July 28, 2012

Reflections in Toogood Pond

Right next to the historic village of Unionville founded in 1794 (in the Town of Markham, Ontario) there is a 33-hectare park with a partially naturalized pond and a marsh. With a university pal I had not seen since 1979, I took a leisurely stroll around Toogood Pond today. 

While we reflected on the years gone by, I also captured a few reflections for Weekend Reflections. A Great Blue Heron with three turtles on a log, a beautiful summer's day sky, and another turtle on a log surrounded by green foliage.


Markham, Ontario, 2012

July 24, 2012

Tony the Greek Mural

Meet Tony the Greek. (No, not the infamous contract killer turned snitch.)

This part of a brick wall mural is a commissioned portrait of Tony Kiriakou, owner of the building and a diner called Wexford on Lawrence corner Warden in Scarborough (now part of amalgamated Toronto). The diner was first run by his immigrant parents and has been open for breakfast since 1958.

Toronto, 2012

This post is not intended as a recommendation for the diner, which I did not even see, let alone eat in, when I drove by a few days ago. I got my mural details by calling a Lebanese bakery shown online as being at this address and the now former tenant was wonderfully informative.

It IS intended to join Monday Mural, where you'll find links to more fun and fantastic murals around the globe.

July 12, 2012


I consider myself having a rather broad and adventurous palate (up to a point). But even after 27 years of living here, I still cannot stomach the Asian breakfast.

Filipinos typically start their day with a plate of tapsilog: meat/fish with garlic rice and a fried egg. Favorite meats include tapa (cured beef), corned beef, spam, longganisa or chorizo sausage, and tocino (bacon). Fried marinated bangus (milkfish) is popular,too.

Manila, 2012

This restaurant - Big Plate - is currently offering a special: a standard range of tapsilog versions with a cup of coffee for just over US$2 - all day. I wonder whether the brewed coffee is the native grown kape barako.

They make it look appetizing. But no meat or fried before noon for me! I'll stick to my organic cereal or oatmeal with fruit. And of course, coffee!

How do you break your fast?

Linking with Signs, Signs.

July 9, 2012

Reposo Mural: Hermes Alegre

Hermes Alegre is an artist who likes his women... to paint them, that is. 

This internationally recognized Filipino talent is known for his sultry and exotic women surrounded by lush fantasies of tropical foliage (click to see more of his wonderful work).

In 2006 I chanced upon Hermes contributing to the Reposo fine art wall (featured earlier on my blog here, here and here). Although most of his canvasses are a delicious profusion of colors, this spot on the wall seems perfect for this black and white portrait.

 Manila, 2006

I recently drove by the wall and was saddened to see that new construction had all but demolished most this amazing fine art. I'm so glad I have a digital record of much of it.

Joining the community at Monday Mural.

July 7, 2012

Brown Deer

Almost two years ago I showed you some white deer in a private zoo quite near my home. Yesterday when we drove by there was a new herd of deer, this time mostly brown.

Since I know as little about animals as I know about flowers and plants, I'll refrain from trying to guess what species of deer these are. But they sure are cute Camera Critters!

Manila, 2012

This last one, better viewed enlarged, is for the meme Mosaic Monday.

We're solidly in the wet season now, but you can see from the dried out vegetation that it's been a long dry summer in Manila.

July 6, 2012

Just A Pair of Sunsets

Brilliant sunset skies captured in the past two weeks. The first pair were taken near my friends' homes in Hong Kong, while the second pair are near our own home in Manila.

 Hong Kong, 2012

Manila, 2012

In the distance I spot a plane and feel the peace of not wanting to be on it.

For sky-watchers at SkyWatch Friday.

July 5, 2012

Flowering Ornamental Foliage

I found these deliciously bright flowering plants in the garden around my friend Lily's home in the countryside of Hong Kong. On a wet, gray day the vibrant purples, reds and greens jumped out at me. I don't often see them in bloom.

 Hong Kong, 2012

Solenostemon scutellarioides is a species of perennial plant, commonly called Coleus or Painted Nettle. 

I am linking with lovers of flowers at Floral Friday Foto, Flowers on Saturday and Weekend Flowers. Thanks to the hosts of these memes and all the participants for all the lovely eye candy.

Court in Session!

Dapitan, 2008

One of my pet peeves about living in Asia is the incessant and often futile use of horns. Motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks; one louder than the other. The noise pollution can sometimes get under my skin.
Mostly to no avail, I've seen prohibitions against using one's horn around schools, hospitals, even just residential areas. So perhaps I'd be forgiven if I thought this sign told me I couldn't honk near a court house.

How fun to learn that the only court on the block was a tennis court!

This is for Lesley's Signs, Signs.

July 3, 2012

A Grand Armchair Grave

On our way home to Manila from Wuchuan ten days ago we passed through Hong Kong and again stayed with our friends in the countryside of the New Territories. It's a lovely secluded and green place to live, but as guests without a car, getting in and out is not always most convenient.

I wanted to visit a cemetery for Taphophile Tragics, but my honey and our hosts were not at all enthusiastic. Not only was it a work day for my friends, it rained most of the day, so it was not a good time for either an outing or photography.

Truth be told, Chinese in general regard cemeteries with mixed feelings. While on special days in the year they meticulously go through the rituals of ancestor worship I described before, they otherwise see cemeteries as places for powerful spirits both good and bad, places to be avoided. In sharp contrast with the West, Chinese do not regard cemeteries as positive urban spaces. To illustrate, I was told we'd likely have trouble getting a taxi driver to take us to the cemetery up on a hill in the area, let alone wait for us while I explore. Unfortunately it was much too far to reach on foot.

To appease me, my friend offered to walk me to this grave near her home. Or rather, she showed me the start of a narrow concrete path, pointed up, and said, "it's about 20 meters up there." Then she quickly turned to return home. No way was she going to accompany me!

So here is what I found: a grand example of a modern armchair-shaped grave (all photos can be enlarged).

 Hong Kong, 2012

Headstone: Here lie together Uncle Wong, Father Wong and Mother Lau. First built 1967, rebuilt Jan 2002 by all the offspring.

The two minor side graves are for the "guards" - in Chinese they are called "god of the earth."

You'll agree the grave resembles an armchair, with raised areas protecting three sides, from its back reaching around to the left and right. The front is left open and accommodates the platform where living family members engage in the rites of ancestor worship. I've shown less grand versions of the armchair grave here and here.

I have read that constructing graves in the armchair shape goes back to the Northern Song Dynasty, 960-1127 AD.  Many Chinese, especially in southern China, have long regarded the form of an armchair as the ideal shape for a grave. It provides a sense of wealth, comfort and dignity.

According to fengshui beliefs, it is considered auspicious for a grave to have a good view.

Historically only the ruling class or the mandarin Chinese could afford armchair graves. Today they are increasingly frowned upon as taking up too much valuable real estate. But as elsewhere, old customs and traditions here die reluctantly.

The property behind the grave had a dog that was not pleased with my visit and barked incessantly. Rather than any spirits that may have been hovering, it was this very living creature that made me wary of hanging around too long. Still I thought he was a handsome fella.

July 2, 2012

Our Family's Future Mural

Cebu, 2011

This is another values-oriented mural (better seen enlarged) in my Visayas series linked with Monday Mural. Another piece of art soiled by a tagger.

Moving towards green and sustainable economies, and poverty eradication were key themes discussed at the Rio+20 conference in Brazil a few weeks ago. While the outcome document The Future We Want is a lofty read, many, including me, were disappointed that it contained no measurable targets or timelines to guide governance.

It's hard for me to fathom how our one and only earth - and we humans on it - can survive in the long run if we don't take more proactive action to protect it and to live in harmony with nature.

July 1, 2012

Clouds Over Fall Fields

Austria, 2007

This panorama (better seen enlarged) was taken on an early fall day, when the gladiolas and corn stalks were past their prime, somewhere in the vicinity of Vienna, Austria.