Monthly Archives: September 2013

The One about Otherworldly Landscapes

I’m drawn to strange colours, textures, and patterns, landscapes that seem surreal and odd natural wonders. I find the broken and rusted more intriguing than the fixed and stable; the falling apart with awkward and unexpected surprises, more appealing than the consistent and clean. This is my taste in art.

The Husband calls my taste “weird” but he knows me well and at each of the following places, he has remarked  ”this is SO you.” These are places that catch my breath, make me feel lost in thought, inspire the imagination and I guess, just make me feel comfortable? These are also places that make me want to pull out a paintbrush or collect bits and pieces of whatever I can grasp in my hands, for future inspiration and also because, as all art teachers are, I’m a crazy packrat.

As you can imagine, The Husband is not pleased about the collecting bits and pieces part. He does not want to be part of my ’treasure finding’ plan. He was certainly not happy when I convinced him recently to help me collect paint chips in every single colour, from every single row, on every single rack from Canadian Tire. It was for an art project.

On Hawaii’s Big Island, you can walk forever across old lava fields and not get tired of hearing the crunching sound of old lava under your feet:


Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

The Dead Sea didn’t interest me because of its floating or “healing” capabilities, I was more drawn to the water’s edge by the salt particles that lay in clumps, like pieces of crystal attached to the rocks. You can guess who went home with heavier bags:


The Dead Sea, Jordan

Watching the powerful waters of a geyser push upwards in a burst of power is a fascinating sight. First, the water starts to boil and steam, then a bubble is formed. Finally the steam and water forces skyward:

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Location of a famous geyser (getting ready to burst), Iceland

Iceland is a photographer’s dream. Full of muted dull colours and extreme contrasts in nature. It was raining. We jumped out of the car for a picture. I said, “please, I must capture this colour, I’m in love with it.” He said, “If you get the camera wet, I’ll kill you.” Never mind the fact that it’s my camera…

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Somewhere else in Iceland.

Well, while we’re on the subject of Iceland, I guess we can’t miss this:

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The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Rocks, sands, dirt, never-ending space - I love it. Here, the red sands up close are just such a gorgeous rich rust colour. I made sure to bring some sand home. I don’t know what to do with it yet, but one day I’ll know:


Wadi Rum, Jordan

There’s something storybook-like and fairytale-esque about trees. Trees are friendly, almost smiling creatures. Who doesn’t like trees?

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Giant Sequoia trees, California

One of my favourite things about surreal landscapes is the quietness of them. There’s something so beautiful in solitude. Rain tends to drive people away, indoors. I love rain, it means no crowd. Plus the foggy clouds give everything a soft mystical kind of look. It was lightly drizzling this day:


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Marble terraces and hot springs, Pamukkale Turkey

It’s hard to believe people lived here. In this ancient place pockmarked with empty cave homes carved right out of the rock. I’d call it Flintstones-like but that makes it seem childish and it’s not cartoony, though the possibilities for hide and seek are endless:


Cappadocia, Turkey

The middle of nowhere it seems, is the best place to come across unexpected beauty:

Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Potholes, South Africa

“…and in her starry shade, Of dim and solitary loveliness, I learn’d the language of another world” – Lord Byron.

Favourite Photo Friday: How to Take the Best Action Shot


Step 1: Push The Husband in front of you and say “you first darling/honey/knight in shining armor helmet!” (um yeah, because do you really think I’m going to grab that rope in front of me and jump to my death off the cliff so you can see how it’s done!?)

Step 2: Stand safely on the ground and away from the action about to take place (and so you don’t get kicked in the face)

Step 3: When he jumps, zoom in close to his face to capture the many expressions

Step 4: When it’s your turn to jump, make sure you turn your face away from the camera so he can’t take silly shots of you

The Tarzan Swing – Monte Verde, Costa Rica


The One about Masterchef

Is anyone else waiting eagerly for Junior Masterchef? I have to admit I got hooked onto Masterchef late, watching almost every episode this season but only bits and pieces of previous seasons. I do enjoy cooking shows … and cooking competitions even more… I’m really hoping there’s another season of Next Great Baker…

Watching these shows make me super hungry for good food.

While watching the season finale of Masterchef this week, The husband and I began debating, where did we have our best meal, and if we knew we were going to die that day, what would we want our last supper to be, if we had the choice? This is the problem with “what if” questions, they always lead into some debate or heated discussion.

There’s no doubt in my mind, if I could choose my last meal to eat, I would go the traditional route. I’d want my grandmother’s South African biryani, some of her South African samoosas (not samosas!) with homemade green chutney, meat pies, some South African haleem, sweet rice, and some delicious koeksisters for dessert. So… basically an Eid dinner from my childhood. Yum! (please note the ‘South African’ is to identify these dishes as quite different in taste and appearance from dishes with the same name from other parts of the world).

I wish I could say I had inherited some of my grandmother’s skill in the kitchen. Her cooking really was the best, and well-known and respected in the community. But getting back on topic, the best meal… the best meal I’ve had is something different and wouldn’t necessarily be my last meal. The Husband and I just couldn’t agree on this, our tastes in food are just too different. My favourite meal was in Greece, simple food: fried eggplant and tzatziki and Greek frozen yogurt for dessert. The Husband argues that’s not a real meal, and that nothing beats the pasta he had in Italy, in particular, a pasta dish near the train station in Pisa, that he remembers in great detail, whereas I can’t quite place what I ate there.

One of our most memorable places to eat was an Italian restaurant in the south of Spain, or the Costa del sol. It was a beautiful night and we were wandering around after a day at the beach, looking for a place to eat when we stumbled upon Pizzeria Romantica. There wasn’t anybody sitting on the patio but it was packed inside. We opted for the quiet seating outside and the husband conversed with the Spanish speaking waiter as best he could to convey our two requests, no alcohol, no meat. Soon we were enjoying two piping hot fresh pasta dishes with a generous helping of cheese. We LOVED it. And we went back each night we were there. We went back so often, that on our last night, the waiter who knew us and our order by then, presented us with a gift, a beautiful bottle of the non-alcohol drink we had tried and liked. It’s nice to be able to stay long enough in a place to get to know the local people and feel a sense of belonging and trust, and that’s what we experienced there.

FYI – The Husband was unable to choose his last meal because of too many choices. He’s currently gone grocery shopping.

Where did you have your most delicious meal, and if you were able to choose your last supper, what would it be?

If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff – Remy, rat chef from Ratatouille.

The One About How We Pack

I take approx. an hour to pack my suitcase and I do so 1-2 days before leaving to go somewhere. I always have some idea of what kind of clothing I’m going to be packing dependent on the weather and expected activities. I pack in a kind of methodical order: clothes, footwear and toiletries, in that order,  in my suitcase. I take some time to pack my purse carefully for the plane. And finally, I end with choosing something comfortable to wear for the journey. The last thing I do is trim my finger and toenails because for some reason I feel that if you travel with long nails you’re prone to germs and disease. And I do this all in about 1 hour. I complete all of the above in a very peaceful and calm manner making sure several times that I’ve packed my Body Shop eyeliner because it’s the one thing I can’t live without.

The Husband is a different story. He races around at the last minute gathering what he needs and tossing them into his bag without even folding his clothes – the thought of crumpled up clothes all smushed together in his suitcase makes my head hurt and so while he’s racing around, I often lie down in bed to escape the madness. I’ve tried offering to pack his bag for him, I also have actually just taken matters into my own hands and have packed his bags for him, but he never likes what I pack him and always changes his mind. Usually The Husband overpacks and doesn’t end up wearing half his things and the end result is very heavy bag for us to lug around. And more often than not, he will forget something vital, like a comb. If I forgot my hairbrush, I’d make do, you know, like use my fingers or something. If the husband forgets his comb… or razor… or gel… OMG the world comes to a stop and we must right away buy a new one. And it’s for this reason that we now have a growing collection of combs, cheap razors, and cheap gels.

It’s very easy to tell our bags apart. Mine looks like the perfect black suitcase, nice and neat and tidy. His is bursting at the seams (even with that extra section space). The thing is though, that I’ll often pack and repack his bag at every stop we make and he won’t even notice how much nicer it is when I do it, I can always find a way to make everything fit.

Is this the case with all men? – That they just don’t know how to pack?

What is the one thing you can’t travel or leave home without?

I collect a lot of eco-friendly shopping bags that serve to separate my shoes and other small stuff in my luggage – Liu Wen.

The One about 5 Things

5 things I’ve done that 10-15 years ago, I never imagined doing:
1. A Safari – a real African safari in Africa, not a visit to African Lion Safari in Cambridge, Ontario. Once you do the real thing, you’ll never want to visit a zoo, it will never compare.
2. Swim in a waterfall – In, under, or on top – check, check, check. The most dangerous and exciting was swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls, devil’s pool in Zambia.
3. Shark cage diving – Off the coast of Gansbaai, South Africa, seeing great white sharks that close? Never thought it was possible!
4. Sleep in the desert under the stars - Camping on the red sands of Wadi Rum, in Jordan under the stars with the Bedouin, feels a million miles away from home, but still feels like home around some of the warmest and most honest people you’ll ever meet.
5. Zipline through the jungle – Ziplining is popping up everywhere. The absolute best place to do try it is still in Costa Rica, zipping through and over the canopy trees in the rainforest, breathtaking.

5 more things I would love to do:
1. See the northern lights – I tell The Husband, “Let’s see how far we can drive north!” and he doesn’t want to pay for gas.
2. Hike the Inca Trail – I get tired walking up the stairs. I get tired walking down the stairs. I need to train for this. Or, maybe I need to take the train instead of walk.
3. Go on an Alaskan cruise – This just seems so much cooler than a Caribbean cruise.
4. Hang gliding in Rio – It doesn’t look scary…?!
5. Sleep in a little hut over the water – Can you ever justify spending $1000 for one night’s stay?
Life is either a great adventure or nothing – Helen Keller


The Second Post

I know, I know, not a very creative title for post #2. Looking for ideas for cheap and close travel for the Thanksgiving long weekend, either in Canada or the States but not somewhere I’ve been before. Maybe someone knows of some hidden gem nearby or interesting place where 3 days is all you need?

Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation - Leonardo da Vinci.