Saturday, August 29, 2009

Northern Walking Stick in London

Addendum: This is the back! What do I know of Walking Sticks? Not much, obviously. Go to my newest picture of a Northern Walking Stick and meet one face to face. Cheers, Rockinon

I think these are among the neatest insects in southwestern Ontario. Walking sticks are found around the world but mostly in tropical regions. Only one is native to Canada, the northern walking stick, and it occurs only in southern Ontario and Quebec.

Saturday my wife spotted one on the side of our car. Very agile, with both claws and sucker pads on their feet, it had no problem walking about on our car's front door panel.

These insects are so well camouflaged, they look just like a short, thin twig, that kids capture them, put them in an aquarium filled with small branches and leaves, and then they promptly lose sight of their skinny pet.

It's best just to take the little insect's picture and leave them running free. Quite delicate, one can unintentionally injure a walking stick by handling them. Look but don't touch.

Later, I'm going to write a little on Rockin' On: Photography about how this shot was done. It will be a little photography lesson.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

If memory serves me correctly, this was a Toronto Dominion Bank when I first moved to London some decades ago. Slowly many of the core bank branches, housed in glorious older buildings, have been closed. If these buildings were to be saved, new uses for them had to be found. This one at the Dundas and Wellington Streets intersection was a tough sell.

Again, if my memory is correct, this building, which now houses the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, was originally facing demolition. It was city owned and thought to be a bit of a classic white elephant. But it was saved, beautifully restored, and renamed the J. Allyn Taylor Building after the very interesting, very warm, very civic minded gentleman, and he was a gentleman, who headed London-based Canada Trust, retiring as president in 1979.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Orange Pekoe

It has been a bit of stretch this week but the fact is that London is close to a great many interesting places both in Ontario and in the United States. London's location is one of the things that makes the city so appealing. A five minute drive down Colonel Talbot gets me onto the 402 and soon I'm booting east on 401. Less than four hours later I am on Lake Ontario at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. When I was young and loved driving, I would have considered Presqu'ile a destination worthy of a fast day trip. I'm older now and I think of this as a weekend trip. Tomorrow I'll be back posting pictures from London, Ontario, but for today just enjoy Pekoe.

Note: the angle used in shooting Pekoe. The rule: when shooting kids and animals try to get down to their eye level. Generally, it is not a good idea to stand tall and shoot down.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Presqu'ile pine grove

The largest known example of striped maple in Canada is found in Jobe's Woods in Presqu'ile Provincial Park in Ontario. I guess I'll have to go back to the park because I missed them. What I didn't miss was this stand of pines. Planted in a neat rows, these neatly spaced and incredibly straight trees made a picture. Maybe if I go back, the striped maples will make a picture, too. After all, it is only a few hours from London.

Monday, August 24, 2009

4 hours from London

A quick four hour drive east from London takes you to Presqu'ile Bay, beside the provincial park of the same name. My wife and I have friends with a compact but room-rich cottage on the edge of the bay just outside the park. A few years back they bought the cottage, repaired it, remodelled it, and now they enjoy it.

My test of a country home: "Can I buy my milk within a five minute drive?" The town of Brighton is nearby. Their little bit of heaven passes my test.

Late summer blooms

One of the best things about London, Ontario, is its location in the middle of southwestern Ontario. It is an hour or less to get to either Lake Erie or Lake Huron and Lake Ontario is only a couple of hours distant. In the coming days we will post pictures from a destination on Lake Ontario which, thanks to Highway 401, is less than four hours from London.

In the United States, bumblebees pollinate an estimated 15 percent of all crops, crops worth an estimated $3 billion. The American bumblebees are particularly valuable for pollinating greenhouse plants in the U.S. such as tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.

Seeing the bright yellow, orange, violet and foliage green I could not resist posting this image taken while walking near Lake Ontario south of Brighton, Ontario. I was on weekend get away just hours from home.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Talbot Centre Mall

I believe the Talbot Centre Mall, it is more of an office complex than mall, has been standing for twenty years of more. This is one of two twin towers and although I was not immediately drawn to the complex, with the passing of time, I find I like the towers more and more.

Pocket Scales $40 Tax Included

Amazing what you can find at the pawn shop. The price seems reasonable but really what does one do with a set of pocket scales?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taking the green way home

Some people use a car to get to work, often driving alone. Others reduce their impact on the plant and save a little money taking the bus, often crushed by others. But this young woman, sighted leaving an office building in downtown London, leaves the smallest footprint possible and doesn't have to be packed like a sardine to do it. On leaving work, she changed from her shoes into her rollerblades while sitting on the office building steps. With an adjustment to her personal music player she was off. For miles per gallon bragging rights, the Chevy Volt has nothing on this lady.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Morgan morning

A little camera with a wide angle lens, a warm sun burning off the morning mist, and a Morgan booting it down 402 towards 401 and you have a picture. The Morgan has enjoyed the roads around London this summer. The cool weather has made the old car comfortable; why, it's just like being back home. Hey, the town is London and the river running through town is the Thames. My, the lengths to which these Canadians will go to make an old car feel welcome.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

An August Morning

My wife and I had to be in Ancaster by 8:30 a.m. It was already past seven as we headed south on Colonel Talbot for the 402. But running late or not, when I saw the mist hanging over the field at Southfield Road I had to pull over. This was just the first of many chances to take a fine photo but after shooting this one, there simply was no time. Too bad.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Pesticides Banned in Ontario, Are Parks Safer?

Ontario’s parks became a lot healthier on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. That’s the date when the provincial ban of the cosmetic use of pesticides throughout Ontario came into effect. After listening to medical experts — like the Canadian Cancer Society — the ban was instituted to reduce exposure to pesticides, particularly by children who, because of their small size, are more susceptible to the toxic effects of pesticides.

I wonder what overriding concern demanded the application of an unnamed pesticide here in Springbank Park in London, Ontario. The small ducks swimming about the pond may, by the government's logic, be affected. I called the posted number but got an answering machine. I'm going to guess something has been used for fighting the West Nile Virus by going after mosquito larvae in the pond water. It would be nice if that information was given on the warning sign. The sign left a lot of strollers, especially those with young children, worried.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Only God Can Make a Tree...

American poet Joyce Kilmer wrote, "...only God can make a tree." True, but man trims it. For years I have admired this beautifully shaped red maple sitting on a ridge overlooking the city. Change the time of day, or the weather, and the whole picture changes dramatically. I naively thought the tree's shape was natural, a wonderful happenstance. Wrong.

This beautiful tree is an example of true placemaking in action. It adds one more reason to visit this little parkette. This tree symbolizes an attitude, an attitude of care, of involvement in one's immediate world, of making aesthetic decisions and following through on them. The home owner could simply sit back and let the tree grow and expand and if a limb overhung the home, the offending limb could be chopped off. It would be a totally practical approach and not unknown. But no, this homeowner opts for beauty. Kudos!

To see what happens when there is absolutely no attitude of care read my piece featuring the trees in front of The London Free Press, a company that talks the talk but stumbles when it comes to walking the walk.

Addendum: the fellows from Abel Tree Expert Co. did such a fine job on my neighbour's trees, I immediately hired them to trim my personal little forest. This is not an ad. I get nothing for telling you that I was happy with their work and their fee. Abel Tree Expert Co. : 519-652-0927.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reflections on City Centre Towers

HSBC now occupies the important corner office but originally this was the Credit Foncier building. The glass panels reflect the City Centre towers. If we reflect on the towers, we recall a fine hotel, Hotel London, was demolished to make room for those concrete monoliths. Londoners old enough to recall the grand, old hotel speak fondly of its elegance and early last century charm.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More Healthy Living

He glided by me. Man, I wanted to capture that feeling of motion. My little Canon Elph SD10 let me down. It picked too fast a shutter speed and froze the action. This despite the fact that I was running along beside my subject. Oh well, there is always Photoshop and its motion blur filter. Now the picture feels right.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Healthy Living

I cannot recall anyone over sixteen running anywhere when I was young. It just wasn't done. I rode a bike until I was sixteen and I can assure you that that wasn't cool. Sunday it was hot and humid, more than 30 degrees with 94% humidity. Despite the muggy weather, London parks were filled with strollers, both the two legged kind and the ones on four wheels. These two jogging moms, one with pony tail bobbing from the fast pace, were staying in shape and giving their young children a powerful lesson in healthy living. (They also gave an aging photographer a workout. These two ladies were making good time as they pushed those strollers through Springbank Park.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Gardner Galleries

In 1971 Jason Gardner purchased 186 York Street, an historic 1908 building in the heart of downtown London directly across from the Via Rail Station. With over 2325 square metres on five levels and two salerooms, this was the largest auction house in southwestern Ontario. Gardner, only the second owner, kept the rare terra cotta exterior and most of the original interior while updating air conditioning and installing state of the art alarms.

Jason Gardner passed away in 2008, after a career spanning more than 60 years as an auctioneer and appraiser. What the future holds for 186 York Street is a question.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This may be my last new lily of the summer.

It's August and my lilies are just about done. Oh, there are a few stragglers but they are all on plants that have already had numerous blooms. I don't think there are any surprises left. Ah, but it was fun while it lasted. When you grow lilies you have both a bit of history and bit of twentieth century creativity. Lilies have been grown for thousands of years but it was not until about halfway through the last century that the hybrid revolution took root. It's no accident that my lilies are extremely robust. They were bred to be that way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Citi Plaza Light Show

London photographer, Steve Martin, let me know that I missed the light show when I shot my picture of the new entrance to Citi Plaza, the former Galleria London mall. At night the new entrance glows with a rainbow of colours. O.K. I admit it. I missed something cool.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wolf Sculpture Garden

One of the coolest spots in London is at the forks of the Thames, hidden behind the art gallery. It is the Wolf Sculpture Garden — a permanent memorial to Bernard Wolf.

Bernard Wolf and his nephew Norton established the Bernard and Norton Wolf Family Foundation in 1982. The Foundation's support for improving the quality of life in the London, Ontario, community is focused on health facilities, children, culture and the arts. Past support includes: Museum London, The London Children's Museum, Fanshawe Pioneer Village, Gibbons Park, The Grand Theatre, London Health Sciences Centre, and the London Public Library.

The Wolf family has been in London for more than 100 years. Their imprint on the city will last far longer. The Foundation's generousity is downright heart-warming. One might say that the Foundation itself is pretty cool.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Expressions in Chalk

There's a new reason for going downtown in London, Ontario, every weekend. This weekend, the first weekend in August, there is the Rib Fest and also the Imadon Street Painting Festival, Expressions in Chalk. Over 40 street painters are competing in the event and admission is free. Talbot Street between the JLC and Covent Garden Market was closed for the street painters, leaving lots of room for strolling gawkers. London can be a lot of fun.