I’m going whole hog with the West Coast lifestyle thing.
Well, maybe not ‘whole hog’, that’s not vegan. But I may be going ‘loco.’
I’m buying local anyways. I joined the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG) which provides locally sourced food and vegetables to Vancouver Island’s restaurants and foodies.
Aside from ordering a la carte, I can buy a Food Lovers box featuring the best veg and fruits of the week. Sometimes it’ll include an unusual but not too weird item. Exactly what’s in the box is a mystery until pickup.
Here’s what my first box looked like.
Fruits included raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries and first of the season peaches.
Veggies were french beans, fresh picked bib lettuce, cauliflower and purple kale. The kale was the not too weird vegetable. And carrots – lots and lots of carrots – a whole layer of them was hidden beneath the kale. An additional…
I’m learning how to make breads at the George Brown culinary school. Last week’s class was French croissants. It was my introduction to laminated breads i.e. breads made with layers and layers of butter.
Through a series of missteps and happenstance I ended up making over six kilos of dough.
If you’re familiar with the lamination process, you will appreciate the magnitude of that effort. Suffice to say it took twelve hours of kneading, rolling and folding to produce these three batches of dough.
I cut and baked the first batch at school. This first set I called my ‘learning batch’. They were less than perfect. I’d cut them too big, shaped them wrong and had not left enough time for proofing. While they tasted ok, there was obvious room for improvement. I took the remaining batches home for practice.
Lately I’ve been spending too much time huddled over my phone, checking status, entering challenges, voting and topping up my exposures. I’ve been playing Gurushots, a real-time online photo competition system.
It works by entering challenges and accumulating votes to achieve levels. The levels tip to points and the points tip to ranks. The more you vote, the more exposure your photo entries get for voting. There is no limit to the number of challenges you can enter. And that’s a problem.
At one point I had ten challenges going. I was constantly checking on my exposure meter and submitting votes to bump it up. Problem is that voting involves paging through hundreds of photos, some good, some not so good and some downright puzzling. It all depends on the wording of the challenge. Sometimes, the guidance is too vague.
Take for instance the “Starts with a K” challenge. The description was too vague. It should have qualified the language. I paged through hundreds thousands of Kittens, Keys and Kiwis. (Question: How many interesting angles are there to a Kiwi? Answer: None. I’ve seen them all.) But then I started seeing Cakes, Coffee and Corn. Someone couldn’t spell. Wait … maybe they could spell but it was in German. Kuchen, Kaffee and Korn.
Another fun challenge was “Face in the Crowd”. There were lots of pictures of crowds but no distinctive single face. Other pictures were classic single person portraits; you had to imagine the crowd. One remarkable shot was taken on stage, of the back of a band performing to a crowd. No faces seen but they were facing the crowd. Ha ha! That one got my vote.
Anyways here are a few of my photos in recent Gurushot challenges.
It’s that time of year when we look back and think about the past twelve months. Things done. Lessons learned. It’s good to look back and wonder. For isn’t that what makes everything worthwhile? The wonder.
For my 2017 Favorite, I chose a photo which represented the start of doing something different. I started to capture visual stories.
Previously I’d been focused on taking one shot photos of people and scenes. Single, opportunistic shots which captured the essence of a place or a person. With my Bagan Monks collection, I aimed for a sequence of shots to document an important part of their day: collecting alms. To make the photo’s interesting, I used a combination of angles and crops. Individually, the photos were o.k but collectively they gave context and intimacy to the ritual.
Of course, I still take one-shot photos. But sometimes I think ahead and plan out multiple frames in a story. The shoots then become more anecdotal and less opportunistic. It’s a different way of approaching photography.
I’ve been away travelling for the last six weeks and it was the first week-end back. I made a big Sunday dinner so that Daniel, my son would come home to visit.
My boy is going to be twenty two soon. It’s his final year in Engineering but it’s still hard to think of him grown up and living on his own. Well, not on his own exactly. He’s sharing an apartment with three other boys young men, all engineers.
“So what’s new Daniel? How’s it working out with your house mates?”
“It’s fine,” he said.
“No more eating their food?” I said, referring to the first week when he’d unceremoniously opened and cooked food from someone else’s stash. He’d said the food had been sitting there untouched for days. Shortly after, house rules were clarified in an impromptu meeting.
“It’s fine,” he said.
“How’s the house keeping going?” I said, dusting out a memory from my own university days. I vaguely remembered a fall out, something to do with the shower and hair.
“Aah. Sometimes I get fed up and just do it,” he said.
I am stunned. Daniel, getting fed up with mess and cleaning up. My son. Where did he go?
“Yeah. I’m the only one who doesn’t eat onions but there’s always bits and pieces of onion peel all over the kitchen. I wear socks and it was gross. I had to clean it up.”
I am so impressed. My boy is growing up.
“But then I realized I was the only one not wearing slippers. So I got some slippers and I don’t do that anymore.”