Monday, May 28, 2012

Raggedy Beauty

This butterfly has been frequenting my lilac tree all week now.  He's been an illusive fellow, resisting all of my attempts to take his photo.  I stood quietly, camera poised, for the longest time before I became just another part of the scenery.  This allowed him to return from his safe spot high in the Linden tree, lured by the sweet blooms.  My vigil was made even more difficult by the huge bumble bees that were also enjoying this fragrant part of my garden.  I appreciate bees but would rather observe them from a distance.  Standing still while they buzzed in my ear was a bit nerve racking.  Did I mention they were HUGE?

When he finally fluttered into my viewfinder, I saw that he was a bit raggedy around the edges,  something I have never before noticed with the other butterflies that I have been fortunate enough to glimpse.  A quick search of "butterfly life span" in Wikipedia reveales that "butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species" and so I'm thinking that maybe this one is approaching the end of his time.  If that's the case, I'm so glad that he shared his beauty with me and I do hope that he is enjoying his final days in amongst the lilacs.

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic (May 27, 2012)

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Chanel in Versailles: Seriously Frivolous

Backstages by Benoit Peverelli (Versailles16may12)

Karl Lagerfeld described his latest collection for Chanel as "Seriously frivolous".  I don't know about you, but I could certainly use a heaping dose of fantasy & frivolity right about now!!

Though my day-to-day world seldom intersects with that of haute couture, my work in SecondLife® (see Tatiana's Tea Room) assures that I keep an eye out for anything concerning the Chateau de Versailles in France.  I was absolutely delighted to see that Chanel was presenting its 2013 Cruise Collection in the palace gardens among the fountains.

Look at the detailing on these pieces. It makes me happy just ogling it and I imagine Marie Antoinette would agree!

“The image of France has been a little sad: the gray uniform of Europe,” Mr. Lagerfeld said afterward, sipping Diet Coke but letting his audience eat foes gras and cake. The chandelier-filled ephemeral party place seemed like an upgrade on the French queen’s private retreat, the Petit Trianon.
“The Enlightenment was the best thing that happened to Europe, not debating in Brussels,” continued Mr. Lagerfeld, comparing the cultural period following the dark medieval years to the European Union era.

“I wanted to give France back some lightness,” he said.

Thank you, Mr. Lagerfeld.  This student of Versailles loves seeing its gardens filled with such magical life. We can all do with a little more lightness!

Photos: British Vogue

June 4, 2012: For more delightful news of Versailles see Versailles: Transported

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Dances

Like her mother before her, my daughter is a dancer.  Truth be told, she is a much better dancer than I ever was though our appreciation for the joy of dance remains on an equal footing.  Like my mother before me, I (and my husband) provide the parental support necessary to smooth her way.

Thus for many years, her dancing added an extra special twist to Mother's Day which inevitably fell on an out-of-town competition weekend.  Bright and early Sunday morning all of us "dance moms" would be seated in the theatre girding ourselves for the third consecutive eighteen hour day to come.  Slumping a bit in our seats, we would give a little grunt when the ever-so-chipper Master of Ceremonies would wish us a "Happy Mother's Day" at the start of the program.

My husband, literal-minded male that he is, perceived our attitude as one of discontent and would often comment that this was a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day. Well of course it was!!

Watching our children working so hard at something they loved, watching as they matured into confident, resilient adults was absolutely the best gift ever, even if we greeted the day with a bit of a teasing groan.

My daughter has graduated from competing to teaching dance, hanging up her own pointe shoes in favour of nurturing all the new budding ballerinas.  I'm sure her students and her formerly aching toes thank her for it.

I now enjoy a more leisurely Mother's Day but I still can't help thinking of all those dedicated mothers out there.  Whether it's sitting in a cold hockey arena in the middle of January or an early morning theatre call in the middle of May, you're doing a great job and I salute you.

Brava Ladies!!  Take a well-deserved bow on your day!!

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic (May 11, 2012)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

South March Highlands: Little Gems

Erythronium americanum (Trout lily, Yellow trout lily)

It seems that I spend a lot of time walking through the woods with my head down at this time of year.  I've developed this habit because I'm often rewarded with a glimpse of a Spring ephemeralperennial woodland wildflowers that make a brief appearance each spring, fading before the trees come into full leaf.

These little gems are sprinkled throughout the South March Highlands which makes any hike through the forest at this time of year a wildflower treasure hunt.  You will often see me lagging behind my husband and daughter as they march purposefully ahead.  I know that there's beauty hidden in the underbrush and I'm determined to find it!

With the exception of the Trillium, which I think of as the flashy showgirl of the bunch, it seems that most of these wildflowers are rather retiring.  Nestled in mounds of dried leaves, hiding behind fallen branches, they sun themselves in the abundant light that is not yet filtered by the forest canopy.  You need patience and a sharp eye to spot them which makes their discovery all the more special.

Trillium grandiflorum (White trillium)

Photographing them is another challenge particularly because you have to get close enough to your subject without stepping on and thereby squashing their surrounding cousins.  I imagine that it's rather like sneaking up on a reclusive celebrity, tiptoeing so that you won't leave a trail.  It's hard to be that graceful when you're wearing hiking boots!

Trillium grandiflorum (White trillium)

As I've mentioned in Time for Trilliums I've been enjoying wildflower spotting since my childhood in Northwestern Ontario when my aunt would recruit me for her adventures in the woods.  How fortunate I am to have the same experience here in Ottawa and to be able to share it with my own daughter.  Now if I could only get my husband to slow down a wee bit more while navigating the trails, but that's a story for another day ;)

Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian or Canada Columbine, Eastern Red Columbine, Wild Columbine, and Honeysuckle)

South March Highlands: Little Gems by  on 2012-05-10
Spring Ephemerals of the South March Highlands.

Images: Tatiana Dokuchic (May 6, 2012)

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bird Blog: Meet Mr & Mrs Mallard

This is the third year that our backyard feeder has been visited by a pair of Mallard ducks.  I prefer to think of them as "Mr & Mrs", i.e. the same couple, even after learning that they usually only form pairs from October to May when the female is left by the male to nest & the raise her young by herself.  Perhaps that explains why the conversations that I imagine between the two of them always have her sounding rather frustrated & cross with him.

They typically arrive in late winter, when the snow is still on the ground.  The first year, she was the one that landed in our yard, approaching the feeder with great caution.  He was spotted either circling above in the air or hiding back in the trees.  It took quite a few days before he would also land in the yard and quite a few more before he edged his way over to the feeder.  I could hear her mumbling between mouthfuls of seed "Get over it you old fool, pickings are slim this time of year!".

The first time I saw them this year, I'm sure she was telling him "Yes, this is the spot.  Yes, I'm sure it's the same spot as last year and the year before.  No, it's not that other feeder three doors down, it's this one."  She started to eat, he held back for a while but eventually joined her.  I actually voiced this conversation out loud and my husband asked why it was always Mr Mallard playing the dolt.  Here I thought I was just stating the obvious ;)

The regulars at the feeder (chipmunks, squirrels, various other birds) are always a bit disconcerted by the arrival of the Mallards but as you can see from this photo they have now established quite a cordial relationship.

Typically one duck eats while the other stands guard and then they switch around.  I think this is an excellent arrangement as a little red fox has recently been sighted quickly making its way through the rough just behind the feeder.  I know that the fox has to eat too but I would really prefer that it not be one of "my" ducks.

I don't expect Mr & Mrs Mallard to be dining with us for much longer this year as they usually disappear around this time.  I'll miss their morning & evening visits.  I'm wishing them all the best and hoping to see them return for a fourth season.

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic (May 2, 2012)