Wednesday, June 30, 2021

On the myth of multitasking

"To do two things at once is to do neither."

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - On losing a brother

You may recognize Ken Leung, as he's a rather famous actor you've probably come across in the movies or on TV.

What you may not know is that Ken had a younger brother who died half a world away.

I share this here because as someone who lost a sibling and struggles to this day to make sense of unfathomable loss, I often feel like I'm doomed to spend the rest of my life stumbling into stories I hope offer some form of guidance.

And when I come across a particularly significant or otherwise poignant example, I feel compelled to post it here.

The Water in May
By Ken Leung
GQ
June 17, 2021

Finding purple amid the grey

Life everywhere
Odessa, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


In the middle of a long drive no one ever wants to take, we stop to refuel the car and ourselves.

It is literally the middle of nowhere, hours from where we started and hours from our destination. And like all highway rest stops, this particular one, known as an ONroute because Canadians feel the need to come up with geographically ironic branding for everything, is more functional than luxurious.

Which is fine, because the mission isn’t to coddle as much as it is to get you back on your way with a minimum of fuss.

Yet as I watch other families walk their dogs in the scrubby grass between the parking lot and the off-ramp, I pick up glints of purple in the distance and ask myself if I’ve misjudged this place. Perhaps I should slow my brain down just enough to appreciate a tiny bit of beauty in a spot where few might feel the need to look for it.

I settle on the purple wildflowers and ask my wife if she minds humoring me before we set off. It’s our code phrase, and she always knows when my photographic wheels start to turn.

I wander off and capture two frames, the dry grass feeling prickly on my sandal-clad feet as I kneel down to get the shot.

Who knew a place like this, designed to speed us on our way, could also help us slow us down and smell the flowers for a bit?

Who knew seemingly meaningless moments like this one mattered as much as they do?

#odessa #ontario #canada #onroute #random #urban #street #photography #purple #landscape #landscapephotography #parking #lot #highway #road #trip #travel #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The day we brought her home

Did you forget my treat?
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Four years ago today, this little one became the canine pillar of our little family.

On the one hand, it feels like yesterday that we brought her home. On the other, I can’t remember what life was ever like without her. She makes our home louder, she cuts into our sleep, and she’s singularly responsible for the traumatized bunnies who roam the neighborhood.

But convenience be damned, because she’s endlessly entertaining, she makes us better people, and I can never wipe the smile from my face whenever she’s around. And even when she isn’t. Which, for a Schnauzer can be worrisome, because silence is usually a sign she’s up to something.

In other words, she’s a Levy. One of us. And we’d change nothing about our decision to bring her home.

Now, about those slippers.

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

Pencil on a classroom floor

Lost...
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


My wife wraps up the school year today - a year unlike any other, and a year I’m pretty sure no teacher, student, or parent wishes to see again.

I’ve had a front-row seat to her entire journey since the first stay-at-home orders forced schools everywhere to hastily shift to online delivery. If Zoom, Team, Hangouts and other collaborative tools proved challenging to knowledge workers trying to do their jobs from home, they were infinitely less appropriate for teachers.

Because this remote thing is hard enough for adults to figure out. Kids? Don’t even get me started.

My wife teaches first- and second-graders. Keeping them engaged in a conventional class setting is akin to herding cats. Or juggling panda bears. Or cooking Michelin-starred dinners with an Easy Bake oven. Or maybe all three.

So asking her to continue to hit curriculum goals through a barely-stable video connection is essentially asking her to perform miracles. Which she did. Day after day.

Which, from where I sit, is as awe-inspiring as it sounds.

I took this photo in her classroom a few weeks ago. She had gone in to collect each child’s materials, clean up their desks, and prepare their year-end packages for later pickup. I did my best to help, but as usual she was a few miles ahead of me.

I accidentally bumped a pencil as I walked past one of the desks, and this resulting scene struck me as a bit of a signature for the chapter she was now in the process of closing off.

We may not know exactly how that next chapter will play out. But after countless months where pencils like this one gathered dust in empty classrooms, the universal hope is these special rooms will once again be filled, and these pencils will be used once more.

If you know a teacher, please say thank you.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #school #class #classroom #teach #education #teachers #heroes #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, June 28, 2021

Red sidewalk savior

Rescue me
Montreal, QC
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


A splash of red paint makes everything better, doesn’t it?

I found this particular example beside a busy street in midtown Montreal. Years of massive construction here had transformed this once-downtrodden neighborhood into a showpiece of urban infill, a place where life had returned.

The red fire hydrant struck me as a worthy signpost, a shot of lifesaving color at the edge of a neighborhood whose life had quite literally just been saved.

#montreal #quebec #canada #landscape #landscapephotography #red #fire #hydrant #shadow #stilllife #decarie #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Follow the tracks home - part 2

This is how I got here
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This photo may seem familiar.

There's a reason for that. (In case you're just joining us, check out my previous entry for additional context. I'll hit the pause button.)

...Aaaand we're back...

See, I often like to shoot the same scene through a different lens, or from a slightly different perspective.

I think it’s my way of reminding myself that the world is an incomprehensibly complex place, and it’s the height of arrogance for us to assume that one frozen moment in time is enough for us to figure it all out.

In this particular case, I wanted to tell the meta story behind the first shot of the tracks from the bridge.

Of how I got to be so far from home on a hot and hazy day.

Of how a simple ride on an orange bicycle turned into an adventure that opened my eyes to a part of the city I’d never experienced previously.

Of the little twinges of imagination that start small - "where do you want to go today?" - and end up hours later as larger experiences we won’t soon forget.

Of a moment I didn’t just see. I felt it, too.

Part of me is slowly realizing I’m not just talking about photos taken from a bridge over railway tracks. Perhaps there’s a broader lesson here. Maybe a return trip to the bridge is called for.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #rail #train #tvp #landscape #landscapephotography #stilllife #photography #orange #devinci #hatchet #bike #bicycle #cycling #life #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Follow the tracks home

We're all on some kind of journey
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The not-so-big city looms on a murky horizon at the end of an endless set of tracks.

Countless stories beg to be told in the grey haze in the distance, and maybe someday we’ll get to hear them.

But for now, it’s more than enough to stand quietly atop this bridge on a muggy afternoon for a little while before the real world calls me back.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #rail #train #tvp #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Leftovers from last night's storm

Right under her nose
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I stared at the ceiling for much of the night listening to apocalyptic rains pound the house. I figured if we were about to float away, I should at least be awake for it.

By morning the storms had largely passed us by, leaving behind tiny droplet-painted surprises like this one as the dog stepped gingerly out onto the front porch and took in the scene.

In fact, Calli the Wonderschnauzer was the one who sniffed this particular one out with her superpowered nose. If not for her, we would have missed it entirely.

In the end it isn’t much, a leaf covered with water that probably evaporated faster than it took to write about this encounter. A trivially ephemeral moment on a planet seemingly overflowing with countless more like it.

But if we fail to take the time to appreciate seemingly inconsequential snippets like this, what else are we missing along the way?

And who gets to define what’s worth being remembered, anyway?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #green #leaf #leaves #abstract #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #texture #water #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

On changing our world view

"A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart."

 

Yagel Bagel redux

Mmm, fresh cheese bagel danish
Dollard-des-Ormeaux, QC
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Montrealers know that bakeries are more than places to buy stuff. They are life itself.

Every neighborhood here has at least one, and years ago when we were first married, we called this place home. Yagel Bagel was a fixture on the edge of this quiet West Island suburb, and most Sundays we’d wheel our son here in his stroller.

We’d load up on bagels, lox, and cream cheese, often munching some of our find on the walk home.

By the time Zach was 2, we had moved to London. Soon enough, Dahlia and Noah joined him. And while we love our adopted town, it’s missing the bakery gene.

Zach is now married, and Yagel Bagel is still there. These days, it is a necessary stop before we hit the road for London.

And since the last few years of our trips back home have largely been challenging ones, Yagel has become something of an escape from hospitals, long term care homes, cemeteries, and sadness.

And so it was this past Sunday as we started the long drive back home after another difficult visit to say goodbye, we stopped in to load up on baked goods that speak of home. The staff kindly and patiently assembled everything we needed, then just as kindly helped carry everything to the car. We chatted as they worked, and I tried to remember what this sliver of time in a special place looked, sounded, felt, and even smelled like.

We’re glad we moved away, as it’s allowed us to have the kind of life we couldn’t have had back in Montreal. But I miss our little bagel shop, and the people who make every visit an experience to be cherished.

Returning here before we put Montreal in our rear-view feels like we’re coming home. And for a moment as we first walk in, it can feel as if nothing has changed, even though everything has.

I’m reminded that where you come from never really leaves you. And we have the kind souls who keep this timeless icon of our one-time neighborhood alive to thank for that.

#montreal #yul #mtl #dollard #dollarddesormeaux #ddo #quebec #canada #bagel #bread #bakery #tradition #food #foodphotography #instafood #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photography #family #everything

Related:
Breaking bread, June 2019

Friday, June 25, 2021

Watching the evening light fade

Endings and beginnings
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


You can feel quite small standing under the darkening twilight sky, as the invisible sun slowly slips further underneath the planet, leaving the landscape behind to gently paint itself blue, then black.

You can also feel quite humbled. Lucky, even, for having gotten another day, and for being able to make it out to this very spot in a nearby park so you - and the very patient family dog - can take in this very scene.

At first blush this is an ending, the dying light of a day slipping into history. Some might choose to see this through a sad lens, but I suspect they're missing the point.

Every good chapter needs just as good of an ending. It can't just end abruptly. There has to be a process, a bit of a dance, maybe some flourish to close it off in a deserved manner and set up for whatever comes next.

Because if we've played our cards right, the sun will find its way back to the other side by morning, and maybe, just maybe, we'll be blessed with another chapter, another opportunity to tell another part of our ongoing story.

And even if we don’t, then we had a good run while it lasted.

The dog, of course, doesn't care about any of this. She's just happy to be out for a walk, enjoying the here-and-now without worrying about what might come next.

Maybe she's onto something. If we're lucky, we'll be able to explore this notion more fully tomorrow.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sunset #dusk #blue #sky #clouds #light #tree #abstract #landscape #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

To squid or not to squid

Moments in marketing
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The search for authentic squid sauce continues.

Clearly, this is not it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #loblaws #supermarket #grocery #store #squid #fish #sauce #shopping #retail #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Looking out the window one last time

Forever Decarie Square
Montreal, QC
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


When we eventually tell the stories of the lives we’ve led, I hope we’ll take the time to paint pictures of the neighborhoods where our lives played out.

This particular scene may not look like much of a neighborhood, but not so long ago it was a highly significant piece of geography for us, and for those we loved.

And as I stare out the hotel room window before closing the drapes one last time, I’m reminded that every corner of the planet is significant to someone. We may never know their stories, but that doesn’t make their respective connections to these places they call home any less significant.

Indeed, I will miss what - and who - made this particular place special.

#montreal #quebec #canada #landscape #landscapephotography #building #decarie #expressway #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

On suffering...

"We suffer more often in imagination than in reality."

Hotel room chair

You know you want to sit here
Montreal, QC
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


It had been a very long while since we’d been in a hotel room, and I was feeling unsettled.

Spontaneous photography has become my go-to habit whenever the universe doesn’t make sense to me. So out came the smartphone as my always-on-the-lookout brain zeroed in on the desk chair in our brand-new hotel room.

I was under no illusions. A few minutes of quiet and weird photography wouldn’t fix the broken world around us. It wouldn’t change the reason we had come here, nor would it erase our sadness. But it would give us a bit of a break from it.

At least it would give ME that break. My wife just smiled as she often does, patient saint that she has become whenever I ask her to humor me for a bit.

In the end I got my shot. But it isn’t so much the photo that I cherish as the moments that surrounded its capture. I wouldn’t trade that time, with her, for anything.

#montreal #quebec #canada #hilton #hotel #design #furniture #chair #texture #abstract #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Box grater, part 2

On the inside
London, ON
December 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Grate expectations.

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

Related:
Jammed, encore, April 2007
Jammed redux, November 2006
Jammed, October 2006

Monday, June 21, 2021

I'll be out back

Escape
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


When the great architectural critics look back in history at the great architectural wonders of our time, I'm reasonably sure the back door area of an industrial park office on the edge of town isn't going to garner much attention.

But that doesn't mean that scenes like this aren't somehow worthy in their own way.

We've all worked somewhere at some point in our lives. Probably many somewheres, if we're fortunate enough. And along the way we all need an escape or two, a break from the day-to-day, a moment to ourselves where we can just get away and disconnect.

This particular spot reinforces the fact that not all employee amenities will be worthy of a magazine cover - or, it seems, garbage removal.

And yet, long after the last worker has left the drab concrete neighborhood for the day, the break area out back remains a spot that, to me, anyway, deserves to be frozen in time.

Because we've all been here, even if our particular version of "here" may have been half a world away.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #hyde #park #industrial #architecture #design #architecturephotography #building #walkabout #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, June 20, 2021

An indelible moment in a Montreal cemetery

Of blessed memory
Montreal, QC
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


We visited my grandparents’ grave today.

As is our tradition, my wife and I left stones on each side of their shared headstone, a reminder that we were here, and their memory is cherished. As she left hers, my wife told them she loved their grandson. I think this memory will stay seared in my mind forever.

Zaidy Akiva and Bubby Rochel were the kind of grandparents every kid would be blessed to have, and I wish they could have met her.

I wish they could have heard me explain why I was taking this photo, and how I planned to share it. And tell a story. And hopefully make others smile and build a little community in the process. And apply the lessons they so artfully shared with me so many years ago.

Come to think of it, I wish many things.

#montreal #quebec #canada #cemetery #barondehirsch #delasavane #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:
Scene from a cemetery, November 2019
Mournful, August 2010
At rest, January 2010

Washed away

Gutter-level ecosystem
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The negative: it rained.

The positive: this was left behind.

The lesson: skip a beat before rendering judgment, as the universe may pleasantly surprise you with a gift like this.

You may have to peer into the gutter to find it, though.
#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #suburban #street #streetphotography #photography #dirt #patterns #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, June 19, 2021

That new hotel smell

Angles and sky
Montreal, QC
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


It is when the days are darkest that we must fight harder to find the light.

So I looked up through the open sunroof and found this.

It’ll have to do.

#montreal #quebec #canada #architecture #design #architecturephotography #building #blue #sky #weather #wx #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Strawberry fields forever

Eat as many as you want
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This may seem like a simple photo of the strawberry display at the grocery store, but it's representative of a much broader story.

Farmers grew these, and a supply chain we never see somehow made them available to us mere minutes from home.

And as much as COVID-era shopping is an exercise fraught with stress and worry, the trip to the store with my wife was a rare moment out with her amid moments we'd otherwise wish to forget.

If this is what date night has become for now, I'm perfectly fine with that. Because any experience with her, even a dash through the fruit section, is worth remembering.

See, photos aren't just pixels to me. They're placeholders of the life we've lived, and I'd like to think that an otherwise silly-looking pic of fruit is enough to remind me just how charmed this little life of mine is.

Whatever your life looks like, I pray it's charmed, as well, and I hope you're finding ways to freeze those moments that matter to you as you experience your own day-to-day ups and downs.

And whatever fruit happens to catch your eye along the way, my wish is that it is sweet.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #farmboy #grocery #store #fruit #strawberries #red #texture #fruitography #shopping #retail #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, June 18, 2021

Bike rack? Art? Your call.

Mobility at the mall
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


When the geometry grabs your eye...

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #abstract #masonville #mall #shadow #monochrome #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, June 17, 2021

On changing ourselves

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

Pink flowers and faded lives

Fallen
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Life presents us with choices every day.

For example, we can be saddened by the fact that the blooms have fallen.

Or we can feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience them at all.

Life is short. Don't miss out on the blooms before they're gone.

Likewise, don't miss an opportunity to appreciate them for how they color our lives while they're still with us.

#f---cancer #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #pink #flowers #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Weird shadows in a parking lot

Pillars or stairs?
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


On a blindingly sunny morning in an empty shopping mall parking lot, I decided to play with the shadows for a bit.

Because playtime should be a thing long after we leave childhood behind.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #abstract #masonville #mall #shadow #monochrome #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

When cows become cyclists. Next Geraldo.

Let's ride
Middlesex Centre, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


If one photo of cows is a good thing, then a second photo of cows is even better.

And if said bovines show an interest in cycling, then they’re even more worthy of a few pixels.

Moo.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cow #cows #moo #farm #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #instabike #orange #devinci #hatchet #gravelbike #wonderland #road #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Glass block magic

Squarely yours
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


We all have our weaknesses. More precisely, we all have many weaknesses, and one of my many weaknesses is glass block.

Weird, I know.

I can’t explain why glass block speaks to my creative soul, but it seems to come alive when viewed through a lens, and I’ll never get tired of shooting it.

I don’t think I’ve ever shot it monochrome, though, so I guess there’s a first time for everything.

What’s your photographic weakness? What themes or scenes do you find yourself returning to over the years?

Bonus points if yours are weirder than mine.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #walkabout #urban #highbury #avenue #starbucks #glass #block #architecture #design #architecturephotography #building #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Monday, June 14, 2021

Remembering what we lost

What life was
Laval, QC
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Two years ago today, my wife lost her dad, our kids lost their Zaida Irving, and our family lost its patriarch.

Every memory I have of him either begins or ends - or both - with a smile. From him I learned that family isn't just who or what you're born into, but what you cultivate. His home was always open, he always made the time, he was always there, even when we pulled into town at an ungodly hour.

To our kids, he was everything, and it is their deeply rooted memories of him that have helped somewhat ease the pain of losing him. He planted some profound seeds in them, and having him in their lives made them better people as a result.

I took this photo as my wife and I were cleaning out his condo last year. At various points in the process, I found myself hovering over things, trying to remember their significance, trying to commit that feeling to permanent memory.

The top of the hutch in the bedroom was almost like a rogue's gallery of a life well lived, a glimpse into where his and my mother-in-law's life together started, and how it evolved.

And as I stood there in the silence of a place where everything was now in the past, I felt some comfort that we became who we became largely because of the life he decided to live.

We continue to do our best to honor his memory, and we're limitlessly thankful to have had him for as long as we did.

Still, it's entirely human to wish we could have had him longer.

#laval #montreal #quebec #canada #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

This old house (for now)

Timeless
London, ON
October 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


You probably don’t have to go far to come across delightfully old buildings hiding in plain sight.

Time may have been kinder to some of them than others, but they’re all worthy of a little extra attention.

Because eventually time runs out for most of them, especially when heritage runs hard up against the cold economic realities of a fast growing city and intensifying development pressure along a high-volume corridor.

So we take pictures like this one because nothing lasts forever, even if we wish it would.

#ldnont #london #hyde #park #ontario #canada #throwback #architecture #design #architecturephotography #century #old #building #brick #window #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Today was a day...

Pick a direction
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Today was a day to wander.

Today was a day to point the bike into the wind and see where curiosity might take us.

Today was a day to get some dirt in the tread.

Today was a day to go somewhere new.

Today was a day to stretch the envelope a little further from home than we went last time.

Today was a day to stand on an old bridge and watch the water flow past.

Today was a day to smile at complete strangers. Just because.

Today was a day to be thankful.

In other words, a day like any other.

But only if we made it so.

So we did.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #bikeporn #orange #devinci #hatchet #gravelbike #meadowlily #bridge #green #thames #valley #parkway #tvp #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Along came a spider...

Charlotte would be proud
London, ON
September 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


In the middle of a pedestrian bridge over the river that defines our town, a spiderweb stands up to a relentless afternoon wind.

Its thin strips of silk look so fragile, but looks are clearly deceiving in this case. And when I return to this same spot a couple of days later, not only is the web still there, but it’s even larger and more elaborate than it was before.

The spider’s defiance feels somewhat inspiring as I get back on the pedals and continue on my way.

Because if a tiny insect can so successfully face and overcome such overwhelming odds, then so can we. #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #throwback #thames #valley #parkway #tvp #river #springbank #park #bridge #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #stilllife #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Raptor. Burner. Vapor.

Let's make holes in the atmosphere, shall we?
London, ON
September 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I have many strange habits, and one of them involves taking photos of flying machines.

They don’t have to all be apex predators like the F-22A Raptor I captured during last year’s #ldnont air show, but a little bit of afterburner never hurts, either.

The vapor trails off the wingtips are an added bonus. Yay physics!

#london #airport #ontario #canada #throwback #SkyDrive #AirShowLondon #aviation #lockheedmartin #f22a #raptor #stealth #fighter #flight #aircraft #avgeek #aviationphotography #planespotting #instaplane #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

On forgiving your enemies

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

Golden hour by the side of the road

Today we race the rising sun
Middlesex Centre, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Wonderland Road North, 6:03 a.m.

I love my sleep just as much as everyone else, but the instant I pull out of the subdivision, point the bike toward farmland and accelerate up to speed, I realize just how much I need to be here, how much I crave this, how much I need to feel the wind in my ears, the power of my legs cranking on the pedals, the tiny ripples in the road working their way through the bike and into my fingertips.

Cycling may very well be an exercise in physics, a balancing act, a power-to-weight ratio, a coefficient of friction, a spreadsheet of meticulously gathered data, or any combination thereof. But once you get past all those numbers and formulae, it’s ultimately about how it makes you feel.

And to put it bluntly, it makes me feel alive. Engaged. Happy.

Which probably explains why I tend to smile while I ride. And why the endless road seems to always beckon me forward. And why I’m only too happy to follow its lead.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #bikeporn #orange #devinci #hatchet #gravelbike #wonderland #road #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Friday, June 11, 2021

Deadwood

Life goes on
London, ON
March 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Echoes of a primordial being...

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

When puppies sleep...

Dreams from above
London, ON
April 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


She can fall sleep anywhere, but still she has her favorite spots throughout the house, including the middle of the living room couch, where our daughter's big fluffy blanket can often be found.

I wonder what she dreams of. I wonder if she knows how grateful we are that she's become one of us.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Hanging out with the cows

Pasture party!
Middlesex Centre, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I made some new friends on this morning’s bike ride.

I came across these lovelies as I rode just north of #ldnont, and they were probably more curious about me than I was about them. They walked over to me at the the fence line, and I spent a rather magical few minutes talking gently to them before it was time to let them get back to their grazing.

I can’t explain what makes me stop what I’m doing so I can talk to, wave at, or otherwise hang out with cows. We obviously don’t speak the same language, but the simple act of looking at each other somehow brought me comfort.

I hope they felt the same way. #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cow #cows #moo #farming #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #wonderland #twelvemile #road #roadside #morning #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Empty school at night

Kids learned here once
London, ON
September 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


There's an elementary school in the neighborhood that, like so many others in so many other neighborhoods in the province, across the country, and around the world, has been empty for what seems like an eternity.

I share this not to reopen the debate over whether governments here and elsewhere should or should not be mandating a return to the classroom before the school year ends.

Lord knows our own provincial government has dropped the ball so many times since this all started that the ball is likely no longer sphere-shaped. It's fact: we have terrible leadership.

Rather, I share this photo simply because I want to remember what it was like when centres of the community spent over a year largely devoid of life.

Whether we like it or not, we're witnessing history here, so we may as well record bits and pieces of it along the way.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #school #building #architecture #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #night #nightphotography #nightmode #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Canada Post delivers...design

Not a play button
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Never let it be said that Canada Post doesn’t grace our neighborhoods with some beautifully designed mailboxes.

I share this particular photo here, and now, because it represents a particular form of photographic escapism that’s especially needed at this point in time.

Because life can be unfair and the world can be cruel. So I hope you wont’t mind if I spend a few minutes every day or so composing, shooting, and sharing the most trivial of images.

And if you want to join in on my burgeoning movement, you are, of course, absolutely welcome to do so.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #canadapost #mail #postal #signs #messages #random #urban #richmond #street #streetphotography #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

On dreams and dreamers

"Dreams have only one owner at a time.
That’s why dreamers are lonely."

 

Early morning rides through the countryside

Resting by the side of the road
Middlesex Centre, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The world remains an ugly place, and I’m under no illusions that it’ll get fixed anytime soon, if at all. So I'm trying a new thing: regularly taking the bike out in the morning, before the rest of the world wakes up.

Way back BK (before kids) when we lived in Montreal, I would roll my two-wheeler out at dawn, climb Mount Royal, circle the paths to the summit a few times along with the other morning runners and riders, then ride back home and prepare for the workday.

There is no mountain where we live now, and there's a lot more responsibility these days. But still, I had forgotten how cathartic these early morning experiences were, and kicked myself that I had allowed myself to fall out of the habit.

I realize figuring out a new-to-me set of wheels is going to take some time. I'm undoing nearly three decades of muscle memory, and adapting to the kinds of cycling technologies that didn't exist when my vintage machine first hit the road.

Still, amid a global pandemic and close-to-home carnage on the same roads I ride daily (please see my previous entry if you're just joining us) being able to get out of the house and just spin my legs through rolling country roads is enough to soothe my soul for a bit.

In fact, I was having such a good time on yesterday morning's spin that my planned 10 km shakedown ride quickly turned into 26. Oops.

It simply wouldn't do to forget what it looked like along the way, hence the photo.

Wherever your journeys take you, I hope you record them, too. Because we all need to get away, especially when the rest of the world is doing its best to keep us from doing so.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #bikeporn #orange #devinci #hatchet #gravelbike #medway #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Related:

Monday, June 07, 2021

Mass murder in my neighborhood

Hyde Park and South Carriage, 10:14 a.m.
I'm angry today, and you should be, too.

At around 8:40 last night, at a #ldnont intersection not five minutes from our home, 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman plowed his pickup truck into a family of five people, killing three adults and one teenager, and seriously injuring the sole surviving member of this family, a nine-year-old boy.

Veltman drove off, and was arrested in a strip mall parking lot about 4 km away.

This was no accident. Police say they’ve collected evidence the driver deliberately targeted this family because of their Muslim faith. A hate crime. Here. The worst mass murder in this city’s history.

Veltman has been charged with 4 counts of murder and one of attempted murder. I’m not going to use words like “alleged”. There was no justice for this family taking a walk in a supposedly safe neighborhood, and I won’t give this cretin the benefit of assuming innocence until proven guilty.

Hatred led to this, and it came from somewhere. As we process our individual and collective shock, I hope we ask ourselves what we plan to do next.

What are we prepared to do to ensure anyone, of any background, can stroll the streets near home without fear of being targeted simply because of what they believe, or who they are?

What will we do to stop the cycle of intolerance that drives Islamophobia and other forms of racism and xenophobia? When will we say enough?

Members of minorities understand what it’s like to be singled out. Whatever our background, whether we’re visible minorities or not, sooner or later it happens to us all, simply because a stranger decided we didn’t deserve to feel safe.

Or to live.

So I’ll say it here: enough.

#london #ontario #canada #hydepark #southcarriage #cherryhill #callitwhatitis #murder #enough

Related Coverage:

Return to St. Joe's

Geometry against a perfect sky
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Last October, I broke my pinkie in what can only be described as a freak dog-walking accident.

We encountered another dog around a blind corner, and I wasn’t prepared for 15 pounds of Schnauzer to suddenly leap into action.

The leash had been wrapped around my hand, and the immediate and significant tension was apparently incompatible with maintaining bone consistency.

Thankfully we have phenomenal health care here, so when the docs and nurses finished fixing my boo-boo, I did what any immediately discharged patient would do: I stood outside the hospital and took placemarker pics of the building with my smartphone.

The other day I had some extra time in between nearby appointments, so I returned to the neighborhood to take some more pictures of a place that’s been more than good to our family. Our two youngest were also born here, so I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it.

It was a much nicer day than it had been last October. I had my camera-camera with me this time, and all of my fingers were working as designed.

I even had an audience, a couple of friendly nurses on break who wanted to know what I was up to and happily chatted with me while I sized things up.

The experience reminded me once more why I so often return to places I’ve already been. Because as familiar as they may be, there’s always another chapter to add to their story.

Makes me wonder what I’ll find the next time I return.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #stjosephs #hospital #lhsc #architecture #design #architecturephotography #building #street #streetphotography #photography #blue #sky #weather #wx #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Related:

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Sour cream down!

Cleanup, aisle 9
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


We know we’re not supposed to cry over spilled milk.

Does this apply to sour cream, as well?

Asking for a friend.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #loblaws #grocery #store #sourcream #cleanup #shopping #retail #orange #floor #reflective #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Waiting for the game to begin

Alone time
Tillsonburg, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


A stranger checks his phone in the bleachers beside an otherwise empty baseball field.

I hope his story is a happy one.

#tillsonburg #ontario #canada #road #trip #travel #street #streetphotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Tres saucy

Marketing 101
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I would buy this pasta sauce just for the label.

Would you?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sobeys #supermarket #grocery #store #pasta #aisle #sauce #shopping #retail #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

On finding enough will

"People do not lack strength; they lack will."

Cycling from pink to orange

Bringing it home
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I've had my pink bicycle for 28 years. Longer than I've been a parent. Almost as long as I've been married. Long enough that it's become an integral part of my identity.

It replaced a banana yellow Bianchi, so clearly I have a thing for brightly colored machines.

Specialized built its Stumpjumper Comp mountain bikes out of some pretty durable stuff, because she has ably carried me for countless thousands of kilometres, and consistently fuelled my passion for a sport that somehow convinces us to roll out of bed before dawn and not stop pedalling until we run out of road.

But everything has its time, and as much as I've loved and bastardized this machine with racks, paniers, and slicks to fit my urban commuting lifestyle, it was time for me to find something else. Something a little faster on long road pulls. Something a little more modern. Something safer, with way better brakes. Something a little more aligned with the kinds of exploring I've been dreaming about for a while.

So the pink machine has now been supplanted by an orange one.

The story of how we came to bring her home is worthy of future Instagram posts, but suffice to say finding any bike amid exploding pandemic-driven interest in cycling has been a monumental challenge. (Huge shoutout to Dan and his @dreamcyclery family for making #newbikeday a day we will never forget, and to my wife for always being game to go on new adventures.)

Adventures take many forms, and as much as we think they require the right machine or equipment, the reality is they require the right people around us. Because even when you're on a solitary ride mashing the pedals past a quietly grazing family of horses, no journey happens without family back home.

And whatever color my bike may be, I wouldn't be able to ride it without them.

I'd write more, but it'll have to wait. Time to take this thing out and see what it'll do.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #bikeporn #orange #devinci #hatchet #gravelbike #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Related:
Green lane of death, November 2020
Seven years on, August 2020

Friday, June 04, 2021

Taking another look at an Chevy's retro-wagon

Hey dude
London, ON
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Today in our ongoing #OldParkedCars series, we sample some retro-style domestic, courtesy of designer Bryan Nesbitt, who interestingly also designed the PT Cruiser.

Years ago, I drove a car much like this one, a black Chevrolet HHR that we affectionately named Henrietta*.

By the time we said goodbye, she sounded like an artillery brigade and she leaked enough fuel onto our driveway to alarm the neighbors. It was clearly her time to go, but over the years I spent driving her on some insane mega-commutes with the sunroof open and the typically excellent GM head unit cranking out some bizarro driving playlists, she never once let me down, and always brought me safely home.

The car's personality was such that whenever we saw another HHR on the road, we'd quietly mutter "Hey dude" under our breath as we passed by. I'm pretty sure no one else cared, but it was like our modern, violence-free version of the Volkswagen Beetle punch buggy game, and it reminded us that cars can be more than mere transportation appliances - but only if we allow them to be.

These nostalgic machines are becoming increasingly rare finds, so I cracked a smile when I saw this beautifully preserved example during a recent morning walk with the dog. It's the SS model, and its turbocharged 2.0 litre engine is rightly seen as a bright spot during an otherwise dreary era for GM. The blue is rather fetching, too, so I had little choice but to take a photo.

I didn't get to hear it when its owner returned and fired her up, but I'm reasonably sure this one didn't spill anything in the gutter before it went on its way.

* Henrietta may sound familiar, because in a fit of barely-adequate imagination, I named the car that replaced her - a red Honda Civic - Henrietta, as well. To differentiate the two, the Civic is Henrietta 2.0. I think I may need a new hobby, because naming cars clearly isn't my strong suit.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #chevrolet #chevy #HHR #american #car #carporn #automotive #oldparkedcar #opc #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:
No more cookies for you, September 2012
Snow's coming, October 2010
Henrietta at rest, February 2010