June, 2009

Annie’s Piano Recital and Mega-Hopscotch

This afternoon Annie had her piano recital. She goes to Beach Music Studio where she takes piano and song.

I was wondering why she wanted to go dressed in one of her dress-like dressing gowns, but as her teacher explained at the start of the show, Annie was a “double-threat”.

Annie Playing her Piano Tune

Turns out she had arranged to do a song-and-dance routine with her music teacher, singing “Barbie Girl” with her.

Annie and Her Music Teacher Singing “Barbie Girl”

Despite a few duff notes here and it was a good show, and it was interesting to see other students showing improvement over previous performances.

Annie Posing for a Shot by the Piano

I walked the kids home and got them lunch at the local Licks restaurant while Erika went off for another trumpet performance downtown.

The kids started playing with the neighbours, and after a while Vanessa came in and asked me what the world-record was for hopscotch length. She and Devin from a couple of doors over had made a hopscotch path that led all the way up the block, and went up to 550 (which unfortunately is a fraction of the world’s largest). Still, they had fun with it, as did I in taking pics of Vanessa hopscotching up the sidewalk.

Vanessa Making Her Way Up the Mega-Hopscotch on the Sidewalk

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A Selection from “Lizards and Snakes: Alive!” at the Ontario Science Center

Took the girls to see “Lizards and Snakes: Alive!” at the Ontario Science Center today. Renewed our membership there and we spent the whole day there seeing one thing or another.

This was one of the two new temporary exhibits, and certainly the more photogenic of the two. Here’s a selection:

A Veiled Chameleon

A Green Tree Monitor

A Blue-Tongue Skink

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Concert at the Balmy Beach Club

A neighbour of our arranged for terrific concert at the local Balmy Beach Club this evening. It featured a number of artists, though the headliner was for Mark Seymour, previously of the well-known 80’s Aussie band “Hunters and Collectors“.

All of the bands playing were good-to-great, and I was particularly struck by Paul Price, whose music and lyrics reminded me a of Radiohead; an influence I was convinced of when he did a stirring solo of Radiohead’s “High and Dry“. Here are some pics from that set:

A particularly good singer I thought — enough to convince me to buy his CD.

Another act followed (which didn’t really do anything for me), and then came the marquee act: Mark Seymour. Ended up taking about a hundred pictures of his set, and only singled out the following. (Note to self, save up now to buy a faster telephoto lens for taking better and sharper low-light pictures).

Fellow Aussie Cameron McKenzie (hope I have his name right) with the Canadian drummer in the background.

A great show filled with lots of energy which some of these pictures only hint at. Would definitely see him on stage again, though I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to see him at another venue as small or as intimate as this one was. A memorable concert.

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A Fly and a Moth

Even our small backyard can reward the patient photographer equipped with a macro lens. I started shooting some flowers, but in the end got taken in by a couple of insects instead.

Hover Fly on a Leaf

Interesting bug #1 – a Hover Fly, which looks like a fly with bee markings (a type of bee mimic).

Hopefully it is the sort that eats aphids, which are currently plaguing our honeysuckle.

Interesting bug #2 – Nope, not what you might think it is at first. Look more closely at what seems like a bird dropping on a leaf and you’ll see an antenna, wings, and a fussy eye looking straight at the camera. Am pretty sure it’s a Codling moth, which is apparently a real pest to Apple farmers. And looks like bird poop.

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Grape Vine Silhouette

Took over 70 pics today, mostly conventional shots of flowers from our back yard, and in the end I took about three shots of a grape vine silhouetted against the sky. Guess which one I liked best of the bunch.

To my mind it proves that experimenting with new angles and subject are always worthwhile.

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A Fancy Onion!

Took the dog for a walk down by Woodbine Park, and I ran across a bunch of these purple flowers, which are arranged in a sphere at the top of a think stalk. Too cool for me to pass up, especially since I had my macro lens with me.

I had no idea what it was, but then I found that a friend and former colleague had posted similar pics on his blog, and somebody mentioned what they were in the comments section: Allium, which is from the onion family. A very fancy onion indeed!

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Bard in the Park 2009

Was out with the girls in the afternoon, on a hunt for “puffy stickers” which are all the rage at Annie’s school right now, and along the way I insisted that we catch part of the free Shakespeare play (“The Merchant of Venice”) that was running in the large gazebo in the middle of Kew Beach park. Here are some shots taken with the telephoto lens.

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Pictures Taken During a Saturday Stroll Through the Beach

A glorious sunny day, so I took the dog for a long walk down by Woodbine Beach park. Here are some pics taken along the way.

A team practicing in a big ol’ canoe down by Woodbine Beach Park.

An unhappy female Red-Winged Blackbird telling me to go away from her nesting site in no uncertain terms.

An immature mallard drake checking me out. (Sorry, no bread).

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Annie’s 8th Birthday Party

We held Annie’s birthday party today — well over a month before her actual birthday since we’ve discovered that it is hard to get ahold of her friends for anything outside of the school year. It was a relatively small affair this year: a sleepover with three young friends invited (only one of whom ended up staying the night).

Cake was courtesy of Dufflet Pastry, from a gift certificate Annie won in a contest earlier in the year. Vanilla cake with chocolate icing – yum!

It was a rainy day all day, and having promised the kids attending that they could expect to go in Annie’s jumping castle, we actually managed to set the thing up in the living room. All possible breakables were moved away, and everything worked as expected, Annie’s friends working off their sugar intake a bit in the process.

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Ants on a Peony Bud

We have peonies in our backyard garden, on the verge of flowering. I saw that there were ants on every single bud. I had see this before, and didn’t think it a cause for alarm as I have never seen any damage done to the plant or to the flower, but had never looked into it.

What little I could find on the Web suggests that the ants are definitely not harming the plant in any way, though nobody seems to be entirely sure what they are doing.

Watching the ants it definitely appeared as though they were interested in some substance on the buds — the following picture shows a pair of ants with their pincers down on the split in the bud, seemingly touching the top surface but not doing any visible harm to the plant, or even gouging anything out of it. Whatever it is they are interested in must be on the top layer of the bud, perhaps a fine layer of liquid sugar or something similar. I also wonder if perhaps there is some benefit to the emerging flower, the ants likely driving away anything else that might do real harm to the plant.

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