Friday, April 30, 2010

Roly-Poly Winnie (December 28, 2006)

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Miramichi Graveyard (November, 1998)

Early morning sunlight silhouettes these gravestones against the reflecting snow. Taken from the VIA Rail Ocean train from Halifax to Montreal.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flower Patch (Spring, 2007)

Today, another spring-themed post. At this time of the year I always miss having a garden. I've only ever lived in one apartment (in Canada) where we had a back yard, which evolved into a project that lasted over three summers.

April 29, 2007: I've planted columbines and foxgloves in the patch where previously I'd tried to grow veggies. I think the soil wasn't good enough and the shade was too much to allow the veggies to really prosper--that, and the squirrels.

May 10, 2007: I added some parsley in one corner, since it likes a bit of room to spread out and I wanted to encourage it to grow bushy (more tabbouleh for me, ultimately). This was a nice spring with just the right amount of rain, as you can tell from the lawn, which had only been planted over the previous two summers and was already doing rather well, considering the amount of shade.

May 28, 2007: Everything continues to grow, and I'm starting to get a look at those columbine flowers--they are really very lovely, for the minimal amount of effort/upkeep they require-! Gardening is such a small, gratifying pleasure.

June 7, 2007: I did and up with that nice bushy effect from the flowers, which was unexpected and gratifying. Loved the columbines, they turned out different shades of pink and yellow on the same plant, in one case. Foxgloves are still only just visible in this picture, it took them about five days more after this to really bloom.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nap Under Chair (July 27, 2003)

My last cat, Winnie, had a certain habit of sleeping in bizarre positions and in unlikely locations. I haven't checked with her current caretaker to see if she's continuing with this into her old age (well, she's about 8 now, more like mid-life).

Given that this is a rocking chair, it always unnerved me that she loved to sleep underneath with her chin resting on the wooden bar supporting the bottom. I believe it was less dangerous than it looked, though; the underside of the seat was partly hollow, so there was no actual risk of her little head getting squashed if someone carelessly sat down while she was resting there.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

This City is an Open Book (August, 2005)

Montréal, up on Mont-Royal at the terrasse that overlooks downtown.

To me there is something inviting about this; you're being encouraged to stand and look out over the city, to survey the terrain, and at the same time to be informed as to what you're overlooking.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Downsview Station (22 April, 2010)

I love going right to the front of the train and looking through the window. For some reason I always get the sense that, any moment, I'll be the first to see another train coming headlong towards us on the same track.

This image captures the imagined moment. Which was real, until this oncoming train turned away onto a parallel track and vanished from sight.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dry Leaves (November, 2001)

...even looking at them tastes crunchy.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Cafe Americano con Latte (May 13, 2007)

I am certainly re-living fond travel memories this week! Here is Juliet on my first day in Italy (Milan), when she took me to Brera and we had a lovely lunch on this restaurant patio. I think we both share a strong interest in food, so the elaborate nature of the coffee was an entertainment (no filter or "drip" coffee--it is similar in New Zealand). You received a shot of espresso in the cup and then added hot water (in the right-hand pot) and milk. I remember I had lasagne.

This makes me think I must learn more Italian and go back for another trip.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reading Room (March 10, 2008)

This picture reminds me of a phone call I got the other day from a telemarketer, trying to sell me a membership to the Royal Ontario Museum. First, actually, he tried to convince me to see the new exhibit coming to the ROM, a Chinese sculpted Terracotta Army. Thinking quickly, I replied that I'd already seen the exhibit back in 2008, at the British Museum. He was thrown off by that, but continued his sales spiel (as I expected) with the membership pitch. I told him it was far beyond my budget (the reason they called is that they probably found out I am a member of the Art Gallery of Ontario, which only cost me $40 for the year).

What I didn't add was how much of a colossal rip-off I believe it to be, especially considering the horrible hash-job they did on hiring a famous architect to create an ugly appendage for the ROM building. Not only is the collection not worth the price, but the architecture is practically offensive and already looks like something designed to look "futuristic" in 1983.

For the record, while I was indeed at the British Museum (where entry is free) in March 2008, I didn't go in to see the exhibit--it wasn't my interest in seeing the Reading Room. I wanted to see where Marx had worked, and when I found it would cost an extra ten pounds to go in, I decided not to (I was on a limited budget). Plenty of time to go back and see it, now that the Chinese pottery army has moved on.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yonge Street Parade (June 25, 2005)

Dyke March, Toronto, summer 2005. I know it was wicked hot that whole weekend, and we were in the parade the day after as well (the main Pride parade on Sunday). I don't think I had appropriate summer clothes, and was making do with rolling up a tank top and a pair of self-made shorts.

It's always fun when you get to walk in the middle of the street, especially one like Yonge Street, probably the most well-known street in Toronto which marks (in a way) the heart of the downtown area. It doesn't even look like a street here, just a conduit for pedestrian movement.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fishing (August, 2004)

Boscombe Beach, U.K.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Track View (May 4, 2009)

A view through the front window of a TTC subway car heading north, towards Downsview Station. These trains often stop (between rush hours) for periods of several minutes between stations, as other trains are shunted off the tracks or back onto them. At least, I'm told that's what is happening; for all I know, the TTC guards could be herding winged monkeys across the tracks at strategic times and locations and then using forced monkey labour to run backup power generators for those times when the electricity fails. Who knows.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Prayer for Patience (July 30, 2007)

O there is an immense, symmetrical beauty in the
Outwardmost lines of doorways, a wondering boundary
That marks the edges of ceilings, and a flair in flaked paint
That could spring out upon the savviest hunter of chic, without warning;
All these things are noticeable.
Make sure the spiraling lines of the grains in wood
Do not escape you. Endeavour to describe, in every pinwidth,
A mountain broken into shards and crushed then recast
Mournfully in the lumpen blocks of these walls.
Fashion epics of the bloody wars won within each tile
And the wounded crumbs of grout that lie silent in the bathtub.
Film of dust, you are endlessly fascinating;
Window crack, you warrant observation; and in each
Rusted pipe-under-sink is an enduring aesthetic pleasure
Limited to the appreciation of whoever cares to looks:
Of garbage bags. Of potatoes. Of cleaning products. Amen.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pierre (Spring, 2001)

Pierre was a waiter (and, informally, a sommalier) at the restaurant in Montreal where I worked for two years. I took this photo late one evening when he was completing the closing paperwork. Looking back at the photo now, I find he looks remarkably like the French philosopher Michel Foucault (heh heh).

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Magdalen (July 11, 2009)

While boys' shouts echo 'cross a neighbouring field
here on the path, the sounds of peeling bells
Lie crushed beneath my feet like scattered shells;
The ground we tread's half made of what we yield
Through walking where the heart is armed and steeled.
'Tis secret here, and no one stone thing tells
The narrative that's left, that parallels
These shapes around which all your words congealed.
What passages are wrought from these, our lives,
Our beautiful, small labour clothed in flesh
Cross-hatching palimpsests upon the air?
O, wonder of this place where that survives,
Where repetitions of each past enmesh
A present sweetening of absent care.

[Photo: Magdalen College, Oxford.]

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

South (January, 2001)

You hear this word, south, and remember the sunset rolling down
more slowly the further you go
as if the cloak of the world gets bigger at some polarised point.
As if the raft of the land extends somehow beyond the reach of darkness.

[Photo: Interislander Ferry, Queen Charlotte Sound.]

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

East (February 5, 2010)

It shoulders the two-lane road, come skidding off
the blaze-bright grass, the yellow sand, the reckless hills, the gentle, chiding sea;
sunlight, first of the morning. Here on the doorstep of the world, as it opens
we have cast out the lines, and we are waiting.

[Photo: State Highway 1, South Island; north of Kaikoura.]

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

West (December, 2000)

Artifacts of wind and inland storm, sodden logs and flesh-stripped vertebrae of sheep
winking whitely on beach grass. An anatomy of death and erosion,
a strange crop washed and stranded, even now buffed ever-slowly
by the light hand of sea-grit, blowing over.

[Photo: near Foxton Beach, Manawatu.]

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Monday, April 12, 2010

North (January 19, 2010)

This land stands in for a body; and year after year
it lies scraped dry to tinder flash in bush, the rain
comes softly and unfulfillingly, all the long summer.
This is the season that defines you.

[Photo: State Highway 1, Northland.]

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

LAX (January 13, 2010)

Shot out into darkness, from a concrete sling
And up ten thousand, twenty thousand feet
Looking back, the diminishing smear of glitter, halted at the edge,
The inexplicable edge of unseen unfathomed ocean reduced to a line

And then to nothing. Only the hours of untimely night ahead,
And a long, slow pacific dawn
As the sun follows us.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010


Side note for the rest of the month: In honour of "National Poetry Month" (and starting tomorrow) I'm going to post some random poems, with images chosen as appropriate to the poem. You have been warned!

With that in mind, I'll provide a bit of pre-explanation: the first poem below is about the flight from Los Angeles going west across the Pacific Ocean. The four poems that follow it (split up over four posts) are actually a group, with the whole piece entitled "A Sketch in Directions".

Within Sight of the Duomo (May 19, 2007)

This is memorable... beautiful spring day, my first time in Florence, and Juliet shows me the sights. Suddenly Brunelleschi's dome looms into sight at the end of one of a maze of narrow streets that just don't seem right for holding cars. The sense of scale is extreme. Buildings push into the street from either side; the church is huge, the duomo sloping up in curved segments like slices of an orange. You can forget the trench of centuries between 1450 and now... it's a miracle of size and delicacy, this thing, anchoring the city around a structure that has been rightly used as a reference point since before the time when Michelangelo Buonarrotti walked in its shadow.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Wine Glass & Sunlight (July 4, 2008)

Sometimes when I'm doing something rather dull and every-day, like washing dishes or opening the window to let in some air, I catch a glimpse of something visually intriguing or unusual; like the water-wobbly shadows of this wine glass that was sitting on the kitchen counter-top in the later afternoon summer sunlight, waiting to be cleaned.
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