Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Ahead

Cheers

Photo: December 31, 2016

I would like to dedicate this year of blogging to Allanah King who challenged me to participate in "a photo a day" for 2016. It has been a challenging year for her and I have followed her photos through which she shared her trials and tribulations as well as her ever positive outlook. So to Alanna - I wish you the best of health and a happy 2017. But no 365 this year!

New Year's Eve is a night traditionally associated with resolutions. I prefer to think in terms of goals. Resolutions seem so all or nothing - you succeed or fail to keep them. A goal is meant to be revisited, tweaked - it is a journey which can have detours, ups and downs and even once reached is only a reason to set a new goal.

So I continue on my journey with the goals of
  • keep working at healthy eating
  • play more music
  • walk or exercise daily
  • make time for friends
  • make time for photography and writing (but not a daily assignment!)
  • And take time - to be in the moment

Contemplating

Can I say I have kept resolutions over the years? No. But if I look over the years, I have certainly moved on my way to attaining goals.

Looking Back

Candles

Photo: December 30, 2016

The year is coming to a close - a time for looking back for reflecting.

Some highlights of the year

  • the many occasions to play music with others
  • the many concerts I attended - music feeds the soul
  • travelling to Newfoundland
  • enjoying each season and the beauty each offers
  • travelling to Waswanipi
  • study groups at MCLL
  • stopping in the moment as I focus through my camera lens
  • friendship
  • walking - you notice so much more at that pace
  • connecting with #CLMOOC
And following through - 365 days covered - one more to go. It feels good to complete a task I set for myself.


Flickering

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Snowy Day

Snowfall

Photos: December 29, 2016

Snow falling, gently throughout the day. It brings a sense of silence.

Snowy Street

Streets, cars, trees - all are slowly covered with snow.

Discarded

And this tree, now discarded, its short-lived season of glory over, lies under a duvet of snow.

Shopping

Shopping

Photo: December 28, 2016

I am not a shopper. If there is anything that can put me in a bad mood it is trying on clothes. I tend to speed shop and sometimes regret my purchases. I think this trip was more successful. I did not find a turtle neck jersey, a long nightgown not in a synthetic fabric, a small pitcher for milk (I broke my nice glass one) nor the pesto without cheese. But I did get a new winter jacket to replace my 15+ year old jacket. I notice the improvements built in - fleece around the neck so the zipper doesn't rub, a pocket for a cell phone, a pocket on the sleeve (for keys? tissues?), a hood that does not slide over my eyes. Now with snow in the forecast, I hope to take it on a "test drive" with my snowshoes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking for a Hand

Give me a Hand

Photo: December 27, 2016

It's that time of year when bushes, poles and fences seem to sprout gloves and mittens in every size, shape and colour. These two are looking for their owners. I hope they will be reunited with some cold hands. I have a theory about gloves and mittens that the more expensive they are, the easier they are to lose. I always have a hard time getting rid of my singles, always being sure that as soon as I do its mate will miraculously appear.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sunrise

Morning Sky

Photos: December 26, 2016

Sunrise seemed to say a beautiful day awaits, but this was quite deceptive.

Pink Clouds

Beautiful pink patterns in the sky seemed to herald sunshine, but that was quickly quashed.

Snow, then rain, then freezing rain turned the city into a skating rink. This is the weather I hate as it leaves only the miseries of winter - no snow to play on, unsafe walking conditions and just the cold and greyness. Bring on the snow, Mother Nature!

Afternoon in Winter

Sliding

Photos: December 25, 2016

The temperature has created rather icy conditions - enough for fast sledding. A number of children were taking advantage of the hills to enjoy the swift downhill descent. Climbing up was more of a challenge as boots tried to grip the slippery surface.

Out Cavorting

A number of squirrels were out cavorting. They seemed to find food in the crusty snow.

Finding Food in the Snow

They have little fear of humans as they stayed nearby in case we carried food for them. The rules say - no feeding the animals, but I am sure some people ignore that.

Low Sun

I love the light in the afternoon, low on the horizon. It outlined these trees...

Dry Grasses

and made these grasses glow.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Snowy Day

No Shortage of Christmas Trees

Photos: December 24, 2016

Part of the parking lot at Atwater Market is taken up by the Christmas trees waiting to be sold. There are plenty left for last minute shoppers. This year it is definitely a white Christmas with new snow falling.

Snowy Deer

A herd of birch deer stand waiting  - will someone give one a new home?

And the Snow Falls

These trees look as if they have been decorated for the season. The bright red fruit are surrounded by white garlands.

Snow Fallen on Spruce

No need to decorate - Mother Nature is busy with her own way of adding to the holiday season.

Wishing all the best in this holiday season. May the light from the many holidays celebrated in this dark time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere) light the way to peace, tolerance and respect around the world.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Moments

Music in the Metro

Photos: December 23, 2016

Life is made up of moments - so often we are so preoccupied we miss them. Photography makes me more aware of these moments - to stop and capture them. Capturing does not have to be with a camera - it can just be taking the time to notice. As we walked through the metro station we heard this trio of musicians belting out a song. Though we did not stay long, the spirit of the music stayed with me - a moment to change a mood.

Lights of the Season

Christmas Tree

Photo: December 22, 2016

Some days just don't lend themselves to photographs. On my way home from having my hair cut I snapped this quickly. A little light to brighten up the long nights.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Pet Peeve

In a Cafe

Photo: December 21, 2016

I met my son for breakfast at this newly opened cafe. I liked the feel of the place - but I came face to face with my pet peeve - a television. The sound wasn't on; music in the cafe had nothing to do with the images on the screen. My eyes kept being drawn to the movement and the colours. Why do so many restaurants feel the need to put a TV (and often a large one) as part of their decor. This cafe advertises that it has no wifi, no plugs - how does a TV fit into that philosophy? The coffee was great; food was fine. Would I go back? Yes - but I'll make sure my back is to that visual irritation!

Crossing

Crossing

Photo: December 20, 2016

It was not quite a night for unicycles. We crossed over to Tohu - a performance space for everything circus. The programme for the evening was a performance by Les Sept Doigts: Reversible. They combine theatre, dance and circus acts - juggling, performing on hanging silk, leaping through doors, windows and hoops, spinning hoops... It was entertaining and it was interesting for me to see the space at Tohu for the first time. Fun on a frosty evening.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Poinsettias

Poinsettias for Sale

Photo: December 19, 2016

I saw these poinsettias for sale at the local supermarket - their vibrant red colour attracted my eyes. Alongside were some white poinsettias. They looked slightly yellow, like too old paper or white clothes in need of bleach. No pop of pure white nor saturated colour - they sat there looking tired. I did not bring either home. I like plants that re-flower and bring me surprises.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Bit of Whimsy

Orchids and Whimsy

Photos: December 18, 2016

This time of year needs a bit of whimsy - as the darkness descends early I try to surround myself with things that make me smile. My orchids are cooperating nicely, with five flowering and two more on their way. Too add a bit of colour I have my collection of finger puppets and stuffed animals which I change with the seasons.

Seasonal Stuffed Animals

Some I bought; others come with memories of who gave them to me. This bear who thought he was a snowman is one. He never fails to make me smile.

Winter Penguin

I have always wondered why people associate penguins with Christmas. They certainly live nowhere near the North Pole. But still, I like this jaunty character. These are my little antidotes to the short days. And soon the solstice will be passed and the days will slowly lengthen.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Bit Milder Weather

Popcorn on the Branches

Photos: December 17, 2016

As temperatures rose, the snow began to fall, clinging to branches like popcorn. It was good to walk a little less encumbered - one layer less!

Enjoying the Warmer Weather

The squirrels were out cavorting - chasing each other up and down the trunks and along branches.

Living on Kindness

These bushes often sing with the sound of these birds. They are very skittish and fly off the moment someone is near. The drying leaves let me glance at them and the temptation of the food that had been left encouraged this one to reveal himself.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cold Weather

Brrrr

Photos: December 16, 2016

I woke up to fairies dancing on my window. They seem to love the cold weather! The morning sun chased them away, but the cold lingered with a high of -16°C (around 3°F). But it was one of those perfect winter days.

Crisp Cold Weather

The sun shone; there was no wind and with sufficient layers it was glorious to be outside. As to the layers...
  • underwear
  • hat (fur inside over the ears)
  • camisole
  • long sleeved jersey
  • sweater
  • scarf
  • tube (neck warmer that can be pulled up to cover part of the face)
  • long underwear
  • jeans
  • wool socks
  • coat with hood
  • warm winter boots
  • warm gloves

It's a bit unwieldy at times, but I was toasty warm as I walked. 

Eating Out

Teriyaki Chicken

Photos: December 15, 2016

A cold night at the start of a couple of days of bitter temperatures - we went out for dinner before going to see a film of the live performance of No Man's Land.  It was good to warm up with soup and a hot meal before walking half a block in the icy wind. Teriyaki chicken for me.

Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki lamb for my spouse. The play, by Harold Pinter featured Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. It was at times humorous, at times a bit sinister and at times very poignant.

I quite enjoy going to the "events" films. I have gone to a number of the "In the Gallery" presentations as well as theatre events. While I can't always travel to where these things are happening live, it means I can at least see and experience via film.

An Afternoon of Music

Harpsichord Keys

Photos: December 14, 2016

There is nothing like an afternoon of music - playing it, that is. Music transcends language and age. I play sometimes with a mother an son - the mother on harpsichord (keyboard pictured above) and the son on violin. We sightread through trio sonatas. My harpsichord friend has a big library of music and she selects the musical menu for the day. Telemann is one composer we play often.

Violin

In baroque times composers would write for a variety of options regarding the instruments, so a piece may be for violin or flute or ... We make liberal use of options as the violin sometimes plays an oboe line or flute line.

Recorders

I, in turn, play oboe, flute and violin lines on my tenor recorder. We play for a couple of hours, share a pot of tea and chat and then play a little more before I head home, my head full of music.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Back on Snow Shoes

Back to Snowshoeing

Photos: December 13, 2016

The last couple of winters have not been good for snowshoeing. Two were too cold or too icy and last winter we did not have enough snow. This winter has started well, with a nice layer of fluffy snow. We have vowed to get out more often as long as the weather co-operates. Our first venture - just up in Summit Woods was not a long one, but it was delightful to be in the woods in the stillness.

Natural Sculpture

It was not a great day for photography. The light was very flat - no definition to what we were seeing, but I liked this natural sculpture. The woods are kept as natural as possible, with fallen trees left where they landed (unless they block a path). Our meandering through the woods meant stepping over a number of snow covered trunks. The next few days the polar vortex will be bringing frigid temperatures but then more snow is expected. It looks like a good start to the season.

Fresh Fallen Snow

In Westmount Park

Photos: December 12, 2016

Winter has really taken hold. Fresh snow has fallen brightening everything up. Even on a dull day, the snow adds delight. Branches are outlined; evergreens look like they have been dabbed with frosting.

Walking in the Park

Sounds are muffled (though it does not feel like it during the night when the snow plows pass). There is a sense of peace and wonder.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Recorder Concert

Before the Concert

Photos: December 11, 2016

The recorder orchestra that I play in, Flutissimo, gave a concert. We have recorders of all sizes to produce a variety of voices. Although we do have soprano recorders (the ones most people learn in school), they only form part of the instruments we play.

Some of my Recorders

These are some of my instruments. In this concert I played on six different instruments, depending on the piece. It is one of the aspects of playing recorder that I enjoy. You get to play different lines and experience being anything from the lowest to the highest voice. Sometimes I like the feeling of being the bass (my largest recorder, seen here is a bass in C - the lowest note is C below middle C on the piano). Other times I like playing the top, especially in baroque music where the top has a more challenging part.

In Renaissance music the voices are often equal and then it is fun to play any line.

We play a variety of music from medieval to contemporary. A couple of players in our group enjoy arranging music that was originally written for other instruments, for our group. Most music for recorders as a consort instrument (all recorders) was written in medieval and renaissance times. In the baroque era, the alto was often used as a solo instrument or with other instruments (harpsichord, oboe, violin...). We play baroque music that was arranged for a recorder group. With the growth of concert halls, the recorder fell into disuse. Orchestral instruments were adapted to sound louder in the bigger halls.

In the middle of the twentieth century, the recorder came back in fashion as people became more interested in early music. In addition, a  number of contemporary composers have created works for recorders both as a solo instrument and with other recorders or other instruments.

I have a number of recorders - each serves a different purpose or repertoire.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Back to Winter

Sun Up Ahead

Photos: December 10, 2016

Another walk on Mont-Royal, this time in wintery conditions. The polar vortex has brought chilly temperatures to Montreal. My petunias on my balcony lasted until the 9th but are now giving up as below freezing temperatures last throughout the day.

Stump

The sun's light is low on the horizon as we approach the solstice. As winter settles in we can already anticipate the days slowly getting longer.

In the Woods

In spots the water flows swiftly down the side of the mountain, resisting freezing despite the chill.

Everything is Freezing

In other spots, the slow drips slowly turn to icicles. We northerners know how to dress in this weather. I enjoy the energy the cold can bring and the brightness the snow adds. It is the darkness that is the less enjoyable part of the season.

Going Up to the Mountain

And as we come down from Mont-Royal, another winter pleasure is getting back to a warm home and enjoying a hot drink. Lots of winter to come as La Nina promises a more typical winter than the one we had last year.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Abandoned

Not Amused

Photos: December 9, 2016

This large lion sits at the bottom of a stairwell, no longer guarding the antique store. He and his partner once sat proudly at street level by an antique store. When the store moved they, too moved, down into this stairwell guarding the new location. That did not last long.

Not Amused II

The store moved once again, morphing into a flower shop and there was no room for these majestic fellows at the new location. So they sit, abandoned. No one to brush the snow off their manes, no one to make their way down the stairs in search of treasures. They seem to be scowling at their fate.