Saturday, May 15, 2021

Eat the damn cake

We all deserve occasional sweetness
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I try to avoid worrying about rules, or should-haves, or any other rigid constructs that tend to get in the way of a life well lived.

But as I was staring at this piece of cake the other day, this one rule popped into my head that I think is so worthy of following that it deserves to be framed. And basically, it goes like this:

Eat the damn cake.

All too often I stand over the cake - or whatever else it is that I probably shouldn’t be consuming, but really really really want to - and try to convince myself to leave it be. I tell myself how unhealthy it is, how the very act of eating it will set me back, will harm me in some way, will ruin the fitness I’ve worked so hard to build and maintain.

But here's the thing: sometimes you just have to pick up a fork and dig in. Because we all need - and deserve - the occasional slice of happiness. Because the universe is sufficiently dark and scary sometimes that a bit of color and sweetness can go a long way toward balancing it off.

Because there's only so much cake to go around. And days. And you'd hate to get to the end of either and wonder what it tasted like.

So enjoy. You can always walk it off tomorrow.

(For what it's worth, this slice was divine, and totally worth however many extra kms I'll need to do on the bike.)

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cake #dessert #abstract #texture #food #foodie #foodporn #instafood #foodphotography #foodstagram #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Lizard with no name

I'm not really frowning
Laval, QC
August 2014
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Photography tip #1,592 in an ongoing series: set aside some time to wander through your photo archives. You never know what you'll come across, and how profoundly the experience might brighten your mood.

Today's example, a lizard from long ago, comes to us from a pet store just north of Montreal. We had come here in 2014 to visit family, and as was often the case, it involved hospital visits and hushed conversations about what may or may not happen next.

I had planned an afternoon of activities to keep the kids occupied. And as we often did, we stopped off on the way back for treats. Of course I parked near a pet store, and of course we had to go in.

For reasons that extend beyond the confines of an Instagram post, pet stores aren't much of a thing anymore. But on this afternoon, far from home, this one served its purpose as a place where our kids could hang out with brightly colored birds, exotic-looking fish, and infinitely curious lizards for just long enough to forget the reason we had come to this city in the first place.

The world needs more oases like this. So do our kids. All of us, really.

#chomedey #laval #montreal #quebec #canada #throwback #pet #store #retail #lizard #road #trip #travel #apple #ipad #shotonipad #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, May 14, 2021

Cabbagetown

Perfectly textured
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Nature's quite the wizard, isn't she?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #farmboy #grocery #store #vegetable #lettuce #cabbage #green #texture #fruitography #shopping #retail #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, May 13, 2021

On striving for more

"The harder you fall, the heavier your heart;
the heavier your heart, the stronger you climb;
the stronger you climb, the higher your pedestal."

 

The feathered admirers of Blackfriars

They appreciate history, too
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Apparently I'm not the only one who loves this bridge.

Nice to know its appeal isn't limited to humans.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #blackfriars #bridge #green #history #tvp #thames #river #bird #birds #duck #ducks #landscape #landscapephotography #nature #naturephotography #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The trees by the road

A study in contrasts
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


What used to be a quiet pathway through a bucolic village to the west of town has been transformed into four lanes of high-speed, never-ending traffic.

The city has now swallowed the village, and you have to look hard for any evidence of what used to be here.

Not that anyone’s looking, hard or otherwise, as they zip through at near-highway speeds on their way to wherever it is that urban dwellers like to go. We’re all so busy, apparently.

So I stand on one side of the road and peer across to the woodlot on the other wide. Miraculously it hasn’t yet been turned into a subdivision, but there’s no guarantee it won’t eventually meet that fate. They call it progress, but I can think of a few other words to describe it.

I tighten my fingers around my camera and slowly walk from one end of the woodlot to the other, the dense growth almost reaching out to me. I try to shoot through gaps in traffic, but even then the cars are almost impossible to completely avoid. Good thing the trees stand patiently as they always have, prepared to take all the time in the world to pose for their moment.

This shot is my favourite of the series, a simple contrast between light and dark, a metaphor, perhaps, for the ongoing struggle to create better places to live.

Or to simply hold onto what we already have.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #hyde #park #forest #tree #trees #walkabout #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:
Bulrushes, Part 3, November 2020
Bulrushes, part 2, November 2020

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - On nasal swabs

The pandemic has exposed countless gaps in the supply chains that keep society from collapsing. Before March 2020, no one could have imagined just how critical something as seemingly mundane as a nasal swab would be, but hindsight has proven to be a pretty effective teacher.

This is a fascinating piece that delves into the family nastiness behind one of the most essential tools in the fight against COVID-19, and the risks we run by ignoring the seemingly boring underpinnings of civil society. It's a terrific read.

The pandemic brought the business opportunity of a lifetime to Puritan Medical Products of Guilford, Maine. But even a $250 million infusion from the U.S. government has done little to quell an epic family feud.
By Olivia Carville
Bloomberg Businessweek
March 18, 2021

Hyde Park barn find

Historic leftover
London, ON
October 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Even after all these years, the angles still line up, and the sight is still enough to stop me as I walk by on the sidewalk.

It gives me a few moments to reflect on a timeless reminder of our neighborhood that defined life here long before development changed everything.

Barns rule. And I wish the universe worked differently, because the world hardly needs another strip mall.

That is all. For now, anyway.

#ldnont #london #hyde #park #ontario #canada #throwback #architecture #design #architecturephotography #century #old #building #barn #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Monday, May 10, 2021

Grate expectations

The cheesiest of patterns
London, ON
December 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Every once in a while, I get bored and start looking for visual inspiration in the ordinary objects that surround us at home.

Pandemic life means we’re generally stuck looking at the same things - rooms, people, stuff, whatever - day after day. But instead of seeing that as a negative, I’d rather find the opportunity in it.

Like the cheese grater you see here, which we decided to buy after I accidentally sliced my hand on a ratty old hand grater. This one’s a box grater, so in theory it’s much safer. It also looked neat, so out came the camera-camera.

The good news is I still have all my fingers, and our cheeses have never been tastier. Even better news is I’ve got countless drawers of kitchen utensils to explore through glass, and an empty memory card to fill.

Because the best stories are the ones we squeeze out of the everyday moments that lurk right in front of us.

The question for you, then, is what will your next story be?

It may be closer than you think.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #kitchen #table #spontaneous #cheese #grater #food #foodporn #foodphotography #stilllife #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Schnu to the power of 4

So where's the treat you promised me?
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This little psycho celebrates her 4th birthday today.

That’s a slightly inaccurate statement, of course, because she has no clue how calendars work. So we’re the ones who celebrate while she wonders what all the fuss is about.

Which, on reflection, is a pretty good place for a dog to be, at the very centre of a family whose members adore her, where every day is worthy of some sort of celebration.

As much as it feels like we just brought her home, it’s equally true that we can’t imagine what life was ever like without her giant presence in it.

Time has a funny way of doing that, both moving fast and remaining frozen in place, depending on which lens we happen to be using to take it in. I’ll probably never figure out how that works, or why, but a little mystery isn’t necessarily a negative.

She randomly stars in my wife’s remote classes - Calli songs! - as well as the occasional live radio and TV interview. Squirrels, rabbits, birds and other wildlife happily torment her from the yard. I’m reasonably sure my hearing has been compromised along the way.

But I’d change nothing. I can’t quantify what she adds to the story of us, but I know it’s immense, and we are all different, better people because of her.

Every morning, she unrolls from her ball-like sleeping position, sits up, stares at me and whines until I relent. Soon enough, we’re walking the quiet streets of our neighborhood, her nose leading the way, the rest of her pulling every which way on the leash.

I’d rather be sleeping in, but I wouldn’t trade these walks for anything. Each one is an opportunity to see the morning before everyone else, to hang out with a being who doesn’t speak my language, but who understands me more intuitively than some people who do.

We’ve had four years of her. I’m selfish for never wanting it to end.

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

Related:
Calli at 3, May 2020
Calli turns 1, May 2018

In the ideal world...

A vision in blue
London, ON
June 13, 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


In the ideal world, we’d celebrate moms every day.

In the ideal world, we wouldn’t need a singularly Hallmarkian day filled with store-bought analogs of appreciation.

In the ideal world, everyone would still have a mom.

In the ideal world, every family would know what it’s like to have a mom like ours does.

Because while there may not be such a thing as an ideal world, ours is as close as you can get thanks to Debbie.

And this will be just as true tomorrow as it is today.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #mothersday #mom #moms #live #laugh #love #levy #parenthood #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagoof #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Another orbital completion, unlocked

The colors of happiness
London, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


It's my birthday today. Or more precisely, the calendar tells me that I’ve completed another orbit around our nearest star.

Not that I had much to do with it. I just showed up at 8:08 a.m. in a Montreal hospital, cried a little bit (okay, a lot), probably randomly peed on someone, and then settled in for the journey of a lifetime.

And what a journey it’s been. I was blessed with the ability to create somethings from nothings. Then I was blessed with a wife who makes every day, orbitally significant or not, worthy of celebration. And we’ve been blessed with smart, kind, driven kids who any parent would be proud of, but we are especially so.

Lots of blessings in this family, and we realize how lucky we are to have been granted them. Because Planet Earth doesn't always distribute them evenly. Or at all.

I’ll skip over the COVID birthday narrative, because I don’t regret celebrating a second birthday under lockdown. This past year-and-a-bit has reminded us how precious time can be, and how hard we must hold on to time with our closest family members and friends.

The pandemic may have thrown wrenches to time and togetherness into our path, but it’s also reinforced why these - and they - matter so much in the first place. If we took these gifts for granted before, I’m certain we no longer do.

So today I’m reminded of how much I have - and why every day, whatever the calendar says, deserves to be cherished.

It’s a happy day, period. The very fact that we all got one is in itself a gift.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #birthday #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, May 07, 2021

Look way up

Crossed paths
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Always reach for the sky.

You may never actually get there, but you’ll end up higher up than you would have otherwise been.

At least that’s the lesson I choose to take away from this single bloom on a single branch.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #tree #trees #blue #sky #aviation #flight #walkabout #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, May 06, 2021

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - On phreaking

This story is an old one - first published way back in 1971 in Esquire - and it glimpses into a world that seemingly has no relevance to our current, digital age. 

It's about phone phreakers, and as quaint as that may sound, the folks who proudly identified as "phreaks" as they used their magic blue boxes to hijack global phone networks to their hearts' content are, in fact, fundamental to the evolution of modern hacker culture.

The tech world has traditionally done a fairly poor job of explaining its history, and of helping modern audiences understand the puzzle pieces that have led us to today. Consider this article on phreaking a rather important piece of a rather important puzzle.

Enjoy the read.

Secrets of the Little Blue Box
By Ron Rosenbaum
Esquire
October 1971

Tilly guards the expressway

Good dog in a dodgy place
Montreal, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This isn't just any dog mural. It's Tilly, and it's located on Decarie Boulevard in Montreal, overlooking the sunken expressway that brutally bisects this neighborhood in a way only a relic of 1960s-era car-centric civic planning can.

We came here for an unhappy reason. June 2019 - my father-in-law had passed away, and I was running errands with the kids, ordering food for the shiva house, trying to keep everyone focused on anything beyond what they had lost, and maybe crack a smile every once in a while.

A family acquaintance who I won't identify for obvious reasons had gotten into the habit of calling our dog, "Tilly". For the record, her name is, "Calli", but he couldn't seem to master it. What was funny was the way he said it. Absent-mindedly, as if he couldn't be bothered.

The kids, understandably, thought it was hilarious. And when we happened to come across this wonderful piece of public art on a building across the street from the Snowdon Deli, it was a given that a photo had to be taken.

This scene almost feels like Montreal to me, a timeworn streetscape that almost feels like a signature of this beaten-down city. Rough-hewn concrete notwithstanding, it nevertheless feels like a brightly lit micro-moment in the midst of so many dark ones, when our kids were given a chance to smile.

After all, we have to find those opportunities wherever they present themselves. Tilly would no doubt agree.

#montreal #quebec #canada #yul #throwback #urban #street #streetphotography #photography #decarie #boulevard #snowdon #deli #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Bursting with color

The things we find in store window displays
Boca Raton, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


In the Before Times, we occasionally went to shopping malls for the heck of it and deliberately sought out new experiences, like spontaneous conversations with the guy selling artsy retro pastel-painted bicycles from a kiosk, or gawk sessions over the stunning artworks at a newly opened gallery.

The goal wasn't so much to consume, but to get out there, to disconnect from the day-to-day, and just immerse ourselves in the delightful variability of collective urban human life. Retail space as community centre was apparently a thing.

In the After Times, of course, this notion is terrifying. The operative goal now is to put as much distance between ourselves and strangers, to hunker down, alone or surrounded by immediate family and no one else. Isolate instead of connect.

Which makes me appreciate scenes like this, furtively captured during a particularly memorable outing with the fam, that much more.

It also makes me appreciate the fact that new experiences and pandemic life aren't mutually exclusive.

We may have to be a bit more creative in teasing them out. But they're out there. It's up to us to look harder for them.

#bocaraton #boca #florida #fla #throwback #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #towncenter #mall #retail #shopping #store #random #abstract #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

We're all interconnected

Intricately grown
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Spend enough time looking down at your feet - as I tend to do - and you’re bound to see a lot of things most other folks would miss.

Like tree roots. I already shared a roots shot recently, but I figure you can never get enough views of the forest floor.

There’s a lot going down there, so much, in fact, that you’ll never really manage to cover it all.

But, still, it’s fun to try.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #root #roots #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:
Branching out, May 2021
Game of tones, May 2021

Monday, May 03, 2021

Hillside collaboration

Holding it together
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


A cluster of trees rises from the steep hillside, its members working closely together to survive, thrive, and hold the slope together.

If they can figure out that collaboration lies at the root of their life here, then so can we.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, May 02, 2021

It all started with greyscale

There's color in there if you look hard enough
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I’m on a bit of a monochrome kick this weekend, so thanks for humoring me.

I’m just old enough to remember shooting with film, where black and white photography involved loading up the right kind of film, then sticking it out till the roll was done.

These days, monochrome is just a couple of clicks away on one of my camera’s dials. Or I can even edit them back to monochrome after the fact. It’s easier, more convenient, less of an up-front commitment.

Which, if we’re being brutally honest, feels a little sad. I still remember the first time I checked out a 35mm pocket camera from the photo studio at summer camp, and was told I had two hours to finish the roll and return it.

As I walked alone on the dirt-and-gravel paths through the woods, my 12-year-old brain wrestled with the challenge of telling a story with a limited colour palette.

Fast forward to today, and I’m still figuring it out. Because trees need their story told more now than they ever have, and using various shades of grey is more often than not the ideal way to tell it.

At least that’s how it feels to me.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #root #roots #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:
Branching out, May 2021
Game of tones, May 2021

Branching out

Textured
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This branch is old, ratty, and well past its prime. Come to think of it, so is the tree to which it's attached.

That's what makes it so much more interesting than anything else in the surrounding valley.

Because beauty is often aged and raw. And I'd rather look for it as it hides in the shadows than settle for the conventional stuff that usually sits in plain view.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything