August 22, 2018

Bird Bath

This is where I write, three years after the self-timer shutter snapped. Double exposure (home & Ripperz concert); Winnipeg, MB; September 2015. 
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The book in my hand droops distractedly as I lie in the bath. Candlelight dances on the water-splotched tile surround and I am reminded yet again that the tub is due for a good scrub. My eyes continue to stray from the printed dialogue of Charles Frazier's latest called 'Nightwoods' (highly entertaining). I simply cannot help but pause to observe my bird-child attempt to peck his way out of his dappled shell. Every few sentences, eyes cut from print to skin. His body is growing rapidly though the volume of fluid he swims in remains the same. Thus the entertainment from my vantage point gets better and better with each end of day de-robing.

Peck, peck, peck. I can't help but wonder if I will indeed give birth to a winged creature.

The child in my daily care--Leo--has named the babe Moltress; "a fiery winged creature who has the power of Sacred Fire. A Legendary" he says to me with convincing urgency between mouthfuls as we eat leftovers at the table this afternoon. I have nary a clue as to what these words of his mean, but I do enjoy the imagery. A Legendary, indeed.

This point in pregnancy marks twenty eight weeks of growth / togetherness. My body magically undertakes the daily work required in the process of knitting together a human being. I try to do my part externally by eating lots of leafy greens, drinking plenty of water, moving my body and breathing deeply. So far, so good. This evening I stand at the edge of my third trimester. Nothing to do but surrender to the great free fall that is new motherhood and enjoy the ride in. There he goes again: knees, heels, elbows (I cannot seem to get a handle on where his body is positioned within my own) drag along my innards with surprising zeal. At times it feels like he is literally feeling his way through the dark for the nearest exit.

Patience young grasshopper, trust in yourself that you will know when it's time to descend toward the light. Or maybe birth will take a totally unexpected sharp corner and we will both go careening off the tracks. Time shall tell!

Surrender, remain present.

My mantra on this side of new motherhood.

I grin as I write. Can't wait to meet you Moltress. In the meantime, keep on exploring your tight quarters. It is a wondrous feeling and an incredible sight.

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Ni tunes his mandolin. Winnipeg, MB; December 2014.
Chopping onion at the table inside the Sugar Shack. Near Roseisle, MB; January 2015.
In the meadow together. Near Roseisle, MB; July 2015.

August 9, 2018

By honeysuckle, blessed

My ma and sweet Luella.

Auntie Daryl and sweet Elliot.

Elliot and Lue.

E & L; pool date.

Reesa takes a dip.

Jenn feeds Forest on my daybed.
Winnipeg, MB; July 2018
Kiev 60 / Tri-X Pan 125 (forty + year old film! / processed with Ilford DDX 1+9)

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This evening I lay on my daybed as the light of day sank behind the neighborhood trees heavy with foliage.  Sweet summer nights. As I lay I listened to a friend cry as she drove, eleven hours from my daybed spot. Nothing quite like driving while weeping. Weeping while driving. My child danced under the weight of my hand resting on this new hill of life climbing toward the heavens. As I listened, I wished I could recite a spell for her to use in solitude. Write down what you wish to dispel yourself of and tear it into a million tiny pieces. Throw those ripped bits into fast flowing water or better yet, flames. Good riddance dead weight.

Good riddance.

Even later in the evening while flipping through a well worn book, my fingers stopped their grazing at the sight of this Jeni Couzyn poem. This one goes out to those who need a little softness tonight. Peace be with you.

I love you my friend. Send your demon down the river and don't look back.

---

Spell to Soften the Hard Heart of a Woman by Jeni Couzyn

The almond has trapped herself in a cage of bone,
The chestnut in bristle is hidden,
The gnarled old man still trembles like a boy at the sound of your name.

Your hurt be in the ground,
Your fear be in the wind, 
Your pain be in the stone.

The chords of your heart are untied,
The envious thorn is drawn from your eye,
The scaly armour falls from you making you young.

By this flame, holy,
By this water, holy, 
By earth, holy,
By air, holy.

The spiteful shadow is trimmed from your heel,
The nine wounds from your mother's whip are washed from your blood,
Your dark of father is filled with father love.

Be blessed by gardenia,
By hyacinth, blessed,
By honeysuckle, blessed,

By this star, holy,
By night, holy,
By laughter, holy,
By this kiss, holy.

July 18, 2018

Imprint


Ni & I, happy together in the back woods of Ontario. Near Sioux Narrows, Ontario; June 2018.

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It feels a bit funny to return to this place after so many moons away. And yet, there is a special familiarity that goes along with it. Like the feeling that comes with slipping on my grandmother's tattered old denim shirt after a long period of forgetting of its existence in the drawer.

Sentiments of old, hanging around like forgotten laundry sunbaked on the line just out of one's peripheral vision. Crisp and well-worn at the same time. This is how I feel about this old place.

There has been a great shift since the last entry I wrote in March. Little did I know then that I was carrying the bright spirit that I feel move within me as I write. Iain and I are set to welcome a child into our fold sometime in November. I look forward to meeting the little person we created together in great love. Will the child have the laugh lines of his father? Will he have my Hildebrandt nose given to me by the many, many strong women who came before me? I hope so, but I also love that I can't possibly know--until I know. Great things are worth waiting for.

And I have been waiting for you for a long, long time my love.

My wonder and delight in this pregnancy is too vast to pen right now so in lieu of words, I will leave these two images. Perhaps you will note the delight in our eyes as we grin into the lens.

A few weeks ago I shot the wedding of a dear friend out at her parent's cottage near Sioux Narrows in Ontario. On our slow and intentional journey homeward, Iain and I (both being tree planters at some point in our twenties) were simultaneously drawn to the obvious mouth of a cut block weaving jaggedly off the highway. Without a word, Iain pulled the truck off the highway and into that mouth and we drove in silent reverie of the strange beauty around us. Some of the land had been freshly shaved down and the scent in the air was heady and intoxicating. Menacing slash piles giving off plumes of scent I would pay a trillion dollars to bottle and wear as perfume on my most sacred evenings. I communicated silently with my child as I tend to do, explaining to him the wonders of working a land stripped raw of it's natural bounty. It is a harsh reality to stand amidst. And yet, it is an honour to participate in the process of thoughtfully replenishing the contours of such a naked place.

As we drove deeper and deeper into the land, the lane narrowed to a point where even the slim truck could not move through. We stopped and stepped out into a deafening world of black flies and other unidentifiable creatures and I stripped nude so Iain could capture my changing body in another beautiful place. There was no evidence of the work of horrifying machinery where I stood. Just wildflowers and a wall of greenery and me and the new contours of my own body. Wondrous! Sadly the image never came up on the roll, but we both know what we captured in that place. I hope the feeling imprinted on my son as these attempts to remember imprint on film.

We will take you along to beautiful places, child.
---

Self portrait in the funny little mirror from Ni's old 1980 Granada. Wind whipped and happy. Near Sioux Narrows, Ontario; June 2018. Five months along with you, child.

Colour Season

Ni puts the finishing touches on his flatbed.

My beautiful friend Lo.

Portrait of a bright spirit. 

Portrait of a beautiful child observing the magic of the annual Art City parade.

My cousin Alex holding up a section of the enormous Canker worm at the parade. 

Parade grins.

Portrait of a fantastic grin on a talented woman called Kylie.

Toast--mid parade.

Half pipe woman--my favourite float from this year's "West Broadway" theme.

Ian J. blows bubbles for happy participants in great overalls.

Sarah hoists a friendly robot.

The lovely Meghan and her girls enjoy the Art City parade.


Winnipeg, MB; July 2018
Kiev 60 / Portra 400

March 25, 2018

Swan Dive

The other day while out on a stroll along Wolseley Avenue with my young friend Gus (who is nearly three years old), he turned to me while pointing toward the heavens and said, "Megan! Look at that swan go! What a graceful bloke". It was no swan but a mere Canadian Goose making its way back to it's Northern summer home. Gus' young eye registered the grace of the driven wing and later I was so appreciative of his reminder to stop and take a moment to admire it for myself. Ahhh, the wonder of a young child in the Springtime.

I am currently employed as a nanny and housekeeper to a lovely family in the neighborhood where I live. My daily commute on foot takes four minutes door to door. No complaints there! The boys in my care are six years and nearly three. They are very active, inquisitive, challenging and delightful in equal measure. I oscillate between resenting myself for continuously finding my way back to this familiar post, feeling I should be stationed in a more "professional profession" (whatever that means) and loving the freedom to exercise my intuitive nature as a nurturer and guide to those two young souls. I try to remind myself that the work I am doing is important and not to minimize my role in their lives. In truth, my spirit longs for a child of my own to nurture in my own way. Before I swan dive into that dark corner of my soul to lick old wounds, I remind myself that Iain is my family and the life we are building alongside one another is rich. Children or no children, this home is rich in love. Still, the heart wants what the heart wants. Be patient and trust that the work that I am doing in the present is fine tuning my spirit for the future. Inner dialogue of a wanting mother.

Patience young grasshopper. This seemingly simple command that peppers many a conversation with the children in my daily life is a lot harder to apply to self. Damn it.

In other news, I have been studying to become a certified Birth & Postpartum Doula. I can't help but smile when I think of earning another certification that validates my desire to guide, champion and nurture others in their personal quest. Montessori is exactly this. My take on becoming a Doula is to mother the Mother as she performs her most intricate and difficult work of her life.

Two weeks ago I had the great honour of attending the birth of a new soul. Miss Luella Frances, welcome to this wild world you beauty you. Just like her mama who laboured hard and long to deliver her earth-side, Luella entered this world as serene as the day is long. The steady beat of her heart never wavered. It was a great pleasure to frame up the magic of her birth through the scope of Iain's enormous Pentax 67. Also in my arsenal of cameras was my trusty Nikon F2 affixed to my beloved Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 lens passed down from my Aunty Marj (who photographed many an infant at the breast through that lens).

When my eye takes in the world through that lens, I feel connected to her spirit. Calm washes over me. My hands steady and my mind's eye connects the points of the moment that tell the tale I am looking to share. SNAP goes the shutter. Another crowning head, another shoulder emerging as the child rotates in the birth canal, another reassuring squall, another knowing smile from the mother who knew it was her all along. It is a great honour to be the person to document this flood of life, emotion, longing, connection. To photograph and observe and eventually support a woman in the family way is the work I am meant to do.

The first portrait of Luella Frances H. minutes old. March 6, 2018. 

Winnipeg, MB; March 2018
Nikon F2 / Portra 800

Mercury may be in retrograde, but the Great Melt is on and Spring is near. Hang on for dear life my faithful readers, it is going to be a bumpy decent into the warm season methinks. As my dear friend Jillian says, "Always walk on the sunny side". Amen.

Love, Madge: 31 year old Sun Seeker

February 19, 2018

In the Doldrums

Winter blues.

Demure Babs.

Young ladies out of a stroll on Stradbrook.

Marj's last Easter feast.

A perfectly good scene.

Last of winter.

Tail end of Winter and early Spring of 2009.

Nikon F3 / 1:1.4 / Kodak 400

February 18, 2018

Ten Years in the Sun


Buds along the Winnipeg River on a hot day. Manitoba, 2008.
Layds in the sun.

Post dip, pre dinner. Manitoba, 2008.


Rouge in yellow on contrast film.

A. Wong fashion at work.

I captured these photographs at my friend Chad's folks' cabin along a beautiful river somewhere in Manitoba. I forget where now but this contrast work hardly holds a candle to the beauty of that place in reality. Winnipeg River? Surrounded by beautiful and strong women I admired at the time, this series was captured one decade ago in July of 2008 depicts afternoon delight. If I recall correctly, I was more interested in capturing portraits of people and environments at that time than anything else. When I look at my photo work spanning the last decade, I am reminded to pick up my camera and photograph the minute slivers of my day to day. It will be good to look back upon later in life and I will thank myself for capturing those visual affirmations of time well spent.

Nikon F3 / 1:1.2 / Tmax

February 11, 2018

Eye on the Classroom

Life through binoculars is better!

Pouring at the water table.

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The Classroom is calling me. These two images come from three and one quarter rolls of 35mm Delta 400 shot in a Montessori classroom of children at work in their environment. It is a beautiful thing to observe most often. I asked and this is what they gave.

May 2017

Canon AE-1/ 50mm 1:1.8 lens / Delta 400

I can't remember when I felt so good / Baby since I met you

Jen and her baby daughter Soona. Winnipeg, MB; April 2017.
What up Marjie?
Portrait of my four year old friend JJ and his beloved Elmo toque. Winnipeg, MB; April 2017.
Airin' out the TC linen pieces still wet with ink. May 2017.
I came outside to photograph my linens in the sun only to find Ni painting the truck box shit brown. Oh I love this man. Winnipeg, MB; May 2017.
Patience hat on, slow and steady now.
Portrait of my dear Grandmother Helen holding her ninth great-grandbabe, Soona.
Portrait of three generations captured in the spring. Rosenort, Manitoba.
Portrait of my Uncle Jim and his grandbabe Cyrus.
Portrait of my parlour.
Portrait of our ambrotype portrait captured by Suzette Jordan in Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia.

Spring is my favorite season. This was a roll I shot over the end of April into May of 2017.

Kiev 60 / 120 Delta 400