after the storm

after the storm

After the storm had blown through yesterday, we went through a walk through the quiet streets in our neighbourhood. As we walked, we admired the sculptured snowbanks piled high by plow, snowblower and shovel, and smoothed to softness by the wind.

Walkways and driveways had already been cleared in front of some houses, and others were deep in drifts. A dog ran out to greet us as we walked by; his owner was busy with the shovel in front of his house — you wouldn’t have known he was there except for the snow flying up over the high bank. Another man with a snowblower was working farther down the street, and I could hear the sound of an ice scraper behind a running car in a nearby driveway. A taxi drove by, taking the turns carefully.

There was still a nip in the wind, and the soft snow swirled from snowbank to snowbank as we followed the tire tracks through the snow. We returned home, our cheeks red from the cold, cleared the back steps once more, and hung our hats to dry over the mudroom heater.

Photo taken on February 2, 2011

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taking stock

the blue shovel

I’ve read a number of other people’s resolutions and goals for 2011 in the last couple of days. It almost seems as if, on the stroke of 12:01 a.m. January 1st, their ambitious plans suddenly popped up on the calendar, ready to be checked off the list.

I look at my calendar, and it tells me nothing.

Sure, there are lots of things I’d like to accomplish in 2011, but my main goal — a successful career change — needs more than a few quick checkmarks. As I’ll be turning the big 5-0 soon, I figure that whatever career I end up (hopefully sooner than later) should be one I can stick with.

I feel like I’m ready for a change, but I don’t want to rush into the wrong decision.

This photo, taken during a snowstorm last January, reminds me how much things can change. Since it was taken, we’ve built a fence and made a lot of improvements to the house and garden. But here in the middle of winter, it’s harder to see the changes, the thick snow falling now doesn’t feel any different than last year’s snow.

So I’m not in a hurry. I’m taking stock, watching the weather, and trying to be prepared for the inevitable changes that lie ahead, just around the corner.

Photo taken on January 20, 2010

you can see space from here

space station in orbit

One of the really cool things about living in Saint John is that we are on the flight path of the International Space Station. On Friday night, we headed outdoors just before 6 p.m. and saw the ISS orbiting right over our back yard, tracing a path across the sky from the northwest to the southeast. I last saw the space station earlier this year, just after the space shuttle had undocked and before it returned to earth, and it was incredible to watch, because you could see the shuttle chasing the space station across the sky.

Of course what you see (unless you have a powerful telescope) is not the space station itself but the bright reflection of the sun’s light on its metal exterior. And there’s no question of mistaking it for anything else — it travels much faster than an airplane across the sky, tracing a steady straight line from one horizon to another.

You need to have a clear sky (and as wide a view as possible) in order to see the ISS pass over. And although it circles the earth several times a day, you can only see it from the ground in the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset. That’s because the earth needs to be in shadow (the sky is dark) and the space station needs to be in sunlight (otherwise it won’t be lit up). As well, its path has to be at least 15 degrees above the horizon; if it barely clears the horizon, there is too much haze and atmospheric dust for it to be visible.

If you would like to see the space station fly by for yourself, check the NASA’s sightings page. It’s a truly magical experience.

Photo taken on November 12, 2010

architecture + puddle = fun

old post office, reflected

I am a spur-of-the-moment photographer. I tend to take ’em as I see ’em. That’s not to say I don’t work with different angles and compositions, and I certainly spend enough time adjusting colour, crop, contrast etc on the computer. But I have to admit that I seldom plan ahead.

Last night was an exception. I had two reasons to take photos. The first was because it was Thursday, and Utata (the Flickr photo group I participate in) always has a weekly project called Thursday walks. The second is the photo conference happening this weekend in Moncton, called Foto Expo, which is also running a contest with the theme “downtown architecture”. I didn’t get out during the daytime because I was making apple chutney, and it took longer than I expected (doesn’t it always). So that’s why I was uptown with a camera and tripod at 8 p.m. last night.

I had been wanting to take a photo of this building for a while, so last night was the perfect opportunity. Finding the puddle was a bonus. I’m really glad I planned ahead and brought the equipment I needed for this photo shoot. I spent about 40 minutes in this parking lot (my car is the 2nd from the right) and took photos of this Old Post Office building from several angles. In fact, it was so much fun, I might do it again (plan ahead, that is)!

Photo taken on October 28, 2010

inside/outside

The nights are cooler now. The sun is setting earlier. The curtains are closed and the lights are on when I go for an evening walk. With the turning of the year, the fading of summer, the last light of day is more precious than ever. Don’t go inside just yet. Look up to see the sky turn from blue to indigo. Wait for the night. Watch for the first star to appear, just there, over the horizon.

Taken on September 9, 2010