Thursday, 29 September 2011

Dramatic Sunrise, Sensational Sunset

Maybe it is due to the time of the year and the change of the seasons - there have been some dramatic sunrises and sunsets this week. I saw these wonderful pinks and reds and cerulean blues at sunrise on Monday and just had to run out onto my balcony (in my dressing gown and slippers) and take a couple of pictures. I am not a morning person and usually indifferent to the so-called wonders of this time of the day. But this sunrise was enough to wake me up and say Wow!

This evening, I was impressed by this very dramatic red sky as I was walking along a street in the Byward Market. I went to my favourite Chinese take-out (I didn't feel like cooking tonight) where another customer commented on the sky - he too was impressed. While waiting for my order, I stepped outside and took a bunch of pictures. It had been dark and raining, but as the sky cleared, the colours kept changing. Nature's pyrotechnics!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Memories of Paris

Back to my ongoing old-photo scanning project. I found these wonderful pictures taken when Peter and I went to Paris almost 20 years ago. We did all the appropriate tourist-y things, like taking a picture of me with the Eiffel Tower coming out of my head!

Then we switched and I took Peter's picture. He looked so serious. People didn't use cameras as much back then - this was long before digital cameras and cell phones with cameras so taking photos was a more finicky business and people just took less of them - and I think we felt more self-conscious about taking pictures.

We were very lucky one day to be able to go up to the top of Notre Dame. Me and a gargoyle just hanging out!

I think this is one of my all-time favourite photos of me. Peter and I took this trip in February so there weren't mobs of tourists in Paris. We had this outdoor cafe all to ourselves. Ahhh! the memories.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Plugged In

Every day as I walk to work and home again, I have my earbuds in and I listen to music on my iPod. And everyone around me is also listening to their iPods or their music player devices or whatever. We are all plugged in - hundreds of us passing each other every day, hearing only our own musical soundtracks, the musical backdrop to our lives.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

What I Did on the First Weekend of Autumn

It seemed more like summer than like autumn this past weekend, even though the calendar said it was the first weekend of fall. So how did I spend my time? I cut a lot of grass, a real summer-time activity, while the leaves above me were turning yellow and red and brown. Fabulous weather - I'll take it. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dimensions - a Sculpture Exhibit

St. Brigid's Centre for the Arts and Culture is a wonderful old church building in the Bytown Market area of Ottawa. Currently, the National Capital Network of Sculptors is having a sculpture exhibition there. My apartment is very close to St. Brigid's so I thought I would walk over and visit the show this evening.  

One thing about going on a Thursday evening - it was quiet. Several of the artists were there and a few other visitors besides myself. I asked a couple of the sculptors if they would mind it I took pictures and they were quite agreeable. I liked the feeling of the room - walking in with all the white sculpture stands and some pieces standing on the floor. It was like a maze wandering around among them.

This piece ("Balance 16") by Edna Lemyre is a lot of fun. I like the penguins!

I really liked this little bear by a sculptor named Patrick Imai. He and I chatted for a while. He told me about different kinds of stone and how long it takes to carve them and polish them. It is a lot of work!

This beautiful glass piece is by a sculptor named Eiko Emori. Very delicate.

There was something quite compelling about this ceramic sculpture ("On the Bench") by Sandra Marshall. Great expression in the boy's face.

One of the sculptors was doing demonstrations of stone carving. I told him not to work too much more on this piece because there is something so interesting about the roughness of it. The colour is great. Talking to the artists at this show reminded me of one of the typical characteristics of sculptors - at least, all the sculptors I've known - and that is, they are always so passionate about the materials and the process. 

The show at St. Brigid's continues to September 25. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Clothes when I was a kid

As I've been scanning old photographs, it occurred to me that the little girls in these pictures are often wearing dresses and skirts. Like this photo for example, with me on the left, my mother, and a girl named Lucille Smith I considered my best friend at the time (this was taken sometime in the mid to late 1950's). We are all wearing dresses, but it wasn't any special occasion, it was just everyday. If you looked at pictures of little girls today, how likely would they be wearing dresses or skirts? Were dressy clothes more common back then?

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Horse Parade

Yesterday, I wrote about the Fall Festival in Dunvegan Ontario. The highlight of the Festival is the Horse Parade, and here are some of the photos I took of this event. Like everyone else there, I lined up along the main street to watch and take pictures as the horses passed by. 

Some of the horses were large and some were small. Some were brown, some grey, and some were black or white or other horsey colours. There were dozens of entries in the parade and those of us with cameras were busy clicking away.

The carriages pulled by the horses came in all shapes and sizes. Some were very old - original antique buggies. Some were new like this wooden wagon. 

The horses had different personalities. This one was very spirited and seemed to be enjoying itself. Other horses were more stately when they walked. They were quite beautiful to watch.

And some were not horses at all. This conestoga wagon was quite different from the rest. 

Toward the end of the parade, there were some horses who were not pulling carriages but had riders instead. I liked the combination of the horse and the woman in period costume of this entry. Also, I noticed that horses walking along the route by this time were encountering the - ahem! - leavings of the horses who had already passed by. It was interesting to see that the horses later in the parade carefully avoided stepping in these "deposits". Probably a survival thing - I imagine it would be slippery! 

I am not a big fan of parades and I am not a "horse person". But I must admit that if one is going to watch a parade, a horse parade is the best. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Dunvegan Fall Festival

This weekend, I went to the Fall Festival at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan Ontario. The weather was perfect for it - sunny and warm. There was a parade with lots of pipers piping. More about the parade in tomorrow's post.

Hundreds of people wandered around the grounds of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, visiting the exhibits and participating in events. Many people wore period costumes. 

Music was played all day by different groups and performers. Lots of great foot stomping old-time music. The building behind houses the oldest bar in Ontario (at least, that's the claim they make). The bar was open and I bought myself a beer - great on a warm afternoon in the country. 

Artisans of all kinds demonstrated their crafts. I talked to this spinner, who is a member of a group that gets together regularly to spin wool and make beautiful clothing and afghans and other things. She invited me to join the group and learn how to spin. I was fascinated by the process.

Since this is a pioneer museum, there were lots of antiques on show (of course!). I really liked this display. Some great old records were playing. 

The smithy was open and the blacksmith was giving demonstrations. He invited young people to try hammering the hot metal - and gave them some instruction and a little help!

It wouldn't be a fall festival without a zucchini contest or two. These were the entries for the heaviest zucchini. My friend Bonnie won this contest. Her zucchini, on the far left, weighed in just under 12 lbs. Congratulations Bonnie!

There was also a contest for the best decorated zucchini. I liked the creature with all the toothpicks, looking like a porcupine or spiny anteater. 

And of course there were lots of animals. These sheep were waiting for the sheep-shearing demonstration. He "baahhh-ed" at me a couple of times. 

The costumes were great. This town-crier walked around the festival, ringing his bell and saying "Oyez, oyez", then making announcements for things like draws, or the parade, or whatever. 

This young woman's dress was very pretty. 

I managed to snap a very quick photo of this woman and her daughter. They looked like they had stepped out of the past, except for the plastic bag. What great costumes. What a nice day!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Noticing Things

I have walked around the Byward Market hundreds of times over the years, but every so often, I notice something that I haven't seen before. Like this sculpture, which I saw late this afternoon, high above the rooftops. I was trying to figure out what it is supposed to represent. There is a flying woman balancing a ball or something on her hand. And what the heck is the winged creature beneath her? At first I thought it was a flying seal. But I guess it is some sort of bird? With a very thick neck? Strange.

This - thing (whatever it is) - is also up high, hanging from the ceiling in the Market Building. Again, I have walked through this building many, many times and never noticed it before. It hangs up there above the people in the food shops below. It appears to be a rather globular cloud of melting ice cream, with people poking out the top. One man is dangling what looks to be a plucked chicken over the side. And I am really not sure what the other people are doing. More strangeness.

Rounding a corner, I saw this wonderful unintended conjunction of images of two men with great big smiles on their faces. They seem to be sharing a joke. It made me smile too!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Women Posing With Cars

What is it with getting women to pose with cars? I remember when all the ads for cars used to feature a beautiful woman posing beside them. And it seems my dad imitated this by taking a picture of my mother posing beside the car whenever he bought a new one. During the course of working on my photo scanning project, I found several pics of my mother standing beside some new car - like this one, where she is standing beside a 1950-something Mercury. 

Here she is again, standing beside another car. I think this photo was taken a year or so later. 

Flash forward many years - the tradition continued with a new generation. Here is yours truly, wearing a really ugly denim jumper (it looks like a big sack), posing beside the 1974 MGB that Peter and I owned about 20 years ago. It was a great little car and we had a lot of fun bombing around in it. Ah, the memories! I guess as long as people continue to buy cars, men will take pictures of women posing beside them, for some strange reason or other.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Warm Autumn Night in the City

Although it is getting dark earlier, the weather has been warm so that it has been pleasant to go out for a walk in the evening in the city. Many other people are also strolling around. Some of the buildings are very brightly lit, like this one.

Other buildings loom out of the night, like this one, and have a mysterious air. People sit out front in the warm darkness. 

The pubs are still doing a roaring business, especially since vacation is over, students are back and people like to meet with friends they haven't seen all summer. I think everyone feels that the really cold weather will be coming in just a few months and we have to enjoy this while we can.

On my way back to my apartment, I saw these people in silhouette walking along this brightly lit sidewalk. It looked so quiet and peaceful - like everyone was going home after their evening out, all the restaurants closed and the bars shut, and it had a sort-of empty street, echo-y feel to it. A classic city scene!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Some Wild and Crazy Autumn Tableaux

A drive in the country at this time of year can reward one with some fun sights because many people have set up autumn tableaux in honour of the International Plowing Match that will be happening in two weeks. But when I saw this tractor-and-driver displayed beside the road somewhere between Vankleek Hill and St. Eugene, Ontario, I came to a screeching halt. I had to get out and take a closer look. Usually, these tableaux feature straw scarecrow-like people, but this one had an old store mannequin in it. I can imagine that at one time this mannequin was used to show off suits in a store window somewhere. Now he is a bit the worse for wear (note - one of his arms is just a rolled up plastic bag in a glove) and he gets to wear old clothes and sit on a tractor. Oh well - maybe he likes his new career!

Further down the road, this tableau featured a woman sitting in an old buggy. She was so eye-catching, with her styrofoam head painted with big red lips and her old clothes stuffed with straw. I especially liked her hat.  

This tableau was a bit more conventional because the guy sitting in the chair is made of clothing stuffed with straw and his head was made of cloth with a face painted on it. The whole set-up was really impressive because the house was just a two-dimensional facade, like a stage prop. But the outhouse on the left was an actual little building (I wonder if it was still in use?). I liked the sign between the door and window that says "The Hill-Billy's" - not sure if the spelling was a mistake or intended, but it suits the subject.

This scarecrow ploughing was part of a larger tableau with many different characters. But I like the big happy look on his face as he stands there with his plow. 

This tableau takes the cake for being a bit freaky. It features the usual scarecrow-like guy wearing old clothes leaning against a piece of farm equipment. But the dead tree behind has a face on it with just eyes, a nose and big lips, all in white. This tableau seems to have more to do with Hallowe'en than with autumn. Weird but wonderful!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Found Treasure

When I was sorting through some old documents recently, I found these two pieces of drawing paper with characters inscribed on them. They were both done by Situ Jie, a sculptor from Beijing who stayed with me and Peter at our home in the country for several months back in the mid-1990s while Situ Jie and Peter worked together on some sculpture projects. In the evenings, after a long day of work in the studio and then dinner, we would sit and talk and exchange stories. One evening, we started to talk about written language and Situ Jie illustrated some of the things he was telling us about Chinese writing by drawing these characters on paper. I have preserved this piece of paper ever since. I think it is a beautiful work of art in itself.

Situ Jie also drew this on some paper using my chalk pastels. I have forgotten the occasion but also preserved this piece of paper. It was nice to see these again after many years.