Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Restaurant Closed


Photos: September 27, 2016

Le Caveau was once a favourite restaurant of mine. While it is in the middle of downtown Montreal, it maintained the charm of the past. You may look at the dusty windows and see an abandoned restaurant.  I look with a time traveller's eyes, going back through the layers to remember times spent there. It was also favourite of my late husband. We went there when we were dating. I loved the canard à l'orange.

And I remember a dinner for his parents' fortieth wedding anniversary in 1969. We ate well and when dessert time arrived his aunt was intrigued by strawberries and pepper. She couldn't conceive of that combination. The waiter arrived with a serving along with 12 spoons so we could each try it. I remember being surprised by how good they were.

The Once Lovely Le Caveau

I have not been there in many years. Somehow, after my husband passed away over thirty years ago, I stopped dining. I had two young children and the restaurants I frequented were more family oriented. But I did take my much older cousin there and we dined, sipping on our wine (something she rarely did) and enjoying the pleasure of slow eating.

This building has sat empty, a relic of the past. I wonder what will become of it. Will it be restored and repurposed or razed some day to make way for another faceless downtown building?

Crocuses in Autumn

Crocuses in Autumn

Photo: September 26, 2016

Autumn brings many delights with the changing colours. I don't expect to see crocuses, those early spring flowers. Is this a new variety or just some overly ambitious flowers ready to start spring all over again?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sunflower in the Quartier du Musée


Photos: September 25, 2016

Nothing says sunshine like a sunflower. This giant head looked down on me as I walked to a concert (Bach cantatas). Each year I marvel at the very idea that a seed can produce these giant flowers in a short season.

Sunflower Moose

Just nearby is this moose, echoing the sunflower theme. There are a number of these along Sherbrooke near the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which will shortly number four buildings in the area. This is the third incarnation of these critters; this recent coat of paint covers stripes which in turn covered some interesting quotations. The quotations were often about art and the role of art, appropriate for the proximity to the art museum. Now the moose just grin foolishly at passers-by, announcing the moos-eum sector of the city

Sunday, September 25, 2016

New Attempts at Getting Organized

My New Journal

Photo: September 25, 2016

I'm always trying new ways of getting organized. While I keep a calendar on my computer synched to my various devices, it is not a place where I want to put all the trivial details from reminders or what to buy at the store to memos to contact various people. For years I carried an extra little notebook where I could jot down things. It included post-its which sometimes moved multiple times as tasks never quite made the priority list.

I heard a programme recently which talked about bullet journals. I investigated and decided to try it out. It is a way of helping to sort out what is important to accomplish and what isn't. I set daily goals and at the end of the day assess if they were done. If not I can reassess if those goals not accomplished were important or can be let go. The journal is in transition as I am figuring out a layout and system that best works for me - there is no "right way" to set it up. Here is a good description. Some people treat their journals almost as works of art. Mine is simple with no decoration. I'm only into my first month of this method and so far I like it. And I think I am getting more done which includes time for leisure activities from setting aside time to read and practise my recorders.

Sculpture Outside the McCord Museum

Totem Urbain / histoire en dentelle

Photos: September 24, 2016

Tucked on window ledge on the side of the McCord Museum is this sculpture. It is by Pierre Granche and is titled Totem Urbain / histoire en dentelle (Urban Totem / History in lace)

Part of Totem Urbain / histoire en dentelle

Here you can see the full section of the side piece. This is a sculpture that takes time (which I didn't have as I was walking to meet someone). I'll have to go back and take in all the details.

Detail of sculpture

Here is another detail - an iconic Canadian scene with the canoe giving way to the development of farms and villages. I heard a podcast recently talking about how people no longer take time - how in museums you see people stopping by a piece of art, photographing and moving on. They end up with collections but no real experience of the work of art. We need to live in the present much more.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Concert Season Begins

Concert in a Church

Photos: September 22, 2016

The concert season is starting up and one by Infusion Baroque, a group of young musicians held theirs in St. John's Lutheran Church. Concerts take me to a variety of churches in all parts of the city. I think I have attended them in about 25 different churches; this was one I had not been in before. It is always interesting to see the interiors, some heavily ornate, others quite sparse and everything in between. And, of course, it is always wonderful to hear the music. I have known one of the members of this group since she was a young teenager; it is wonderful to see how she has developed as a musician. In fact, Alexa Raine-Wright, recently won the grand prize at the Indianapolis Baroque competition.

Organ in St. John Lutheran Church

In most churches there is an organ. This one was made by Helmuth Wolff. The church works with the music department at McGill. You can find out more here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Just Ducks


Sometimes a photo a day is just that - one photo. A walk through the park and a moment to stop and enjoy the ducks before getting my shopping done so we could eat supper.

Walk With Me

Looking Up

Photos: September 20, 2016

I try more and more to use my feet to get me where I want to go. Some days they are just more efficient, but they also allow me to slow down and notice. I often pass this church; I have been to many concerts here, including one on Monday evening, but I never noticed the checkerboard pattern at the top nor saw the light hit it just this way.

Church Door

These beautiful doors lead into decor created by Guido Nincheri. You can view the inside of the church on their site. The information is all in French.

Street Closed

Right now our city is a bit like a game of Snakes and Ladders, especially for drivers. You can climb up, but then you hit a snake and a detour leads you in another direction. A number of streets are closed in order to repair or replace aging infrastructure. As I pedestrian I found myself having to cross back and forth as sidewalks, too, were closed in places.

On the Steps

In a car I would not have spotted this profusion of potted plants. Intent on traffic, cyclists and pedestrians, my eyes would not have been able to wander to enjoy this scene and I certainly would not have been able to take time to stop and enjoy.


Each time I walk this route I notice new things. I love the wrought iron and these bright-coloured geraniums.

Another Street Closed

Another "snake" waiting to send motorists slithering into another detour.  There is often a way around these closures that don't take me out of my way. My feet do not have to respect one way streets. While I am a fairly brisk walker, walking lets me go whatever pace I wish, to stop and start, to linger or hustle past. There is always something new to see.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Stately Mansions

Old Mansion

Photos: September 19, 2016

Sherbrooke Street was the site of many of the city's moguls. Their large mansions made their presence known. This area was known as the Golden Square Mile. Times have changed and some of these buildings have met their demise at the hands of developers. In some cases they were completely demolished; in a few others the facades were kept to preserve the flavour of the street, but they are a front for large office buildings.

This mansion reminds us of an earlier time. It was once the home of Louis-Joseph Forget and was built from 1883-84. According to  information posted on the lawn, it became the Montreal headquarters of the United Service Club in 1927. In 1975, the building was bought by the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, but the club still occupies the main floor.

Mount Royal Club

Just next door is the Mount Royal Club, built in 1906.


Here is a closer look at the beautiful wood door and the elegant architectural details.

Highway Construction

Highway Construction

Photos: September 18, 2016

Roadwork is everywhere. Two of our major highways are being rebuilt, or partly unbuilt, transforming from a highway to an urban boulevard. This overpass will be lower than the current one.

Highway Construction

Eventually the whole top sections will be demolished. This adds to the chaos of construction happening on many city streets. I've been walking as much as possible - it's much easier to get around detours.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Time to Play

Strange Looking Creatures

Photos: September 17, 2016

I took a nice long walk and passed through a couple of parks along the way. It was nice to see the ways people are encouraged to play outdoors - from the very young to the old. These creatures are waiting for some young climbers. Imagine riding on the back of a turtle. Even the alligator looks harmless.

A Place to Play

All you need is a chess or checkers set to enjoy this spot. Young and old can enjoy playing outdoors.

Ping Pong in the Park

It was nice to see this ping pong table in use (and not the first time). The players looked quite intense. Our summers are short; our winters are long. These are all for warmer weather - a time when we need to embrace the outdoors.

Fall Comes to the Market


Photos: September 16, 2016

The market is taking on the distinct look of fall. The pumpkins are moving in - in every size and colour.

Autumn Colours

Mounds of mums are waiting to be bought. Cool weather flowers to extend the outdoor gardens.

Summer Fruit

Some summer fruit lingers on - wild blueberries and raspberries. They are slowly being replaced by plums and apples, or crab apples as the tree fruits ripen.

Pots of Mums

Enjoy this burst of colour. The days are getting shorter...

Harvest Moon

The harvest moon reminds us that colder weather is coming.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

On a Photo Jaunt

Cooper's Hawk

Photos: September 15, 2016

You never know what you will see when you go to Parc-nature du Bois-de-L'Île-Bizard. A friend of mine and I like to go there on photo jaunts. After a short walk, a boardwalk leads over a marsh. This visit we spotted this Cooper's Hawk. I downloaded an app when I was in Newfoundland: Merlin Bird ID from Cornell University. It is a great help in identifying birds. My friend is a better birder than I am, but Merlin came to my rescue to confirm her suspicions. There is a camaraderie among people with cameras. We saw several along the boardwalk, most with very long lenses on their cameras. Near this spot, a gentleman suggested the perfect spot to photograph the bird. He was right!

Up from the Ooze

You have to look everywhere to spot the residents of this part, in the water, on land and up in trees (or the sky). I noticed this frog hopping in the plant-filled shallow water.

On a Log

Ducks are always spotted here, whether resting on logs or swimming.


Red dragonflies were flitting around. This one posed for me. They are often too fast to catch in a photograph.

Red Dragonfly

Here's another. They seem to like the warmth of the wood.

Natural Sculpture

It's not just the creatures that are interesting. This natural sculpture sat in the water. Its reflections added another dimension.

Off in the Distance

My friend spotted this heron in the distance through her binoculars. My camera just reached it. Here it was puffing up its feathers after grooming.


Another look...

I hope to be back once the leaves start to change.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cycling in the City


Photos: September 14, 2016

Let me begin by saying I admire people who choose cycling as their means of transportation. I would not like to ride along with traffic. My cycling is limited to paths outside the city (and I haven't done that in a few years).

But now I will begin my rant against those cyclists who feel entitled. My city government is trying to make Montreal more cycle friendly. We have many kilometres of cycle paths, some protected and others just lanes demarcated by painted lines on streets. All the laws being proposed have to do with motor vehicles, none about cyclists. I do understand that if a car hits a cyclist, it is the cyclist who will be injured, but the driver will also live with the trauma. Here are cyclist infractions I have seen in the past few days:
  • driving the wrong way on a one way street
  • driving on the sidewalk
  • talking on a cell phone (not hands free) while cycling
  • my spouse saw someone taking a selfie while riding in traffic
  • going through stop signs and red lights (this is a regular one) - I know someone in another city who was hit by a cyclist going through a red light. Four surgeries later her arm is still not perfect. The cyclist just picked himself up and went on his merry way with no consequences.
  • driving through parks where there is a no bicycle sign and there is a designated bike path elsewhere in the park
  • driving while holding parcels and a cup of coffee (how will he operate the brakes?)
  • driving no hands (our city is full of pot holes - hitting one without control could be disastrous)
Then there are the safety infractions
  • no lights on a bike while riding at night and wearing dark clothes (I could be stopped by police and fined if my car lights were not on or were burned out)
  • no reflectors
  • no helmet 
  • no use of hand signals when turning
  • driving in between lanes of cars ( a law here says cars have to be at least 1.5 metres away from a cyclist, but there is no law that says cyclists have to stay away from cars)

Bixi Bikes
Bixis (bike sharing bicycles), fully equipped with front and rear lights as well as side reflectors 
There are those who just do not understand driving safety
  • being unaware of blind spots, especially for trucks - a number of fatal accidents have been caused by trucks turning right past a cycle lane after a light change. Cyclists move ahead unaware of what the truck will do. Cyclists should stop where they can see the turn signals. 
There are no cyclists "driver's ed courses". There is no requirement for a license. There is no requirement for a helmet (all drivers and passengers have to buckle up in cars for safety reasons). 

I am all for making our city safer for cyclists but some of the onus has to be on the cyclists themselves to realize that if they want to use city streets they have to operate in a safe manner and respect the traffic code! I think licensing should be mandatory and along with the license should be a booklet which explains the traffic code and defensive driving tactics. Maybe then our city could be safer for both cyclists and drivers of motorized vehicles.

Fruit Trees

Crab Apples

Photo: September 13, 2016

Fruit is ripening on the trees in the park. What doesn't get squashed under food along the path will be food for the squirrels and birds. The trees were planted more for their spring blossoms than their fruit.

Crab Apples

The crab apples are plentiful. I have to stop to enjoy the colours. I walk with my head down, picking a clean path around around the fallen fruit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Spice Drawer

Variety is the Spice of Life

Photo: September 12, 2016

This somewhat messy drawer is where we keep our herbs and spices - flavourings that enhance our food. I tend to fall back on old reliables but every so often I venture into the less used seasonings. Then there are those we use fresh: garlic, ginger, fresh herbs. The dried versions just don't have the same flavour, the same oomph. This time of year I seem to get into nesting mode - cooking and baking as if I need to fill the larder before the cold sets in. My forays to the market take a lot of will power so I don't buy in excess. I no longer have a large freezer to fill. But I will be filling as much as I can...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Many Colours of Flowers


Photos: September 11, 2016

Thanks to a photo friend on Flickr, I now know that these are lantana. Interestingly they are growing here as well as in his garden in Adelaide. I see them as a beautiful representation of diversity - how so many colours can co-exist and make one beautiful whole.

More Colours

Monday, September 12, 2016

Market and More


Photos: September 10, 2016

A visit to Wychwood Farmers Market was a feast for the eyes. Beets in every colour, fresh bright greens.


There were many kinds of mushrooms

Sushi Faces

And prepared food - everything from these unique sushis to gluten free baked goods. Chocolate, cookies, sausages, - everything fresh.

Flowers for Sale

Even flowers were featured. And then a visit to Baker and Scone.

I met my sister-in-law along with her husband and my son and we had a delightful meal together. I learned some of the back story about the film;  we updated each other on family and  reminisced about past events.

CN Tower Through The Airplane's Window

Then back to the airport for a flight home. Billy Bishop airport (on Toronto Island)  is just off downtown Toronto. Now there is a tunnel under the short stretch of water; in the past one had to take a two minute ferry ride. The views as the plane taxis to the runway are quite something. An amazing couple of days!