Friday, December 13, 2019

Watching the sunrise from the pier

Where sun meets water, clouds, and sky
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Rarely do I wake up in the morning and instantly jump into the day. I like to linger under the covers for a bit as I slowly transition from sleep to full-speed life. It's like a car merging on the highway: Smooth, consistent, drama-free. Any other way is just too jarring.

If it were up to me, I'd linger in that delightful half-dreamlike state for hours. But even when you're away and ostensibly on vacation, experiences await. You don't want to sleep it all away.

That's how I found myself standing at the end of a white-painted concrete pier jutting out into the Caribbean Sea, waiting for the sun to peek over the horizon.

My logic was simple: Most days it isn't an option for me to stand beside a large body of water and take in the sunrise. So today I thought I'd take advantage of where I was and sacrifice a little sleep for a minor photographic adventure.

The sun held up its end of the bargain, and after I was finished shooting its slow creep above the edge of the planet, I sat quietly under the thatched roof and drank in the silence.

Except it wasn't silent at all. Waves lapped the shore. Birds argued with each other on decaying pilings. The wind gradually picked up. Other sun-seekers strolled onto the beach and took pictures with their smartphones. I drank in the sounds of a seashore coming alive.

Soon enough I was trundling back to our hotel room, sand stuck between my toes and thoughts racing through my head. I decided losing a little sleep in exchange for moments like this was absolutely worth it.

#cancun #mexico #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #beach #sunrise #sun #sea #sky #clouds #nature #morning #landscape #photography #naturephotography #landscapephotography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Dundas Street comes to life (hopefully)

Reflecting on downtown's future
London, ON
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
#LdnONT isn't unique: As in so many other cities, the downtown core here has been on its heels for so long that the only happy memories are found in gauzy monochrome pictures from decades ago.

Dundas Street runs east-west through the heart of downtown, and has long epitomized the slow, ugly decline of the area. Dundas Place is nothing less than the city's Hail Mary pass to save the very soul of of this neighborhood. It's a major reconstruction program designed to fully replace crumbling, century-old infrastructure below ground, and rebuild a flexible streetscape on top of it.

So-called flex streets have been built elsewhere, and the theory is they allow the road to serve as a conventional thoroughfare most of the time, and a pedestrian-only area for active civic programming at other times.

After two hard years of construction, the city finally declared the street open this week. A few hours after our mayor installed the ceremonial final brick, I found myself on Dundas as I headed home.

I wasn't alone, but the throngs of shoppers who would conceivably save the businesses on this street were nowhere to be seen. A few pedestrians rushed, like me, to be somewhere else. If you looked hard enough into alleys and papered-over storefronts, London's burgeoning homeless population snapped into focus.

This street, already pockmarked with empty stores before construction began, suffered even more as a number of stalwarts simply couldn't survive. The fancy brickwork and stainless steel fixtures didn't come soon enough for them.

Civic renewal is never easy. No one solution appeals to all. And not everyone will survive the transition. But for now, at least, there's a flicker of hope in a place that, for as long as I can remember, hasn't had much reason to cheer.

I can't wait to see who comes back to this storied place, and what they plan to offer up when they do.

#london #ontario #canada #downtown #retail #shopping #urban #dundas #place #street #night #photography #city #walkabout #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, December 09, 2019

Murals belong everywhere

Hungry for pizza and inspiration
London, ON
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Unassuming pizza shops on unassuming downtown streets shouldn’t normally stop us in our tracks, especially when it’s cold, gray, and raining, and a mountain of writing awaits at the office.

But this one is different.

Someone painted a mural on its time-worn stucco-covered corner, a tiny act of defiance against the numbing sameness that seems to define this time-challenged neighborhood. So I pause my walk to the office and look around the rain-speckled block.

I see empty trees, a rust-flecked apartment building, a soaked sleeping bag abandoned in the gutter, and a blocked sewer grate at the centre of a growing not-so-mini lake of muddy water, an indescribable mess of floating garbage edging out haphazardly into the street.

There is no beauty here. At least there isn’t supposed to be any. And yet, there’s this wall. Two walls, really, as the mural that greets customers on the street also extends back into the otherwise forgettable parking lot.

None of this changes the sad reality of a sad stretch of town. But it doesn’t have to. And that’s not the point, anyway.

What really matters is that we look for these slivers of light at all, that there are those among us who would share the light with others, that we haven’t given up all hope of something better, even in a place that seems to offer none of it.

There’s always hope, especially when - and where - we least expect it. And I bet the pizza’s pretty good, too.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #building #mural #art #color #downtown #urban #street #photography #city #waterloo #walkabout #weather #wx #pizza #restaurant #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Someone painted the sky again

Blue and white
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Wonder is happening over our very heads, at any given moment of the day.

Just look up.

I promise you it'll be worth your time.

Happy new work week, y'all. Make it count.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #clouds #cloudspotting #blue #sky #weather #wx #nature #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Stare into the reflective waters

Ephemeral
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Stare at the waves long enough and eventually a few things become clear:
  1. Chaos is all around us.
  2. There's nothing we can do to materially change it.
  3. Chaos isn't, by definition, positive or negative.
  4. It is how you choose to see it.
  5. In other words, by perception, not by definition.
  6. Everything changes in a blink.
  7. That thing that matters so much to you in this moment is barely a memory in the next.
  8. We miss a whole lot of moments if we don't pay attention.
  9. These moments may seem trivial. They aren't.
  10. We never seem to get enough of them.
  11. So we'd best make the ones we get matter a little more.
  12. It's good for the soul to simply sit and take it all in.
  13. If you really pay attention, you don't just see things.
  14. You hear them, too.
  15. And even feel them.
I'm guessing this means I have more waterside moments ahead of me. Neat.

#cancun #mexico #road #trip #vacation #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #pool #water #swim #reflect #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Dawn breaks by the sea

Got another day
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Wherever you happen to find yourself when you wake up and greet the new day, take a moment to look out the window. There's a whole world out there just waiting for you to dig in.

#cancun #mexico #road #trip #vacation #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #beach #sunrise #silhouette #morning #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, December 06, 2019

What bugs you?

Look, but don't touch
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Mexican bugs sure are different than Canadian ones.

Here's Exhibit A, which thanks to some very basic Googling I now know to be an Oleander Caterpillar. For the record, I did not smuggle this one - or any other tropical insect, for that matter - home in my suitcase. For the record, I did ask if I could. For the record, my wise wife said no. Emphatically.

Is my new fuzzy orange friend a bit on the creepy side? Of course. A little frightening? Likely. But fascinating all the same, and given the fact that we had flown thousands of kilometres to be here, absolutely worth a few megapixels.

A little voice in me says there's a bigger lesson here, and it probably has something to do with learning about things that are different from our usual norms. Or might frighten us a little. Or seem strange.

A little voice in me says we can't hold back simply because something might be a bit - or a lot - outside our comfort zone. And we can't judge or dismiss simply because we've never encountered them before.

A little voice in me says maybe we aren't just talking about insects.

#cancun #mexico #bug #insect #caterpillar #animal #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

London welcomes you home

Community in an airport corridor
London, ON
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is what awaits arriving passengers in #ldnont's London International Airport when they first get into the terminal.

The kind-hearted folks who run this place thought it would be a good idea to line the walls of the main corridor with life-sized photos of employees and community members holding various welcome signs. It makes me smile every time I come home, not only because it's a lovely piece of design, but because it speaks volumes about the community we call home, and the way it chooses to present itself to others.

You can tell a lot about people by the small things they do when they're around others. Tiny slivers of politeness and warmth always seem to have an outsized influence, and this seemingly small decision by the airport tells a remarkable story about the people who live here.

We've come to love our adopted city as our own, to the point that we can't imagine living anywhere else. Small touches like this reaffirm why - and how - this place has wormed its way into our souls. Even when I stagger jet-lagged into the terminal, and all I want to do is get home and collapse into a heap, the 20-second walk through this corridor serves as a reminder that we're surrounded by good people who creatively look out for others.

As I collect my luggage from the carousel, I promise myself I'll find some way to return the favor. But first, there's sleep.

#london #yul #ontario #canada #international #airport #flight #airplane #aviation #photography #city #travel #travelphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Color your morning

Breakfast of Champions, to Start
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The world outside my window has returned to its annual wintry shade of grey.

Now, grey is a color like any other. It deserves to be appreciated for its own merits rather than dismissed for what it is not. That, and monochrome photography is a pretty neat way to record the world around us.

But some days I wake up amid the grey murk of another snowy day in the Great White North and decide the perfect way to jumpstart my soul would be with a shot of color. And hopefully that color - or series of colors - will be slightly more effusive than something pulled from the dirty wall of an expressway.

And so we come to this simple row of fruit on an equally simple white plate. Sure, it makes for a healthy breakfast, but it also makes me smile. The colors are lovely, of course, but the fact that these were grown from the earth, and can keep us healthy and productive if we eat enough of them, is nothing short of miraculous.

Yes, I'm marvelling at a pile of fruit. Please don't judge.

My weirdness notwithstanding, I hope this scene makes you smile, as well, and I hope you find a way to start your own day with a shot of well-deserved color.

#cancun #mexico #morning #breakfast #food #foodporn #foodie #instafood #foodphotography #goodmorning #foodstagram #fruit #color #stilllife #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

My father's pelican

Watching from afar
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I have an unhealthy level of affection for pelicans.

Maybe it's the crazy-huge beak, or the way they fly seemingly without effort, in absolute command of the sky. Or the fact that they always look like they're smiling.

Or the fact that my late father would often talk about them as they flew over him and his friends, in perfect formation, wings barely moving, up and down their Florida beach, seemingly all day. If I was nearby, he'd point them out in the hope that I'd be able to capture them with my camera. If I wasn't, he'd tell me about it later on, a belated retelling of a majestic moment, now lost to time.

It's almost as if the birds knew they were putting on a show for the puny humans far below. And were only too happy to oblige.

So, over a decade after we lost him, the sight of a pelican brings me back to that sunny beach, to a place that made my father feel happy and fulfilled. Strange how that works, isn't it? The least I can do is try to record the scene, and hope it's enough to sustain a memory that brings me a smile, as well.

Years after pelicans became a thing for my family, I doubt this particular bird appreciates our family history, or the connected-to-my-father sentiment that resulted in me staring at him from afar.

But I was thankful to be able to take in the magnificent sight all the same.

#cancun #mexico #pelican #bird #birds #animal #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #beach #zoom #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Mexican fly up close

Bug off
Cancun. Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Oh, to be a fly on the wall...

#cancun #mexico #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #stilllife #insect #fly #photography #shadow #texture #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, December 02, 2019

Old pair of shoes in a parking lot

Abandoned in place
London, ON
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Big box store #haiku:
Old shoes say goodbye
Ignored in a parking lot
Someone's feet are cold
#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #poetry #519ldn #519london #random #urban #suburban #street #shoes #feet #garbage #abandoned #retail #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Committing an Act of Dog

Start the week right
London, ON
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The calendar says it's Monday, which I realize may make some folks feel a little blue. That, and the weather's been challenging in this hemisphere. So I thought we'd start the workweek with an #ActOfDog.

What is an #ActOfDog? Simply anything that includes, refers to, or even suggests doghood. Yours or anyone else's. If it's got a dog in it, we want to read it. Or know about it. Or see it. Or all of the above.

This, as many of you may know, is Calli the Wonderschnauzer. It had been a busy couple of weeks, with back-to-back trips that kept me away from home.

And as bonkers as this particular dog is, I missed her. I missed our routines. I missed talking to her while we walk. I missed the sound of her sticking her snout in places she has no business sticking it. I missed her random barking when she thinks she sees something out the window. But it was just an errant leaf.

So I thought we'd start this blue Monday (thanks, New Order) with a spontaneous dog pic.

Because everyone needs a reason to smile. Today, and indeed every day.

If you're so inclined, please share yours with the #ActOfDog hashtag. Let's start a movement, shall we?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #winter #snow #weather #wx #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #pets #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Frozen solid to the ground

Henrietta picks up some ice
London, ON
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We no longer need to wait for the weather report on the 6 o'clock news. Nor do we even have to look outside. Rather, a quick scroll through our social media feeds is typically all we need to know what Mother Nature is up to.

Digital weather: It's a thing.

And so it has come to pass this morning, with Facebookistan crammed to the gills with seemingly endless images - and complaints - of the ice storm that's blown into our region. Which is just as well, because our windows are coated with a thick layer of ice.

Our pup was decidedly unhappy, forced to slip and slide across the sidewalk-turned-skating-rink as the howling winds drove painful flecks of ice into her pretty pink raincoat.

I talked to her gently in the hope that the sound of my voice would calm her down. It didn't go so well, and soon enough we were headed back inside where my lovely wife was waiting with a warm towel and lots of treats.

On the way in, I noticed icicles hanging from the lower rocker panel of my car, Henrietta. Given the weather, we're not driving anywhere today, but the sight of a frozen-in-place Honda got my photographic brain spinning.

I now knew how I wanted to remember this frightening and miserable Sunday morning. So after the furry girl was safely in my wife's arms, I returned outside and took the shot.

Like all extreme bouts of weather, today's will pass soon enough. The ice will melt, and the hunkered down city will once again hum with activity. Our social feeds will leave the weather behind and return once again to the usual meme-sharing, political-battling, passive-aggressive-one-upmanship that typically defines modern digital discourse.

And in one house tucked into a quiet corner of a southern Ontario town, we'll be left with a red-tinged memory of a moment that won't return again anytime soon, if at all.

There may be other storms. But none of them will feel exactly like this.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #winter #snow #ice #icicle #works #storm #onstorm #weather #wx #red #honda #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Cherubs watching over breakfast

Cast in stone
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Details matter.

Like the little flourishes that fill otherwise empty spaces with wonder.

Like the thoughtful touches that weren't necessarily needed, or rational, but time has proven vital all the same.

Like the subtle cues that can't help but make us smile as long as we work a little harder to notice their presence in the first place.

Like tiny snippets of artwork that define a space and fuse it into your memory.

Because otherwise this would have just been a wall. But because some unknown designer decided to splurge a little, it's now an indelible part of an experience in an extraordinary place that we won't soon forget.

Taking the picture in the middle of the breakfast rush, however, will remain a story for another day. Even watchful cherubs must occasionally keep their secrets.

#cancun #mexico #itrg #infotechresearchgroup #presidentsclub #pclub2019 #cherub #art #sculpture #texture #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #zoom #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Playing peekaboo with the birds

Strike a pose
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Wherever I end up, at some point I'll end up staring at whatever birds happen to be in the area.

Like so many things in my world, there's no rhyme or reason for it. On the bright side, it's a pretty harmless vice. On the down side, it annoys my family to no end.

Assuming I have a camera in my hand (do you really have to ask?) it's equally inevitable that photos will be taken. Gulls in Grand Bend. Pelicans in Florida. Cardinals in the ravine close to home.

Doesn't really matter what they are or where they happen to be: If they're flying, I'm following them wildly with glass.

So this is how I came to have this particular photo of this particular gull in this particular place so far from home.

The gulls here look a bit different than our Ontario birds, but they"re ust as fascinating to watch, right down to their mastery of the skies and rather antisocial behavior toward one another. They really are angry birds, which makes them hilariously entertaining to watch.

From the looks of this shot, I think this little one was onto me.

Like so many other photos I shot this week, or any week, for that matter, it doesn't reflect a terribly earth-shattering scene. But every photo, like every other aspect of a single person's life, has some sort of back story.

And we'd do ourselves quite the service if we slowed ourselves down long enough to learn what other people's stories are.

Or maybe even share a few of our own.

#cancun #mexico #itrg #infotechresearchgroup #presidentsclub #pclub2019 #bird #birds #animal #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #beach #zoom #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, November 29, 2019

Staring right into the surf

Ride the wave
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Every day holds the potential to take our breath away. But are we taking the time to notice?

#cancun #mexico #itrg #infotechresearchgroup #presidentsclub #pclub2019 #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #beach #sunrise #morning #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Paradise lost in a blink

Poolside before sunset
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Good days never last as long as we wish they would.

They seem to move faster than other days, and are behind us before we realize just how special they are.

We then wonder if we've done enough to drink them in. Or when we might get more days just like them.

We'd probably want to share them more broadly if we had the ability. Or maybe even store them in figurative boxes so we could pull them out whenever we needed them again.

Reality, though, dictates otherwise, so we're stuck with what we've got. Which, in a literal sense, could be perceived negatively.

But what if we flipped it over? What if we looked at rarity, brevity, fleetingness, perishability as the things that make days like this feel special in the first place?

What if we, instead of spending our energy wishing for what we can't have, instead redirected it toward more actively treasuring that which we already do?

And so it was that my wife and I found ourselves walking back to our room after a gauzy, perfect day, and I saw this perfect scene in the fast-fading light. She nodded that I should grab the moment.

And while that moment was over in a blink, and the only tangible leftovers I now have are in pixellated form, I do have the comfort knowing that we had this moment at all, and we've added it to the ever unfolding story of us.

Not every day is perfect, after all. But being able to have a story to tell, a life within which to tell it, and be surrounded by people who share and embrace that story, is easily the most perfect blessing imaginable.

#cancun #mexico #itrg #infotechresearchgroup #presidentsclub #pclub2019 #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #pool #reflective #shadow #palm #trees #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Twisting by the pool

The pause that refreshes
Cancun, Mexico
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's easy to sit by the pool with good friends and colleagues, talking about everything and nothing, feeling like you're one of the luckier people alive.

And you'd be absolutely correct.

The challenge is how to replicate that feeling when the crystal-blue swimming pool is a distant memory, the snow is piling up on the windowsill, a day at the office awaits, and you have no choice but to get back on the merry go round and do the things we must all do to keep the lights on.

I don't quite know how I'll pull that one off once we get back to the real world back home. But I do know that scenes like this one, captured during the fleeting in-between moments in a place that often feels more surreal than real, will help me figure it all out.

Because this is how I hold onto inspiration. What about you?

#cancun #mexico #itrg #infotechresearchgroup #presidentsclub #pclub2019 #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #explore #pool #sun #shadow #texture #waves #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything