Friday, 30 March 2012

A Delightful Gesture

These musicians were playing on the street a couple of days ago and I snapped a bunch of pictures. I didn't know what the pics looked like until I got home and downloaded them. When I saw this one, I was really tickled. I love the way the one guy is up on his tiptoes - what a happy gesture. And the other guy has such a big smile. Delightful!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Budget Day Demonstration

Today was Budget Day for the Federal Government of Canada. Along with many of my fellow civil servants, I took part in a noon-hour demonstration to tell the government that we disapprove of cuts to services that help Canadians. This is my friend Kristen, showing her "Standing Together for our public services" sign.

There were quite a few demonstrators taking part. People have often asked me what it is like to be a civil servant right now, at a time when the government has been saying it will bring in a lot of cuts. My answer is that it has been rather stressful, but most of the time I am too busy at my job to think about it. However, it felt good today to stand together with my colleagues and let the government know that we oppose cutting services that are important to Canadians. After about half an hour, the demonstration was over and we all went back inside and back to work.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

City Bunny

Downtown Ottawa seems to be full of bunnies. I have often seen them in parks and green spaces when I have been walking around. They even hop across the lawns on Parliament Hill. I saw this bunny quite recently in a tulip bed in Major's Hill Park as I was walking home from work. I tried to get close but he/she was very wary, stopped munching on tulip bulbs and stared at me as I approached.

I zoomed in as best I could, but this picture is a bit fuzzy and the bunny looks almost impressionistic. A minute later, he/she took off and hid under a nearby bush. I wonder if there is a whole rabbit condo under there full of city bunnies, getting ready for a night on the town where they hop around from one jumping joint to another!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Some Colour on a Grey Day

After a week of weather more suitable to July than to March, we returned, last weekend, to the kind of cold grey days usually associated with this time of year. Although it was blustery and unpleasant, I went out to check on my garden and was pleased to find some delicate little crocuses peeking through here and there. They presented such lovely splashes of colour on an overcast day.

They were tiny but cheerful since I know they will soon be followed by larger flowers like tulips and daffodils. So they are like brave scouts, preparing the way for the less hardy masses of flora to come.

I also checked on the llamas who live on a farm down the road from my place. There were only a couple of them outside, perhaps because it was not a very nice day. But I did manage to get a picture of this guy. 

He (or she?) was very curious and watched me as I walked along the fence, trying to get a good photo. So I thanked him for posing as I left and said, "Goodbye Mr Llama. Hope you have a great day!"

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Reflections in Still Waters

The Ottawa River near my home in the country was so calm late this afternoon that it was like a mirror. I was enthralled with the amazing reflections and had to take some pictures. It helped that the clouds in the sky were interesting, like shredded paper.

There are many farms and houses along the river and they were all perfectly reflected in the water. 

This is the ferry that crosses the river between the Quebec shore and the Ontario shore. The splashes of red on the ferry docks and their mirror images in the river look so intense against the watery blue background. 

The sun was beginning to set and I managed to get this picture, which looks almost like a Rorschach test. The mirror-image clouds were incredible. Wow!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Posing for the Camera

People take pictures all the time, everywhere, these days and cameras are ubiquitous. I was watching these girls taking pictures of themselves in the plaza in front to the National Art Gallery today. They all crowded around the one girl holding the camera far enough away to get everyone in, and they posed together, leaning in, arms around each other. It was fun watching them, and so I had to take a picture!

It made me think of how people pose for pictures. Some people like posing - they are natural models. And some people do it under duress, it seems. This is a photo I took of my late husband Peter, on a beach in Prince Edward Island, about 17 years ago (I think). Peter was never fond of having his picture taken so he decided to ham it up and lifted this hank of seaweed in the air, just to make sure it would not be a "serious" picture.

Then there are people who love fooling around in front of a camera. This is my brother Paul in a park somewhere in Toronto, many, many years ago. He is a good photographer himself, and when someone else takes his picture, he often likes to mug for the camera.  

Sometimes there are props to encourage people to pose for the camera - like this cut-out frame where Peter and I posed with Sir John A. at a Canada Day festival (about 20 years ago maybe). 

This is definitely the pièce de résistance. It was taken in a park in British Columbia so many years ago, I don't want to remember. My sister Marilyn is on the right and I am on the left. The statue just made one want to pose beside it - so we did. How wonderfully silly!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Unusual First Day of Spring

We are having some of the strangest weather for March 20, the first day of Spring, that anyone can remember. The mornings are cool-ish, about 7 degrees Celsius - then it goes up to 25 degrees in the afternoon and is, quite frankly, more like July than like March. When I walked across the Alexandria Bridge in the morning, there was a wonderful, ethereal mist floating above the river and hovering around the sides of Parliament Hill. The Parliament Buildings looked like Gothic ruins emerging from the mist.  

The building where I work seems to be having trouble getting the air conditioning going and it was very hot inside. In the middle of the afternoon, the power went off and the employees had to be evacuated from the building. We were all sent home early - hooray! I desperately wanted to cool off so I got a cheap pair of flip-flops to wear for my walk home.

When I finally got to my apartment, I changed to summer clothes and sat out on my balcony to cool off. Ahhh! That's better! What a strange start to spring!

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Pleasures of an Early Spring

On Sunday, the temperature was nearly 20 degrees (Celsius) above the seasonal average for this time of year in Eastern Ontario. Like everyone else in this part of the world, I spent a glorious day outside, looking in wonder at how fast the winter was retreating and spring was establishing itself. A week ago, my garden still had a couple of feet of snow and ice on it. This weekend, I was excited to find these little crocuses emerging there. This is unprecedented for mid-March!  

I opened my studio for the first time in months. It is unheated so I can't use it during the winter. But this Sunday, I was able to spend a couple of hours there, cleaning up and preparing for some projects. I checked the thermometer at one point and it was 35 degrees inside. Almost too hot to work!

The Canada Geese were constantly flying overhead, honking and flapping in their V-formations. I saw many dozens of them in the space of about half an hour.  

They were heading for the Ottawa River - a pit stop on their way further north. The river is open now, with a channel down the middle and some ice on the edges rapidly breaking up and floating away. 

It was a fabulous day. If this is what an early spring is like, I'll take it!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

An Amazing (and Delicious) St. Patrick's Day Treat

On St. Patrick's Day, I went to dinner chez my friends, Bonnie and Greg. Dinner was scrumptious and for dessert, we were treated to a cake brought by another guest - Ronna. This cake was a fabulous creation with big pieces of green and white chocolate around the outside. 

When it was cut, the inside of the cake revealed the same green and white swirls that were on the outside. At this point, Ronna and I were both taking photos. Ronna has a great blog and a facebook page called Ronna's Cakebook. It is worth the visit to see her cakes, which are fabulous works of art.

The cake was as delicious as it was beautiful. Yum! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

In the National Late at Night

The National Art Gallery of Canada in Ottawa usually closes at 5 p.m., but tonight there was a special screening of a wonderful art work called The Clock by Christian Marclay that runs for 24 hours. I had already seen this show once (I blogged about it on February 13th), but I decided to view it again. This time, I thought it would be fun to see it late at night. The Gallery feels very different at night - rather spooky and echo-y.

When I got to the exhibition room for The Clock, I found that there was a long line up to get in. It is a very popular show and, despite the fact that it was late at night, many people wanted to see it.

So I got in line with everyone else and proceeded to wait. I felt like I was in a Woody Allen movie, listening to the conversations of the people around me. 

I had lots of time to look at the ceiling, which has these graceful decorations. They look like flying things.

There were other interesting things to look at while I waited. On the wall beside me, there were artworks displayed from the Gallery's art classes for children. I really liked this one, which was made by a 12-year-old child. Wonderful!

This one was very special too, I thought. It was done by a 2 1/2 year-old. Other people in the line were also photographing these charming art works. 

After a wait of nearly an hour, I was admitted to the exhibition space to see The Clock. It was worth it! It really is a marvelous show and I was totally captivated by it for a couple of hours. All in all, a truly cool experience - being in the National late at night, seeing a great show, and finding lots to look at while I waited.  

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

It's Rubber Boots Time!

We have been having a lot of rain lately and so I have been wearing my Wellies when I walk to work. These are my "city boots" and they get me through all the puddles and melting snow on the sidewalks and streets. 

By contrast, these are my "country boots", which I wear when I am at my home in the country. They are much humbler than my city boots and I wear them when I am digging in the garden or just generally slogging through the mud and muck in my yard in the spring. In other words, they are real working boots, whereas my city boots are just for walking.  

I notice that, in the city, Wellies are a kind of fashion item, like the ones this woman is wearing. 

Or like these bright pink ones or tall black ones these people are wearing while shopping. They seem to be particularly popular among young (i.e. in their 20's and 30's) people. 

It's great to see all the different styles and colours of boots you can buy these days. Love the flowery ones! 

Aren't they fun?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Signs of Spring

This time of year, I like to search out the various signs that Spring is imminent. We seem to be having an early one this year, so I am finding many of the signs earlier than usual. For example, in the Spring, the restaurants along Clarence Street in the Byward Market in Ottawa start to put out tables and chairs and construct outdoor patios for diners. This generally happens in early April, but I discovered today that the tables and chairs were already out. It was overcast and not all that warm - only +10 degrees Celsius - but there were many people sitting outside - like this group, who were enjoying a meal and the mild weather.  

Across the street, these women were also relaxing in the outdoor patio of a restaurant. I noticed that they were wearing only very light clothing. Meanwhile, I was marching around in my winter jacket and scarf. It is hard to know what to wear in this weather. I saw some people wearing shorts and t-shirts today while others were still wearing heavy coats and hats and boots. 

And, inexplicably, just a few feet down the sidewalk from outdoor dining areas, there was this big pile of snow. All the snow for blocks around had melted and this pile looked so incongruous. I wonder how it got there!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

A Visit to Two Handsome Donkeys

Today ( Sunday) certainly felt like Spring had arrived. It was sunny and warm and thus a perfect day for a visit to a couple of donkeys I know. Oh yes - and the people who live with them - my friends, Mac and Brenda. Other friends, Tim and Frankie, were also visiting the donkeys today. We walked down to where the donkeys were happily awaiting us.

And here they are - Donald and Bob. Donald is in front and Bob, who is a bit shy, is hiding behind. 

Tim often visits Donald and Bob and brings them treats. Here he is feeding Donald. 

And then Bob, making sure they both get goodies. 

We went inside for a tête-à-tête with the boys. Brenda and Mac gave Donald a pat..... 

.....and a hug. 

As I said, Bob is a bit shy, but Tim seems to know how to bring him out of his shell. 

As we left, I took one last parting picture. Aren't they handsome boys?