Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Things I Like About June #5 - Late Evening Light

One of things I love most about June is that the days are so long and the light in the sky lasts until very late in the evening. Even at 9 pm, there is still a lot of light and it is very pleasant to walk around the city. 

There are always plenty of strollers, enjoying the warm bright evenings. 

Street musicians make the brightly lit summer evenings feel like a great big party. (This guy is particularly good - he always attracts a crowd of listeners). 

People are completely relaxed. Friends hang out and eat ice cream together. 

Even at nearly 10 pm, there is still some light in the sky, but the dark is starting to fall and it is time to go home. The days are already getting shorter and soon we will notice that it is dark earlier. But for now, we can enjoy these final, beautiful long evenings in June when the light is like magic.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Winter Paintings in the Summer

This is one of the paintings that I showed at the Art Fayre exhibition in the Glengarry Museum in Dunvegan last Saturday and Sunday (June 23-24 2012). It was a lot of fun to paint and people seemed to like it - it was purchased by a woman visiting from Australia who told me she would look at it and enjoy thinking about cold winter days in Canada. Then it occurred to me that I have often shown paintings of winter scenes at art shows in the summertime.  

For example, I showed this painting at the Art Fayre exhibition in June 2011. 

This is a much older painting (1996) that I did for a show in the summer of that year. It is probably just coincidence that these 3 paintings were shown in the summer even though they involve winter scenes, but perhaps when it gets very hot, the thought of really cold weather offers some relief. In any event, they were fun to do and I hope to paint more snowy scenes in the future.   

Monday, 25 June 2012

Art Fayre 2012

This past Saturday and Sunday, the 23rd and 24th of June, artists and art lovers congregated for the annual Art Fayre show at the Glengarry Museum in Dunvegan Ontario. 

Inside, there was lots of wonderful art. I had three pieces in the show but - alas - I don't have good photographs of them. However, I was very pleased that two of my pieces (a painting and a drawing) were purchased. 

This was a fabulous piece by my friend, Brenda Kennedy, called "Twelve Talking Hearts". The mouths are bottle caps. Very whimsical. 

Outside, there were some wonderful sculptures, like this amazing little bear by Gerdine Van Woudenberg

There was also music, supplied by my talented friend, David Kelleher. 

As with all gallery openings, there was plenty of great food to add to the festive atmosphere.

All in all, a wonderful day. I can hardly wait until the next Art Fayre in 2013!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

One Needs a Hat On a Hot Sunny Day!

It was soooo hot today (34 degrees Celsius) that I was reluctant to leave my nice air-conditioned office after work. When I did leave, I thought the least I could do was protect my head from the sun beating down, so I decided to buy a hat. They were on sale, 2 for $15, so I ended up buying 2 hats! Then I couldn't decide which one I wanted to wear.  

As I was walking across the Alexandria Bridge from Gatineau to Ottawa, I saw my friend René. I showed him my new hats and asked him which one he liked, and he picked the lighter coloured one with sea shells on the brim. I asked René to take a picture of me in my new hat, but then a woman walking past offered to take a picture of me and René together. I like the resulting photo. As you can see, René and I are both wearing our hats for protection on this hot sunny day. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Things I Like About June #4 - Roses That Are Beautiful Even When No-one Sees Them

June is the month when roses bloom, and thank goodness for that. They are such beautiful flowers, with their bright colours and their glorious scent. But lately I have been noticing roses blooming in places where very few people, if any, will see them. For example, this rose bush is blooming in some waste land beside the fence for a construction site where people are unlikely to stop and admire them. They were probably planted years ago when the area was quite different, and they are still there, faithfully putting out their flowers.

These roses are among some bushes beside a parking lot, and seem to be completely wild and untended. I have often stopped to admire them, but most people just park their cars and rush off to their business, oblivious to these pretty little gems.   

This beautiful rose bush emerges from a patch of weeds near a house that looks rather spooky and abandoned. The rose bush looks abandoned too, but carries on blooming nevertheless. Oh well - I appreciate the show!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Summer Walk

This past Saturday, I went for a long walk with my friend Holly in Voyageur Park, which is just east of Hawkesbury Ontario. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. Walking through the woods brought back all sorts of memories of summer days when I was a child and walked in the woods around my home town of Kenora. 

Occasionally, we stopped to admire some gorgeous views of the lake. I love the way the sunlight filtered through the branches and the way the trees framed our view of the lake. Doesn't the water look inviting? 

This fallen tree looked very sculptural with all the branches snarling around. 

After a while, we came out into an open area where people could launch their boats. It was so calm and clear here. 

At the end of our walk through the woods, we stopped to buy some ice cream in the park store and sat on a picnic table on the beach. Holly was watching the people swimming as she was eating her ice cream. 

I rarely eat ice cream, but it tasted just perfect on this summer day. I had the cookies-and-cream ice cream. Yum!

There were many people swimming and I wished I had brought my bathing suit. But it was fun just to watch them as we ate our ice cream. All in all, it was an idyllic way to spend a summer afternoon.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Things I Like About June #3 - Childhood Memories

There is something about this time of year, when the days are long and the school year is coming to a close, that brings back memories of being a kid. I remember on June days when I was child that I would get up early, gulp down some breakfast, go outside to play and not come back in until supper many hours later. Lunch and snacks were eaten outside so as not to interrupt our games. There were lots of other kids in our neighbourhood and we all played together and our parents didn't worry about us too much - how times have  changed, with all the structured activities for children these days and parents needing to know where their kids are at every moment. In this photo, my brother Paul and I are standing in front of the lilac bushes beside our house, where we built forts and constructed whole imaginary worlds.

The town where I grew up was on a lake in Northwestern Ontario. Many of my childhood memories involve time spent near the water, swimming, riding in boats, just hanging out. Much of the shoreline was granite rock, which was great fun to climb on. Every day was so free and easy - it is such a pleasure to remember those June days of my youth. 

(Note - this post was inspired by a conversation with one of the followers of my blog, who told me that he really likes the posts with old photographs from my childhood. So this is for you, A - hope you like it.)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Things I Like About June #2 - People Enjoying Life

In the warm and sunny days of June, people let go all the cares of winter and learn again how to really enjoy life. They go outside and run around on the grass in bare feet and play games like children. It is as if they have returned to the garden, even if only for a little while. I saw these people playing with hoops in a park and was enchanted by the lovely picture it made, like a summer tableau! 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Things I Like About June #1 - Peonies

Peonies are one of my favourite flowers, and June is the month to enjoy them. They have such extravagant big blooms and their scent is heavenly.

Peter planted 3 Peonies in our backyard 20 years ago and they are still there, putting on an amazing show every June. Right now, they are loaded with buds and many fat lush blooms. I think one of the reasons I like them is the fact that they require so little care - they give and give and I can just sit back and enjoy. My kind of gardening!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Dancing In the Street

Some ominous-looking clouds were starting to roll in and I was hurrying along the Sparks Street Mall, on my way home after dinner out with some friends. I wanted to get to shelter before it rained, but then I heard music in the distance. 

As I approached, I saw a whole group of people dancing in the street to some great Latin American music from speakers nearby. I just had to stop and watch for a while.

I have no idea why they were there but they were having such a good time, twisting and twirling around. Sometimes the music slowed down........

....then it picked up again and the dancers whirled and turned faster. Many of them were very good dancers and I was impressed by their skill.  

I was having as much fun watching them as they were having dancing. But shortly after this, the sky got even darker and the thunder started to rumble, so I had to dash off. As I left, I thought about the pleasure that life's little unexpected surprises can bring, such as finding people dancing in the street.

There's Something About a Rainbow

Rainbows are not rare phenomena, but they never fail to fascinate me when they appear in the sky. I saw this one yesterday evening and I rushed out to my balcony to take some photos. It didn't last long and faded just a few minutes later. Maybe that is part of their appeal - they are so ephemeral.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The End of a Stressful Day

For the past couple of months, I have been involved in a very stressful process at my work. I am one of the civil service employees that have been affected by federal government cutbacks, and I had to enter a competition for my own job. Today, I completed the final step in this multi-stage process when I had a job interview. Afterward, I was very tired and it was pleasant to walk home in the evening and enjoy simple, beautiful things - like the sight of these geese swimming across the river.

The Ottawa River was calm and pretty this evening, and this tour boat looked so tranquil on the water. 

Later, as I passed by the park, I saw this little girl concentrating intently on something. Love her pink dress and the gesture of her hand.  

When I got back to my apartment, I put my chair out on the balcony,.................

 ..........and put my feet up and savoured a lovely glass of wine.

Later in the evening, I was rewarded by the sight of this dramatic sky. I even saw a rainbow, but it was impossible to photograph. I am grateful for these gentle pleasures after a long and difficult process. I have to wait for about a month to find out if I will still have a job, but in the meantime, the stress has abated and I can enjoy such beauty again.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Encounters with Wild Critters on the Weekend

This past weekend, I had a couple of interesting encounters with wild animals. The first happened when I was driving along a country road near my place. I saw something on the road ahead and slowed down to see what it was. 

It was a Snapping Turtle and I decided to pull over and park on the side of the road to get a better look at him, or her (probably a mama, looking for some place to deposit her eggs). As I was standing there, taking pictures, some other cars came along and, when the drivers saw the turtle, they pulled over too and got out to take pictures. Snapping turtles are amazing creatures - very primitive-looking with their long necks and claws and thick tails. All the humans who stopped were enjoying taking pictures and chatting about how big he/she was and what a cool thing to see this wonderful creature. 

My second encounter happened when I was driving along a highway and was turning off onto a road to the town of Hawkesbury. There, among some bushes and weeds near the road, was a moose. Wow! Again, I pulled off on the side of the road and got out to take some pictures. 

This moose was very young - probably born this year. There were lots of people who, like me, had pulled their cars over to the side of the road to get a better look and take pictures. We were all amazed to see this beautiful creature. Where had it come from? Where was its mother? The poor moose was in a place too close to the town and an industrial park and lots of busy roads.  

 I kept taking pictures but it was hard to get a lot of good ones. The moose was constantly moving, strolling along, probably wondering what the heck all these strange people were doing stopping their cars to get out and point their cameras at him. Finally, he trotted off into some tall bushes out of sight and I got back in my car and left. I hope both the moose and the turtle are okay and managed to get back into some wild place where they could be safe.