Monday, February 29, 2016

Orchids Again

Pink Orchid

I have featured my orchids before. I love to be surrounded by flowers. And orchids keep giving and giving. I don't do anything special for them. I guess I am just lucky

Pale Orchid

I get lost in their intricacy, admiring each detail of their makeup.

White Orchid

I know you can buy orchids so much less expensively now, but I like to tuck the ones that are not flowering away near light and wait for them to surprise me.

Orchid 1

This one has been flowering for many months. Each time I think the flowers are the last on the stalk it has sent out new buds. Some are almost ready to open. Four orchids flowering and a fifth has produced a stalk. I'm never quite sure which colour the flowers will be until they open and then it will like another gift.

Oscar Peterson Mural

Oscar Peterson Mural

I drove past this mural, created by Montreal artist Gene Pendon in homage to Oscar Peterson
 - no place to park. This was shot through my windshield at a red light. It's not the best angle.

Oscar Peterson, who grew up in this area, was a world renowned jazz pianist. You can read about him here.  I had a the privilege of hearing him in concert many years ago and have a number of his CDs. Montreal was a hotbed of jazz in the 20th century. I recently co-wrote a blog post about a CBC multi platform production for education: Burgundy Jazz. You can learn more about Oscar Peterson as well as other Montreal jazz musicians and also learn about the community that spawned them.

A picture book also recently came out which touches on Peterson's childhood: Oscar Lives Next Door. You can read more about it here.

Here's a video clip for you
Salute to Bach - Oscar Peterson Trio
(apologies if the ad plays first)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

An Old Tree

Old Trunk

As I walked by this old tree I marvelled at the complexity of its bark. What caused it to create such intricate patterns? What stories does it tell? Of weather patterns? Infestations? And what has this tree witnessed? Full of questions. No answers.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

In the Late Afternoon

Long Shadows on a Sunny Afternoon

Walking on a winter afternoon. The late afternoon sun casts long shadows. I can barely feel its warmth as a cold, damp wind bites at my fingers as I take this photograph.

Walk in the Winter

Our yo-yo winter weather has sent snow, freezing rain and rain followed by a quick drop in temperature. Yesterday's pooled water is now a series of mini skating rinks. I have to stop to look up. Walking, eyes down to watch for icy patches, I half walk, half shuffle, knees bent a little - the winter walk. I cut short my trajectory - it is just too slippery to enjoy it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Movies at the Former Montreal Forum

The Former Montreal Forum

Growing up when I did the Canadiens were the kings of hockey and the Montreal Forum was their palace. Now with the league diluted from the original 6 teams to 30, hockey doesn't speak to me the same way. A few remnants from hockey days adorn the repurposed (and basically rebuilt) building, decorated with Canadiens banners and a concrete facsimile of centre ice. A few seats from the old building offer some chance to reminisce.

The Former Montreal Forum

The Canadiens have moved on to the Bell Centre and I frequent their former home not for sports but for films. Instead of the black and white image (often "snowy") I remember coming to our television through our rooftop antenna ( yes later it came in crisp colour)  I have been treated to films streamed from far off. Just recently I went to see Florence and the Uffizi Gallery - a visual treat and last night I saw As You Like It streamed from England. It was a delightful production, done in modern dress. There are plays from Stratford Ontario and London UK, ballets from Moscow and London, opera from New York and visits to art galleries around the world! As a culture vulture, I feast on the offerings!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Freezing Rain

Freezing Rain

Snow, then ice pellets then rain - the city is a mess of slush and puddles. The trees wear an icy coating.

Icy Branches

Fortunately there is little wind. The heavily laden branches can be snapped by the push of the wind.

Through the Car Windshield

While it looks quite beautiful, it makes for treacherous conditions. More rain tomorrow followed by freezing temperatures. The city will be a giant skating rink.

House Music

Viola da Gamba Head

With the advent of recorded music, the need to make one's own music lessened. People could have concerts in their homes. What a gain! But what a loss... More and more, we have become passive consumers rather than active makers.

The joy of making music, of sharing the pleasure of playing together is an essential part of my life. My spouse and I spent time with friends playing Telemann, Hasse, Handel (whose birthday it was), Bach -  on recorders, baroque flutes, viola da gamba and harpsichord (an electronic one - our only nod to the electronic age).

The Continuo Section

There is a pile of music waiting for us - for another visit. Music, time with friends, a meal shared - a perfect day.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

This time of year it is hard to get local produce. So much of our fresh fruit and vegetables is trucked in and flown in from far away. But not these cherry tomatoes. They are grown in greenhouses right here in Quebec. Though not quite as sweet as their summer counterparts, they do add flavour and colour to my salads. Guilt free food!



Lines, textures - they speak to me. This tree tells its story of growth and age and difficulties.

As I get older, I too have the story of my life written on my body - wrinkles - some from laughter, some from playing an instrument, some from difficult times, adorn my face. A scar on my hand reminds me of my father's love and trust in me as he gave me (too young) a knife for carving. It slipped... I still remember him carrying me to my bed to lie down after he had bandaged my hand. Each bag and sag, each wrinkle and age spot has been earned. Plastic surgery is not for me! Why would I want to erase the stories.

I wonder what stories this tree could tell.

Sunday, February 21, 2016



Paperclips - such a simple idea, yet so useful. I have used them in many ways, from their meant for purpose to a variety of other uses. I always have some in my music bag. They can hold music on the stand when you need to spread an extra sheet that reaches beyond the width of the stand.

Back in the days of floppy disks, they were a useful tool for ejecting disks that were stuck. DVDs stuck in DVD drives could also be ejected in the same (make sure the power is off).
If your zipper pull falls off - attach a paperclip and it all works again!
I have used larger ones to keep cereal bags closed.
A paper clip has stood in as a key chain.

The most profound use of paperclips was done by a school in Tennessee. They collected paperclips to try to understand what the number 6,000,000 meant - the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. A documentary film was done about the project and is a must see, both in terms of learning about the project, but also seeing how the teachers classroom practices changed through the development of the project. You can go on a tour of the museum they created.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tiffany Glass

Tiffany Windows

Anyone who reads this blog knows I go to many concerts. I have always loved the arts - music, dance, visual arts... Just this week I have been to three events: a concert led by Tanya Laperrière for Pallade Musica - of string quartets, the ballet Coppelia and then a concert by Les Boréades of Neapolitan Baroque music which was held in Salle Bourgie, part of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal. The concert hall was once a church (the Erskine and American) and these windows were installed in the church, but restored when the museum renovated the building. I had attended concerts in the church. At one of the many memorable concerts, I sat in the front row  - the performer, Jordi Savall was almost in hand-shaking distance. It felt like he was playing just for me.

While I love to hear concerts by visiting groups, I am spoiled living in Montreal, where we have some of the finest musicians specializing in early music. I am doubly spoiled as many of them also teach at CAMMAC and I have had the privilege of being coached by many of them. In last night's lineup - 5 of the 8 musicians have spent Early Music Week there and I have had 4 of them as coaches. Knowing them as teachers, as friends adds to the pleasure of hearing them perform.

About the windows from

Eighteen of the twenty Tiffany windows were created during the heyday of the famous Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company in New York, between 1897 and 1904. The ensemble was one of only two commissions by Tiffany in Canada and one of the few surviving religious series in North America.

Friday, February 19, 2016


Before the Ballet

Last night my daughter and I went to see Coppélia with the Shanghai Ballet. Many years ago I went to a fine arts camp. While there I played music, worked in the pottery  studio and danced. Ballet was one of my passions. The ballet teacher at the camp, a woman named Natasha, taught classes. She walked with a cane and a pronounced limp and spoke with a  Russian accent. Although she could not demonstrate every step, she conveyed what she wanted and had a couple of dancers she brought with her demonstrate when needed. Each summer she staged a ballet every summer. The first one I was in was Coppelia. It's funny how the body remembers. While much of the choreography was different in this version, certain steps resonated in my muscles.

Interestingly, my daughter also did a lot of ballet as a child and performed in a number of productions, one of which was Coppelia. She too, had that sense of knowing, though her experience was much more recent than mine.


I usually don't post photos of myself, but even my daughter didn't recognize me in this one! It goes back many years! I long ago left my ballet days behind. But music has stayed with me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

After the Storm

The Next Day

Yesterday's snow, freezing rain and rain left their mark on the city. Branches coated in ice sparkled in the sunshine. A thick slippery crust lay on top of the snow.

Ice Covered

While it may not be  healthy for the bushes, the effect was quite magical as each bush and tree shimmered.

It Glitters in the Sunshine

While this area looks pristine, it is quite different at street corners, where frigid water collects making crossing streets an adventure. One has to carefully plot the route around these ponds, through the slush. And woe betide the pedestrians who get splashed by the motorists who seem to aim for the slush sending up a wake of dirty icy spray.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

After Oiling

Freshly Oiled Recorders

These are just some of my instruments. They have to be oiled a couple of times a year. It keeps them playing better. I'll be oiling others tomorrow after these have been allowed to absorb the oil. First I will swab these out, removing any excess oil and pack them away unless they will be played.

After Oiling

I have two large recorders: a bass in F and a contrabass in C. One is pictured here. The bigger one is on tomorrow's roster. Regular maintenance keeps them playing well.

Give me a Hand


This "hand" reached out to me as I walked. No it did not want me to shake it. It was not asking for a handout. It was not waving hi, nor asking me to put some money in the parking meter. It was just one of the many gloves and mitts that appear in odd places this time of year - on fences, tree branches, fire hydrants... Lost. Looking for its owner. Looking for its mate.

If you lost this glove, let me know - I know where it is ;-)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day


Another Valentine's Day, another push by marketers to get you to buy the perfect gift, flowers, chocolates - consume! They emphasize romantic love. It is so the opposite of what the day should represent - a day to celebrate all kinds of love and to recognize that love is what binds us all and what could make this world a better place all year.


It should be a day of giving - not stuff - but of oneself and to celebrate the many important relationships in our lives - from parents to children, to friends and relatives, to pets and to nature.

Instead of the frenzy of shopping for the perfect card or gift I advocate slowing down, taking time with the people in your lives and a moment to say what you think all year - having you in my life makes my life better.

Thanks to my blog friends - your blogs enrich my life with your photos and stories. And to any of my face to face friends who may read this - you mean a lot to me.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Too Cold

Nippy Weather

(For my American friends -24°C is -11°F and  - 40°C = -40°F)

A brief cold snap has enveloped our province with extreme cold warnings telling everyone to be sure to dress very warmly if one has to go out. While I did not stay out long (this photo was actually taken through my open car window while parked), I did venture out for a recorder lesson. Italian renaissance and early baroque music warmed me up. It is always a challenge.


It was a good day to enjoy my newly opened amaryllis. A hot drink, a good book and my indoor garden to chase away any thoughts of freezing temperatures.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Paintings on my Window

Frosty Ferns

I woke up to paintings on the window. The cold night air drew fantastic ferns, or are they dancing fairies?

Frost Painting

Or flowers bursting forth?
I need to stop and marvel at their intricacy as soon the sun will erase them. Their beauty is more precious for their ephemeral visit.

Frost Painting

Moments later they are gone.

Looking Close


I love to spend time admiring the plants and flowers that grow in my home. This croton definitely seems to like the environment as it constantly expands and sends out these flower stalks. My plants grow despite me - as I sometimes overwater and sometimes underwater - following no set schedule.


Another view... It is growing new branches. Some days I think it will grow into a tree. I read that outdoors it can reach 3 m (9.8 ft). It may have to find another home one day.

Thursday, February 11, 2016



Vegetables chopped and ready to be cooked.


Add onion, garlic and ginger.

In the Wok

Stir fry in the wok. A great way to eat vegetables!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Soap Bubbles

Soap Suds

I played a bit with post-processing in Photos to improve this image. - bubbles ready to wash my clothing.

I've been using Dizolve, an environmentally friendly, hypo-allergenic detergent. I have started to use it for hand washing too and so far so good. My hand wash is now hanging to dry - humidifying my home's dry winter air.

Soap Suds

Here is another of my post-processing attempts. Always so much to learn.

Monday, February 8, 2016


It is Opening

I think these plants have something magic about them. They almost grow before my eyes. This year I got wise, buying a heavier pot for it so it doesn't topple when the flowers open. I've turned it every day as it is a real light seeker, reaching towards the window. Promises - of opening soon, of displaying its glory. Here is a case where you almost don't have to be patient!



A walk through St-Henri - with some typical Montreal scenery. Corner stores (here called dépanneurs) provide everything from food to beer and lottery tickets. This one is truly on a corner.

Outside Stairways

While outdoor staircases to the second floor are typical in many parts of Montreal, this staircase to the third floor is unusual. The outdoor staircases save space indoors and some say the church encouraged them back in the days as young people could not sit in stairwells and act inappropriately.

A Chilly Spot to Sit

It was a little chilly to take advantage of this spot to sit. As in any part of a city, you can see graffiti on the walls of buildings. Every neighbourhood has its charms and its flaws.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Day of Light Snow

Snow on the Grasses

A gentle snow fell most of the day yesterday transforming the landscape. While the local winter carnival could not take place the way it was planned (no outdoor skating rinks), the day was salvaged by the once-again winter atmosphere.

Local Winter Carnival

The "sleigh" had wheels and had to stick to a paved path, but youngsters loved the idea anyway. I'm not sure about the horse - that was quite a load to pull!

Gazebo in the Snow

New snow muffles sounds bringing a sense of tranquility.

Fresh Fallen Snow

Each branch, each long dead flower, each ornamental grass was decorated with pristine white. New delights to enjoy as I walk.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Under Wraps

Under Wraps

As our balmy winter continues, these bushes stand wrapped up against the ravages of snow that hasn't come. They stand in a row, like children lined up by their taller teacher. As they wear their winter wear, I shed my heavier coat for a lighter one and walk with a spring in my step in shoes.

February 6 and no appreciable snowfall in the forecast.