Monday, March 18, 2019

A silent street corner moment with grandma

No one's home
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm walking back to my hotel when I notice them: A stack of balconies on an otherwise unremarkable building, the midday sun painting stark, temporary, linear art against the concrete surfacing, largely ignored by the thousands of people who stream through the adjacent intersection on any given day.

So I do what I've been doing for much of my adult life: I decide to take a picture. I carefully slip my backpack off and slide it to the ground, then pull my camera out. An elderly lady with strangely blue-tinted hair and carrying a pink floral tote bag stops to watch. I'm sure she thinks I'm a terrorist casing the joint, but after I smile at her and she smiles back, I assume she gets it now.

I take my time composing this one. I've just closed off the conference from the main stage, and I'm feeling pretty good about what our team has accomplished. I'm walking back to my hotel room to power down for a bit before spooling back up for the long trip home. The building is hundreds of metres away, but the miracle of a long lens makes the shot possible. I rack off a few promising frames before just as carefully sliding the camera back into my backpack and hoisting the heavy load back up. That's when I notice my new octogenarian friend is still standing behind me, clearly interested in what I'm up to. But since she hasn't ninja-jumped me just yet, I figure we're OK.

I smile at her again. She waves before she turns around and starts walking away from me across six lanes of traffic. We haven't exchanged a word, yet somehow I suspect both of us won't soon forget this odd-yet-somehow-charming moment at the corner of International Drive and Destination Parkway. If her memory of this brings her a smile - as it does me - then we'll call it mission accomplished.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #rosencentre #hilton #hotel #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #line #lines #geometry #geometric #concrete #architecture #sun #light #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A bridge (not) too far

Shadows in the afternoon light
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A concrete and steel overhead walkway bakes in the Florida sun, its pastel-painted surface amplifying the intensity of the heat for anyone silly enough to be outside on this unseasonably hot afternoon.

The conference inside the hotel is on a bit of a break, so I take a moment to poke my head outside, to look at something other than a computer screen, a podium, or stage lights.

I'm simply here to get some air, to catch my breath, to enjoy a tiny moment of quiet before the next round of presentations begins. This isn't supposed to turn into a photo shoot, but the shadows seem to have other plans. I think to myself I should just come back later when I have a bit more time. But by then the sun will have moved, and the shadows will likely be elsewhere. Or gone entirely.

So I spend a minute waiting for a couple of stray pedestrians to disappear, then another two minutes taking bizarro photos of something I'm sure has no interest to anyone else.

But that's not the point here, anyway. I'm just taking a time-out from a marathon of frenetic activity to connect with the space around me, which I'd otherwise completely miss.

Waiting until later? Not an option. Something else - or more likely, many something elses - will come up. Or I'll forget. Or...you never know. Because none of us is ever guaranteed a next time. Or a tomorrow.

So I shoot now. Fast. As I head back inside to my customary spot behind the podium to introduce the next round of speakers, no one has any idea why I've cracked a wry smile.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #rosencentre #hotel #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #line #lines #geometry #geometric #concrete #architecture #sun #light #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, March 16, 2019

It only looks like a sheet

Looking at life in the margins
Toronto, ON
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: We've just wrapped up a long couple of days shooting videos in our Toronto office. We've completed two pilot episodes for a new - and really cool - series (more on that later), and I've learned a heck of a lot from my colleagues in the process. We're all feeling pretty good about what we've accomplished, and as I often do after an intense few days of effort, I try to slow the moment down.

I notice the covers on our production team's LED lights, and I zero in on the fabric diffuser/cover. The texture grabs my attention and refuses to let go. I'm weird in many ways, and this is one of them: I often stare at otherwise mundane objects and/or scenes for inordinate amounts of time, and I am patently unable to explain why.

On the train home, I review the pics on my phone and decide I like this one. I also decide I need to shoot more in-the-margins scenes. Because up until I shot this particular scene, I had been moving a mile a minute for days on end, and the moment you see here was the first time in an age that I had hit the brakes and allowed myself to breathe.

It's not an easy thing to prioritize, this stop-and-breathe thing. The planet seems to compel us to never stop moving. And even when we physically stop, our minds race, largely driven by the sub-life we now all live online. The digital/mobile/social era seems to leave no room for living in the margins.

Consider this photo my refusal to submit to that assumption, because always-on is hardly a recipe for a life well lived. And expect more pics like this in future. We'll hashtag 'em #lifeinthemargins. You're all free to use it. Who's with me?

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #google #pixel2 #teampixel #travel #travelphotography #photography #monochrome #white #black #video #videography #shoot #photooftheday #instagood #texture #sheet #touch #light #family #is #everything

Friday, March 15, 2019

The wisdom of the crowd

Take me out to the ballgame
Toronto, ON
July 2014
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I took this photo on a hot July afternoon in 2014 in Toronto's Rogers Centre stadium, where my little family and I joined a few thousand of our closest friends to take in a Blue Jays game.

Today it has even more significance, as it illustrates how we can, at once, be both unique and connected. And in light of the mosque massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, I've been looking for ways to dampen the sense of despair that overwhelms me every time some hate-filled dumb-fuck, pathetic excuse of a human being decides to pick up a gun to "prove" something. There, I swore. Mark this day.

But on this typically perfect afternoon at the ballyard, I was feeling decidedly more at-peace with the universe. Bathed by a sunny, deep blue sky, the good guys beat the Texas Rangers 9-6, and my wife and kids were happy. Come to think of it, everyone around us was happy, even the folks wearing Rangers jerseys. There was lots of good-natured chit-chat flying back and forth in the stands, a reminder, perhaps, of our collective need to occasionally get away from the glow of the giant screens at home and experience an event first-hand, surrounded by strangers.

No one vilified anyone for being a Muslim, a Jew, an immigrant, an other. No one raged online about white power. We were all fans, 36,000 of us deciding to leave the world behind the turnstiles for a few hours while we hung out in the blue plastic seats and took in some ball.

In the end, I know I'm not kidding anyone: Monsters live among us, and they are increasingly emboldened to act. Nothing stops them from deciding that, today, it's our turn to be targeted simply because of who we are. But a quick snap of a crowd at a ballgame illustrates, to me at least, that we're capable of more. That it doesn't take much for us to gather, in a common place, around a common theme, for a common purpose, and simply enjoy the moment, together, for what it is. It's called being human.

#toronto #ontario #canada #BlueJays #baseball #Christchurch #NewZealand #NewZealandShooting #Rogers #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photography #dslr #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photooftheday #instagood #throwback #parenthood #family #is #everything

New Zealand mosque shooting targets us all

Your heart can't help but hurt upon hearing the news.

Your brain can't help but think, "Here we go again."

The headlines are too awful to contemplate: Gunmen targeted two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 people attending Friday prayers (CTV, CBC, CNN) and seriously injuring at least 20 more. As if the prospect of well-coordinated attacks against members of a faith-based group couldn't be any more sickening, photos shared online of ammo reportedly belonging to one of the gunmen shows the name, "Bissonnette", an apparent reference to Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot 6 victims dead at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017 and has been sentenced to 40 years behind bars.

So now, apparently, they're inspiring each other.

Let's be clear: This isn't just an attack on one community. It's an attack on all of us. On anyone who dares to be part of a community. Today our Muslim brothers and sisters were gunned down in cold blood because of who they were. Last October, Jews were slaughtered in Pittsburgh for having the temerity to attend synagogue. Next up? Who knows? But I cringe at the thought that there will be a next time.

We live in politically polarizing times, where some of our most powerful leaders dog-whistle to racist supporters, where white supremacy has been legitimized in the highest corridors of power, where the torch of anti-immigrant sentiment burns with an intensity not seen since 1930s Germany. We said "Never again", but we didn't seem to mean it.

In the wake of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, I wrote this, and after re-reading it today, I realize not a whole lot has changed. The forces of hatred, legitimized as they have been by the rhetoric that fills mainstream and social media news feeds, aren't just theoretical constructs, anymore. They're real, and they're coming for all of us where we live, where we work, where we gather.

The solution? It starts with us, with one. If you do one thing today, please reach out to someone you know. Connect across the non-existent divides that the haters insist should define our time here on Earth. Muslims did this for Jews in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting, and that more than anything reinforced, then as now, that there is hope. We're better than this. One relationship at a time, we need to illustrate to those who would push hatred and divisiveness that their world view doesn't cut it anymore.

When we say, "Never again", we must mean it. And we must be willing to act. Otherwise, our new normal will be this. Or worse.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

When dogs fly

She plays, hard
London, ON
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We took Calli the Wonderschnauzer to the nearby dog run over the weekend in a vain attempt to wear her out. She may be small on the outside, but on the inside she's an endless bundle of energy, and she dominates every room she's in.

As you can see here, she seems to have enjoyed the experience. She's quite the jumper, and will happily snatch balls out of mid-air all day if we'll let her. So we played fetch, occasionally stepping back to quietly watch her do her thing. We do that often, just watch. Because doing so, especially now, gives us a sliver of time when nothing else matters beyond whether or not she catches a slobber-covered ball and whether or not she feels like giving it back to us. It's a good way to live.

In Calli's little world, life is as simple as it needs to be, and it allows her to focus on the here and now without worrying about anything else. Indeed, if I was flinging myself headlong through the air, I'd probably want to be 100% focused on that, too. I often muse that it would be fun to be her for a day. But since that isn't possible, hanging out with her in the snow will do just fine.

Conventional wisdom might dictate that a dog can't teach humans, but conventional wisdom would be dead wrong. This little one teaches us more than we - or she - could ever know. And as the snow slowly melts over the next few weeks, I see more playdates with a ball and open space and a flying, happy pup in our near future. If only the rest of our collective lives could be this simple.

#Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #LittleMissCalli #dog #puppy #schnauzerlife #schnauzermini #schnauzerpuppy #minischnauzersofinstagram #schnauzersofinstagram #minischnauzer #miniatureschnauzer #miniatureschnauzers #minischnauzers #schnauzergram #miniatureschnauzersofinstagram #schnauzers #schnauzersofinstagram #petstagram #instadog #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #pets #family #is #everything #ldnont #london #ontario #canada @schnauzer_planet @schnauzerworld

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cathedral in the forest

Makes me feel small
London, ON
November 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This was taken on a "before" day, before we learned to dread the ringing of a phone, before our lives turned toward the uncertain.

I was on a photo walk with our daughter, with no agenda for either of us beyond exploring a new-to-us space - in this case a jewel called the Sifton Bog - and shooting whatever happened to move us.

The cathedral of trees backstopped against a heart-stopping blue sky felt like an appropriate signature of an afternoon I wish I could seal away and preserve forever. She inherited not only the creative gene from her lovely mom, but the kindness one, as well, and days like this, where we hang out together and take in the scene through well-used glass, remind me again why becoming parents was such a good call for us.

It made us feel somewhat humbled to be in a place so rich with life - or in this case, potential life - and we swapped suggestions as we positioned ourselves on the narrow boardwalk and pointed our cameras skyward.

You hold onto the memory of days like this when the scene in front of you is significantly more challenging. And you quietly make plans to make it happen again as soon as circumstance allows.

Because life notwithstanding, we're all blessed in some way, and all we need to do is focus on the moments where those blessings, like an afternoon with my kid, present themselves to us.

#ldnont #tree #trees #sky #sifton #bog #blue #mother #nature #perspective #weather #wx #naturephotography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photography #dslr #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photooftheday #instagood #parenthood #london #ontario #canada #family #is #everything

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Rebuilding the sky

Please don't fall
London, ON
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Just across the parking lot from our new office, a major area developer is putting up a massive condo. It's a rare treat to watch a building take shape over the course of months and years, to watch it slowly grow, one floor at a time, toward the sky, to take in the redrawing of the skyline from just across the way. Every day brings something new, something unexpected. And no one else gets - or apparently cares - to be witness to the transformation. It's like your own private viewing party.

The crane you see here towers hundreds of feet above the project, a central player in an ongoing ballet dance of coordinated deliveries, lifts, and installations. They're pros here. Habe to be. I often look up at the crane and quietly thank the folks who designed and built it, as well as the teams that operate it now, for ensuring it doesn't squash any of us as we go about our day. I look at the ladder and realize every morning, one brave soul climbs it, alone. Now that would be a picture. Perhaps another day I'll be lucky enough to be around when the operator first gets here.

Eventually the building will be topped off. The construction crews will clean up the site, remove the hoarding, and disappear for good. Residents will move in, their stuff slowly spreading out onto the once-pristine balconies, the white concrete of the parking garage ramps slowly turning grey.

No one will remember what it was like during this temporary in-between state, when the sunset still shone unhindered. And all that remains of this transient moment in time, when emptiness was slowly transformed into something more tangible, will be furtively stolen moments like this one. Construction as metaphor for life? Maybe.

#ldnont #riverwalk #street #photography #downtown #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #steel #construction #engineering #lines #condo #life #ontario #canada #sunset #sky #weather #wx #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #family #is #everything

Monday, March 11, 2019

A dark day for aviation

Fat Albert grows up
Toronto, ON
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm a bit of an avgeek, but only if you replace "bit of" with "psychotically over-the-top". I've loved airplanes since I was a child, often lying face-up on our lawn for hours on end so I could watch jets paint the blue sky white with their contrails.

Why? I don't know. Part of it might be the absolute magic of hundreds of thousands of pounds of exotic materials hauling themselves into the sky and flying clear across the planet in less time than it takes to assemble LEGO's latest Millennium Falcon special edition set.

More likely, it's the transformative nature of aviation technology. It connects us, and opens up opportunities to improve our lives that wouldn't otherwise be feasible.

The numbers also tell us it's incredibly safe.So safe that you're at much greater risk of an accident on the drive to or from the airport than you are in the air.

But still. News of a major accident always hits like a ton of bricks. And yesterday's loss of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 - a Boeing 737 MAX - just after takeoff from Addis Ababa hits especially hard, as 18 of the 157 souls on board were Canadian. As the victims' stories are slowly made public, the heartbreak becomes even more overwhelming than it already was.

It's the second hull loss involving Boeing's latest model in 5 months, and parallels to October's Lion Air crash are eerie. The shadow hanging over the world's top-selling single-aisle commercial jetliner reminds us that even miraculous technologies have their limitations, and the miracles we take for granted today were - and continue to be - built on the unintended sacrifices of too many innocents.

I shot this last year, as I was jazzed to see my first MAX in the metal, those split scimitar winglets standing out in all their efficient, artistic, engineering glory. If only it could have remained so pristine.

#toronto #yyz #pearson #international #airport #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada Air Canada #flight #flying #lasvegas #aviation #boeing #boeing737 #737max #avgeek #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #ontario #canada #life #family #is #everything

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Life after Frosted Flakes

When the cereal runs out
London, ON
August 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This building was built over a century ago, and for much of its history churned out millions of boxes of breakfast cereal. Little did I know when I was a child that the multicolored, bilingual boxes that dominated my kitchen table came from a faraway city I'd someday call home.

Changing times and tastes eventually led to the factory's closure. Kellogg's pulled out of London a few years ago as it rebalanced its global production portfolio. Corporatespeak notwithstanding, we just don't eat cereal like we used to. Given its questionable nutritional value that's probably not an entirely bad thing, but it left open the question of what to do with a hulking piece of industrial history.

We got lucky, and the massive space has since been redeveloped into a popular indoor activity centre and craft brewery, with a children's museum and more yet to come. We're even luckier that the architecture has been wonderfully preserved, its history still on prominent display even if no one here ever remembers or cares who Tony the Tiger was.

I adore buildings like this, and spent my first day inside wandering the halls drinking in what made - and continues to make - this place such a resonant monument to London's history.

A not-so-small group of developers, investors, civic officials, community activists, and others had the courage to honor its rich legacy, and we owe them all a debt of thanks. Imagine if every once-vibrant property were lucky enough to be similarly rescued from oblivion.

#ldnont #architecture #architecturephotography #building #buildingporn #grey #monochrome #concrete #block #steel #geometry #industrial #old #history #manufacturing #kellogg #cereal #factory The Factory #google #pixel2 #teampixel #london #ontario #canada

On living with passion

"None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you're carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There's no time for anything else."
Sir Anthony Hopkins
I've shared Sir Hopkins's wisdom before (here) and am so pleased that he's made it a regular thing. On so many levels, it feels like he's speaking directly to me. I'm guessing if you're reading this, here on Written Inc., you feel the same way. Neat.

See you in the ocean.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

On keeping good people close

"Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive."
Hafez
This one hit me like a ton of bricks, because it aligns so closely to who I am and how I choose to live. Time is the one commodity we can't control. We can't make or buy more of it. We can't retrieve it once it's slipped into the past. We can't slow it down or stop it.

So our only alternative is to make the most out of what we've been gifted. And I've spent a good chunk of my life learning one simple truth: You make the most of the time you've been given by hanging out with folks who feel the same way.

Everything - and everyone - else is immaterial, superfluous, and at the risk of sounding unkind, a waste of our time. If the folks around you don't make you happy to be alive, then change the folks around you. Now, not later.

Shadows across an empty office floor

The silence before
London, ON
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Everyone's got a pecking order, a priority list of things they like and things they, um, like a little less. If you could see mine, befores would rank above afters.

Befores are all potential. The good stuff is ahead of us, something to look forward to, like a gift box waiting to be opened. Befores make us feel like kids, heads filled with wonder about the surprise just in front of us. We may not know exactly what that is, but we hope it'll be worth the wait.

Afters either live up to the hype, or they don't. The proverbial wrapping paper strewn on the ground can often be a sad reminder that we don't always get what we want. I'm lucky that way: My afters almost always fulfill the promises of my befores. Or maybe that just how I choose to see it.

The before you see here holds the promise of an eventful day in an office where we grant the wishes of those around us on a regular basis. Our core mission is to help others unleash the power of technology, to wow them with our knowledge and caring, to give them the tools to go further.

And in this resonant early morning moment, before everyone gets in, before the floors hum with intense focus, I often come to this particular spot to reflect on the day ahead, and think about how I'll turn those promising befores into tangible, fulfilling afters.

Wherever you work and whatever you do, I hope you cherish your own befores as much as I cherish mine.

#ldnont #life #kingandridout #345ridout #downtown #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #wood #floor #lines #sun #shadow #london #ontario #canada #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday Instagood Info-Tech Research Group @nicholsonsheffieldarchitects #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Friday, March 08, 2019

On sneaky happiness

"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open."
John Barrymore
I often speak about finding opportunity and inspiration in the margins, in the places you'd least expect, or would never look in the first place. This quote aligns with that mindset rather nicely.

I'll be keeping my eyes open, then. You?

Blue, icebound lake house

People lived here once
Mallorytown Landing, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm in the middle of a long, solo drive on a highway I've driven so often over the past few months that every interchange and every curve for hundreds of mind-numbing kilometres has now been committed firmly to memory. I don't need to look at the GPS to know what comes next, and which way I need to subtly shift my hands on the wheel to stay in the middle of the curving ribbon of endless asphalt.

A few hours into the drive, there's a regional highway that parallels the 401. It adds exactly 1 km to the trip, but it's worth the extra time. Because the road shrinks from 4 lanes to 2, the speed limit drops from 100 km/h to 80, and the route curves both beside and through the St. Lawrence River, meandering lazily along this mighty waterway and revealing awe-inspiring views at every turn. Way better than a soulless superhighway.

I stop at an abandoned visitor centre along the way, just because. I need to soak this place in a bit, in the faint hope that I'll find some kind of inspiration, some reason to smile, some way to break the gloom that's been gripping me since I said goodbye to my wife in Montreal and watched her fade from the rear-view mirror.

It's insanely cold as I get out of the car and walk across the creaking snow to the shore overlooking the solidly frozen bay dotted with countless homes built on tiny islands. In the dead of winter, they sit, empty sentinels to the awesome power of nature to redraw the landscape, to stop us in our tracks.

Just standing here, wondering about lives unseen, and the wonder of life on the water, is enough to briefly lift the darkness that's been haunting me. But the creeping frostbite in my fingers means I get less than a dozen shots off before I need to get back to the car.

I'll come back to this hallowed place again, on another trip. Hopefully there will be more life here then. Hopefully I'll have a better story to tell then, too.

#mallorytown #landing #thousand #islands #parkway #stlawrence #river #ontario #canada #random #country #photography #highway #winter #weather #wx #road #trip #travel #car #auto #automotive #carporn #stella #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #family #is #everything

Thursday, March 07, 2019

On riding the roller coaster

"Life has got all those twists and turns. You’ve got to hold on tight and off you go."
Nicole Kidman
Yes, this. Just hold on.

Reflecting on a concrete journey

No life here
Toronto, ON
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We've become creatures of habit, taking the same routes to the same jobs in the same places day after day. We barely give it much thought, probably because we're a little too focused on what awaits us when we get there, or how many hours we've got left till it's Friday. Till we can get off the treadmill for a couple of days. Till we have to drag ourselves back to the routine the following Monday.

Yet for something that sucks up so much of our wake-time, we have precious little to show for it. Because we rarely bother to remember what that commute looked or felt like. I'm not suggesting we shoot pics with our smartphones from behind the wheel, as that would be highly illegal. But a quick capture at a time, in a place where it can be done safely and unobtrusively could potentially start a conversation about the journeys we take, and what we encounter along the way.

My story on this day was a simple one: This is a concrete wall beside a snow-covered train track. It's located just west of Toronto's Union Station, and I took it a couple of minutes before arrival. I've become a regular on this train - for the record, Via Rail #82 that leaves London at 6:25 a.m. every weekday and arrives in Toronto at around 8:35 - and taking placeholder pics of the journey has become a bit of a personal obsession.

Without context, it isn't much of a picture. But in the moment, it tells a story of the things we do to keep ourselves, our families, going. It also tells a story of how far we're willing to go to keep the lights on, and how important it is to bring those experiences home at the end of the day.

Because in the end, my journey to Toronto on this morning was as much my family's as it was mine. And I'm guessing that logic applied to everyone on that train, as they continued their own journeys. We're never really alone, then, are we?

#toronto #ldnont #downtown #union #station #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #concrete #monochrome #travelphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #photography #via #viarail #train #trains #trainspotting #trainstagram #rail #travel #ontario #canada #family #is #everything


Wednesday, March 06, 2019

On the power of assembled letters

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
Robin Williams
My day job revolves around assembling letters into words, words into sentences, and sentences into completed works. That's it. On the surface, it seems so nebulous, so inconsequential. Tap some keys and call it a day. And don't assume any of it matters.

But assemble these literary bits just so and maybe, just maybe, they'll move someone else in some way. To smile. To tears. To act.

There's power there. Mr. Williams was right, and we'd do well to listen to him.

When puppies wait by the door

Always watching
London, ON
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We have a narrow window beside the front door of our house, and every time we come home, this little girl stands behind it and waits patiently for us. She's pretty easy to spot, thanks to those delightful Schnauzer ears.

I don't know what goes through her puppy head as she waits, or what she's thinking as we open the door and she goes ballistic, all 15 pounds of her bouncing crazily between us, the floor, the walls, everywhere. I do know it never gets old, the unconditional love you get from a dog every time you return home.

The world is a pretty challenging place at the best of times, and that is especially true for my little brood now. We dread the ring of the phone because it likely foretells bad news. We stare at the ceiling at night, wondering what will happen next. We don't plan too far ahead, because life will almost certainly rewrite those plans.

Calli doesn't know precisely what's going on, but she knows something's up. And having her here has been a blessing as she shoulders a burden none of us could see coming. A few minutes of play with her is a perfect escape from the relentless pressure, and I'll never tire of listening to the voices of my wife and kids when they're with her.

Because when they do, joy returns to our home. Sure, the phone eventually rings, the darkness inevitably returns. But our wiggly pup is always watching us, ready to tease out smiles and laughs, one moment, one hind-leg-dance, one schnu-hug at a time.

Because she's far stronger than she looks.

#Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #LittleMissCalli #dog #puppy #schnauzerlife #schnauzermini #schnauzerpuppy #minischnauzersofinstagram #schnauzersofinstagram #minischnauzer #miniatureschnauzer #miniatureschnauzers #minischnauzers #schnauzergram #miniatureschnauzersofinstagram #schnauzers #schnauzersofinstagram #petstagram #instadog #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #pets #family #is #everything #ldnont #london #ontario #canada @schnauzer_planet @schnauzerworld

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Breakfast in not-quite-paradise

When you're on the run..
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
So I have this habit that you may find odd: I shoot pictures of my food.

Please bear in mind I'm not a professional Instagram photographer and I don't spend hours at restaurants choreographing the quintessential gastronomic photoshoot. I don't do this every day. Rather, I shoot my meals typically when I'm travelling. Or when I'm stressed. Which usually happens when I'm travelling. Which is often these days.

The near-endless shuttle run back to Montreal that we've been on these past few months has given me ample opportunity to practice this weird photographic ritual. Typically, we grab coffee and a quick bite of breakfast at the coffee shop in the hospital's ground floor atrium. It's conveniently located as we get off the elevator from the underground parking lot, a final oasis of normalcy before we head upstairs into the decidedly unknown.

It's a Second Cup - sort of like an all-Canadian wannabe-Starbucks without the attitude - which means it's something we actually enjoy. Which is crucial when your life feels like a rusted Belmont Park roller coaster with Mario Andretti at the controls: You take your small pleasures wherever you can find them, and you do your best to control those small moments.

I've always been a somewhat slow eater, so much so that my late mother-in-law had to rewrite their family's decades-old rules of kitchen-table engagement (chiefly, no clearing till everyone finished a course) when Debbie and I got serious enough that she started taking me home for dinner. So I tend to linger over my on-the-run breakfast both as a reflection of who I am, and a coping mechanism with all of this. But before I tuck in, I feel this strange need to record it. As if I don't want to forget what we ate along the way, at each stage of this awful journey.

I end up with the weirdest photo roll, strange lame-foodie pics interspersed among the wheelchairs, corridors, stairwells, and tiny details that define this surreal world-within-a-world.

But weird is comforting. It's a tiny sliver of home. An anchor, of sorts. A reminder of what it would feel like if we were at home having breakfast in our kitchen, with the kids running down their day's schedule and our crazy dog dropping her ball at our feet while the local radio station plays brightly in the background. Weird reminds me why we're here, where we come from, and how all of these unexplainable details somehow connect up, somehow led us to this moment, in this place, on this day. Weird pulls me back from that overwhelming feeling of powerlessness that might otherwise freeze me in place. I hope weird helps my wife, too.

Thankfully today there is no paralysis. Because we've got each other, good coffee, a homey-tasting treat to munch on, and photos to match.

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