Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Little man enters adulthood

The eyes have it
London, ON
July 2007
This photo originally shared on Instagram
He was born 19 years ago today, the perfect complement to our little family. Like his brother and sister, he had a sweetness about him that instantly endeared him not only to us, but to anyone lucky enough to cross his path.

That sweetness? Still there, only now in the form of a kind, smart, focused, creative, and fun-loving human being who brightens any room he happens to be in. As his dad, I realize I kinda have to like my kid. But even if you remove that from the equation for a moment, I'd still want to hang out with him.

That's because he has an uncanny ability to make moments happen. The room is never quiet when he's around. There's always a spirited conversation, a frenzied round of smartphone research to answer an arcane question, an incredibly detailed plot overview of the latest Marvel movie, an impromptu catch session with the dog.

Speaking of the dog, he relates to her unlike anyone else on the planet. Dogs just know, and they've formed the kind of bond that makes me glad we a) decided to have him, and b) decided to bring her home, too.

I keep thinking we blinked and 19 years flew by, that he instantly morphed from a cute baby to a fully-formed adult. It applies not only here, but in every major milestone our family has marked - or will mark. Time seems to move too quickly. But the fact that it feels as fast as it does isn't a negative. It's a blessing.

We're lucky to have a son like him. That he has siblings like Zach and Dahlia. That he gets to pursue his dreams in school and in life. That we've been able to provide the kind of environment within which he has clearly flourished.

If the price of all that is the feeling that time is moving too quickly, I'll take that.

Happiest of birthdays, Noah. We love you more than words can say, and we can't wait to see what you accomplish next.

#parenthood #birthday #family #everything

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Making the most of an unscheduled journey

Under the towers
Brampton, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I was out the door long before dawn today so I could catch a train for the two-hour ride into Toronto. A day of intense work lay ahead for me and my colleagues.

Because a life well lived isn't based on a script, a delightful surprise awaited me and my fellow passengers as we arrived at the downtown London station before boarding: A delay, thanks to an overnight freight train derailment near Paris, Ontario.

We ended up taking a seriously roundabout route through a bunch of towns I'd never seen before, and by the time we pulled into Toronto, we were 90 minutes late and my first meeting of the day was up in smoke.

But here's the thing: Other people had it worse. Colleagues on later trains reported delays of up to 4 or 5 hours. And I'm guessing in many other parts of the world, there were people who wished their biggest problem could be a late train.

I was gifted extra time to remotely collaborate with my peeps, slam out some really cool writing, and catch up on a few other pieces of work.

When I was done the serious stuff, I was also given new places to observe and shoot. And while the lighting was muddy and flat, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to shoot through filthy glass with nothing more than a smartphone. Guerilla photography is great fun: Try it sometime.

I predict more trips in my future - and I look forward to them all - but none will play out exactly as this one did. That script thing, again: That's not how good life gets lived.

Probably doesn't hurt to get the occasional reminder of that, though.

#ldnont #london #toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #viarail #train #trains #trainspotting #trainstagram #rail #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #travel #photography #travelphotography #monochrome #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Red stairs to somewhere

Please tread on me
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We're all in a rush. I get it. Life gets busy, and no one wants to be left behind. So we move faster. Put our heads down. Blinders on. Focused on one thing: Getting there. Maybe two: Keeping up.

But if you slow yourself down just enough on occasion, you not only increase your chances of falling off the back of the treadmill. You give yourself enough time to see things in the cracks, in the margins, that you'd otherwise miss.

Like this red painted staircase that peeks out of a forgotten alleyway beside busy Adelaide Street.

I don't know where it goes, or who lives there, but that's beside the point. What matters is the fact that it's there at all. That it's probably been there for an age, maybe repainted a few times. And every once in a while, it gets its moment in the sun.

On this particular morning, it's the color that grabs my eye, but the texture that holds it. You can almost see the years in that paint, the rough, detailed surface betraying a lifetime of waiting out back. For something to happen. For someone to notice.

Unassuming staircase as metaphor for life? Makes sense to me.

#ldnont #london #519london #519ldn #ontario #canada #urban #adelaide #street #photography #buildings #architecture #architectureporn #ruinporn #architecturephotography #red #stairs #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Where I almost get beaten up for the shot

No one looks in, or out
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: The corner of Adelaide and Cheapside. It's a hot, sticky Saturday morning, and I'm on a quick photo walk before our daughter is done work for the day.

I notice an old three-storey walkup apartment across the street. The bricks look tired, likely from decades of baking in the sun at this busy intersection. No one comes here to sightsee, but for some reason, I feel compelled to shoot a facade that probably seemed worn out when it was first built.

From across four lanes of high-speed traffic, I zoom in, compose, expose, and shoot before continuing on my way. As soon as I tuck the camera back over my shoulder, I hear "Hey" behind me and turn to see a 50-ish man in a yellow t-shirt and dirty khaki shorts walking toward me. Or maybe he's 40-something, but time clearly hasn't been kind to him.

I'm not paranoid, but when I walk alone aound a semi-sketchy neighborhood carrying a DSLR with a big lens, I worry a little. He stops too close to me and asks me with a defiant tone, "Why are you taking pictures of my building?"

I step back and stare straight at him, subtly gripping the barrel of my lens in case I need it for more than light-gathering. "Because I'm a photographer." I'd like to tell him a whole lot of other things, but I bite my tongue and watch for his reaction. Time ticks off in my head as I hope I haven't provoked him further.

He nods, sniffles out a "fine" through a mouth half-filled with teeth and walks away. From behind a tree, another iffy-looking character materializes and gives yellow-t-shirt guy a high-five before they shuffle off down the sidewalk. Did I just dodge a bullet? I'll never know.

Still, I'd probably question a stranger, too, if he pointed a lens at my house. Or I'd point my lens right back and maybe offer to shoot together. There are nicer ways to get answers, after all.

Too bad he'll likely never see this pic.

#ldnont #london #519london #519ldn #ontario #canada #urban #adelaide #street #photography #buildings #architecture #architectureporn #ruinporn #architecturephotography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, July 27, 2019

No more chicken for you

London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Does anyone mourn the closing of a fast food restaurant? Should we?

Peering through the dirt-streaked window at what was left of a recently closed KFC, I wondered if its disappearance from this well worn stretch of London's Adelaide Street would cause anything more than a ripple.

I doubt it.

I had walked, cycled, and driven past it countless times over the years, and it always looked barely one step ahead of oblivion. From the pockmarked facade to the sun-baked signage that always seemed to be missing multiple letters, it was obvious no one - owners, employees, customers, neighbors, anyone - much cared. Nothing was ever fixed, maintained, or refreshed. Yet, if it was a blight, it was a familiar one.

I often wondered who would eat there, and why, as if you had to really enjoy eating horrendously fatty chicken-like parts to justify stepping through the cracked, dusty concrete entranceway and ignoring the chipped, yellowed formica at the ordering till. From the outside looking in, this place was always sad.

The real estate agency sign hammered awkwardly into scrub grass beside the crumbling asphalt parking lot outside says this location has already been leased. Opportunity, perhaps, to leave a sad strip-mall-retail legacy behind and open a business that inspires more than melancholy and heart disease.

The neighborhood deserves better. So do the people who live in it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #urban #suburban #street #photography #restaurant #resto #kfc #fast #food #foodporn #ruinporn #eat #retail #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, July 26, 2019

We're all a little lost

Signs are everywhere
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The sign in the airport terminal asks a simple question: "Lost something?" I stop dead in my tracks, because the simple answer for us all is yes. And not just a scratched up old pair of sunglasses.

It's a serious question. Haven't we all lost something that mattered to us? Or someone? Aren't we all just a little lost ourselves? A little broken? A little off the main path of life?

I'll admit I stopped and stood there for what seemed like an exceedingly long while. My conclusion was a simple one: We may lament the things we've lost, but there's always someone nearby who has lost more, who hurts more, who's worse off than we are.

Not that any of this should ever be a competition, of course, but I took this sign as a reminder from the universe to have a little more empathy for others.

Because what they've lost isn't always visible. And a little kindness goes a long way toward filling the void.

#ldnont #london #international #airport #ontario #canada #trip #air #flight #flying #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #instatravel #photography #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Butterfly wings, clipped

Lying quietly in the street
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The wonderdog and I came across this beautiful but sad sight during this morning's walk.

I stood in the middle of a hushed side street, looked down at the remnants of what was once very much alive, and realized I couldn't remember the last time I had seen a dead butterfly.

One one level, it seems ridiculous for anyone, much less a grown man, to hover over a dead bug and ponder the meaning of its life. I mean, it's a freaking bug. Get over it, Levy.

But there are no rules governing what does and does not move us. Or what might trigger a thought or a reflection. I probably kill countless bugs every day by inadvertently stepping on them. And let's not discuss the massacre in the front end of my car when we drive on the highway. Our road warrior life this past year has clearly been a threat to insect populations across Ontario and Quebec.

But at this one early morning moment, in the quiet of a neighborhood still shaking off the cobwebs of the previous night, it somehow mattered. To me, and even to Calli, who gave it a quick sniff before backing away.

Strange how this life thing plays out. I hope this butterfly's life was a good one.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #urban #suburban #street #photography #wing #insect #butterfly #butterflies #nature #naturephotography #texture #morning #shadow #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Plenty of fish

Mostly in the same direction
London, ON
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There's nothing quite like an aquarium filled with a riot of fish, is there?

Are they mindlessly following the herd, er school, as they continually circle their glass-enclosed prison? Or is each one of them mindfully carving out a life of relative meaning in the midst of chaos and uncertainty? Do they represent some kind of waterlogged analog for modern, human life?

Perhaps I'm overthinking this. Yes, I AM overthinking this. They're just freaking fish. Goldfish, at that, as non-exotic as they come, likely destined to be flushed at the hands of a four-year-old too busy with an iPad to know or care about the basics of keeping a pet alive.

Yet here I am, shooting them through the glass, enjoying the spectacle. Because worthiness has little to do with their intrinsic market value (59 cents CDN at this particular store) and everything to do with our own sense of wonder.

We DO still have a sense of wonder, right?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #pets #petstore #petsofinstagram #fish #aquarium #nature #fishtank #carp #water #orange #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, July 22, 2019

Someone painted the sky again

One day ends...
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
After all the storms had blown through yesterday, all that was left was for Mother Nature to paint the sky one last time before tucking in for the night.

She didn't disappoint.

Mind you, she never does.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sunset #orange #silhouette #cloud #clouds #cloudy #sky #weather #nature #wx #landscape #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Green leaves for the win

Largely ignored
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
For as long as I can remember, we've been told to take the time to smell the roses. Or the flowers. Or something like that.

But flowers aren't always handy. So you go with green leaves instead. Not quite as romantic, I'll admit. They don't smell as nice. They don't get their own holiday. No one aspires to receive a bouquet of leaves as a token of affection.

They don't peg the visual meter, either: When was the last time you dropped everything so you could sightsee some green leaves?

Autumn is a different story, but it's July. It's a green world for the next little while.

Which explains my continued exploration of greenery. It isn't sexy, or headline-grabbing, but it most definitely is representative of what surrounds us now.

Which brings me to a more realistic truth to replace the rose-themed one that seems to dominate popular culture: Work with what you've got, when you've got it.

Because we aren't always lucky to have roses nearby. And even if we are, who says they're more worthy of our attention than the other, supposedly plainer stuff that grows on our planet?

And while you're at it, go ahead and ignore the "they" people. No one asked them which stories were worth telling.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #urban #street #photography #green #leaf #leaves #soft #shadow #texture #nature #naturephotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Where a dog sniffs out a leaf

One last dance in the grass
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've got to give our dog credit for finding this leaf on this morning's walk. Being a schnauzer, she leads with her nose, and she sniffed this one out before abruptly turning her head toward me, as if I should shoot it or something.

Somehow, Calli the wonderdog avoided messing the scene up, which given her history is quite the achievement. Yes, she got extra treats for that. And for sitting quietly beside me as I crouched down and tried to line up the shot.

We got stares from other early-morning walkers, but by now that's nothing abnormal for us - like when people familiar with her insanity see her from two blocks away and cross to the other side of the street. We have something of a reputation around the neighborhood, and I won't lie and say it's a good one. It isn't.

But all of that is immaterial. What the rest of the world thinks of a somewhat-imbalanced 15-pound dog doesn't matter to me. She's woven herself into the fabric of us, to the point that she now scopes out photo opportunities when we're roaming the 'hood.

She's a keeper, albeit one who seems to follow her own path. Then again, by virtue of photos like this, I guess I'm following my own path, too.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #urban #street #photography #brown #wet #leaf #leaves #water #droplet #nature #naturephotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, July 19, 2019

Sunsets depend on sunrises, don't they?

All that's left
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Sunsets sadden me.

They represent an ending, a physical closing off of the day before it slips into history, a final act of defiant light at the very edge of all we can see, before the darkness takes over.

And while one can argue the sun will rise a few hours from now, and will indeed set yet again a few more hours thereafter, it isn't the same.

It'll be a different day, with a different sky. Different people may be on the ground to witness it. Even if you're blessed enough to be in the same spot tomorrow, it won't feel the same. Yesterday was unique, as is every day. The next day doesn't replace the previous one.

Indeed, not everyone is given another day. Another sunset. Another moment to drink it in. Eventually they run out for us all.

Which largely explains why I keep returning to the west-facing window of my late father-in-law's apartment. Because even when I find another west-facing perch, it won't be this one. In this place. At this time.

Places, moments, people, they all disappear eventually. Are we doing enough to hold onto them before they slip, once and for all, out of sight?

#laval #montreal #yul #quebec #canada #photography #sunset #orange #sky #cloud #weather #wx #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Man without a face

The things we see behind the glass
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
With everyone justifiably freaking out about the #FaceApp app, this photo that I took in a local mall over the weekend seems to take on renewed significance.

First, everyone knows I take weird pics. And I take them at the weirdest times. Like when I’m out with my fam running errands and shopping and doing the usual things folks like us do.

Often, I’ll just see something. Doesn’t matter what.

And I can’t explain why that particular something stops me in my tracks. It just does. So I do. Anytime. Anywhere.

No wonder they’re so exasperated with me.

Second, what I’ll look like 20, 40 or more years from now is something I’ll learn 20 or 40 years from now, if I’m lucky to get that far. We’re always in such a rush to get “there”, wherever “there” happens to be - another thing I can’t explain. I, on the other hand, would rather not push the timeline any more than it’s already being pushed.

Third, I don’t see the appeal of doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, for the simple reason that everyone else is doing it. So much conformity. Not my thing.

Wandering the marble-and-glass corridors of a mall looking for weirdness to capture? That’s my jam. How old is this mannequin? Does it even matter?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #shopping #mall #masonville #public #photography #retail #retailtherapy #retaildesign #retaillife #stilllife #glass #display #design #mannequin #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

One red leaf, ahead of its time

Not yet, little one
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I found this single red leaf while walking the dog early Saturday morning. One oddball red leaf in the middle of so much green, a defiant middle finger to the normally established order.

Of course, I had to stop and shoot it, because you normally don’t see stuff like this in the middle of July. But we live in interesting times, and climate change means all sorts of things will begin sliding to different spots on the calendar - indeed, they already have.

And as change swirls around us, we can choose to either complain about it, or we can stop what we’re doing and drink it in. Because lamenting the things we cannot change strikes me as a waste of time and energy.

Observing it for what it is, in all its miniature, tucked-right-under-our-nose glory, seems like a better way to live.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #urban #street #photography #red #green #leaves #nature #naturephotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

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