Archive for March, 2013

Love in Paradise.

We’ve been home a week and I still don’t have the words to describe how incredible Ngaio & Wilson’s Jamaican wedding was.  It was capital “A” Amazing.


We’d only been back from NYC for three days before we flew off to Montego Bay.

It was a bit of a shock, experiencing the extreme temperature differences in such a short span of time but, if I had to, I’m pretty sure I could get used to the jetsetter lifestyle.





The wedding was held at Coral Cove, an intimate and lovely resort in a little fishing village near Little Bay.  It’s about 10 miles south of Negril and, apart from us, was completely void of tourists.  It was peaceful, quiet, and beautiful.




I haven’t written anything down recently but I do have a bit of a mental bucket list going.

Before this trip, I was so excited for the wedding that I didn’t think about much else, nevermind checking things off my list.  Things like snorkeling through caves (check) or jumping off a cliff into the ocean (check).   Both of which were awesome — though the latter had me pacing in fear for about 10 minutes before making the leap (which I mostly had to do because a 9 year-old went ahead and did it just before me).



20130307-20130311_jamaica-4068  20130307-20130311_jamaica-4224




Really, the whole trip was just awesome and full with fun times.

Like the time we flew kites on the beach.





Or went sailing on a 40 foot catamaran.




Or went fishing and caught a 25 lb King fish (which Raina heroically reeled in herself and had the bloody knuckles to prove it).





But when it comes down to it, we were there for our dear friends, Wilson and Ngaio, and to see them get married.




Wilson is a photographer (he’s the other half of the awesome Raina + Wilson duo) and Ngaio works in advertising.  Together, they make an amazing team — as evidenced by all the thought, care, and effort they put into planning their wedding.

Case in point: a significant portion of their luggage was dedicated to lighting.  They brought down string lights for the reception, coloured bulbs for the main building, gels to tone down other lights that would’ve otherwise been overpowering / ugly, to name a few.

Of course, given that Wilson is a photographer and producing is something that they both do as part of their day jobs, I wouldn’t expect anything less.  But still.  It was impressive.

And like the rest of the trip, their wedding was simply beautiful.



















It was an incredible trip, in a beautiful place, and full with beautiful people.  My only wish is that we could go back and do it all over again.




Brooklyn-bound… and Back – Part 3


While in NYC, we stayed with my lovely childhood friend Suzy and her family.  They were living in Toronto previously but moved to Park Slope in Brooklyn ’bout a year and a half ago.

Back when Suzy was getting ready for the big move, I peppered her with questions about everything.  The visa process.  Moving costs.  Living costs.  The whole 9.

While still happy and comfortable in Toronto, I dreamed of New York.


Aside from the sketchbook tour, we only had a few plans.  At just 4 days, ’twas a short one and I didn’t want to stress out by having too much on our plate.  So we mostly just went with whatever.

We enjoyed some great eats (at Talde, Parish Hall, and Sky Ice) and also went to the Brooklyn Flea — all of which I’d highly recommend.

We also checked out Sleep No More — which was amazing.  (And if I could give just one bit of advice, wear comfortable shoes and do NOT read anything about it.  At all.  Except maybe a Cliff Notes book on Macbeth.  But seriously — the less you know, the better.  Admittedly, the show has been running for a while so there’s tons of info out there — but if I could do it all over again, I’d go in knowing nothing.  Nada.  Zip!)




One thing I realized early in our trip was that this was my first time visiting the big city while living in another big city.  Coming from Edmonton or Victoria, the difference is stark.  But coming from Toronto… this was different.

We already have art and artists and street noise and music and great food and culture and things to do every night of the week.  I’ve been here 10 years already and am still just scratching at the surface.

Of course, there is a vibrancy of spirit in New York that is unparalleled.

But Toronto is pretty awesome too.

And in real terms, the amount we pay for our house essentially would get us a teeny-tiny studio far out in the boroughs.  So there’s that too.


Anyway, near the end of our trip, Suzy asked if New York was still on our radar.  And I paused.


If we could afford to “do it right” in NYC, I’d still move there in a heartbeat.  But if and until that happens… I’m actually pretty happy, right now, right here in Toronto.


I’ve been thinking a lot about what this trip has meant for my relationship with  NYC and for our future together.  I’ve held on to the dream of living there for so long; I no longer know if it’s passion or habit.

But the one thing I do know, if it weren’t for New York, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Living in a big city, doing work I love to do.

And for that reason alone, big and beautiful New York City, a part of me will always be yours for the taking.



Brooklyn-bound… and Back – Part 2



The Sketchbook Project 2013 Tour kicked off this past Friday, at the Brooklyn Art Library.

When we arrived, the place was jammed.  It was full with people.  And the walls lined entirely with sketchbooks.




I felt overwhelmed at first.  I didn’t know what to do: get a library card, take photos, or just touch everything.  I mean, c’mon — look at all those books!

Luckily, someone had the wherewithal to corral us together and that’s when Husbo snapped this photo (that’s me with my niece and co-collaborator, Sol):



There was a lot to see and I was keen to get started.  So we got ourselves some library cards and went at it.



The above two illustrations are from a book that was attributed to “YLHS Artists” from Yorba Linda, CA.






Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the artist who did the amazingly detailed pen drawings in the third photo — but if anyone knows, holla!



I only caught a glimpse but instantly loved this sketchbook by Steph Nelson from San Francisco, CA — it featured well-known masterpieces but made better with cats!

It was returned before I could flip through it myself but I’ll definitely remember to check it out when the tour comes to Toronto.




I caught Tania, Sol’s mama, looking through our book.  I think she liked it a lot (though she may be biased).



I also checked out Pam’s book.  Here’s Husbo reading it with our nephew, Dryden.




Sol and her pal Darla went through a whole whack of great books together.  I managed to sneak a peek at this one by Maury Tieman from Austin, TX.  I loved the cut-out keyhole and it also included a fold-out map!


We stayed so long looking at books that we shut the place down.

If I lived closer, I’m pretty sure I’d be there every day, happily combing my way through the stacks.

But in the meantime, I’ll just sit on my hands and count the days until the tour comes to Toronto.


Only 93 to go.


Brooklyn-bound… and Back – Part 1

So the Sketchbook Project 2013 tour has officially begun and I’m so happy that we were able to see it all kick off.




We left Toronto under gloomy grey skies.  And then rose above to one that was a brilliant blue…



…on our way to New York City.



I became a photographer because of New York City.

When we first met in 2000, I fell in love.  And I know you know what I mean.  It’s a special place.

At the time, photography was something I already loved but, after New York, it became a dream.  New York City showed me what was possible and, after that fateful trip, I never looked back.


Even in 2003, when I made the cross-country odyssey from Victoria to Toronto, it was New York that pulled me eastward.  Toronto was supposed to be a pit stop.


Given all this, it’s surprising that I haven’t been back in 10 years.  It’s a super-short plane ride from Toronto and just 8 hours by car.  In the same amount of time, one can reach Edmonton from Saskatoon and for many, that’s an easy long weekend.


But as the date of our trip loomed closer, I felt myself not wanting to go.  What if I fell in love all over again, casting my current life in Toronto as second-rate, a compromise that I’ve settled for out of complacency?


Ready or not, I was about to find out.


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