Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I went to Flickr. What I found there was something I've been forgetting about. This past year has been a ridiculous, incredible, busy ride. So many time I've had to shake my head and tell myself, "I'm getting paid to do this!" Patrick and I have been able to see and do and experience so many things this year for our work that it's been difficult to wrap my mind around what we get to do for a living.
When I was wandering through Flickr tonight, I saw the work of someone who, only 5 years ago, could only imagine the work I'm doing now. The "photographer" I was then would have never dreamed of the life I live now. And I realized that if the girl who came home from work then, playing with photos all evening long, could have seen into the future, into this night and been able to see me where I am today....well, there would have been a lot of disbelief and incredulous swearing.
But on Flickr tonight, I found what, if anything has been missing this year. In being so focused on doing our job, I've started to think of photography as a job. I've been headed down this path for a few years, but when it's 10pm on a Tuesday and you have endless hours of processing ahead of you, it's easy to work at it like it's a job. Don't get me wrong, it IS a job and it's a job I love. I can't think of anything that I'd rather be doing right now. But some of the play has gone out of it. I think I need to remember to play...
...to shoot in such a way that when I look at the image on my screen, I swear because it makes me so happy
...to listen to more music when I process those swear-worthy images
...to stay up late into the night with just the light of a lamp and the images on my screen because I can't quite go to bed just yet
...to think about what I'm doing, to spend time really thinking about it and understanding it
...to be the person Patrick fell in love with through the photos I took
...to pick up my camera again when I go about my day, not just for the hours I'm paid to
...to photograph my life

Monday, July 23, 2012

Between everything yourself and home...

It's strange to think that one decision my grandparents made 60 years ago has changed the course of my life. Instead of growing up in Europe, speaking multiple languages on the coast of the North Sea eating droopies and fish, I grew up in landlocked southern Alberta, knowing little of the water, knowing no other language than English, eating homegrown beef. I am a North American. A Canadian. A born and raised daughter of the promised land.

I know my grandparents (shown in the above photo, taken shortly before they immigrated) made a monumental decision to come to Canada in search of a better life for their children and grandchildren. Post war Europe was too raw, too hard, too painful for them to remain and so they found their way across an ocean, across a continent to scratch out a life from the dry prairie.

It's strange to think that in the course of two generations, I find myself thinking about what it means to be a Canadian in a country that I am trying hard to recognize and have faith in. In the course of two generations this country has become something far less like the promised land and much more like a political tyranny.

History repeats itself in disturbing, frightening and painful ways. In ways that make me much less proud to be Canadian and make me worry about the future of this country that my grandparents put so much faith into.

International Aid Failure

Canadian Citizen Privacy Breaches

Incredible Egotism

And even more frightening egotism

More painful international failures

and what may be the most frightening of all,

A complete disregard for the painful lessons learned in the history of our country.

Remember that "No one is told any story but their own" (C.S. Lewis, The Horse & His Boy), so we need to make our own Canadian voices heard and put our own hand to creating a community that future and past generations can be proud of.  Maybe you can start here: http://www.59cents.org/

Saturday, November 19, 2011

These are the places you will find me hidin'...

It's been a while. 8 months to be exact. I'm sure anyone who ever did follow this has long since lost interest in "following" but that's okay because I want to write this to remind myself of it, months, years from now.

I want to remember this fall.

Driving the endless back highways of western Alberta in early November. I want to remember dark mornings driving from Hinton to Drayton Valley, Efterklang's Natural Tune bringing in the sun. Too dark at 6:30 am but orange streaks eating away at the night from the tops of hills and trees until the sun becomes a metronome of light hitting the highway, the tires, my eyes through forested roads. Cattle grazing in cleared fields along the highway, their breath hanging in pools around their noses and feet, clinging to their legs.
I want to remember this.

I want to remember quiet mornings with Henk curled in a corner listening to the keyboard's clicks punctuating Head and the Heart's new album. Bundled up sweaters and slippers on hardwood. -30 celsius outside and poetry books laying open on the floor next to recipes.
I want to remember this.

I want to remember waking up warm in a cold house, squished between husband and cat. Shallow and deep breaths, snow on the rooftop next door. Cookies for breakfast. Thick, jean stretching long johns and feet in boots two sizes too big in order to fit properly warm socks. And sweaters under jackets under sweaters with mittens that need mending.
I want to remember this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I always fall in love with an open door, with a horizon on an endless sea....

Almost 3 months since I last posted here. There are reasons for that. Here are a few:

- things going on in my head that I'm not ready to put words to
- the dead feeling you get from doing office work for weeks on end
- holidays
- topdocumentaryfilms.com
- sidereel
- laundry
- wedding planning
- a birthday
- doing too many things after office hours
- having more disposable income than usual
- getting an Edmonton Public Library card
- Patrick living in Fort McMurray

Here are some reasons I'm deciding to write another post tonight:

- bruises on my knees and palms and cuts on my knuckles
- exhaustion
- having/working for less money but more free produce
- doing less after work hours
- topdocumentaryfilms.com
- getting an Edmonton Public Library card
- the way you feel after working outside in freezing temperatures for days
- hanging all day from a scaffold 15ft up in the air
- the feeling you get when you see the skeleton of a greenhouse and imagine what will grow in it
- Patrick living in Fort McMurray
- good music from a great birthday cd from a friend too far away
- being reminded that distance doesn't always equal being far away
- needing to put words to something, anything, even if it isn't naming what I'm thinking
- a helium filled balloon floating for weeks

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'll taste the devil's tears, drink from his soul, but I'll never give up you....

Christmas is in 5 days. I can't believe it. The time has gone by so fast...and that was the point of this job I took this fall....to make the time that Patrick and I would be apart, go by fast. But coming to the edge of Christmas and the new year, it looks as though another long stretch of separation is ahead of us again. Tonight is the winter solstice. The longest night of the year. That means it's all uphill from here on in, right?

I'm listening to Angus and Julia Stone right now, my feet on the register under the desk, wearing one of Patrick's old hoodies covered in paint spots and fraying at the sleeves. The plant beside me continues to die despite my best efforts to bring it back...too much water? too little water? too cold? too warm? It never seems to make a difference. Maybe I'm exaggerating when I say dying. It's just not thriving. The leaves are still strong and wide...tropical looking really...but brown and yellow spots have started to appear on them. They're drying up an edge or a patch here and there, but it continues to grow. It's okay, but it's not as good as it could be.

I'm taking tomorrow off work, which is probably a good thing because other than meeting for 15 minutes with one prospective student today, I spent most of the day doing non-essential tasks. Well, more than non-essential...non-work really. I do enjoy the office on days like this though. Wanda, Diana and I spend hours watching YouTube videos and reading pages and pages of DamnYouAutoCorrect. My greatest accomplishment today was taking my pants off in the middle of the office...which has a story behind it, but not one I feel like sharing at the moment. Suffice it to say that I am the epitome of office professionalism.

Well, I feel like I'm not saying anything and since I have two loads of what seems like never-ending laundry waiting to be folded or hung up or stuffed in a drawer, I guess I should be done with this post. However, before I go I would like to leave you with a song. I've come into some new music lately and I'm loving a lot of it, but at the moment this song in particular is absolutely blowing my mind. Peter Gabriel covers The Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage". It's kinda long but put it on, turn up the speakers and do nothing but listen to it for the next 6 minutes...trust me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bri, these are things you should remember...

So it's December and I haven't posted in months. But in my defense, I have been busy. I've seen a lot of this gorgeous country in the past few weeks and I think I'd like to write up a little of what I like best about each place I've been. And this is more for myself when I am thinking back on the past 6 weeks of whirlwind traveling I've been doing....(and there's probably more I'm already forgetting about)

Niagara: the fantastic signs on the railings demonstrating that you should not climb over them and into the falls. And the cute little Italian restaurant I found on a side street made a decent pasta for a good price.

Ottawa: the adorable old french farmers that set up in Byward Market to sell their apples and veggies and berries and squash despite it being really very cold. Also going for drinks with Lisa was really nice. I like seeing people you haven't seen in years and remembering why and how much you like them.

Toronto: the Gladstone Hotel. And Shanghi Cowgirl. And Queen St West. And seeing OCAD. And the sushi....... and so much more

Rural Ontario: most of my driving in Ontario involved intentionally taking back roads and side roads and roads that ended up to be dead ends in swamps and forest. I love that. I love seeing the lift locks and the "corners" at every intersection and the just barely still fall colours.

The Kerby's: Two years before I left Toronto before Patrick's parents came to visit for the weekend. My fear of meeting them was the only reason I left. This year I found myself spending a couple days with them without Patrick....and it was wonderful! I feel like I got to know them better for who they are as individuals, not just who they are in relation to Patrick. It was important. And good. Very good. I also spent a morning with Patrick's aunt (and cousins) up the road and that's something I've always wanted to do...but with 6 kids running around it's not always so easy to get into a good conversation with her. I'm glad I got to. I really love that whole extended family and I'm so glad I'm marrying into it. It's nice to know that I'll legally be "one of them" soon!

London:I hung out with Carmen and Rhys and it was wonderful. I like them very much. Because it was raining, Carmen and I spent most of a day lounging in my hotel room watching nothing tv and drinking wine and swimming. Also, that place we went where the pub was a house....that was good. Need to remember that name...

Peace River: the drive through Slave Lake and High Prairie to Peace River is beautiful. The trees, just newly bare, the fields full of bales and stubble and all the old abandoned houses stole my heart. I love it. I'm gonna drive it again for fun in the spring and this time, I'm taking my camera!

Calgary: The Wild Rose Brewery was fantastic. Went back twice because I liked it so much. Need to remember this and stop at it for lunch on my way through more often!

Vancouver: Hailey is another good friend that I hadn't seen in a while and got to see her life in Vancouver, meet her boyfriend Jon and remember why and how much I like her. I also really liked the Alibi Room when I went there for supper with Trixie. Definitely a place I'd like to go back to. I need to write that down somewhere so I remember it the next time I find myself in Vancouver.

Victoria: Staying at the Empress. Yessssss! $16 cocktails in the Bengal Lounge. Valet and porter service...walking around the inner harbour at night with no particular place to be. Beautiful! In particular I really liked "The Patch" where I bought some awesome new wood earrings, I liked "The Bard and Banker Pub" which has a really cool layout and a good "2-mile" beer taster and my encounter with Capt. Paddy and his pirate ship are among the best things about my trip. Also, the jacket I liked and tried on 3 separate times but made the responsible decision to leave it for someone else to love.

HWY 1 to Nanaimo: through forest to the edge of the ocean and back again, I loved this drive. I drive a lot on this trip and this 2 hour jaunt was one of my favourites.

Smithers: First of all, the butcher shop has the best venison and cranberry sausage. LOVE IT! Gonna try to pick up more today. Also, the Alpenhorn has better food than any restaurant I've been at west of Toronto....and I've been to a lot of restaurants west of Toronto in the past few weeks. My adventure hiking up to Twin Falls was pretty awesome too. Too bad I never made it. Guess I'll have to come back when the road is open sometime.

Kitimat: Seeing family I haven't seen in ages! Around the town, the Native Village was probably my favourite. Also, reading stories to nephews and a niece before bed was a favourite too.

Have two more days yet, but in 'heading home' mode already. I love seeing the country, but also can't wait for my own bed.

In general, things I have learned from my travels:

- Holiday Inn Express is a fantastic hotel.
- Four Points are also good but usually older....however they always have a restaurant attached and often have local craft beer on tap.
- Brewery's tap rooms are wonderful places....and some have excellent food....especially the small ones.
- Seafood is much better on the coast.
- ask for upgrades...hotels, airlines, rental cars, etc. You usually get them.
- Rent a vehicle with heated seats in the winter....and if you can, automatic start.
- Take a little bit of time, a drive around town or a minute or two of research before you choose a place to eat. There could be something really great around the next corner.
- Always bring a book...hard cover if you care about it, paperback if your luggage is already overweight.
- Use the work out rooms and hot tubs at hotels!
- Always start a conversation with the person standing in line next to you (you do a lot of waiting when you travel)...everyone has interesting stories and if you're lucky, you meet some really great people.
- Know that you made the right decision not to go have supper on a pirate ship by yourself, but let yourself feel sorry that you didn't.
- Never watch scary movies or intense crime drama when staying in motor inns by yourself.
- Always sit at the bar. Talk to the bartender, find out what places they like best in town. They know best.
- Try local beers, then go see the breweries you liked.
- Dress in layers. Always. Wherever you go.
- Eat when you're hungry...not when the clock says you should.
- Take snacks.
- 9 times out of 10, the history channel has the best programming. Why watch anything else?

and finally....
- use your camera! Take it EVERYWHERE!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

you who are my home...

It's just starting to get light out. I'm already dressed and packed for work and finishing some toast while I look out the window of my livingroom. There's a difference in the morning air this week. By the time 5pm rolls around and this sun is making everything golden, it still feels as though summer is hanging on, but in the morning, winter is close by. I like the kind of blues that this weather and temperature put into the sky though. It's gorgeous.
This week is full of big dreams and ideas and decisions and my emotions have been all over the map. Mostly I feel young and small and not ready to make the decisions we need to. But in this moment, when the air is cold and the trees are bare and the sky is that blue with just the beginnings of pinks and reds on the nearly invisible clouds, I feel okay. I feel like I can breathe.