Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rain Today

Drips and Drops

Steady rain all day. After a delightful concert by Les Songes I walked in the rain. Drops hung on branches like little jewels.


Montreal has many underground passageways joining buildings but also letting people get to the metro without having to go outside. It let me have a respite from the rain. I'm always delighted to hear some classical music being played in public spaces. This violinist, I discovered plays both classical and pop (rock?) as well as world music. You can hear her playing with Nomad'Stones.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Flowers

A Patch of Yellow

It's so delightful to see splotches of colour after winter. I know the spots to look for them.


This is one of the first spaces to burst into colour. The garden faces just the right way and the building's foundation protects it from the wind. I walk past, as if on a pilgrimage to see these blooms.

White Crocuses

I don't understand the appeal of white spring flowers, although I have to admit, their pristine white looks nothing like white of the soot soaked snow of the city.

Squirrel in a Tree

This fellow followed me for a bit in the park, posing. I think he was hoping for a handout. He looks like he weathered the winter well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Everything Maple

Pure Quebec Maple Syrup

It's that time of year - when the days are warm and the nights are cold - the sap runs. Did you know that Canada produces 71% of the world's maple syrup and of that, 91% comes from Quebec? I recently read that maple syrup is being investigated as a possible preventative for Alzheimer's.

Everything Maple

I was shopping at Atwater Market. This stall, which sells all kinds of maple products, is located outside all winter. I bought some maple butter - a decadent spread. Maple syrup on yogourt, on pancakes, on French toast or added to a recipe instead of sugar. Maple-flavoured syrup will never find its way into my home - only pure 100% maple syrup.

Monday, March 28, 2016



I've had this brooch for a long time. It is made entirely of old watch pieces - a perfect example of reuse. I used to wear brooches often when I was teaching. They were always conversations pieces - an entry point for a student to start a conversation. I wear them less often, now.

Brooch 2

This one was a gift. I don't wear it often as it is rather large for my short stature, with the dangling chains. I do like it - I'll have to find a reason to put it on. I like the idea of parts of one thing finding new life as parts of something new.

Another Concert

Big Strings

Photos: March 27, 2016

Every day is a good day to listen to (or play) Bach. His music is so uplifting, so complex, so spiritual, so inspiring... There are so many adjectives I could add to describe his many works. Salle Bourgie is featuring all his cantatas, by many different groups over eight years. Read more here. These strings were ready for two cantatas written for Easter.

Coming onto the Stage

This performance was given by Ensemble Caprice, one of Montreal's many wonderful early music ensembles. I have followed this group since they first started performing in Montreal and have known many of the musicians both through their time at CAMMAC and through their Montreal musical offerings, both on the teaching side and performing. One of the artistic directors, Sophie Larivière is also the director of Flutissimo (the recorder orchestra I play in).  I loved her solo yesterday on baroque flute. Yesterday's performance was glorious. How can you go wrong with Bach?


City Ducks

A surprise on my way home. While this may look like a lovely pond for ducks - it is actually a drainage area - a catchment to help avoid flooding in a very urban surrounding area. These ducks seem to think it is a great place to stop. I hope they don't decide that it is a great place for a nest.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Walking on Mont-Royal

Stump in the Forest

A perfect day for a walk - with the sun shining and the temperature rising.


While the city sidewalks are fairly bare, snow still lingers on Mont-Royal.

Spring Runoff

You could hear water rushing as the melting snow found its way down the hill. Sounds of chickadees, a woodpecker and the call of a crow accompanied our walk.


You could smell the arrival of spring

Perfect Blue Sky

Under a perfect blue sky. Joggers in shorts, walkers, cyclists and even a cross-country skier - all were out enjoying the sunshine.

Patrolling Mont-Royal

These Montreal policemen were patrolling the mountain. Not a bad assignment - a slow ride on a sunny day seeing all the smiling faces enjoying the spring weather.

My House Guest

My House Guest

Photos: March 25, 2016

My daughter needed to get out of her apartment for a few days while repairs were being done on her floors. She moved in with this charming feline. Ania is about ten years old. She was found by a friend of my daughter, under the stoop of a house, cowering, as a small kitten. This friend asked my daughter if she could keep her for a night while they tried to find a home for it. Well.... ten years later, she hasn't left yet. She was a tiny kitten, about 5 weeks old according to the vet who checked her out. We already had two cats at the time who had the run of the house. Ania became the basement cat, sharing my daughter's basement space.

Ready to Play

They both moved out eventually; so have I, selling the house a few years ago. My two cats are long gone so it was delightful to have a cat around for a while. She enjoyed our play sessions, but now is back on her home turf. I can't have cats here (my spouse is allergic) on a permanent basis, so my few days with this house guest were purr-fect.

Friday, March 25, 2016

And Winter Returns

A Bit More Winter

Photo: March 24, 2016

March is a fickle month, flirting with both winter and spring. Yesterday the weather seemed to change each hour with snow followed by ice pellets followed by freezing rain, all stirred up with a good dose of wind. But spring is winning out. I've peeked ahead at the weather forecasts.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Springlike Day

Ice on the Branches

Photos: March 23, 2016

A springlike day melts the last of the snow and ice off the trees. It is just a respite at this up and down time of the year.

Spring Melt

The snow is slowly filling the lagoon with melt off - providing a mirror for the sky.

A Bird in the Bush

The bushes harbour feathered creatures. Sometimes they are hard to spot - their singing seems to emanate from the branches themselves. Spring is in the air.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Preparing for a Web Event

Preparing for a Webinar

Photo: March 22, 2016

Part of my dossier at LEARN  (along with my colleague KT) is to organize, host and archive a series of web events: webinars, panel discussions... They are often broadcast from my home. My setup includes three computers: one for the presenter, one to record on using Camtasia and one for me to come into the event as a participant so I can easily participate in the chat. It takes a bit of juggling but it is doable. Now all that is left is to edit the archive and post it.

More of the North

Stained Glass in the School in Waswanipi

Photos: March 21, 2016

I just loved this stained glass mural in the Waswanipi elementary school. The sun was streaming in. Part of the school curriculum is given in Cree. There is a strong attempt to instil Cree values in the children

Street Signs

You hear Cree speakers in the area and in Waswanipi itself, all street signs are in both Cree and English.

Power Lines from James Bay

After a day of giving workshops we headed back to the airport. Here is another glimpse of the many stretches of power lines cutting through the area.

On a Dash 8

Almost home. It was a long tiring day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Work Trip

Air Creebec

I flew on this plane up to Chibougamau with a colleague. We had a gorgeous view the whole way - with this perfectly clear sky. The star is where we started and the area outlined in black is where we went.

This area is the southernmost reach of the Cree villages. We were on our way to give a workshop to the teachers in Waswanipi, a Cree town with a school run by the Cree School Board.

Frozen Lakes

We flew over many frozen lakes, surrounded by forest.


It was obvious where the forestry industry had been busy.

Boreal Forest

The area around Chibougamou, Chapais and Waswanipi has mainly black spruce. These are tall thin trees with relatively short branches.

Power Lines

This area is not far from the James Bay Power Project. Power lines criss-cross in many places carrying the electricity south.

Tall and Lean

It is still winter in this area. Night time temperatures still often drop to the -20s Celsius (below 0 F), though the daytime highs can reach just below freezing.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Benches in the Sunshine

Benches in the Sun

I like the rhythm of lines - maybe it is from reading so much music - I can picture notes running up and down, playing a soundtrack to the sunny day. Patterns, repetition, modulation, turning the theme around as the shadows echo and change the melody.

Spring is Slowly Coming

First Flowers

Almost there. These are the first crocuses I have spotted. They are in a protected, sunny spot. Shoots are poking up in many gardens. Spring is early this year.


While the day started with some new fallen snow, it ended with snowdrops. I cherish these early blooms - growth after the sleep of winter. The change of seasons brings magic.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Reflections on Buildings

Building and Reflections

There is something interesting to me about how reflections change a building's surface. You don't quite know what you are looking at - the building wears the facade of another building on its walls. Which is the real surface?

Across the Street

Like a giant mirror, this building plays tricks - which of these are reflections and which are part of the building itself? Walking down this street can be a bit Alice in Wonderland like - things are not quite like they seem.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Belated Happy Birthday to Telemann

Telemann Duets

My spouse and I play duets together. Telemann is one of our favourite composers to play - all his flute duets are well crafted and they provide equal challenges in both lines. I play the voice flute (a recorder in D - above) and my spouse plays the traverso, or baroque flute. It is made of wood and only has one key, unlike the modern flute. The books above represent only some of the sonatas we play by Telemann. And, though we tackle music by other composers as well, we always come back to Telemann.

Telemann's birthday was on March 14. He was an incredibly prolific composer and publisher. Many of his works were aimed at amateurs. The burgeoning middle class was the perfect target as they had the funds to buy music and instruments and the time in the evenings to play music together.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016



How different the homes of younger people are! Mine has several dictionaries, well-used. Although I do look up words online, I still love leafing through a dictionary and discovering new words. I like to find the derivation of the words (too many years of studying Latin in high school led me down that path).

We even play Boggle with dictionaries - one in English and one in French as we play our bilingual version of the game. While having the fun of playing we strengthen our vocabulary in both languages. I no longer own an encyclopedia and while I love the easy access to knowledge via the internet, I still miss turning the pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica which we had in our home when I was a child. Though the books were helpful for school projects, it was the discoveries I really enjoyed as I happened upon a topic that drew me in - discoveries made when you don't always know what you are looking for.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Morning Clouds

Early Morning Clouds

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” 
― Rabindranath TagoreStray Birds

In this case it was sunrise - a lovely start to the day.

Another Concert Another Church

Église de la Visitation

This is probably the oldest church in Montreal - there are others that may have been built earlier, but they suffered fires and were rebuilt. I wrote about it once before. Concerts bring me to many churches. The concert this time featured Suzie LeBlanc, Eleanor Frey and Esteban La Rotta who played and sang music from a manuscript Eleanor found in Como, Italy.


The concert was truly beautiful - interesting music, some heard nowhere else. There will be a recording made.

Organ in Église de la Visitation

This church organ, installed in 1990s was made by Helmutt Wolff. It replaced the original organ which dated from the 1800s, but retains many of the characteristics of the previous organ.

Stained Glass

Being in a church in the daytime lets one appreciate the stained glass windows and the play of the light on the walls.


All in all, it was a beautiful afternoon - full sunshine outdoors, beautiful music and a lovely venue to hear it in.