This past week was a challenge. A challenge to the point in which I enlisted the aid of my brother to open my eyes to the oddities in the world around me. I was visiting family on the East-coast-USA, and had no idea how I would notice something I had not previously noticed in my surroundings – since I was dropped into whole new surroundings and so much of it was new. However, at the same time, I have previously spent a number of months living in that area and have already noticed much of what I would normally notice. It was then that my brother reminded me of a conversation we had earlier in the week – all of the houses seemed to have at least one or two (if not more) up-lights, shining onto the front of their homes. That is, they all had a number of lights shining upwards onto their homes, giving them a taller, more eerie, almost haunting, sense at night. This does not exclude my father’s home, as seen in the pictures. The single up-light, shining onto the front entrance, combines with the two porch lights to give the house a sense of being impossibly tall. Even as one stands at the end of the long, inclining driveway, the lower house is well-lit and fades into darkness as the eyes are drawn to wander upwards. This is the case with the vast majority of houses in the same area – brightly lit near the base, as the house seems to loom over the light source and fall into its own shadow. This reminds me of the effect achieved by holding a flashlight under your chin to give an eerie feeling as you begin to tell a ghost story around a camp fire.
Now, I cannot honestly see how this might tie in with my previous pictures. Generally, I am finding my picture are more nature-life-routine focused. This week I have been taken out of my regular routine and have come up with something seemingly unrelated to the rest of my posts. Although this realization cannot as easily be categorized along with the others, it does have a more “artistic” feel to it. It is more than simply realizing something that impacts my life or something that I have no noticed. It touches deeper into the intrinsic artistic value in seemingly senseless things. Why would anyone care to make their house seem taller? It is not simply for the purpose of having light that these lights are placed arbitrarily around homes. There is thought and design put into the placement. Even in something as simple as lighting the front walkway – there is art.
Rocks. This week on my way to the dance class I teach on Thursday nights I noticed a few large mounds just passed the parking lot. Since I was rather early on this particular day (a rare occurrence for me) I decided to further investigate the objects. They are four giant rock installations. As shown in the one picture, there was a smaller rock with a sort of plaque or information sign on it, however most of the writing has faded and is no longer legible. Now, I am not sure when exactly these stone pillar-type things were erected outside Winston Knoll Collegiate, though I could have sworn they were not there early in the week for my Tuesday-night dance classes.
I did not have much time to investigate – or take better pictures for that matter – though I did find a small explanation. As seen in one of the pictures, “This Climable Sculpture is designed for ages 5 to adult.” I would be interested to know more information about these structures, or why they were put up. I imagine it was some form of an arts initiative by the school; to create or showcase an interactive piece that could both incorporate the arts, and create a relaxing place for students to hang out. Now, I have never attended Knoll, nor do I frequent there during school hours, so I do not know what these rocks are used for. Though, I will admit that I cannot help but be reminded of an art installation used in one of my favourite novels The Fault in our Stars; when they visit a giant, horizontal skeleton sculpture, set up for children to use as a play structure.
Tuesday evening I returned home from a long day of work and school, upon entering the bathroom I noticed something did not quite seem right. Finally, I realized what it was – the big tree in the backyard was no longer the view outside the window. Instead, I could clearly see the power lines coming from the house, and the cloud filled sky as the sun was setting. Upon further investigation the next morning, the tree was in fact gone. Now, I was aware Tuesday morning that the city would be coming to cut down both this tree and a large pine tree in our front yard. However, I was not expecting these two trees missing from the landscape to affect me as much as it did.
As mentioned last week, this is the home that I have spent the better part of my life in. I am not saying that I was particularly attached to these trees – the one missing from these pictures was actually quite the safety hazard – but their presence was evidently more noticeable than I had thought. Now that they are gone, I notice the lack of small birds that are normally jumping to and fro outside the bathroom window. Later in the week, when we let my cat outside in the afternoon he wandered around the stump, wondering where his climbing tree had gone, even the squirrels have noticed the giant tree missing from the front yard. Come spring, I am certain our front yard will be infinitely less lively with the favourite perch of many robins having disappeared.
As I reflect on the disappearance of these trees, and how they might relate to any of my other realizations, I am noticing that there is not specifically one thing that I am drawn to notice each week – it if in fact quite a few different things. As previously mentioned, there is an aspect of time in many of my pictures – the sun-rise each morning, the leaves falling as the season progresses, even the time lived in my home. However, there is also an aspect of routine – the stairs that I descend every Wednesday after class, the place that I park every morning for work, the things I see in my house every day – that is being made clear throughout the weeks. Many of these pictures are taken in places where I spend a lot of my time, or at least see upwards of 4 times per week, and show how these places can change – after a number of years, weeks, days, or minutes. This goes to show that even in the mundane, every day things that have to be done, there is always something new going on. No day is exactly the same, even if all of the activities and places seem to be.
As I was sitting on my stairs this evening, avoiding homework that desperately needed to be done, I found myself staring blankly at the wall. It was then that I realized just how beat up and worn this wall actually was. There is a huge water spot near the top, from when the snow melted a number of years ago and flooded down the wall and into our basement. There are numerous large cracks in the foundation, testifying the age of this old house. The rather large hole in the drywall was caused by a box-spring falling down the stairs, and the evident patch jobs hiding other similar holes. All of these things, while flaws to any potential buyer (not that we are planning to sell this house), are what make this house my home.
I have lived the vast majority of my life in this house. Every little knick, hole, or dent being a testimony of the lives lived here. There are memories in these hallways and on the staircase where I was sitting when I took these pictures. Some days I would lay, precariously balanced, on the railing just to send that bit of adrenaline through my body; other days I would sit on the stairs and peer between the bars to watch whatever my mom was watching in the kitchen, because I was too lazy to walk down the last 5 stairs. Even to this day I occasionally have small panic attacks and compulsively run up the stairs, remembering the times my dad would chase me up the stairs as a child before bedtime. I am one of the fortunate few who have been able to stay in the same home for over 20 years. While yes, it might be nice to change the scenery and make new memories in other places, I am glad for the time I have had here and for the love, laughter, and tears that my family has shared in each room of this home.
Now I’m not sure about others’ experiences around the University, but as for myself I often find myself with some time to kill between classes and will occasionally think “I wonder if there is anything new and exciting in stock at the bookstore”. Between my own curiosity and the need for one last textbook I found myself wandering the bookstore once again this past Wednesday afternoon. This particular day I was returning from the washrooms somewhere in the hallway of College West, and walking into the bookstore, when I noticed peculiar signage on either side of the entrance. There they were, those oh-so-familiar stick people, depicting male and female and people in wheelchairs – notifying patrons of a bathroom entrance nearby. After walking half-way across the University to go to the washroom (okay, it was more like 100 metres) here I was standing face-to-metaphorical face with one just 5 metres from where I had started!
Having noticed them now, it is difficult for me not to notice them, just off to the sides of the entrance to the bookstore, whenever I happen to walk past. It is not that they are particularly out of the way, everyone who walks into the bookstore walks right past them, however I cannot help but think they go rather unnoticed. I think, perhaps, it is because often when you are going to the bookstore, looking for a bathroom is likely not in the forefront of your thought process. Generally you are going to the store with a specific purchase in mind, or even with the specific thought of browsing for something. The busyness of colours and sale signs distract an onlooker from potentially noticing the bathrooms. This is likely the reason for me acknowledging their existence Wednesday, I had just been in a bathroom and was not particularly set on the thought of shopping. Perhaps next week I will find a new set of washrooms, or maybe even a water fountain that was previously undiscovered, meanwhile I will begin using these unfrequented washrooms. If you did not realize these bathrooms existed prior to reading this post and you are female, please forget everything you have just read – it is my private bathroom (decided by me, as of this moment).
Now I realize that it is not uncommon to notice fallen leaves, especially this time of year. That being said, on my way home from class on at the University Monday night I could not help but stop and take a picture of this red leaf. It is not as though we do not have red leaves, they are as common as any yellow or orange, but this one just seemed to stand out in the middle of the pathway. Perhaps it was the way the lights on the staircase seemed to accent the leaf amid the darkness that drew my attention. Either way, I found myself stopping dead in my tracks to take a closer look – and a few photos.
There was a simple sort of demand for attention the way this leaf stood out from the rest. Although Fall is often associated with plants dying, weather cooling, and just general preparation for winter; this leaf seemed to have a peaceful sense of warmth about it. It was almost as though this fallen, dying piece of nature was placed there, ever so gently, to remind us of the beauty in Fall. Yes, it is often a dark and dismal time of year – where more days seem grey than sunny, and the weather encourages us to stay in bed all day with a warm beverage – but there is beauty woven into nature. Even beauty in those things that we know are dying and will soon fade away, such as this fallen red leaf.
This week (and for the rest of the semester) I was challenged to notice something I had not previously noticed before. Now it may take a moment for one’s eyes to figure what exactly it is that your eyes should be noticing in this picture, since it may immediately be drawn to the giant dark doorway into the bathroom. Instead, direct your gaze upwards from the doorway, ever so slightly, to the smaller dark stripe of the vent grate. In the middle of said grate, there are 3 to 4 white, cloth-like pieces sticking out from between slits – that’s right, they are dusty old dryer sheets. My question, left completely unanswered, is: why in the world are there dusty old dryer sheets stuck in the vent at this relatively expensive, high-class hotel?
Over the weekend my mother and I traveled to Saskatoon for a few days. These pictures were taken after getting our bags in the room we had booked. When as I sat down in bed to begin some homework, I laid backwards to relax in an attempt to procrastinate and lo-and-behold there they were. Upon noticing the dryer sheets I audibly asked, “Mom, why are there dryer sheets in the vent?” To which she, of course, had no reply or explanation. Perhaps these sheets were stuck there once to fresher the air that blew through the vent, however from the looks of them those sheets had seen fresher days. Plus, judging by the prices on their room service menu, this hotel seemed to be fairly pricey, supposedly well-run hotel, how could this slip past their diligent room cleaning? The biggest question I have is whether or not this was in fact an intentional and deliberate thing, or if by some unknown force (likely the air being pushed through the vents) these dryer sheets had been blown up, and lodged into, our rooms vent. There is much left in the dark about this observation, however I can honestly say I have never noticed anything quite like this in any hotel room before.