October 14, 2021

Frances Helen's first days at home

January 27, 2021; cozy in mama's bed, not yet 24 hours old. None of the newborn clothes we had fit Frances.

The first moment Benny met his little sister Frances.

Two days new. Nothin' sweeter than a baby burrito.

Benny (sans pants) examines his sister in her basket while dad looks on.

Sore and tired and trying to figure out how to mother two children at once.

New normal. This was our first morning at home as a family of four. It looks idyllic, but it was intense.

A quiet moment with Play-doh while mama rested / nursed the baby.

Granny Tammy stayed with us for two days after Frances arrived. She was a superstar and a solid support for Benny--who was a bit shaken by the new addition of his sister.

A wonderful dad bathes his daughter for the first time.

Grandpa Cal meets Frances for the first time.

Grandma Kim meets Frances (for the second time) at three days old.

Helen Sr. meets "Helen Jr." at five weeks old.

Great Grandpa Syd finally meets "Little Helen" as he calls her :)

Big brother starting to take quite a shine to his lil' sis.

Frances Helen; five weeks old and fully awake to the world (in an outfit from Great Grandma Marion).


Canon AE-1 / HP5+ & Delta 400
Kiev 60 / HP5+

January 18, 2021

How old are you? TWO!


Carman, Manitoba; November 2020
Canon AE-1 / Kodak 400

January 4, 2021

Golden Eagle reflections

For a beloved woman; you are dearly missed.

Marj Heinrichs. My mother's sister. My dear aunt. When I think back and try to frame up a single story of such a legend, my mind becomes hopelessly tangled. ONE STORY? Impossible. 

In the past decade of life lived without Marj, I cannot possibly count the number of times I have asked myself "How would Marj do it?". I have asked myself this question while sitting in a dim garage amoungst a non-responsive crowd of farmer-hatted farmers drinking bad coffee in a small town homemade Tim Hortons. I have asked myself this while trying to soothe other people's children as well as my own. I have asked myself this with bated breath, my camera poised and ready, waiting for that incredible moment when a tiny life emerges from its life-giving mother. I have asked myself this while holding up the heaving dress of a drunken bride puking her guts out behind her reception tent. The weight of my camera around my neck reminding me all the while that my job is to capture the story of the person to the best of my ability. Just as Marj did / would have. I think the "it" in question was her twinkle and cheeky grin. Immediate comfort and trust. Those fantastically funny teeth flashing before you like a blinking neon sign: Go ahead, tell me all of your secrets. She never promised she wouldn't tell. That wasn't the point. It was the moment shared where you felt safe to share, to exhale, let your hair down and then laugh about it with someone who GOT it, who appreciated the vulnerability of the expulsion of information, who celebrated the courage in one's sharing. It was so easy to spill the beans to her. Marj delighted in the wicked, wild and wonderful lives of those who she cared deeply for. I was lucky to be one of those many people. 

On my twentieth birthday, we happened to find ourselves in side-by-side stalls of a public washroom at a nice restaurant chosen to celebrate the occasion. I have no idea how we cut to the chase so quickly, but for some reason I felt compelled to share with her that I had received my first Brazilian (as a grown up gift to self) that very morning. "No wonder you are walking so funny!" she yelled and then shrieked with laughter. And then to my surprise she banged on my door and demanded to see my new look. I doubt she had ever seen a Brazilian wax job before?! I showed her :) No mortification was felt, no shame, just pride. My Aunty Marj had an incredible way of celebrating the follies of life. Laughing in the face of disgrace. Softening the blow with a good belly laugh was her way.

In the spring of 2009, I hightailed it to the bush of Northwestern Ontario to try my hand at treeplanting. It was an enlightening ten weeks to say the very least. While I was toiling over rough land like a low bent grasshopper, I imagine Marj was carting vats of chilli one direction and frozen hunks of moose meat homeward from Pickle Lake, Ontario where she was working at the time. Lucky for me, one of her return trips from Northern Ontario coincided with the end of my summer contract. She agreed to scoop me up from the bush camp I was working out of and drive me back to Rosenort where I could recalibrate in the cool comfort of my mother's house. As soon as I entered the vehicle she spun around and yelled at top volume despite having her friend Lucy in the front seat, "Oh my God child, CLOSE YOUR LEGS. You stink to high heavens". I was mortified but then laughed hysterically and promptly fell asleep in the back seat. Happy, safe and stinky in the care of a second mother. 

That same summer, home from the bush and rather idle, Aunty Marj decided to put me to work and "hire" me to help her stain her rather large deck surrounding her swimming pool. I was happy to help. We toiled together all day under the July sun, painting furiously in our bras and panties. I loved how she was happiest in the beating sun. She welcomed the heat and always seemed sun burnt to me. When she would heat up just so after a good work stretch, I remember her flopping into the pool casually without a sound or announcement. Like a seal. She was satisfied with our work and "paid" me at the end of that gruelling day with a large, novelty-like cheque made out to Marj Heinrichs for the sum of 150 dollars to Dollarwise, a dry-cleaning company. Ummmm, thank you? She had generously signed the back and in retrospect it was a perfect payment as I had an enormous collection of silk dresses and fancy party clothes that I wore and dry cleaned in high rotation that year. Classic Marj! What a woman.

Helluva woman, I tell ya.

Many more tales to come. These were just a hysterical few I had at the top of my head while reflecting fondly. When Marj's eldest daughter Jen reached out to me to contribute to her Story Queen collection of short stories about Marj, I was in a strange headspace. An old friend of mine had just past away suddenly, I was deep in the process of packing up my household in Winnipeg in preparation for a big shift to rural life in Carman, Manitoba. I also wanted to contribute something PERFECT and kept coming up short. Grief kept washing over me as I would sit down to drum up a story and it really made me think about the last decade and how I spent my time in the wake of that giant, giant loss. I think I completely shut down and stoppered all Marj related grief to the best of my numbed ability while living in Montreal for that first year after her death. It was the simplest option. No one knew her out there and being so far away from family meant there was no one to shoulder the sorrow with. It was easier to put the sadness in a box and take it out tenderly from time to time to explore it, sit with it, weep and long for a fallen spirit and then put it away until I was ready again. And that is okay. But eventually, I moved home and faced the music. Grief never goes away. It changes form over and over again like a tumbled rock. These days, I keep it close as one would an admired stone on a sacred shelf. I look at it often, take it down, hold it and admire it. I think Marj would approve. 

I miss her deeply and try to honour her fierce spirit every time I raise my camera to my eye, nuzzle and undress a new baby tenderly, enjoy a glass of red wine, laze in the beating sun and flop into a cold pool soundlessly. Like a seal. 

Soar on Eagle Woman. I have a feeling my daughter will carry a little piece of you in her spirit as she crosses over to the other side. Wishing you were here to capture the joyous occasion of her arrival!

Until we meet again, cheers and much love!


September 21, 2020

Covid Q's -- April 2020

Covid Q's from @not_therapy

1. What is helping you feel safe, supported, and grounded these days?

Heading out for a walk with my husband and son after my partner gets home from work. Meal planning. Reading fiction in the tub by candlelight. Chatting on the phone with my mom. Reading and responding thoughtfully to letters I receive from far flung friends. The slow and deliberate process of baking.

2. What do you remember about the moment or day when you realized life was going to change because of the pandemic?

My son and I were visiting a friend and her children that day. She was teaching me the art of Sourdough bread baking. The lesson was timely and we both knew we wouldn't see each other for a long time. It all felt quite sacred and tinged with fear.

3. When did you first begin to feel calm or settled after life changed because of the pandemic?

About two weeks into the lockdown, it dawned on me that I was thriving in my new, SLOW rhythm. My schedule with my toddler had been running at a breakneck pace for a few weeks and I was starting to resent all of the programming and that feeling of being pulled in a hundred directions. It helped a lot that my daily rhythm felt familiar--just a lot mellower.

4. What have you been enjoying about parts of your new reality because of the pandemic?

The quiet, the calm, the inwardness and overall intimacy within my family unit. It is almost as if I am seeing my family and my home with fresh eyes.

5. What has been the most difficult?

Feeling cooped up at times and generally uninspired to create despite the endless stretches of free time. Feeling frustrated by / sorry for my only child who is starved for the company of other children. It has been strange and difficult not to be able to embrace or share space with loved ones.

6. How have you been coping with what's been difficult?

Reading, running and cycling have felt enormously freeing.

7. If you could zoom out and watch yourself move through these past several weeks, what words of compassion would you have for yourself?

Be patient and gentle with yourself and others as you navigate this new normal. This too shall pass.

8. How would it feel to receive those words of compassion?


9. What is one hope you have for yourself moving forward?

That this time spent with my child will make me appreciate the privilege I have as a stay at home parent all the more. Not to mention make me appreciate the village of mothers I have in my community!! I miss my village.

May 13, 2020

Brownie McGee / found roll

Brownie box camera; bathroom mirror self portrait edition. Fall 2015
Woman with found / precious Mother teacup. Fall 2015
Montessori Meg reads to her niece Arlo and nephew Atlas in the bay window nook at Granny & Grandpa Pet's farm. Spring 2016
My brother in law Conrad takes in his childhood landscape. Spring 2016
Benny Bird explores the darkroom while his mom fills up a five year old roll of film. April 2020

Ahhhhh, nothing quite like trying to load up a stubborn roll of film that has been sitting wound like a spring inside of a 60 year old camera for the past five years! That process took all of my patience and grace to finesse that cranky old roll into the take up reel for processing. But look! Sweet discovery. Baby Arlo in the photos above will be turning FIVE in two weeks. Time flies! I especially love the shot IDP snapped on his mama's old Brownie camera in our bathroom mirror on Home Street. Fresh faced lovers. Time to grow my hair out so I can braid it like that once more.

Brownie box camera / Tmax 400 (can you spy the imprint of the paper backing on the film? I can :)
Winnipeg and Morden, Manitoba 2015-2020

April 15, 2020

To the Waters and the Wild

Rebecca and her twelve week old daughter, Hooper. 
Hoop resting in mama's arms as mama looks on.
Lovely ladies.
Melissa and Esme, with Beetle in the background.
Brooke and baby Hooper as photographed by Brooke's five year old son Rhodes. Good catch!
Grant and the Beetle, photographed by Rhodes.
Benny and I with Brooke and Hooper, photographed by Rhodes.
Cousins in the tub at Granny and Grandpa Kroeker's house.
Ives and his mom Nikaela discuss his schoolwork. 
Beatty-Pet gang eating power-up PB balls on their back porch. Rebecca and her young, Evey, Atlas and Arlo.
Tony finesses the details as we prepare to capture the Tony Chestnut SS20 collection.
Lane takes in the space as we dip into the flow of the shoot. I love the sight of her dad's Magician's Hat on the floor, off to the left.

Here lies another roll of 35 HP4 400 run through IDP's Canon AE-1. The latter half of February to the first week in March. Below, a poem I come back to again and again.

The Stolen Child by W. B. Yeats - 1865-1939

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

April 14, 2020


Oh the joy of a new playground to explore under the warm sun!
Gus knows were all the best playgrounds are.
Happy to be reunited with my bud.
Boy runs free while dad reflects at a standstill. 
Happy as a goose in shit at Deer Lake.
Toothy grins for these vacationers.
Typical brother antics! Leo and Gus :)
Love this troupe of characters. Best hosts! 
Preschool commuters.
Wandering and observing the goings-on of East Van. 
Portrait with mom at Deep Cove.

Here are a few photographs captured during our quick trip to Vancouver to visit the Seftel clan back in February. This was the best decision we have made in a long, long time. Didn't realize how dearly we needed to get away as a family until we arrived in Vancouver and I felt the sun warm my cheeks. Benny blossomed like a flower in those five days. Kid needed some Vitamin D! We had a blast with Gus, Leo, Matt and Colette and were thrilled to visit some of their favourite places together.

IDP's Olympus sweet 16 cam / Delta 400
Vancouver, BC; February 2020