Pics from Pride

I debated with myself if I should attend Pride this year. I wasn’t too worried that it was outdoors but I know it can get crowded and public transit can also get crowded. I figured my chances of getting good pictures from the parade were limited but if I went early perhaps I could get some decent shots of people.

In the end, I went a bit early, took some pictures, found a spot behind a gay couple to take some pictures. One of men kept checking on me to see if I was able to see ok and offered his shoulder to rest my lens. I wore my mask on and had lots of sunscreen. I left early when it got too crowded. I kept getting jostled and it was also hard to get a decent shot. So I walked around a bit before leaving.

  1. Most people associate the parade with guys in skimpy outfits, loud music, colourful costumes and floats from various companies and organizations. But there are alsof many people from health care organizations who are there to support the community.

2. There was a small lineup of people wanting to have their pictures taken with this person. It was in front of a major insurance company and there was a photographer there. I tried to stay out of the way and got a couple of shots without the people. I included the balloons to give it some context.

3. She (I don’t know what pronouns this person is using) was posing for a couple of other photographers and graciously turned to face me for a couple of shots. I thanked her afterwards. I believe this is Filipiniana dress (Philippines).

4. I just pointed my camera at this guy and he paused for a couple of pictures. I think most people in costumes expect to be stopped. I told him he looked great and thanked him. There’s no way I could have worn those boots without spraining my ankles.

5. I loved the big, yellow hat. It was a bit tricky editing this because the face was in the shadows. I used a radial filter to bring out the shadows.

6. He couldn’t stop smiling and I succumbed to his seductive beauty.

7. As I was leaving, I saw a bunch of people on the scaffolding. I’m sure it’s not meant for them to climb up – the building is undergoing demolition. Every so often I would hear a loud metallic cracking sound.

I wanted to get a shot of the billboard and the sign on the building along with the rainbow flags. I chose this shot and only noticed the rainbow flag had some corporate logo from a brewery. These parades started as protest movements and we should remember that.

From a photography point of view, it wasn’t bad. Some of the shots weren’t sharp and I don’t know if I moved a button or a setting. I’ll have to double check them later. I did recognize a few local photojournalists and photographers who were given accreditation to walk the route. I still have a long way to go before I can get there but it’s a nice goal to set.

Writing a Bit At a Time

I’ve been having this recurring dream. But I would forget what it was within seconds of waking up. But when I’m in my dream state, I remember this dream happening many times. A bee would buzz around my right eye and crawl under my eyelids. It would move around and go behind my eyeball causing me to panic. I would frantically try to get it out and hoping it won’t sting my eyeball.

The other morning, I woke up and somehow managed to remember this dream before it receded back into my subsconsciousness. Was there a message for me in this dream? Why my right eye? I have been having issues with my right eye for a few years now. It dries out easily and tears up a lot. I have to apply eye drops and warm compresses to clear out the tear duct.

Now that I remember this dream, I don’t believe it has come up again. It’s as if I’ve exposed it and rendered it powerless. While it’s not on the same level as facing one’s fears, maybe it’s the same principle.

In other news, I’m starting to write again. Some days it’s just a few sentences. The most I’ve written is just half a page in one sitting. I resisted the urge to edit and rewrite what I’ve written. If I think of something better for a previous sentence, I’ll just insert a comment so I don’t lose track of it. As my writing teacher once said, the most important thing is to get words on a page. The editing and rewriting can come later.

I’ve almost forgotten how to write. I can’t even remember where I filed my notes from my last writing class. I’ll see where this leads. Once I figure out how much I can write per day then I’ll set a realistic goal. I just don’t want to regret not doing this when I can no longer write.

Reflections

I got a plant and headed out to the cemetery. The taps are working now so I watered the plant and washed the dirt off the leaves. I set it down in front of the niches for my parents and rotated it until it felt right. I looked at the plaques for my parents. My dad sat on the dining room table and wrote the wording for my mom. My siblings and I wrote the one for my dad through emails. I stood there for awhile enjoying the serenity. I just wanted to let them know I’m ok. I wish I had somehow told them I was gay but I couldn’t because that would let them down. My journey will be different although I still don’t know how it will turn out. I know they wanted grandkids even if they never mentioned it.

But most of all, I just wanted to let them know things are ok – maybe not perfect but we’re surviving through the pandemic. The dinner with my siblings was fun – lots of conversation, some serious and some funny. In the past, my mom would be cooking a special meal on this day – usually one of my favorites. Sometimes she’ll remind me to learn how to cook this because she won’t be around forever. She was right.

I looked at the dates on the plaques and can’t comprehend how quickly time has gone by. It’s not fair. When you’re old enough to appreciate time, it just becomes more even more fleeing and elusive. I’m on my second gin and tonic listening to some jazzy music. I’m sure that’s influencing my mood. But I’m ok.

Against the World

I went for an evening walk a few days ago. The streets were crowded, one club had a line up waiting for the doors to open and restaurants were buzzing. I passed by a grocery store. An employee was standing by the door checking her watch and scanning the passerbys. It’s probably closing time. Just past the door was a homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk. He was probably in his late 50s or early 60s, skin darkened by the sun, hunched over with dirt all over his dark clothes. His hair just fell over his head along with his beard. He was smoking a cigarette butt, probably just a smidgen of tobacco left. I didn’t have my jacket on which is where I normally keep my change. But he didn’t say anything as I walked by.

Then a weak, gravelly voice called out “spare change?”. I paused and took a $5 bill from my wallet. He wasn’t even facing me when I walked towards him. It was probably from so many rejections. I placed the money in front of his hands. He looked at it and nodded. He didn’t look at me. I felt his sense of defeat and despair. When I got home I felt sad and angry. There are so many people that fall through the cracks and aren’t being helped. I wish I had some of the billions that Musk has, I could put it to better use than buying Twitter.

Bills

I had some dental work done these past couple of weeks. There was a checkup which included a couple of xrays, cleaning and a six fillings. The bill was just under $2,000. I wasn’t expecting it to be that big. I have some other big bills to come this month so my savings will take a big hit.

I hope to get a washer / dryer soon now that the inventories are a better. The only thing is that the machine that can fit into my laundry closet looks to a bit smaller than my current one. What’s strange is how I’ve grown accustomed to doing laundry elsewhere. It was a major stress point when it first happened. But now, it’s just part of my weekend routine. Weird. I don’t know if I’ve just adapted to it or have become complacent.

There are a quite a few more things I want to buy this year and some fixing to do in my condo. I’ll have to pace myself as groceries and gas are also more expensive. I think back on how my dad must have fret and worry especially when he wasn’t working. The bills never stopped. One day I went through the bills that were piled on his desk. It was the first time I had an idea of how much it takes to keep the house going. There were a few times he had to take out loans to pay off the bills. He didn’t pay off the mortgage until he retired. It was so hard on them.

I’m lucky that my savings are still holding.My mortgage is paid off. I don’t have any kids. I’m sure my parents would have wanted to see grandchildren. But alas, that’s not my journey. My financial pressures are not the same as the ones my dad felt. Putting things into perspective makes me feel a bit better but I also feel a bit guilty.

But I should be more kind to myself and figure out if that guilt is misguided. I’ve started reading a book recommended by my friend Thomas. It’s called “Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff. I’ll read a bit more of it tonight as I’m still wide awake at 1 AM. I took a nap after lunch today and slept for over 3 hours. I haven’t napped like that in a long time. Maybe I’m just not getting enough deep, restful sleep.

Morning Coffee

A buzzing noise. On and off. My alarm. Sunday. 7AM. My eyes open.

It’s another cool morning. The blankets did their job. The hot shower felt good. I need coffee.

I decided to head out to get coffee and a bit of fresh air. It was just a short walk. As I waited at the traffic light, I noticed a young Asian couple inside the entrance of a grocery store across the street. The woman was wearing atheltic clothing but the guy only had a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. They were just standing there, looking out the window. I wondered what they were doing.

Once the light changed I quickly headed into the coffee shop and got my coffee. I decided to sit outside for a bit. Across the street a couple with a dog greeted a woman. The dog, with its tail wagging furiously, squeezed in and stood up to greet the woman first. Hugs and cheek kisses were exchanged between all the humans and canines. A golden retriever walked by with a thick branch in its mouth. The owner tied the dog to a rail and went it to grab her coffee. She came out and the dog picked up the branch and they walked by me again. I asked the woman what the dog does with the branch afterwards. She chuckled and told me that they just leave it in a small pile by the door. Everytime the dog goes for a walk, it just grabs one one of the branches and holds it during the walk. I laughed. The dog wasn’t impressed with my question and pulled at the leash. I waved goodbye to them.

Across the street, the Asian couple was now on the sidewalk. They were both holding something white with black lettering, a race bib. There was probably a run nearby and they were waiting for their ride to pick them up. I was right. A black car pulled up and they both hopped in. I decided it was also my time to head home. There just seems to be an endless amount of chores to do.

Here are some more pictures.

There’s a couple of trees in the park that are decorated with Christmas decorations. I don’t know why.

The sparrow chirped at me so I took its picture.

I remember thinking that it would be nice to get the blossoms backlit or sidelit. I just wanted something a bit different.

I’m not sure what this tree is but it caught my attention. It was standing beside the glamourous cherry trees but no one stopped to take its picture. It’s an introvert, just like me. So I took a picture of the buds.

Cherry Blossoms

I’m fortunate to be able to see the cherry blossoms everyday if I choose to. I’ve noticed that some flowers are more white while others are more pink. Unfortunately I’ve also saw a few dead cherry trees and a couple of trees that aren’t doing well. Here are some pictures.

A few years ago, I saw people pulling the branches of the trees close to their face so their pictures would be full of the blossoms. Some laid out elaborate picnics settings with champagne bottles. After the pictures were taken, the influencers quickly got back into their coats, wrapped everything up and left complaining about how cold it was. There was also a time when one guy dragged a picnic table right under the tree and climbed up on to the table to take pictures.

I try not to hog a tree and look around to see if anyone is waiting for me to get out of the way. With so many people, sometimes it’s not easy. But I go in the morning when it’s not so crowded. Fortunately there are many people who just take the pictures and move out of the way quickly.

Stay safe, get your boosters, wear a mask indoors and in crowded outdoor places.

Lost But Found

Sunday was a lost day for me. I stayed in the entire day. I did a bit of cleaning before shutting down my body. After that it was just the internet and watching the baseball game and a bit of Netflix. It’s just so weird that this happens when a few days ago I was pretty upbeat. The big difference is that I went out for walks on those days.

When I get into these dark moods, I start to remember mistakes, regrets, could haves, should haves and missed goals. It took awhile but I managed to get these negative thoughts out. It also didn’t help that my building has shut down the heating system for some big maintenance and to switch over to the cooling system. It’s still be cold to cool here. I have a portable heater and bundle up.

This morning I dragged my ass out of bed for a walk. I told my brain that I wanted to see if a new restaurant down the street is opening up yet. So my brain agreed not to procrastinate. Sometimes I bribe it with coffee. My brain doesn’t like the coffee I brew in the morning. Other times I tell my brain that I need the exercise to compete with those gorgeous kpop stars. My brain sometimes falls for that. The only thing that pops are my joints. But I feel better today after my walk.

Here are some photos I’ve taken lately.

Foggy night: I took this from a bridge that overlooks the tracks leading to and from the train station. Normally you can see the CN tower but that’s obscured by the fog. I added some blues and increased the exposure for the light beam from the train.

Ambulance: When I’m walking with my camera, I usually take pictures of fire trucks, ambulances and police car. I’m not sure why. I do have great respect for the first respondents who have to respond to so many unpredictable and stressful situations.

Pigeons: I got a couple of strange looks when I took this photo. It was the patterns of the birds on the line that attracted me. I didn’t notice that there was one white pigeon until I was editing the photo. So I cropped the photo to focus on it.

Wall mural: I’m glad my city has a lot of interesting wall murals / art. It gives the streets and lanes a bit more life and character.

I saw this old Chevrolet truck that has been restored. I just love the colour and the lines.

When I walk around at nights, I look for interesting lights, patterns and textures. I waited a bit for someone to walk by but it was a quiet night. I went back to this place a few days later but there were pylons covering the street which ruined the mood for me.

That’s it for now. Stay safe and keep others safe.

A Slower And Lazier Pace Of Life

My sister’s rehab is going very well. She has put in a lot of time to get to where she is now. If things continue to progress, she’ll probably be done with rehab in two to three months. But I’m sure she’ll still need to continue with the exercises. I still help out with a couple of the chores but I don’t go to her place daily anymore. She’s able to prepare her own meals, head down to the basement to do laundry and even some cleaning up. I’m grateful that she is recovering and to those of you who have kept her in your prayers.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned of three families (relatives) have caught Covid. The children caught them from school and one child (a two year old) got it from another relatives who came back from vacation. All the families have now recovered but there are concerns about long term effects. Two of my sister’s neighbours have also caught Covid.

I still don’t feel safe to travel (although I know others have done it safely). I still haven’t gone to movies, eaten at a restaurant or relaxed at a coffee shop. I would love to go back to my volunteering. I find it odd that a lot of people think that Covid is just another flu. Some of its symtoms may be similar but this virus is different. I know everyone is tired of this virus but I hope they will continue to stay safe and think of their communities. Wearing a mask is not that hard.

One thing I did do during this pandemic was to attend book launches at various bookstores virtually. I hope the bookstores and authors will continue this. One of the authors I follow is Eric Nguyen. I just got his first book “Things We Lost To The Water”. It actually debut some time ago but I waited until the paperback came out.

I’m still reading those other books. So Eric’s book will have to wait for a bit.

On Sunday, I got a lot done in the morning including some much needed cleaning. But after lunch my mind convinced me that it was a day of rest. My inner sloth emerged and stayed like that for the rest of the day (and Monday too). I don’t know why that happens. Sometimes I think it’s the weather or maybe I’m just getting too lazy. Probably the latter.

The only productive thing I’m doing tonight is watching a webinar of Ocean Vuong’s reading of his latest poertry book Time is a Mother with a Q&A to follow. I’m even skipping the basketball game to watch this.

Stay safe everyone!

What I’m Reading

I’m reading a couple of books now. The first one is Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. It’s been out for a couple of years and when the paperback was released, I quickly purchased it. And it sat on my shelf for a few more months. Why? I have no idea.

I’m about a quarter into the book and it’s a bit of a slow read. I had to pause quite a few times.There are heartbreaking scenes from the Vietnam war. It made me think of my parents growing up in the war. Did they ever resolve those trauma or did they just bury it and moved on with their lives? The main character’s relationship with his mother is not easy to process. She’s a flawed character but loves his son. The writing is sensitive and beautiful. I’m going to have to figure out how Ocean Vuong puts the words and sentences together so artfully.

The other book I’m reading is Korean American: Food That Taste Like Home by Eric Kim.

Yep – a cookbook. Eric Kim is a food writer for the New York Times. I stumbled on his cooking somewhere on YouTube and then found his writing. You can read his stuff on his website and here in another section on his website. His writing was so good and maybe even better than his cooking. His background is in literature and he taught writing as well. I think he dropped out of a PhD program before making his way to food writing. I’m sure I’ll try some of his recipes. It’s the first time I’m reading a cookbook although I’ve reference a few looking for recipes.

Writers say that to be a better writer, one needs to read a lot. So hopefully these two books will count as “a lot”. Soon you will be dazzled by my writing and I’ll make millions. Well, that would be neat but I know it’s takes a lot of hard work too. I want to get back to my writing courses but not in a classroom setting with this Covid wave going on. I’m not sure I would respond to an online course. I’ll see – maybe I have to find a way to adjust.

Stay safe everyone.