Dispatches

#bucketlist

Fallingwater in autumn

It may have taken me two decades, but I can finally cross “visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house” off my bucket list. In the nearly 20 years I worked at Masterfile, a stock photo agency, I frequently heard clients call in to request images of this magnificent estate. Unfortunately we couldn’t supply the images, because the commercial rights are […]

Sweet Dreams

Gracie the mastiff

Gracie is our 90 lb lap dog, a former puppy mill mother we adopted from Toronto Animal Services. She’s been with us for a year and a half, after spending who knows how many years neglected in a cage. When she first joined our family, she did not bark for a month, and her tail was constantly […]

Viva Cuba

Dog and bicycle taxi

When my wife Jody and I were at home researching our trip to Jibacoa, we checked out a variety of travel advisory websites for tour guide recommendations, and wrote down the contact info for a man whose name kept recurring: Humberto Mesa. Once we were at our resort and had hooked up with the lovely […]

#endlesssummer

Patio at our resort in Jibacoa

For two people who love to travel as much as Jody and I do, going a year and a half without so much as a camping trip was a long haul. Unfortunately we had one newly adopted dog who was too neurotic to board, and one elderly dog who was too sick to leave. When […]

#endlesswinter

Seagull on frozen Lake Ontario, Toronto, Ontario

The winter that simply won’t end sent yet another blast of snow our way.  The large snowflakes fell in beautiful clumps that made photography a real challenge – keeping the camera dry, keeping the lens clear, getting the focus to settle on something other than an airborne snowflake – but it was worth the effort. […]

Walking in Markham

Reesor Pioneer Cemetery

Driving north on Reesor Road in Markham, I caught sight of some abandoned buildings that exerted a magnetic pull on my car.  Two feet of snow still blanketed everything, but I couldn’t resist getting out and trudging through the drifts to take a closer look.

Note to self:  if you want to have a more successful spontaneous exploration, plan ahead. It’s one of the snowiest winters on record, I’ve just gotten my camera back from the repair shop, and with some errands north of the city yesterday, it seemed the perfect time to do some winter landscape shooting.  I can’t […]

Throwback Thursday: NYC

Statue of Liberty and Hudson River seen from Battery Park, New York

New York’s been in the news a little more than usual lately, what with their new mayor finding his snow legs (we can only dream of such minor squabbles over snow removal here in Toronto), and Jimmy Fallon about to move The Tonight Show back to its 30 Rock roots next month.  It’s made me […]

After the Storm

Caution tape and storm damage

We didn’t take the storm warning seriously.  That is, until the thunderous sound of tree limbs hitting the ground around our home at 3:30 a.m. brought us sharply awake.

Espresso Withdrawal

Customer at Broadview Espresso coffee shop

After trying eleventy billion coffee shops in the GTA, we found one close to home that in combination with a dog walk through Playter Estates became our daily ritual. Not only does Broadview Espresso make a consistent cup of coffee, the offerings in their bakery case are plentiful and all equally delicious.  There are regulars […]

#savetoronto

Protester at Toronto City Hall

The cold had a real bite to it today, but Torontonians were too angry to stay home. I arrived early, and funnily enough one of the first people I saw was a former coworker of mine named Mark, holding the great sign above.  We had a brief chat to commiserate about the ridiculousness of the […]

Out for a dog walk one October afternoon, I  came upon this house in the process of being demolished.  We (sadly) pass a multitude of construction sites in our neighbourhood on any given day, but this one was unusual because the bungalow facade still stood.  My sentimental brain began creating a narrative for this place […]

Apple Pickin’ Time

Applewood Farm Winery, Stouffville

There’s something about a change in season that always makes me yearn to get outside with my camera.  As I try to cross things off my “Canadian girl bucket list”, I decided a trip to an apple orchard would kill a few proverbial birds with one stone.  Lucky for me, my intrepid mom was game […]

Gracie Goes to Stratford

Jody and Grace outside Perth County Court House

Gracie came to us from Toronto Animal Services, but her adoption from that shelter is a very small part of her story. Grace is a puppy mill survivor.  She survived thanks to Kimberly Thomas of Kismutt Rescue (www.kismutt.com), a passionate animal rights advocate who continues to pull dogs out of puppy mills, and educate people […]

Lemonade

Beach path and trees at Cherry Beach Dog Park, Toronto, ON

The off-leash dog park at Cherry Beach is a relatively new discovery for us, and it’s been refreshing to take our creatures there at odd hours now that I’m no longer tied to an office job. One of the first things I checked off my to do list was to redesign business cards for both Jody’s […]

What Frost Knew

Path at Cherry Beach, Toronto

The Road Not Taken Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim […]

Amazing Grace

Sign at Toronto Animal Services (TAS) South

“I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did, I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals.” Gary Larson It’s all Facebook’s fault. The sister of a friend (a friend once removed, in Facebook land) shared on her profile a blog post from Toronto Animal Services […]

East Meets Skeptic

Chinese medicine office

The unassuming door is easy to miss, so there is a simple stand to catch your eye from the sidewalk.  The uneven, narrow stairs lead me to an office space above a cheese store, but a strong floral scent is all that lingers in the air.  I needn’t have worried about basking in the old-sock smell of stinky […]

Canadian, eh

Maple sap collection bucket

Growing up in Winnipeg, I have a clear memory of my mother sharing a story of her childhood visit to a maple farm.  She recalled throwing freshly boiled syrup in the snow, salivating at the memory of the resulting delicious taffy.  How is it that her sweet tooth-afflicted daughter has never enjoyed that experience firsthand? This […]

I needn’t have worried about sleeping in on day two of our safari; I was crawling around in the brush outside our hut with my camera just after dawn.  Heaven.  My heart stopped at least twice when the grasses that brushed my ankle mimicked the tickle of spider legs, or the slither of a snake…but thankfully […]

January 7, 2013:  the day I checked “safari in Africa” off my bucket list. Deciding which game reserve to visit when planning this trip was no easy task.  Jody consulted all the tourist advisory websites, and as you may expect, everyone extolled the virtues of Kruger National Park, with everything else apparently paling in comparison. […]

Privilege

Khayelitsha Township, Western Cape

We passed this township many times on our South African trip, as it was located next to the highway we used to reach our safari, winery tours, and so on. All the activities that tourists are supposed to enjoy, encouraged to do, yet which left me feeling ashamed each time this scene whizzed past our […]

Desperate times

White rhino mother and daughter

The experiences we had on our safari were so varied and unique that we were hard-pressed to name a favourite.  However, Jody and I both wrote on our feedback form at our lodge that seeing the white rhinos was the highlight for each of us, and it was.  We caught sight of the mother and […]

Boulders Beach Penguins

Boulders Beach entrance

Times have changed. When Jody was last here, part of the attraction of going to see the African penguins at Boulders Beach was the physical interaction with them.  It was possible to walk along the rocky beach where they lived, and even swim in the water with the small birds.  Sounds idyllic, but the reality […]

South Africa

Capetown International Airport

You know that feeling you get when you first land at a foreign airport, and realize with a sigh of deep satisfaction that your vacation has officially begun?  That feeling which gets multiplied by about ten as a Canadian when you’ve gone somewhere warm in winter? Well, multiply THAT feeling by about a thousand, and […]

London Calling

Luggage tag from Heathrow to Cape Town

This luggage tag, promising the transit of my bag from Toronto-Heathrow-Cape Town, seemed laughably exotic and surreal, despite the many months of planning.  Were we really going to do this? Our last air travel experience had not gone smoothly…in truth it would have tested the mettle of any seasoned flyer.  A brief Caribbean vacation in […]

Isobel’s House

Living room and dining room of derelict house

I can show you in images what it looked like, however the smell will be left to your imagination.  The stench of urine, mold, and decay was so strong it became a taste in my mouth. By the time we arrived, her personal effects were long gone.  So, too, were the dozens of cats that […]

How did I get myself into this?  I was in panic mode, throwing everything but the proverbial kitchen sink into my car, hoping to stave off any chance of photographic failure. “Why does it have to be so WINDY?  And so SUNNY?” I worried, knowing that my scrim and stand would be no match for […]