Can you tell I had fun with the crab apple tree in the front yard? I’m sad that I never got to take advantage of it as a backdrop for portraits, but delighted that I got to take advantage of it as a subject for portraits!

Apple blossom petals, stamen, stigma and style

Now I’m knowledgeable about apple blossom parts – those bits sticking up are the pistils, and the yellow bit on top is the anther. I love how the various parts of the blossom and leaf swim into and out of focus, depending on where the very thin field of focus falls, to give you hints of what exactly you’re looking at but not the whole picture.

I may have one or two other crab apple blossoms yet to share. The photos seem to have a longer lifespan than the blossoms themselves!


I took this photo on the weekend, and didn’t get a chance to upload it before my computer turned into the dreaded blue screen of death. It blue-screened on me once and restarted fine, but the next day it crashed utterly and completely and I couldn’t even re-boot it in recovery mode. It took a call to Apple support and a trip to the Genius Bar, and my MacBook was diagnosed with a failed graphics card – 64 days before the three-year Apple Care warranty was about to expire. Long story short, I was saved a $750 repair bill and had to deal only with four and a half long days without my computer. I missed it so! much! While it was at times liberating to not have my computer calling my name rather constantly, my life is just too big to comfortably share on the four inch screen of my iPhone!

And so, here is the photo I took Saturday and didn’t get a chance to share with you.

crab apple blossoms

Ironically, just five days later and there is nary a petal left on the tree. The blossoms are so lovely, but so ethereal. I didn’t do much processing to this – the neon colours are more or less as nature presented them under my macro lens. The sharp edges come partly from the sharpness of the lens itself, and partly from a bit of a torque to the sharpness in post-processing.

I really love the contrasting colours though! What do you think?


This is timely. I was just thinking about writing a blog post about kids and their drink choices when I came across this article in the Ottawa Citizen about how fruit juice may be dropped from Canada’s food guide as a healthy choice. The article illustrates two sides of the argument: on one hand, fruit juice does contain certain vitamins like vitamin C, folate and potassium, which makes it perhaps a better choice than straight soda or fruit punch. On the other hand, drinking a couple of cups of juice every day could comprise a quarter or up to half of a child’s caloric requirements – with questionable nutritional benefit.

I know from my own ongoing research into the healthiest food choices for myself and the family that you should in general try to avoid drinking your calories. There’s no doubt that eating an orange is a better overall choice than drinking a 125ml box of pure orange juice. But is it reasonable to ask kids to drink mostly water? And is an apple going to quench thirst like a cup of apple juice?

4:365 Club soda

I’m not too worried about the amount of juice the kids consume. A juice box in the lunchbox (gasp! I know, but I’m picking my battles) and a half a cup of apple juice at dinner don’t seem to be too unreasonable to me, even if they will add 100 or so “empty” calories. But as the boys get older, what I’m wondering about is the choice between sugary pop and the chemicals in diet soda. We’re aiming to be an ‘all things in moderation’ sort of household, so I don’t want to ban pop entirely, and I want the boys to (a) make reasonable choices and (b) be able to choose things that they find yummy and satisfying sometimes. While I don’t love the idea of them drinking 150 calories of sugar in a can of soda, I think the aspartame and other crap in diet soda could be worse for their growing bodies. Personally, whenever I can I avoid aspartame in everything except chewing gum, which usually means I’m choosing the full fat and full sugar versions of any product over the “lite” low calorie or low fat options. Sugar may be evil, but I’m convinced that artificial sweeteners are worse.

What do you think? Given a choice between the evils of sugar and the evils of artificial sweeteners, which one do you think is more harmful, even on an occasional basis?


When I was offered a pair of tickets to see the NAC Orchestra for their Casual Fridays series, I knew exactly whom I wanted to take. My Dad was a drummer back in the day, and taught me almost everything I know about music. He’s also forgiven me for somehow genetically bypassing every shred of musical talent I might have inherited from him.

I have to admit that as much as I am a fan of the NAC, I forget how much I love the NAC Orchestra until I see them again. It’s easy to forget we have this incredible, world-class ensemble right here in our own home town. Did you know the NAC has a new Music Director this fall? Alexander Shelley will succeed Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director in September. He was the conductor of Friday’s performance and he was a joy to watch. Aside from a welcoming and genial manner, he’s a handsome young thing. Imagine being the Music Director of Canada’s national orchestra at only 35 years old!

Friday’s performance included two very different musical pieces: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #1 and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. The guest pianist for the Beethoven performance was even younger than Shelley (so much for the NAC Orchestra being an affair for grey-hairs!), twenty-two year old Benjamin Grosvenor. He absolutely blew me away! I loved watching him play – his mastery was beyond question, but there was something delightful in just watching his body language as his fingers flew up and down the keyboard, and how he seemed to connect with Shelley and defer to him throughout the piece. He was about half way through the concerto, which runs about 40 minutes or so, when my jaw dropped open in astonishment as I realized he was playing without a score – he was playing from memory. That’s maybe 100 pages or so of sheet music. And I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast most days.

I liked the Stravinsky piece a little less than the Beethhoven, simply because I had so enjoyed watching Grosvenor play. With the Stravinsky piece they introduced an element you don’t often associate with a classical orchestral concert: a puppeteer. She used transparencies and a projector and odd bits of things like feathers and pieces of lace to interpret Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, which reminded me of a modern movie score. While I appreciated the interpretation as interesting, I actually found it detracted a bit from the performance in some spots, and I think I would have rather simply watched the musicians and the conductor. That’s my favourite part of a live musical performance: choosing one particular instrument or even one particular musician and studying them as the music flows through and around them. It was genuinely delightful to watch Alexander Shelley and the joyfulness of his body language as the Stravinsky piece barreled toward its finale. I may have a little musical crush on him now!

NAC2Two of the boys are taking music lessons right now. Had I had an inkling of Grosvenor’s performance before hand, I may have considered taking Simon instead. He’s playing a piano recital at the end of May and has also memorized his performance – all 45 seconds of it. :) Tristan’s class has taken up band instruments in music class, and he has chosen the trombone, which seems like an absolutely random and yet somehow perfect instrument for him. I’m very much hoping he chooses to join the school band in a few years. I think my experience with my own school band helps me appreciate events like Friday’s concert that much more, even though I’ll be the first to admit that I never was much of a musician. I think they’d both benefit from seeing the NAC Orchestra in action, now that they have a little bit of musical experience of their own for context.

I was curious to ask my Dad’s opinion of Shelley’s performance on the drive home from the NAC. He’s played with many musical organizations over the years, including Orchestra London. He too was impressed by Shelley’s joie de vivre and mastery over the performances.

Seems like I’ve got a bit of a dilemma on my hands now. Whom shall I bring for the next NAC date night? One thing is for sure – there will be a lot more NAC Orchestra in our lives in the next little while. And if you haven’t recently gone out on a date with your Dad, I highly recommend that, too!



dandelion seed head

This may be my favourite dandelion portrait ever, and I love how the grass was rendered creamy smooth in the background. Weeds? Maybe, but pretty ones.


Why yes, in fact we ARE still playing with the dandelions.

Lucas BW

Just wait until you see the fun we have when they go to seed!

Are you still diligent with your spring weed control or have you too ceded to the dandelion invasion?


10-pages-in: Imaginary Things

14 May 2015 10-pages-in

I really need to stop accepting books for review, because when I don’t love them I feel horribly conflicted. They gave me a free book, I should give it a nice review! But when it’s a struggle to find nice things to say, I find myself in an awkward position. Such is the case with […]

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Photo of the day: Mini mushroom

13 May 2015 Photo of the Day

I almost overlooked this eensy-beensy mushroom growing on a stump, but when I saw it, I was completely charmed by it. Doesn’t it look like the kind of place fairies might hang out to play?

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Photo of the day: Lucas in the dandelions

12 May 2015 Photo of the Day

Companion piece to yesterday’s photo of the day: Uh oh, I don’t have a third one in the series and I cut the grass. We’ll have to go find someone else’s dandelions so I can make my triptych! It’s portrait season and the porch is open for business. I’ve got new gear, new props and […]

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Photo of the day: In the garden

10 May 2015 Ah, me boys

He’s as tall as me, all lanky legs and limbs, and his hair might be a little longer than I’d keep it if I were in charge of the scissors, but he’s still willing to humour me and my relentless camera. I love that you can see vestiges of the toddler he was and hints […]

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