Frosty day

I spent most of my birthday (earlier this year) inside because it was bitterly cold. But, I couldn’t resist heading out in the bright, clear sun to admire the frosted trees. I was only out for about 15 minutes and I kept my hands in my mittens and pockets as much as possible, but they still ended up hurting because I kept stopping to take pictures.

Frosty trees
Frosted branches
Frosted needles

Spring on the trails

I love to take the trails on the way to work. As much as possible, I try I leave early enough to take one of the longer routes. Aside from having the trails mostly to myself, the flowers and birds and such are a great way to start my day.

On a somewhat related note, I’ve been thinking about when spring starts. Last week, Kandise mentioned that the trees in New Brunswick were just starting to bud, but I’ve always been under the impression that spring had a late start in Edmonton compared to what I was used to back home (Nova Scotia). In the Maritimes (Maritime provinces = NS, NB, and PEI), there are (were?) lots of crocuses and such popping up early in the spring and there was always a lot of spring rain. Here in Edmonton, we get at least one last chill and snow in early May, then weeks of almost nothing before the all the trees go wild with leaves and blooms. Then thunderstorms start to roll in and the flowers will slowly start growing and blooming.

I think that I’ve been unable to take off my Maritime hat, which meant that I always felt that spring didn’t happen until there was rain, the smell of moist earth and lots of flowers. But, maybe Edmonton just has a tree-centric start. We’re probably more or less on the same schedule as the Maritimes.

Here are a few of the beauties I’ve encountered these past 2 weeks. While I did run into a few flowers, most of the blossoms are on trees and bushes. They are, according to my pictures from the past few years, about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. Of course, we’re also bone dry here (the province has issued a rare province-wide fire ban because everything to dry and all our fire fighters are needed in the Fort McMurray), which may be slowing down the growth of some plants).

❤
Almost green
White flowers
Red bush
New leaves
White flowers
Noisy nibbler. He let me watch from very close, until a bike zoomed by and scared him.

Legislature grounds

I’m a big fan of making a quick side trip through the Legislature grounds on my way to work each morning. It’s not out of my way (it only adds 5-ish minutes to my trip, if I go around the whole building) and there are some really lovely bits and pieces of garden, like the Lois Hole Memorial garden (a favourite place to stop). It’s exceptionally nice right now, while things are starting to bloom and before they’ve had a chance to fill in every nook and cranny with begonias (which are so boring compared to some of the native things they could plant and leave permanently).

Morning sun on leaves
A week ago, this was mostly bare and the leaves were emerging on mostly on the circumference. Now, it’s filling out nicely.
Tiny flowers hidden on the underside of the branch
Morning sun on leaves
Pink flowers
White flowers

One month

It’s amazing how much of a different one month can make. Early April, we had a tiny bit of snow and the plants were only just starting to grow in the sunnier places.

We had a bit of snow last night, but I suspect it's all gone now (this was taken 3+ hours ago).

This week, all the trees and bushes were in full bloom or getting ready to burst.

Blooms

This is one of the reasons I love spring. It’s not just the flowers and the perfumed air – it’s the transition. From brown to green with hints of white and yellow and pink.

Perhaps my assessment of the beginning colour is a bit unfair. There are 50 shades of brown with hints of brick red and several greys. It’s actually quite lovely. You can see the backbone of the landscape – the trees, the slopes, and the no-longer-hidden trails. It’s a thrill to see it all emerge in the fall, but after a long dreary winter, it’s nice to see the green re-emerging.

Right now we’re in the phase where it’s mostly green ground cover and trees full of blossoms, but there are plenty more trees to bloom and plenty more colours to emerge.

Blooms

Hidden beauties, the Paris edition

Continuing with my theme for this week of revisiting my Paris trip (which happened last September), I thought I’d highlight the hidden beauties special moments.

As someone who lives in a city that’s relatively young and has relatively few older or historic buildings, all of Paris felt like a big museum and art gallery. There’s a lot of really amazing things to see and a lot of beautifully ornate features everywhere you go (sculptures, architectural details, painted walls, etc.). But, there was also a lot of hidden beauty. Some of my favourite things were remnants that they hadn’t bothered to hide and some of my favourite moments where generic or things that you can can see and do anywhere: sunsets, plants, etc.

Here are some of my favourite moments and hidden beauties.

You can see where an old window or entrance was

This is the Patheon. As we wandered around the building (waiting for it to open) I kept seeing evidence of old windows that had been bricked up. The giveaway is the vertical bricks – they would have been the top of the window. I’ve always been drawn to bricked up windows and doors. They spark my curiosity. What did the windows look like? Why did they get rid of them? If you go to Google Maps and use Street View to go around the building, you’ll see evidence of a lot of windows.

I also love the creamy colour of the bricks, the cobble stone road, and even the black grime building up on the walls (it adds character). It’s not a typical vacation photo, but it’s one of my favourites.

Grande Arche as seen from L'Arc de Triomphe

I love that L’Arc de Triomphe is mirrored by the Grande Arche down the road. It’s a minor detail, but it adds a bit of interest.

With so many people stopping for a snack on the steps, there were a lot of little birds looking for crumbs

No matter where I go, I love nature. The stairs of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica were full of people enjoying the view, soaking up the sun, listening to the busker, and eating. On the fenced-in lawns, birds rested in between trips to the stairs to find crumbs. It was lovely being surrounded by music, sun and birds.

There was a crow hanging around across from Chopin and making weird breathy noises.

While admiring Chopin’s grave, there was a crow hanging around making weird noises (certainly not ones I’d ever heard from crows). It was odd and I think that it would have been creepy if I was superstitious.  It made Chopin’s grave a little bit special for me.

Sunset, from L'Arc de Triomphe

It’s a sunset, but it’s a sunset seen from the top of L’Arc de Triomphe while most of the other tourists were glued to the other side waiting for the Eiffel Tower to light up. Seeing the Eiffel Tower light up was nice (especially as it was on the hour, so it sparkled), but my heart lies with sunsets.

I do love a good garden. This is at the Jardins des Plantes. Next time, I'd like to go to the botanical museum (it was closed today).

I love gardens, especially when they’re a bit messy and slightly wild. Contrast in gardens is one of my favourite things and this image has stuck in my head as a reminder of the quiet afternoon when I walked to the Jardin des Plantes.

Versailles

Water is a prominent feature of fountains, but sometimes it’s nice to see the fountain’s design without the water in the way. All of the fountains were turned off when we were at Versailles. While this was disappointing for some fountains, I was really happy to get an unimpeded look at this one. Bonus points: all the birds hanging out on the men and beasts. It’s almost comical to see them resting on sculptures that are full of ferocity.

Cool at installation at the Conciergerie. I love the contrast of the modern straight lines and old arched lines.

Last, but not least, modern art in the Conciergerie. This might be one of my all time favourite things about my trip to Paris (one of several dozen, of course). I really love the contrast. There was also a lot of modern art in the Hotel de Ville, hung in the decorative halls and rooms. It was so wonderful to see old and new together.

Paris chandeliers

As mentioned in my last post, I finally finished going through my photos from my Paris trip 5 months ago (!!). While in Paris, I became a little obsessed with chandeliers. Yes, those ornate light fixtures that I would almost definitely never have in my home because the glamorous look isn’t for me. I adore them. I looked for, admired, and took many pictures of them in every place we visited. They hung in art museums, castles, the city hall and pretty much any semi historic building (unless the era didn’t have chandeliers, like Chateau de Vincennes).

According to my vacation pictures, I have a thing for chandeliers. I have pictures of them from just about every building we visited. This one is from one of the buildings at Versailles (not the main palace; the Grande Trianon, if I remember correctly).
When I posted this on Instagram, I noted that I seemed to have an thing for chandeliers. Little did I know that I would find that I had a ridiculous number of chandelier pictures.

I loved them all: the golden ones, the crystal ones, the large ones, the small ones, the ornate ones, and even the so-simple-they-look-modern ones. My love for them is so vast that I felt a tinge of excitement when I saw a picture of painting and immediately recognized the chandelier. Is that Mozart being presented to Mme De Pompadour? Who cares! I have a picture of those chandeliers!

vicente-de-paredes-the-presentation-of-the-young-mozart-to-mme-de-pompadour-at-versailles-in-1763
A screen cap of “The Presentation of the Young Mozart to Mme De Pompadour at Versailles in 1763” by Vicente De Paredes
Chandelier
The same chandelier from below (maybe not the exact same one, but the same style and building). Isn’t it pretty!

Truth be told, half of the “pretty hall” photos I took were really “look at the chandeliers” photos.

Untitled
Halls, except I mostly just care about the chandeliers. These pictures are from Fontainebleau, Versailles, and Versailles.
Chandeliers
In Notre Dame

I just love them. I love the details and I love seeing how people updated them to use electricity (some add wired-in sockets for mini light bulbs, some add faux candle sticks, and some leave them as they are). The ones covered in crystal or ornate sculpted pieces (animals, cherubs, foliage, etc.) are my favourites, but I also really love the ones that are surprisingly simple.

I don’t know why I love them so much. It’s not like there weren’t a million other things to fall in love with: tapestries, painted ceilings, hand painted walls, velvet curtains, detailed flooring, etc. But, I guess we all have our oddities.

Here are some of my favourite chandelier pictures from my trip.

The chadeliers are almost boring compared to the rest of the room, but I love the panted details on the baubles
Sainte Chapelle
The chandeliers! I became a little obsessed with chandeliers, despite the fact that I wouldn't bother with one in my own home
At Chateau Fontainebleau
Chandelier
At the Hotel de Ville (city hall)
Floral chadeliers
These pretty floral ones are so lovely
Windows
Versailles (the same hall seen above, but focusing on the windows instead of the sculptures)
Chandeliers
Versailles, in the famous Grande Galerie or Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors)
Versailles chandelier
It’s possible that this variation is the chandelier in the painting. I would love to see it light with candles at night.
Chandelier
Versailles. I think at Grand Trianon, but we also visited Petit Trianon
Chandelier
Versailles. Again, I think at Grand Trianon, but maybe Petit Trianon
Of course, there had to be one fancy schmancy room in M'O
Salle des Fêtes is the Musée d’Orsay, which is the former ballroom of the Hôtel d’Orsay

Paris according to my Instagram account

Five months ago, I flew to Paris with a friend. Four months ago, I wrote a post about my experience. About a week ago, I finally finished going through my pictures. A few days ago, I finally finished labeling, compiling and sharing those pictures.

While I work on a few Paris related posts, here’s what I did in Paris, according to my Instagram account.

Bonjour! We can see the Eiffel tower! 🗼❤🗼
Day 1: The view from the hotel was pretty fantastic when you leaned out a bit
Busy day in Paris, including the Pantheon, Notre-Dame, and this amazing street-side veggie quiche that was SO FREAKING DELICIOUS!?
Day 2: Best quiche I have ever had
Sainte-Chapelle was stunning.
Day 2: Sainte Chapelle
After deciding we weren't that interested in the museums in the Hotel des Invalides, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower just to see it. This was taken a free minutes before an epic rain and wind storm that had us cowering under a shelter with a dozen other to
Day 2: Mere moments before a torrential downpour
Today we went to the Catacombs and Sacre-Coeur, which was (in my opinion) far more beautiful than Notre Dame. Unfortunately, I'm too inclined to follow rules and I saw a "no pictures" sign just as we walked in, so I didn't take any pictures of the inside.
Day 3: Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which is absolutely gorgeous on the inside
We spent ALL DAY at the Louvre, leaving only because my feet weren't having it anymore. We saw all the popular things, a few of my favourites, and I discovered some new favourites, like this: (detail of) Route de Grimsel, Canton de Bermé, a.k.a. Un orage
Day 4: The Louvre (detail of Route de Grimsel, Canton de Bermé, a.k.a. Un orage)
The only throne room on France with it's original furniture. N for Napoleon, of course. Fountainbleu was quite impressive and had some fabulous rooms.
Day 5: Château de Fontainebleau
When in Paris, visit a famous grave at Pere Lachaise. This is Chopin's, who's fans are classy and leave roses. We also saw Morrison's (super messy and covered in crap from fans), and Wilde's (covered in lipstick kisses). Mostly, we wandered around admirin
Day 6: Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (Chopin’s fans leave the loveliest tributes – all neatly placed flowers)
Château de Vicennes. Please note the people in the bottom right corner - they are dressed in period costume because a documentary was being filmed in the castle and church. I've decided that I'm a castle person. I love visiting them and take a ridiculous
Day 6: Château de Vincennes
One of two libraries we visited on the city hall (Hotel de Ville). We also saw the mayor's office and got to learn about some of the many trades the help maintain and preserve the building (it's their heritage weekend and they opened more of the building
Day 7: One of the Hôtel de Ville libraries
We had authentic ( and DELICIOUS) falafels from a place called Mi Va Mi.
Day 7: Best falafel ever!
Chantilly ❤🏰❤ This time we got audio guides. I highly recommend audio guides.
Day 8: Château de Chantilly
This is what happens when someone feeds you Chantilly creme (a thick, creamy whooped cream that had subtle hints of cream cheese and the perfect amount of sweetness). Or was divine!
Day 8: Chantilly cream covered desert
This pouch! It might be my favourite souvenir. It's the perfect size for my journal, Kobo, a few pens and some odds and ends. I have a few bum joints which haven't really recovered from the Louvre last week, so I'm taking the day off while my friend revi
Day 9: Rest Day (I took my books and sat in the hotel’s patio area)
I went somewhere. I bought some things. I now have an art print from a Parisian artist (the owner of the shop I was in, if I understood his friend correctly) and this cool little card, which I will frame as well. The print is an 11x17 piece with 3 image
Day 10: Art and a card from Mélodies Graphiques (thanks some recommendation from Holly)
I do love a good garden. This is at the Jardins des Plantes. Next time, I'd like to go to the botanical museum (it was closed today).
Day 10: Jardin des Plantes
Spent part of the morning hanging out on the steps below Sacré-Coeur basilica, listening to this harpist. We then headed over to Place du Tertre where I bought a lovely small painting of part of the Cité island (the Conciergerie, etc.). I loved it the mom
Day 11: Hanging out on the steps of Sacré-Cœur Basilica before heading over to Place du Tertre
We spent much of the afternoon people watching at Jardins du Luxembourg. Then we wandered up to the Seine to people watch on a bridge. Basically, we watched people all day.
Day 11: Jardin du Luxembourg
The Queen's room in Versailles was my favorite despite being far, far too opulent for me. It has a lot of very pretty stitched work.
Day 12: Château de Versailles
The fountains were turned off at Versailles (I think it was because of the high winds), but I still love this one.
Day 12: Château de Versailles
Musée d'Orsay ❤💛❤💛❤ Guess who got to see one of her favourite van Gogh's live and in person!?!
Day 13: Musée d’Orsay (so, so much love for this place)
I spent more money at Musée d'Orsay than I did anywhere else. That's a van Gogh canvas bag at the top 😍
Day 13: Musée d’Orsay souvenirs (most of which were for me)

We left early on Day 14.

Alberta Legislature Grounds

My walk to work always involves a trip up through the Alberta Legislature Grounds. This is partly because it’s a convenient way to to get into the section of downtown that I need to be in, but mostly because it’s a nice last bit of quiet and gardens for me to enjoy before having to think about the work day. The leaves are changing, but the gardens are still looking pretty good. One of these days, I’ll gather all the pictures I’ve taken over the years and give you a bit of a tour of the various monuments and garden sections, but, for now, here’s just a few pictures I’ve taken on recent strolls through the grounds.

Flowers
The upper pavilion has some lovely green areas, including this pocket of green and gold.
Reflection
The upper pavilion also has fountain feature at ground level. I prefer it in the morning when it doesn’t have the silly lights on (they’re embedded in the nozzles to light up the water).
Flowers
These are simply gorgeous.
Yesterday's clouds at the Alberta Legislature #ableg #clouds
Cloudy day.

Friday’s walk to work

Normally, my walk to work is uneventful and unexciting. Friday morning was different: I had to be social for a few minutes and I took a new route.

It started with a guy deciding to strike up a conversation and walk with me for a few minutes. It was first thing in the morning on a quiet trail and he was chatting me up. No, I’m not kidding! Thankfully, I was awake enough to keep up my guard and be non-committal with my chatter. Also, he took the first stairs we came upon (partly because I gave slightly incorrect directions to the nearest Timmy’s – rude, maybe, but I was a walking alone on a quiet trail!).

It threw me off, a bit. By the time I made it to the first fork in my usual route, I was still feeling like I needed to mentally reset myself. I had planned on taking the shorter route, but I took the longer route instead.

I got to the bottom of the hill I climb to get to the Legislature grounds, but I just wasn’t ready. I needed more quiet time. I wasn’t in a rush to get to work (I have somewhat flexible hours), so I veered off in a different direction. I knew the paths, I just hadn’t been on them in a while and I’d never taken that loop to get to work. I did briefly regret the decision when I remembered that there are several fairly steep sections of trail leading up to the High Level bridge, but it was worth it. The extra bit of walking was exactly what I needed and the view as I crossed the bridge was gorgeous.

I’m not sure I could do that route each day, but I’m definitely going to add it to my list of options for cool mornings. Of course, it took nearly twice as long as my usual route, so I’d have to leave a bit earlier, but I’m OK with that.

I took an extra long way to work today. It involved crossing the river.
The High Level bridge from below.
Tree lined path
The pretty sky made the steep climb up worth every step
Words of hope and love are cut into the path up to the High Level Bridge
Stained glass window

McKay Avenue School Museum

On Friday, I spent my lunch break at the McKay Avenue School Museum. Along with a lovely little park space and old schoolhouse, it’s home to a quiet and very interesting collection. Most of it relates to the history of the school and Edmonton schools in general, but there’s also a replica of the Legislative Assembly on the top floor. There’s a lot of interesting stuff (more than I had time to read) relating to the evolution of classrooms, training and events during war times, and the history of the public schools in Edmonton.

I had the museum all to myself so I got to wander through the creaky halls and take my time admiring all the little details, like the gorgeous chairs in the replicate Assembly.

It’s free (though, they are looking for donations to help repair the roof) and worth taking a slightly longer lunch break (or, going back several times).

Classroom, McKay Avenue School Museum
McKay Avenue School Museum
War Savings Pass Book, McKay Avenue School Museum
Chairs, McKay Avenue School Museum
Reproduction of the 1906 Legislative Chamber, McKay Avenue School Museum