Something to write about

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Please Note: Despite imagery, Canada is not really an island 🙂

WordPress has been bugging me about my domain renewal.    It’s been a year since I purchased TheSandyChronicles.com domain and I needed to rethink whether it was worth it.  Not the fee per se, rather the effort to maintain a blog.   After all, a lot has happened in a year.

When I first started I was living in Asia and wanted to chronicle bits and pieces of my life there.  After nearly ten years away though,  it was time to go  home to Toronto.   Lovely though it was to re-enter the familiarity of my hometown, there didn’t seem much newsworthy to blog about.

However, something’s about to change. My hometown is going to get a lot smaller.  Toronto will remain a 2.8 million metropolis (no fear there) but we will be moving to Ucluelet, with a population of 1,717.

I expect there’ll be a difference and maybe, something new to write about.

So I’ve decided to renew my domain and continue to post The Sandy Chronicles.  I have to change the blog’s tag line though.

Stay tuned for more about Exploring Life on the Edge.

Ucluelet, BC.  July 2018

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Ucluelet

Landscape photography is not my forte.

But given the coastal views in Ucluelet, British Columbia, I cannot but try.

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Ucluelet – Stress Free Zone Ahead

Located on the westerly side of Vancouver Island (which on the west most side of British Columbia’s mainland), Ucluelet is this the rugged cousin of the more famous Tofino.

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Amphitrite Lighthouse

It is well known for it’s black volcanic rock beaches and dramatic coast lines.  The Wild Pacific Trail starts at Amphitrite Lighthouse and loops up and along the Pacific Rim, with walking trails traversing cliffs and rain forest pathways.

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North Pacific coast line
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Wild Pacific Trail – one of many look outs

Closer to Tofino, the cliffs give way to stretches of  black-grey sand beaches.  Pounding waves make  this a destination spot for avid surfers …

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Cox Beach

… and bicyclists,

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Long Beach – Surf favorite

…  joggers and plain ole, laid back beach walkers – like me.

Ucluelet, British Columbia. June 2018

A Surfeit of Croissants

The Sandy Food Chronicles

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.

Learning Batch of Croissants Croissants – First attempt – the Learning Batch 

Two batches (4…

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Positive Signs

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North & South at the DMZ

Local and world news is peppered with tales of aggression, violence and corruption.

It’s good to see positive stories of hope and peace.  Kim Jong-un’s crossing of  the North and South Korean border is one of them.  Optimistically, it is a precursor to the end of years of disunity and antagonism.

It is eerie to see  Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in walking across a path that one year ago heralded gun fire.

I remember visiting the DMZ in 2016 and I recognize every angle of this video’s background. The place struck me then as a surreal setting for a Twilight Zone scene.   I am  hopeful now for a Disney HEA.

Photo taken in South Korea, 2016.

Gurushots Addiction

I may be addicted.

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.

Toronto, Canada.  2018

via Daily Prompt: Vague

What I do when I’m not cranking out photos

This is what I do when I’m not taking photos.   I crank out calorie laden, coma inducing cakes, cookies and carbs.

I’ve just completed a course in the  Baking Arts at George Brown College … to the great disappointment of my family who’ve come to rely on a steady supply of treats.

Luckily the break will not be long.  My next course starts in two weeks.

Onwards with Cinnamon rolls, Croissants,  Babkas, Brioche, Kugelhopfs …

Toronto, Canada. April 2018

via Daily Prompt: Crank

Photo Challenge: Awakening in Halong Bay

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The legend of Halong Bay is that a celestial dragon defended ancient Vietnam by breathing fire on pirate invaders and spitting out hundreds of hot emerald stones into the north sea. The gems become islands  which formed an impenetrable wall to other invaders.

Today Halong Bay protected from the sea but vulnerable to a daily invasion of tourists.  It is a busy thoroughfare of sailing boats and day cruise ships. By day the bay is alive with the sights and sounds of 8200 visitors daily.

Select cruises offer overnight stays and in the late evenings and early morning it’s possible to experience the quiet solitude of the bay.

On this morning I was awake at dawn.  The early morning light had just broken and the only sound was the gentle slap of water against the fisherman’s oar.  It was a quiet awakening to a brand new day.

Photo taken in Halong Bay, Vietnam. 2014

 via Photo Challenge: Awakening