Return to “ normal”

After weeks and weeks of walking an average of 20 kilometres a day I suppose it is “normal” to feel restless. There are things I must do. I have to shop for food, take my jacket to the cleaners, take care of my plants before snow comes. To be fair I am surrounded by beauty here just as I was in Spain

In the park around the corner

The trouble is I know this place too well. Also, I can get away with just sitting on my couch. I don’t have to worry about where I’ll sleep.

When I walk on the street or sit in the Metro I want to say “ good morning” to people as I did for so many weeks. They’d think I was mad. Isn’t it more mad to sit in a Metro car where every single person is hunched over his or her phone. Not one head was raised. How surprised that teenaged boy would have been if I had followed my impulse and took him by the scruff of the neck and and yelled “ wake up, kid! Your life is ticking away. Go and do one thing that has nothing to do with a screen!”

None of my business, right? Run the vacuum, make a cake for the kids, get the gas fire sorted. No more walking for now. Be “ normal”.Thank heaven for those kids who will be here tomorrow and will expect tacos. Get on it Granny!

At the River

Art Heals



I had a little blood test at the hospital today.  I seem to be doing a lot of tinkering with my health lately.  I find it excruciatingly boring but, like an old car, I suppose I need more maintenance these days.  Anyway, as you can see from the picture, an imposing statue of Queen Victoria has been hauled down the hill from the old Montreal hospital of that name.  I always noticed the great art in the old hospitals which have now been blended together in a brand new superhospital.  There have been all sorts of scandals surrounding the building of this facility but it does have the virtue of being on flat ground.  Four major hospitals were build half-way up the mountain in the middle of town!  Perhaps it was a sort of primitive screening tool.  If you didn’t have a heart attack or break your leg on the way up or down, you deserved  treatment.  Anyway, the three hospitals grouped in the new building are accessible by metro and there is ample (if expensive) parking.  Today I was thrilled to see my old favorite ensconced in the entrance hall.  We were even invited to touch the queen’s knee for good luck!  I was not aware that it was created by a niece of the queen, Lady Feodora Gleichen. When I say, niece, you really have to look her up on Google or Wikipedia which will give you the low-down on her connection, complete with family tree diagram.   Can you imagine a woman creating such a monument in the Victorian era.  Good for her!

There was a beautiful bronze and marble plaque on the other side of the hall and was amused to see that some observant passer-by had noticed the name of the artist.  It seems the official sent by the Royal Bank, who probably paid for the installation, had failed to see the name at the bottom of the plaque.  I think it was put up in the Royal Edward Chest Hospital on St. Urbain Street.  As far as I can make out, the inscription reads, “The Electric Spark which opened the doors of the Royal Edward institute for Tuberculosis at Montreal-  completing by the magical aid of science, a  noble Handiwork of Mercy.” It certainly is a strange dedication but that’s what I could make out.  I think it is shame that the artist who created this work doesn’t get credit so tomorrow I will brave the labyrinth of public relations of the Bank and try to get that corrected.

Now, as for the title of today’s post, that’s the philosophy of the community art activities of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where I volunteer.  What a great combination of science and art I experienced today.  I know if I had something really wrong with me I might not be so delighted with these old works.  Today I was lucky enough to find a touch of humanity and connection with our history as well as the high tech and mysterious world of modern medicine.


Wild or Tame?



Even in the city there are little spots of wildness. This year the lane behind my house has exploded with life. The usual beautiful tall flowers are there, white and green but migrants from the gardens have sprung up too ( so that’s where my hollyhocks went) Whether it was the cool wet spring or the beneign neglect of the householders, something kick started growth here. That means that there are more and different insects. I have seen strange little wasps, honey bees from my neighbor’s hive, bumble bees, dragonflies, a new flying insect that looks ordinary until it flies off, revealing red underwings. All this means that the birds are happy. Yesterday, late in the afternoon I enjoyed with my company the lively song of a cardinal and the finches serenade me most days. I have to be careful not to confuse the beautiful trills of a caged canary in a neighbor’s house with some wild bird song. Control yourself, Isobel! Don’t call the Audubon society. Yes, control yourself, but why control nature. You can see from the pictures that the other end of the lane is more manicured. My end is spookier at night. There are probably little colonies of mice living there, although the feral cats keep them down, I am sure. Among he wild raspberries grow deadly nightshade. I have a sinking feeling that one day the city will send a mowing machine down here as it has in the past. Perhaps austerity will save the green lane in spite of the grumbles next door. Go fix potholes, city workers and leave me alone in the little green world.