Photography

This week, I tried to throw Christine Hennebury a curve-ball in our ongoing game where I send her a photo and uses it for inspiration in a piece of flash fiction. Joke’s on me, as I think this is her best story yet. The last line totally left me wanting to know what happens next!

Christine and I are having so much fun with this, we want to invite you to play along too. Details below!

Photo by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

Patience

At first, I used to pretend I was doing something else. Enjoying the night air or whatever. Anything to get out on to the patio.

He never goes out back so he didn’t catch on, didn’t insist that everything outside be as ‘spic and span’ as he wants the inside of the house kept. I could just leave everything in a pile, a secret protest.

These days, I find he pisses me off so often that I can’t go through the pretense of a breath of fresh air. There’d hardly be time to get back inside before I headed out again.

So, now, I just keep my cigarettes tucked into a pink, plastic soap case in the planter outside our bathroom window. After that last soothing draw, I toss the butt down on to the patio and close the window.

You’d think he’d smell the smoke on me but I guess his lousy cologne has dulled his senses because he has never mentioned it. And I know he would mention it.

Another 384 days and the terms of our pre-nup are fulfilled.

For that kind of cash, I can outlast him.

You can read previous stories here:
Anticipation: A photo-story collaboration
The Plan: A photo-story collaboration

So, would you like to play, too? Christine gets one new photo a week, but I can send it to you, too, if you’d like to play along. We’re making up the rules as we go along. Post it on your own site or social media channels, send it to me and I’ll post it here, or you can post it in the comments – however you’d like to play along, but please link back to the original post here and Christine’s site. I think it would be super fun to see everyone’s different takes on the photo of the week. If you’d like to be included, leave a comment below and I’ll get in touch!


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Every year on or around the first weekend in April, the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers host an open house. I don’t remember how exactly we heard about Oliver’s Mapleworks in particular, but they met my planning criteria of a fun family day out that would likely be a little less crowded than some of the larger local maple producers like Wheelers and Fulton’s, and within an easy hour’s drive.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

We had THE BEST time! It was a decent day for a ramble in the countryside, not quite spring warm (so not muddy) but not as windy or unpleasant as it has been the past few weeks. (Sidebar: has anyone seen spring? Please release it to the wild so we can all enjoy it!) We were immediately greeted by a friendly woman who engaged us right away, taking us on a tour of the maple condenser and extractor, and the reverse osmosis unit they use to further concentrate and purify the sap.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

I think she said they had a couple thousand trees tapped in a sugar bush that has been producing maple syrup since the early 1800s. (You’ll forgive me for any errors in fact or egregious speculation. I wasn’t taking notes!) Most Canadians can tell you that sap becomes syrup by boiling it until most of the water evaporates, but I thought it was pretty cool that they can use a condenser to remove up to 2/3 of the water before the boiling process even begins.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

The tour itself was fascinating – turns I don’t know half as much about maple syrup production as I thought I did. And it seems like being a maple farmer is a LOT of work – she said on days when the sap is running, they get started around 10 am (when it warms up enough for the sap to start flowing) and often don’t finish until after midnight or later. Oliver’s is definitely a family operation, and our visit felt warm and friendly like a family-run business, too.

After our tour, we sampled maple syrup, maple butter and my favourite, maple sugar. Did you know that they’re all basically the same thing, just with increasing amounts of water removed? And further, we learned that all maple syrup has a sugar content of 67%. The variations in colour from light to dark come from the sap itself and can change based on the time in the season when it’s drawn.

Documentary photos of families day in the life by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

After raising our own blood sugar levels to what felt like 67%, and after a delicious lunch of maple sausages with maple mustard on a bun and, I kid you not, maple coffee, we had a fun wagon ride with the owner and proprietor of the farm, Dave Oliver, who further educated and entertained us.

Portraits of your family at play by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

But what’s a farm visit without animals? There were miniature ponies, goats, and bunnies to greet.

Portraits of your family at play by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

Oh, and did I mention the free range chickens and five day old peeping chicks?

Portraits of your family at play by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

This was seriously one of my favourite family outings this year. The Olivers and their employees and helpers were charming and welcoming, and answered my endless questions patiently. (Yes, I am still that curious nine year old with my hand in the air. Some things never change.) There are more than a dozen maple producers open to the public in Lanark County alone, but I’d have a hard time imagining any of them putting on a better family day out than Oliver’s Maple Works. It looks from their website that they’re open for visits but “please contact us by phone or email if you are planning to visit us so that we can make arrangements to greet you.” It’s a drive we’ll definitely make again!

If you go:
Oliver’s Maple Works
158 Lakewood Lane, Perth, Ontario K7H 3C7
Phone: 613-264-8612
Email: tree.mapleworks@gmail.com


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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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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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Photos of the day: Winter at the Long Island Locks

8 March 2018 Ottawa's hidden treasures

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 […]

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Family traditions documentary photos: Saturday afternoon at the park

7 January 2018 Mothership Photography

You know what’s really awesome about cold January days when the temperature is hovering near minus 40C? You look at your website and realize there are nearly half a dozen terrific photo sessions that you clean forgot to share on the blog! Let’s go back to late October. The air had just started to turn […]

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Happy 2018!

1 January 2018 Photo of the Day

I completely missed taking – let alone sharing – a Christmas photo of the family, or even posting a holiday greeting here on the blog. 2017 was just sort of like that, you know? But here we are in a brand new year, and it’s the coldest new year’s day ever in Ottawa, so we […]

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Photos of the day: The end of porch season 2017

7 November 2017 Mothership Photography

It has been a busy end-of-autumn run on the porch, so busy that I haven’t had time to blog about all the adorable kiddoes and their sweet families who came for portraits. Autumn is the craziest season for family portraits! It was still quite summer-like for fall when this little fellow came to the porch […]

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