Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrating a Birthday

Last Saturday our middle granddaughter turned four, and on Sunday she came to our house with her big sister to celebrate.

We went exploring and she climbed up on their favourite rock next to the brook.

They both dressed in the pixie costumes Lorraine had found and discovered Pixieland under the big apple tree where the hawthorn petals had been falling.

She showed that she has learned how to really pump a swing high.

Because she doesn't especially like cake, they decorated chocolate chip cookies for the event.

And we all blew out our cookie candles.

A very good time was had by all!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Man, a Dog, and a Green Hill

One of the many joys of being part of Lorraine’s photographic practice has always been travelling with her to scout for locations. 

When we were looking for sites in various regions of Canada to make her Illuminated Petragraphs images (check them out here), we had a pretty rigorous regime.  In the evenings we had to be on location at least an hour before sunset to get the landscape image and didn’t usually leave until three or four hours later after darkness had fallen and the jewel-like projected image was double-exposed on top of it.  And mornings had us finding our way to the location at about four to photograph the projection in total darkness, well before sunrise lit up the surrounding landscape for the second shot.

We spent a lot of time waiting for the right light and watched a lot of sunrises and sets, which was a wonderful contemplative way to spend our time, but in between the morning and evening shoots we were always searching for our next locations.  What we needed was the right rock in the right orientation in the right landscape setting, and this took us down little roads to the shoreline, across fields, up rock faces, or through forest trails.  We were on a quest, the adventure was always in the looking, and finding the right rock for the next morning or evening was a shared moment of pleasure.

Other series took us to other places, like the ancient roadway in Jordan leading up to Herod’s palace or the rocky outcrops on the south side of Crete or the walled walkway in Jerusalem’s Old City, and every place, every location we returned to when the light was right, was the result of an adventure in looking. 

The forecast for last Sunday evening suggested that the fog wouldn’t let us get the shots we wanted at Crystal Crescent Beach, so Lorraine decided that we needed to go inland and we headed off to check out Laurie Park and Oakfield Park.  We went in roads and walked over fields, checking slopes and view planes and trying to determine without a compass or a clear location of the sun behind the clouds where it would set that night. 

We had a couple of reasons for being out there looking: the first was that the sky was supposed to clear that afternoon, so an evening shot was possible, as long as it was far enough inland to escape the fog; the second was that the man with the dog was available only on Sunday evenings and was getting married next weekend.   A further reason, of course, was that once the idea had taken shape it was important to get out and do the thing.

The park areas didn’t work, but finally we checked out the large dairy farms you can see from the highway  out near Milford where we found a couple of fields that were possible.  The first one we walked over had a transmission tower and power lines running across it.  A young eagle flew over and perched in the tower, which reminded me of the time in Oman we walked past power lines into the desert to check out a possible location and saw on our walk back more than a dozen vultures in one tower.  Just in case we didn’t make it all the way to the car, I’d guess.

The hay had been cut on the second one, which was clear of obstructions, and Lorraine decided it was likely the right one, so we found the owner, asked him where the sun would be setting, and got permission to come back to photograph.  So we came back that evening with the man and his dog in the back of our car and learned a lot about training dogs and their humans along the way.  

Another great joy for me is being there on the shoot, which it was, and recording some of the action with my little Lumix, but that may just have to be another story.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Our Turkish breakfast

It is June here and we are not in Istanbul; in fact, this is the first spring since 2004 that we have not been in Istanbul.  We miss it, especially in spring.

So when E., our daughter, arrived from Ontario on Friday night, I suggested that we have a Turkish breakfast (kahvaltı) in the morning.  She had spent two years (and thus two springs) in Istanbul, and we had happy shared memories of Saturday or Sunday morning kahvaltı somewhere along the Bosphorus.

I knew we had good tomatoes to slice up and some fine small cucumbers, maybe not the choice curvy Çengelköy variety, but compact and tasty.  There was also no crumbly beyaz peynir, but we did have good Nova Scotian feta cheese.  Although the olives, both green and black, were Greek rather than Turkish, at least we were geographically close on that front. 

Often at the studio in Ortaköy where we usually spent our weekends, we put together our own breakfasts.  It was only a short walk to a bakery where we could buy fresh bread (ekmek), still warm and smelling faintly of woodsmoke, poğaça, great little buns that were plain (sade) or cheese-filled (peynirli), or fresh simit, like slender sesame covered bagels, also faintly smoky.  And if we needed something more, like a variety of breakfast cheeses or a small bag of fresh eggs or some thick kaymaklı yoghurt with a crust of yellow cream on top, there was always the kahvaltı shop just around the corner.

Or you could eat out.  We could walk to the Cheesecake Café down on the waterfront and enjoy their good 11 lira breakfast that included fine crisp sigara borek pastries and plenty of Turkish tea (çay) always çok açık (not too strong).  If we were more ambitious and/or wanted a real treat, we would hop on a bus or get the car and go to Emirgan, which was on the sahil yolu (Seaside Road) in Emirgan and was one of the finest kahvaltı spots we knew, famous for its bal kaymak, a small cylinder of white clotted cream with golden honey poured over it, perfect to spread on fresh ekmek.  Or we could go a little farther for some great menemen at the tiny place right on the water in Istinye where you could lean your elbow on the seawall while you ate if you were early enough to get that table.

I have wandered a little from my plan for a Turkish breakfast here on Saturday morning, but I realize in writing this how strong and fond are my memories of those weekend breakfasts along the Bosphorus.  So I suppose it does make sense that when I put out fruit, olives, vegetables, and cheese, sliced the bread, made ihlamur (linden) tea in the little teapot from the Ortaköy eskici, and cooled the boiled eggs under the tap, I would want to take a picture of the spread and write something about what it all meant.

It was Halifax Harbour outside the window and not the Bosphorus, but our Ferguson’s Cove kahvaltı was a pretty good treat on Saturday morning for us three expats homesick for Istanbul.