Saturday, March 23, 2019

The donut that made me smile

The colors of happiness
Port Hope, ON
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: An OnRoute highway rest stop near the ironically named Port Hope. My wife and I have stopped here on our way to Montreal, one long trip among too many long trips back home to see her ailing dad.

We don't want to be here - in this place, under these circumstances - but none of what he and we are experiencing has anything to with with what we want. Or what is fair. So we drive. It's what we do.

We've been up since before 4 a.m., and on the road before 6, so coffee is our friend. And while Debbie fetches some from the Tim Hortons, I find myself distracted by the donut display.

It's another stupid pic in a long string of stupid pics that I've been shooting of late. But this snippet of unexpected color makes me smile, which is all that matters to me in the moment. It also makes my wife wonder where I've gone - again - and more than a few folks in line stare intently as they wonder what I'm up to. After they realize I'm not a terrorist, they seem to find it amusing.

I believe photography, even when life hits turbulence, can always be a force for good. And I'd like to think that I've managed to prove that in this unlikely place, all thanks to some odd-looking donuts, some strangers, and a very understanding wife.

#port #hope #ontario #canada #onroute #highway #roadtrip #road #trip #travel #timhortons #donut #dessert #junkfood #sowhat #life #is #short #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, March 22, 2019

Selfies suck, except...

Someone's watching you
Cote St. Luc, QC
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I don't take a lot of selfies. I started this photography obsession long before selfies were even a thing, and as much as I enjoy the occasional casual head shot, there's something a little sad when every freaking picture in a given feed is a selfie. There's a whole world worth exploring on the other, non-selfie side of the lens.

There's more to life than my built-for-radio face, and I'm reasonably sure no one wants to see countless pics of me. If that ever becomes the sum-total of my photographic output, that'll be my cue to stop shooting altogether.

This one's an exception, a quickly-grabbed shot on a sad day in a sad place, a furtive attempt to find a happy where there otherwise was, and is, no happiness.

I do that a lot these days, shoot placeholder pics like this, like signposts of the journey. The EXIF data contains all the info we'll ever need to know, a diary of where and when it was taken. Put a string of these otherwise silly looking pics together and the story begins to take shape. It keeps me grounded. And sane.

So, apologies for the uninspired selfie. It's part of our ongoing story, and perhaps tomorrow I'll share more from a journey we'd rather not be on. The universe has other plans, apparently, so I may as well use the tools I've got to shine a light into the relative darkness.

#montreal #quebec #canada #yul #roadtrip #road #trip #travel #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #selfie #photography #streetphotography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, March 21, 2019

When Vipers fly in anger

Set burner to stun
London, ON
September 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Ever have one of those days where you just want to mash the throttle in anger and put everything - and everyone - behind you?

I imagined the pilot of this plane - an F-16 Fighting Falcon belonging to the U.S. Air Force Viper Demo Team - might have that thought just before lighting the afterburner and turning fossilized dinosaurs into mind-warping acceleration. From the looks of it, whoever was at the controls on this day last September was too disciplined to take a joy ride, but I can imagine the flight lead cracking a tiny smile beneath the Darth Vader-esque helmet.

Because even crack aviators have souls. And the occasional moment of extreme noise, speed, and fury is probably good for the soul. Both theirs and ours. Whether or not we're anywhere near a plane.

#lockheedmartin #f16 #viper #fighting #falcon #usaf #demo #team #AirShowLondon #AirShow2018 #aircraft #airplanes #aviation #avgeek #grey #sky #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #high #speed #photography #dslr #london #ontario #canada

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Same day, same beach

Why am I still here?
Jensen Beach, FL
December 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I must have hundreds of variations of this photo in my archives, different views of waves crashing on a beach, the water tracing impossibly lovely, temporary sculptures in the roiled air. The next wave will craft an entirely new set, so detailed you can almost feel their texture on-screen. But they won't be the same.

It takes 1/1,600 of a second to shoot this, a sliver of time before the sun dips below the horizon and the few wanderers on this largely empty beach disappear for the night. The surf is so turbulent I don't dare get too close, so I stand far back and use my lens to reach deep into the zone where waves go to die, working quickly before the shadows take over.

I don't come from a photographic family, no shoeboxes of faded snaps from my childhood, captured by parents who felt the storytelling weight on their shoulders. A vacation album might have included one wide-angle view of a beach, beyond which it simply wasn't worth wasting additional film on something that had already been recorded. This is is partly due to the expense of film and developing - we live in a different digital age now - but it is also due to a very different interpretation of what a picture stands for.

This photo is the story of us, of what it felt like to he here, and what we might have learned in the process. It is the story that my children will carry with them when I'm not around to tell it. In telling this story, I believe we turn vacations, journeys, or even trips to the grocery store into something richer, something tangible worth remembering, worth holding onto.

It's why I continue to share slightly different versions of the same scene, seemingly to the point of over-repetition. Because it's those subtle nuances and shifts that set us apart from all the other people on the beach who stare into the tumbling waters and hopefully tell their own stories. I'd hate to think I'm the only one out there doing this.

#jensen #beach #jensenbeach #florida #Fla #Atlantic #ocean #surf #waves #water #splash #vacation #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #high #speed #photography #dslr #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photooftheday #instagood #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The energy at the edge of the planet

What power looks like
Jensen Beach, FL
December 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm standing on a windswept beach, the air blowing so strongly that I turn my back against it to keep my lens from being sandblasted. It's a risk I'm willing to take, because nothing feels as elemental as standing in the soft sand, toes slowly sinking in as you brace your feet, and point your longest piece of glass toward the pounding surf.

Life is chaos and answers are few, but out here, where land melts into endless ocean, none of that matters. It's just you, some incredibly dexterous and brave birds, and the laws of physics playing out on a scale almost too overwhelming to appreciate. I don't feel the wind as much as I smell it, that curious mixture of salty sea air, marine life and the occasional whiff of sunblock. It's intoxicating here, and yet I keep thinking about how little time I've actually got in this place before I have to head back. It's never enough.

Still, I've got lots of battery power and a giant memory card, so I shoot fast, fingers crossed that one of them turns out to be a keeper. I try different approaches, quickly reviewing each flight of photos before changing settings and shooting some more. There's no real plan, and I quickly realize that this is exactly the point.

I think about the birds and the wind and the waves at the beaches near our home, now thousands of kilometres behind me. They're on the Great Lakes, not an ocean, so the visuals won't be quite as spectacular. But it doesn't mean they don't have a beauty all their own. Or that I won't get the same feeling - minus the salty air - by standing just up from the water and allowing my toes to curl around the sand, my feet slowly sinking in until I can no longer see my ankles.

Because in the cold lens of hindsight, it's times like this that define whether or not we enjoyed the journey. And whether or not we did enough to inspire others to do the same. In that light, I hope I'm living up to my end of the bargain.

#jensen #beach #jensenbeach #florida #Fla #Atlantic #ocean #surf #waves #water #splash #vacation #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #high #speed #photography #dslr #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photooftheday #instagood #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

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.

#montreal #quebec #canada #yul #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #roadtrip #road #trip #travel #instagood #photooftheday #urban #street #photography #streetphotography #secondcup #coffee #breakfast #life #family #is #everything
Breakfa

Monday, March 04, 2019

Puzzling

Shattered, for now
London, ON
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We've had this puzzle on our kitchen table for the past few weeks. The inconvenience factor at mealtime is off the charts, as we're left with half as much surface area to eat just as much food.

But I'm not complaining. In fact, I welcome it, because there's something comforting about this chaotic-looking assembly of somewhat-matched-up pieces of cardboard. In our typically tech-infused household where each of us has a smartphone, smart speakers have sprouted in a few common areas, an app ensures our dog gets enough exercise, and a connected doorbell lets me freak out the UPS delivery guy from half a continent away, it's a bit of a revelation to gather around something that doesn't need to be charged, doesn't crash, and isn't online.

Somewhere along the way toward our geeky future, we seemingly forgot what it felt like to just be, to not be bathed in the blue-ish light, to not be zombified by an endless scroll of memes and hilariously inaccurately-served ads. And plopping an unassuming 1,000-piece puzzle into the middle of our kitchen has served as a timely reminder of why a little more technological disconnectedness can do wonders for our human connectedness.

It's been a bit of a marathon getting the puzzle done. We return to it in spontaneous waves, gathering around the table when we have a few extra minutes. We chat idly as we share the experience. Or, sometimes, we go at it alone. There's no plan. No rigidity. We just as often work on it in silence, our hands and our eyes dancing over the jumbled cardboard pieces, trying to make sense of the low-tech chaos.

Part of me looks forward to finishing it, but a bigger part of me will miss it. As I tap this out on my glowing smartphone, I wonder what we're doing to ourselves now that our every waking moment is governed by an electronic device. It may sound like heresy coming from me, but I often wish we could simply unplug.

I see another puzzle in our near future. Or maybe more than one.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #yxu #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #home #kitchen #puzzle #game #games #time #family #is #everything

Luke Perry could have been me - or any of us

I'm not one to follow celebrity news. I find it all so vacuous, shallow, a general waste of otherwise-precious time. I don't think anyone cares about who I'm in a relationship with, where I go, what I wear, what I drive, or who I'm arguing with on social media. That cuts both ways: I don't care about the relationship, travel, fashion or automotive habits of anyone else, regardless of how famous they may be.

So I rarely write about Hollywood types because, frankly, I've got better things to do with my time.

Please remember that word, time.

Today's a little different. Luke Perry died today. You may remember him as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210, or as Archie Andrews's dad in Riverdale. He was 52 years-old, and never recovered from a massive stroke suffered last week. This is where a celebrity's story becomes directly relevant to me. Because I had a stroke a few years ago*. And unlike Mr. Perry, I survived.

In my ideal world, seemingly healthy 52-year-olds, no matter their station in life, don't get cut down by strokes. In my ideal world, everyone knows the risks, in themselves and others, and knows what to do if the worst happens. In my ideal world, everyone gets the help they need, immediately, and no one dies or is left disabled.

I've spent the years since my stroke advocating for better stroke awareness and education. Because studies consistently show a direct correlation between rapid medical response and survival. But I'm just some guy in Canada, whereas Luke Perry had an infinitely larger network. And if all of his fans shifted the time they'd otherwise spend watching breathless celeb coverage on TV, or posting thoughts-and-prayers comments to Facebook into, say, learning what F.A.S.T. is, maybe a life, or many lives, would be saved.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada has a fantastic resource section. Read it here. Then print it and leave it on your fridge. And share it. Via email, messaging, social media, whatever works. Because stroke doesn't discriminate, and young folks can be just as easily picked off as anyone else. Because you can never be too annoying when it comes to educating your friends. I know this firsthand.

I realize I'm living in my ideal world. But unlike Mr. Perry, I was one of the lucky ones. We owe it to him, and others like him, to apply those lessons so that others may live.

--
* Read about it here. More resources here: 

Death to smokers, sort of

Inconsiderate
Morrisburg, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: A windswept parking lot along the 401 in Eastern Ontario. We've been through this particular rest stop too many times to count of late, and I'm not particularly pleased to be adding to our tally.

As we walk back to the car, I notice this rather disgusting mess and decide it needs to be shot. I'm pretty sure I'm mumbling something unkind under my breath about the unseen travellers who were too lazy or self-centred or both to take 15 extra seconds to do the right thing. I'm pretty sure said strangers have long forgotten about the scene they left behind in this place far from anyone's home.

When I return to our vehicle, my wife is cracking a wide smile - her first in a while - as she describes how many strangers looked at me funny as I crouched over the dirty, frozen pavement to get the shot.

And in an instant, she lifts my mood as I realize I'm never going to change the basic fact that people are pigs. Like it or not, we're surrounded by them, and my sanctimonious rantings notwithstanding, we always will be. I also realize I must now apologize to the pig community, because even pigs behave better than this.

At that moment, it dawns on me that the answer lies in finding the smile, the laugh, the kindness, despite the cigarette butts at our feet, or the other messy crap life decides to throw in our path. Our choice. No one else's. Somehow, we learn these lessons in the most unexpected places, in the most unexpected ways.

#morrisburg #ontario #onroute #random #urban #street #photography #shoot #shooting #park #parking #lot #highway #weather #wx #road #trip #travel #car #auto #automotive #smoking #google #pixel2 #teampixel #canada #family #is #everything

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Staring at concrete from a wintry sidewalk

Same building, different day
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've looked at this building many times in recent months. I've written previously about what goes on inside, the lives that are saved, the diseases that are researched, the hope that is both held onto, and returned.

And yet I keep returning to it. Why?

I'm guessing it's because we're here so often, and time being as constrained as it is when we're on the ground here, I don't have an excess of it to explore the neighborhood any more than this. As much as I'd love to explore the city where I was born, we're here for another, darker purpose. The tourist-in-my-old-hometown thing will have to wait.

But it's not all darkness. Revisiting the same places over and over, though, forces you to use other parts of your brain. You've got to tease out new ways of looking at the same old things. And that, in itself, is a blessing of sorts.

Because unlike so many people within this building - including my father-in-law - who literally can't walk downstairs and smell the fresh air, I can make that happen whenever I wish. I can hang out here on the sidewalk for as long as I can withstand the cold until the right composition pops into my head. I can still do so many things, while he, and they, can't.

So if having this easily-overlooked gift means I've got to find new ways to see the same buildings, to tell stories I may have told before, I'll take it.

#montreal #quebec #canada #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #building #architecture #architecturephotography #grey #concrete #facade #windows #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #streetphotography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #urban #street #photography #life #family #is #everything

Friday, March 01, 2019

Retail community centre

Hub of the neighborhood
Montreal, QC
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I grew up in Montreal, a city with a unique name for everything. Pop or soda is a soft drink. A dessert cake is a Mae Ouest or a Jos Louis. And the convenience store is called a depanneur, or dep.

Every neighborhood here has one, an unassuming little store that'll sell you anything, anytime, day or night. Chances are it'll look like a bit of a dump, you'll be overcharged, and whatever you get probably won't be all that healthy. But that's part of the charm of a place that on the surface seems increasingly outmoded in a retail landscape that's largely switched over franchise-owned stores where the folks who work there will never learn your name.

But there's something special going on beneath that withered, non-descript facade. Which probably explains why deps seem just as woven into the fabric of the neighborhoods they now serve as they did when I was a kid.

I came across this particular dep on Sherbrooke Street West in the NDG district, a tiny oasis of warmth and light on a windy, clear, and cold late afternoon. I was walking the neighborhood, a break from my father-in-law's hospital room a few blocks away - and from life in general. I knew this area well, as I went to university a a few blocks right-of-frame, but it had been so long since I'd been here that no one looked familiar anymore.

So I stood on the sidewalk for an inordinate amount of time, transfixed by the facade. This dep struck me as something of an anchor, a connecting point for the apartments and the well-established 'hood around it. And I imagined area residents popping in for whatever they needed, connecting with the owner and staff and each other before heading back out into the cold.

I would have hung around longer, but my face had gone numb and it was time to head back to reality. I could muse about these unassuming, magical places forever, but as the sun dipped toward the horizon, life clearly had other plans.

#montreal #quebec #canada #yul #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #hospital #sherbrooke #urban #street #photography #retail #store #market #shopping #business #depanneur #french #language #age #aging #health #life #universe #family #is #everything

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Pools of light before we continue the journey

Scene from an OnRoute
Ingersoll, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This scene, captured at a highway rest stop near Ingersoll at 8:31 on a bitterly cold winter night, is pretty similar to scenes that play out at other highway rest stops in other wintry parts of the world. It's not even remotely unique, nothing jumps out as particularly memorable or spectacular, and there's no reason why a news crew would feature this on the 11 o'clock news.

Unspectacular and unmemorable doesn't mean unworthy, though. This seemingly nondescript scene contains any number of stories, each one important to the individuals pictured here. Just because we don't know who they are, what brought them here, where they're headed, or even why they're out in the first place doesn't make their stories any less significant.

So before we continue on our way, I stand in the darkened parking lot and take it in: The two pickups, sedan and crossover at the pumps, the lineup inside the convenience store, the brilliant, oasis-like pools of light that spill out into the night.

I've mused about these highway rest stops before, these transitional, generally forgettable places we try to put behind us as we rush to wherever we're headed. The clock is ticking, and our hands go numb around the gas pump the longer we stand in the cold, concrete emptiness. Can this thing possibly BE any slower? I wish the same thing as I fill up my own vehicle. I wish for the rest of the trip to be warm, easy, and fast. I wish for life - for me as well as for my fellow travellers - to be easier than it seems to be at this particular time, in this particular place.

I'm not about to walk up to these strangers and ask them their story. But it can't hurt to wonder, from afar, what those stories might be. And send quiet wishes for safe journeys.

#ingersoll #woodstock #ontario #onroute #random #photography #highway #fuel #gas #station #weather #wx #road #trip #travel #car #auto #automotive #carporn #pool #light #google #pixel2 #canada #family #is #everything

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lost love on a hospital floor

Ripped away
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This hospital is enormous, so I walk a lot. Fetching coffee from something more palatable than a wretched vending machine is a 15-minute walk across the street. Want to get work done in the giant atrium with the awesome free WiFi? 10 minutes to the other end of the block-long building. I'm pretty sure the parking lot is in another postal code.

Which leaves a lot of time to ponder the meaning of life - or life snatched away - as I move between here and there in a place where you're never really here or there to begin with.

All that wandering also leaves lots of time to stare at the floor. At the mess left behind by thousands of people too preoccupied to notice. Because people don't deliberately litter here as much as they accidentally drop stuff because they have other, more important things to worry about. Countless cleaning staff manage to stay on top of a never-ending, joyless, thankless task, but even they can't get everything, every time.

On this afternoon, I'm glad they didn't. Because all I saw as I rounded the corner was a single, tiny heart in the middle of an otherwise empty stretch of granite at one end of an overwhelmingly long hallway. Did it make for a keeper photo? No. But that's not what I was aiming for. For some reason, I walked that particular way at this particular moment and saw this particular scrap of long-forgotten paper. And I thought it was worth remembering because hearts, in any form, are always worth remembering if they manage to make us smile. And this one did. Simple, really.

Strangers yet again stared at me with that odd mixture of curiosity and we-think-he's-crazy distant-concern as I got down on a knee and composed the scene you see here.

Not gonna lie: I do it more often than I probably should. Because the things that speak to me aren't always in obvious places. Sometimes they're down on the ground where no one else bothers to look.

#montreal #quebec #canada #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #photography #pink #heart #garbage #trash #waste #recycling #lost #not #found #life #family #is #everything

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Eyeing the grouchy chocolate bar through glass

Not that hungry
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Hospitals are filled with countless tiny details that we often miss because we're overwhelmed by the very reasons that brought us here in the first place.

Like the vending machine in the shadowy corner of the 6th floor family lounge, a frequent hangout for us as we've waited for Deb's dad to be changed, or undergo another in an endless string of medical procedures. For all the times we've been here, this morning is the first time I even realized it had a vending machine. So much for my powers of observation.

The Snickers bar you see here seems to reflect my mood, a roller-coaster-like sine wave that oscillates between exhaustion, sadness, and anger at the universe. I'm grouchy - not to anyone around me, but within myself, as I constantly churn the possibilities of what might happen next and how we'll deal with it. And seeing this weirdly marketed chocolate bar in an ignored vending machine in a forgotten corner of a room no one wants to be in strikes me as a perfect reflection of the moment.

So I shoot it. Not because it's a good picture, because it isn't, and I've been taking a lot of these throwaway pics lately. But because it's another oddball slice of an oddball chapter in an oddball life. And someday we'll look back at it and count our lucky stars that we were able to somehow navigate this chapter and put it behind us. At least that's the plan - and we all know what the universe often does with the plans we make.

#montreal #quebec #canada #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #photography #chocolate #snickers #food #foodporn #dessert #instafood #foodphotography #life #family #is #everything

Monday, February 25, 2019

Revisiting the mountains of my chldhood

Temporarily towering
St. Laurent, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We're near the desolate edge of a nearly empty parking lot in the burbs, and as is often the case these days we're transitioning from one place to the next. An around-the-clock shift at the hospital with my father-in-law behind us. FIL's empty condo ahead of us, promising a night of sifting through financial documents and trying to make sense of his affairs.

This is what living nightmares look like, except you eventually wake up from bad dreams. Not here, not now.

We're walking back to the car after dinner when that familiar jolt hits me. I see something. Towering piles of snow thanks to the severe winter that's blasted this city for months. An apocalyptic moonscape, like when we were in elementary school, climbing the mountains after a major storm, kings and queens of our childhood domain. Because that's what stupid kids like us did despite the distant pleas of the well-meaning - but powerless - lunch moms.

Adult me doesn't climb snow mountains anymore. (OK, not often.) But they still fascinate me. These, in particular, almost feel real, like an alpine range, the combination of craggy snow and severe parking lot lighting against a damp, cold, black night making them feel more substantive than a wantonly dumped pile of white stuff.

And for a moment, I seal out the hospital and the condo and the relentless cacophony of real-life things we've seen and heard and smelled and felt and just allow the vision in front of me to fill my head. My wife, as she so often does, patiently indulges me as I wander closer to the pile and size it up

In the end, I get 5 minutes of respite through the lens before I return to the car and we continue our journey to our not-quite-home. But the photo here endures as a literally frozen - and figuratively frozen-in-time - moment amid so many moments I wish I could forget. If only we could return to those school yard mountains for recess. If only they were more than mere memories.

#montreal #stlaurent #quebec #canada #winter #weather #wx #season #snow #snowfall #cold #ice #frozen #nature #google #pixel2 #teampixel #urban #street #photography #naturephotography #monochrome #instagood #photooftheday #life #family #is #everything

Inadvertent sunset

Reflection on a brilliant street
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Someone once told me the best moments are the unexpected ones, that reach out to you when you're busy doing something else, and least expect something special to happen.

Like this one.

I was walking back to the hospital on an ice-choked, crumbling sidewalk barely wide enough for one, let alone oncoming directions of late-afternoon Saturday pedestrian traffic on this busy commercial artery. That's long been the norm in this alternately beautiful, yet badly run city of stunning architecture and barely-maintained roads. My head was down not because I was deep in thought, but because I was focused on self-preservation.

The sun hadn't yet set, but densely-built neighborhoods tend to cast shadows over the surrounding streets long before the sun dips below the horizon. So with no expectations of photographic glory in my immediate future, I had safely tucked the camera into my backpack and was carefully making my way back to the hospital.

As I crossed the street - ironically, Jean-Brillant Road - I picked up a slash of light out of the corner of my eye. As soon as it appeared, it was gone, but it was enough to snap me out of my pedestrian-induced coma. I quickly zeroed in on a bank of windows halfway down the block, blindingly reflecting the western sky, but only if I stood in one particular spot. Half a step either way and it winked out. The universe was calling me again, so down went the bag, and out came the camera.

I didn't seek the sunset on this late-afternoon walk. Rather, the sunset sought me out - and clearly found me. An unexpected moment at a time when all I saw was darkness, and all I wanted to do was finish my journey safely. Sometimes the universe has other plans, and we'd do well to take the time to heed them.

#montreal #quebec #canada #winter #weather #wx #season #ice #icicle #frozen #nature #window #sun #sunset #sky #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #urban #street #photography #naturephotography #instagood #photooftheday #cotedesneiges #life #family #is #everything

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Take me to church (and warm me up, please)

Mid-winter scene
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Just outside a church in the fading late afternoon light, small knots of people rush across the icy path, racing to mass as the distant thrum of the organ gradually rises through the century-old stone walls.

I notice these icicles hanging from the eaves, simultaneously dangerous and gorgeous. There isn't much light to work with, yet these accidental, temporary freaks of nature still manage to capture and reflect so much of it that I blink hard a few times to ensure it isn't some kind of illusion

It isn't. It's quite real, and it's more than enough to keep me standing here in the cold for a while as I try to stay out of the churchgoers' way on the narrow path.

As I look for ways to tell the story of this resonant place, I'm struck by the seeming permanence of this giant institution, with the impressive building, in a city within a province where the Catholic Church held sway far longer and more pervasively than it did elsewhere.

This building predates everyone here, and remains a vibrant anchor to the community that surrounds it. The sound and light filtering out into the now-darkened neighborhood are ample proof of that.

Yet the ice will be gone before we know it, a temporary adornment to a permanent scene. A reminder, perhaps, that there's no time like the present to get out there, to connect, to take it all in. Because soon enough it all disappears.

#montreal #quebec #canada #winter #weather #wx #season #ice #icicle #frozen #nature #church #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #urban #street #photography #naturephotography #instagood #photooftheday #cotedesneiges #life #family #is #everything

Taking off into the unknown

Under uncertain skies
Port Stanley, ON
September 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The weather warnings have made it clear we're about to have quite the blustery day in the 100 Acre Wood.

When I was a kid, I used to worry about where birds sought shelter from extreme weather. Were they warm enough in the cold? Were they protected from the rain? Did they have somewhere to go when the winds kicked up?

To be brutally honest, adult-me still worries. Yes, I've studied science and biology in the interim, and I know, logically, that our avian friends have it all figured out. But it's never a bad thing to worry about others, feathered or not.

So as this flock headed out over Lake Erie on a blustery Labor Day last year I wondered where they were headed, and if they'd be safe along the way. I silently wished them safe travel as I gently squeezed the shutter, hoping against hope that the simple act of shooting a scene could guarantee the right outcomes for everyone in-frame.

Life doesn't work that way. Neither does flight. And not every bird manages to find its way back home.

#port #stanley #portstanley #beach #great #lake #erie #ldnont #bird #birds #wind #weather #wx #wings #nature #summer #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #instagood #photooftheday #boeing #atlasair #amazon #primeair #crash #ontario #canada #family #is #everything