Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Hallowe'en in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

I have been in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for a couple of days on a business trip. I wasn't sure what it would be like to be in Charlottetown on Hallowe'en, but discovered that it has an almost perfect atmosphere to get in the spirit for the occasion. The downtown area is full of beautiful old buildings, just right for ghosties and goblins. For example, this is the Great George Hotel, where I stayed. It is a wonderful place and I really enjoyed my stay here - but it was fun to imagine it haunted by ghosts.

There are a lot of historical buildings in Charlottetown, the cradle of Canadian Confederation. This wonderful cathedral is across the street from the Great George Hotel. I went out for a walk today on my lunch break and saw something in front of the cathedral.

It was a Hallowe'en monster, all dressed in a long cape and a creepy green face. I asked if I could take his picture and he very kindly agreed. The Charlottetown ghosts are very friendly!

I continued my walk around the neighbourhood and encountered some more Hallowe'en creatures. They also kindly complied when I asked to take their pictures. They told me they worked in one of the stores nearby.

This carved monster statue was a few blocks away. Not really a Hallowe'en ghost, but it somehow fit the spooky, eerie mood.

The old wooden buildings, the leaves on the ground and the grey skies created a wonderful atmosphere in which I could imagine that ghosts were just around the corner, ready to fly out moaning and howling and clanking their chains. Whooooooooo! Happy Hallowe'en (wherever you are!)

Thursday, 25 October 2012


It is not often that the Ottawa River is this calm. The reflections in the water of the brightly coloured trees on Parliament Hill were quite gorgeous earlier this week and I had to take this picture.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

New Sculpture at the National Art Gallery of Canada


This wonderful new sculpture, Majestic by Michel de Broin, was recently installed on the grounds of the National Art Gallery in Canada. The piece is made of lampposts that were uprooted by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

This view is from the other side of the sculpture. I love the way you can walk around the piece and see different things when you view it from different angles.

Some of the effects of the placement of the lampposts were really interesting. Lampposts don't usually stick out at this angle. It was quite effective with the Parliament Buildings in the background (maybe a comment on the current government?)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Help Wanted. But Would You Want to Work Here?

This store window made me stop in my tracks today. There was a sign, saying "Employé Demandé" (translation, "Help Wanted"). But it didn't look like a very inviting place to work. I mean, I have heard of difficult bosses, but this looks like the kind of place where heads would roll!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Bright Autumn Day in the City, Dull Autumn Day in the Country

The autumn is well advanced and the leaves will not be on the trees much longer. Last week on a bright sunny day in the city, I walked under these trees as the golden leaves were drifting down.

In the country on the weekend, it was dull and overcast but the leaves were still beautiful and golden and carpeted the ground.

These flowers are providing the last blast of bright colour in my garden. I am so impressed that they have survived a couple of frosty nights.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Beauty At My Feet

This is just an ordinary manhole cover, which I saw as I was walking down the sidewalk the other day. It was transformed by hundreds of little golden seeds that had fallen from a nearby tree and collected in the grooves of the pattern in the metal, making it look somewhat like an oriental decoration. Isn't it amazing how beauty can surprise us in unexpected places?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Framing With Trees

Last Sunday it was very rainy, but that just seemed to refresh the colours in my garden and yard. I took this photo quickly as the rain was dripping down and afterwards, realized that I had included one of my large maple trees in the picture, like a frame on the left side. I liked the effect.

It reminded me that I had taken this photo about two months ago, when I intentionally used some trees as frames for a scene (in Major's Hill Park in Ottawa). The two pictures are different - the first was taken in the country, the second in the city; the first was taken in the fall, the second when it was still summer; the first is all foggy and misty, the second clear and bright. However, both have trees as frames for views of gardens, lending an interest to the scenes.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Vernissage at the Skelly Gallery

This past Sunday, I attended a vernissage of works by the late Freda Pemberton Smith at the Skelly Gallery in St. Eugene, Ontario.

Freda Pemberton Smith worked in pastel, which is a medium I love to use. I am always interested in pastel artists so I was particularly interested in seeing her work.

Her colours were wonderful and I was impressed by how loose but effective her drawing style was. There were also many of her watercolours on display. Altogether a really satisfying show. It got me quite inspired and, after I went home, I pulled out my pastels and paper and tried some quick sketches to see if I could get the same wonderful effects. Thanks for the ideas, Freda!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A Very Long Tibetan Horn

This past Saturday, I attended the annual Child Haven International dinner in Alexandria Ontario. This is always a wonderful event, with great food and a silent auction and a bazaar table full of lovely things to buy, like saris and shawls and earrings. All the money from this event goes to a truly worthwhile cause - the support of very poor children and women in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Tibet. At the end of the evening, I looked over and saw this young boy and his father exploring one of the items from the silent auction - a Tibetan long horn. The boy was using it like an ear horn (or ear trumpet) and his dad was making noises in the large opening at the bottom. I thought this was such a funny scene and quickly pulled out my camera to get this very fast picture.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Happy Birthday Sarah!

October 12th is the birthday of my wonderful, wonderful daughter Sarah. Here's to you, dear Sarah - hope you have a really great day.

Sarah was a sweet baby. Here she is, sitting on the steps behind her brother Brian, at my parents' home in Kenora Ontario, many years ago (I think she is about 3 or 4 in this picture). Notice the ubiquitous teddy bear.

Sarah grew up to be a great kid. This picture of Sarah and Brian was taken in the back yard of our house in Waterloo. I think she was about 9.

Always a good sport! This picture was taken at Christmas time, after the crackers had been opened. 

We have been the best of friends all our lives. This picture of Sarah (on the right) and me was taken about 22 years ago.

This is one of my favourite pictures of Sarah, taken about 2 years ago at my apartment in Ottawa. Always beautiful, always fun. Have a great birthday, Sarah - to the most wonderful daughter ever!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Moving Through Fall

This part of the Autumn is wonderful and no matter how you move through it - whether driving in a car, bicycling or walking - you have amazing vistas of intense colour displayed all around you. This picture was taken while driving along the highway somewhere west of Perth, Ontario. The drive was such a pleasure because the reds and yellows of the trees provided a visual treat around every corner.

Parts of the highway go through the rocky Canadian shield, and the colours are even better there.

Then there are the pleasures of walking. This patch of staghorn sumac and various trees is on a hillside near the Ottawa River, where I walk every day going back and forth from work in Hull.

Major's Hill Park in Ottawa has some pretty areas with mature trees and pathways. I took a picture just as a man walked in front of a bright orange tree in the distance.

Monday, 8 October 2012

What I Give Thanks For

This Thanksgiving weekend, I spent a lot of time with my daughter, Sarah, in Toronto. We decided to have one of those clichéd mother-daughter shopping trips together, going into stores and trying stuff on and asking each other, "what do you think?" and encouraging or discouraging as appropriate, and then walking around with loaded shopping bags and asking "what shall we look for next?". It really was a lot of fun. Sarah was looking for a new purse to replace her old one, which had fallen apart. I call this picture, "Sarah among the handbags."

We spent more time looking and trying on than buying, but we did get some useful new things and were happy with our purchases. Really, it was more about spending time together than loading up on new acquisitions. At one point, we took a break in a very posh little cafe and treated ourselves to a drink and pastry. Sarah had a mango cheesecake and some sort of fancy latte. Yum yum!

I spent most of the weekend with Sarah, but as I was leaving Toronto to go back to Ottawa, I stopped for a very quick visit with my son Brian and his family. It is always nice to see my two grandchildren, Charlie (on the right) and Max (in the middle). All in all, I have much to be thankful for, having such a wonderful family.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Warm October Day

We have been experiencing amazing weather in Eastern Ontario lately - so warm it feels more like summer than autumn. Yesterday, the sky was such a beautiful blue I had to try taking pictures of this cerulean marvel. I love the contrast with the red flowers in the park and the way there seem to be bands of colour as your eye travels up from the ground to the sky. 

This cloud was quite dramatic against the endless blue sky.

People were enjoying the warm weather as they walked around. I was behind this family and managed to take a picture when Mom had her hand on the back of her little girl, who was riding on Dad's shoulders, just as the little girl reached out toward Mom. One of life's gentle little moments!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Lonely Chairs

I once read of an artist who made nothing but sculptures of chairs. I can understand why - chairs have such personalities. This evening, I noticed a lot of abandoned, lonely-looking chairs as I walked through the Market. This chair was all by itself in an empty space that used to be a grocery store and seems to be under renovation. There was nothing in the space except junk and dust and this solitary chair, patiently facing the window.

These chairs looked very sculptural indeed, all stacked up at the side of an outdoor patio, waiting to be placed near tables so that people could sit in them again. Put together like this, they looked like a giant segmented insect with a shiny metal carapace.

This chair was the only one on the sidewalk in front of a yogurt dessert place. Until recently, there were nearly a dozen chairs clustered here, creating a space for people to sit and talk while they ate their yogurt. But now that the cooler weather has arrived, most of the chairs have been taken inside leaving this defiant-looking loner by itself. Oh well - at least it has an "OPEN" sign to keep it company!