Thursday, 27 December 2012

Spending Christmas with Family

Christmas is a wonderful time to be with one's family. I was in Toronto for Christmas visiting my son and his family and my daughter and her partner. We did lots of family things together, like last-minute Christmas shopping. In this picture, my grandson Max is looking at all the people in the mall while my grandson Charlie is looking up at all the brilliant, glittery Christmas decorations.  

We also decorated the Christmas tree. Be careful boys! You are going to tangle Daddy up in the lights.

We wore Christmas hats and had a party. Here Max and Charlie are on either side of their Auntie Sarah.

We decorated Christmas cookies. They were almost too pretty to eat!

I spent a lot of time cuddling my new granddaughter, Georgia, who is not quite 2 months old and a real little doll. One of the best Christmas treats of all!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas Long Ago

This photograph was taken many, many years ago when I was a very little girl. I am in the middle of the picture, holding the new doll I got for Christmas and looking (longingly) at my brother Paul's new drum set. I distinctly remember that I preferred the drum set and would rather have gotten that for Christmas than a doll. Meanwhile, my sister Marilyn, on the right, has her foot on my leg. I put up with a lot from my sister. Ahhh! the joys of Christmas. Hope everyone has a happy one and that Santa is good to you! 

Monday, 17 December 2012

What Every Fashionable Woman Wears.....

They may not look all that fashionable, but these wonderful devices are indispensible in the part of the world I live in, with the kind of weather we have been having lately.

They are called Yak Traks, and you stretch them on over the bottom of your boots or shoes. They are amazing and give your boots real traction on the ice.

There - ready to go walking on ice such as this 2-inch thick patch on my front deck. I wore them this morning when I went to work and didn't slip once while all around me, people were sliding and falling.

We had another nasty onslaught of freezing rain last night and this morning. I think this one was worse than the bout of freezing rain we had a week ago. It created glare ice on the roads and sidewalks and walkways, like this one. It is frightening to have to walk on this stuff. But now I have my wonderful Yak Traks and I feel really secure. Fashionable or not, they are what every woman should wear on treacherous ice like this.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Carollers in the ByWard Market

We had another nasty storm in Eastern Ontario this Sunday, with snow first and then freezing rain on top of that. I wasn't happy because I had to come back to Ottawa a day early to avoid driving in the bad weather. To make the best of things, I went for a walk through the ByWard Market. Suddenly I heard Christmas carols and, when I turned a corner, there was a group of singers, standing in the cold and the blowing snow-mixed-with-ice-pellets, giving shoppers a bit of Christmas cheer. They were so brave - it really wasn't a nice day to stand outside and sing - and their songs really did cheer me up. Several other passers-by also stopped to listen. God rest ye merry gentlemen (and gentlewomen, too)!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

It Was A Moody Misty Morning

This is the time of year when we get great fluxes in temperature and all sorts of dramatic weather. This morning, we had a freezing mist that hung over everything, covering the trees in a white fuzz and hiding the tops of buildings in a grey smear.

It was a black-white-and-grey world when I approached the bridge I cross every day.

Despite the grey and damp, the ubiquitous brave bicyclists were out, refusing to give up their favourite mode of transportation. I was just happy that the warmer weather had melted most of the ice from Monday's freezing rain storm and it wasn't so slippery. But it would be nice to have some sun to chase away this foggy damp and lighten the mood of everything.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Upside-down world

The Ottawa River was so calm and clear one day last week that you could see perfect mirror images of the trees in the water. It looked like a beautiful upside-down world.  

Monday, 10 December 2012

Some Really Nasty Freezing Rain

This morning, people in Eastern Ontario woke up to find that freezing rain had fallen during the night. Everything was coated with ice, like this tree branch. The icy roads were really dangerous but a lot of salt had been spread on them, so they were just slushy when I took this photo.

The freezing rain continued to fall as I walked to work. People hid under their umbrellas and walked very carefully because the sidewalks were like skating rinks and quite treacherous.

Amazingly enough, some people continued to ride bicycles despite the weather and you can see the bicycle tracks on the ice in this photo. I managed to keep from slipping by finding patches of snow to walk on and railings to hang on to. Freezing rain is really nasty stuff - let's hope we don't have any more this winter.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Participating in Amnesty International's Write for Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights day and Amnesty International has invited people to participate in its Write for Rights marathon between Dec 7-16. This is a truly worthwhile event where people write letters to various governments to demand justice, respect and protection for human rights and an end to human rights violations. A friend of mine hosted a write-a-thon at her house and I was pleased to join in this event with several other people. We sat and wrote letters for a couple of hours. During this time, I wrote a letter to ask for justice for an unfairly convicted prisoner in Taiwan, to ask for assistance for a woman in Guatemala who was brutally attacked after she spoke out regarding water rights for her community, and to ask for a national strategy for Indigenous women in Canada who are victims of violence.

This photo shows three of the writers posing with a poster saying that we support the people of Bodo, Nigeria, whose land is being polluted by two oil spills from a Shell Oil pipeline. Shell is not addressing the problems caused by the leak to the health and well-being of the people of Bodo. This is just one of many injustices in the world today, and I feel it is important to write to governments to demand that the rights of people are upheld.  

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Holiday Tree at the National Gallery of Canada

Today, the National Gallery of Canada had a tree lighting ceremony. Hundreds of people gathered to watch this event. The tree was huge and had thousands of decorations and lights. At exactly 6:30 p.m., there was a countdown and everyone cheered when the lights came on. It was like a big party.

I had ample opportunity for people-watching. There were many children and I really enjoyed watching this little girl, who was having a good time just dancing around in circles all by herself. (Unfortunately, the picture is very blurry, but the lighting was not good in the hall.)

Meanwhile, these two young women were sitting on the floor, sketching. My guess is that they were art students.

I was playing with my camera, trying to get some decent pictures despite the terrible light, and somehow or other, I managed to get this weird effect. I rather like it - it looks like a black and white photo even though it is in colour.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sunset in a Frame

Some of the windows in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa are quite spectacular and reach from the floor to the ceiling. Recently, I was in the National and was excited to see a gorgeous sunset through these windows.

The sunset was framed by the window, appropriate for a place devoted to the contemplation of Art!

The view of the sunset in the frame of the window changed as I got closer.

And finally I was looking at the sunset through the window with no frame around it. The Ottawa River reflected the dying light of the sun and the buildings looked like black silhouettes against the sky. It was a beautiful sunset from any view, framed or unframed.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sunset on a Long Country Road

Some of the country roads in Eastern Ontario are very straight and, if one finds a good spot to view them, they seem to stretch a long, long way, off into infinity. I took this picture one late afternoon, just as I was leaving the house of a friend of mine. I was talking to another friend and she suddenly said "look", and pointed off toward the sunset. It was quite beautiful with the road glowing in the distance and the trees just black silhouettes against the fading blue sky. A gorgeous peaceful early evening in the country!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Forgotten Sketchbook

It's amazing what one can find when cleaning up. I found an old sketchbook the other day, tucked away among a bunch of old papers. I can't really remember when I did these sketches. I think I was just fooling around - none of them are finished drawings. But it was fun finding them again.  

It reminded me of the things I like to do when I am drawing - the things I like to look at and how I try to put marks down on paper to give a sense of what I see.

My interests haven't changed much over the years. I am still fascinated by gesture and drapery.

Flipping through this forgotten sketchbook inspired me and I decided to add a brand new sketch. I pulled out some felt-tip markers and enjoyed myself splashing around some colour for about half an hour. I am going to try to do more in the future - several times in the past, I resolved to do at least one drawing a day, but the daily grind has intervened and I've neglected these resolutions. Thank goodness for little reminders of what's important dropping into our lives once in a while!

Monday, 26 November 2012

And What, To My Wondering Eyes Should Appear...

...but snow! When I got up this morning, I was surprised to see the first dusting of snow on the ground. Not a lot, but enough to cover the roads and roofs of buildings and the railing on my deck. The sun was just starting to rise when I took this picture, giving a pink tint to the new snow.

The first snow is always exciting. I must admit that it is much nicer to walk on than drive on (the traffic reports this morning were full of stories of accidents). My usual route to work was bright and cheerful with the white snow and blue shadows.

It was a trifle slippery in spots and people were walking carefully. I had to dig out my winter boots this morning but now I'm good to go for the season. More snow? Bring it on!  

Sunday, 25 November 2012

More Reflections

The Ottawa River was so still recently, one calm chilly November evening as I was walking back to Ottawa from Gatineau. The city had a perfect mirror image in the water. Perhaps the cold made the water clearer and more reflective, like an icy glass sheet.

Incidentally, like other bloggers who have been told they have run out of storage space, I decided to bite the bullet and pay so I could continue this blog. I hope to come up with some new ideas soon. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to keep it going.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Like many other bloggers whose posts I have been reading lately, I have received a message that I've used up all the space on my blog for posting pictures. So this may be the end for my blog - or it may not. It has been fun and I would like to continue these random posts of my experiences and thoughts. We shall see......... 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Wonderful Afternoon Painting from the Model

This past Sunday, I spent a wonderful afternoon at the studio of a friend of mine, doing some painting using a live model. There were several painters who participated in the session and we all set up our materials and got to work.

The model was amazing. She held a pose for 5 hours (with several breaks, of course). I was delighted by the light and shadow on her face and the relaxed gesture of the pose.

I took this picture when the model was resuming the pose after a break and one of the artists, John, was talking to her. John's beautiful painting can be seen in the foreground.  


I haven't had the opportunity to work from the model like this for many, many years and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Here's to the delights of this classical way of making art!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Death and Beauty After a Killing Frost

Last night the temperature went down to minus 8 degrees (Celsius) and we had a deadly frost. This morning, as I was walking to work, I saw some plants in a vegetable garden that had been killed by the frost. Even though the leaves were limp and bowed down in death, they were very beautiful in the morning sunlight.

I believe these were lettuce leaves. They had been lush and healthy the day before, but now they were covered with a white rime and shrivelled with cold. This is a harbinger of things to come, when everything will be shrouded in a deadly white blanket of snow. Brrrr!

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Changing of the Light

After Sunday, when daylight saving time ended and we moved our clocks back an hour, I experienced a phenomenon that happens every year at this time - namely, the shifting of when it is light and dark. Last week, when my alarm rang and I got up, it was dark. This morning, when I got up, the sun was rising and it was light.

These shadows cast by the morning sunrise were delightful and it was a pleasure to get dressed and eat breakfast without needing to turn on the lights as I had to do last week.

However, the reverse happened in the late afternoon. Last week, when I was walking home after work, it was still light out. Today when I left work, the sun had already set and it was quickly getting dark.  

By the time I had reached the Byward Market area near my apartment, it was pitch black and all the storefronts and restaurants had their lights on - unlike last week when there was still an hour's light to enjoy. Oh well - the changing of the light is just one of those things that mark the changing of the seasons, which is always fascinating to watch.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A Calm Day on the Charlottetown Waterfront While the Storm Raged Elsewhere

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, while Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc on New York City and New Jersey and proceeding inland to cause problems for Southern Ontario, I was safely in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where the weather remained calm the whole time. I was there on a business trip, but whenever there was a break, I went for walks and explored the city. On Tuesday, I walked to the waterfront and discovered this lovely park with a boardwalk.

There were boats still on the water and the waves were fairly calm. The sky had a few clouds but they didn't look threatening.

It really was pleasant to walk along the boardwalk and look out toward the river.

There is something so soothing about seeing and hearing - and even smelling - water.

On the other side of the waterfront park, I saw several classic Maritime fishing boats. No one was around - the scene was so quiet and peaceful. It was very strange to realize that not very far away to the south, the coast of the United States was being hit by violent winds and powerful waves. How strange, unpredictable and amazing Nature is!