Monday, 30 July 2012

Music in the Streets

On summer nights, the Byward Market area of Ottawa is like one great big party. People are everywhere, in the restaurants, shops, or just walking around. And there is always a lot of music - on street corners or in the restaurants and pubs. One evening recently, I saw this man on a sidewalk playing flamenco style guitar. He was amazingly talented and an appreciative crowd had gathered to listen to him..

Most of the pubs and restaurants have opened their windows and sometimes removed the walls that divide the inside from the outside. This makes it easy for people walking by outside to listen to the musicians playing inside - the music just spills out into the street. These two men were playing in a Scottish Pub and were a lot of fun to listen to as they cracked jokes between songs. 

This young woman seems to be entranced by the musician inside this Irish pub. You could almost say she was hanging on every note!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hiding in Green Shady Places

Today was another stinker of a hot day. It went up to about 30 degrees celsius and it felt even hotter out in the sun. I went out to my studio in the afternoon to work on some drawings and made sure to walk in shade wherever I could. This path between two of my flower gardens was fairly green and cool.

There are a lot of overgrown trees and weedy patches between my house and studio and it is nice to be able to walk through them. After being out in the blistering sun, it is impressive how the temperature drops several degrees as soon as I enter the shade of these trees. 

I am working on a series of drawings right now that show scenes of sunlit water with dark shady trees framing the view. When I took these photos today, I realized that the theme was the same - brightly lit areas in the distance framed by dark bushes and trees.  

My studio was very hot inside and I could only work for about an hour before I gave up and walked back to my house through this patch of green shady woods. 

Then I enjoyed sitting in one of my favourite places - this deck on the shady side of my house under a tree. Ahhhh!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Ottawa Locks At Work

Sometimes, I get to see wonderful things on my daily walk to or from work. Today, as I was walking across the bridge from Gatineau to Ottawa after work, I managed to see the Ottawa Locks at work. I started to take pictures when I saw that some boats were in the bottom lock that empties out into the Ottawa River. The tops of the boats are just visible above the lock gates.

The water was let out and the boats disappeared from view. On the right, you can see some other boats that are waiting their turn to go up the locks in the other direction after the boats coming down have finished going through the locks. 

All the water was let out and the gates slowly began to open. The boats that have come down the locks are just visible inside. 

Here, the gates are completely open. There are eight locks altogether in this set that connects the Ottawa River with the Rideau Canal above. 

The first boat is coming out through the open gates.  

Now the first boat is completely out of the lock and the other boats begin to follow. 

Soon, all the boats were out of the lock and floating on the Ottawa River. 

A few minutes later, the first of the boats that were waiting to go in the other direction up the locks to the Rideau Canal started to move into the bottom lock. 

The first boat is in and the others soon followed. Then the gates will close, the lock will fill up with water, and the boats will move into the second lock above. The whole process of going up or down the flight of eight locks takes about one and a half hours. I think it would be fun to try it (in a nice boat, of course) just once, but for today it was fun just to watch the locks at work.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Running Through Water

Kids jumping or running through water is probably as old as time. Of course, it got a new variation when the water sprinkler was invented. These children were running through some big water sprinklers at Major's Hill Park recently. With all the hot weather we've been having, it is a great way to cool off. 

When I visited my grandsons Max and Charlie a couple of weeks ago, I took this picture of them running through a water sprinkler in the back yard one hot afternoon. Classic summer fun - I remember doing the same thing when I was a little girl. 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Dramatic Thunder Storms

Several storms passed through our region today and brought lots of flashing lightning and booming thunder. (There were reports it also brought large hail stones to some areas.) As I walked home from work, I was impressed by the dramatic clouds in the sky. It wasn't raining at this point, but the clouds were ominous and threatening. 

When the rain did come, people quickly put up their umbrellas and ran for cover. (I was hiding under an overhanging roof when I took this). 

Then the rain stopped, more dark and ominous clouds rolled in, and I rushed as fast as I could (which wasn't very fast, considering I have a sprained ankle) to get back to my apartment. Just as I got to the front door, another storm hit - then another later on. It was a good evening to sit in a safe dry place and watch the lightning flash and the rain come gushing down.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Act of Defiance

Over a week ago, I twisted my ankle rather badly and I have been limping around ever since. I have been doing all those things one is supposed to do with a swollen ankle - elevate it, ice it, wrap it in a tensor bandage - but it is taking a long time to heal and I am getting tired of hobbling around. 

So today I decided to cheer myself up and do something silly. I gave myself a pedicure and painted my toenails a splashy bright red. I still have to wear the tensor bandage but at least the foot sticking out of the bandage is not so boring. Hooray for little acts of defiance!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Thank Goodness for Wild Flowers

Because of the prolonged drought that we in Eastern Ontario are suffering this year, my flower garden at my home in the country is rather pathetic. Most of the plants are dead or severely stunted and I have abandoned hope that they will recover. But all is not lost! There is a wonderful field of yellow daisies that are growing wild on my front lawn that don't seem to be affected by the lack of water. They seeded themselves down years ago and have spread over a large part of the yard. I am so glad for the sight of them this year. Hooray for wild flowers!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Sculpture in Regina

 When I was in Regina last week, I went for a walk and checked out some of the sculpture in public places. I think you can tell a lot about a city by the sculpture it displays. Regina showed excellent taste by having this wonderful piece by one of my favourite Canadian sculptors, Joe Fafard, This sculpture of a bison lying down is so intricate, made of three flat pieces of steel with cutouts to give it texture. Very cool!

I wasn't sure about this piece, which appears to be a mesh of wavy lines. It looks sort-of like the parts of a wicker basket all stretched out in front of the cold steel and glass building behind. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any name or other identification for it.

Another Joe Fafard. This cow is about three or four times life-size and has quite a lot of presence, lying on the floor in an office building in downtown Regina. I believe there are sculptures of cows like this in Toronto, too. It is wonderful seeing a sculpture of something so organic in cold sterile places like office building foyers.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

My Stay in Regina, Saskatchewan

Last week, I went to Regina, Saskatchewan for a business trip. I stayed in this wonderful old plum pudding of a hotel, the Hotel Saskatchewan. When I walked inside, I felt like I was stepping back in time. 

This was my room - all very frilly and luxurious. I should have been wearing a long skirt with lots of lace while staying here - I felt rather out of place wearing a business jacket.

One of the first things I always do after checking into my room when staying at a hotel is check out the view from the window. This was my view of the city from my 9th floor room. Regina is still a small city but growing because Saskatchewan is resource-rich and prosperous. There were lots of new buildings but the whole city felt very spacious - and very very flat!

I always enjoy taking bird's eye pictures of people. I took this one while looking out the window of my hotel and I really like it because the person is framed by the lamp posts and the shadows and white lines on the street. Makes it rather abstract.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Cooling Off By the Water

The weather is so hot lately and everyone I know is dreaming of going to the cottage or the beach to spend some time cooling off. It seems people have been doing this for a long time. My own family has always seemed to love going to beaches and places with water in the hot weather, and I have a number of photos with examples of this. This wonderful old photograph was taken at Winnipeg Beach in 1946 (before I was born), and shows my grandfather (standing), my grandmother (sitting to his left), my Aunt Jill (on his right) and my father (close to the front right of the picture). I am not sure who all the children are. 

This photograph is also quite old but was taken more than 10 years later. Again, it is a family shot of people by the water, cooling off. The little girl in the front is my sister Marilyn, on her left is our cousin Eileen, I am sitting beside Eileen (with my head down) and behind Eileen is my mother. I don't know who the little girl is beside me - some strange child who decided to hang out with us. This was taken on the Coney Island beach in Kenora Ontario on a hot summer day, many many years ago.

Moving ahead in time, this picture was taken last weekend in a park in Toronto. My son Brian is standing, watching over my grandsons Max (4 1/2) and Charlie (2 1/2). The park had this wonderful wading pool with a fountain in the middle and lots of people with children, wading around and cooling off. Some things never change!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Fun Way to Get a Haircut

How do you make the whole process of getting a haircut tolerable, and even fun, for a small child? When I was in Toronto last weekend, I found out. I went with my son when he took his two kids for much-needed haircuts to a wonderful hair salon, called Melonheads, which is designed just for children. My grandson Max (4 1/2) chose an orange airplane to sit in while he got his hair cut.   

Charlie (2 1/2) waited his turn while riding on a horse. (Note the toy elephant that Charlie carries with him everywhere.)

Then it was Charlie's turn and he chose a blue locomotive to sit in while he got his hair cut. There was also a firetruck and a pink sports car and other fun places to sit. I was impressed by the patience of the hairdresser. Little kids move their heads constantly and wiggle a lot, but she managed to get the job done - with no tears or complaints on the part of Max or Charlie.

After the haircut, we all went for ice cream. A perfect treat on a really hot, sunny day. 

Mmmm-mmmm! Does that ever taste good!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Last Saturday was my birthday. I was in Toronto visiting my family at the time, and I thought it would be fun to compare a picture of my birthday dinner on the weekend with a photo of a birthday party long, long ago. This is the photo from many years ago (it is frightening to think how many years ago it was!) for my 5th birthday party. I am second from the right with a big smile on my face and a Micky Mouse party hat on my head. The little girl peeking over the chair is my sister Marilyn. It was a classic party, where all the little girls wore dresses and we ate cake and ice cream and drank pop.

This is my birthday dinner on the weekend at a restaurant in Toronto, with my daughter Sarah on the left and my son Brian on the right (the picture isn't the greatest because the restaurant was dark.) We had wine and lobster and salad, and when the waitress overheard that it was my birthday, she surprised us by bringing me a fantastic piece of cake with a lit sparkler. It was a lovely party and I was so happy to be with my two wonderful children for the evening. Both birthdays featured food and drink and cake and good company, but with a difference (now I have lobster and wine instead of ice cream and pop!). Happy birthday to me!