The eyes say it all!

One of my favourite sayings when I was on the safari. It’s not close enough if I can’t see their eyes! That was true of any animal or bird I was looking to photograph. It’s also true of people as well.

There are exceptions of course. Some of the people pictures I take are definitely not ones where you can see their eyes, but, that’s a different story!

Why the eyes? Henry David Thoreau said, “The eye is the jewel of the body”. I’m not going to be arrogant enough to say I look into someone’s eyes and can see their soul, or even know what is exactly on their mind. I can however tell you that when I truly connect with someone it is because of our eye contact.
With animals, we want to attach human emotions in everything they do. I’m not going to get into a philosophical debate about what they think or feel. My vantage point leads me to believe that there is something there that we might not fully understand. It’s hard to think that the lioness isn’t fiercely protective of her cubs.
Another interesting observation we’ve made, actually, I need to credit Donna with this observation. It’s amazing just how close the proximity between the animals on the different levels of the food chain co-exist. So everyone’s lives in harmony with each other, until dinner time!

Back to the eyes, lets have fun with this. We need captions based on the eyes. What is the animal saying?

My Bucket list trip

African Lion Safari

“I would like to think of myself as the consummate planner. ” Naguib

This isn’t just because of my chosen profession that I wrote that sentence. I’ve been articulating goals and identifying what was important to me since the end of high school. In my mind, those weren’t necessarily considered lofty goals by anyone else’s measuring stick, they were simply my goals.

Sometimes those goals were monetary in nature other times family goals. When we were first married, Donna and I would go for a walk around our neighbourhood and discuss what we would envision for our future. I will write about our cottage story another time.

Cottage skyline
Cottage sky, Oxtongue Lake

My goals were sometimes career goals. At first those involved certificate courses for pure interest, then licensing courses, followed by more advanced designation courses. Eventually, shifting entire client lists from one regulatory body to another. Finally, in my latest move even changing companies and the entire way we do business. Some of the business goals were because there was a wave coming and I didn’t want to be swept by it. The burning desire was to be riding the leading edge of it. I love what I do and I’m truly passionate about making a difference. More than that, I’ve been like a sponge. My clients have taught me more than I will ever teach them.

Part of the maturing process is seeing the circle of life at play. My journey of self discovery could also be because I’ve reached one age milestone after another. It could be that I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made. I’m a son, a father and now even a grandfather and it could be by shear osmosis that I’ve gotten wiser.

I learned to figure out what’s truly important to me. You see for someone who’s entire livelihood revolves around people and their money, I really don’t care much for the accumulation of millions and millions of dollars. Don’t get me wrong, my ultimate savings goal is “enough” plus one dollar! The tough part is knowing what is “enough”.

Bet you can’t do that! The Wilds, Ohio

One of the themes that started developing was that I love taking pictures of animals and have driven to relatively close and convenient venues to get pictures of them. At first I was content with just zoo pictures. Metro Toronto zoo and even the famous San Diego zoo. I then graduated to African Lion safari just outside of Hamilton Ontario. I’ve always wanted more.

A couple of years ago Donna and I discovered “The Wilds” near Columbus Ohio and what an amazing place that is! As much as those have incredible opportunities to take nice pictures, they left me wanting more. A Safari would be a team come true.

It’s bath time!. And a swim! African
Lion Safari.
Sharing wisdom in Metro Toronto Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Cuddly at San Diego Zoo

And now… A Safari in Tanzania

Then by chance, a photo weekend with a friend and fellow photographer Dave Taylor. Dave has earned more credit than “fellow photographer”. He has truly taken photography to a different level with forty books to his credit. He is an educator and tour organizer. I think he’s up to fifteen Safaris to this point. Taking six to fifteen people along for the ride. I had the pleasure of having a sneak preview of hit latest project – a guidebook to the Serengeti. Wow, just wow!

The weekend became almost an infomercial for a Safari. I was hooked. The sales pitch to Donna was easy, as long as I answered specific pointed questions and give her the right answers, she was in. We had promised our friend Yvonne Tyml to tag along with us. Then a mutual friend, Sandra Miller pretty much said that we couldn’t go without her. We had us a trip!

Dave Taylor In Algonquin Park
Dave Taylor, during the weekend long infomercial.

Dave survived a health scare serious enough to back out of going along with us and be our guide. However, he graciously connected us with his travel agent Elena Prountzopoulos who works at Alltours.

They connected us with Leopard tours. The outline of the trip was designed by Dave with the following parameters:

  • What would you do for yourself to have a serious photo opportunity Safari?
  • When is the best time to go and where would you go?
  • How many days?
  • Where would you stay?

Dave designed, Elena arranged for and Leopard Tours refined the trip to make it work more smoothly.

Today is the big day and I’m writing this blog on the airplane. All the research is done, camera gear checked and double checked. I had to buy the new IPad to give me a home to back up the images and now video.

Hurry up and wait sucks. With Yvonne, Sandra and Donna at Toronto airport

If the last trip to Yellowstone was any measure I would need tons of capacity for images. That Yellowstone trip was the one I took over thirty thousand images in two weeks.

This trip is almost here and designed for the photographer in me. Here’s hoping I have lots of opportunities.

There are already other stories to tell. Next posting – Amsterdam! This is my first blogging experience, feedback is most welcome!

“Ikigai, joie de vivre and la familia.” Celebrating Lucy!

The last thing I thought I would be doing at 2:00 AM the day I returned home from the trip of a lifetime is writing a blog entry. (It’s now 30 hours later and I’m done!)
We returned home late Monday afternoon, only for me to hear the news that my mother Lucy passed away on Saturday while we were in Amsterdam. The family, including Donna decided it was best for me to get the news on my return home. We realistically would have never made it home any earlier. The return flight was a mere thirty hours away. Going home earlier simply didn’t make sense.
I want to publicly thank my brother Kamal and his wife Colleen; my children Tara and Chris and their significant others; nephews Karl and Adam and their significant others as well as Myra who is my sister from another mother. Mom was Myra’s Canadian mother! They were all with mom through her last days. I know it wasn’t easy and I truly appreciate what you went through.
I find that writing and sharing images or as I call them “Captured Moments” is a cathartic exercise for me. I’m inviting you to meet Lucy through some of these pictures. I’m also inviting you to a deeper place in my heart and mind. Most, are from the safari, some were imported to complete the story.
Sami was the love of her life. His best friend was Lucy’s brother Alfred. Sami and Alfred would double date and bring their dates to Lucy’s mother’s house where Lucy made sandwiches for all of them. She must have made great sandwiches, because it lured Sami away. They were married for over 62 years.
Lucy in many ways embodied love and life. I’m borrowing terms from other languages because they somehow seem to fit in. Often times, you could hear mom and dad speaking in two or three languages in the same sentence. When pressed on that, they would simply answer “I didn’t realize I was doing that. I just used the words that made the most sense.”
IKIGAI, joie de vivre and la familia are collectively the embodiment of Lucy’s life and love.
The Japanese have “Ikigai” whose meaning translates roughly to a reason for being, encompassing joy, a sense of purpose and meaning and a feeling of well-being. The word derives from iki, meaning life and kai, meaning the realization of hopes and expectations. That’s Lucy! “Joie de vivre” a joy of life, describe her as well. She brought joy to every life she touched.
I’m not an expert on animal families, but got a great schooling on the safari. Elephants are unique when it comes to families and stand out for their love and nurturing of the extended family. Like elephants, Lucy adored her family!
When thinking of mom the Latin term, “la familia”, which in ancient Rome was including not just the family, but community and even servants and slaves. With the exception of slaves, Lucy had an amazing network of family, friends and church community that she loved beyond words. She always wanted girls, but was blessed with two sons. Our wives became the daughters she never had. Then grandchildren started arriving on the scene. At first it was Karl, then Tara, Chris and finally Adam. She loved them all and each one felt special.
All of us got to share the love, but there was still a capacity for more, the great grandchildren came along!

That wasn’t enough she and dad accumulated “adopted daughters” they loved them as much as any parent would love a child. I won’t name any of my adopted sisters for fear of missing one or two of them and hurting feelings. They know who they are!

Dad used to say he had a very professional law practice in Egypt then again in Canada. It wasn’t until he hired mom to be his receptionist that his practice became truly a family oriented office.  Clients would have to go through the “Lucy interrogation” prior to being allowed to enter the inner sanctum where dad was the king. She would find out where they are from, what their martial status was, how many children they had.  Names as well as their ages were extracted from the unsuspecting people.  All of a sudden dad was getting invited to client weddings and christenings and their children’s weddings. I used to say mom had the second largest Christmas gift list behind Santa.
Before I shift away from the office. We all have many stories, but, one still stands out – – mom, much like dad was anything but a techie. Her new job as receptionist meant she would have to answer a phone that had many extra buttons. Getting a grasp of all the extra buttons was difficult at first. A case in point was the young lady who was calling from a payphone. She called asking for Sami, no problem, Lucy instead of putting her on hold, hung up on her. The woman called a second time and mom hung up again. Finally the woman called a third time and begged her not to hang up, she was using her last quarter! Lucy was indeed a quick learner…after this episode she knew what the hold button did.
What can I say about her deep love of the extended family both at Saint George and the Egyptian club. Can’t forget the Friday night friends, oh and the Canadian friends. There were the clients who became lifelong friends. Can’t overlook the neighbours or condo friends. Wait I almost overlooked the community she had at Holland Christian Homes or her Southbrook friends. She touched many, many lives!

It was always about you and not her!

It didn’t matter much how she was feeling, Lucy always asked about you and your family first. It was more important to her. My brother called her nightly at the appointed time 9:30. My call while not random was usually in the morning on my way to work. We had to report in on the family and our days. Her phone rotation was huge. I once calculated that in dad’s 62 years being married to her, she was on the phone for over six and one half years!

The Saint George Connection

Lucy fiercely supported St. George first and foremost because of an incident that happened to her in Egypt. As a result of the connection with St George, if dad didn’t take her to her beloved church on Sunday, she would insist on driving past another church also named St. George where she would make the sign of the cross and they can go on with the week.
The St George family also became important when she and dad were no longer able to make the trip. She would ask Lillian Scott to light a candle or two depending on who asked her to pray for them – it could be a job interview, health issues or whatever the concern was. Mom charged five dollars for that candle and ask Lillian to light it up on her behalf. Any event they had, in lieu of gifts it was a donation to St George church.
You should get Lucy better by now. Today is her funeral day. Just like when dad passed away, the pain of the loss is huge. However, I know in time, knowing the immense number of lives she touched in a positive way will help. It will be the big picture and small things that I will remember which will bring a smile to may face.
I will miss opening the door of her fridge on my way to say hi to her and stealing a piece of cheese. (By the way, when we went to pick up her pictures from her retirement home to take to the funeral home, I opened the fridge one more time and had one last slice of cheese from her fridge! It tasted so, so good!)
There is comfort in knowing that she is no longer suffering and she is reunited with and is walking beside Sami now- the place she truly belongs!

Farewell for now Lucy, wife, mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, great grandmother, adopted mother, fierce protector…it sure has been an amazing journey and you’ve touched an enormous number of people. The world is indeed left a better place because of the massive footprint you left!

Please share this in memory of Lucy

Well, you had to know where we were going to end up!

I’ve been mentioning in many of my posts that I have a number of reoccurring themes.

This theme has a number of titles. We would like to have you come up with a few more creative names than mine. I have two contests.

One winner will be declared for most creative theme title.

Part two is more challenging! There are a number of images taken in some famous cities. The person who names the most accurate locations wins. No fair using Google!

This time, we will choose a winner from the submissions. Winner will receive an 8″x10″ of the image of your choice. Winner may select a single image from all blog pictures posted.

This will also be posted on Facebook where I have a larger following so heads up, this will be tough.

Some of the following pictures are over 32 years old!

Just some unsuspecting friends and family… You may earn bonus marks here, if you guess the location.

Now for the location test…

Safari 2018 – Day Two Amsterdam

We slept in this morning finally getting up at eight. I normally wake the sun up when I’m on holidays I’m afraid to miss a thing. If I could, I would use the entire 24/7 to be doing stuff. I could be exploring, hiking, even taking a picture or two. AND THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO PHOTOGRAPH!

When I’m on holidays, I try to get more in depth with the locals to get a better flavour of the place. It’s important to know that I’m not after anything free. I just needed better access if at all possible. To assist with that, I recruit the aid of a magazine – generally the Mississauga Quarterly where I was a contributing writer and photographer. I have a copy of my favourite article “In search of slow food” we toured Italy for four and a half weeks we made a habit of searching out slow food restaurants, I would show the the magazine and tell them that I was writing an article about slow food and would like to take pictures of the kitchen and food prep if at all possible.

Not only that, but once I start talking to the chef, I convince him or her that in all likelihood everything on the menu will look good. Furthermore, I would like to honour them by trying what they think they would like to eat that day. Being foodies we’re generally adventurous. It’s amazing what dishes we got to try. Also, the treatment we get from the chef and the staff. It is so much fun. I’m looking forward to trying this in the next few days.

Today was our walking day. We walked from our hotel to the train station, of course stopping at all photo opportunities. We also stopped for Donna’s and Yvonne to ogle any cats and dogs that happened by. Sandra is into the urban development scene. Public transportation is an important interest for her. It wasn’t a short trip time wise, but it was short distance wise. How else would one explore a place?

The Amsterdam Centraal train station is amazing not only for the architecture but for the number of people who use it every day. The bicycle parking lot off to the side was a site to behold. They sure do love their bikes here, but why not? The city was designed south them in mind it seems

Near the train station is St Nicholas a Catholic church. It was really ornate and s combination of styles cuypers was the architect and it was built in the nineteenth century.

Wow, just wow!

Them we headed off on a slow walk again to take everything in on the way to Anne Frank’s House. Of course we had to go through the redlight distict on the way

The church was a relatively new one. The