March 2018

Last week, I introduced a new game that my friend and fellow blogger Christine Hennebury have been playing. I take a picture and send it to her, and she takes it as inspiration for a piece of flash fiction. I love this photo on its own, because it was random and unposed and real, and some day I’ll miss the days when I look up to see a cardboard box running past. Her story makes it that much more perfect, don’t you think?

Photograph of a child running in a cardboard box

Anticipation

I know I probably shouldn’t but I keep ordering them online.

It’s the anticipation that gets me.

First I never know when my shipment will arrive, that depends on the incubation time, I think. Then, you never know when they will hatch. So you end up just watching the top of that cardboard cube like the miracle within will emerge any second.

Of course, if I want to meet the hatchling, I have to follow the instructions to the letter –

1) Remove the packing tape from the box but do not open the flaps.

2) Leave the box in a warm place – sunlight is ideal but near a heater is fine.

3) Drop chocolate and fruit in through the feeding chute every second day – they like oranges and Lindt bars best.

4) Sing or tell stories nearby daily and use a soft voice – that’s so the little one feels connected to you.

5) Leave a plate of chocolate on your kitchen counter – that helps draw the little one out once they’re ready.

Then, I wait and I wonder.

When will they hatch? What adorable ‘grow-with-me’ clothes will they be wearing? What snack will draw them out?

I ache from wanting to open the box early but I know these things have to happen in their own time.

I wait and wait, and sooner or later, I hear that strange snapping sound of the box-top opening and the slap-slap of those bare feet on my wooden floors.

That’s when I run forward, my heart thumping with joy as I watch my hatchling take their first steps toward the kitchen.

It’s just precious, the way they always burst out feet-first and head right for the snacks – their little heads still stuck in their hatching-boxes. It brings tears when I think of it.

Parenting joy is like no other happiness.

If you’d like to read more of Christine’s writing, visit her site. Stay tuned for another new photo and another new story next week!


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Once upon a time there were two bloggers, who were also mamas, and who both liked to tell stories. They found each other in the big wide blogosphere, which was really not so big in the mid-2000s. One blogger felt the pull of words, and she became a writer. One blogger felt the pull of photos, and she became a photographer. Both loved, above all things, to tell stories.

Several years went by, and they each appreciated the other’s craft. And then, one day, like a bolt out of the blue, they realized that there was much fun to be had and maybe some mischief to be found and definitely some stories to be told if they were to come together and collaborate. And here we are!

Welcome to our new project, which needs an appropriately pretentious but as-yet unrevealed title. The game is simple. I supply a photo that holds the potential for a story, and the inimitable Christine creates a piece of flash fiction inspired by the photo. Ready? Let’s begin!

A photography game by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

The Plan

Lying in the forest of legs, I tried to look relaxed. I was playing the part of a stuffed animal and I was determined to pull it off.

I mean, I *am* a stuffed animal, so I already have the right look. I just have to pretend that I am just a stuffed animal, that this adorable face hides only a pile of fluff instead of a magnificent brain.

My client wanted the blueprints for their rival’s new office building so she could wire surveillance equipment in during construction. Her attempts to hack into their cloud had been unsuccessful, so a more hands-on method was needed.

Their company retreat at this downtown hotel provided the perfect opportunity. The CEO always brought her husband and daughter on retreats so they could turn them into a family getaway.

The plan was to ‘lose’ me at the retreat so the only kid there, her daughter, would find me and bring me back to their room. Once I was alone, I would grab the jump drive with the blueprints on it, conceal it in my stuffing, and then wait for my opportunity to escape.

It was a flawless plan that hinged on my acting ability. I relaxed every inch of my fur and thought about listening to my client explain the plan again. My eyes glazed over with boredom.

I was ready.

Fun, heh? If you’d like to read more of Christine’s writing, visit her site. Stay tuned for another new photo and another new story next week!


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Spoiler Alert

by DaniGirl on March 23, 2018 · 1 comment

in Ah, me boys, Mothering without a licence

We’re standing in WalMart, of all places. I don’t even like WalMart and almost never shop there. But we’re in WalMart and we’ve just walked past several rows of pastel-coloured Easter goodies, and it twinges something I’ve been thinking about.

“Hey Lucas,” I begin, leaning down to be closer to his 10 year old ear. I don’t have to lean far. When did he get to be as tall as my shoulder anyway?

“Lucas, um, I was wondering, do you know…” I stall. Maybe I’m happier not having this conversation. But he’s watching me now, as we continue on to the back of the store.

“Well, I was wondering. You, uh, you know that there’s not actually a giant rabbit who comes into the house and hides the Easter candies and the eggs, right? I mean, you know who it is, right?” I blurt in a rush of words, still not convinced I want to have this conversation after all. What if I’ve misread him? What if I’ve just ruined this for him? Why exactly did I start this conversation?

Lucas is not, to my relief, devastated. “Yup,” he confirms, casually shattering our shared delusion. “It’s Granny!” Each year, my mother spends hours hiding treats around her place for the boys, and making up lists of clues for them to follow. Before I can clarify, he continues. “And I know that you and Dad are Santa Claus, too. I heard you filling the stockings.”

I can only nod, a lump of mingled relief and regret swelling in my throat.

So I guess that’s that. I mean, we were never very insistent on the whole Easter Bunny thing, but Santa has been a different story. The older boys have always been careful to never explicitly confirm or deny believing in Santa Claus, and I avoided asking them about it, lest I open Pandora’s box for Christmas.

It’s easier now that we can be open about hiding the candy and eggs, of course. I can even solicit the boys to help stuff the plastic eggs full of jelly beans and marshmallow bunnies after we paint our colourful eggs. And Christmas Day will be much more pleasant if I haven’t stayed up until all hours on Christmas Eve, trying to outlast them so I can fill their stockings on Santa’s behalf.

It’s the end of a thing, though. Another of the thousand little changes that mean that they’re growing up. It will be easier, but it will be harder, too. Easter candy this year is a little bit bittersweet.

Family photos by Mothership Photography


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Taking photographs at family events is always a treat, but for once-in-a-lifetime events, it can be a little stressful, too. This week I was honoured to be asked to document the Brit Milah (Bris) of twin baby boys!

Brit Milah

I was a little nervous about making sure I got the key elements of the ceremony, but having photographed a baptism and a bat mitzvah as well as a few weddings now, I knew I’d be mostly good if I kept my head up and my hands steady. A story is a story, and I do love to tell a story in photographs. (A bit of research on Google ahead of time helped me know what to expect, as well.)

It was a warm, lovely ceremony – times two!

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Two proud big brothers and a big sister helped to welcome these new babies into the world. This big brother is clearly taking his responsibilities with baby brother seriously!

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Mothership Photography

There were lots of friends and family nearby to help celebrate. Lots of amateur photographers, too! 😉

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Mothership Photography

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Mothership Photography

Even as an experienced mom of three, I was in awe of how easily this busy Mama tucked two babies into her wrap and got on with her business, arms free and a beautiful smile on her face.

Brit Milah by Ottawa family photographer Mothership Photography

I won’t pretend to know which baby is which, but hello Koby and Jonah!

Brit Milah by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

Brit Milah by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

Mazel tov, beautiful boys!


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Photo of the day: Dish pan hands

by DaniGirl on March 16, 2018 · 0 comments

in Lucas, Photo of the Day

We had a dishwasher catastrophe this week. I’d just started a cycle when I looked over to see thick, angry black smoke pouring out of the electrical panel on our GE dishwasher. It’s only six or seven years old, but it has been doing a mediocre job on and off for a while anyway, and I just couldn’t imagine ever trusting it again after spending hours agonizing over the “what ifs” — thinking of all those times you load up the dishwasher and start it up and fly out the door. Long story short, a new one has been ordered and will be delivered soon. I scored a pretty good deal, too, so I suppose the story has a moderately happy ending, except for the giant expenditure that was not in our March Break forecast.

In the interim, someone had to step up and clean the dishes. Lucky for me, Lucas happily volunteered.

Dishes

This was my job when I was about ten years old, too. We didn’t get our first dishwasher until I was 12 or so. I instructed Lucas just like my mom instructed me: glasses first, then plates and bowls, then pots and pans and utensils. Mind you, I didn’t have to worry about dropping plates or glasses into an extra deep ceramic farmhouse sink. We are clumsy folk, after all. I try not to hover, and trust that he won’t drop anything. It’s a work in progress, this growing up thing.


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Hi! Remember me? I used to post stuff on this blog. I’m back!

If nothing else, sharing photos of my favourite Ottawa places keeps drawing me back to the blog. You know how much I love the Manotick Mill, right? But I almost forget sometimes that Manotick has another gem of a location hiding in plain sight, the Long Island Locks. I spent a blissful couple of hours poking around this morning in peaceful solitude of a late-winter snow flurry.

Lockmaster's house at Long Island Locks, Manotick

There’s a lot of history in this shot. The house you see is the lockmaster’s house, built in 1915 and currently occupied by Parks Canada. The arch dam you see sweeping toward you in the lower right corner is the stone arch dam, built and virtually unchanged since 1830, during the construction of the Rideau Canal. The locks themselves were also built around that time, under the supervision of Colonel By. At one time, a small village called Long Island Village flourished here, but it disappeared in the late 1860s and 1870s when Moss Kent Dickinson built his grist mill up river and began buying up lots on the west channel of the Rideau, establishing the village of Manotick. Andrew King wrote a great blog post last year about the lost village of Long Island.

The locks are still cranked manually - Long Island Locks, Manotick

Like all the locks in the Rideau Canal system, the giant wooden doors that manage the water flow through the locks are still cranked by hand. As I crept around and down the locks on this snowy morning, I held one thought clearly in my head: “Do NOT fall in. Whatever you do – do NOT fall in!”

It’s a long way down.

Big door, Long Island Locks, Manotick

I took about 30 variations on these photos picture. I loved the ladders, the cranks, and the big-ass doors, to say nothing of the various textures. These two are keepers, I think. (Wouldn’t some of these make nice wall art? That’s what I was setting out to make as I was looking around.)

Locks and textures, Manotick

Long Island Locks, Manotick

I like how this one is sort of abstract. It could be a macro shot a couple inches across, or it could be the ice shelf off Greenland. I like how the snowflakes sort of hint at stars, giving it an otherworldly vibe.

At the water's edge

So while I don’t love snow in March, and I am pretty much done with winter, it is still lovely to know that a little fresh snow can turn something familiar into something quite beautiful. And I didn’t even get a good photo of the 115 year old swing bridge, or the weir that attaches Nicholl’s Island to Long Island.

It also reminded me what an awesome location this would be for family portraits. The snow won’t last forever – I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking ahead. Who wants to do outdoor portraits at the Locks this year? You know where to find me!


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