Posted in My Journey

Giving Thanks

Next Monday will be Thanksgiving for us Canadians. I can honestly say that this year has been one of the most remarkable years of my life. Never have I experienced such a powerful renewal of spirit as I have. And I believe this year is just the beginning.

The little things are what I am thankful for.

Such as when I finish shopping, a line will open up for me at checkout, saving me oodles of time later on. I enjoy how the lights going home all turn green, as if by some unforeseen miracle the lights themselves know I am on the road. It still impresses me when I arrive in a restaurant with the family with no reservation and the server gives us the last booth in the place. And I am in awe whenever I go to a movie to find it has sold out, but when ordering the ticket, a spot just happens to become available. This has happened on more than one occasion.

I am thankful for autumn, when the leaves change into a rainbow of colors, and all I can do is stand there wondering what have I done that I should so enjoy such an incredibly inspiring sight. I am thankful for this season’s rain, and the way it makes the moss on the rocks in the woods smell musty and worn. I am thankful for the lake in town, that I can watch the ducks paddle in among the fallen leaves by the shore, and relish in their simple life.

I am most of all thankful for my family—for my wife, Luana, who has supported me this year during my change from being lost to being found. I know she has prayed to God for my change in heart, as I know the kids have had their hand in it, too. I am thankful for my kids, one who is studying business, and the other who is pondering the life of a preacher. Both have been my inspiration. Both have provided me countless hours of joy.

Lastly, I cannot end this post without being thankful for my new church, where I have learned that I am worthy to go before the throne of God and worship him with my whole heart. No other place have I felt this before.

Oh, and of course, I am thankful for God patiently waiting for me (Isaiah 30:18) while I got my head straight as to realizing what is important in life. He has blessed me with peace (John 14:27). He has given me the hope that lies in Christ (Ephesians 1:11-12). He has shared with me his Sabbath rest I so truly sought for so long (Hebrews 4:9-12).

For all these things, next week’s Thanksgiving Day will be a day of absolute gratefulness in my home.

Posted in Freedom Friday

Blue

The color blue is everywhere in my life. It’s in my jeans. It’s on my desktop. It’s even in my dreams. But I’ll tell ya, it’s not my favorite color. Not by a long shot.

The color blue
The color blue

This is my Freedom Friday post about the color blue.

As I was saying, blue is everywhere in my life. I search for it when I’m online, when I’m walking to the Main Street coffee shop, and when I’m browsing at the mall. Blue is everywhere.

I really can’t help it. When Avatar came out, I basked in the glory of blue. The movie had segments filmed in nothing but blue. The floating things made me feel warm and fuzzy all over for the things that bring me happiness.

Blue excites me while I drive my family home from visiting my parents late at night. A building stands tall and erect that resembles the final act of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. I always say to the kids, as we pass by it on the highway, “Look, it’s the Star Wars building!” They gawk, ponder and wow as we continue on our merry way. The glow of the roof’s cerulean lighting is enough to keep me entertained for the rest of the journey.

The color blue, too
The color blue, too

My desktop has nothing but blue. I search for blue wallpapers. I search for blue themes. I search for blue mouse pointers. When I find them, they quickly hit my computer without a question. I don’t know what it is about the color blue. It brings out the best of my creativity. It replenishes my soul. It gives me the feeling of nostalgia that I can’t get anywhere else.

Then there’s the feeling of blue. You know, feeling blue? I don’t feel it that often. I know it’s there. I know people feel it. I know it affects people in different ways. I just don’t feel it often. I don’t wish I could feel it either in order to relate to some folks. I suppose something unpleasant would have to happen for the feeling to come. For now, I’m thankful I can only go with what others have told me. Feeling blue is awful.

You know what? It’s never too late to see another color. Like I said, blue is not my favorite color. If you know me well enough you’ll probably figure out what my favorite color is. The fact of the matter is how can we enjoy our favorite color and enjoy the color blue without feeling we’ve betrayed our soul?

[Author’s note: I wrote this post more as a compositional challenge to prove that anyone can write about anything and still have fun doing it. Although I wrote about the color blue, I had the surprising revelation that certain shades of blue unlocked memories I’d forgotten I had. In other words, I even surprised myself.]

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you have a color that dominates your world? If so, where do you see it?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

My Favorite Things

For a long time, photography has inspired me to travel great distances, survive sour weather and mangle my body into weird positions all in the expectation of capturing that perfect shot. Today, I hope you enjoy this edition of Freedom Friday because today, I’d like to give you a tour of my favorite subjects.

Canada's Wonderland Water Fountains
Canada’s Wonderland Water Fountains

As I’d mentioned, I enjoy taking photos of, well, almost everything. If it’s something I’ve wondered about and wanted to capture, I’m the first one there.

One of my favorite subjects is by far Canada’s Wonderland. Nestled in Vaughan, Ontario, just north of Toronto, this 330-acre (130 ha) theme park features some of the most awesome roller coasters in the world. What makes this site special for amateur photographers (that’s me), is the simple areas that reflect a moodiness sought after elsewhere in the world but achieved here with simple landscaping and music. Its fountains, mountain, and fireworks makes for a wonderful experience for travelers wanting excellence in a vacation. My family purchases a yearly pass to take advantage of the park’s beauty and relaxed atmosphere (yeah, and the rides are pretty cool, too). The hand-in-hand strolls I take there with my wife at night are worth every penny spent.

Canada's Wonderland Mountain
Canada’s Wonderland Mountain
Canada's Wonderland Fountains
Canada’s Wonderland Fountains
Canada's Wonderland Fireworks
Canada’s Wonderland Fireworks

Next up, Toronto. How can I ignore the place I call my second home? From its CN Tower to its beautiful lake shore, Toronto provides me with many opportunities to take shots centered around color and culture. More specific, the downtown core where I frequent the most, hosts a myriad of activities for the family. It’s difficult to say what impresses me the most. Is it the buildings or events? I think the multicultural aspect of the city gives me pause. Whenever I walk the streets, I have to admire all those who roam from faraway places and call Toronto their home. It is something of beauty.

Monument to Multiculturalism
Monument to Multiculturalism

Another favorite place I enjoy taking pictures is the Ontario Science Centre. Located in the heart of Toronto, the complex houses hundreds of interactive and passive exhibits. My family and I will head over during spring break when the rates are lower and the place is bustling with crowds. We have fun with the various activities and I’m always on the lookout for something interesting to shoot.

Ontario Science Centre Engine Display
Ontario Science Centre Engine Display

What else? Food, of course! As you may have gathered from my sushi and eleven-spice chicken recipes, I love food! And being Italian doesn’t help. There’s always something in the culinary arts to keep my interest as an obsessed shutterbug. My mom makes these phenomenal meals like Rigatoni with cheese and meatballs, veal cutlets with potatoes and green beans, broiled lamb with peppers and pickled vegetables—she’s a crazy momma. Whenever I visit my parents, I loosen my belt two notches. Yet, sometimes a simple plate of fries captures my attention. Call me squirrel-minded!

French Fries
French Fries
Veggie Salad
Veggie Salad
Candy
Candy

Autumn is my favorite season. What would a post about favorite things to shoot be without a fall photo? During this time, the colors here in Canada burst. Maple trees line the roads in orange coats. Forests erupt in a kaleidoscope of gold and reds. And me? I’m out in the woods taking shot after shot of the amber carpeting. Fall is my season. If I had it my way, I’d sleep out there every night, listening to the leaves drift to the ground.

Autumn in a Small Ontario Town
Autumn in a Small Ontario Town

These are a few of my favorite things.

Do you have a favorite photography subject? What is it that makes the subject interesting to shoot?