Japanese word for bicycle


bicycleOn this day
I was headed
to Kato Gallery
in Hiro-o
where Chihiro-san
would advise me
on the framing
of a new painting.

She was the first Japanese person
who reached outside herself
past the pin-point of courtesy
to welcome us

On my way
to the gallery,
I passed this young woman
elegant in black
sleeveless dress
and metallic sandals.
A brown paper bag
hung from her handlebars.
She saw me
and smiled.

A second warm welcome.

Kato Gallery is now gone
but our friendship
with Chihiro-san

The Japanese word for bicycle is jitensha.
It also means runner-up.
{I wonder if that is sometimes confusing.}

Love, Yokohama: Damien Pitter

Love, Yokohama is my photographic love letter to the city we have called home for the past three years. The concept is a simple one. Each week I’ll ask a student, colleague or friend to meet me at their favourite place in Yokohama… and I’ll take their photograph. These visual love letters will be posted each Friday.

Photographed on Friday, 12 September 2014
at his apartment in Yokohama

Living room



dee view{Photograph by Damien Pitter}

by Damien Pitter

It took me some time
to know the importance of
a real home overseas.
I moved to my first job
in three suitcases
from it in two.
Dorm living in a nicer apartment.
Living I thought of
as just-for-now.

I was never very attached to things.

It was Mexico’s folk art
milagros and calavera catrinas
that enchanted me to keeping
to creating a space more than temporary
a home worth
visiting like a gallery.

Our home now is present
with art
with colour and texture
and the warmth of imagination.
Each is a mood
a story a
Our home is filled with
the places we have been, the
selves we were then
and then.

It is no longer a life that fits in two suitcases.

And yet a thing is still just a thing.

I don’t need these things
but I like them.
They are anchors that make stillness worthwhile,
that carve out small borders
a land of our own
and make it easier
to stay a while longer.


Damien Pitter

lambs-wool hair,
brown corduroys
and tevas.

jamaican jerk chicken
meets poutine and guy lafleur
in ottawa
then owen sound.

georgian bay,
the blue,
the big of it,
that’s still his water.

a casual guy
not that interested
in persuading others.

imagine him
in a yellow raincoat
on a wooden deck
on a lake somewhere in ontario
watching stars.

he points at the dock.
“join me.”

i wonder
at the wonder of him
sometimes i wonder
when people don’t get
the wicked smartness of him
+ all he can do.
that’s a weakness in them.
a sad failure
of observation.

{everyone should feel
this way
about their partner.}

his photographs
amble by
blurry, punch-drunk
on the world.

his writing
revels in gorgeous specificity.
pointillism with words.
a garden party of secrets whispered by a woman with a red parasol.

he is

already an old wise man
at 20.
now growing backwards.
at 80
he’ll ride a motorcycle
punctuate his sentences
with swear words
and lead a revolution.

it’s possible.


You can see more photographs of Damien and his home on my Instagram feed here.

Check out Damien’s photography and writing at The Puddlewonder Press.

Barn Shirt


We were headed out
for a birthday celebration.

He appeared in the kitchen
wearing a white cotton shirt
with gold threads
running through
like memories.

Stalks of straw
on a white hot day
in August.

His wife shook her head.
“That’s a barn shirt.”

Then, to me,
“Now that he is old,
he doesn’t seem to be able
to tell the difference
between a good shirt
and a work shirt.”

I think
he doesn’t care.

I think
he never did.

Portals + Possibilities


Everywhere we’ve lived is beautiful in its own way.

Yokohama is farther north than people think. I often walk home from work in the twilight or darkness along a small road that runs parallel to a cemetery.

Just past the cemetery there is a triangle formed by trees. A triangle of beauty. A portal.

When I pass through this place, I believe that anything is possible.

That’s how I feel about the Geography of Now.

We begin our six-week journey of noticing + gratitude through photography + writing on Monday 15 September.

Join us here.

Love, Yokohama: Alec Whiting

Love, Yokohama is my photographic love letter to the city we have called home for the past three years. The concept is a simple one. Each week I’ll ask a student, colleague or friend to meet me at their favourite place in Yokohama… and I’ll take their photograph. These visual love letters will be posted each Friday.

Photographed on Friday 29 August 2014
at the Auditorium of Yokohama International School, Yokohama

Alec 1


We had originally chosen a spot near the harbour front but the day came and counseling duties took over so we needed to rebook. I thought the place I’d really like to photograph Alec was in our Auditorium on his very last day at our school. He agreed.

“Bring your mandolin, Alec.”

The boys had opened the shutters in the Auditorium and the light poured in through the windows and bounced off the wooden floors creating a golden glow. Our shoot became an impropmtu concert for an audience of one woman with an iPhone as Alec played the mandolin and his friend Anton Bryan, played guitar.

In this Auditorium, on the second floor of the school’s Early Learning Centre, YIS hosts assemblies, art exhibitions, plays and student-led concerts. Alec and Anton and many of our students have come of age on this well-waxed floor and on temporary stages built by students. Singing, rapping, dancing their dreams into reality.

After the shoot, Alec performs in his final Back to School concert, an event he has organized. Alec and a group of seven other students play Wake Up by Arcade Fire. The number is epic. The Auditorium shines.


Alec Whiting
Musician singer composer ground-breaker,
he may not have been born
with a mandolin in his hand
but it seems that way now.
Fierce and fearless
in his pursuit
of amazing
there is
not a thing
he cannot do.

California godspeed, Alec.

You can see more photographs of Alec on my Instagram feed here.

Extra Lollipops

extra lollipops 2

The movie didn’t start till ten
so we scanned the massive mall
of concrete block stores
for a place to eat.


and seated
by super-cool
teenage boy wearing the required shirt,
red plaid,
and a pair of jeans
just one small movement from falling off his hips.
The very least-Calgary boy,
a misplaced surfer
or skater.
Possibly a poet.

We read the menu,
fought the steak or salad battle
(they have excellent salads),
placed our order from a young man
with less hair,
and jeans not in peril
of dramatic self-liberation.

With crayons, we drew
on the brown wrapping paper
that covered our table.
Ordered a margarita
that arrived
with a parade of salt around the rim.

Little girl wandered into the kitchen.
The waiter bent down,
kindly asked,
“Are you looking for the washroom?”
Her father picked her up.
“She’s looking for food.”
A whoop of laughter
was launched
from the table behind us.
I turned.
A woman mouthed,
“We’ve been waiting for an hour.”
I looked around
but she was addressing me.

We continued to talk and draw and drink.
The people at the next table
shared with the waiter
their loud tales of woe.

A second complaint.

Then a third.

A poster in the Women’s bathroom
advertised four different jobs
in the restaurant.
It’s hard to get people
in Calgary
to work for minimum wage
when a small house
costs half a million.

Their meal arrived
with another apology from the waiter.

When the cheque was requested
the meal was comped.

when we asked for our bill
the waiter said,
“I really appreciate your patience
as we all help out
in the kitchen.
I’m just a server
so I can’t give you a free meal
but I brought you extra lollipops.”

I want to remember
to be happy
with extra lollipops.