Tuesday, July 14, 2020

They could have been wine

Scattered fruit
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The grapes of wrath, inexplicably dumped on a quiet suburban street.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #suburban #street #photography #grape #grapes #fruit #missedthewinebottle #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Watching baseball with his son

Just the two of us
Toronto, ON
July 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Once upon a time, on an afternoon that now feels like it was part of another lifetime, my little family went to a ballgame.

Baseball being baseball, there were many stretches of time during which not a whole lot was going on on the field. So I did what I’ve been doing since childhood-me sat in Montreal’s old Jarry Park during Expos games: I took in the scenery.

The game wasn’t an important one: Just one of an endless homestand in the middle of another season without hope of making the playoffs. So the upper decks were largely empty.

Or were they? The introvert in me smiled when I noticed two people sitting all by themselves, almost as if they were deliberately trying to put as much distance between themselves and anyone else.

I couldn’t not reach my lens way across the field and capture the scene. I hope they enjoyed the game. I hope they did a better job taking in the action on the field than I did.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #throwback #bluejays #rogers #centre #stadium #baseball #sports #sportsing #urban #streetphotography #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, July 13, 2020

Dog 1, Monday 0

Sphinx-like
London, ON
July 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Some days these days are harder than others, yet I challenge anyone to stare at a dog - like this one - and not find some glimmer of lightness from the experience.

Calli doesn't know it's a Monday. She doesn't know the world is creaking at the seams. She doesn't appreciate that powerful politicians are reigniting the sins of the past. Or simply behaving like entitled pigs at the public trough.

She doesn't understand economic instability, unemployment, failing local businesses, or why punks driving old German cars with giant Canadian Tire cheese-cutter wings on the trunk and no exhaust systems are tearing through her neighborhood with annoying regularity.

She's just happy to be with her humans. To snuggle right up to them when she thinks they - nay, we - need her most.

Which is often these days. Because dogs make everything better, even if everything else about them - from waking up to the sound of her puking to almost losing an arm every time she sees a squirrel - seems to suggest we were insane to have ever gotten her.

But it's a good kind of insane. And she's a good kind of dog. On a Monday, and on any other day, too.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

The urban jungle to the east

You are my density
Toronto, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Thought I’d start the workweek off with a crowded view of the urban jungle.

Seems like an appropriate way to transition into what I hope is a brighter week for us all.

Unless anyone has any other ideas...

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #concrete #glass #reflective #mirror #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Watermelon down

Gravity is always the law
London, ON
July 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


There’s a certain sense of poignant, trivial tragedy within this scene of a smashed watermelon in a sun-baked supermarket parking lot.

The events that led to this moment will likely remain lost to time, but it’s obvious no one was injured. Or worse. For that I’m thankful.

The only damage was to someone’s sense of anticipation. Whoever had bought it left the store hoping to indulge in a little - ok, not so little - treat when they got home. But gravity had other plans.

I’ll reserve comment on why they just left it there. Cleaning up our own mess seems to be alien to too many these days. But at least it’ll all be gone after the circling seagulls have their way with it.

And the rest of us are left with a colorful vision of what might have been.

I’d call that a worthwhile compromise. And if I was feeling particularly wistful, I might also call it a lesson to take better care of the things that make us happy.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #grocery #store #shopping #retail #random #watermelon #street #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Stumbling across an old bookstore

Literature for sale
Montreal, QC
August 2008
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The scene: Dusty, dog-eared books on a sun-drenched ledge outside a bookstore window in Old Montreal. I took this years ago, on a leisurely trip back to our old hometown, and it warms my soul every time I come across it.

That's because whenever I look back at this particular photo, I'm reminded that some scenes never get old, even if technology supposedly comes up with something better.

For the record, e-books aren't better. You don't magically stumble across them while walking the cobbled streets on a hot summer morning. You don't feel the aged paper in your hands as you idly chat with complete strangers about why Aristotle still rocks your world. You don't hear the joy in a bookseller's voice.

Algorithms may deliver the goods more efficiently. But they lost the soul of it all somewhere along the way, and no tweaks to the code will ever allow an app store to replicate the kind of experiences reflected, timelessly, in this window.

Economic models being what they are, it's entirely likely bookstores as we know them will slowly fade into history. Even if we aren't downloading e-books, these dusty, dog-eared books will eventually all arrive at our homes in Amazon boxes.

Which saddens me. Because no package on a doorstep ever ignited someone's fire for literature, and few experiences spark memories better than a chance encounter with a delightful old bookstore in the city you once called home.

#montreal #quebec #canada #throwback #book #bookstores #bookstagram #reading #read #retail #random #city #urban #street #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, July 10, 2020

Green leaves on a sunny morning

Life goes on by the roadside
London, ON
July 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Everything looks better in the early morning light.

But we'll never notice if we're so busy that we never look down. Or up. Or over.

It was my turn to notice the other day, an unassuming plant in a lovely little garden hard up against the curb. The dog and I take this route most mornings, long before the rest of the neighborhood wakes up. And most mornings, I'm too busy holding her leash tightly and scanning for squirrels, rabbits, and birds who constantly attract our schnu-girl's attention.

Schnauzers being schnauzers, you're either ready for the freak-out, or you risk dislocating your shoulder.

But this morning was different. The air was already got, humid, and perfectly still. It was even worse when shade gave way to the beating sun. She was uncharacteristically chill, so instead of fighting her, I held her leash lightly and she trotted calmly. Quite unlike her.

Which gave me just enough time to notice this plant. Which she graciously allowed me to shoot - no pulling! - before we continued on our way.

By the time we got back home, the sun was even higher in the sky, the gentle shadows and quiet streets now replaced by blinding light and near-normal traffic.

I made a note to myself to start taking these walks even earlier. Because I fear we've been missing too many moments like this.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #green #plant #plants #leaf #sun #shadow #lines #geometry #nature #texture #urban #suburban #landscape #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 09, 2020

After the last train...

A park in the sky
St. Thomas, ON
July 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


If you live in or near St. Thomas, Ontario, you're likely familiar with the giant rail trestle that dominates the intersection of Sunset Drive and Fingal Line.

This iconic structure was built in 1930, and when the railway disappeared, forward-thinking patrons of the community stepped in to turn it into one of the most innovative parks in the country.

We've been wanting to come to the St. Thomas Elevated Park for what seems like forever, and we finally shook off pandemic fear - it's a thing - and pointed the car south. We're glad we did.

There's something cathartic about standing on a bridge that's been lovingly converted into parkland, the landscape spreading out below you, offering up surprises every way you turn. It's a simple thing, really, this ability to be wowed by height.

But there's more to it. It's a resonant spot, a perfect place to plunk down on a bench and idly watch small clumps of intermittent visitors take it all in. I'm already planning to return here with a laptop, as it would be an awesome place to write from - and maybe even dial into a videoconference or two.

Pandemic life means we aren't exploring as much as we'd like to. We deliberately separate ourselves from others, and venture out only when we need to - as opposed to when we simply want to.

Time for that to change, even if it’s only tentative for now. I think we'll start with this place.

#stthomas #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #elevated #park #railway #train #bridge #landscape #green #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Goodbye, Aunt Jemima & Mrs. Butterworth

No longer sweet, or welcome
London, ON
July 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Seismic change is coming to the land of pancake syrup thanks to recent decisions to kill off the #AuntJemima and #MrsButterworths brands. This is long overdue, and anyone who disagrees with me can pound sand.

The purist in me would say this wasn't real syrup to begin with. I grew up in Quebec, where pure maple syrup isn't so much a confection as it is a culinary religion.

But we know most grocery shoppers don't much care about religion. They want it fast and cheap. And these two brands have always filled the bill, overt racism notwithstanding.

Getting to lie down in the middle of an otherwise empty aisle for one last fast photographic kick at the racist can before these two disappear for good? Totally worth it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #grocery #store #shopping #retail #loblaws #orange #syrup #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

When GPS loses its way

It only looks like I crossed the border
London, ON
July 2020
This image originally shared on Instagram


When technology fails, it often does so in a fascinating matter.

Exhibit A: This summary screen from my smartwatch following a quick wander around the block with the dog. The route is about 1 kilometre, and it normally takes 15-ish minutes because Calli the Wonderschnauzer can't tell time and she walks like she's drunk.

For reasons I can't quite explain, one km magically become 96, and instead of strolling an easy loop around the block, my watch says I blasted into the middle of Lake Huron in less time than it takes to make fresh pizza. 393 kilometres/hour? I'll take it.

It was probably a spurious data point or two, a glitch in the GPS network, or maybe it was a rift in the space-time continuum. But it made for a fun moment along a walk that might have otherwise felt like any other.

I wonder what uniqueness awaits us on our next neighborhood adventure. I wonder if I'll ever be clocked this fast again.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #screenshot #gps #samsung #galaxy #watch #not #so #smartwatch #technology #fail #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Speechless underneath a painted sky

Scene from a parking lot
London, ON
July 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram

Never miss an opportunity to have your breath taken away, especially when the forces of the universe were kind enough to literally paint the sky above your head.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #weather #wx #cloud #clouds #sun #sky #nature #urban #suburban #landscape #photography #masonville #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, July 06, 2020

Why I keep returning to Boston

Windows to a not-quite-vanished past
Boston, MA
April 2006
This photo originally shared on Instagram

I've been slowly flipping through the archives lately, looking for photos that bring me comfort.

I do that often these days, a semi-automatic response to turbulence, a silent attempt to find beauty in memory when it may otherwise be difficult to find it in real-time.

Architecture often seems to offer up the right kind of comfort to me. I look at scenes like this and imagine the stories playing out behind each window.

I think about the timelessness of architecture, the ability of these very same structures to outlive those who built them, to stand witness not just to today, but to a whole lot of tomorrows, as well.

And I imagine slinging my camera over my shoulder and heading out for another grand optical adventure in search of monolithic scenes like this that make me feel grounded amid groundlessness.

Because we all need anchors to hold onto. Even when they're little more than snapshots of moments lived years ago in places far away, when everything seemed just a little simpler than they do today.

#boston #throwback #random #urban #street #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, July 05, 2020

28 years...

Beginnings
Laval, QC
July 1992
This photo originally shared on Instagram

28 years ago today, I married my best friend.

Siri tells me that was 10,227 days ago, but the passage of time can be a funny thing. It can feel like it happened yesterday. It can also feel like I’ve known her forever. Indeed, both are true.

What matters more than anything is how each moment feels. Or how much we pack into it. Or how tightly we try to hold onto it. Or wish for more just like it.

I do that a lot with her. In 28 years, we’ve crafted a family, with kind, smart, passionately driven kids who’ve grown into accomplished young adults. Our house is truly a home, a welcoming place amid a sometimes turbulent world.

Everything we have and are started with Debbie seeing teenaged-lifeguard me and deciding I was the one. Everything we have and are is far more than I ever deserved. But I’ll take it, and will continue to count my lucky stars with each day we’ve been given.

So as much as the calendar reminds me that today is a milestone, I’ve always promised her that the other days - the non-milestone ones, the everyday days - will be just as worthy of celebration, too. She makes them so.

Maybe that’s the answer to this life thing. But even if it isn’t, today I got another day with my best friend to try to figure it out. Getting a day with her is always reason enough to celebrate, and it’s a gift I promise I’ll never take for granted.

Happy anniversary, my infinitely patient love. You are my world.

#LiveLaughLevy #family #everything

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Where Bessie pees

It's my pasture and I'll peen if I want to
London, ON
July 2008
This photo originally shared on Instagram

On a blisteringly hot July day a bunch of years ago, I got on my bike and pointed it toward the agricultural hinterlands just to the north of our suburb. My mission: Find cows.

As you can see from the photo, I succeeded. Not too far up the road, I found a herd of particularly friendly Bessies* hanging out in a paint-by-numbers pasture.

What I hadn't planned on was one of them peeing in the middle of the shoot.

The lesson is, I think, a simple one, and it's stuck with me ever since I stood on the other side of the fence that day: Plan all you want, but the universe will always write its own story. It may not be the story you originally intended, but it's just as likely it'll be even more worth sharing when you get back. Just roll with it and revel in whatever happens to play out.

I'll never know why Bessie #8 peed as soon as I pointed my lens at her, and I'm reasonably certain she had no clue, either.

But I'm glad she did, because an otherwise pastoral scene became something else entirely. Something even more worthy of a smile every time I've thought about it since.

I think I need to point my bike north in search of cows again. Maybe Bessie #8 is still around. Maybe she has another surprise in store for me.

* Every time I encounter a cow, I call her, "Bessie". I don't know why I assign terms of endearment to farm animals, but it has always felt like a fun thing to do. Just add it to the what-makes-me-odd.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #throwback #random #pissed #cows #farm #grass #green #street #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, July 03, 2020

The joy of sleep

Her happy place
London, ON
June 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Dogs sure do sleep a lot, don't they?

Why is that?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Let your fingers do the walking

When paper ruled
London, ON
April 2008
This photo originally shared on Instagram

Once upon a time, this was our Google.

White pages for regular folks, yellow pages for businesses, blue pages for government. If you lived in a really fancy part of the world, they put them all in the same book and endless hours of fun awaited children on Sunday afternoons who had grown tired of the dog-eared encyclopedia volumes in the basement. Or so I've been told.

These days, I can't even imagine what it would be like to revert to paper when complex answers are now just a voice command away. But part of me still misses the gravity of a big old phone book. It brought me comfort knowing it sat in its designated spot in the corner of the kitchen, ready to answer whatever question you could throw at it. New phone book day was a strangely happy day in my world. Or so I've been told.

As I ponder a planet whose definition of work for many of us now revolves around assembling bits into various value-added forms from our physically distanced home offices, then sharing them with colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders in similarly physically distanced home offices, I ponder what we've lost in the shift from physical to virtual.

It was inevitable, of course, and no one can argue that it hasn't created opportunities phone-book-kid-me couldn't have dreamed of. But there was something visceral, powerful, real about letting your fingers do the walking, about feeling the flip of the super-thin pages across your fingertips, the tiny breeze they left in their wake.

It'll never hold a candle to the efficiency of today's tech-based tools. But efficiency doesn't necessarily leave you with memories like this.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #stilllife #throwback #phone #book #yellow #white #pages #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

When countries celebrate birthdays

Wave the flag
London, ON
October 2008
This photo originally shared on Instagram


You're not just seeing things: Your feed is a lot more red-and-white than usual today. It's Canada Day here in the Great White North, an opportunity to celebrate our country's 153rd birthday and reflect a little in the process.

But I'm not going to cut-and-paste an ode to the nation today. Maybe it’s pandemic life weighing on me, or the unmitigated fecal matter show playing out to the south. Whatever the reason, now is not the time for soft-edged platitudes explaining why Canada rocks.

We know it does. Let’s move on.

More significant in my mind is the pickle that now defines life on Planet Earth, where we as a nation fall short, and what we, both collectively and individually, must do to close the obvious and not-so-obvious gaps.

Part of that exercise involves recognizing what we’ve been blessed with, and not sitting back and assuming that’s enough. Canada’s an awesome country, full stop, which means we owe it to those less blessed to do more.

Sounds like a very Canadian way to celebrate a birthday.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #canadaday #ohcanada #madeincanada #iamcanadian #fĂȘteducanada #holiday #mapleleaf #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything