Thursday, July 30, 2009

a view

or, "where I visit Ottawa ... part 3"

click on this version to biggify
...and just for fun
here is a view from the rooftop of the War Museum
also in Hull (or Gatineau, as it is now called)
the grass on the roof is to symbolize the fields in France
the clouds above symbolize rain

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

where I visit Ottawa ... part 2

Long before XUP wrote to me "if you are ever in the area...", so that we could sit on a balcony and discover a mutual respect for Stella Artois, I have wanted to visit Ottawa. It always seemed such a lovely city to walk around in, full of riverside parks and interesting architecture and historical statues. And museums. Museums that are not just interesting for what they contain, but also for how they look. Ever since I first read about what used to be called the Museum of Man until that part of the name was changed to Civilization, I have wanted to see it for myself. It was opened in 1989. It takes me a little while to get organized.

There are some architects that, were I rich enough in money and time, I would tour the world to see their works. Once I became interested in local architecture, I started scouring Toronto to see the houses of Eden Smith (Arts and Crafts) and the buildings of E J Lennox (Richardsonian Romanesque - best example is Old City Hall) and Ray Moriyama and Frank Gehry (modern museums, galleries and libraries). Gaudi in Spain and Frank Lloyd Wright in the US are also high on my list.

I cannot begin to describe how much I loved seeing Douglas Cardinal's Museum of Civilization.
The sensuous curves that swoop and soar, the limestone and glass, the copper domes ... and inside where the floor of the Grand Hall is made to represent the Pacific and the ceiling resembles the underside of a canoe. If you are interested in the symbolism (and it is overflowing with symbolism) of this organic style you can read about it here.

Even the railings look organic as they ebb and flow

and it houses the largest collection of totem poles in the country

and The Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture by Bill Reid

and, yes, I know that it is not actually in Ottawa - it is located across the river in Hull, Quebec. And as a result, has the perfect vantage point of Parliament Hill and the National Art Gallery.

and damned if I know why they won't biggify.
more of my first batch of photos are on my flickr

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

where I visit Ottawa ... part 1

So, first off, let's get this business with the big hair out in the open.
When one goes out to meet people, especially people who have extended an invitation to meet, one usually takes a little trouble with their appearance. I usually opt for the clean clothes, freshly scrubbed skin and neat hair. Neat and relatively flat [ironed] hair. Now, sometimes that look doesn't always stay in place, and after a 6 hour drive on an wide highway with the sunroof open, my nicely flatttened hair ended up looking a little ... dishevelled. A bit windblown. The following day, a half-hearted effort at restraightening it was made - half-hearted because I knew it was only going to become very unstraightened once the many, many, droplets of the best rain that Ottawa had to offer poured down on my head. At one point during the weekend, I was told by the ever encouraging XUP that my hair looked better in this au natural state. Fine, sure. Knowing that I would go home and politely ignore this advice, given with the best of intentions of a true heart. But, by the time I did get home, (where I immediately went into work) after more lashings of rain fell upon my head, and another long drive with the sunroof open, I was met by no less that three people, who did a double take and exclaim such things as "your hair looks really nice" "it suits you", "you've changed your hair, I like it". What is with this liking of big, frizzy hair??? Please, we are not returning to the 80s big hair? dear god, noooo!

Then again, it will save a lot of time...

It didn't rain the WHOLE time I was in Ottawa, but I think we managed to be outside for all of the worst of the heaviest downfalls. Or at least I did, as XUP returned to a nice dry office on Monday, while I ran dripping into various museums to dry off.

XUP gave a first rate personal tour of her city (and a posting complete with all the appropriate linkages) and we saw her local haunts, traipsed around market stalls, looked for wet cats, drank a few glasses of things alcoholic, ate great food, looked at coffee table books with photos of our future dream home in the South of France...
I took photos of many colourful fruits and veg.

After asking politely if it was okay to take a photo, this display was enthusiastically rearranged to add more colour and a bemused customer was left waiting until the photo shoot was complete before being able to select her delicate baby carrots.
This customer (XUP) didn't wait, and got her bag of plums right in the photo

I was treated to tea with XUP* and another Ottawa blogger - Alison* of Party of 3

and once the sun came out, wine with Robin* of Watawa Life
but other stray cats were nowhere to be found.

* not a true likeness

meeting blogfriends from the screen to real life is pretty neat. but right now, I need my beauty sleep. my hair is exhausted. more will follow later...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

update on update of N7W

After my update on yesterday's post, Geewits asked about the disqualification of Dinosaur National Park in Drumheller Alberta from the New 7 Wonders of Nature. At the time I thought it seemed odd that it was cut for "not meeting contest requirements". I read that it hadn't competed enough in the international voting. Nope, didn't understand that either. But not being a very good investigative journalist, I let it slide by and rejoiced in the re-entry of New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy - who immediately reignited a massive campaign which included twitter, facebook, a blog, numerous ads...

Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation said "The reason they gave us was that expectations were different from our end than there was on theirs of what was involved in the competition."
[A] spokeswoman for the Swiss-based non-profit organization, told the Calgary Herald from Belgium the Alberta park didn't make the cut because, well, there's not much to do there.
"What happened is that they couldn't fulfill some of the requirements we needed, and it had to do with activities that people could engage in," she said.

-from Calgary Herald June 18, 2009

This sounds a little strange to me - a natural wonder not dependent on man made entertainment, and it is disqualified for lacking things to do. What is there 'to do' at Uluru? Sure you can hike there, and climb the rock - can you still climb the rock? What about those atolls in the middle of the Pacific?

Anyway, the Bay of Fundy is not lacking. It is home to a variety of unique marine species and serves as the summer feeding area for half the world’s population of endangered North Atlantic right whales and 12 other whale species. There are fossils galore, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as as biosphere reserve.

So, there is whale watching, birding, and hanging out on the water in sailboats, canoes, kayaks, or swimming. There are cruises and whale watching tours. There are the fossil cliffs to see. And that amazing tide.

See here for more about the tide and the Bay of Fundy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where I visit Ottawa... Street

On Saturday I participated in the 2nd Annual Worldwide Photowalk known globally as Scott Kelby's WWPW. That's due to it being a photowalk that was held worldwide - several thousand (32,000 give or take) photographers in various participating cities around the world all descended to a designated locale in their city and wandered the streets taking photos that represent their area. Photos can then be uploaded onto a site for your city or on your blog and the best can be sent in to the main website for some really cool prizes. Sadly, my photos were shite. Not very happy about the poor quality of most of them, but it was a fun afternoon and interesting to spend time with several other photographers all concentrating on one area with their cameras. Oh, and I was the only one out of the 30 of us with a point and shoot. Everyone else had these majestic lenses and complicated camera bags for all their equipment. Mine fit in my pocket. But everyone agreed that it is the photographer, not the equipment that makes good photos. I felt good until I saw my poor results. I think I need more patience.
The local area for me was Hamilton's Ottawa Street.

Ottawa Street is known for its fabrics and has undergone a bit of a resurgence as a textile and decor centre over the past few years. There used to be many, many vacant storefronts, now there are few. Though some you still wonder about...
It is always interesting to wander streets as they undergo a change for the better. It is not so gentrified as to be overpriced for some of the oldtimers, but new stores breathing life and interest and bringing people in to what was one a thriving area, then a depressed area, now a growing area.

Isn't this the coolest sign? Needle and thread, with buttons for the street name and a spool for the base. It lights up at night, so I'll have to go back to see that.
And it is also the home of the very first Tim Hortons, ever. How exciting is that?
If you are so inclined you can check out the other photos on the Hamilton flikr site (I even opened up an account, just for this occasion, and will likely add to it... when I get some patience.) or look up flikr wwph to find other cities that participated.

And an UPDATE: the final 28 locations for the New 7 Wonders of nature were announced today. I am pleased to present to you Canada's own Bay of Fundy as a finalist.

This is especially exciting as it didn't make the previous cut but when Drumheller National Park was knocked out of the running due to a technicality, it was back in. And now it joins such other natural wonders as Iguazu Falls, Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Grand Canyon, Ha Long Bay... for a full listing - and to vote - see here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday AMuse

images from
Just in case you missed John Daly's appearance at The [British] Open over the weekend.
See Loudmouth golf apparel for their whole line.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

PhotoHunt - rocks

The beaches around where I live tend to be more of the rocky,

or pebbly, type than the sandy type.
Not exactly great for laying out on
but great for being creative.
An INUKSHUK on the shores of Lake Ontario
An Inukshuk (plural inuksuit) is a stone cairn used as a milestone or directional marker by the Inuit of the Canadian Artic. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path."
It is a symbol with deep roots in the Inuit culture, a directional marker that signifies safety, hope and friendship. It can also be used as navigation. to mark a place of respect or memorial for a beloved person, or to indicate migration routes or places where fish or caribou can be found.
An inukshuk can be small or large, a single rock, several rocks balanced on each other, round boulders or flat. Built from whatever stones are at hand, each one is unique.
Inukshuk have become popular in Southern Canada and can now be seen in various forms outdoors in gardens and patios, and indoors in family rooms and office lobbies. It is also the emblem for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
for more PhotoHunts of rocks

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

where I only bid adieu

The restaurant on King St has sat unopened for 30 years. Frozen in time. Confounding visitors.
No closed sign on the door, but inside, everything remained, as a shrine.

Owner Sue Wong, who died about five years ago - at 103! - left the restaurant as it was after her husband died in the 70s. She was a well-known recluse and kept meticulous records of everything. And threw out nothing from the restaurant.including all operating manuals
bottles of unopened pop
unopened packages of paper placemats

Her grandson, who later oversaw the restaurant, encouraged its use for movie and television sets. The West Wing used it as an ice cream parlour. Robin Williams was there for a movie. So was Richard Attenborough.

But, finally the time to move on. A new owner has been found who will treat this local landmark with the respect he hopes the Wongs would appreciate.
It will reopen as a Thai restaurant with the DeLuxe name included (and the refurbished sign if possible)
An auction of EVERYTHING was scheduled

Which brought dozens of locals and dreamers from far away for a final visit
memories of who sat in which favourite booth,
which flavour ice cream went where
and to wonder that it was all still there, for a few more moments.
and I don't know why blogger won't allow pictures to biggify

I don't know if I was ever in this restaurant when young, though I remember being dragged coming to Dundas to visit family friends. Would we have stopped here, though? I may be mixing it up with memories of another small town diner. I mentioned to a woman that I wasn't sure I had been here, she took one quick glance at me and said: no, you are much too young. Bless her.
and, no, I did not buy, or even bid on, any of the antiquities at the auction!