Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Favourite Autumn Ritual

In the Autumn, everyone I know gets busy preparing for the coming Winter. There is lots to do inside and outside the house and with our cars, ensuring that we will be ready when the bitterly cold, snowy, icy Canadian winter weather arrives. But one of the things I like to do in the Autumn has more to do with the Spring that will eventually arrive. Every year at this time, I buy bulbs - tulips, daffodils, crocuses - to plant in my garden, knowing that they will be the first flowers I will see six months from now.

This Sunday was quite rainy but I cleaned my garden of dead annuals and weeds and prepared the earth for the bulbs. One beautiful red Gerbera was still blooming despite the cold rainy weather. It seemed to be watching me as I worked.

I placed this little clump of bulbs in their new home, safe in the earth, where they will sleep all winter and wake up in the Spring. I covered them over and dug more holes. It always makes me happy because it is like I am planting hope - hope that we will survive the cold dead winter, knowing that life will arrive again with the tulips and daffodils in the Spring.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

It Must Be Getting Close to Halloween

You never know what you are going to see when you are walking around the Byward Market. The sight of this car certainly stopped me in my tracks, and I had to pull out my camera and take a couple of pictures. The funny thing was that when I stopped and turned around, there were several other people behind me who all had their cameras out taking pictures too. I love the Tim Horton's cup in the monster's left hand.

I really don't know why this car was decorated the way it was. Not only did it have the monster in the trunk at the back, it also had a big spider on the roof and this creepy head and hands on the front. What a lot of fun!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Colourful Sidewalk Art

Because I had an appointment this morning, I took a different route to work. As I was walking along Wellington Street I saw this wonderful painting of an owl on the sidewalk. It was a fairly large piece, about 5 ft by 3 ft.

This is a close-up of the face of the owl. Isn't the colour great? I don't know who the artist is but the painting is similar to many Aboriginal works of  art that I have seen.

This little drawing was also on the sidewalk a little farther on. What a  beautiful design! I really appreciate the work of the anonymous artist (or artists) who created these wonderful pieces and brightened up my morning walk to work.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Amazing Flying Sky

On Saturday evening, Nature put on a beautiful display as if to celebrate the beginning of Autumn. After a day of showers and grey clouds, the sky cleared just in time for a dynamic sunset.

The sky changed rapidly, going from silky white and gold layers to fiery reds against the deepening blues in just minutes. The sunset lasted only about half an hour, but it was a nice way to say goodbye to one season and welcome another.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Almost-Autumn in the Market

The Autumnal Equinox is on Saturday, but there are already signs of Autumn in the Byward Market of Ottawa. Nothing says the beginning of Fall like bright orange pumpkins on display.

This Market vendor had a wonderful display of onions and strings of garlic hanging down. Very colourful!

And around the corner there were big pumpkins - the kind you could carve into Jack-O'-Lanterns.

This has nothing to do with the arrival of Fall - but just as I was leaving the Market, I saw this woman in a cart, with a dog sitting beside her, being pulled by these two very small horses. I had just put away my camera and fumbled around trying to pull it out again. The tiny horses and the cart were such a bizarre sight in the middle of downtown Ottawa that I really wanted to take a picture. They were almost past when I finally turned my camera on. The moral of the story - always have your camera ready!

Monday, 17 September 2012

More from the Fall Festival in Dunvegan

One of the highlights of the Fall Festival in Dunvegan is the horse parade. Festival goers line the main street to watch all the beautiful horses walking past in the parade.

Many of the horses pull carriages of various kinds, and many of the people displaying their horses wear period costumes.

Sometimes the animals in the parade are not exactly horses. These mules are pulling a wonderful covered wagon.

The horses seemed to have different personalities. Some were very quiet and obedient. These horses, on the other hand, were very spirited and looked like they just wanted to gallop down the street.

Some of the horses were quite small - a perfect size for this rider.

And some of the horses were very large. I think these are Percherons. I love their white "boots".

Some horses were pulling carts or carriages, and some were being ridden. This woman (who, I was told by my friend Brenda, is a veterinarian) was riding side-saddle. (It doesn't look like a very comfortable way to ride.)

All in all, a wonderful parade. But the hit of this year's Fall Festival came a bit later - namely...

...the fabulous, fantastic - Rooster Crowing contest! Dozens of people brought their roosters to compete in the contest.

The roosters came in all colours and breeds. They were placed in cages and pens at the Rooster Crowing contest area in readiness for the big competition. Then the judges announced that the contest would begin and the rooster who crowed the most in a set period of time would be the winner. After the clock started, about a hundred people stood quietly watching, waiting to see who would crow the most. Every time a rooster crowed, there was a cheer from the crowd. It was a rather surreal experience. I loved it!  

This rather shy fellow is named Rocky and belongs to my friends, Mac and Brenda. Alas, he was not in the mood to crow for the contest and we didn't hear a peep from him.

This is Errol Flynn, who belongs to my friend Natalie. He cleaned up in the contest and crowed lustily, several times.

And here are Natalie and Gordon, holding some of the prizes they collected from winning the contest. Congratulations guys!

(I can hardly wait for the rooster crowing contest at next year's Fall Festival.)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Going to the Fall Festival in Dunvegan

One of the best things about this time of year is going to the annual Fall Festival in Dunvegan Ontario. The festival is held on the grounds of the museum at the crossroads in the village. There were lots of people who had come to see the displays, visit, chat, have a good time. The highlight of the day was the horse parade (more on that tomorrow).

There were plenty of animals, like these sheep, that were later part of a sheep-sheering demonstration.  

Many of the people at the Festival were wearing period costumes.

There was a town crier to announce the various events during the day.

There were many antique machines on display, like this amazing steam engine that was actually working - it was used to power an antique wheat thrasher.  

And of course, there were many horses. This one was huge and we were all wondering how its owner (in the pink dress) would be able to climb up to ride him. One man beside me suggested she would need a ladder!

Musicians were performing all day. This group was terrific - playing some real old-time music. The guy on the fiddle was fabulous.

And the best event of the day was the rooster crowing contest (I kid you not!). Here is Natalie Rowe with one of her prize winning roosters - Lord Gaga. More on the rooster contest tomorrow....

Thursday, 13 September 2012

September Shadows

September has arrived, the days are shorter and summer is on the decline. I have noticed that the light is softer than it was in the hot summer months and the shadows seem to be longer in the mornings and evenings. I had fun taking this picture of my own shadow on a crisp September morning.

The shadows cast by this fence on the bridge I cross every day make an artsy patterned pathway on the ground.

I was standing at a street corner, waiting for the traffic light to change, when I took this picture of the shadow of a stranger near me. I like the way the shadows break up the space into an abstract design.

This is my own shadow again, but this time I took the photo late in the evening when I was walking through a well-lit courtyard in downtown Ottawa. My head and arm are projected on the wall while my legs and body are on the ground. It was a beautiful September evening, perfect for walking around and enjoying the sights and sounds of the last of the warm weather before the cooler fall days arrive.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Colour Blue in the City and the Country

Recently, I took some pictures in the city and the country where the dominant feature was the colour blue. In the city, blue is an electric colour that creates almost a warm pool enveloping people, sidewalks, buildings and streets.

In the country, blue is seen in the cool infinity of the sky unimpeded by buildings or towers. Sometimes the blue is found in interesting shades and variations in the clouds just before the sun sets. I find the colour blue beautiful in both places and am fascinated by the differences and similarities of these rural and urban experiences of colour.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

More From the Scanning Project - Childhood Toys

Recently, I scanned some old photographs from (gulp) over 50 years ago, and I found several that reminded me about the toys my brother and sister and I had as children. We didn't have a lot of toys - that is, not in comparison to the toys that children have today. And the toys we had were fairly simple. For example, my brother had a wonderful collection of toy soldiers and trucks and cars - all made of metal. He would spend hours setting them up and organizing them and then putting them back in their boxes. And I would be a terrible nuisance and insist on helping him!

My older sister, Marilyn, had a toy bunny as a baby. She must have been just learning to walk when this picture was taken.

And, of course, my sister and I always had dolls. I was a fussy eater as a child and my mother was constantly trying to get me to eat. But I would rather read, or play with my doll, as I was doing when this picture was taken. Behind me is my mother with my sister Marilyn on the left and my brother Paul on the right. I would love to have this doll again, and my brother's metal toy soldiers. They would probably be collectors items now, but for me they would just bring back many, many wonderful memories.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Young Mind at Work

Babies are very cute and all that, but there is something truly wonderful about watching an older child learning and thinking and developing creative and motor skills. This past weekend, I visited members of my family, including my grandsons Max (almost 5) and Charlie (almost 3). I spent time with Max while he tried some projects in an activity book. It fascinated me to watch him in deep concentration, pencil in hand, drawing something. I could just about see his young mind stretching and growing while he worked.

Meanwhile, his younger brother Charlie was more interested in romping around with Dad in the living room, squealing and laughing and pretending to be monsters. I guess that's an important part of the development of a young mind as well!