Monday, January 4, 2021

Sony Diaries #1058: Crows

 It took a while to get here but these crows, 3, then 4, are now used to the near-daily ritual of feeding on a platter of peanuts and a fried egg, rain or shine, snow or ice.

Sony RX10

Sony Diaries #1057: Red Cardinal

 At the feeder on a snowy day in December, 2020

Sony RX10

In Gratitude, in the time of COVID-19

It's been 4 days into 2021 and hardly a day goes by that I can't believe the good place that I find myself in, hardly a day goes by that I don't feel gratitude for the three events that have made all the difference in my life. Here they are presented in chronological order.

First, Papa and Mama.
They may not have been aware of it at the time, and I wish they are still around for me to tell them this, but my parents' decision to immigrate to Canada was the ultimate gift. They did not have to leave the Philippines. By the time they applied to immigrate in 1975, they had established full and productive lives in the Philippines. Papa went ahead in 1976, Mama and the five of us followed in 1977. Papa was 49, Mama was 43.
Up until 1976, Papa was the Chief Engineer for the Power Plant at the Central Azucarera de Bais, at that time the only sugar and paper mill in the premier sugar-producing province in the Philippines. By 1976, he was the longest-serving consejal (21 years) in the Bais Town Council, later on, the Bais City Council (incorporated as a city in 1968). He also farmed a relatively small piece of land, growing sugar. Papa used to tell me that he survived politics with relatively little money, surviving politics on talk and his mestizo good looks. Typically, to succeed in politics, you needed to be an haciendero (wealthy land owner), or have the support of the hacienderos.
Mama made her way up by working her way through university, to becoming the City Treasurer for the City of Bais by 1976. She was an active and well-respected member of her church and our community. We had all the trappings of an upper-middle-class family: a big house, big yard, 2 cars, a motorcycle, servants.,private schools.
The people who left the Philippines then and now, do so in search of better livesand better opportunities. 
Our first month in Toronto was spent with my Tita Emma and Tito Jun. Jameson Avenue, 2 families of 7 members each (14 total) in a 2 bedroom apt with 1 bathroom. After 4 weeks, we moved to a 2nd-floor townhouse in Flemingdon Park/Thorncliffe Park; then and now the landing place for immigrants and refugees to Canada from around the world.
Papa and Mama did not have to leave the Philippines. But they did and I will be eternally grateful.

Second, Mary.
My parents may have brought me to Canada, but the best thing that's ever happened to me since arriving in Canada was meeting Mary in university, and sharing the rest of her life with me.
After 38 years of knowing each other, the last 33 as husband and wife (for better or for worse), I'm still amazed that Mary "chose" me. She is generous and intelligent, with the kind of beauty that will last throughout all her years. She is always looking out for our family, the less fortunate in our community, including humane society residents. Even her imperfections are endearing. I can see her DNA in Ben and Tomas, her energy and soul in Ben, Tomas, and Liam. The Lawyer, The Software Developer, and The Swimmer: beautiful kids: all thanks to Mary.
My knowing Mary fast-tracked my integration into Canadian life and culture. Early on, she introduced me to CBC, Cohen, pine forests, Western classical music, and the Canadian worldview. Have I mentioned dogs, cats, birds?
Mary also introduced me to the job that I've held for the last 30 years, and this job, this calling, is the third gift that I am grateful for.

Third, SickKids.
When it comes to an occupation, the best that one can hope for is a job that is so fulfilling and meaningful that one would do it without pay (I would if I were financially independent). A job that you would pursue as a hobby, 24/7. A job that you look forward to doing, year after year, for  30 years, and counting. A job where you work with professionals who are the best in their fields of expertise. A job where "clients" are grateful for what you do. A job where the community appreciates what you do. A job where you can make a tangible difference in little people's lives.
It is a privilege to be a medical photographer at SickKids. I am very fortunate to be where I am.
Mary told me of this  job opening in 1989 (she was working at SickKids at the time).
I met Mary because my Papa and Mama brought us to Canada,

I am also very grateful to Tita Emma and Tito Jun for sponsoring us to come to Canada, and to the people in Canada who came before us, to make it the country that it was when we were accepted as immigrants in 1976.

Sony Diaries #1056: The Cat House

Ollie, a ginger cat, lives 3 doors from us and hangs out around the house, as well as at the neighbours. He's a great conversationalist, sitting up and chatting when we're in the yard. We've been feeding him regularly, mornings and evenings. We think he gets inside his owner's house at night, we're not sure; he certainly looks well-taken care of. Nevertheless, with the nights getting longer and colder, we thought we'd get Ollie a cat house. After looking at finished products on Amazon (flimsy and expensive), we decided to build one, with 24"x24" 3/4" outdoor-grade plywood, lined with 1" solid foam insulation, with cardboard to protect the foam from scratches. We did get a 12.5" x 25" electric heating pad (made by K&H).
Painted Navajo Red from the discard bin at the Home Hardware Store.
A "door" was made of double layers of flexible heavy gauge acetate, cut into staggered alternating strips for easy entry while maintaining wind resistance. 
So far, he's been staying in this house for some nights, in sub-zero Celsius temperatures.