Category Archives: Interesting things

Stream crossing


I like this photo….just because.  In some cases, photos are enjoyable or noteceable because of what their subject matter. Personally, I couldn’t get the best angle I wanted to, but I did get the sun dappling over these large, lovely smooth boulders which were the stepping stones over the shallow stream in the park. I thought the use of the stones gave the stream a wonderful fairy tale setting!

Kyoto – Temple Watcher


My tour guide took me to Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple in Arashiyama near Kyoto and it really was one of the coolest temples with the added bonus that it is far, FAR from the usual tourist pathways (not a bamboo forest in sight). The temple has hundreds of these statues of rakan (Buddha’s disciples) and each has their own face, clothes and special detail. But I like the photo above for it’s simplicity. The statue’s face is serene and the discolouration gives it an unusual twist. Perhaps he’s sinister, perhaps he’s exotic, maybe he’s just watching YOU! Who knows? He could be whatever you want him to be. The two guys below are a different world away. Sharing a drink (probably sake?) and having a great time.


Kyoto – Nishiki Food Market 2 Ways

I luuuuuvvvvv markets. I’ve been to markets on at least 4 continents and when I was in Kyoto and heard they had a FOOD market, it was a must see destination for me. These two photos show two different aspects of markets. The first is the gorgeous eye candy displays. Displays like these are wonderful for photography not to mention the foodie inside me. However, I have come over the years to be brave enough to photograph the scene in the second photograph – the action that brings the market to life.  While the barrels form a pleasing composition – slightly at an angle leading your eye towards the bottom left – and add lovely texture with the dark wood and the rope wrap; the interaction of the vendor and buyer capture a moment that encapsulates what markets mean!



Kyoto – Cherry Blossoms and Maple Leaves


My first time in Japan and I hit it smack dab between the Cherry Blossoms and the Iris blooming seasons. I was lucky to find these late blooming cherry trees in the Kyoto Botanical Gardens. I like this photo because you can often get lost trying to photograph a whole grove of cherry trees, but this close up shows the pom-pom like nature of the cherry blossoms – their texture and their rich colour up close. Spring in Japan really did mean celebrating the green of the maple leaves. And when you get the light just right, they have a beauty all their own.


Letters to strangers – the absent cashier

Hi there, it’s me. One of dozens of people you cashed out today. I know your job isn’t particularly stimulating. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you stood there longing for an irate customer with inventive language to just give you something different to do. I see you’ve even prepared your entire cash station with plastic bags just begging for someone to come and ask for one. Which is why it puzzled me when you made no move to use those bags until I asked.  You didn’t even reach for my purchases in the carry basket until I made it clear I really wanted to pay for them. And even then, you limited yourself to a total of 1 word in the entire transaction and that was “swipe” – thank goodness I knew you were referring to my credit card. Although then I was puzzled again when you didn’t ask me to sign the bill since it was a swiped, non-chip card. But that’s ok. I get it. You probably had laryngitis from being uber-friendly to all the customers who came before me. Catch you next time…:)

Was I ready for the Spirit Bear Lodge?

Those of you who know me personally…..which constitute the majority of my readers here….know that I obsessed about this trip I took ( in this post. So much so, I had writer’s block here just before it started. So, was I ready for it?  Yes and no. The practical details of it I was ready for. I’m pretty agile, little boats don’t bother me (much), uneven ground is ok, and I still bounce (a little) when I fall. So most of the physical part of it was a snap; except for my camera equipment. I know perfectly well what possessed me to buy a camera (plus lens) that weighs more than more laptops these days, but I never realised that I needed to train so that I could carry it – even short distances!  or that my arm would start to ache after 2 days of lifting that thing (I highly recommend a tripod).

But my biggest complaint (other than that the bears didn’t get my memo that I would be there between 1000 am and 2 pm for their photo shoot every day), was that the beauty and grandeur of the last and largest temperate rainforest on the planet would give me a sinking feeling when I came back to the city and my life and job. Not once were there disclaimers about “this vacation may cause all forms of TV/internet entertainment to look dull and flat” or “your vision may be impaired when viewing all other, formerly majestic scenery” or even “may cause productivity to go down as you spend your time daydreaming about your vacation”!

The main attraction of Spirit Bear Lodge is, of course the white spirit bear with other bears coming a close second (blacks and grizzlies). But I was delighted by Stellar sea lions (the largest of the eared seal family), astonished by the lion’s mane jellyfish (the largest jellyfish in the world), over the moon about seeing humpback whales (not the largest whale) and completely chuffed to snap photos of bald eagles and ravens.

Was I ready for this trip?  No.  Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat.

More photos coming soon….

Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary

Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary

Korich Bay

Korich Bay

Carter Bay

Carter Bay

Letters to Strangers: the impatient bus driver

Dear Mr. Bus Driver, why didn’t you wait for us? We were right at your door after having run for half a block and had time to take a breath or two before you drove off. In fact if there hadn’t been a curb, you would have run over our feet as you pulled away. Perhaps there is an operational rule entitled “when you can wait for passengers and when you can’t?”  Perhaps you had to hurry to meet your replacement driver as you were going off shift?  or maybe you had just had enough of people running to jump on your bus.

I do know that there was another bus coming up not far behind you, but my aunt was running for you so I couldn’t just leave her, could I?  Plus I had no idea where I was going so I kinda had to keep up with her.

Anyway, I hope to catch you again,


The Hike – A quick pre-trip thought

Well, I think I’m prepared. Can you really prepare for your first hike?  If you’ve never hiked before? I bought the non-cotton t-shirts and pants, I trained to carry my gear, I tried out the hiking pole and even went on a “test hike”.  Then I remembered that there is a boat portion of this trip and I sometimes (only sometimes) get motion sickness.  So, I will add Dramamine to my pack tomorrow.

Letters to Strangers. The colourful pillow person.

Dear colourful pillow person. I walked by your patio as I do often and this morning I saw you had placed two bright, striped coloured pillow on your two rattan chairs. How cheerful! Afterall, you’ve had those chairs for at least 3 years and last year, I saw your seat cushion sitting on the ground all winter when it rained. Plus you don’t really have any other furniture on that patio or any plants. So, it was about time you spruced it up a bit! Maybe you’ve turned a corner? Maybe you got a raise? or Did you just decide on putting some brightness into your home?  In any case, it looks great!

Yours sincerely,

Jamaican Joy

What makes a walk a hike?

About 10 minutes into the trail, I asked “is this a walk or a hike?” It was when a family of 3 with a very small child turned back and said to us “we were just out for a nice morning walk, not a hike!” My friend and I agreed there were certain elements that made it a hike and not a walk. Any one of these would elevate your exercise to a hike:

  • when the trail turns into enough mud that your shoes are in danger of being sucked off
  • when you have to pause to eat an energy bar (lattes at Starbucks do not count)
  • when that walking stick that you were just using as a balancing tool is needed to push bushes out of the way
  • when you require water and tools to clean your shoes/walking stick
  • bug spray becomes a necessity not optional

The following do not count in declaring that you’ve been on a hike

  • you sweat (you do this when you leave your house and are still on the driveway in Florida)
  • you go uphill (unless it is more than a 40 degree grade and/or requires climbing equipment – then it’s a climb, not a hike)
  • your feet hurt (check your shoes)
  • you get a blister (check your socks)

The following are signs that you are definitely on a walk, not a hike:

  • you can talk the entire way without losing your breath
  • you are wearing cute sandals
  • you don’t break a sweat
  • you have no provisions

Insights from walking hiking in Short Hills Provincial park