52and39/43 Hunker Down

Autumn’s a time for appreciating contrasts.  I’ve been walking and running more mindfully than usual, it’s easy to do in this season of wet pavements, dry leaves, shadowy buildings and bright mid-morning skies.52and39

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The dog stops and waits for me to take photos or scratches his back on long grass or a tree trunk while I admire stuff.  One black dog’s goodness keeps the badness of another black dog from nipping my heels, I believe.

At home, the lamps and heating are on.  I wrap myself into hibernation mode, in Autumn.

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52and39/20 Kingfisher Karma

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Last year, around summertime, I fixed on the idea that 2014 would be my year to see a Kingfisher again.  Cheesy?  Maybe.

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I’ve only seen one once before, in childhood.  The rarity of the sighting was impressed upon me excitedly.

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In 2014, the memory of the Irn Bru glitter ball bird of tiny glory came back to me.

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I invented some whimsical folklore in my head that I’d see one again soon, thus meaning that the heavens would be aligned, the cosmos cleansed, and the laundry tamed, etc.

So, erm, 2015 for sure, right?

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52and39/14 Where The Land Meets The Sea

Portobello reminds me of going to Saltcoats with my Grandparents when I was wee.  It was an epic, stressful passage from East Kilbride.

Then…..  Sea.  Sand.  Chips.  Sun.  And the shows.

By all accounts Portobello’s changed a lot over the years.  Until the 70’s there was a heated outdoor pool.  Less appealing is the thought that just over a century ago there was a human zoo here, featuring 70 Somalians, shipped in for paying visitors’ amusement.

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I love noseying at life and homes, grabbing a take away coffee and beach wandering.

Anaesthetising

The beautiful images in this post are from a heart-warming collection called Domestic Series created by artist Leslie Graff.  The images I’ve used are featured with extremely kind permission from Leslie.  I’ve included info about where you can see more of Leslie’s stunning work beside the share buttons, at the end of this post.

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it’s a treat – image courtesy Leslie Graff

I love my camera. I love the photos I take, the moments captured that hold memories of things and feelings that might otherwise be forgotten.  I am an obsessive, unapologetic hoarder of photos.  I have thousands  – some ‘real’, most digital. I’ll never let them go. They are my time travel machine. They are evidence of smiles at times when my heart was heavy and records of scenes that we set and met along the way.

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the picture she took – image courtesy Leslie Graff

All that said, I’m a believer that some moments are killed by the urge to document them.  I’ve seen people distance themselves from other people and experiences by putting a camera between their participation and the action, like localised social and emotional anesthesia.  By giving themselves a job to do they don’t have to engage in the work of connecting.  As smartphones increasingly become hardwired into our behaviour, the balance may be tipping from the moments we’re capturing to the moments we don’t know we’re losing because we’re experiencing life mainly through the viewfinder.

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strawberry pie – image courtesy Leslie Graff

Some moments are not meant to be captured.  Some moments are just for the heart, for the time that they happen, like smoke from a blown out match.  Beauty and fascination can and should exist in a temporary state, too.  Sometimes it’s important to just be right there and to drink something in, deciding not to focus on the possibility that you’ll forget what you’ve seen and knowing that it’s OK if you do anyway.  Life’s tapestry is rich.  If we hold onto everything we deny space for surprises and spontaneity.  Sometimes it’s more important to hold someone’s gaze and give them and you a memory than it is to point and shoot.gallery series

I had a run in the Pentlands recently that was full of things I’d liked to have photographed.  A woodpecker checking out trees.  A distressed frog, crying out and being harassed by a crow.  An elderly lady, cheering me on and smiling loudly from her car, as if I were in the Olympics and she my coach. God, I loved her. An encounter with a young spaniel pup bursting with happiness at being allowed to say hello to my big, gentle Flat-Coat guy.  A cyclist wearing a Go-Pro on his helmet passed.  I realised I’d been documented smiling at him, saying hello, running with my dog, possibly uploaded on YouTube that night along with the rest of his ride, set to music and called a memory and an experience. Archived. Shared. Witnessed. Preserved. Uploaded to the cloud, as we all will be, some day.

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the sketchbook – image courtesy Leslie Graff

Later last week I walked through The Meadows and Marchmont with the dog.  Between the traffic and shouting from one builder to another I suddenly heard voices singing together, accompanied by simple piano music.  I didn’t know the song but it spilled over into the street, rising over the wall of the school yard, up to the highest tree branches and diffusing into the blue of the sky.

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what she read – image courtesy Leslie Graff

I stood and took my phone out, ready to capture the scene and the sounds.  I wanted to share the moment but could tell that all I’d record would be the traffic.  So I just stood and listened.  Children, safe in their school, hopefully safe in their childhoods, so close to the heart of the city, singing.  Them – not knowing if anyone was listening. Me – accepting that I couldn’t help anyone else to listen and wondering when that had become so important anyway.

Leslie Graff’s website is here.  There are 60 pieces in the Domestic Series collection. Together, they’re a wonderland of colour and a poignant exploration of home, family and feminine self.  Leslie’s work is also featured on Saatchi Art, here.  You can find Leslie on Instagram @lesliegraff and on Twitter @lesliegraffart.  If you value a great interview, I found this excellent one while researching Leslie’s work online.     

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52and39/5 Wild in the Aisles

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I’m walking, inspired by Cheryl of Wild movie fame.  In my version there’s vacuuming, friends, reading, writing, husband and kids.

So I go home for pit stops.

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I relate to resetting through walking, thinking and experiencing.  It’s cathartic, like I imagine shedding a skin feels – you, but new, too.

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It’s a very literal way of gaining perspective – zooming in and out of a setting.  Seeing the detail and the big picture.

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The light changed as the end of January lazily stretched out and beckoned February in.  I’m so glad.

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Want to know more about 52and39? Cool. Read it here.

52and39/4 A Tale of Two Cities

52and39When we decided we were moving to Edinburgh we heard a lot about how there are so many people and the city is so vast.

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I looked at maps, comparing Aberdeen and Edinburgh.  Not an awful lot in it, to my eye.

More people though? Yes.

So more stories, too.

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You get to know the tide-tables of the crowds.

Great coffee and cocktail spots get booked in advance. Phone ahead.

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Art galleries and museums are heaven when everyone else is Christmas shopping.

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The Pentlands during office hours are all yours.

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Want to know more about 52and39? Read it here.