Friday, November 8, 2019

The End of World War Two.

The photograph displayed on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.
We were in Hawaii a little over a year ago and spent a day visiting the USS Missouri.  The battleship was the last one built by the US and was finished in 1945; it was the place where the Japanese finally surrendered and put an end to the war.  A large photograph on the starboard side of the ship captured the moment with General McArthur at the table.  If you look carefully at the officers, you will notice each one of them is numbered.  Their names are given in the script to the bottom right of the shot.

It was a poignant moment for me, seeing that image, with the realization of what the cost of the freedoms I enjoy really is.  The power of the ship, the ghosts of those who served upon her and her nearby sister ship, Arizona, filled me with humility and a deep sense of pride.  I have always respected those that serve and have served.  My grandfather served in the war.  Even though he returned from the war, unlike so many others that sacrificed everything, the burdens of the experiences weighed heavily upon him for the rest of his days.

We use Remembrance Day as a time to remember those who died in service of their country.  We stand silently to honour those lost far too young as we gaze in retrospect at the poppies and crosses which symbolize their sacrifice.  Too often though we forget those that survived the ravages of war but are still carrying the physical and emotional scars they have received.  To our shame, many of them have needs which are not being met because of policies beyond their control.  I think our freedoms are worth more than what little they are asking for.  We owe them everything.  It is not too much to ask to help them when they are in need.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Michelle Silk; knowing what is important.

Michelle Silk (left) and her family (inset).
It was Michelle's birthday yesterday and I posted the above photo on facebook to celebrate that fact.  I like the composition because it addresses the question, "Who is Michelle Silk?" 

The portrait of her was taken at Tsusiat Falls on the West Coast Trail.  Anyone who has completed the journey would attest to its arduous nature.  She did the trek because of her love of the outdoors and desire to spend quality time with the people she cares about.  Mostly though, she did it because it was a way of bonding her family together; the challenge would build character, memories, and further family unity.

That last thought is the one foremost in her mind; it is the impetus that carries Michelle through the struggles which have a way of presenting themselves to each of us daily.  She has had more obstacles than most of us would ever care to admit to, and in spite of them, she has faced each one with determination and grace. 

Those of you who know Michelle will attest to this; it is not my intention to list what she has had to overcome, but rather to acknowledge her successes and perseverance.  I appreciate her great love of family and the loyalty she gives to her friends.  Her time is spent on that which is important to her.  The West Coast Trail is a good example.  It was not on her bucket list nor did she ever yearn to complete it.  The fact was her family and friends held those desires; her ambitions were to support those that needed help and share in the experience.

I appreciate Michelle because she knows what is important and strives to implement and support those things.  Her gentle, caring nature is shaped by her determination to make a difference and her desire to support the people she loves.  Although it was Michelle's birthday yesterday, I feel that I am the one who has received a gift.  She has made me a better person and I am thankful for knowing her.  I think we all feel the same way.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Representing Canada the right way.

Paul and Kerem at Derby Reach Park.
We as Canadians have a lot to be proud of.  We live in a great country, which boasts freedoms, spectacular vistas, and incredible people.  We get to share the wonders of Canada with foreign students, who come here to study, learn English, and broaden their worldview.  It would be great to say that their hosts present to them all that Canada is, but unfortunately, that is not always true.  To some, they present a much darker picture of this wonderful place we call home.

Kerem, the boy on the right, is from Turkey; he is an international student who has come to Canada to learn about our ways and to get a good education.  He is currently staying with a homestay family that treats him as one of their own.  They do everything for him they did with their own children, and he feels the love and care they share.  My friend, Paul (left) was looking after him for respite purposes as his host family was away for the weekend.

Kerem arrived in Canada last year for his grade 10 year.  He wound up in one of the maritime provinces.  He did not have a good experience at all there.  In spite of the majesty of where he found himself, his host family did not take him to places where he could revel in one of the many things that makes our country so great.  They would not provide rides for him into town unless he paid them for the privilege, and offered only meager rations for food.  In short, he was a cash ticket to them and nothing more.

Each of us has the opportunity to be an ambassador for Canada when we meet others from another country.  It doesn't matter whether they come here or we go there.  The things we do, what we say, and the way we act all describe what Canadians are all about.  I am glad he has come here to BC and has met homestay caregivers that can truly show him why our country is so great.  It is sad though that his experience has been tainted by the selfish actions of others, who couldn't see the gift they could impart because of their greed.  Canada, we are better than that.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 14, 2019

How to make a living.

A woman in St. Kitts, making a living.
There are two essential questions which you need to answer when looking for an income.  The first is, "What can you do?" which basically addresses your skillset and the second is, "What are you willing to do?"  In good economic times, there are plenty of jobs.  Chances are there is something to match your abilities with your aspirations.  Times are not always good though, especially in third world countries where education is sparse and poverty dominates. 

Your skillset may not, in these situations, be what is in demand.  I have known people with Master's degrees and Doctorates who have taken jobs far under their level of expertise.  This tends to be especially true for educated legal immigrants that, in spite of their proficiency, have had to take on menial jobs to earn a living.  This is where the second question comes into play.  What are you willing to do?

Essentially, this comes down to work ethic.  Regardless of what you can do, it often comes down to what you are willing to do.  Our North American society has developed a philosophy of immediate gratification.  We want instant success with limited effort.  The truth is that success often means starting small and working your way up.  The great thing about having a good work ethic is that you rarely have to stay within whatever narrow confines you may find yourself in.  You will be noticed, and your ethic and attitude will help you improve your situation.  It takes time, but eventually, success will come your way.

Consider the woman hosting the refreshment bar in the photo I took in St. Kitts.  An impoverished nation with little work, yet she has a job and is earning an income to support herself and her family.  She has made a commitment to be there, to be reliable, and to assist others in the best way she can.  The reward is steady employment in a place where there are few jobs to be had.  The best part though is what is to come; continuing her efforts will certainly help her family, but they may lead onto bigger and better things that would not be available had she not done well here.

Education is important, but a good work ethic will do amazing things for you.  The best though involves both of these together, where abilities and attitude coalesce to maximize potential.  Work hard; learn all you can.  Time will do the rest.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 4, 2019

The value of a daughter.

Leanne while we were visiting Neck Point, near Nanaimo.
How we view the world is so very dependent upon how we were raised, the culture we embrace, religion, and the way we put all this together through the years.  It amazes me that some would have you think that boys are more valuable than girls.  I guess that sentiment comes from things like the way family names get passed down, the traditional role of men in rural settings, and those that see male heirs as the caregivers later on in life.  None of those have affected the view I have on the value of my daughter.

Children are, of course, the very center of what we think of as the family.  "Family is important," as the saying goes, and it requires us to administer our time and resources in such a way as to reflect that.  But is one child really more important than another?  There is the boys versus girls comparison, the order of birth aspect, and the achievement record which one may use to judge extrinsic worth.  Yet at the heart of it all remains the real question, should the love you have for a child be based on such external factors?

I would submit that the only answer is, "No."  Love must be unconditional.  A simple sentence yet one that has the very basis for producing a better world.  All children, regardless of age, deserve to be loved equally.  To do otherwise devalues the worth of an individual and creates biases that do far more harm than good.  How we treat those around us reflect how we will be treated in the coming days.  To be loved, it is important to love first.

I would do anything for my daughter.  As a parent, I have been given the task of raising her properly, which means balancing discipline with reward.  It also means treating her well and supporting her goals.  There are many obstacles that present themselves over the year; things like money, position, physical and mental health all restrict what actions can be taken.  None of that really matters though.  Love is not based on physical parameters, wealth, or ability.  It is a decision, one that should never waver.  Love is what you do.

I love my daughter, and I try to show it.  I have my faults, numerous ones at that, but those do not prevent me from trying.  When I blow it, I say I am sorry and continue trying to be the best parent I can.  That's the other great thing about love; it forgives and forgets.  And it goes both ways.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Put people in your photos; Kathryn at Golden, BC.

Kathryn and Murphy at Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, Golden.
We were enjoying a lovely walk on one of the many paved pathways available in the town of Golden in British Columbia.  We soon came upon an interesting sight; the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge.  It is located over the Kicking Horse River and allows those desiring to stretch their legs an opportunity to cross it without having to be near traffic.  The bridge itself has a lot of historical significance and there are quite a few information displays regaling its construction. 

The bridge itself is designed both for function and visual appeal.  I happened to have my ultrawide lens and got a number of good shots of the structure without people in it.  It was at this point that I remembered what I tell others to do when in similar circumstances; put people in your shot. 

Not just anyone, mind you, but people you know and care about.  The purpose behind this is very simple.  If you have a photo of some structure or landscape it will likely mean less to you over time.  A shot of the Eifel Tower is, after all, just that.  A picture with someone important to you in that same picture is another thing altogether.  It will keep its personal value over time and may even become a favourite.

I like to suggest doing two shots; one with that (those) special person (people) in it and one without.  That way you have one of each and can use either one depending on your purposes.  Given the fact that a 32 gig card can usually accommodate well over 1000 high resolution images, it should not be too pressing of a matter.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Eric alone on the Columbia River.

Eric and his kayak on the bank of the Columbia River in Golden, BC.
I am not fond of doing stuff by myself.  It takes much more determination to achieve some objective if I have to do it alone.  Much of the time it cannot be helped.  My partner in crime, my wife Kathryn, has not been well now for going on seven years.  There are things or days where she can manage, and when she just can't.  We used to do it all together.  Kayaking, hiking, shopping, exploring via car, and so on.  Many of those activities are just too much for her.  So, I either do it alone or not at all.

This isn't always true as I have buddies that I can explore the universe with.  My amigos and I have done many wonderful things together.  The problem though is that Kathryn is alone when I toddle off on some expedition.  She can manage somewhat on her own, but the truth is that it is all just too much for her.  Thankfully my daughter, Leanne, is often available to help out if I am gone for an extended period.

When we are traveling, like this past summer, it often is just Kathryn and me.  During those times I have to make a choice:  Stay around or toddle off and explore.  I can often make myself busy around camp or at home.  There is always something to do and I have my photography which keeps me busy.  The outdoors calls to me though and I have to get away once in a while.  Usually, it is only for a few hours; it is enough to paddle about or hike a trail or perhaps visit some interesting venue.  Again though there is the problem of doing it by myself.

Let me share something with you which you may not know about me; I have a lot of anxieties.  Fears, uncertainties, what-ifs, and even guilt all play a role in keeping me from going off and doing my Lewis and Clark imitation.  The important part of all this is to find a balance between my needs, Kathryn's needs, and to push past the inhibitions which would prevent me from doing the things I love. 

I have always been better at handling adversity and being adventurous when another person is present.  It is one of the things I love about being married.  We tackle the world together.  Even when Kathryn is having a bad day we find a way to enjoy each other's company.  Good days allow us to venture out.  Most days involve considering a myriad of variables before coming up with a plan.  In the end, though, we are doing well.  I find that doing stuff by myself isn't so bad knowing that, afterward, I get to return home to my life partner.  Tomorrow is a new day and who knows what awaits.