Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dinnertime

Pesto

Garlic is a flavour I love. And garlic with basil is even better. Tonight's dinner was pesto: pasta, small scallops and lots of lightly cooked vegetables - all coated with pesto. Very tasty!

Salad

A side dish of salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing rounded out the meal. Life is good.

Who Thought of This Lighting

Who Thought of this Lighting

I love to walk through Old Montreal, with many buildings from the 19th century. Many are carefully lit at night to show off the architecture. This one feels like a horror house, with its red lighting. Instead of enhancing, it detracts.

In Old Montreal

I much prefer the the way this building is lit. One has a sense of its elegance.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Westmount Square

Westmount Square

Westmount Square, a  four building complex (2 apartment towers, an office tower and a lower rise building) was designed by the architect, Mies van der Rohe. In some ways I like the clean lines and the way the buildings seem to float on the ground floor lobbies (see below).

Westmount Square II

There is a shopping concourse underneath. Some years ago, skylights were added, breaking up the marble walkways outside. Although it is nice to have some natural light inside, I am not a fan of changing the architectural integrity.

My parents lived in this building in the 1970s for about 5 years. My father was a building developer and he loved feeling he was living in a building designed by an architectural icon. They moved out, not because they didn't like the building, but because the gentleman upstairs had insomnia and would play his piano above my parents' bedroom at all hours of the night, pounding his feet on the floor. Unfortunately he was a friend of the owner of the building so complaints did not get very far.

Etched on the Sky

Against the Sky

My blog-friend, "Stardust" wrote a post where she compared each season to different art (etching, watercolour, oil painting). I loved that notion of winter as etching. The trees are exposed, revealing the finest details of their skeletons. The landscape is reduced to black and white and greys (though not on the bright, sunny days).

Bare Trees

I walk through the park and admire this scene as though in an art gallery, astonished at the exquisite work and skill of the artist.

Thanks Diane Hammond for the info

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. 
— Stanley Horowitz 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

An Odd Winter

Bright Blue Sky

It's been an odd winter, much warmer than usual. As you can see bits of grass have been uncovered by a mild day with rain. While our neighbours to the south deal with massive snowfall, here our winter sports equipment languishes for lack of enough snow. I love the sunny days (though there are many cloudy days forecast with light snow followed by more rain)  - crisp and bright. As I walk I see many smiles.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Orchids

Pink Orchid

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that I love orchids. There are many reasons for this. Of course their beauty comes up as number one. The complexity of the blossom pulls me in; I love these veins and the intricate centre. I feel almost meditative as I focus on each bloom.

Orchids have a connection to me to my late aunt. She always had orchids in her home. She taught me that when the orchids finished blooming, she would just put them near a window behind some furniture. Eventually they would bloom again.

Dark Pink Orchid

It's impossible not to like a plant that keeps giving. Both these orchids are re-blooms. I have 3 others that are flowering at the moment and others at their dormant stage. The one just above has been a real surprise. It sent up two branches well over six months ago and had about 16 blooms. As they started to fade it produced more buds at the end of each stalk. As the first flowers were falling off, another five opened. Now it has done the same thing again with more flowers appearing.

While once I thought orchids were difficult to grow, now I they flourish through my benign neglect. They have at times been over-watered and under-watered; I do not keep a schedule. They flourish despite differing amounts of light as long summer days turn into short winter ones. My only problem - I have too many and no space for more. I hesitate to throw any out, yet my eyes always linger on orchid displays in stores.... just one more?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The City at Night

City at Night

Not my best photograph - but I was not sure what else I would get - and a photo a day creates a bit of pressure. I must remind myself that when I embarked on this I promised myself I could skip days. I was on my way to an evening of Pot Luck and Shakespeare. This is a group of people who get together and read through a Shakespeare play. The pot luck (aside from the food) includes picking the role(s) you will read from a pot. Last night we read King Lear.

I like to take the route over the mountain as I am treated to vistas of the city. I stopped at the lookout (no I didn't snap this while driving so I can't use that as an excuse for the poor focus) to snap this on my way.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Recent Reading

Recent Reading

I've been in a book group for 20 years. We have had our share of winners and losers but we seem to be on a better streak. The last book we read was "How to Be Both" by Ali Smith. It was a very interesting read, both in terms of the story and in the way it was written - two partly intertwined sections which can be read with either section coming first.

I'm just getting into "The Garden of Evening Mists" and so far I am really enjoying it. I find the writing very lyrical. I've watched a couple of video interviews with the author, Tan Twan Eng. It's interesting to hear some of the back story and see how the places he has lived play a role in the book.

Our group is idiosyncratic - we have been together so long and have supported each other through the many challenges life sends us. At this point we are friends first, and a book group and support group in equal parts.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Squirrel Restaurants

Albino Squirrel and Friends

We went for a walk up on Mount Royal. The squirrels were feasting at the Squirrel Restaurants - areas under the bird feeders. While above, chickadees and nuthatches flitted back and forth from nearby trees to the feeder, underneath the squirrels gathered in numbers. I had not seen an albino squirrel before.

Underneath the Feeder

There were a number of these "restaurants", each with a very satisfied clientele.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Here are the tomatoes that go with all the basil I featured earlier. I appreciate that they are not long distance voyagers, unlike the majority of vegetables we eat this time of year. They are grown in greenhouses right in Quebec (for those of you reading this who are not from Canada - that is the province I live in). I have to read labels carefully as the majority of the tomatoes this time of year are from Mexico, even when they are packed by local distributors. These were quite delicious!

Keep Him Warm

Keep his Head Warm

I love public art and this sculpture is one of my favourites. Seeing the hat on this fellow made me smile. I loved the idea of people interacting with the sculpture in a playful way. He could probably use a scarf as well. Public art should be enjoyed (though not graffitied).

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Scent of Basil

Basil

The scent of basil - just brush against the leaves and the aroma fills the room. I bought a live plant and it is growing rapidly. It makes demands. If I don't water it every day it droops down forlornly. I have been plucking off leaves and eating them with bocconcini and tomatoes with a bit of dressing. The taste is as intoxicating as the smell. I am going to have to use it more frequently as it keeps expanding and demanding.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Looking Down

From the 25th Floor

After a day of sitting in a conference, I went up to a colleague's room on the 25th floor of the Chateau Champlain Hotel. This was the view. The building with the dome is the Cathédral Reine-Marie-du-Monde - the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Montreal. Behind it is the Sun Life Building (I've written about it before). To the right, the tall building in the shape of a cruciform is Place Ville Marie, another landmark that has been featured on this blog.

In the Distance

In the other direction we could see Habitat 67 (the building that looks like it was made with separate blocks near the river) and the nearby mountains. Fun to see the city from this vantage point.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grapes

Grapes

Prices have gone up precipitously for some fruit and vegetables in Canada as our dollar plummets. This time of year so much of our fresh produce is imported and the dollar just does not go as far. I cannot resist my little tastes of sunshine - oranges, grapes, berries - perhaps in smaller quantities. They are a great antidote to the plummeting temperatures.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Read a Chapter and Get Hooked

Metro Library

Lire Vous is a clever way to get people hooked on books (mainly French books). These large signs are in a number of metro stations.

 You can download a chapter to read on your mobile device. Then if you like it, you can either find out which library has it (both ebook and print versions) or you can buy it - ePub or print version.

I see more and more people reading on the metro with phones and eReaders. As someone who has never been good with reading while in motion, I just people watch - is that another form of reading?


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Looking at the Past

Looking at the Past

I was headed to a recorder lesson, but got there early, so I strolled through the neighbourhood. There are many murals giving us a glimpse of the past. I felt like one of the ghostly red figures peering in as if through the mists of time.

Mural in Lachine

I only had time to capture a few before I went off to my lesson - another way of peering through time as I am playing early Italian baroque music, trying to understand the style, the rhetoric and hopefully, bringing a bit of the past to life through music.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Many Coats of Winter

Winter Attire

Living in a cold climate has its complexities. One coat is never enough for winter. These belong to just two people and on certain days, there may even be others used. For the colder days and long walks, the green coat (Kanuk good to  -30°C) is perfect. It is longer and quite cozy and the hood stays in place without covering my eyes. The red coat is my spouse's equivalent.

When out in the car, the purple one is great. It is not as heavy and is shorter. It is also my choice for snowshoeing - with waterproof pants. My spouse wears the ski jacket.

For those rare occasions when I feel like being elegant, the black, cloth coat is the choice. It is not as warm and, as I wear it rarely, it will last for decades (it is already well over 10 years old). My spouse uses the beige coat as he can fit a sports jacket underneath.

Winter can be expensive, with garments for every kind of weather, but it is all about dressing for the weather, not style, so these coats are worn year after year.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Whimsical Seesaws

Seesaws

In the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal there is this delightful installation - a series of seesaws. As you balance up and down, the light illuminates on the downward side and a tone is emitted. Tones change depending on the height reached.


Seesaws3



And UP

Up
and
Down

SeeSaws2

It was great fun to watch the action of people of all ages.

Down at My End

But that was nothing compared to joy of playing on them. My inner child popped out along with gales of laughter. It was nothing like the dreaded days as a child when someone would inevitably try to make you drop rapidly to the ground resulting in a most uncomfortable landing. On this seesaw I felt like I was floating. The accompanying tones added to the delight. It was easy to forget about the winter cold and play!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Too Cold to Sit

Too Cold to Sit

I love sunny winter days - there is something energizing about the combination of cold and  sunshine. It was not a day to sit and sunbathe, but walking was a delight. With the right layering of clothing I was toasty warm. And the sun just lifts everyone's spirits.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Monte's Chocolates

Monte's Chocolates

Over the years I have been privileged to have the friendship of Monte. We have played music together for almost 30 years, both in each other's homes and in Flutissimo (a recorder orchestra). Along with music, one of his passions is making chocolates which he does every year and then shares with his friends. He makes a large variety, from chocolate dipped orange rinds to clusters of nuts and dried fruit, chocolate covered biscuits, chocolate-coated almonds and his own variety of turtles. And even chocolate covered halvah.

Ready to Open

Several years ago, he came to my place and we made chocolates together. He shared his "secrets". I tried making them once more on my own, but did not have the finesse of Monte. His friendship has been a treasure. The chocolates are just a bonus!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Boggle and Chocolate

Boggle and Chocolate

We love playing Boggle - but by our rules. We don't use a timer and we play in two languages - English and French. We often try to get creative with language and the dictionaries are there to back us up - or not. My spouse worked in French and reads French newspapers daily; I read a lot of books. As a result we each have a very different store of vocabulary. My French vocabulary has expanded since playing as has my spouse's English vocabulary.

Games are interspersed with squares of dark chocolate - sometimes 80%, sometimes with mint and sometimes with ginger. I can't supply the chocolate - but I can offer you a chance to play.

Your Turn to Play

Now it is your turn to find some words. Only 4 letter words and longer are allowed in "Big Boggle". Have fun!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

And Then the Sun Came Out

The Sun Came Out

The weather has been distinctly not winter-like. Rain fell most of the day and when there seemed to be a pause we went out for a walk.  As we were walking the sun came out for a brief period, casting its golden rays on this school. As I write this, it is raining again.

Snowshoeing is not in the near future!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sad Snowman

Sad Snowman

This poor snowman is in a state of decay. The rain has been falling lightly, but much more in the forecast. Its time will be short.

Behind it is Westmount Conservatory, another sad story. Early in the autumn one of the glass panels fell from the ceiling (learn more here). As this is an old style green house, it takes special craftspeople to fix it. So no winter escape to this oasis. I shall especially miss the spring flower exhibit which usually opens in March when snow is still on the ground. I am sure the city will get it repaired, but it will be a long costly process.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Potential

Potential

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows I love orchids. Their complex blossoms fascinate me. They last so long. The fact that they re-bloom is a huge bonus. This orchid has been dormant for quite a while but these buds will be opening soon. They are the gift that keeps giving.

Just click here and you will see some of the many posts I have devoted to orchids.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Temptation

Temptation

A trip to the market always is fraught with temptation. I managed to walk past and only feast with my eyes. My bags were full of healthier victuals.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Another Day Out Snowshoeing

Long Shadows

Even early in the afternoon there are long shadows. My legs look like a pair of tree trunks!

Through the Trees

Winter opens new horizons. As we snowshoed on the summit in Westmount we could look down on the city right to the river. No curtain of leaves to obstruct the view.

Snow Lining

The snow outlines the branches, bringing the natural sculpture to one's attention. With temperatures just below freezing, it was a perfect day to be out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Double Duty

Double Duty

This store is doing double duty. In warmer seasons it is an ice cream shop, one that is very hard to resist.  While my mind knows a visit there is unhealthy, my feet are happy to lead me there. Now it is not just an ice cream shop but also a winter accessories and more  store. You can buy a fur muff (all furs are recycled) along with your double scoop. It's odd to see the hats perched on top of the freezers - but maybe the cold ice cream entices buyers to buy something cozy to hear in the winter months.

Bilboquet
Harricana

Monday, January 4, 2016

Walking in Winter

Winter Walk

A perfectly cold day but great for a walk. All it takes is knowing how to dress. Layers definitely make a difference. I was snug in my

  • boots and wool socks
  • long underwear and jeans
  • camisole, long-sleeved jersey and sweater
  • winter coat, neck warmer, hat and mitts

Chill in the Air

The thermometer said -17°C (1.4 F) with the wind making it "feel" colder, but I was warm and energized by the bright sun.

The Tree is Decorated

Colours popped against the bright blue sky! I'll take a cold winter day in the sun any time over grey rainy days. It was glorious to be out.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Wedding White

Fresh Snow

The city is dressed as if for a wedding
Dabs of fluffy white icing
Decorate the branches

Dressed in White


Each tree is dressed in its finery

Cinderella's Slipper<

Did Cinderella pass this way,
 Losing her slipper as she left the ball.
I saw no sign of the prince
Perhaps he danced off with another

Huddled Together

Meanwhile these bushes huddle
Half dressed in rough burlap
Half in their winter coats of snow.

The city is transformed into a land of fantasy.