Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bixis

Bixis by susanvg
Bixis, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
This shot is for my virtual friends who were asking about the line of bicycles on The Molson Bank post.  Montreal has a system of bicycle sharing: the Bixis.  You can be a member for a fixed price each year, and then the first 45 minutes of each rental is free, or you can pay on a per use basis. As the bicycles are really meant for commuting, not touring, each subsequent hour becomes more expensive. You pick up a bike at one stand and deliver it to one near your destination. My son uses these often. There is an app available on which you can find out about the availability of bikes at specific stations as well as if there is room to park your bike.

These bixi bikes can now be found in other cities, including London and New York.

Bixis on Old Quebec Street in London

This picture was taken in 2011 when I was in London. The docking station, bicycles and payment methods were developed here in Montreal.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Montreal Baroque Festival

Harpsichord by susanvg
Harpsichord, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I spent the long weekend (here in Quebec June 24 is La Fête Nationale) at the Festival Montréal Baroque, now in its eleventh year. This is a special music festival with a different theme each year. This year's theme was New Worlds with concerts of South American baroque music, music representing the creation of the earth, complete with baroque dancers and circus performers, concerts by large groups and intimate concerts. Each year there is an incredible degree of creativity vis-a-vis the venue and the concerts themselves.

La Follia Plays Zappa

This year the festival also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Société de la Flûte à Bec de Montréal. Each of the groups had an opportunity to play before the main concerts. In addition there was a marathon of the 143 pieces by van Eyck, a Dutch recorder player of the 17th century. He was blind and would play the popular melodies of his day and then improvise variations. These have been written down. I participated in the marathon, playing 2 pieces.

In the Cafe

Some evenings go on long after the concert, with young  (and sometimes older) musicians sight-reading through music in the festival cafe. There is camaraderie between the professionals and the pre-professionals as well as with festival goers like me. We all feel part of the festival.

Here are some posts from previous festivals

2009 Susie,
2010 Flûte Alors!  Starting the Parade
2011 Festival Montréal Baroque
2012 Natural Trumpets, Horse Ballet

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Horse to Horse

Horse to Horse by susanvg
Horse to Horse, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Across from the Théâtre-St-James is this sculpture by Botero, The Volumptuous Man. I saw a caleche approaching and waited for an opportune moment to catch the horses communicating. Art meets real life.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cheese

Cheese by susanvg
Cheese, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
My spouse is passionate about cheese, particularly goat and sheep cheese. They know me at La Fromagerie Atwater, in the Atwater Market. I always head straight to the corner where most of these cheeses reside. I have learned that a bit of mould on cheese is fine as it is "noble mould". And this often means the cheese is really ripe and more pungent tasting which is definitely to P's taste. I have brought home many varieties for P to try, both local and from afar.

The clerk told me he had France. "You mean cheeses from France," I suggested. And then he showed me France, a goat cheese. Despite the price, I couldn't resist buying it.

Brittany and Normandy have now disappeared, as has the Loire. Burgundy and Champagne are still ripening. It's hard to tell how much longer France will last, but I can assure you it is doomed.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Molson Bank

Molson Bank by susanvg
Molson Bank, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
It's that time of year again! The Baroque Festival started in Old Montreal. I always take the time to enjoy the architecture of the area. This was once the Molson Bank (yes the same family as the brewery). It eventually merged with the Bank of Montreal. The building is no longer a bank.

Exiting the Metro

This year's festival is being held at Théatre St-James, closer to the Square Victoria exit. Exiting the station you see the old metro signs which were sent from Paris. The square is a lovely oasis with fountains and many benches shaded by a variety of trees.

Square Victoria

A young Queen Victoria presides over the square (actually a long rectangle). Lots of music for this weekend.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cooking

meal by susanvg
meal, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Nothing like a good stir fry! Too often our meals are heavy on protein and light on vegetables. A stir fry reverses that - chock full of colourful vegetables. No need to add a salad, it's all cooked in one dish. I like the crunch of the perfectly cooked broccoli. No soggy vegetables for me. We added some scallops for a perfect meal.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Turulu

Untitled by susanvg
Untitled, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
 Photo: June 16, 2013

I know I've said it before, but shopping at the market wins hands down over shopping in the supermarket. These musicians were busking, playing and singing delightful Québecois songs. Their music permeated the surroundings as I went about from stall to stall.

In the market, I am greeted with smiles as a returning customer. In addition to the open air stalls there are permanent stores. It is so much nicer to see the same clerks who begin to know your preferences and help out. The one caveat - I often buy too much as the sights and smells lure me into dreams of culinary delights.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lake MacDonald

Untitled by susanvg
Untitled, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: June 14, 2013

It is good for the soul to escape the city from time to time. I had things to deliver some items to CAMMAC, the music camp I go to each summer, so we drove up and spent a couple of hours there. The wind stirred up the lake creating waves and the constant sound of the water lapping up against the banks.

Through the Rails

How often do we take time to just sit and listen and watch as the water and sunlight create patterns? Our hurried lives disconnect us from nature.

Dragonfly

The insects were plentiful. Our rainy June has brought out the mosquitoes. They were in evidence as we walked through the forest. I was slapping here and there, trying to stop them before they used me as their diner. Thank goodness for the dragon flies who feast on them. They have their work cut out for them this year. I'll be back in this magical spot in a couple of weeks to immerse myself in music and nature as each inspires the other.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Grand Prix Weekend

Grand Prix Weekend by susanvg
Grand Prix Weekend, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
It's Grand Prix weekend in Montreal. It brings out the testosterone in many. Wealthy people, and others, converge on the city for one of the most consumer oriented weekends of the year here. High end restaurants are full and it seems high end shops do their best business. Parts of downtown are closed off with booths set up (very commercial with lots of advertising). The noise level is high as music is blasted through speakers. And the race will bring more noise as the cars can be heard from quite far off. Trucks cruise the streets hauling giant advertising .


IMG_0519           IMG_0520

Contrast this with the street festival near my home. Similar booths are set up - but this time displaying the work of local artists. There is face painting, a sidewalk sale (not too many of those very expensive items enticing the Grand Prix crowd) and a giant cat for kids to play in. Live musicians play a more mellow kind of music. Guess which one appealed to me most ;-)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Décarie Farm House

Décarie Farm House by susanvg
Décarie Farm House, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
This house, now sitting on a very urban street, was originally a farm house owned by the Décarie family. The house is about 280 years old. It has undergone some changes over that time, including its coat of pink paint, which according to an article I read in the Westmount Independent (May 29-30, 2012) was done in the 1930s. It has certainly witnessed a lot of Montreal history!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

La Cathedrale

Untitled by susanvg
Untitled, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
You may notice that the windows on the office building have point. They are meant to echo the church feeling - Christ Church Cathedral. The cathedral sits on prime downtown land and some years ago (in the 1980s)   agreed to a building project to help finance the cathedral. For a long time the cathedral sat on stilts as the ground underneath was excavated for an underground shopping mall and the building you now see was built behind the church.

I do find it odd to have this juxtaposition of the church and the shopping mall. Or maybe mall represents the Underworld. Certainly, I found most shopping hellish!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Irises

Irises by susanvg
Irises, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I've been doing a lot of walking in my new neighbourhood. The gardens bring me delight and this year's irises are stunning. I've always loved irises - their deep purples and hidden details. I have pots of flowers on my balcony - but none of these perennials. But then - no weeding to do, and many gardens to enjoy!

I climb the hilly streets nearby and stop briefly to snap photos along the way. I've been challenging myself to get in better shape and the hills help. So do a couple of apps. I bought a Fitbit - trying to walk 10000 steps or more daily and succeed most days. It also records flights of stairs (hills count) and the hills give me at least 19 flights by the time I finish. I've also been using RunKeeper (in my case I record walks). It records distance in miles as well as elevation. My last morning walk was 4.3k (2.7 miles) and up to 91m (300 ft) climb. I like seeing the stats so I can work to better myself.

As long as it doesn't get too hot, I'll keep this up.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

And Now it is Empty

Untitled by susanvg
Untitled, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I lived in this house since 1986. My children, 4 and 6 at the time grew up here. It was time to move on, but closing the door for the last time left me a little melancholy. Memories of occasions, both happy and sad came flooding in. It's a feeling that won't last as the memories can travel with me. It was a great home, a great place to bring up my children.

Yesterday we gave over the keys to the new owners. The house will move on too - to be filled with new stories. I have closed the chapter on my contribution to its life.

I am happy with my new place. I'm into condo living with fewer responsibilities, indoor parking which is particularly delightful in winter, and living on one floor. New memories are being written in my new abode.

The process of selling and the many odd twists it took, have taken some of my energy - hence fewer photo jaunts and blog posts. I'm feeling very upbeat about the future as I can devote more of that energy into these pleasures of life - photography and writing.

Stump

Stump by susanvg
Stump, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
This stump and its surrounding mushrooms looks like it should be in the middle of the woods, but it was just beside the sidewalk. A heavy rain brought out this crop. Nature has a way of regenerating which always gives me hope that we can't totally destroy it.