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Showing posts from January, 2007

Robert and I do lunch

This is a picture of the guys I had lunch with yesterday on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. They are jobless and homeless and friendly. Robert (centre) approached me offering to take my picture with the view of the Bay in the background. I hesitantly gave him my camera and after he took the picture, he mentioned that he had not eaten in a day, hoping that I would give him some money. Instead, I offered to buy him some food and he willingly accepted. We walked over to Subway and got some sandwiches and when I mentioned that I would like to eat outside down by the water, he told me he would introduce me to his friends.

He showed me where they hang out (and sleep) and I met a few of the guys there, including Santana (the man on the right - he claims Santana is his cousin) who sang a wonderful and heartfelt rendition of "Smooth" to me while I ate. Robert showed me the notes for the book he is hoping to write - a few scraps of paper with scribbles in red pen - and I wonder…


This was taken on January 27 along the coastline on the way to Monterey, California. You will notice that I have a bit of a horizontal tilt going on which surprised me because I usually take quite level pictures. Part of the problem was that due to the bright sun, I had to squint through the viewfinder instead of looking at the screen and anytime you get really close to a subject (in this case the camera), you tend to get subjective instead of objective and things can get off kilter. It is interesting to see the California culture again after so many years: yesterday I went to a movie while my friends had another event they were attending, and the conversations I heard in the theater before the show were very telling. The theatre was in Palo Alto, which is the home of Stanford University and one of the more upscale neighbourhoods in the area, and it was evident in the language. Life is good in California but for all that ease and wealth, they do not seem to have anything profound…


Hello from San Francisco, well, actually from my friend's place in Berkeley. It has been rainy and cold since I got here, as you can see from the hazy picture of Alcatraz that I got from Pier 39, but despite a sore throat and some stiff shins from pounding the steep wet streets of San Francisco for 8 hours on Friday, the time here has been full of meaning and life as I have sensed God's presence so much as I encounter new places and talk with my friend about big life issues and places where we still find it difficult to trust God. Let the escape from my personal prisons of fear continue...

quiet vs. not so quiet

Taken in December 16, 2006, this is the main street of the little town of Saint Lazare where I live. Pretty quiet for a Saturday night. I am leaving for San Fancisco tomorrow morning to visit a friend for 5 days and I am looking forward to the change not only from cold weather, but from quietness. Dean just returned from 8 days in Los Angeles on a business trip so it has been extra quiet here this past week, though very productive and enlightening and important on my part. I am a contemplative person and do much of my learning and growing by thinking things through and listening to God and reading and writing and creating, but there is also this side of me that needs crowds of people and lots of hustle and activity and a certain wild spontaneity in order to learn and see and experience those things that just cannot be learned in solitude. I also highly regard one-on-one relationships, and would sacrifice just about anything else in order to spend some quality time with someone wh…


I am working on a project right now that requires some wood imagery, so I grabbed my camera yesterday and went to a local nursery that is housed in an old shed and snapped away. Wood is one of the most fascinating photography subjects - sort of like some ancient skin telling its story to anyone who stops to look closely. After I was finished, I looked up and just had to capture the sky filled with clouds and a setting sun. Here is what my yesterday looked like in Vaudreuil, Quebec. Enjoy the moment.


This is a picture I took several years ago in rural Manitoba. It reminds me of the barn where as a child I spent many hours playing with cats and dogs; feeding, watering and talking to cows; jumping in large stacks of hay bales; and occasionally cleaning out gutters and helping with milking. I love old barns: though dusty and filled with cobwebs and straw and dilapidated wood, they are filled with the most interesting nooks and crannies, ladders and cupboards that lead to special places, odd contraptions that date back almost a century, and best of all - the air of life and warmth, birth and nurture, and peace and hope. Humble circumstances are often the breeding ground for visitations from God.


I am not a big flower fan (I prefer sky and general foliage), but I do like colour and flowers have some of the most amazingly bright and variegated naturally occuring colour palettes . These pictures were taken in a park a few minutes from the condo where we used to live in Ile Perrot. It is a small park with most of the space taken up by children's climbing apparatuses and swings and only a few flower beds that at times seem a bit neglected, but beauty does not need incredible surroundings in order to be found; in fact, one most often finds it in the midst of the ordinary. You only have to look. A cool exercise I read in one photography book was to take your camera, pick a space 3 metres by 3 metres in your back yard or anywhere ordinary, and find a beautiful picture in it. A good life exercise as well. Let me look for the beauty in every day, every moment, every location, every person.

ooooo pretty lights

Here's another picture I took at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue just over a year ago. Since I did not grow up around any significant body of water (unless a dugout where cows drink counts), I am ever grateful to be living within a 15 minute drive of one of the most scenic on-the-water spots in Canada, at least in my opinion, and I make it a point to go there as much as I can every summer to capture that particular day's beauty.

I read a cool quote the other day that I can't find now, but it had to do with the fact that when we go through painful things and hard times and nothing seems to console us, a glimpse of beauty will ease our pain and bring peace where nothing else could touch our wounded soul. I have experienced this often: a note sung with passion, a sunset splashed across the sky, a tree in full autumn explosion, an expanse of clear blue water, a child's smile, a dog's eager embrace, and a friend's touch have provided light and peace where no words or explanatio…

snow and believing

Okay, I am done with my whining and have overcome my momentary lapse of sanity and aversion to snow, so here are two snowy pictures taken this winter. The shoveling last night turned out to be not as bad as I thought - it only took an hour, it wasn't that cold and the sense of accomplishment at the end was quite euphoric.

Sometimes, as an "in the moment" type of person, I lose sight of the fact that things are in process and not everything that I am seeing and experiencing right now is the final product - tough times will pass, healing will come, and there is always hope that the end result will be much better than I can picture now. I have been having a discussion with God about certain things that I have been faithfully praying for that don't seem to get any better. I admit, recently there has been a tinge of disappointment in my attitude towards the Creator of all things which is the last thing I want. So this morning on my way to school, I was listening to a song…

not snow, please

It snowed about a foot today and the snow plow that cleans my street likes to dump most of what he collects on his route in front of my driveway because I am at the end of the street and okay, yes, I have a paranoia about him not being very nice to me because I complained about him not clearing in front of my house last year.
So, it is 10:30 pm and I need to shovel my driveway in order to be able to get to French class tomorrow morning and Dean just left this morning for his annual business trip to LA (what timing!). I would much rather just make some popcorn and watch tv or read a book and I really cannot bear to put up a picture of anything with snow in it, so join me in sighing and staring at this lovely picture that I took just over a year ago in Punta Cana (that's the Dominican Republic). Sometimes it is hard to believe that the best moment of your life is NOW.

Jazz and the vet

This is my cat Jazz, sleeping. It is unusual to capture a picture of her napping because she is like a military operative in enemy territory - never totally letting her guard down, always alert and usually waking up at the slightest noise or movement. I took her to the vet yesterday for her annual check-up and vaccinations and all went well - no one was hurt. I mention this because last year she attacked the vet and drew blood, so now there is a note in her file that she is to be handled with extra caution (an assistant with a towel and leather gloves) and it keeps everyone safe. Sigh. It is not that Jazz is really dangerous, it is just that she hates someone making her do stuff she does not want to do, and she likes her personal space...A LOT! There is a fierce independent streak in her and she will protest and even attack if that is threatened in a significant way.Let me confess that I identify with Jazz in some way - not that I like to lick myself to get clean or sleep 20 hours a d…

saint M

Taken October 22, 2006, this is the church at Ste-Marthe, Quebec. It is nice to have a saint and a town with your name on it, though today is perhaps not one of my most saintly days. I just returned from my second French class of the semester and while driving home, found myself wanting to kill or seriously maim some fellow students who were whining and complaining about the new teacher's methods. Most of this was done behind his back, but finally a few of them talked to the teacher about some of their concerns and that was good, because they need to hear his point of view as much as he needs to hear theirs. I don't like whiners. I don't like people who compare everything to how it has been done before. I don't like people who think everyone else should accommodate their needs. I don't like people who complain but can offer no positive suggestions. I don't like people who have no grace for other people's weaknesses. I don't like people who see only lac…

SA revisited (kinda)

A year ago I landed in Pretoria, South Africa. This photo, taken on the flight from Atlanta to Johannesberg, was the first one of many. Far from being sentimental, I do, however, believe that revisiting important and meaningful life moments provides ongoing enrichment and helps me not to forget precious and life-changing lessons. One of the major ways that Africa changed me was regarding security and safety. Neither of those is taken for granted there. While I was in South Africa, close friends of the family I stayed with had an encouter with armed men. In the year since I returned to Canada, nearly everyone I know there has been a victim to some attempt at violence or burglary. Part of my ongoing commitment has been to pray for the safety of these dear ones in a dangerous part of the world. The other part was re-echoed last night in a book I am reading: "The greatest moment of your life is now...This moment is God's irreplaceable gift to you. Most of all, this is the moment…

click - SURPRISE!

After confessing to being a minimalist, I thought I had better show you something that illustrates that, so look left now. If you use a digital camera, you will know that the timing can be tricky as the delay between pressing the button and the shutter actually engaging is somewhere between 0 and 20,000 seconds, depending on the make and model, the settings, the temperature, the auto focus, the flash, the zoom, the juice left in the batteries, the strength of your index finger, what you ate for breakfast, in how much of a hurry you are, and in what tone of voice you have addressed said fickle, often finicky, and obviously female, camera.

We were in Niagara Falls (Canadian side, of course) on November 24, 2006 and as is common around the falls, there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky that day. I simply looked up, pointed and clicked, and when I later viewed the photo, was surprised to see a seagull in the corner. All I can say is, I got more than I asked for and it had very little to d…

colourCOLOUR and bravery

This was taken in Peggy's Cove on August 3, 2006. Though small and rocky, the natural seaside beauty of this town is mind-blowing. Warning! Don't try to use this picture as your desktop as it is way too busy and your icons will just disappear in the clutter and eyestrain is sure to ensue (personal experience talking here).

I love this photo because it is a departure from my usual penchant for simple composition and one, or if I am feeling brave, two strong elements, yet it is by no means confusing. Yes to bravery, yes to colour, yes to beautiful, lush almost chaotic extravagance, yes to more than I am used to, yes to trying seafood, yes to overcoming my fear of water and yes to seeing with wider and wiser eyes.


After much hounding to get my stuff, especially my photos, out there on a more regular basis, I have finally decided to do something about it and if all goes according to plan, you will be seeing a lot more of the world as captured through my Nikon. This is a picture I took December 23, 2006 when we were flying to Manitoba for Christmas with the family. It was a dreary rainy day when we left the airport in Montreal, but a few thousand feet up, things looked drastically different. After we landed, I admit I felt very low to the ground and squashy as we drove around the city of Winnipeg being just about the smallest thing in sight. Some days I feel very stuck to this earth. Do you suppose things were different in Eden? Was gravity as restrictive in a perfect world as it is now? Just something I wonder about. Skies fascinate me. Up fascinates me. Down...not so much.

happy feet and voice

Shortly after watching the movie, Happy Feet (in which every penguin is encouraged to find their voice), I found myself singing around the house one day and started in on one song, “Ain’t No Sunshine“, and to my surprise, sang with a power and depth and quality to my voice that I had never heard before. Where did that come from? I have always been somewhat self-conscious about my voice. It is low and round, without any edge, having a rather small but consistent range - good for harmonies but not so great solo. I love to sing but have always wished I had a better voice. Anyway, this small kitchen solo made me wonder if I had in fact been holding back on my voice all this time. Then a few days ago, Dean told me that my voice sounds best in its lower, sultry registers. I often tend to push my voice up to some higher notes because I love those peaks in a song, even if I have to strain to get them, and his comment made me realise that always going for the high note might not be the best so…