I’ve always been drawn to construction sites. I like the square geometry of the steel girders, the ponderous dance of heavy equipment, the way the skeletal frame is formed and shaped, the way space becomes place.
It’s archeology backwards, creation instead of forensics, a community working together to create something new. It reminds me of a wedding, an event buoyed by hope, plagued by doubt and gnawed finger nails; so much could go wrong, and yet it could turn out to be so right. This particular construction site is already historied in critique and finger-pointing, threatened by the mire of politics, budgetary foreboding and the shaking of heads. So much could go wrong — in fact, already seems to be wrong — and yet, and yet (dare I say it?) it could turn out to be so right.
O fortunati, quorum iam moenia surgunt! (O Fortunate Ones, whose walls are rising now) – motto of Saint John, from Virgil’s Dido & Aeneas.
Photo taken on November 9, 2010
Saint John has made a really big deal of its 225th anniversary celebrations this year. I remember the Bicentennial — that was a party! But a lot has changed in the last 25 years since that landmark event, and the city deserves to celebrate its continued survival.
It’s more than survival, it’s “thrival”. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a new sense of energy in this city. Cruise ships are visiting throughout the summer and fall, and the waterfront and Harbour Passage area have really spiffed up one of our main assets. There is a vibrant music and arts culture here, and enough business and industry to provide a sense of well-being for much of the population. The community is active with all sorts of fund-raising programs and initiatives to improve life for people in priority neighbourhoods. There is still a lot of poverty and hardship, but there is also a lot of optimism.
This year’s highlights have included a culture festival, several musical concerts, a new arts awards celebration, a special historical celebration, a speaker series, an initiative to collect local stories, a mascot, a special community gala celebration, and the commissioning of a sculpture. And to celebrate all this, they put together a pretty impressive short film. Check it out: Saint John Arts & Culture – Then and Now. Happy birthday, Saint John!
Photo taken on September 25, 2010
Last night I dreamed of being happy. We were living in a house and there were other people around and there was laughter. And I realize that one of the things I need is interaction with other people. I love my partner, and we do have a lot of fun together, but I wish we could make new friends more easily. Of course it’s great to invite my parents over for dinner & scrabble, but that’s not the same. We’ve been in this house now for just over a year, and in Saint John for six months more, but how do you start from scratch when you’ve left your friends in Ontario?
It’s been 20 years since I moved away, and in that time my interests have changed. I have changed. If I meet someone from the “old days”, we are strangers to each other. I know we could make friends more easily if we become involved in something, so we have been trying to figure out where to invest our time, which organizations or clubs to join, what charities to support, and how many events to attend. The local naturalist club might be a good fit, but we haven’t yet made it to a meeting — it’s daunting to walk into a room of people who all know each other well, not knowing if you will like them (and they will like you). For me, an obvious choice is the local photo club which meets monthly, and a group of local Flickr members. But I’m not a joiner unless I can be a participant. I’m not satisfied with just sitting in a chair at a monthly meeting; I want to be part of what’s going on, otherwise I lose interest. So I’m hanging in, hoping to get to know people better.
Looking for a community “match” is darn difficult. It feels like dating again. No wonder we’ve been staying home!
Photo taken on November 1, 2010
After you’ve lived in one place for a while, it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all. The same architecture, the same streets, the same sprawling malls, the same old, same old. And then one day you’re walking around a corner, looking for something else, only half paying attention, and there it is: something different. Hello, says the red vine, waving brightly from its yellow wall. Hellooooo, do you see me?
On another note, I’ve decided to post entries only on weekdays. As the days get darker, weekends are getting busier and sometimes I’d rather sleep in… So now you don’t have to waste, er, invest your weekends reading my blog, but I hope you’ll keep dropping by on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And thanks as always for your excellent comments!
Taken on October 2, 2010
It’s been rainy this week, and the forecast is for more rain next week. When the weather is grey and drizmal, I have two choices:
1) curl up on the couch and catch up on my sleep/reading while I wait for nice weather
2) put on my brightest clothes, look for some eye-popping colour or play some snappy music, then go out for an adventure
An adventure is going places. It could be a walk in a nearby park or an unfamiliar neighbourhood. It could be a shopping expedition, or a drive out in the country. It could be a visit with a friend, or going out to dinner or a movie.
Whatever it is, an adventure is something to look forward to, something to do right now instead of waiting for Mother Nature or the Ship of Opportunity to ring your doorbell.
This photo is loud. It’s a wake-up alarm, a call to action. Because I really need to be a little more active. And, you know, I can’t resist red.
Taken on May 29, 2009
You are on a bridge, looking toward the future. What do you see? Is there a corner, or a window, or a door? Do you know where you are going, and where you’ll end up when you cross that bridge? It’s foggy over there, and if you looked the other direction, toward the past, it will be foggy there, too. You think you can see the present clearly, but it’s foggy where you’re standing as well, although it’s not immediately obvious. Just take a few steps, look back and you’ll see it. And you’ll also see a little farther ahead, each step you take. Don’t rely only on your eyes; use your ears and your sense of touch. Listen to the voice inside you. Follow where your heart leads and all will be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well.
Taken on August 20, 2010
There was nothing remarkable about this house, no reason to stop and look. It was right next to the curb, looking well loved and more than a little tired. It was a sunny evening and I was looking for something interesting to photograph. My camera was in my hand, the lens cap off, my finger on the shutter release. I was ready… but nothing happened. No flash of inspiration, no bright shaft of sunlight pointing to a perfect image in an ordinary neighbourhood. But I was taking photos anyway, hoping that my camera would see something that I didn’t, knowing how easily my own expectations and biases get in the way. So when we walked by this house, I looked up at this window for a moment, my camera shutter snapped, and I continued walking. At first glance, there was nothing remarkable about this house, but I’m glad my camera gave me a chance to look again.
Taken on April 22, 2010
There is an art to intersections, to driving in the city. Urban traffic has a syncopated rhythm: hurry – waaaait, stop – go! Weaving between lanes and lines is the rhumba of highways. The dance of intersections is the rhythm of the city, as you move from one set of lights to the next in an extended waltz with different partners. Cars, of course, prefer fast highways and country roads, with wide-open vistas and no stop sign in sight. As drivers, we are easily seduced by speed. We prefer open spaces and back roads, reluctant to bow to the slow dance of intersections where there are rules and courtesies and we have to wait, for a moment, for our turn.
Taken on June 15, 2010
There are very few tall buildings in Saint John. Aside from a cluster of office buildings uptown, I think this large apartment building in the North End is next in terms of height. I have lived in an apartment building that looked much like this. Ours was only seven storeys, and we had a large corner apartment with a nice view. But you couldn’t regulate the heat, so the windows had to stay open all year round. And the corridors were dark and narrow, and often smelled bad. And a drug addict would occasionally break into the laundry rooms and tip over the machines to get at the change inside. There were a lot of stories in that multi-storey building, and a lot of people with long memories who had lived there for many years. We didn’t stay long.
Taken on April 25, 2010
At noon, with the sun high overhead, everything looks flat because the shadows don’t stretch out to either side. Unless, that is, there is room for the shadows to stretch down. And here in the city, in the canyons between buildings, the unexpected shadows reveal an Escher-like world when the sun is high overhead.
Taken on May 21, 2010
It was noon, and the bright sun was lighting up the buildings on the other side of the alley. I turned to the shadow side, and found this symmetrical wall with its understated 19th century architectural elegance.
Taken on May 21, 2010