PhotoHunt: Standing

This week’s PhotoHunt theme is “Standing”

Sheep Out Standing in Their Field

No longer standing. Torn down last summer.

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PhotoHunt: Hands

This week’s PhotoHunt theme is “Hands”.

"Grubby Fingers"

"Ring Finger"

"(Not) Lost in Translation" 2

My “eternal soul”…

In a discussion on Facebook precipitated by the interview with Ricky Gervais last evening on “Piers Morgan Tonight”, where Piers Morgan, who is Catholic, expressed the thought that many Christians have about how Atheists view death. He opined that it mush be “terribly sad” for Ricky Gervais (and by extension Athiets, in general) to “worry” about not having something to go on to when he (they) die(s).

Something along the lines of “It must be awful to be an atheist and believing that that’s ‘it’… That there’s nothing more…” Why do Christians think that Atheists “get depressed” about there not being anything after this life? That life is bleak and meaningless because we don’t believe in god?

Do they think we would just go through life seriously “depressed” by the reckoning that there’s “nothing on the other side”? If your reason or one of your reasons for choosing to believe gives you some comfort about “what’s next”, that’s up to you. Frankly, I have no more worry than the next person does about death because of my not wanting to give up those I know and love, not because I am worries about not having made a reservation someplace “on the other side”.

My two (main) reasons for not wanting to go to heaven (IF I even believed in the place) are:

1) What would you DO for an eternity? No one has explained WHAT exactly one would DO up there… I’d be bored to tears within a week…

2) If I had t…o spend an eternity along with the likes of Pat Robertson and 99% of the people who are so damn sure they are going to go there, I’d refuse to go. I’d rather burn in hell with all the people who that 99% are so damn sure AREN’T going to heaven….

As I said, no one has ever been clear on what, exactly, one is supposed to do for an eternity “up there”. The only thing they say is that everyone you knew and loved (except the ones who are supposed to go the other way which pretty well narrows down the people who I know I would want to spend an eternity with) and you are supposed to be able to hang around with them… Doing WHAT, exactly?

NO one wants to hear me sing and/or play the harp. I doubt very much there’s anything on offer up there that is any better than what I can do down here and, quite frankly, there’s absolutely nothing I want to do for the rest of eternity. My personal belief is that it is better to do the best you can down here without worrying about whether or not you “deserve” to spend eternity bowling or knitting or drinking nectar or (god forbid) just floating about as an amorphous mass.

Do right BY the gifts NATURE has given you and TO those around you, do as little harm to this blessed Earth and go when your time is up without worry or fear about the fact that there’s “nothing else”. That’s my “best and worst case” scenario.

Since I have absolute faith that there is nothing “after this” beyond a recycling of my mortal remains, I have not a single worry about where I am going. If, which I very much doubt, there IS a god he or she thinks I have been so terrible that I deserve to “burn in hell” for my supposed bad behaviour (let alone one that allows the horrors that humankind can do to one another because “they will pay for it later”), they aren’t a god I have much respect for.

And for all those who feel “sorry” for me not believing… Don’t spend a split second worrying about my “soul”. Worry about your own and what you are doing here, instead.

Photo Hunt: Shadow

This week’s Photo Hunt theme is “Shadow”.

There used to be a TV painting show with this German fellow (German Canadian, I think). His paintings were the usual sort of mass-produced-style paintings but I loved his patter. One of the terms he used all the time was “almighty” as in “an almighty pine!”, “an almighty mountain!”, and my favourite — “an almighty sky”.

Whenever I see an awesome sky, I think of him saying “Look at zis ALMIGHTY SKY!”. Here are a few “ALMIGHTY SKIES!” which fit the theme.

Favourite New York places.

I spend quite a lot of time thinking about New York City. Probably WAY too much time. Whenever I am working on the computer, by mind turns toward New York. That started when I was working at Chapters Inc. and spent lots of time doing orders and inventory on the computer. I was freshly returned from your stint in The Bronx and my heart and head were still there. While sorting through lists of audio tapes and software to order, I would be riding the express bus from our apartment to 52nd Street, in my head.

Since I won’t be crossing the border any time soon, all my visiting is done vicariously via friends who do and online. Unfortunately, my “head trips to New York” are starting to fade.

Here are some of my favourite places… at least the ones still around. Some of them have gone already.

City Island…

Formerly the home of oystercatchers and shipbuilders, City Island, located in the far reaches of the Bronx, still retains its small-town atmosphere while hosting thousands of visitors from the rest of the Bronx and from Queens and Brooklyn. I would wager that fish restaurants almost outnumber the people living on the island. The choice of menu ranges from the very cheap at the Reef Restaurant at #2 City Island Avenue, where you can sit out on the patio, eat, and watch the ships go by (always my choice since it was a block from home and the food was great); to Portofino and The Crab Shanty – for late-night take-out Sammy’s Fish Box is open until the wee small hours on Thursday to Saturday).

City Island has a respectable number of small gift shops, galleries, and antique shops. Sadly, Mooncurser records, my favourite is gone. I was in nodding acquaintance with Roger Roberge (then almost 80), the somewhat crusty owner who was always either ensconced in a rocking chair in the shop or on the sidewalk outside the shop. Mooncurser was was arguably the world’s smallest record shop with the world’s largest collection of records and sheet music (Reckoned at over 12,000 songsheets and 100,000 records. And, no, not a single CD or cassette!).  You could have gone in blindfolded, picked something randomly from the shelf and it would be a gem of a recording. I just wish I had more money while I was living there. I’d have bought a LOT more. As it was, my Tom Lehrer record will serve as my reminder of one of the world’s greatest record stores of all time. Roberge died at age 86 in 2004, the business was sold to someone else, but finally closed in 2006.

Mooncurser records via stupefaction

Toroya… I am stricken! Whenever I was in Manhattan and I had some spare money, I would stop in at Toroya, the Japanese tea room and gift shop. I ALWAYS bought some wagashi (Japanese sweets). Alas, Toroya, at least the New York locations, are closed “temporarily”, leaving not a single North American outlet for these amazing confections.  Toroya had been supplier of confections to the Imperial family since at least the 16th century.

There were seasonal collections of sweets and ones which were available year round.

While perhaps not appealing to North American tastes, Japanese confections are less sweet. Rather than being sugar-based, they depend on sweetness coming from ingredients such as bean paste. They are lighter and incredibly beautiful. My absolute favourite was one called “Wakabakage” (Under the shade of spring leaves) which resembles a Koi in a pond. The one below is a little more “cartoon-is” than the ones they had at Toroya.

Wakabakage

The GOOD news is that there are other Japanese confectionery shops in the New York area… Minamoto Kitchoan and Mitsuwa Marketplace (in New Jersey)!

Leekan Designs… An amazing shop which, amongst other things, has a terrific selection of antique and contemporary beads.

The Cloisters… The Cluny Museum in Paris and The Cloisters in New York are my two favourite museums in the world. If you go to The Cloisters for no other reason than to sit in the Medieval Garden on a hot Summer day or a rainy Spring afternoon, The Cloisters are a must. But there is so much more to see. The Cloisters houses Metropolitan Museum’s Medieval European art and architecture collections. Some of the highlights are the triptych “Robert Campin and Workshop“, “The Annunciation” by Hans Memling, and the tapestry “The Unicorn in Captivity”. The Cloisters is hidden away in Fort Tryon Park but is accessible by bus, subway, car, and on foot.

"Robert Campin and Workshop"

Union Square Greenmarket… I used to love heading down to the farmer’s market in Union Square (handy to the Union Square Barnes & Noble!). Aside from the fresh produce, I bought wool for the knitting that kept me busy because I couldn’t work. The market is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8-6 (10-4 from December to June). They also have weekly events and special events, including cooking demonstrations, recycling drives, and lots, lots more! The website lists the various vendors and their products and their schedules. Want Emu eggs, goat, vegan products, or seafood? It’s all there!

Fishs Eddy… I LOVED this store! Floor to ceiling dishes, lassware, salt and pepper shakers, platters, condiment servers, trays… the list is endless., not to mention the bushel baskets of flatwear… Everything from plain white to “blueplate special” dishware, melamine, glass, toile, all sorts of sturdy home cooking-style dinnerware. I found my blue glass salt and pepper shakers there.

Kate’s Paperie… Paper and paper goods galore.

AKN Fabrics.. Stunning array of African fabrics, batiks, and Osikani prints, embroidered fabrics. I LOVED IT!

Of course, many of the places that I loved that are now gone. In New York, places come and go really quickly… in a “New York minute”. There were places I went to a few times and the next time I went to buy something I had been looking at and they were gone.

Christmas present.

One of my Christmas presents this year was was a great book of photographs, called “Gotham Remembered: Manhattan in the Nineteen Seventies“. It’s by one of my favourite photographers, Harry Bonham Houchins. Yeah, yeah… i am a “tiny bit” biased since he is my brother but I’d love his work even if  I hated his guts (which I don’t — hate his guts, I mean).

Harry has worked in a variety of photographic mediums. I can recall being in his darkroom working on some of his Dichromate photography, back in the 1980s, when I visited him for the first time (long story… Papa was a rolling stone) and his taking photos with his view camera (can’t recall now what format, Sandy. Fill me in) when we went up to BC to visit our Dad.

Harry grew up in New York City. The photos in his book were taken during a six month period in, as the title states, the 1970s.

“Déjà vu on Caillabotte Street” Harry Bonham Houchins

"42nd Street" Harry Bonham Houchins

My first visit to New York City was in 1975, during the height of the garbage Strike, just a few years later than the period the photos were taken in the slide towards the bankruptcy that brought about the strike. I visited again in the 1978 or 1979 — the Punk-era graffito-ed Big Apple and finally living in, pre-9/11, the Bronx. But I always felt that I should have been born there. For years I thought I had been conceived there when my Mom was living there with Harry’s and my father, in Greenwich Village. Mom said shattered that belief when she told me that I wasn’t a gleam in my parent’s eyes for at least another year, after they married and Dad moved back up to Ottawa where Mom was living before her hiatus in NYC. I’m not sure which was more traumatic, finding out that I wasn’t a product of New York or not conceived out-of-wedlock.

So to say that New York holds a fascination for me is and understatement. I love the history, I love the streets and I love experiencing New York through my brother’s camera.

Thanks, Sandy!

Still not getting the results I want

So I fiddled with my new camera but I am still not getting the great results I expect. Better but not great.

A friend who is a photographer is thinking it it might be the rather generic lens that I got with the camera. That is entirely possible. I am going to have to explore this further. It may mean an additional lens.

I went out on Sunday and took some photos of some favourite spots just to see whether it was the indoor shots I was taking, the settings, or what.

Photo Hunt: Free Week

For want of anything else, I am posting the first photos I took… Well… The first ones taken outside of the house… using my new camera.

I am still trying to figure out the settings. The images aren’t as sharp and the resolution not as good as I would like, yet.

On the way home from work I stopped in at the Experimental Farm. I was losing light, It was snowing, traffic on Prince of Wales was terrible, and Mom was alone so I didn’t have time to stop for long. However, since the road across the Farm is closed in winter, now, there are very few cars along the road. It is a lovely view in almost any season and weather.

Unfortunately, traffic along Prince of Wales and Baseline Road is usually pretty heavy so the lights from the cars is often intrusive.

Hopefully, the weather will be nice tomorrow and we can get out into the country for a bit tomorrow.

After fiddling with some of the settings and testing the results, the resolution is a lot better. Of course, I will have to try it out of doors, next.

Feeling ooky….

I was in the first board meeting of the new year for the co-op and suddenly started feeling dizzy and nauseated. I hope this isn’t flu…

Problem, too, because Mom hasn’t had her flu shot this year.

Thank God that’s over…

Not complaining… Christmas was great… Well… As usual, despite the fact that I could have gone shopping any time over the weeks leading up to it, I didn’t. Despite my taking the 23rd and 24th off to “go shopping” I really didn’t do any “shopping” until the morning of the 24th… and pretty well all in one place. I bought gift cards, either for specific stores/restaurants or gift credit cards. When I DID try and shop for some little gifts for the neighbourhood kids, I did so at the dollar store but they were already putting up their St. Valentine’s Day stuff. I mean VALENTINE’S DAY, for Pete’s sake! Not only were the Valentine’s Day things going up but most of the Christmas stuff was packed away.

I got the full week before Christmas and New Year off, a combination of public holidays and paid time off from my company. What did I do? I slept, for the most part. I fell back into my up late and sleep through the day.

In between, I  spent the morning of Christmas Day at the hospital for an embarrassing problem which wouldn’t have (or might not have) been a problem had the stores and/or my doctor’s office been open, fielded crises both within and without the family (people just can’t accept that other people have the right to feelings and opinions — not EVERYTHING in a family is the WHOLE family’s problem — not EVERY situation requires EVERYONE to take sides!), and hoped for snow.

But I’m glad it is over.

I have yet to take the tree down!

My TV that I bought just over a year ago died yesterday and I couldn’t remember where I bought it nor could I find the receipt so the only thing was to buy a new TV. Luckily, I did have yesterday off which came as a bit of a surprise because I actually started working before I found out. Since the TV I picked still had the Boxing Day prices on it, I got a deal, so that was a welcome. Of course, the new TV is twice as large as the old TV so I may have to put it on the opposite side of the room!

Artist's interpretation of television's size

This evening, I went out and got the replacement recycle bins after some helpful Hanna (I suspect that it was the mother of the neighbour, who doesn’t live here but likes to interfere) took the ones that had been assigned to us which had an old unit number on it. I had found one of my indoor ones halfway up the street on someone else’s porch. Now I have ACTUAL recycle bins, with OUR unit # on them, which fit into the new cabinet I bought for our porch. They fit perfectly and, unlike the old indoor bins we were forced to use, aren’t split. I bought new indoor bins, got the kitchen waste bins and during the recent melt managed to get the cover on the air conditioner (just in time since it snowed last night!).

I’m exhausted but hopefully all this means that I can now be more organized inside and outside the house, and will make things easier, all round.

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