could be the case today around the world - that race, religion and ethnicity would no longer be reasons for division. A film worth seeing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Under the Overpass

Under the Overpass by susanvg
Under the Overpass, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I like the geometry of this overpass. Many triangles give strength. I well remember Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome which was the US pavilion. Its many triangles created the dome. The structure still stands on St. Helen's Island, though a fire destroyed the  shell. It now contains a museum devoted to the environment.

Mood Lighting

Mood Lighting by susanvg
Mood Lighting, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Dinner in a restaurant in Toronto to celebrate a birthday - not mine. I'm a summer baby. These lights and glass hung from the ceiling with the background colour changing constantly.

I've read a few articles lately about colour and its effect on us. Here is an interesting infographic about colour in web sites. Or have a look at this blog post and infographic on the psychology of colour.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wise Owl

Owl by susanvg
Owl, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
As I think more seriously about moving, I'm having to make many choices about what to keep and what to dispose of. And then there is a question of how to dispose of things so that what can be reused finds a new home.

My newly found wisdom realizes that things can become burdens. Downsizing will eventually feel light. Will I remember this wisdom once ensconced in my yet to be found new place? Or will I be acquiring again after a big purge of stuff?

Small Tomatoes

Small Tomatoes by susanvg
Small Tomatoes, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
While these may look large in a photograph, they are small, but about the only tomatoes that have any taste this time of year here. I was at a restaurant and the tomatoes in the salad were hard and tasteless and not even very red. It's better to have no tomatoes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Warm Comfort

Warm Comfort by susanvg
Warm Comfort, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I bought this dog years ago for my daughter. It has a warm / cold bag inside that you can heat in the microwave so the dog turns into a sort of warm comfort. My daughter never took to it.

My cat, at the age of 15 is a heat seeker. I decided to try him with this dog and it was instant "friendship." He cuddles up contentedly.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

House Concert

House Concert by susanvg
House Concert, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A house concert is a wonderful experience; there is an intimacy you don't get in churches or concert halls. I went to a benefit concert on behalf of Les Voix Humaines. They are raising money to pay for the viola da gambas they had made by Pierre Charette and Hélène Cossette. Not only did I hear music played by Les Voix Humaines, but they were joined by lutenist, Sylvain Bergeron, soprano, Hélène Brunet and countertenor, Daniel Taylor.  Here is one of the songs he sang: O waly, waly, accompanied by Sylvain Bergeron.

What a treat! And, of course, we got to hear the new viols. Carving on Viola da Gamba
Back of the Tenor Viol

Carving on Viola da Gamba 2

Viol Head in profile (a young Charles I of England)

I first met this viol in November when I was at a meeting at Susie Napper's house. You can learn more about the process of making a viol here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cat and Mouse

Cat and Mouse by susanvg
Cat and Mouse, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Looking up at the bright blue sky - its colour seems more intense in winter. When the temperature plummets, the sun seems brighter. Cold air can't hold moisture. Bundled up, I enjoyed the cold air. You can dress against cold, but can never undress enough in the heat.

Keeping Warm
Walking was treacherous as our yoyo weather has left ice everywhere under foot. The side streets aren't so bad, but the icy sidewalks on the main thoroughfares are polished from the many passing feet. I envy the young feet that seemed to skip along as I carefully placed each foot.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Lights

Winter Lights by susanvg
Winter Lights, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The wind had bite creating cold much harsher than the temperature indicated. I walked on an icy moonscape created by snow then rain then sudden cold. Taking off my glove I snapped this photo and my finger tips immediately objected.

Playing with Light

I played with the light - moving my camera to create an abstract image. Or was it just that I was trying to bring back circulation to my fingers by moving a bit?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Enjoying the Blooms

Enjoying the Blooms by susanvg
Enjoying the Blooms, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Freezing drizzle followed by snow followed by freezing rain followed by rain and high winds. It was definitely a day to enjoy being indoors. A bowl of soup, a bit of work, a good book... And, as always, my indoor garden.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In Memory

In Memory by susanvg
In Memory, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Mental illness is a terrible thing. No one can see your pain or really understand the inability to get your life in order. A young man suffered for many years, unable to live up to what he thought others felt he should do, immobilized by his invisible illness. He is now at peace.

I shed tears in his memory with thoughts of the days when he smiled and opened his heart to others. He was a gentle soul to others and a tortured soul to himself. And always the question, "What else could I have done?" despite knowing none of us can do more than our best, including him.

Winter Finery

Winter Finery by susanvg
Winter Finery, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I cling to the sunshine and the joyous blue skies as around me there are people who suffer from the blues. Funny that blue can mean sad when this vibrant sky screams delight. I bundle up in my many layered winter outfit to gawk at winter's finery. Trees clad in bridal white, lawns covered in sparkling diamonds - they grab the sun's rays to defy the biting cold.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Tigra by susanvg
Tigra, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: January 15, 2012

Tigra belongs to cousins of ours. She started life as a street dog in the Dominican Republic and developed all the wiles she needed to survive. For several years she has lived here in a comfortable home. Life sure changes, but some of her habits persist. She is a great scavenger, waiting patiently to snap up anything that drops from people's plates. Indoors she is a lamb, happily submitting to attention from one and all, even baring her belly to anyone willing to provide the welcome scratches and caresses. I'm told that outdoors she is a wolf, with her street-learned instincts coming to the fore. She will defend her territory and her people. Fortunately, I have only seen the lamb side. Her intelligent eyes, make it hard to resist her.

Brides in the Window

Brides in the Window by susanvg
Brides in the Window, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: January 13, 2011
As the snow fell I noticed this trio of brides in these upper floor windows. Though just manequins, they seemed to be pondering the weather situation. I just thought this would be a great story prompt to let the imagination go wild.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Under a Snowy Blanket

Under a Snowy Blanket by susanvg
Under a Snowy Blanket, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
There she sat, holding her baby to her under the snowy blanket. Her bronze body didn't shiver.

Yet there are many homeless whose human flesh braves all elements as they seek out warmth in doorways, in metro stations - wherever warmth and shelter can be found. Recently a homeless man was shot by police in one of our metro stations. His mental state led to aggression. We have closed psychiatric beds, tried to medicate people out of their illnesses and sent them off. Without supervision and financial means, some end up on the streets. Surely, we can find better ways to support those who need it, to help them live safer and happier lives.

Whiteout Weather

Whiteout Weather by susanvg
Whiteout Weather, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Our first real winter storm arrived, with winds pushing the falling snow to create white-outs. As I ventured out late in the afternoon to walk to the metro, the snow sparkled under the city lights.

Walking to the Metro

Driving was treacherous with many accidents reported, and walking was a challenge. But it is magical to walk with the snowflakes dancing around you and everything a pristine white.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Parts of the Whole

Parts of the Whole by susanvg
Parts of the Whole, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
One of the things I like about photography is the way it has sharpened my eyes. Even when I don't have camera in hand, I see things I used to ignore.

Today's Posting "Look for abstract shapes and designs today. Make a photo of a subject everyone has seen that's not easily recognizable" is interesting in that it's things like that I notice more - the shape of an object, the quality of light, the patterns of shadows.

While this object may be familiar to some, by taking it out of context you can see other possibilities. Focusing on the details often reveals treasures.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nearly finished

Nearly finished by susanvg
Nearly finished, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I've been working on this blanket for several months. I just have one more strip to knit. While I will be glad to finish it, I am wondering, "What next?" Knitting relaxes me, especially as I make things that don't have to fit.

My mother was an expert knitter, making countless sweaters in every possible pattern. when we were young, she made mittens and socks. While I have embarked on complex patterns for afghans, I have never had to worry about how something would fit at the end of the endeavour.

But soon I will need a new project...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Belgian Waffle

Belgian Waffle

Belgian Waffle, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A new little place to eat opened recently in Casselman. You can get homemade soup and sandwiches. The owner is originally from Belgium and she makes typical Belgian waffles. I only eyed this one as I spooned up my broccoli soup. Tempting though it was, January the guilt kicks in and I try yet again to live a healthy lifestyle.

In the Woods

This was preceded by a walk in the woods. There is just enough snow to feel like winter, but not enough to go snowshoeing. But the bright blue sky and pristine white was a delightful treat after many grey days.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Deer from Crete

Deer from Crete by susanvg
Deer from Crete, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Funny this photography bug -I'm trying for now to keep up with a photo a day. I've joined a group called Today's Posting, hoping their daily suggestions will inspire me. Today's challenge: find a statue, sculpture, or fountain and make a photograph of it today. Consider the time of day and light.

A weekend in Casselman does not provide many opportunities to find public art or fountains. So I hunted around for a sculpture and found this one. According to my spouse, who acquired this in Crete, the deer were revered, as they killed snakes. Here is a sculpture he remembered seeing in Chania (we found it via Google maps).

Gate to Chinatown

Gate to Chinatown by susanvg
Gate to Chinatown, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Every city seems to have a Chinatown. Now many include businesses and restaurants from a number of east Asian countries. This arch, stretching over Somerset Street in Ottawa, pays homage to the many Chinese businesses in this area.

Good food is always part of Chinatown, with many Chinese restaurants located there. The food seems to differ from city to city as it caters as much to western tastes as to its origins. On a cold damp evening, there is nothing like hot and sour soup to take the chill away. This was followed by other delights. Well fortified, the temperature did not seem as cold as I returned to my car to drive home.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Broccoli by susanvg
Broccoli, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The older I get, the more conscious I am of having to nurture my body. In our youth we feel immortal. I no longer feel that way. So I try to eat more fruit and vegetables; I am pushing myself to exercise more. And I buy organic when I can. Broccoli is a favourite of mine. This organic broccoli is ready for steaming. Trout is on the menu. January is always full of good intentions.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Passing By

Passing By by susanvg
Passing By, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
There was something about this building that appealed to me as I was driving. I stopped to shoot a couple of pictures. It stood out in an area of run down buildings.


Rectangles by susanvg
Rectangles, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
With temperatures hovering near -15C it was hard to walk past this cafe without going in. It's definitely a time for caccooning. A hot cup of herbal tea once I was home, dinner and a good book. But my friend ventured out and joined me for an evening of playing music. Much better than sitting in front of a television!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Flock of Cyclamen

A Flock of Cyclamen by susanvg
A Flock of Cyclamen, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Like butterflies, the delicate cyclamen blossoms hover above the green leaves. Outdoors, the temperature has been swinging up and down. Indoors, I enjoy my summer garden.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Books by susanvg
Books, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Looking forward. This will be a year of change. Looking for a new place to live, I will be selling the house I have lived in for the last 25 years. So many decisions. I am trying to simplify my life a bit. I have way too many books and am weeding my book shelves, boxing up those I can part with. These books, all by Canadian authors have escaped the first cull.

I keep trying to tell myself that I don't need them, that I will not be re-reading them as there are always new books to read. Each time I approach the shelves it gets a little easier to deposit some into the waiting boxes. And then - what to do with them? Fewer places are taking books. Any ideas out there? I certainly don't want to be filling up landfill with these treasures.

Heat Seeking

Heat Seeking by susanvg
Heat Seeking, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: December 31, 2011

New Year's eve is a time when we stop and look back and reflect on the year gone by. Although reflection and taking stock may be part of our lives with goal setting happening at various points of the year, the end of year thoughts are not just about assessing the year, but also about remembering.

I wish all my friends, both those I know face to face and my virtual friends a healthy and fulfilling year, full of the warmth of friendship. My life is richer for knowing you. For those I know only through their online presence, I learn so much from your thoughts, photos and wise words that you share so generously. I'm looking forward to another year of growth.