Monday, March 30, 2009

cat love

I've had a few fellow bloggers gently remind me that I do live in a two animal household. Elora does not get quite the coverage that Sophie does...but she does hold a special place in my heart. I previously wrote about dog love...and thought I would pause for a moment to consider cat love.

My very best friend in the world also owns a cat and a dog. We have spent some time talking about how different and valuable each connection is....about how we know that we will always have a dog in our lives and we know that we will always have a cat.

Cat love is quiet love. Elora is like that old friend you have known for years, whose friendship is carved into the very foundation of your soul. That friend who you can call after a month has past and the two of you can easily slip into conversation as if you had just spoken yesterday. She bears no grudges, she is constant and steady and she brings comfort to your life.

Elora's love is a heartbeat. It is the love of an old friend.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

sunday stills - landscapes

This week's Sunday Stills challenge was landscapes. It's a pretty bleak time of year to be searching for beautiful landscapes, but then I remembered the Cheltenham Badlands and took a road trip up there yesterday to see if I could capture some red rock and early morning sunshine.

"The Cheltenham Badlands are a bizarre geographical spectacle that lie hidden in the Caledon Hills. 'Badlands' is a geological term for an area of soft rock devoid of vegetation and soil cover that has become molded over time into softly undulating hills and gullies."

"The reddish hue of the Queenston Shale is caused by iron oxide, while narrow greenish bands show where circulating ground water has transformed the rock from red to green iron oxide. This distinctive geological phenomena is extremely rare in Ontario, and the Cheltenham Badlands are one of the best examples in the province."

I plan to return this summer when there is more green (for a great contrast with the red) and maybe try shooting late in the day, rather than early. A great challenge this week!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

stories of hope

The response to my article that ran in the Toronto Star has been amazing. I've been interviewed on a few radio shows this week; have been asked to appear as a public speaker and a lot of interest has been generated for The Charlie Project. All of those things are wonderful...but what has made the biggest impact on me were the numerous emails that I received. Strangers reaching out who were in some way touched by what I wrote. Strangers who felt a kinship with me and wanted to share their stories. Strangers who took the time to write a note to say thank you. And it truly made my heart soar.

Each email told a very different story, but they were all stories of searching for joy, of dog love, and of never giving up hope. And in a time when so many people are suffering all kinds of losses, to feel that force of hope from those see how the human spirit continues to rise up and moved me like nothing in this world has before. So, to all those kind people who emailed me, or left their story as a comment on this blog...thank you. I will carry your stories and your inspirational words with me forever.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

dog love

I've been asked a lot, these last few days, about dog love. I don't have a psychology degree nor a background in animal behavior....all I can write about is what I know about myself and my own experience with Sophie.

I think human love is complicated. And it should be...we are complicated creatures. It is wrapped up in the complexity of words, of innuendos, of relationship politics and of expectations. When two people manage to come through all of that with one another and find real love, there is no force like it in the world.

Dog love is different. It is love in it's simplest state. There are no words, no simply just feel it. I do not think it can replace human love...but that doesn't diminish what Sophie means to me. Having both kinds of love in my life has made my world richer. Each gives me something unique, each feeds a different part of my soul.

It's a wonderful thing to see the affect of dog love on people. To see a child's face light up at the sight of a favorite furry friend. To see a hand give a gentle touch of adoration. I see so much more of it now from behind my camera....glimpses of this power that transcends the differences between species and simply just is. Glimpses of dog love.

P.S. Visit Casey over at the Charlie Project. He was hit by a car and left alone on the side of the road. The vets at Guelph called him the Wonderdog, as they did not expect him to recover. His little personality was bigger than life. A pleasure to photograph.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

sunday stills - lines

This week's Sunday Stills challenge is lines. I've attempted something a bit capture the lines that I think Sophie sees on parts of an agility course....and to capture her thoughts about those lines. Would love to hear if you think I made it work or not.

ascent; muscles pushing against the pull of earth, charging towards the peak...

leaping over the apex; legs and body extended in flight....

pounding descent; decisive steps towards earth...

not lines of poles, but spaces between; an s-curve of left and right...

quick steps up; long groves and edges in parallel...

straight and narrow path stretching into the distance; a finish line.

our print debut - the link

Here is the link for our article running today. They didn't include the picture of Sophie and I online that they used in the print edition....but the entire article is there. :)


PS....My Sunday Stills challenge will be up later this morning as well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

our print debut!

For all of my blogger friends who live in the Ontario area, Sophie and I will be in tomorrow's (March 22nd) Sunday Toronto Star newspaper. Last I was told, our story will actually begin on the front page! If you have a chance, and are so inclined, we hope you pick up a copy to read about a part of our journey together that I have not shared a lot about on this site.

For all of my blogger friends around the world, I believe the story will also be online, so I will post a link once I have it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

one hundred

This is my one hundredth post on Finding Sirius. I've been trying to write this entry for the last hour. I wanted to write something meaningful and poignant about one hundred posts.

But if I were to strip it down to the bare bones...if I were to get right to the heart of the center of one hundred posts is the love of a dog. Just as simple that.

And it does not get more meaningful nor more poignant than that.

So here's to one hundred, Sophie....I may have written the words, but you were the inspiration

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

lessons - five

Sometimes you just gotta leap, just for the thrill of it...

...even if you don't know what's on the other side.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a special fellow

There is a special fellow featured on The Charlie Project today. There was something about this particular, well-loved, old dog…something about his connection with his owner, a connection that had been built over many years of friendship and of fighting his cancer together; something about them taking in the sunshine together on a warm Sunday in March, smiling and content yet both seemingly knowing that this would be his last spring …that made him especially moving to photograph.

Pay Fumble a visit...he will touch your heart.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

sunday stills - water

This week's Sunday Stills challenge was water. I decided to take a trip through the water can be captured in so many different ways throughout the year....

drops of spring rain...

...rushing autumn rivers...

...frozen winter waterfalls...

and a summer water dog.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

my sister

Something a bit different for Finding Sirius....a short post about my sister. A sister who has always encouraged me in my writing and now in my photography, who has always supported me...who has always laughed with me. The photo is from her wedding day....the words from part of the speech I gave on that fabulous day....

This story of sisters is best told through the clothes…

In November of 1978, I handed her a pink and white blanket that had been knitted for me when I was a just a baby. She was just days old and I looked at her, with all the love and wonder of a 5 year old and thought: That’s my sister.

In April of 1983, I handed her my dad’s old jean jacket and a baseball cap as part of a costume for a play we were putting on for our parents. I, of course, was writer, director and starring lead of these masterpieces, she was the pliable and willing supporting cast and our brother, a much less willing participant, ended up in the non-speaking, inanimate roles of gray rock in forest or Easter egg.

In October of 1989, I handed her a sequined adorned top for a punk rocker Halloween costume I was helping her with. She was going trick or treating and, at the time, it didn’t occur to me that it might be strange that many of the accessories and clothing items that I was wearing out and about everyday were considered appropriate items for a Halloween costume…but then again…it was the 80’s.

In May of 1992, I handed her a jersey as the coach of her soccer team. It was wonderful to see her develop a love of the sport that both my brother and I shared with our father, who in turn had shared with his.

In May of 2000, I once again handed her a soccer jersey…this time as a team mate. We played on a woman’s team together and I can’t recall for sure, but I believe we lost every single game that year. What I do remember with startling clarity from that season was driving to the games together with the music cranked as we belted out the lyrics; I remember laughing at half time as we feasted on summer sweet oranges and I remember how much fun I had, win or lose, just playing together.

In August of 2002, I handed her a striped sweater from the Gap as she packed…it was mine, but looked better on her and she loved it. She was moving to another province for 3 years and it would be the first time we had ever lived more than an hour or so apart. And I knew I would miss her ever so much more than I would that sweater.

And in March of 2008 I handed her a dress. It was ivory…and elegant and beautiful. And when she came out of that dressing room and I saw her for the first time in the very dress she is wearing today…our timeline of memories, fabrics and carefully woven threads danced across the space between us and I caught hazy glimpses of her at the age of 5 again, at 15 again, at 25. And I looked at her, with all of the same love and wonder of 30 years before, and thought to myself: That’s my sister.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


A good friend recently told me that I am forever the optimist. It was a lovely compliment...and I think that more often than not it's true. But I will have a day like today...when the gray skies and the rain seem to go on forever; when the newspaper headlines scream out at me about joblessness and the continuing decline of the economy; when I feel overwhelmed at work and aching for a vacation that I just can't take....and I can feel my optimism tugging to be let go. And while it would be easier to let it float away, carried off by these forces that are out of my control, I instead I dig in my heels and hold on...

I hold on by seeing something beautiful each day.

I hold on by warming myself with thoughts of the amazing friends and family I have in my life.

I hold on by creating every writing, by falling in love with photography.

And I hold on with the love of one great dog....a dog who reminds me, with her capacity for joy, what a wonderful and magical world I live in.

And those are things that the rain can't wash away, that the media can't twist around with fear, that the sinking dollar can't drag down, that a heavy workload can't bury. Those are the things that lift me up...everyday.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

sunday stills - self portraits

This week's Sunday Stills Challenge was self-portraits. I, like most of my Sunday Stills challenge friends, prefer to be on the other side of the camera....however, for Ed we seem to be willing to make an exception. These were taken with my tripod. I had to include Sophie because when I think of the word "self" the definition is not complete without her.

Dancing with my girl....

I know this last one is too blurry to be a good photo....but I am including because I wish SO much that it had turned out better as it would be my favorite picture of Sophie and I. When I look at it, I can really see us.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

the news

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I had some good news to share. That I took a small step towards a dream of mine. And that news is this: I am writing a two part feature article that will run in the Toronto Star (a key daily paper here) later this month! My very first real freelance work...and I am over the moon. Writing has become such an important part of my life and my dream is to be able to earn a living doing it one day....I see this as a tiny step in the right direction. And my story, of course, is about Sophie and I.

This was the opening of my proposal that I submitted to the newspaper:

Sometimes, while walking on the path you’ve planned for yourself in this world, something knocks you down. Knocks you down hard and you don’t know how you will ever get back up. Sometimes you do get up, brush yourself off and find your way back onto your path. And sometimes…you follow a dog instead and find true joy.

I look forward to sharing the story with you when it runs. :)

P.S. Check out the three new dogs featured on The Charlie Project site.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

lessons - four

It is the simple with a good friend, a great book,
whistling the theme to the Muppets....a found torn n' tattered ball....

...that truly make your heart smile.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

something new

Sophie and I have started a new little side project. It is something we have been thinking about for opportunity to make some people smile, share some joy in these challenging times. Our hope is that this is just the beginning....

...the beginning of The Charlie Project.

We hope you visit and let us know what you think. :)

sunday stills - motion

This week's Sunday Stills challenge was motion. Now, I know everyone will be expecting a few Sophie photos for this category, but I've used a lot of motion shots of Sophie on this blog already, so I opted for something a little different....something from my archives that has stuck with me.

These were chickadees that we found during a hike back in January. I'm not sure if they are good photos (technically speaking)....but I ended up loving the effect of their blurred wings....

...their tiny, soft feathers stretched wide to lift them up and soar.

And one token Sophie pic for all of her fans... :)