Urban love note.




Easy as…


I didn’t wander with my camera today. My creative efforts, instead, were directed at fashioning a photo light box out of a sheet of white muslin, two desk lamps, white poster board, and a cardboard box.

The idea is to create a stage with soft, even light, without harsh shadows, for small items to be photographed clearly.

I measured and cut and taped. Once the box was assembled, I considered my first test subject. I tried a pompom, a marble, a feather (when you have kids, these items mysteriously appear in your home along with other odd things like bulk packs of fluorescent popsicle sticks and rainbow tubes of glitter glue).

I popped online to procrastinate before putting away the light box setup, and came across the WordPress Discover Challenge: One, Two, Three!. By this time it was 10:30 p.m. and my brain was beginning to short circuit, so I used my new contraption to photograph – quite literally and with no deeper meaning whatsoever – one, two, three beads.

Well, I’ve never claimed to produce fine art. But at least my homemade light box works.

Dear Santa: Long-johns, please.


I detest the cold.

I’m cold all the time. I’m the one in four layers of clothing when everyone else is comfortable in a hoodie. I’ll go swimming only if it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk. I sleep wearing socks and slippers, with my pajama pants tucked into my socks so they don’t ride up (this baffles and frustrates my hot-blooded husband, not only because I’m sure he would prefer a sleeping partner in a more advanced state of undress but also because he’d rather not be sweating beneath a comforter and a duvet in the middle of summer).

Though I like autumn, I start groaning when temperatures fall below 12°C. Dread sets in when it goes below zero, and the phrase “windchill factor” makes me want to curl up with my hot water bottle and hibernate in my well-padded bed for the rest of the season.

The late fall, at least, is beginning to look different to me now that I’m learning to see through a lens. I’ll actually venture outside. On purpose. And if I’m holding my camera, busy looking, I pay less attention to the blood freezing solid in my veins.

This morning we woke to the ground sparkling with frost. The leaves in the photo above were illuminated by a shaft of early morning sunlight glinting through a gap between the backyard fence boards. I tried to catch the rim of frost before it melted away moments later.

December’s almost upon us. Winter will provide some unique photo opportunities. Perhaps with some additional layers, a balaclava, and maybe some hot potatoes in my pockets, I’ll be ready.




This is a close-up of a cylinder-shaped crackle glass lamp that’s been sitting on a table in our living room for years, dutifully providing light while collecting dust and dead bugs. I’m so used to this lamp that it’s become more or less invisible to me unless I have to replace the light bulb (at which point, you’ll be glad to know, I usually also remove the dust/bugs).

I cheated a bit by adding a filter during processing so the tone would be more interesting and bring out the texture.

It’s curious what I’ll notice when I actually take the time to look.


Every now and then, I feel about as old and worn out as this looks:


(Today is one of those days, but I won’t go into the details right now. As Michael Ende wrote in The Neverending Story, “that is another story and shall be told another time.”)

Today I’d like to share some ruins.

In my town, there’s a beautiful old factory dating back to the 1840s. Engines, turbines, boilers, and other machinery were manufactured at the site over the years, until it closed in the 1970s. In the 1990s, the building complex began a new existence as an outlet mall. Much of it was renovated, though there are still a few crumbling bits and pieces.

The detail of the peeling paint in the photo above is located on the support beam in the far left of this photo:


Someone, years ago, held the paintbrush that glided over this wooden beam. Someone used their hands to build that stone wall. These were real human beings. They had lain down to sleep at night and woken up in the morning. They had dreams and fears and joys and hardships. They had favourite foods, and favourite seasons, and favourite pastimes. They knew how to ride a horse, or swing an axe, or hum a lullaby to their children. They’d fallen in love (or they’d never fallen in love). I always wonder about the people – and the stories – behind our enduring artifacts.

Word on the street is that during the next couple of years, this complex will undergo a major redevelopment into a trendy shopping/tech/entertainment district. It’ll be lovely, I’m sure, and certainly an economic boost for the city. I think they plan to keep most of the bones of the historic buildings, but some will have to give way for the modern new design.

When it happens, and these walls have been bulldozed and the peeling paint is gone, what will be left to remind me – or my kids, or my kids’ kids – of that painter or that stonemason?

Enough of my pondering… off to bed now so that I don’t wake up as old and worn out tomorrow.


Next door.

I love stories with magical doors. Usually the plot involves a quest of some kind, a journey from Point A to Point B (or, in many cases, from Point A back round to Point A with some detours in between), in which the protagonist is somehow profoundly changed. The doors aren’t merely practical considerations or decor enhancements – passing through usually involves a trial of some sort.

I’ve been thinking about this as related to some recent wrestling with the complexities of life. How we can be both drawn and repelled by what’s on the other side of a door. How our need for adventure or change might compel us to venture through, or how our fear of uncertainty can be paralyzing enough to keep us where we are. How we’re sometimes offered a choice of doors; multiple opportunities that we can choose to take (or choose to leave).

And in other situations, how the act of passing through one particular massive, ugly gate is necessary to our survival.

In any case, we’re never quite the same people when we come out the other side.

(Today I added to my collection of door photos. This is becoming a strange but satisfying hobby).