Saturday, September 27, 2014

100 Strangers: One to Ten

Last year I decided I wanted to do something called the One Hundred Strangers project.  I stumbled across it on the Flickr website.  They suggested it as a way to help improve your portrait taking skills.  By October 2013 there were more than 9,000 members on the project and over 40,000 photographs posted.  I'm sure it's well beyond that now.  The only real "rule" is that you must have the permission of the subject.

The first two photos here were taken last year and the rest were captured over the past six weeks.  I've decided to post mine on my blog - mostly because the ones on Flickr are amazing and I've got a lot to learn.  I'm going to include photos that you might not consider "portraits" since some will have more than one person.  I am going to keep the rule of having to have the permission of the subjects.  So far I've met some very interesting people who've taught me a few things, both practical and philosophical.   I've also learned I should keep a pen and paper handy to write down people's names.


 Scout and family

 Donna and Roberta

 Nolan in big brother Blake's coveralls

Phil's bike 

Phil is a self described "high class bum".  Almost every time I head home from running errands I see him sitting beside his scooter on the side of the road, sipping from his travel mug.   I wave, he waves back and I wonder about his life.

I had my camera with me the other day and decided to satisfy my curiosity and perhaps get another photo for my 100 strangers.  When I approached him, Phil said he didn't like cameras and didn't want me taking his photo.  That was fine with me because my main goal was to learn more about him.  We chatted for a while and then he asked me about my camera.  When I explained myself, he said I could take a photo of his bike.

Phil told me that he lives comfortably,  has everything he needs. and gives to those less fortunate.  He scoffed at the big "gas guzzling monsters" driving past us and said when people find their circumstances improving they shouldn't "change their way of living, they should change their way of giving."  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Oxford Roots

While spending time in the Far East (of Canada) with my father, I was able to wander through downtown Oxford.  It's a very small town in the northwest arm of Nova Scotia with a population of about 1,100 people.  This is where my parents were living when I was born Springhill, Nova Scotia the place with the closest hospital.

If you've purchased wild frozen blueberries from the grocery store, it's likely you've eaten blueberries grown in the Oxford area, or if not Oxford, from one of the many areas that provides wild blueberries to  Oxford Frozen Foods.  

Oxford Town Hall.  There is faint carving in the stone above the 
windows that reads "The Wild Blueberry and Maple Centre"

This building  was once the local hardware store owned by my 
Grandfather Wood.  My Dad and his family lived upstairs.

There used to be a balcony on this corner of the building.  In his 
childhood my Dad slept there on hot summer nights.

Now the hardware store is an antique store.  
It was closed when I was there, open by appointment.  

The local newspaper, The Oxford Journal, is one of the last remaining privately owned newspapers in the country.  The Marchant family has owned the paper for more than 100 years and Paul Marchant, son of my Dad's cousin Glenn, is the fourth generation of Marchants to run it.  Update:  Six months after I wrote this post, the Oxford Journal printed it's last paper.  Here's a link with a little more info. Many are hoping it may make an online appearance.

The homes in Oxford vary from flat roofed, Maritime saltbox houses, to Victorian style homes with big porches and gingerbread accents.

This lovely building, now the MacDiarmid's Funeral, home once belonged to the family of my Dad's  childhood friend Tom.  The McDiarmid's have preserved much of the interior and kept the flavour of the decor in the areas they renovated, with beautiful wood panelling and elegant moulding and light fixtures.  My father remembers a call button on the floor beneath the dining room table. Tom's mom would press it with her foot when she was ready for the housekeeper to serve them dinner.  Mr. MacDairmid tells me it was removed when they renovated.

While we were visiting we interred my mother's ashes in the Wood family plot.  It was a real education to walk through cemetery and see visual proof that our family has been in Canada for eight generations (counting my children).  I felt like I was on an episode of "Who do you think you are?"


This marker honours my great, great, great grandfather Valentine Wood, born February 14, 1809. His father William was the first of the Wood side of my family to come to Canada in the late 1700's - though I guess it wasn't Canada at that point.  His wife Jane is also honoured on the marker as well as their son George (the 10th of 12 children), who died at the age of twenty seven.