Rainy, Fall Day in the Country

My daughter has taken up horseback riding which requires us to be at the stable by 10:15 Saturday morning every weekend. Normally, running kids to lessons – especially ones a drive away – is an onerous task almost every parent endures. This lesson, however, has turned into delightful activity for both of us. She rides. I photograph.

I’ve become quickly recognized around the farm for photographing just about everything. It is fascinating for me to find beauty in every day things and that’s normally what I search for. This past weekend, however, nature just handed me a cornucopia of colour and beauty that I could not resist. The rain brought out already brilliant colours and the grey skies served as a soft and mottled background.

I stopped multiple times along the highway to capture various shots of fields and forest. I also, to my great joy, found a path – a section of the Russell-Prescott Recreation Trail – only minutes from the horse farm. And what a stunning canopy and carpet of coloured leaves it displayed! Please enjoy the photos below!

Looking Back

Sometimes I like to open my photo file and see what I was doing 5 or 6 years ago on a particular day just for fun. I’m not always lucky enough to find a photo on the exact date or one that is even meaningful. Occasionally, though, I will stumble across one that makes me smile and brings me back to the day and location.

March 6th, 2010 – a friend treated me to a day in Montreal as a birthday gift. She picked me up on the Saturday morning and we drove like the wind to the bustling city. We wandered in and out of the many shops on Saint Catherine St. and had lunch at her favourite pizza spot in the area. The weather was warm for early March and there wasn’t a stitch of snow on the ground – very unlike this year.

I remember the day vividly as a little taste of freedom. At the time my kids were 5 and 7 – and I was just entering the stage when it was okay to be away for a bit. Especially when you are a full-time, stay-at-home parent these moments of freedom are few and far between. I had this recurring feeling like I was forgetting something but then I realized that, nope…I was good. I breathed in the cool, spring air and felt the sunshine on my face and reveled in how light I felt.

My friend may or may not remember this day but it was a gift I will always appreciate. I’m so glad I came across this photo today.

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Blossoms

Every year I can’t resist taking photos of my plum tree in bloom. This year it seemed to go from just budding to full blossoms in one day. It’s in full glory right now. The problem for me was trying to find a new and unique way to capture the blossoms. I mean, how many ways can you photograph plum blossoms? Well, happily I think I found one. What do you think of this?

Plum Blossoms

This morning I was up early and enjoyed the view out back of the rising sun capturing the freshly forming maple leaves. Interestingly, living in Canada my entire life, I’d never noticed that maple trees have blossoms too! I know. For shame, for shame. They just happen to be green and they’re quite lovely!

Maple Blossoms

These were taken with my cell phone and I continue to be impressed with the camera on it. However, hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to take a foray into the blossoming park-lands of Ottawa with my DSLR and capture some more.

Until next time, enjoy the nature around you whatever the season!

I See Spring

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Ottawa today. After work I sat on the back deck, sipped a beer, and soaked up the sun. It was so wonderful after such a horrible winter. Sadly, the weekend will be a bit nippy but I got some photos today that will remind me that, despite the set back over the next day or so, spring and warmer weather are definitely on their way.

Signs of life in the garden.

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Until next time…enjoy the little things. They’re often a sign of bigger and better things. 🙂

Sliding into the Wild World of Business Travel

toronto_downtownI know I haven’t been “around” lately and I do apologize for that. My new life as a career person has created the need for re-prioritization of my activities…especially this week. The company I work for is, simply put, a train the trainer company. We train people how to be efficient and effective trainers. My role in the company is sales and customer support and, in order to do that effectively, it was decided that I should take a few of the workshops our company offers. Makes sense. The only workshop that was convenient both time and location-wise was in Toronto soooo this week I slid, head first, into the wild world of business travel for the first time of my life.

A week ago Sunday, I hopped the VIA Ottawa-to-Toronto-milk-run train for the 5 hour ride over hill and dale. For the most part, I don’t mind trains except that the older trains provide no lumbar support in the seats and wow! UNCOMFORTABLE. Also, I ate a ham and cheese sandwich which VIA should have paid me $7 to eat. It was truly the worst sandwich I’ve had since the last time I ate one on a VIA train (probably more than 10 years ago). Aside from those two complaints, the ride went smoothly and I was at Union Station before dark. Not that it really mattered whether it was dark out or not…

torontoI recently discovered that Toronto has a huge population of mutant mole people. They commute between work and transit in a large maze of underground tunnels. I had no idea, as a tourist, that this “underworld” existed but I found out all about it this time around. I was staying at the Sheraton on Queen Street which is accessible from Union Station through these tunnels. Now, lest you are envisioning me clamoring through dark, damp, stone tunnels, I’d better set your mind at ease. It is like walking through a very long mall (30 km to be precise): shiny tile floors, bright lighting, and lined with more stores and cafes than you’ve seen in a month of Sundays. The phenomenon is aptly named “The Path“.

Now, I know that many large cities have something similar so it’s likely not a “new” thing to everyone. Being a hick from Ottawa, though, where we have to bear the brunt of mother nature at every turn, The Path is quite an intriguing experience. I wouldn’t say that I love it, but it was convenient. It was much easier than trying to wheel my suitcase up Bay St. around construction and hoards of people and over all the bumps and cracks in the sidewalk. It was also a great place to grab a meal during our workshop one-hour lunch breaks and, with several Irish pubs sprinkled along The Path, we were able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style.

suite_cotThe worst part of the trip was arriving at the Sheraton and discovering that I didn’t have a room booked. This was likely due to a miscommunication at work, which I’m sure will be ironed out, and really, in the end, was not a big deal. BUT for a first time business traveler, facing a hotel receptionist with the deer-in-the-headlights look, it’s a bit unnerving. Luckily for me, the hotel was very accommodating and, although they were fully booked, they put me in a suite room and I slept on a cot. No…not a cot…a COT with a 12″ mattress.  On Monday morning they got me into a nice cozy room and I enjoyed it for the rest of the week.

Overall, I’d say that business travel would be fun once or twice a year but that’s about it. I suppose if one had to do it all the time, you would get used to all the inconveniences of not being home, but it’s not anything like travelling for fun with your family and friends. In fact, the biggest thing I had trouble with was trying to find the inspiration to eat. I really had no desire to eat alone or to grab yet another tuna wrap from the cafe downstairs. I was happiest, after a day of training, to go back to my room, get into my pj’s and crawl into bed to watch TV.

The nice thing about trying something once is you get to see all the aspects for yourself. You get to make decisions on what you liked and what you didn’t, and, if the opportunity presents itself again, you know how you might handle it differently or what you might keep the same. If I got asked to travel for work again, I’d do it for sure. I love adventure. 🙂

Until next time…tell me about your business travel experiences in the comments! I love a good story! 🙂

Pictures from a Year Ago

We Canadians here in Ottawa were celebrating joyfully these past few days as the temperatures rose above 0C (32F) for the first time in a long time. It has been years (20, to be precise) since we’ve had such cold temperatures and for such a length of time. In Ottawa, February was the coldest ever recorded! As Brackenreid (from one of my favourite shows, Murdoch Mysteries) would scoff “BLOODY HELL!”.

Occasionally, I’ll look back at my photos from the same day a year ago (or more) just to see what I was up to or compare weather, etc. Interestingly, I discovered my photos from March 8, 2014 revealed a scene not unlike that of yesterday. I remember taking those photos and how thrilled I was to see the results of the thawing snow forming large puddles on the walking path. I took a similar delight this year…and probably have every year of my life!

It will likely be a bit of a temperature roller-coaster until May, going above 0 and then dipping below again but I won’t be surprised to see most of my compatriots running around in T-shirts by the time it hits PLUS 10C (50F). We’re a hardy and slightly “off the rocker” bunch…and we LIKE it that way!

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Until next time…be sure to dress appropriately for the weather! 😉

Sunday Check-in: Friends Who Publish II

It’s Sunday AGAIN! Seems to me it was just Wednesday! It’s been an exciting week…not so much for anything related to my accomplishments but rather those of friends. And I’m very happy for them. Whenever friends publish books I like to announce it here. So, without further ado, these are the latest and greatest (that I know of) coming out of my Ottawa writer/friend pool.

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Rose D. Franklyn has published her second romance book in her series entitled Sex and the Seasons. The first book was Spring Fever and Black Chocolate, and the latest is Summer Passion and Forbidden Fruit. I’ve already downloaded Summer Passion on my kindle and am looking forward to digging into it. If it’s anything like Spring Fever, it’s sure to be a steamy treat. The book is available on Amazon.com in paperback or for the Kindle, and for the Kindle on Amazon.ca.

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Sonja Lishchynski has published her first children’s book called Montecristo Travels to Pisa. The inspiration for the story is Sonja’s little Chihuahua named…Montecristo…who travels everywhere with his “parents”. Sonja has created a very informative blog about traveling with pets (dogs in particular). From these numerous blog stories, I imagine, there is fodder for this beautifully illustrated book (illustrations by Allison MacAlister) to become a series of wonderful adventures sure to thrill young audiences. This book is available in English and French paperback from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.fr.

20150306_193623My daughter absolutely adores Monte and her very own signed version of the book. 🙂

Until next time…happy reading! ❤