Look on the bright side.

The other day, I went out of town to shop for shoes.

The bad news is that my retail outing was a fail. This isn’t really surprising, since I avoid shopping unless I need to (The Mr. is, surely, relieved about this). When I enter a store that carries a wide selection of my intended purchase, I get excited at first…but the excitement inevitably dwindles as I start to struggle with making a choice. After agonizing for an absurd amount of time – enough that the salespeople begin to eye me suspiciously – I’m nearly paralyzed with indecision, so I just give up and leave empty-handed. That’s why I only shop alone, in order to spare my friends the frustration. Trust me, you don’t want to be there when I have to choose a paint chip from the hardware store.

But never mind. The good news is that, instead, I brought home some photos to add to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors weekly feature.

The Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant is located on sixteen acres of landscaped grounds near the Grand River in Brantford, Ontario. I stopped by on my way back from my unsuccessful shoe-shopping excursion. I’d spent so much time in the shoe store that by the time I got to the gardens, the sun was nearly straight overhead and the light was pretty harsh. Alas, such is the cost of my poor decision-making skills.

June 1 (4 of 7)

Okay, so in these photos the door looks a bit prison-like, but I promise – in real life it’s actually quite appealing.

June 1 (1 of 7)

The property was purchased in 1914 by Edmund Cockshutt, of a prominent local industrial family, who bequeathed his home and gardens to the City of Brantford in 1956 with the intention that they be utilized as spaces for artistic and cultural activities.

June 1 (7 of 7)June 1 (2 of 7)

Mr. Cockshutt had taken great personal interest in horticulture and landscaping, and this was reflected in the gardens around his home. He shared his love of the space by making the grounds accessible to the public so everyone could enjoy them.

The main house is now an art gallery, hosting a variety of exhibitions, workshops and events.

June 1 (6 of 7)

The door below leads to The Golden Teapot, a fancy tearoom within the main house.

June 1 (3 of 7)June 1 (5 of 7)

I also made some shots of the grounds, which are home to a few lovely art installations, but I’ll save those for another post. Or perhaps I’ll return to Glenhyrst for more photos on another morning, once the annuals have filled in, the light is just a little bit softer, and I’ve gathered up the courage to tackle the shoe store again.

I thank you for looking. 🙂

It’s not you, it’s me.

May 16 (1 of 1).jpg

The Mr. and I have a long-running joke about my obliviousness. Apparently, at least in certain situations, I’m known for my lack of observational skill.

He teases that I’d fail to notice even obvious occurrences taking place around me, such as, for example, an exploding building or an approaching mob of evil clowns.

I agree that I may be slightly challenged in this regard. Sometimes I accidentally ignore people I know when I unexpectedly encounter them in public places. More than once I’ve had to apologize after the fact to friends and neighbours who have waved to me from afar, only to have me return their greeting with nothing but a vacant, unintentionally grouchy expression.

In my defence: I (usually) have no ill will against these people I’m supposed to recognize. I’m simply lost in my own little world. Evidently, when I’m busy doing something, such as walking or thinking – especially walking and thinking – my brain is only capable of a limited amount of sensory input. Friends and acquaintances, I assure you: my failure to notice you is nothing personal. I apologize for being rude.

(Strangely, though, I’m very observant when it comes to, say, the whereabouts of my library books, which household bills are due when, and whether the bird-feeder needs refilling. Make of that what you will.)

Through my dabbling in photography, I’m learning that the skill of observation can be improved. (Thankfully, because those evil clowns are super creepy and I’d like to notice them in enough time to get far, far away.)

Do you ever notice something for the first time and then begin see it everywhere?

Lines, for example. I’ve never, ever noticed lines as much as I do now, because I want to record them with the camera. Lines in the roads, lines in the trees, lines in the clouds. The grid of windows on a building, the curl of my daughter’s hair, the sweeping curves of hosta leaves emerging from the earth. (A-ha! The accompanying photo to this post! You knew I’d get there. Eventually.)

Being observant is being present. And I’m sure I’m not alone in the challenge of being present – really and truly aware – more often. If photography is helping me slow down and sharpen some of my senses – at least the art of seeing, of noticing – perhaps there’s hope for me.

If I smile and wave back next time you see me at the mall, you’ll know it’s working.


(I’m pleased to contribute this ribbed hosta to Tuesdays of Texture, a weekly feature over at De Monte y Mar.)

Good news or bad news first?

May 2 (1 of 1).jpg

*Seedling update*
(click here for some background)

Okay, let’s get the bad news over with: most of the lavender and viola seedlings turned brown and shriveled back into the peat. No doubt this had something to do with my failure to remove the tray’s clear plastic lid while the seeds baked beside a south-facing window. (I promise I’m not quite so neglectful with my other dependents.)

Good news: We re-seeded, doing away with the plastic lid, and the new violas sprouted today. No sign of lavender yet, but can you blame it? It’s probably terrified of us.

More news: the tomato and basil were indifferent to the life and death drama of the others. They’re up and at it, leaning into the light. I thought the developing leaves of the purple basil looked pretty in the soft glow of the window, so that’s my photo for today.

Mental notes:

1) remember to water seedlings.
2) do not bake, suffocate, drown, step on, or otherwise injure seedlings.
3) hide seedlings from the cats.
4) cheer for/plead with the lavender.

I’ll keep you posted!



Into the blue.

April 14 (1 of 2)

When you like making pictures with your camera, you won’t hesitate to lie prone in a roadside patch of wet woodland that has been flooded with a temporary sea of blue ground cover. You’ll hope the mud seeping through your jeans will wash out and also that passing motorists won’t mistake you for someone requiring medical attention.

In the end, even if the shots aren’t as compelling as the real thing, you’ll be glad you tried.

And you might even go back tomorrow.

April 14 (2 of 2)