European Evening

People in North America are kind of obsessed with Europe. Probably partially because many of us have roots there and partially because it’s so old and beautiful. We don’t have old here…well, our old is several hundred years. European OLD is several thousand or at least a thousand years. Although I think many of us can appreciate good, modern architecture, I don’t know anyone who would scoff at – in fact most would embrace – the overwhelming and distinct historic architecture and culture of Europe. I remember being in Greece and realizing that I was walking the streets that people had for nearly 7000 years. That’s quite a feeling.

If any part of Canada is ever mentioned worldwide, or particularly in American magazines, it’s always either Montreal or Quebec City. Why? Because the old parts of the cities are like walking into an old European town. Here in Ottawa we have a little bit of that. Ottawa is much smaller than the above mentioned and has a lot of mixed architectural styles crammed into that small space. However, the Byward Market area – down near the Chateau Laurier – is where you’ll get most of the old European feel. Most of the buildings there date back at least a century or maybe two.

Last evening I had the pleasure of dining down in the market. I went to The Grand Pizzeria which is a nice little spot on George St. – with an outdoor patio – right across from a beautifully done, two-story pub called The Aulde Dubliner Pourhouse. I took this shot from my table which happened to be right under a lovely Elm tree. I actually felt transported to Europe. Can you see why?

The Grand Pizzeria

Over the last few days…

A few photos.

I’ve been working very hard on my front garden over the last few weeks. It’s had a terrible weed problem in the past but I’m hoping to keep it in the past. For all my hard work I’ve bought myself a little wind chime to hang in the apple tree. It makes a lovely sound and makes me smile. Another thing which makes me smile is the great haul of raspberries I’ve got from my backyard garden this year. The photo below is just what I picked today. JOY!

I’ve been spending a lot of time near water as well this past week. Ottawa has many beautiful places to do this. Along the Ottawa River near Remic Rapids, there’s a talented artist named John Ceprano who creates sculptures out of rocks there. Also, a lovely park called Brown’s Inlet, has a sizable bond with quite a few ducks. I had never seen a Wood Duck before and was impressed with its colours.

The Demolition of the Sir John Carling Building

Anywhere you look in the local Ottawa news and social media you’ll see this story. Everyone who witnessed it has their own story and I thought I’d jot down mine and share it with you here.

First, a little history. The Sir John Carling building which was located on Carling Avenue near Dow’s Lake in Ottawa opened for government offices (Agriculture Canada) in 1967. It was vacated in 2009 after years of neglect and concerns about asbestos. In subsequent years it has been prepared for demolition. Although many objected to the demolition because it was considered to be a heritage building, only a small portion of it was saved.

Location of Sir John Carling Building

A specialized team came up from the United States to set the charges and do the demolition. The building was prepared to be brought down by a series of explosions (362 Kilograms (800 pounds) of explosives) which would create an implosion and reduce the building to 40,000 tonnes of rubble. 1

WELL…

When I read in the paper that this would be happening today, I decided right then and there that I HAD to be there to see it. It was, after all, going to be the biggest demolition in the history of Ottawa. How can you miss that? The only issue was that the demolition was planned for 7 am which would mean that our family had to get up at 5:30 to dress, drive over there, park, and claim our viewing spot. And we did it!

Sir John Carling Building

A spot of sun shone on the building about 20 minutes before detonation.

We and a whole bunch of other people! I was surprised by the crowds.

The crowds I could see from where I was sitting but there were many more on all sides of the building.

The crowds I could see from where I was sitting but there were many more on all sides of the building.

Of course, about 10 minutes before blast off time, it started to pour. But that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Everyone was pumped and BOY we were NOT disappointed. Without further ado, here is my own video. :) Enjoy!

Loss of Bees Means the Loss of So Much More

This is something to think about as we move into the weekend. For quite a few years now we’ve been hearing and reading stories about the loss of honey bees. It has become a critical situation and I’m pretty sure the governments here in North America aren’t moving quickly enough to find a solution. Not only does the loss of the honey bee affect the honey making industry, it affects a large part of our agricultural industry. Health Canada states the following:

Declines in honeybee and other pollinator populations have generated considerable scientific and public interest both in Canada and internationally. A number of factors are seen as potential contributors to these declines and no single factor has been identified as the cause. The available science suggests that multiple factors acting in combination may be at play, including loss of habitat and food sources, diseases, viruses and pests, and pesticide exposure.

It is also known that certain pesticides can pose an immediate, or “acute”, threat to bees. In order to protect pollinators, the labels of pesticides that pose such risks specify detailed use directions to reduce potential exposure. These include restrictions on pesticide spraying on flowering crops or weeds where bees may be present. All precautions and directions on pesticide labels should be followed.

Although our government is aware of the situation, there does not appear to be a ban in place for the pesticides. I find this alarming for many reasons. Watch this video and see if you agree. If you would like to take action, the Green Party provides a petition here that you can sign, or write your MP.

Photograph by Solvin Zankl/Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Corbis

Mystery Fluff

Every June in Ottawa (and probably most of Ontario) you will see areas of sidewalks and lawns covered in white, fluffy puffballs. I’ve always wondered where they came from but wasn’t curious enough or in too much of a hurry to find out. Today, while spending time at the park with one of the little people, we came across a huge patch of fluff. Kids are wonderfully curious and when you spend time with them, quality time, you tend to slow down too. You take time to rediscover a curiosity you forgot about since childhood. We picked up the fluff and felt it’s softness in our hands. We noted the little seeds they carried inside. We searched the nearby treetops for the origins and found one tree, in particular had quite a bit of fluff in it’s branches. I was having difficulty telling whether the fluff had been caught in the tree while blowing through the air or whether it originated there. This is where technology comes in handy. We Googled “trees with white fluff” on my phone and found that Poplar trees are the creators of such curious seed pods. Indeed, the tree we were eyeing was a Poplar. Fascinating things you discover when you stop to look.

Poplar seeds

Wild Rose

It was obvious, 5 years ago, when we bought our cottage that the previous owners were avid gardeners. They were retired and spent most of their time at the lake taking care of what is a fairly large property. Since then, the garden has become sadly overgrown. I have just enough time to keep the lawn mowed and to clip the weeds and bush branches that have grown into the pathway. I so wish I had more time for the garden. It is full of beautiful jewels such as poppies, lupines, lilies, and flowering bushes. One flowering bush, in particular, has taken over one of the gardens. It’s quite invasive and I always curse it because it’s SO prickly – the Wild Rose. This past weekend, however, I had to admire it. It was in full bloom and even after a heavy downpour. The petals which look so delicate are actually very resilient. I decided to just let it be. It deserves it’s place there.

wild rose

Beautiful Peonies

I went through Wakefield, Quebec today as I usually do on my way home from the cottage. It’s a beautiful spot along the Gatineau River with lots of good places to eat and lovely little boutiques. The scenery is wonderful and the town, itself, has protected it’s quaintness which works to its advantage. Behind the bakery where I stopped for freshly baked baguette and beignets, aptly named The Wakefield Bakery, there was a lovely sitting area that was reachable be stone steps. The steps were lined with Peonies on one side and Queen Anne’s Lace on the other. How delicate and lovely! More of a treat for me than the baked goods.

peony

peony_path

Bull

No… Not that kind of bull. This kind.

image

Up near my cottage in West Quebec, there’s a large pasture. It exists on both sides of the gravel road we travel to get to our lane way. When we first started coming up here there were always horses grazing. Then one year the horses disappeared and cows showed up. More recently there is a mixture of cows and horses. Tonight, on a drive into town to get ice cream, I saw, in the distance and through some shrubs a large form that I knew couldn’t be a cow or a horse. As we got closer we saw this guy looking out onto the road. I stayed in the car to take the shot. The wire fence did not look like it would hold him if he got angry. After I took the photo I looked to the other side of the road and saw another bull looking out onto the road as well like a mirror image of his buddy across the way. This scene provided ample humour for the kids as they tried to imagine what the bulls were saying to one another. Ah cottage life. Always full of small adventures!

Surprise Encounter

I was at the park this morning with one of the boys in my daycare. As I walked through the grass, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. And there he was! Mr. Ribbit. The little boy and I were both thrilled to see him. I really wanted to take his photo but worried I’d frighten him if I got too close. Surprisingly…he let me get close enough to get a really good shot on my phone. These three shots are not cropped photos…they’re just the progression as I got closer and closer. Thanks, Mr. Ribbit. Stay safe buddy!

Bits of Today

I am POOPED! I spent the majority of the day outside and now I could easily put my forehead on the keyboard and sleep. It’s amazing what fresh air and sunshine will do to you. With all my time outside, I did manage to take some photos. One in the garden with my Giant Red Poppies and several at Mooney’s Bay here in Ottawa. Hope you enjoy themzzzzzzzzzzzz….