Monday, July 15, 2019

Not just a building anymore

Lines, and lives, in concrete
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It only looks featureless and soulless if you don't take the time to let your eyes linger a bit. Concrete block construction designed less by architects than a ruler-equipped committee. A building that isn't so much forgotten as it was never really remembered in the first place.

Yet people live here. Stand on the sidewalk long enough and the tiny red flowerboxes silently materialize out of the near-but-not-quite-monochrome background. Tune your ears just so and you can hear the conversations from above. Children playing behind open windows. Old couples arguing over who cleans up after the BBQ. Somewhere on an unseen higher floor, birds feast noisily in a feeder.

Life happens here. Simple, everyday life. Or, more precisely, lives. Most of them seemingly different from our own - in language, employment, politics, parenting style, you name it - but with enough overlap with our own to seem strangely familiar. As if we're more alike than not.

My parents and in-laws once lived here, and now three of them are no longer with us. They, too, led lives here that seemed ordinary to outsiders on the sidewalk, yet were well beyond extraordinary to those lucky enough to be invited inside.

How you see this place, or any other, for that matter, depends on where you stand, on how you're connected to those who live here, and on how much time you're willing to invest connecting your life to theirs.

That word again: Time. We never get enough of it. We never know if we're making the most of what we've been given. Maybe I need more time out here to figure it out.

#laval #chomedey #montreal #quebec #canada #photography #concrete #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #blue #sky #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Flying into and against the wind

Grand Bend, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
On an oppressively hot and humid afternoon on one of the loveliest beaches in the province, a trio of seagulls takes off into a stiff westerly wind before the rains come.

They head out over the water and soon disappear into the deepening haze. What's going through their bird brains as the beach shrinks behind them? Are they aware of the impending danger? Or do they know something about the increasingly angry sky that we don't?

We'll never know. Which, on reflection, is how it ought to be.

Because not everything needs a set answer. Questions can be allowed to linger out there. Loops don't have to always be closed. Mysteries can - and should - be allowed to persist indefinitely.

I imagine this fleeting moment by the shore wouldn't have been as wistful, or ultimately fulfilling, if I knew every what, why, or how. I imagine that having an occasional unknown or two floating around our respective brains might be just enough to sustain our sense of childlike wonder for just a little bit longer.

Perhaps those birds know more than we thought. Or not. As if it even matters.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #bird #birds #blue #sky #weather #wx #nature #summer #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Let's chase the sun, Dad

Always connected
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
She woke up just after 6 this morning, likely because puppies never get the memo about weekends and sleeping in.

So rather than fight the inevitable, I hooked her up to her leash and we headed out into the breezy summer morning. The sleepy cobwebs clogging my brain quickly gave way to the very real challenge of keeping 14-ish pounds of miniature schnauzer firmly under control as other dogs approached.

Her two-legged circus-dancing act notwithstanding, she was especially and unusually well-behaved this morning. Our little drama queen dispensed with her typical fits of insanity and finally allowed herself to play nicely with other pups. I'm hoping it's more turning point than anomaly, but time will tell.

We took the very long way home because a) I was enjoying this time with her and b) I secretly hoped an extended walk would tire her out. As if. But still, I remain hopeful.

She was all wound up by the time we got back, and thanks to my lovely wife who took over wiggly puppy duty, I managed to snag an extra hour of zees. Or is it zeds? Either way, fatigue notwithstanding I can't imagine starting my day any other way.

Calli may still never get that weekend-sleeping-in memo, but it's not like she can read, anyway.

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

Friday, July 12, 2019

Someone forgot a mug

Lost, for now
Toronto, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
In the middle of a workday that passes into history in a blur, you struggle a little harder to grab onto little moments and scenes along the way.

My day in Toronto was packed with video shoots, brainstorming sessions, and spontaneous hallway meetings with super-smart colleagues. At one point, we had to move a bunch of chairs out of the way to accommodate a particular shot - and lo and behold, we found this forlorn mug on the floor. Someone, somewhere, was a little down on caffeine.

I thought a fast photo session might be in order before I brought it back to the kitchen. Why? No reason at all. Because not everything needs a reason. Because sometimes you just want to remember an especially good day with some especially good people.

Simple, really. Like a good, if abandoned, cup of coffee.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #yonge #street #888yonge #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #downtown #random #stilllife #photography #coffee #cup #mug #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Calling up the past...

London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I spotted this on a lamp standard in the middle of a downtown park. It got me thinking about how quickly technology moves, and how profoundly things we take for granted today will be ingloriously left behind tomorrow.

Part of me doesn't miss phones like this. Slow, ponderous rotary dials. Chunky handsets that hurt like hell when you dropped them on your foot. Ringers that made you deaf. That you were forced to answer because Call Display didn't exist. That feeling when you were out that you had to get home in time. Missed calls - and opportunities - if you didn't run fast enough.

Another part of me misses them terribly. Those slow rotary dials forced you to think about the number, the person you were calling, and what you were about to discuss. They made communication deliberate, analog, memorable. Those chunky handsets lasted forever. Digital ringtones have nothing on a real bell. You felt like being called was an occasion then.

As much as I appreciate the ability to call anyone, anytime, from anywhere, and to be reached just as easily, I also regret the erasure of lines that once divided us between on and off states. We were off the grid before that was even a thing. We had time and space to breathe before chiming back into the rest of the world. Now? It's all mixed together.

Indeed, the very concept of a "phone" has evolved radically in a relatively brief span of time. Today's phones are fully mobile, digital, connected, and app-capable. They let us share snippets of our lives in ways childhood me couldn't even dream. They open up opportunities that have allowed me and others to live better lives than would have otherwise been possible.

Somewhere in a box that's been sitting in our basement for longer than our youngest child has been around, I think we have one of these relics. I suppose one of these days I'll plug it in and see if it still works. To remind myself of where we come from, and why we sometimes need to pause to appreciate all that we have now.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #street #photography #phone #telephone #old #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tiny, wet dancer

Very temporary vision
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Sometimes I shoot a photo that makes me wonder if my eyes are playing tricks on me. This is one of them.

I was playing - optically - in the fountain near my late father-in-law's place, trying, and largely failing, to distract myself from the fact that the universe was being a pain in the ass to my little family. Photography and writing have been something of a bubble for me these past few months, and as I stood in a crumbling parking lot taking pictures of fast-moving water, I felt a tiny bit of comfort that I had this space to return to when I didn't know what else to do.

Usually when I shoot, I try different settings and approaches, pausing between each set to quickly review and determine how to light and compose the next round. But the sun was so bright that I could barely see the screen. I crossed my fingers - a bad thing for a Jew, apparently - and kept at it for a bit. By now, it wasn't so much about getting the shot, but trying to engage in something that smoothed the edges off of my otherwise racing, turbulent mind.

The good news: Most everything I shot that day was reasonably decent. And this one? Well, I can't explain why I think it looks like a dancer in a dress.

I'll just have to assume the universe decided, for 1/4,000 of a second, anyway, to stop messing with my head and give me something to smile about.

#laval #chomedey #montreal #yul #quebec #canada #water #fountain #high #speed #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Another view of the clouds

Water, light, and shadows
Grand Bend, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've still got my head in the clouds. I could explain why, but neither Instagram nor Facebook would have enough space to accommodate my explanation.

So thanks for indulging me.


#grand #bend #grandbend #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #clouds #sky #weather #wx #nature #summer #monochrome #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, July 08, 2019

Puffy white clouds against a perfect blue sky

Power on high
Grand Bend, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We get some wild weather here.

In summer, that means hot, humid days are often punctuated by towering, powerful thunderstorms. Not gonna lie: It can be frightening, especially when they spawn tornadoes. But there are also ample bright sides to the atmospheric fireworks. You just have to look for them.

Like Friday. As I stood on the beach and watched the storms slowly build all around us, I secretly hoped at least one of the cells would unleash its fury close enough for us to get a closer look. Not because I wanted our delightful beach day to end - I didn’t, and left to my own devices I’d spend every waking moment staring at the water - but because memories somehow feel more vibrant when Mother Nature gets a little active.

In the end, I got my wish and just to our south the back end of these cumulonimbus clouds painted marshmallow-like perfection to the very top of the brilliantly blue sky. The rains moved away from us as we stood in perfect sunshine and enjoyed the show.

The lesson? You can’t control the weather any more than you can control life. Insanity is going to happen in the atmosphere and elsewhere.

And when it does, you face a simple choice: Either head inside and stick your head under a pillow, or grab some popcorn and watch from the front row.

I fervently believe the show is way better behind Door #2. And if you’re left with pixels - and memories - like these, so much the better.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #clouds #blue #sky #weather #wx #nature #summer #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Green boat at rest

Down by the river
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There's nothing remarkable about this scene. A simple green boat tied up to a decaying dock beside the recently flooded shoreline of a reasonably polluted river system.

I share it here simply because I liked the scene when it first came into view. That's it. A photo doesn't have to be anything more than something that makes the person who took it smile. Between the green gradient, the lines and the lighting, I couldn't look away, and the two minutes I spent drinking it in represented the two easiest minutes within an otherwise challenging string of days.

With my family reeling from my father-in-law's passing, photography became an even bigger crutch for me than it had already been, a place I could drop into when the usual chaos that now surrounded us became too much.

It wasn't just a me thing, though. Whatever I brought back from these occasional random walks became a bit of a distraction for my peeps, an excuse to stare at pretty pictures for a few minutes.

Trivial? Yes. But welcome, necessary even, at a time when you'd hold onto even the smallest things in a bid to feel remotely normal. Even if all it is is a picture that reminds you why you loved photography in the first place.

Sometimes, the simplest things aren't so simple after all. Sometimes, you'll do anything, even stare at stupid green boats, to bring some sense of comfort to those around you.

#laval #chomedey #montreal #quebec #canada #photography #green #boat #boating #design #lines #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, July 05, 2019

27 years...

In the beginning
Laval, QC
July 1992
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Twenty-seven years ago today, the impossibly beautiful woman you see here threw caution to the wind and married me.

I was thankful on that day, because how do you explain being lucky enough to have someone like her share my life? I'm even more thankful today, because the life we've built in the ensuing years has been nothing short of a charmed adventure.

She was my best friend before we started dating, and she's been my best friend ever since. She laughs at my idiotic sense of humor, and patiently puts up with the most annoying aspects of my personality. She finishes my sentences, and doesn't get creeped out when I stare at her and sigh happily. She gets me.

We've evolved a bit of an anniversary day tradition where we spend every July 5th at the beach, and this year was no different. As we drove to Grand Bend, I told her I'd do it again in a heartbeat. About the only thing I'd have changed might have been my timing: I would have married her sooner, so we'd have had more time together.

We've learned, both over the years, and this past year in particular, that time is guaranteed to no one. Yet through it all, she's made every moment precious and memorable. I can't ask for more, except, perhaps, more of them.

As we sit beside Lake Huron and drink in some much needed us time, I don't know what tomorrow holds in store for us any more than baby-faced me did on that remarkable day so long ago. But I do know how blessed I am to experience it with her, as well as the amazing family we've created between then and now. They are, simply put, my everything.

Thank you seems inadequate, but it'll have to do for now. Thank you for this life, Debbie. I hope you know just how much I love you, us, and all that we have become.

#laval #chomedey #quebec #canada #throwback #wedding #just #married #anniversary #love #loveher #limitlessly #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Balconies in the sky

I think people live here
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Almost from the moment I first learned to ride a bike, I pushed the boundaries. First to the end of my street, then over to the next neighborhood, then to parts of town I had never been, then to other towns entirely.

The area where my father-in-law most recently lived was one of my first destinations. Barely a mile from my house, it may as well have been on the other side of the planet the first time I rode here on my little green bike with the whitewall tires.

Over the next few years, I'd return, usually with friends, and we'd ride and play throughout these smallish islands that dotted the river. Back then, the only civilization down here was three drab concrete rental apartment blocks. Now, of course, it's been overrun with (much nicer) buildings and traffic, but I could still happily wander the riverside path network all day.

Adult-me didn't have all day, of course. Stuff needed to get done back in the apartment. And no amount of photo-therapy could dispel the sadness that surrounded us. But, still, I carved out a bit of time for a quick early-morning walk with my camera. Because it felt like the right thing to do.

The old building you see here has been prettied up, but it still feels like it did back then. I remember staring at the stark lines as a kid, and the only memory I could take back with me was inside my head. It was a lot more fun this time out, with a camera in my hand and an adult's ability to do something about it.

Before long the real world called me back. And thankfully I now have some photographic keepsakes of a place that's been intertwined with my story for most of my life. Of a place that doesn't look like much to an outsider, but seems to still have an inexplicable hold on me after all these years. Now, as then, well worth the trip from far away.

#laval #chomedey #montreal #quebec #canada #photography #blue #sky #weather #wx #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #concrete #design #lines #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Have you hugged a bridge today?

Main span texture
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm not a "stuff" person. When the people who matter most speak about you, they won't wax poetic about the gadgets you own, the clothes you wear, or the car you drive. And if they do, then they don't really matter.

It is your impact on those around you - and those who come next - that matters most. Are you working to improve the world? Do you place the needs of others ahead of your own? Are you kind?

That said, in the built environment around us, some "stuff" - not things we own, but things we encounter - does indeed matter. I've written about and shot Blackfriars Bridge many times before*, yet I keep coming back to it because it's a perfect example of so-called stuff that improves the world around it.

This historic structure connects equally historic neighborhoods and inspires all who are lucky enough to cross it to, maybe, pause and reflect a little along the way.

It connects us to the past. It defines a city that often struggles to define itself. It invites us to lean in and drink it in, to appreciate the care, craftsmanship, and even love that first created it in 1875, and then restored it to glory in 2017 and 2018.

Indeed, this is more than a mere bridge. You can almost feel it in the color and texture. And if you hang around here long enough, you begin to appreciate just how many others share this perspective.

All that from some old, green iron. Neat.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #photography #blackfriars #bridge #civil #engineering #design #lines #texture #green #thames #river #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

* Blackfriars-themed posts from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2017

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

A weather-related pause on the ride home

Better weather ahead
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Bike commuters know this truth all too well: The weather never cooperates.

I knew this when I woke up this morning, as the forecast called for a 60% chance of showers this afternoon. Environment Canada threw in a special weather statement for good measure.

But I still took the bike. Because I've already missed out on so many riding days this year. Because a bad day on a bike is always better than a good day in a car. Because I'm not going to melt if it rains. Because if you wait for a mythical day of perfect weather before venturing out, you'll never venture out. Because life doesn't always follow a plan. Because giving up sucks.

I've stopped underneath an overpass to wait for the winds to ease off. I don't fear getting wet, but getting blown into the woods or the river is a whole other thing. Radar says it'll be done soon, so I'll hang here for a bit until calmness returns.

Would having the car today have been easier? Certainly. But then I would have missed the close encounter with a flock of geese. And the feel of the freight train crossing the historic bridge you see here. Little things, sure, but maybe not so little after all.

Thanks to my boneheaded decision to ride, this is turning out to be an infinitely more memorable journey. And isn't that the whole point of this life thing, anyway?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bike #bicycle #bikesofinstagram #cycle #cyclist #cycling #forever #perspective #cyclingislife #wheel #wheels #specialized #pink #color #photography #auto #vehicle #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Monday, July 01, 2019

Casting a giant shadow

Who's a good girl?
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
She's a small thing - barely topping 15 pounds when she's wearing her natty pink harness - but she casts a mighty long shadow, both in the literal and figurative senses.

She's also an early riser who doesn't seem to understand the difference between 6:30 on a weekday (good) and 6:30 on a weekend (why does she hate us so?)

And yet, it's hard to be upset when a face like this hovers inches above you as the sun's first rays bleed through the edge of the window blinds. I love my sleep as much as anyone - indeed, likely more - but she leads me out the door with the kind of energy that reminds me why life is best lived in motion and not at rest.

I've been stretching her early morning walks out. Originally I was simply trying to tire her out. Note to self: Never going to happen. Now, though, I realize it's more for me than for her. Because exploring paths we've never been lets me sort through the jumble of insanity that's taken over my brain these past few months.

It's time I would have never taken if this little being didn't wake me up at an ungodly hour every day of the week. I'd miss hearing the riot of birds in the woods by the creek. Or feeling the rustle of the breeze through the willows and maples that shade our route. Or feeling the peacefulness of a neighborhood before it's fully awake. These simple, early-morning moments may seem trivial, but now, thanks to her, I appreciate how fundamental they are to a life well lived.

I still like my sleep. But I like my time with her even more. Need it, even.

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

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Looking for solace amid a long journey

Halsteads Bay, ON
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Along the highway that stretches to the Quebec-Ontario border and forms the ground transportation spine of Canada's largest province, there's a slight detour that took us years too long to discover.

The Thousand Islands Parkway runs parallel to Highway 401 for about 40 km just east of Kingston, a slower, more genteel stretch that trades the superhighway for something decidedly lovelier. The road rolls through impossibly beautiful hills and bays, with each curve opening up more stunning views than the last. I wish it could be longer, even if it adds a few minutes to the overall trip.

But time isn't everything, and there's no rule that says it should dictate how every day needs to play out. It can just as easily be ignored.

Our battered souls needed this diversion as we made our way back home. So we pointed Stella off the 401, and when a tree-shaded rest area presented itself past a curve, we decided to stop for a bit. The St. Lawrence River that runs between Canada and the U.S. was just a short walk through the woods, and when we got there an obviously happy black lab was fetching sticks from far into the bay.

This tree has probably been around since long before we were born, and it felt somewhat appropriate to stop beneath it and drink it in, a veritable icon of life and time, a perfect metaphor for where we had been, and where we now found ourselves.

I stood there for a few minutes as my wife walked ahead. It was as if in the middle of one long trip amid so many long trips, this was the one I was meant to stand beside and shoot on this day. Odd how that works, but I'm not one to question the why.

We'll return here. Not because we need to stick to a schedule, but because sometimes we shouldn't. Because sometimes we need to slow it down. Because sometimes the universe doesn't give us much choice.

#thousand #islands #parkway #stlawrence #river #ontario #canada #random #country #photography #highway #road #trip #travel #forest #trees #texture #stella #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything