Thursday, March 22, 2012

Both Sides Now

Last week I came across a truly unique approach to art which I have coined "cumulus(t)". A recent exhibit has Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde create and suspend real clouds indoors. His installations are fleeting yet oh, so powerful! (Why I love that photography can capture such momentary perfection!) I've always had a hankering for clouds. Even the names of 'em: cumulonimbus, cirrus, altostratus. How musical. What whimsy!

Photo credit: Cassander Eeeftinck Schattenkerk of
Berndnaut Smilde's breathtaking exhibit

This week has seen sunshine and clouds in more ways than one. Par example: potty training (blue skies) and The Tempest (overcast with 99% chance of rain). Let's look more closely at these recent weather patterns...

First off, a shout-out to Elmo. Bless your furry, red head. Thanks for getting my Sonshine all excited about his potty. Indeed, he has become a 'potty animal'. We sing, we dance (well, I disco and he moves his arms and legs in a circular fashion while seated). I never knew how exciting pee and poop could be! (Yes, this is my life right now.) Ma wee laddie (no pun intended) has finally learned to "listen to his body". This past Sunday, he asked me no less than FIVE TIMES to go potty!!! *Trumpets blare somewhere offstage*

He is enjoying some diaper-free time now on the weekends and evenings, though he hasn't yet mastered that undies are different and will not absorb his pee. Thinking we may need to backtrack slightly: maybe so he learns to ask to go potty while still donning diapers. He certainly has mastered asking while not wearing them.  Can I say again, "me so proud!"?

Achtung! Potty Training can be dangerous. Helmet recommended.

As with every silver lining, though, a little rain must fall. (Curse you, Ink Spots!) In two months, he turns 3 and does not disappoint with respect to the temper tantrums that are rumoured to pepper this age and stage. Lately, at mommy's utterance of "no", the bottom lip juts out, the arms start flailing, the legs start kicking, the uvula starts um, uvulating. It's like looking at a tiny mirror of myself whenever someone says "Stephen Harper" to me. A mini-volcano-meets-tornado and man, can he erupt!

So this weekend, alongside the urination-defecation jubilation, I've slowly introduced this little gem of a technique known as a "timeout". Understatement of the year: it's not going over all that well. But after being punched in the head by tiny fists, kicked a number of times by flapping feet and slapped in the face by frustrated fingers, I felt it was time to maybe try something, say, a tad more proactive; what, in my book, is officially known as "nipping this in the bud".

Reactions vary: auto-toffee-flavoured smile with side of neckwrap while singing, "I love you, mommy" as I still attempt to encourage a quiet, little "let's just sit for a second and ponder just how mommy feels when you beat her up." Alternatively: beet-red complexion followed by repeated slaps and kicks to my person. For now, the standard timeout approach (one minute per age of the child) is not even feasible. It's a pendulum swing: just by uttering "timeout" and calmly moving him to the stair for a sit can result in a) an immediate apology in order to get back (just as immediately) to playtime or b) The End of the World as we know it. So the "sit and dwell" part has yet to kick in, really (again, no pun intended).

I am trying to encourage communication BEFORE the temper tantrum erupts. So if I sense he is becoming upset about something, I am often able to coax vocalization (with words and in English versus LindaBlairese). And, by jove, sometimes (just sometimes), it works! The pinnacle moment I will not soon forget is his grumpy face last weekend grumbling, "Hey you. Get offa my cloud."

I'm not sure I heard that right. I stutter, "Did you just say, um. 'Get offa my cloud'?"

"Yes, mommy. Get offa it!"

I hide my face in a pillow to pretend I am crying a bit so he won't be offended by my incontrollable outburst of giggles. On Monday morning, I learn that my daycare has a mixed CD on which The Rolling Stones feature. Cool daycare (and apparently worth the lineup)!

bows and flows of angel hair

So yeah, thank you, Elmo for the potty party atmosphere. And thanks, Mick, for making these dark days of tantrum clouds sparkle that silver edge so sweetly. And I am eternally grateful, Joni, for you.

Win or Lose, looking at clouds from both sides is an excellent practice, a comfort to parents (and toddlers) everywhere and highly recommended.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dickens of a Day

It was the best of days. It was the worst of days.

No disrespect to ol' Charlie for whom the planet recently celebrated a bicentennial birthday. February 19th actually started off on a high note. It commenced as Dickens but became Brown. As in Charlie Brown. ('Good grief'  is not the expletive I used, exactly.)

Honestly, the day began innocently enough, albeit a bit too early, when I awoke at the hour of my old friend and colleague, 4 o'clock. Down the stairs I tiptoe once again in the wee hours to clean my house, do laundry, and check emails.

Upon opening my flickr account, I discover that a photograph of mine I'd uploaded the previous day has been 'Explored'. This may mean squat to non-flickrites, but every day, from the thousands - I'd even venture to say - hundreds of thousands of photographs uploaded onto the flickr site by its innumerable members, only 500 are chosen for 'interestingness' and are placed into the sacred echelons of flickr's main, public group called 'Explore'. And yesterday morning, my wintry photograph of a favourite, rural, tree-lined drive was chosen to be included. For one day, I witness the views of and comments on this photograph rocket as the Explore group is globally monitored. More than a tad exciting.

welcome to my nightmare

You see, no one can tell how one becomes an Explored Elite. There appears to be no one set of criteria. Flickrites can try their damndest and it may never happen and others may not give a damn or try at all, and suddenly, there it is: a photograph of theirs has been featured as one of the most interesting of that day (as determined by flickr staff. Somehow.)

I am still dizzy from the heights of euphoric flickr states as I happily go about preparing The Sunday Roast. A few days before I'd invited two couples with their daughters and another friend to my home for the meal. As a single parent of a 2 year old, rarely do I get the chance to cook the way I long to, the way I love to and today is the day! As my toddler sleeps soundly upstairs for his midday nap, I dice pears, sautee leek, slice figs and arrange a beautiful piece of pork roast for my guests. A little white wine over the garlic, leek, shallots and pears; some melted creamed cinnamon honey over the pork and figs. A smidge of sea salt here, a pep of pepper there. Yum!

a dream denied

And here's where the grace and formality of Master Dickens is wrestled to the ground by the foibles and good-grieving of Master Brown. My guests arrive and help prepare the salad. I cook basmati rice and sautee a sauce of mushrooms, sugar snaps and mango in coconut milk and apple butter with curry, cardamom and cumin. Everything is going swimmingly. I pull out the pork at 6pm to check its progress. It is very nearly done and I place it back in the oven for another fifteen minutes. Palettable Paradise is mere moments away.

When the oven malfunctions. Or rather, I make it malfunction. The self-cleaning mechanism turns on. I should have been able to cancel at the push of a button, yet no buttons push. I mouth the word, "no". At first, it emits from my mouth as a soft whisper, then a moan, increasing thereafter in volume and repetition as I envision the oven raising its temperature to 575 degrees and my roast becoming, as Thomas the Tank Engine would put it, 'cinders and ashes'. Desperate now, I unplug the oven.

my arch nemesis

Every attempt to replug and hit cancel is taunted by the oven clock flashing at me like a pervert in a public park. I feel just like Charlie when Lucy whips away the football at the last moment. Whatever the mechanisms are that should allow my self-cleaning oven door to unlock and open take a holiday. My oven has kidnapped my pork roast and is unwilling to negotiate its release. Where is Denzel Washington when I need him?

My guests are more than gracious as we sit down to basmati rice with no main course. Jesus wept. And so did I. For the love of all that is holy, I ask myself, why does this oven fail me when it is a Sunday followed by a holiday Monday? There will be no rescuing the pork now until Tuesday. One small consolation: the light in the oven turned off when it malfunctioned so none of us need stare at the dinner we almost had.

And here I sit, at 5 am, still shaking my head in disbelief. For a brief moment, I wonder about the two lovely wives of the couples invited, both of them pregnant (and likely starving for something more substantial than a side dish). Could it be I was envying their round bellies and wanting something of my own in the oven?

Fig me.

No. It' just Murphy's Law disguised as Nancy's Law. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am Lucille Ball reincarnated. A Mary Tyler Moore for the 21st century. When I recall 90% of the special events that have taken place in my life, there is always some unbelievable mishap thwarting my genuine efforts to be Charles Dickens and not end up Charlie Brown. I really should have my own sitcom.

'Tis a far, far better thing I do to just not give a fig and go back to bed. That'll be five cents, please.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

52 Weeks

The very last night of last year, I fell asleep on my son's bed reading stories to him while he nodded off himself. It was 10:00 p.m. perhaps. 10:30 at the latest. And when I awoke, the clock read 12:05. I kissed his brow and wished him a happy 2012 and then crawled into my own bed and began to dream.

New Year's Eve has felt, for many years now, more than a tad anti-climactic after what is my favourite, festive Yuletide "hollyday" season. And it's been a couple of years at least since I even thought about anything concrete for a resolution never mind more than one. Life has felt too fast and too full and certainly, some days, too exhausting to worry about any such list.

This year began the same way for me. But one thing I have resolved for myself is to commit to a self-portrait photography project. I have started and failed at completing two 365-day self-portrait projects on flickr (projects other flickr friends of mine were able to successfully complete). Inevitably single-parenting left me taking last-minute-of-the-day-in-front-of-the-bathroom-mirror shots just to get my submission in for the day. Plus, I was fairly bored with the subject matter: my tired, food-on-the-shirt, unwashed hair, bags-under-the-eyes single mommy face. My days were just too full for me to have the enthusiasm to commit, never mind the energy.

Curious as George...

This year, I'm taking it easy on myself. Along with two other photography projects I plan, I will now attempt a 52-week self-portrait project. As a single mom, I think I can manage at least one photo once a week and have the energy to be a tad more creative than a daily late-night-shot-in-the-mirror before flopping into bed.

Already, I failed to take my first shot on New Year's weekend. Not a great start, so I've cheated and used a selfie I shot of Sonshine and I Christmas morning as my first submission for the project. It's a magical moment for us both and captures us reading one of my Christmas gifts to him: Curious George in the Snow.

To make up for the bad start, I felt the need to be more creative, make more of a statement with my second submission. I was thinking about this coming year and how I'd like to get back in touch with the other parts of myself that perhaps have been sorely neglected since becoming a single parent. My first thought was my femininity. For  almost 3 years, I have been wearing jeans and cords and tshirts and fleece and stretchy yoga wear and keens or mukluks. Generally, I am almost always without makeup. Time is just a luxury for this kind of attention. Inevitably, the moments I take to glimpse myself in a mirror are brief (and for a reason). I shy away from them. Who wants to constantly witness food-splattered clothing or scratches on skin etched by tiny fingernails or tousled, bed-head hair? Not me!

Yesterday, while he napped. I put on a dress and heels for my second shoot for the project. And let me tell you, it felt great to be creative and feel pretty and to have a goal, an actual statement to make with the project: that aside from being a mommy 24/7, I'd like to get in touch with my feminine side, the woman I am, not just the mother. And to allow myself moments to rediscover those many other sides to myself that have been relinquished for some time now. Sides I am missing.

Best foot forward for 2012...

The wheels are already turning for next week's shot, when my birthday happens. Wonder if I can pull it off!

My 52-week project goal is not only to share with the visitors to my stream Who I Am, but to present opportunties for me to discover more about myself and see just where this self-digging and exploration takes me. The main goal is to have fun with it. It's proven a chore in the past and I hope the once-a-week timeline will free up my energy and creativity. Perhaps this is a resolution in some small way: for me to tap more into my own artistic nature and set that free using my lens and my imagination. Not a bad first commitment as 2012 begins...

Happy New Year to all of you and hope it's a magical one!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Room of Her Own

Early morning did not go well. Lately, each dawn wages a new battle. It's the 2-year-old toddler struggle-for-control blues. Mommy has to get to work or to an appointment and clothes that are offered first, then with choices displayed, after which are forced over the head or tugged onto flailing legs, are summarily removed and thrown onto the floor. There is wailing and gnashing of teeth (on both sides). There are hugs, pleadings, bribes. There are visits to the back deck to swear at the trees briefly so it is not directed at a wee one.

"Stop! SssshH! Crash!" The rhythm of our mornings lately.

Yesterday morning in particular begins roughly as I must administer a nasal antibiotic spray up each nostril. As a single mother, this involves straddling him, pinning each arm down with a knee and trying to insert the spray end into the nostrils of a head swerving rapidly from right to left and not hate yourself because your little lad is crying and begging you to stop. I finally get the damn spray "bottle" in and it doesn't SPRAY! Why o WHY do manufacturers feel the need to change something that WORKS? This isn't a  plain old bottle you can squeeze so it sprays the old fashioned way. No. It's got some g-d device you are supposed to easily 'click' to administer the antibiotic. I want to throttle the person who invented this. I manage to spray into the other nostril but one of them begins to bleed a little and he is saying, "I'm sowwy. I'm sowwy." As though he has done something he shouldn't have and he thinks I am punishing him. He just wants me to stop. It tortures me that he thinks this is punishment. I hug and hold him for the better part of a half hour and assure him over and over and over that he has done nothing wrong and we just want his nose to get all better. We move on...

I finally get him fed and dressed and as I pull out of the driveway it is now 9:32am. This morning, aside from it being my first day of vacation, I actually had an appointment. My very first portrait session which was to begin at 9am. I manage to pop off an email that I hope to be there by 9:30. Foiled again. I hit every red light on the way to the daycare. Buses which stop every five metres appear out of nowhere in front of me. I rush him into his room and give him big hugs and run down the hallway. My hair is the way it was when I awoke. I have no makeup on. I hit every red light on the way to the appointment. I had promised to bring a coffee and figure this is the least I can do since I am so behind now.

Jubilant about Juliet

When I finally arrive, my friend Carrie is gracious and forgiving. I almost burst into tears explaining the nasal spray, the morning. She remembers. Her youngest is now three and she has four beautiful kids. She remembers this stage of things. We move on to the Great Event as we down our coffees and chat. Beside me on her kitchen table sits an advanced reading copy of her latest short story collection, The Juliet Stories, due to hit bookstores in March. I remove the lens cover as we chat about the excitement of this collection of stories, now a solid thing in her hands. She is jubilant. Capturing her hands at this moment is like trying to capture my toddler. The blur of motion as she handles her new 'baby' belies a thrilling ecstasy beneath Carrie's generally calm composure.

Writing haven off the kitchen...

Carrie and I got into photography a bit more pronouncedly as a creative outlet close to the same time a couple of years ago. We have recently been discussing a joint (ad)venture involving our mutual facebook friends, of which we have 34. It is inpsired by an etsy post I'd recently come across. A few months back I described to Carrie the idea for a project of my own entitled "ipowr". The anagram stands for Intriguing People of Waterloo Region but also a play on how powerful photography can be and what the "eye" (the one behind the lens, the glass 'eye' of the camera) captures. Ipowr is a portraiture project I hope will encompass images captured and journalistic features on people who live in my area; people who are accomplishing and exploring intriguing things, both on a small scale and a big one. I'm starting big and have asked Carrie to be my first 'victim'.

Aunt Alice's Chair

Recently, Carrie's beautiful, Victorian home has undergone a new facelift. The prospect of a brand new porch meant that, for a stay-at-home-mum of four who is also a writer, a new office space all her own could be factored in. I open the original door of bubbled glass. A small office takes up part of the original front porch in the house. As I step into the space, the first thing which greets me is the heated floor. I am thrilled for Carrie and what this wee haven means for her. The left wall of the office as I enter is a warm redbrick. The ceiling height is majestic and three gorgeous, marbled lamps reach down to hover over Carrie's head as she works at her mac.

'The Carrie Stories' Photo Shoot

The photo I want to take, the photo I have imagined to kick off my new photography project will have to wait. This morning I'm here to capture the author in A Room of Her Own. And she owns the space as she enters it. I ask her a gazillion questions about her writing process, about her upcoming collection of short stories set in Nicaragua, about what inspires her and how the stories came to be. Carrie begins my photo session by grabbing her own camera and shooting some of me. I laugh. As the photographer, this is something I clearly was not expecting. My unkempt hair. Face sans makeup. Clothes thrown on from the floor of my bedroom that morning. But it's an act that puts us both more at ease as the shoot formally begins.

(Not So) Still Life with Redhead

We have a great session and I feel 100 times better than I did two hours before. Plus, I now know new things I didn't know about this friend of mine I've known on and off since we were in our 20s. She inspires me with her energy, her writing, her motherhood and her grace. I feel thankful to know her and that she's helping me to give birth to my own project just as her latest one is arriving in her own arms. Fitting as, outside of being a writer, mother of four and a triathlete, she is also a certified doula. I know this is all the tip of the iceberg called Carrie Snyder. Check out her wonderful blog. She'll hardly remain obscure for long, I warrant. You'll have to change the blog name, Carrie!

Just as lovely in black and white

And I await with bubbling anticipation our next shoot! Today is the first day of Winter and tomorrow's dawn will bring just that little bit more of sunlight into our days. Thanks, Carrie, for making the eve of the Darkest Night of the Year so bright for me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Want

He turned 2 1/2 years old last month. This is the first Christmas he is 'aware' of someone called Santa. That he knows Rudolph is a reindeer with a red nose. I am teaching him as much as his little mind will comprehend about the Wintry Solstice (the hollyday his mum prefers). This time last year, we had a lot more snow in our old village than the light dusting that has fallen thus far where we now reside. I'm praying for a storm.

snow falling on cedars

This past weekend my parents took him while I went out into the country and came home with a scotch pine, wobbling my unwieldy load through the side door and plopping it inside the stand. It is still lopsided. I can't get it straight and haven't decorated it yet other than adding the lights he insisted should be on it. We will decorate it together next Saturday and I will make popcorn and string it and hope he doesn't decide to eat it off the tree.

December morning, bananas and honey

I am cherishing this Christmas. I imagine it is the simplest it might ever be. When I tried to explain to him about Christmas morning and getting a present, he studied me carefully. I asked him, "what would you like under the tree?" and held my breath. His first instinct was to shout the name of the daughter of close friends of ours. I try to explain to him that we can't put people under the tree as gifts (HA!) and what kind of present might he like.

He said, "My want...a red present!"
He said, "Mommy get a blue present!"

"Perfect!" said I.

And that is how I feel. I think to myself, "you are my little blue present, sweet boy." The morning of the 22nd, which is when Solstice falls this year, he and I will open these colourful presents, whatever they are and I will leave a few more under the tree for Christmas morning. Undoubtedly he'll have a few more to open at his grandparents.

handful of stars

But as I become increasingly disillusioned with how commercial this season becomes, I cherish this moment in my heart. I know in a couple of years a tinge of its complete innocence will be lost to him describing to me exactly what brand and what name of item he wants: "not the one with the..." this, "but the one with the..." that. I know he will still hold a lot of innocence for many years to come. I'm turning 45 next month and like to think (I hope) that I still do.

But this moment. This moment. This Christmas.
This one I will always remember as perfect in its simplicity.

Some close friends will gather with us at our home the evening of the Solstice and I will fill paper bags with sand and stick tiny white candles upright in them, light them and line them up and down my driveway and along the porch to guide them to the wassail warming on my stove.

tin tree

And hopefully I can instil in him the importance of giving back. To the community in which we live. To the earth. To thank our yule tree for coming into our house. When we burn the yule log from last year's tree. To the sun for warming our toes again as she stretches the days back towards Summer Solstice. To the cherished gift that is friendship and the reason his very first instinct was to shout my friends' daughters name as the perfect gift for him on Christmas morn. That is what "my want".

peace on earth

Happy holly days, everyone!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It's 2:45am. I can't sleep. One part longtime insomnia since giving birth. One part overemotional weekend. My body, my nerves are still attempting to unwind.

My son has been battling what I was told was an ear infection since Thanksgiving weekend. But it turned out to be a very serious viral illness. I could not figure out why the amoxicillin he had been put on was not eradicating high fevers at night. Two weeks ago he vomited at daycare. I took him to a walk-in clinic. He had already been on a high dose of amoxicillin for 5 days and I thought it had resolved the ear infection.

Again, he was put on amoxicillin and, by the following Wednesday, his body broke out in what was thought to be hives. I took him to an after-hours clinic: third time he'd seen a doctor in 2 weeks. I was told to lather him with aveeno natural colloidal oatmeal to help with the itching and give him some benadryl.

at my friends' cottage in September

Two days later, his body had changed dramatically and I took him to emergency. He was whisked in ahead of everyone else. The doctor wasn't quite sure what we were dealing with and asked us to stay for an hour. After the hour had passed, he said we were going to do bloodwork. After the bloodwork, he told me he'd asked the pediatrician on call to come see him. She diagnosed it and said, "it's not hives. He is not having an allergic reaction to a drug. He's fighting a bacterial infection. A mycoplasma."

He was admitted to hospital. They kept him in for two nights to rule out whether his symptoms were related to two other conditions that were lifethreatening.

I can't exactly describe how it feels to look a doctor in the eye as they tell you they have to rule out some lifethreatening conditions for your child other than to say its hell on wheels. Your heart, where it normally beats beneath your left breast, moves up into your throat so you can't breathe so easily and you forget about everything in your life. Nothing else matters but that your child is suffering and that he become healthy again.

lounging in the sonroom

He was put in isolation and visitors had to wear masks and gowns. Not because he was contagious but to protect and strengthen his own immune system. I didn't leave his side, of course. I didn't even shower or change my clothes. My hands just kept lathering him to help relieve the need to itch. He was not dozing off for more than an hour before he would awake again to scratch himself and cry out, "itchy! itchy!"

He has always had clear skin and how his body had transformed scared the shite out of me. His little feet and hands and face swelled up like tiny balloons. His entire body from his scalp down to his toes was covered in raised, red-purply welts with white centres which eventually changed and merged together in a blotchy pattern, not so raised anymore but with brown/bruised looking patches on his skin. He was fighting fighting fighting this mycoplasm and now I knew that this hadn't been a simple ear infection which is why the amoxicillin hadn't resolved it. He'd been fighting this thing for 3 weeks, really. And what a brave little man he was. What a stellar patient. Thanking the nurses and doctors in his sweet, little voice, "Sankyou!"

On Sunday, they ruled out the two more lifethreatening conditions and we were released. Today was the first day he smiled in what felt like weeks. He played; he joked, even. On doctor's orders, he must stay home for the week to further strengthen his immune system as daycare can be riddled with germs. I am still coming down from the crazy emotional chaos I went through this weekend, watching him suffer and not knowing what it was exactly he was fighting and praying (yes agnostic-me) that it was not one of these other two syndromes.


The markings and itching have diminished considerably. He is returning to his happy, playful self. Children are so resilient and their inner strength amazes me. As quickly as he appears to be recovering, I think it's going to be a while for me. I'm nowhere near over what we went through yet. There was no Hallowe'en today. I didn't want him exposed to a gazillion kids with potential colds and flus ringing the doorbell after what he just went through. He was showered with treats without dressing up. This weekend had been scary enough for both of us already!

But I am thankful. I am so thankful. For the love and support of my family and friends. And for a smiling, happy, playful son today whose skin is clearing now. I know there are parents out there right now in hospitals dealing with worse nightmares. Where the kids actually have the nightmare conditions ruled out for my son. Or any kind of illness that is lifethreatening. Some of them likely don't even have hospitals to care for their kids. Free health care. Clean water never mind a hospital bed. My heart is with them this night. I only had a tiny, bitter taste (and it was blessedly brief) of what they are going through.

Sonshine is going to be just fine. And has begun to shine again from the inside. Leonard is singing, Hallelujah, as am I.

He is home. He is safe.
Safe and sound.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


A smirk forms as I compare this year's meagre blogging output of 9 to last year's whopping 43 posts. The total is directly proportionate to the growth, mobility and energy rate of my son (and the exhaustion factor of his mama).

I miss writing. And often, these days, the only time I can devote is the wee hours of morning. It's 2:59 right now. I'm awake because my son is finally sleeping. Last week it was ear infections, this week fever during the night, several nights in a row, and now, vomiting.

chocolate cake cheeks

I look back through my blog and want to kick myself. My posts have been so infrequent this year, that when I finally put my fingers to keys in the wee hours like this, I end up vomiting myself. On the page. My posts read like long, lazy, badly edited novellas. I need to hone the discipline required to keep it short and sweet and maybe the act of writing a blog post would not prove so overwhelming and demanding of my time! Haven't posted in a while but my blogging friends keep me inspired and I discovered yet another new blog to love this night. 'Bakerbabe'! What a great name and a lovely gal!

Lately, my precious spare time has gone towards exploits primarily photographic than literary. I belong to a club of photographers via flickr and finally met some of them for a drink and to partake in some night streetshooting. This involves approaching actual strangers and asking them if they'd let me shoot 'em. Camera, not gun. Ahem.

Streetshooting: Sacha with his uke

What a wildly intimidating journey for me because I have so very much yet to learn and absorb (about my own camera never mind shooting strangers). The club has some very patient mentors, thankfully, and I took full advantage of some fancy equipment with my Canon. Turned out to be a really fun and informative night. I am so accustomed to shooting inanimate objects in the light I prefer. When it comes to animate, I feel most comfortable capturing my son. He's my easiest, handiest and most compelling subject! A gaggle of lovely, local girlfriends have promised to be my next victims so I can acquire more practice in shooting people. Maybe I can convince some male friends, too. Have yet to purchase some extra equipment (and get my shite together) before that can happen.

Streetshooting: the fun and funky John Q.

Mastering portraiture intrigues me - not the stiff, boring, posed kind, but a far more journalistic snapshot of real people and their real lives. As scary as this latest adventure proved for me, it was also highly eye-opening and rewarding. And it markedly improved my comfort level approaching strangers to snap some photos at a recent birthday party for a friend's daughter. More and more, it's as though my camera is becoming a kind of spare limb extending from my body — something I use to reach out, touch, to embrace everything around me. I am 'owning' it, finally.

Strangers no more: shot two hours after meeting this lovely family.

And as I experiment and explore, it's not only the shutter that clicks, but my relationship to the world around me, new people I meet, Nature. Life. Life can whiz by you. So it's been really great learning to freeze frame some of its more precious moments. And discover people I would not otherwise have had the pleasure of meeting. If there is a belief that a camera can capture someone's soul, then I embrace that thought. When a portrait lacks 'soul', it's just not as captivating, in my opinion.

Connecting, clicking, with other souls on this planet is really the point of all this, right?

Yes, Life flies by much too quickly so here's to longevity! And to moments of brevity and levity, too. So much is worth the capturing via words and lens.

I hope to do it justice.