A Little Tummy Ache

In our youth we challenged the unknown adventures.  In some cases these were not our choice but expected in life, like the first day of school.

Along the way, we are challenged with new adventures like learning to drive, learning to ride a bike, our first date, our first kiss, our first love, our first job, our first child,…

These challenges made our hearts beat a little faster, palms get sweaty and tummies may ache.

After this picture was taken, the girl in the red dress and matching handbag approached me.  She barely spoke any English but was able to communicate that she would like a picture of herself in front of the “Ferrara” shop.  She handed me her camera and struck a pose.  Now this pose is not what we would normally do…hands clasped together, staring straight into the camera, saying “cheese” (or in whatever language she spoke).  Her pose was a hand on the hip, an arm stretched to the sky with the palm facing up like she was holding a serving tray and the toes of one foot pointing straight down to the ground.  She would have gotten a job for the “Price is Right” in an instant.

I saw the excitement in her eyes.  She was experiencing life in a foreign land.   This new adventure may be making her heart beat a little faster, her palms may have been a bit sweaty and her tummy may have ached just a little bit.

What a wonderful feeling!


l to r.  Unknown little girl, my Mother, my oldest sister “Lucy” on my paternal Grandmother’s lap, my Father

The last time I was with my Dad, I was 5 months old.  Since I’ve seen photos of him, I knew he existed.

When my family immigrated to Canada 56 years ago, he stayed in China with my oldest sister.  His arrival to Canada was coming later.

I never knew anything about him.  I didn’t know what he did for a living; why he didn’t come with us or if he even thought of us.  It was at my paternal Grandfather’s funeral, that I found out my Father had passed away years before.

My mother is not a talkative person.   In my younger days, I use to prod her with questions about him and she never responded with any details.   I wasn’t fluent in Chinese and she wasn’t fluent in English.  I use to dream up fantasy stories:  he was a spy, he was royalty…   Once I got into my teens and my oldest sister arrived without him, I realized he was never going to show up.  I stopped thinking about him.

Over the years, I watched how my daughter Amber takes after her Dad in more ways than she takes after me.  These character traits, just like physical traits, cannot be denied that they are handed down from generation to generation.

Recently I was asked if I ever thought what my Dad was like.  I didn’t hesitate, “He was me”.  Unlike my Mother and siblings, I could only surmise that I took after my Dad.  So, I guess I knew my Dad.  I knew him better than anyone.

If you blink, you might miss it


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

November 5, 2010

5:47 PM

After living in the condo for about 5 years, I have witnessed hundreds of beautiful sunsets.  Last night I sorted through over 200 photos of these sunsets that were taken over the course of these 5 years.  There were difficult choices to make but eventually I narrowed them down to just over 100 and I’m pretty sure I will up that amount again within the year.

My last domicile was a small bungalow located in the Avalon area (anyone from Saskatoon would know what I’m talking about).  A mature neighborhood with lots of trees, straight streets with back alleys, and rows of same type bungalows with L-shaped livingrooms.

Our front window faced the west and a few times a year I could see the edges of a beautiful sunset.  Touches of pink, orange and gold and I would admire what little I saw.

It wasn’t until living in the condo with windows facing the south and west that these sunsets appeared more often than I thought.

The ones I love the best would have scattered clouds and the sun is setting behind the river.  These would occur during the spring and fall.  They are constant changing patterns and they come and go within minutes.

This picture was just about missed.  I had checked all the conditions and felt it was going to be a beauty.   After observing the skyline for a short length of time, I gave up hope as darkness was falling and nothing was happening.  I turned myself away for only a few minutes and then this appeared.  It lasted just over two minutes and it was gone.

Americano? or Espresso and Hot Water?

New York, NY

April 25, 2011  7:47 AM

In search of the perfect cup of Americano.  A challenge we presented ourselves in our recent trip to Boston and New York.

At home we indulge in our own version of the Americano.  First thing in the morning with my newspaper and another mid-afternoon with a tasty treat.  It’s not a wake me up or pick me up.  It’s a habit just like brushing your teeth.  I could have one of these suckers and fall asleep within minutes.  Caffeine just doesn’t seem to affect me.

In Boston, we stuck with Starbucks and purchased colorful gift cards for each of us.  However, we found the Boston Starbucks Americano wasn’t strong enough.  With a Starbucks on every second block, there wasn’t an opportunity to try something new.

When, we got to New York, it was the same thing.  We stayed with Starbucks for the convenience.  To our delight, the New York version was stronger.

However, it was in the “Tick Tock Diner” located in our hotel “The New Yorker” (which is sometimes featured on the David Letterman Show) that we found our perfect cup of Americano.   They call it the “double espresso with water” and it’s not on the menu.  You would order it by description.

It comes in a mismatched diner style cup and saucer.  It’s so sloppy coming out of the espresso maker, the coffee droplets are all over cup.  It was good!

Our Starbucks card was put to rest and we indulged in our new found treasure for the remaining week.

A couple of days after our return home, our Espresso Machine committed suicide.  Because I had an early dentist appointment, I had my first cup of coffee without reading the paper.  I decided to have a second cup in the morning with the paper and that’s when the poor little guy exploded.  At 11:00 AM my habit was being compromised.  I became desperate.  I dashed out the door to Sears in hopes to find my replacement Breville on sale.  At the store, I started looking at the Pod version coffee makers and then my desperation turned into exasperation.  I gave up and headed to the nearest Starbucks for my Americano.

A Kijiji search ended up with a $700.00 Breville “the Barista Express” for $400.00.  This beautiful piece of equipment replaces my dead espresso maker and coffee grinder.  I feel like a Barista.  Maybe I should invest in one of those green Starbucks aprons to complete the look.

Amber, The Happy Camper

A recent camping trip made me revisit a memory which occurred in the year 1983.

We had gone to Waskesui Lake for the annual family camping trip.  We acquired a campsite right next to the washroom facilities for a possible Amber bathroom emergency.  Amber, at the age of 3, was fully toilet trained but my Motherly-angst kicked in.

Picture it!  A beautiful summer day.  Sunny skies.  A light breeze.  Birds singing.  Rod visits the royal throne.  Magazine in hand, he embarks on a solitary journey.  A minute or so goes by and Amber gets impatient.  She knew where he was and decides to embark on that same path.  Keep in mind, the path was only about 75 feet away.  She was in my line of sight all the time.  I watched her as she stood outside the men’s side of the washroom facilities.

Now picture this!  A washroom facility made out of wood and metal compartments.  Windows wide open to let the ominous odors out and the fresh air in.  Rod was enjoying his peace and quiet when out of nowhere, a squeaky voice comes through echoing into every nook and cranny of that washroom.  “Daddy!  Are you in there?  Are you taking a poop?”

Apparently, another occupant was in the facility and all Rod had to do was to remain quiet hoping this squeaky voice was directed to the other individual.  Now every parent out there knows their child’s distinct voice.  Like a group of penguins, you know the call of your mate.  It is unique and it belongs to them.  But Rod is stubborn and remains silent.  Maybe Amber will tire and move on.  But she kept it up.  “Daddy!  Are you in there?  Are you taking a poop?”

Relief, as the other individual left and Rod was able to respond.  By advising little Amber that yes indeed he was in the bathroom, he allowed her to satisfy her curiosity and yes indeed…move on.





It’s Autumn

Vancouver, BC

October 22, 2010

11:36 AM PST

Fall is my favourite time of year.

The time of year to start over or do over.  As youngsters, a new school year begins.  It was going to be  the year that you were going to be a better person academically and socially.  You were given another opportunity.

That feeling carries over as you get older.  When the leaves turn into their vibrant colors and start to fall, it’s like a starting pistol.  On your mark, get set, go….

Mr. Bojangles at the Santa Monica Pier

Los Angeles, CA

September 3, 2009  2:00 PM

The best rendition of “Mr. Bojangles” ever performed was by Mr. Sammy Davis Jr.

In my opinion, the second best rendition is by a unknown performer at the end of the Santa Monica Pier.    His setup was not the stage of a high class music hall with professional lighting and a backup orchestra.  It was a simple one mic, one guitar, an umbrella and a little puppy name “Angel”.

At first I ignored this lonely singer as I was taken in by my surroundings of the pier and the ocean.  I was at the Santa Monica Pier!!  However, when the singer started “Mr. Bojangles”, I couldn’t help but take notice.  Now, I don’t know if it was the atmosphere that made his performance so haunting but it came together so well.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

Hollywood Bowl Surprise

Hollywood Bowl, CA

September 2, 2009  7:25 PM

The 2009 Jazz series at the Hollywood Bowl with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, John Scofield, Chaka Khan, Jean-Luc Ponty and John Connors.

The setting was the Hollywood Bowl.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  A full moon hovered over a calm evening with temperatures hovering around the 25 degree mark.

The tickets were a cheap 14 bucks a piece.  We may have sat at the back but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Besides watching the music being played from a long distance, the view around made it all the more special.  There were two large screens at each side of the bowl which allowed some up close and personal moments if we wanted.  We just sat back with our glasses of wine and took it all in.

Halfways through the evening two figures appeared to the left of the stage, one guiding the other along the way to the piano.  When the screen displayed the individual sitting at the piano, an uproar came from the audience.  Stevie Wonder in all his glory.  The excitement from the crowd was as boisterous as if you’re favorite hockey team just scored the winning goal to capture the Stanley Cup.

Stevie joined the group for a few numbers with his trademark sway and smile.  He made everyone’s life more special that evening.  A story to be retold over and over again by the thousands of people at that concert.

As I wasn’t allowed to bring my SLR, I had to settle taking this photo with my iPhone