In rural parts of China, it is typical for children to travel a long way or cross a rapid river to get to school.  This bamboo bridge school in Xiashi is beautiful and practical without being invasive of the local and natural aestheticity of the town.  It not only makes the school a much more attractive place for children to learn, it also brings people together by transforming into a public gathering space and bridging two separate parts of the village.  What's more, it's built with local and sustainable materials.  The project won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010

 This reminds me of the classroom setting I'd see in Chinese period films.

via Inhabitat (images by Li Xiaodong)

I had a one-on-one black and white printing lesson at Toronto Image Works with photographer Stephen Brookbank yesterday.  Since the TIW uses paper processors I didn't get to play with chemical.  Instead I learned how to operate the machine, how to adjust contrast and focus, and how ot analyze a photo and selectively adjust contrast, brightness, and color composition to make an image look better.  Stephen was very patient with me and all my questions and he recommended me some books and photographers that I should read about.  It's a fascinating experience especially since I have so much interest yet so little knowledge when it comes to film photography and I rarely print any photos in prints larger than 4x6.  I learned that when you work on a photo in a darkroom and take your time to try different exposure time or play with dodging and burning, you see a photograph differently.  Especially in these days when everyone take thousands of photos with the digital cameras and post them all on facebook, photography loses its purpose as a mean for story telling and the thought processes the came before a shutter is press is almost nonexistence. 

Every time I held a print in front of me it felt as if it was the first time I actually looked at the photo.  Instead of a flat photo, I began to notice depth, lighting, emotion.  I became more proud of each photo that I selected to print, even though they were just 2 out of an entire roll of 36 films.

Now I just want to pick up my camera do some shots.

I like antique and vintage. I'm not very good at finding real antique or valuable stuff from a pile of junk or at a yard sale, but I do love go to antique market and vintage shops and look through things. Ever since I was a teenager I've always loved to look through my mom's suitcases of her clothes from the 70s and 80s and try things on. We'd go through her photo albums and ooo and ahh at her plaid shirt and light brown leather boots and her huge plastic rim shades and bell bottom. We'd try on her old washed jeans and long skirts and marvel at her tiny waist (24"!). She was the most beautiful woman I've ever met and if you like my style I give her all the credit for it. For my 14th birthday she bought me an antique charm bracelet from the Western Market. It's my favorite piece of jewellery and it's something that I will pass on to my daughter if I have one.

I was so sad to part with her clothes and stuff when she passed away. We were short of time and My luggage had limited room. But now whenever I go vintage or non vintage shopping all I could think of are those clothing pieces that we threw away that would have been nice to have kept.

Most of these pieces I kept were either bought during one of those shopping trips with mom or from her when I was studying in Ottawa. I remember where exactly I bought these and the comments that she made. I even remember some of the occasions where I wore them. I might not be able to keep all the clothes I once own but having their pictures taken is almost as good as keeping them in a trunk in the storage room, no?

And below is the costume I wore one year in ballet recital.  My class was "the ladies".  The costume also comes with a long blue and white striped skirt, which was also made by our teacher and some parents. 

Black Swan is my most anticipated film of all the films at TIFF.  One of my favorite actress Natalie Portman dancing my favorite classical ballet piece directed by one of the best directors of our time.  Now I just need to book a time in Y's schedule so we can watch it before our vacation.

And the limited edition posters of Black Swan are just brilliant!

It's almost time to cut my hair short again.  It's tricky to have short hair cut when you have a flat head and a round face like me.  But I think I found the cut I want!

Ginnifer Goodwin has a roundish face and round eyes.  I can probably pull this off, me think.


As a gift to my cousin for his marriage and new addition to the family, I've decided to make something special.  I want to make the baby a mobile with my newly adopted "skill" - needle felted animals.  Oh and how nice would it be to make some clouds too!  Here are some of my inspirations:

1. ECAB 2. Conversation Pieces 3. Donna Wilson 4. Etsy (Lovely Friend) 5. Etsy (Leptitpapillon)

How pretty they are!  I just wish I can do as good a job as these people.  Well lucky my cousin is not going to read this so I can say it out loud.

I don't know what got to me this year.  But it's like discovering art for the first time in my life, I picked up a paint brush and started experimenting with painting, drawing, collage, and needle felting.  I was surprised by how easy it is to paint during my first painting lesson 15 years.  With nobody judging or giving me marks, I created a couple of not too bad first pieces on canvases and papers.  I also picked up the wool felt that I bought in China a few years ago and started making things with it.  It was difficult at first.  But soon one after another, little animals were created.  Perhaps it's all the blogs I visited this year, perhaps it's a belief that I must got some of mom's genes in me, perhaps it's all the extra time I have for my mind to wander and my hands to linger.  I see something in me that I did not see before.  I also see something in this world that I never noticed before: patterns, colors, shapes, randomness, light and shadow, texture.  I don't know if it's one of the flings that I have once in a while or if it will become something bigger.  At this moment I'm just curious about all these and thirst for more.
birds watching from the top of the tree

I found out about a Canadian artist called Michelle Forsyth today.  She uses paint, water color, fabrics, cut-paper and other media to create delicate painting and installations.  "Her work examines traumatic cultural events and incidents of human suffering depicted in the media."  You can find out more about her here:

So I think I made a lot of decisions that seemed to make sense to me at the time but now seem like some really selfish and bad decisions.  Our life is reaching this point where, in front of us, there are several paths that lead to different directions.  We are not sure where each path will lead us to but we kind of have an idea what we want to achieve in the longer term.  There are voices that tell me to make a detour: this is time that you make amend - don't make the same mistake twice, you don't want the same regret twice.  I face with the question about the priorities in my life right now.  What are most important to me?  Family, career, life I want to pursue, or truth?

Someone said to me today:

You make many decisions in life.  You make those decisions for a certain goal.  You are heading towards the right direction - you want to have a happy life.  Yes, some of these are good decisions and sometimes you make some not so good decisions, but don't blame yourself when you make the wrong decision. Remember that you are only a human being and this is the only way you learn, by constantly learning so you don't make the wrong decision twice.  

Also, we tend to do what's best for our relationships, and forget to do what makes ourselves happy.  

Or what's right.

There are a lot to think about.

I'm quite pleased with our film choice at TIFF this year.  We got some of our first choices like the First Grader and the Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and I was less of a risk-taker this year to choose films basing only on its name.  We saw 2 over the weekend and they were both based in Africa, though very different in theme and nature.  The first one we saw was "State of Violence" by Khalo Matabane.  It was a film about Bobedi, a CEO of a mining company, whose wife was murdered and as he seek revenge he came to face with his darkest secret, his family, and his demon.  I feel like the film, while has some nice moments, never went deep enough to explore the demon in Bobedi, his past, and his relationship with his family.  It almost felt like a great idea wasted.  I am actually quite surprised as the director has directed several films about South African issues previously.  

The second film we saw was the First Grader by Justin Chadwick.  It was based on the true story of Maruge, a 84 year old Mau Mau (Kenya) veteran who showed up at the door of teacher Jane's school when the government announced free primary education.  I think the film has got many of Slumdog Millionaire's quality, i.e. sad past and resilient hero, although the plot was more simple and the performance delivered was much more profound and genuine.  In the Q & A after the screening, we learned that the crew of about 7 people went to this village school in the middle of nowhere, and shot this film with actual students that go to that school.  Most of the actors and actresses were sourced locally in Kenya.  The kids regard the director and the actress Naomie Harris, who plays the teacher, as teacher Justin and teacher Jane, and the crew (the director most specifically) stayed at the village to get to know the people and the place, and their understanding of this part of their history addressed in the film (which was very minimal.  This film, while not perfect (some say the plot is kind of bland), has strived in its profound portrayal of Maruge's emotion through his soulful eyes and smiles and his friendship with teacher Jane through the stunning performance by Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris.  It was definitely one of the best films I've ever seen at TIFF.

Being a photographer is more that knowing how to take photos with your DSLR though. This much I've learned.  As someone who is too careless/carefree with her camera, and an "assistant" to the boyfriend who has a passion for his 50D, I decided to learn photo editing.  By learn of course I mean self-learn.This is my first more serious photo editing project.  I never learned to edit photos with Photoshop and the most "professional" thing I have done is to run an Action someone has so kindly written and share online for free to make it look antique-y, faded, or stylishly b/w.  This time I'm making use of the Lightroom 3 we just got to do some touch up on photos Yves took at our friends' wedding.  I learn new tricks that come with LR3 as I go, such as the very useful local touch up functions.  Now I can't wait to go back and edit all the photos I took in the Galapagos.  First thing first though, I wish to finish all the wedding photos this weekend so I can share them with friends.  

This is private

What does it feel like to be out of control?  I'd like to know.  To let loose of my emotion, to properly express my feelings, to spill it all out without worrying of being judged.

Life goes on after I came back to Toronto last March.  I live my day to day life pretty much like I used to.  I mean, I'd talk about it with close friends and I think of her constantly.  Sometimes I'd cry in Yves' arms in the middle of the night.  But overall I feel like I'm on the right track, calm and rational; mourning quietly while not letting it affect my day to day life.  I sleep well most nights and eat as much as I used to.  I wonder how people would think of me, whether I seem too calm, too much like an outsider.  I want to talk about it with my siblings but they don't seem to want to open up.  But it's normal, right?  Maybe it's just as hard for them to open up to me as for me to them, or harder.  At least I could pretend that those dreams I had were real for a little longer.  Plus I haven't tried that hard to talk to them.  At times I get the guilt, the anger and blaming, but they are all relatively controlled - I know it's something I have to deal with.

I tried Reiki, but it didn't do anything to me.  I couldn't make myself call those support groups for help because I've seem fine, and why should I stir the pot and mess things up?

I stop talking to people about it because I don't want to hear them say that I'm strong.  Often time I secretly hope that someone will grab my arm, look me in the eyes, and say to me: Quincin, you are not okay, you are not acting like yourself at all, and you sure need help.

I don't want to be strong.  I don't want to be in control.  In fact, I want to lose control.  I want to let my emotion get me so I could spill it all out like a hurt animal or hungry baby without worrying about anything at all.  Just like what most people are experiencing.  I'm tired of being strong and rational.

Lately my friends were in town to visit.  With them around I began to realize that those happy time that we had spent together back in the old days were so far from us now.  What H and I went through completely changed us into different girls.  Reality, life decision have dragged us apart physically, and coming to realize this traumatizes my heart.  And then there's Alex's problem.  Hearing A talk about his problems also take me back to the whole depression thing.  I tried to be a good friend and give good advice but really I envy him.  My advices and comments only make me realize how much I could have done, how little attention I've paid to my family, and still this hasn't improved.  Compared to me, A is a much better son and big brother than I am a daughter and big sister.

1. watch this movie:
2. go to NYC and have a popicle:
3. learn Spanish in Spain for 2 months
4. paint
5. master Lightroom and organize our photos
6. Fan ring from Urban Outfitter

7. I want to see everything like I've never seen it before, and be curious.
8. Have you visited Google today?

I'm excited about the double exposure project Nikko and I are going to do this summer. Excited and a little worried. The LC-A is still like a little monster to me. Sometimes I still have no idea how to get the exact color/look that I want. We'll see by around September how the films will turn out!

I adore summer in Ontario. Someone once told me that a cold, dreary winter is what makes summer more enjoyable. Or maybe I said that myself. Well, isn't it so true that, without distinct season, there wouldn't be a favorite season to look forward to every year? We in Canada long for the summer, for summer means shorts and sun glasses, patio and cold beer, strawberry picking and backyard barbecue, the feel of dipping yourself in the refreshing lake and the smell of campfire in your hair.

This is our 3rd time at the Organics Family Farm.  Check their blog to see what's available for picking. 
mini strawberries

Small but sweet and safe.
prettiest fruit
random weed
wild flowers 1

There's also organic meat.  And homemade butter tart and berry pies!  I had 2 of the butter tarts but forgot to get them in a photo.
Happy ducks
wild flowers 2
nap time

Playing with cattails.
cat tail
wild flowers 4

It's the start of raspberry season. 
The wind keeps blowing and it's hard to get a picture that's in focus.
blown away

pick me!

Pretty raspberry flowers and how they turn into the fruit that tastes so good.
Raspberry flower

It's the Stouffville Strawberry Festival and Canada. Everyone came out and everyone knows each other here. How cool.
Rollin Stoves

This cow is labelled llama.

We had a little fun near Ossignton with mm the other day.
being silly

where are you kicking?

we had fun

And then we picked some basils. 

Basil picking

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