Friday, June 05, 2020

Pelicans, not-so-brief

Working together
Delray Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I can't go to the beach today, but I CAN imagine what it's like to stand in the sand and watch a line of pelicans silently surf the stormy skies above my head, working together to maximize efficiency and ensure they get to fly another day.

I did this very thing just a few months ago, and at the time it didn't occur to me how prescient this transient, largely-ignored-by-everyone-else scene would turn out to be.

Because working together for food and survival is baked into their DNA. No one has to tell them what to do. Presumably, the pelicans with slight or not-so-slight variations in feather color are as much a part of the flock as any others.

We could learn from them.

#delray #beach #florida #throwback #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #bird #birds #pelican #pelicans #flight #wingman #weather #wx #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Now in clipped form

You promised me treats
London, ON
June 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is her "after" picture, but we think she already knows we adore her no matter how long, or short, her fur may be.

Hmm, I think I've stumbled on another life lesson for the rest of us.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Seeing the forest for the trees

Sea of green
London, ON
June 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Just outside our front door, there's an evergreen bush that's been there for as long as we've called this place home.

It's pruned down to a near perfect cube, a straight-sided wall of textured green that seems to defy its very roots in nature.

As I come and go, I often linger over this apparently unremarkable piece of greenery. Because it's anything but unremarkable, with shoots that take on new tones depending on how much rain, sun, heat or cold they are exposed to. I'd like to imagine they're simply reflecting the world that nurtures them.

And as I continue to stare, I notice how our little bush seemingly plays with perspective. I could be staring at a bush from a few centimetres away, or I could be looking at a forest's canopy from high above.

It's a scene that makes me smile as I think about what this could mean. I settle on two distinct possibilities:

- All is not always as it seems.
- And wonder plays out in the most unexpected places, often literally right beside the front door.

I'll take this as a reminder to keep looking for that wonder wherever I can find it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #suburban #street #photography #green #bush #perspective #life #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

The day I met newlyweds by the beach

Goodness lies ahead
Deerfield Beach, FL
December 2008
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'll apologize in advance for not following the internet herd in posting a black panel in support of #BlackOutTuesday.

It's not that I don't support the movement, or the right of anyone to live free from discrimination and oppression. I do - and these are core to who I am.

But I don't believe in slacktivism. I don't post things just because everyone else posts them. I don't put frames around my avatar after every terrorist attack or school shooting.

It's not that these actions aren't admirable. They are, and they represent an important piece of a larger puzzle.

Let's hover on that one for a moment: piece of a larger puzzle. Because if you follow the herd today and do nothing to modify your behavior going forward, you've missed the entire point of the exercise. If posting hashtags and frames is all you do, you're not effecting change.

So, again, please accept my apologies for staying off the virtue signalling train. I didn't need to add a blank slot to my feed to reinforce the fact that I am listening to the necessary voices striving for change, and doing my best to model the kind of behaviors to drive our community toward that change.

Humanity has managed to turn crisis into opportunity countless times throughout history, long before social media was a thing. We'll make it happen, too, both this time, and long after social media fades into tech history's shadows.

In the meantime, please enjoy this photo of a just-married couple I photographed by a Florida beach over 11 years ago. I think of them often, and hope their lives have followed a path of opportunity, health, and happiness.

In other words, what we all want. And deserve. Today, and every day.

#deerfield #deerfieldbeach #beach #florida #fl #fla #vacation #travel #throwback #newlyweds #blacklivesmatter #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #random #street #photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, June 01, 2020

Dog therapy in a cruel world

Do I always look this unimpressed?
London, ON
June 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Someone wasn't all that happy about her trip to the groomer.

Between everyone wearing masks and the reconfigured-by-necessity floorplan, it was just different enough to throw her completely off her game. It's difficult to explain pandemic protocols to a dog.

Still, once we got on the road, she settled down down a bit and enjoyed the ride. "Car" is one of her favorite words, and the mere mention of it will send her into a literal spin. She'll calm down only if we take her outside and let her into the car.

It's another facet of her inexplicable weirdness, another quirky aspect of behavior that makes her insanely unique, another reason we've become rather addicted to her outsized spirit.

In the end, she behaved like a champ - this despite her general aversion to getting her nails clipped - and returned home to be fawned over by her humans before curling up in a ball for a well-earned nap.

It's a trivial thing, this, but these days we find ourselves focusing more than ever on the trivial. Whatever you call it - escape, coping mechanism, wellness strategy, etc. - it beats the alternative.

Because the alternative is screaming at us every moment of every day, threatening to overwhelm us as we try to navigate an unprecedented chapter in history. It can be incalculably, cruelly hard, this life thing. So please don't mind if I hang out with, and write about, our dog a little more often than might otherwise be the case.

It's how we get by.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Can painted rocks fix the planet?

Message from a kind stranger
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Found this beside a path through the woods, a perfect little gesture hidden away amidst an imperfectly beautiful world filled with imperfectly beautiful people.

I have no answers for the rage that now envelops the planet. Or the entrenched racism that allows law enforcement to routinely target people of color while white supremacists with automatic weapons are allowed to storm the legislature with impunity.

But having no answers doesn't mean standing by in silence. Because, as a Jew, some of my most powerful early memories revolve around being singled out by racists. As a child, xenophobia took on many forms, and I learned all too well what human darkness looked and felt like. It wasn't, and isn't, overt. And the fact that anyone is forced to live in fear of being on its receiving end should enrage us all beyond measure.

Never again must apply to anyone systematically mistreated by institutionalized, generationally encouraged, whitewashed-by-tradition racism. They don't call it the old boys' club by accident.

So, no, I won't live in a vacuum and pretend their struggle doesn't affect me. It does. In fact, it affects us all, and we ignore the root causes to our great peril.

And while I have no answers, I'm reminded that someone in our community had the wherewithal to paint a rock and leave it behind for others to find. We'll start with tiny kindnesses like this one, and we'll work our way outward from there.

Because even the mightiest revolution starts with the smallest light.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #protests2020 #walkwithus #random #urban #suburban #street #photography #sign #signs #kindness #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

A dog watches space history

Remembering Laika the space dog
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Nothing to see here: Just a puppy catching the docking of the SpaceX #CrewDragon with the #ISS on #NASATV. Another happy Sunday morning in the life of a very lucky little munchkin.

She has excellent taste in programming, apparently.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #spacex #crewdragon #launchamerica #dm2 #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzer #dogsofinstagram #actofdog #instapuppy #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Park to the right

The quiet under the market
London, ON
November 2016
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's been a while since I've had to park in a place like this, another unexpected and admittedly trivial benefit of living through lockdown.

As much as I enjoy going months between fillups and not having to commute through traffic, I do miss the changes of scenery so central to regular urban life. You go places, you do things, you meet people, you expose yourself to varied experiences.

I miss places like this, an empty parking lot deep under the downtown core. Which, on the surface, seems like a weird thing to remember with a photo.

But the everyday is just as worthy of being remembered as the extraordinary, especially when circumstance renders even everyday places like this unattainable.

Which is another way of saying we won't know what we miss until it's firmly in our past. Even a dimly lit corner of a place few would ever stop to notice.

Is it odd to say I look forward to returning here when all of this insanity is in the rearview?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #ExploreLondon #519london #519ldn #519shooters #random #urban #street #monochrome #parking #lot #concrete #photography #throwback #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

More than just pancakes

Life's texture
London, ON
March 2009
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We may very well be what we eat, but there's far more to this food thing than mere food.

Take these pancakes that my wife made. The kitchen buzzed as our pyjama-clad kids fetched the ingredients for her and helped set the table. The walls echoed with the sounds of a family welcoming the day. The dog wandered around our feet, hoping to catch a random treat from above. The house smelled and felt like home.

They were, of course, incredibly tasty. And the kitchen was most certainly a chaotic, delightful, non-photoworthy mess by the time we were all done.

But our kids ended up with an indelible memory that serves as another anchor to their childhood, another reminder of a world that revolves around each other, at a table where there will always be enough room, and a fresh plate of pancakes, for all of them.

And to think it all started with some batter in a glass bowl.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #pancakes #breakfast #food #foodie #texture #stilllife #photography #throwback #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, May 29, 2020

Before the keys get touched

Man of letters
London, ON
February 2008
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A little more than a dozen years ago, I had a new laptop with a pristine keyboard. Knowing the kind of life it was about to lead, I took a picture before I began to systematically wear it out.

It didn't take long for me to start putting dings into it. Thankfully, it was an HP business laptop, built like a tank, with features that made it particularly invulnerable to abuse. In the four years it served as my primary machine, I lost count of how many times I dropped it or dropped other things on it. If it had a feelings, it would have hated me. But it never stopped working, never failed to deliver when I needed it most.

In the end, I simply wore it out. The keys were supposed to have had a finish on them that resisted that icky shininess that all old keyboards get. It took me 6 months to get the shine, and another 6 to start wearing the letters off, too. So much for that "feature".

I share this photo now because the machines I write with always manage to become more than mere machines to me. They have personalities. Unique quirks that make them absolutely mine. It's a level of familiarity that's especially welcome when it's 4 a.m. and I'm trying to kick some prose out the door before sunrise.

I don't play a musical instrument. My only form of artistry revolves around words and pixels, and I'd hardly call any of what I do art. Yet somewhere along the way, the devices I use as a writer have grown on me. To the point that I take pictures of them.

Because I never want to forget what it feels like during that first moment in the silence of the pre-dawn, when I lay my fingers quietly on the keys and think about what I'm about to write.

It's a pretty resonant way to start the day, and I highly recommend it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #laptop #computer #hp #keyboard #geometry #linear #stilllife #photography #throwback #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Doggie needs a haircut

Do the wave
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Little one's fur is getting a little unkempt. I think it's rather endearing.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Butter before the knife

All natural
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Never miss an opportunity to find the wonder in the everyday.

Like the butter container just after you open it, a perfect little piece of randomness just waiting quietly to be discovered.

Where else will you go looking? What other surprises await the curious few who seek inspiration where others might simply brush past?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #butter #dairy #stilllife #food #foodie #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Viper trio

Togetherness
St. Thomas, ON
July 2009
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Some days are more challenging than others, and I'm not afraid to admit that very simple fact.

One of my coping mechanisms is creativity. I'll either immerse myself in creating something new - by writing a piece, taking out the camera, etc. - or I'll dig into something I wrote or shot weeks, months, or even years ago and allow my eyes and brain to linger over it for a bit.

I went back to 2009 for this one, a day in the sun at an air show with friends and our combined brood of kids who were a lot smaller then. When F-16s turned the sky above us into an overwhelmingly noisy, heat-slashed playground.

I share this today because this was the kind of day where I thought it would be lovely to strap in, shove the throttles forward and put it all behind me for a bit. Yes, I have a pink bicycle, but it can't come close to 29,500 pounds of thrust in full afterburner. Come to think of it, my bike doesn't even have an afterburner, and my top speed under pedal power is decidedly slower than Mach 2.

Sometimes, a little bit of controlled violence is called for, even if it's only in the imagination.

In the hazy skies over a nearby airport 11 years ago, I got to drink in the reality, if only for a short while. Thankfully the memories endure. Thankfully we can always draw comfort from them.

#stthomas #municipal #airport #ontario #canada #usaf #throwback #lockheedmartin #f16 #viper #fighting #falcon #jet #aviation #flight #aircraft #airplanes #avgeek #planespotting #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Watching rockets fly from afar

Building for future wonder
Cocoa Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Tomorrow, just under 9 years since the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on her final flight, @SpaceX is scheduled to launch a Crew Dragon capsule atop a #Falcon9 rocket.

It's always a big deal when humans leave the planet, of course. But it's an especially big deal when it's on a brand new spaceship, when it marks the return of American rockets launching American astronauts from American soil - instead of buying seats on Soyuz capsules.

We visited Cocoa Beach in December - when the world seemed so different than it does now - and I spent some quiet alone time in the sand, looking north, to the place way across the water where rockets fly.

I know I'm not the only one who makes wishes these days. My wish now is the same as it was on the last morning of 2019, as the rising sun slowly warmed the sand on my bare feet: That we always remain capable of feeling wonder, that we always strive for more, that we never lose hope.

The DM-2 mission will be flown by Doug Hurley (spacecraft commander) and Bob Behnken (joint operations commander). Both were shuttle astronauts, and Hurley piloted Atlantis's penultimate STS-135 mission. When they come back is anybody's guess: They'll remain docked to the ISS for between 1 and 4 months, depending on how Crew Dragon's solar cell array performs on orbit.

I could probably ramble about this all day, so thank you for your indulgence. If the weather cooperates, tomorrow promises to be another day that imprints itself on our souls. We'll remember where we were, what we were doing, how we felt.

Historically significant days tend to play out like that. We're lucky to be around to witness them.

#cocoa #beach #cocoabeach #cape #canaveral #florida #atlantic #ocean #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #photography #rocket #science #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

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Kindness carved in stone

Truth in granite
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The signs are everywhere. We just need to look for them.

Thankfully a kindly neighbor named Grant decided to install this particular one in an especially convenient spot alongside our dog-walking route.

Calli the Wonderschnauzer couldn't understand the words, but she happily sniffed it out all the same.

All thanks to a good-hearted stranger. Further proof that the positive always manages to outweigh the negative.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #suburban #street #photography #sign #signs #grant #kindness #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, May 25, 2020

#ShopLocal or don't shop at all

Big message on a small paper bag
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I worry for the future of local businesses, especially the ones owned and operated by people we know, families and friends trying to make life in this community better.

Their business model was tenuous enough before the pandemic, and now it's almost impossible to imagine the uncertainty that has enveloped them.

So we shop local wherever we can, and consciously focus our regular spending toward those closest or most integral to our community.

But we're just one family in one corner of a mid-sized city, and there aren't enough dollars in the world to guarantee everyone makes it out of this intact. But I've got to think it might lead to something fundamentally good if we all do what we can. Yes, shop there, but also be there. Reach out. Let them know they're not alone.

So when our favorite breakfast place, @TheSingingChefLondon, reopened its doors under radically different circumstances, we knew there wasn't anyone else we wanted to make Sunday breakfast for us and our kids.

We know they meant every word on every bag. Which is why we'll keep going back. The food was, of course, lovely. But it was the quick chat as I picked it up that made my day. And the message on the bag that stopped me in my tracks. These folks matter.

I know it's a tiny drop in a very large bucket, but it's got to start somewhere. Because life on Planet Earth, pandemic or not, has always been about making the most out of the microconnections that define the communities we call home.

And I can't imagine a community like ours without good folks like them.

So let's all connect, shall we?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #restaurant #shopping #retail #shop #shoplocal #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Meet my wingman

Wherever you lead, I will follow
Delray Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We should all be so lucky to have a wingman, someone we trust implicitly, who we know will always be there for us.

It works both ways, of course, and anyone who has managed to connect with someone in this manner knows how truly blessed they are.

Perhaps luck isn't the right word to use, however. Relationships take work, awareness, empathy. And when they work, they're a thing of beauty.

Like this pair, working together in the cloudy skies over a not-so-crowded beach, setting a subtle example to anyone below with the wherewithal to look up.

So, this week, let's look up. Maybe we'll learn something.

#delray #beach #florida #beach #throwback #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #bird #birds #flight #wingman #bokeh #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Rainbow on the ocean's horizon

Stormy light show
Delray Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Stand on the edge of the planet long enough and it'll only be a matter of time before magic happens.

Maybe it'll happen in the sky. Or on the water. Or both.

But it'll probably take your breath away. And make you feel humbled. Or both.

And you'll probably think about the forces and laws that make stuff like this happen. And the fact that even though they can all be explained by science, they remain wondrous.

Or at least they should.

Because we all deserve to feel chills down our spine. Or that feeling we get in our face when a smile begins to spread from deep inside. Or both.

It just so happens that this moment, where countless atmospheric factors aligned to paint a perfectly angled rainbow on a cloud-spattered horizon, played out in full view of the beach we coincidentally were on.

But it can play out anywhere we might be. Because wonder happens anywhere.

Even when we can't be there. Because wonder happens anytime.

Even when we're stuck inside.

Stand there, wherever "there" is, long enough. It'll happen. All you have to do is believe.

#delray #beach #florida #atlantic #ocean #throwback #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #rainbow #water #weather #wx #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Loblaws from above

Pick a direction
London, ON
May 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I often forget how long it takes to shop for groceries now.

From waiting for the oblivious to extricate themselves from inside the egg fridge to waiting for the inconsiderate to listen to the staff member imploring them to get off their phone and proceed to checkout aisle #4, there's no such thing anymore as a fast trip.

Which explains why I found myself standing on the 2nd floor landing at 7:59? Because I had scheduled an 8 p.m. live radio interview. To talk about grocery shopping technology. No, really.

And while I waited for the phone to ring, I took in the scene of a store that's become, at least temporarily, a place I'd rather avoid.

It isn't the store's fault, of course. The employees are nothing short of inspirational, and I'm thankful they're still willing to put themselves at risk so dumbasses like the guy who full-contact-sniffed every cantaloupe in the pile could find The Perfect One.

For what it's worth, he wasn't wearing a mask. And he was a close-walker. I'm judgy like that.

Eventually we'll figure out a way to feed ourselves without having to hold back from keying the cars of shoppers who refuse to get with the program. Eventually, we'll be able to stop worrying about the folks who keep us fed. Who just want to keep their jobs. And not get sick from others in the process

On this night, as I waited for the phone to ring, it felt right to take in the scene and wish for better days ahead.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #grocery #store #shopping #retail #loblaws #orange #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything