spirit of christmas

I guess he is off now for the season - but like all Narnians - I will keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart until we see him again.

dreams of long ago

On Boxing-day I had a nice meal with family at a retirement residence restaurant. In the entrance artwork by residents was displayed and I came across this painting. The painting reminded me of childhood summers - of standing on the beginning edge of life - of wondering at the marvel of the world and contemplating things yet to come. A work painted by a person with a hand now frail, but a mind that remembered this moment as if it were only yesterday. And maybe for the artist this moment was just yesterday, perhaps that is the secret of life, to embrace every new day as if the world has just begun.

my grandmother is cooler than yours

I did not take this shot, but I like it; taken recently in Hong Kong when Daniel was visited by his grandmother.

winter tears

As seen in a Hamilton Military Cemetery: Winter tears for soldiers who will never be home for Christmas (give them a thought today).

winter bridge

As seen yesterday: View from a winter railway bridge in Hamilton.

icy roads

As seen today on the outskirts of Hamilton.

snow

Snowing in Burlington - cleared the driveway twice already - should have gone to Australia when I had the chance!

photos by a 2-year old

Declan, who is two-years old and lives in Hong Kong, was given a toy digital camera to take his own photographs. So what does a 2-year-old take photos of? Well apparently; his foot, great-grandma on a bus, mom, great-grandma again, family, dad on a bus, shoes outside the apartment, mom, mom again, great grandma, a friend, mom, dad,& toy car, and dad driving.

I love the pictures, but they made me feel a little sad too, because the toy camera gives them that "look from the past" feel of my childhood photos, which I have carefully stored in old shoeboxes. So Declan's photos make it easy to imagine a time when he is grown and his grandchildren rummage through his old shoeboxes - to find us and our the world in the only place we will exist in those days - on fading photographs.

red on grey

As seen on a grey rainy day in Pyongyang.

pyongyang guide

I was lucky in Pyongyang, because artist, journalist and fellow photographer Nancy Pellegrini, was working as one of the Western guides.

pyongyang subway riders

Daniel "Canada" and "Singapore" on the Pyongyang Subway.

helper

As seen today, sitting on my computer monitor, keeping me company as I grade papers, and occasionally offering an opinion on content.

soldiers on a train

I left the DPRK (North Korea) by a slow train to China from Pyongyang, then once in China a fast train to Beijing. I took this shot of another passing train on the DPRK side of the boarder.

pyongyang

Outside a stadium in Pyongyang at night.

lone sentry

From this angle, the old lighthouse looks more like a sentry guarding the sky than a signal showing the way, but I suppose it is both really. Ships sail from here to far off oceans and back again; and the tower's forever flashing light relentlessly signals hello, goodbye, showing them the way. Dreamers come here too, imagining long forgotten pasts and futures yet untold; and the tower's forever flashing light matches their heartbeats, beat for beat, urging their dreams, as a sentinel of hope.

favorate lighthouse

dawn at the ship canal

Burlington Ship Canal at dawn.

birthday looks

Jasmine at her birthday last month

same field different thoughts


Another post from the archives on remembrance.

As a child in England I was taught the war poetry of writers like Wilfred Owen who challenged the folly of war. I was somewhat shocked to find that Canadian school children are taught the poetry of John McCrae whose thoughts on war are the exact opposite of Owen's. Both Owen and McCrae were soldiers; McCrea died of pneumonia on January 28, 1914, Owen died in battle on November 4, 1914 (just one-week before the war ended). Compare the two works below; it is almost as if Owen's words are a response to the way Canadian school children learn to recite McCrae's assertion that they should take up the quarrel with the foe. I am with the wisdom of Owen, not the folly of McCrae.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae – 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

Dulce et decorum est
By Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori

____________________________________________________________

remembering a desert rat


A photo from the archives for Remembrance Day (originally taken at Duxford Air Museum in 2008). The sign on the bench says “In Remembrance of Cliff Rees a Desert Rat.” I don’t know Cliff Rees, but the fact that he was a Desert Rat counts for something in my books; the Desert Rats (the British Army 7th Armored Division) scurried around North Africa in WWII trying to outwit the Desert Fox (Field Marshal Erwin Rommel), and after fighting in every major battle of the North African Campaign, they went on to fight in Sicily, Italy and Normandy. So a bench at the Military Museum is a fitting place to remember Cliff Rees - chances are people passing will stop for a few moments and although never knowing Cliff will know where he has been and the things he has done — Cliff Rees you (and your comrades) are well remembered.

bolshevik bastard

Believe it or not this beer is called "Bolshevik Bastard." Well I've been called the name, so of course I had to try the beer. It is really quite good!

grandma goes to hong kong

Grandma at the airport heading to Hong Kong last weekend - got to wait a little before I go too!

breakfast in cuba

a boys dream


Imagine a hat with wings
In which I could fly
Up to the chimneys
Into the sky
Across mountains
Over the sea
Into green jungles
To find other flying hat boys like me

We'd make a gang
We'd all belong
Buzzing through treetops
Getting along
Skimming the rivers
Making up rhymes
About flying hat boys
Having good times

Imagine the stars
To which we'd fly
Up past the moon
Higher than high
Way past the planets
Beyond what we know
Because there is nowhere
Flying hat boys can't go

So if one day I am missing
Suddenly am gone
And in the distance you hear
A rhyming hat boy song
Don't wait up
I might be a while
Flying across the universe
In hat boy style


even more cuban dance

I have talked before about how burlesque the evening entertainment was in Cuba. Never-the-less it was what it was, and so I took photos: I think the monochrome treatment, the added photographic grain, the contrast and the literal curves in this shot, more-or-less capture the atmosphere in that moment.