Every year, my family gathers for the Reunion Dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. It is a rowdy affair, filled with food, drink and laughter.
Ma cooks up a storm each time, and we all tuck in. Back in the old days, it was just my immediate family: Pa, Ma, my two younger brothers and me. But the participants grew as we siblings got married and had children.
These days, it is not just my brood and my brother's kids at these dinners. Even family friends, cousins and aunts are here. We didn't have Pa with us for the last three years but Ma felt we should have even more loved ones in the home for this dinner, and so the party grew to as many as 19 people.
It got so big in numbers that we had to buy two folding tables from Giant, so that we could seat everyone.
My second brother usually cooks some of the dishes too, because he is a great cook. And also, it helps take some of the load off my mother, who is already 73 years old. But Ma loves to cook for us, so she still does a fair bit of the cooking. It's in her DNA, I think. She has been making meals for us since we were born, while juggling work as a teacher.
I cherish these Reunion Dinners. I like eating at home with all my loved ones, and home-cooked meals. My children too, are used to this scene because they are at my mom's every weeknight for dinner (we live a few blocks away from my mother).
I am not sure how we would even execute a Reunion Dinner without her hands-on involvement. She has run this show and this household for so long.
Ma is what you would call the Pioneer Generation. When I think of her though, I don't think of the term Pioneer Generation. I just think of her as Ma.
It is nice, of course, to appreciate that generation for their contribution to nation-building and all that. But really, my late father and Ma impacted us in a more intimate way, providing for us and bringing us up.
They were there through all our ups and downs; when we struggled in school, when we failed an exam, when we grappled with work and business, when we got attached, when we went through breakups, when we got married, when we had children of our own, when we had a special child, when we lost a child.
Through it all, our parents were there, a pillar of strength and support. Their contribution to us is beyond nation-building. They are the very foundation of our lives.
A couple of months back, John of drew&barry asked if I wanted to try some of their camera bags and accessories. You know me, bag addict that I am, I said, "Sure!"
The Wotancraft Ryker was the bag I got to use, and I have to say, this bag oozes luxury and leather loveliness. I am told this bag is not always available for sale because the Wotancraft folk are really fussy about the premium leather they use, so if that leather is not available, they won't make the bag.
The Ryker is just the right size for my mirrorless cameras and lenses, but I found it most suitable for my Fuji X100 cameras, both in size and in spirit.
I can carry an X100S (the silver one on the left) and an X100T (the black one on the right) in it, together with the WCL-X100 Wide conversion lens and TCL-X100 Tele conversion lens (seen in the middle). There is space to spare for other accessories like batteries and memory cards, and also a suede sleeve with flap, for my iPad Mini 3.
It is not the lightest bag in the world, since this much leather and metal does make it somewhat on the heavy side. But it isn't mean to be an ultralight travel bag anyway.
And another plus, I love that they don't use velcro or buckles, just a simple leather strip to hold the main flap down. Or if you want quick access, just leave the big flap be and use the magentic catches.
You can also close the inner main compartment with the zippered top cover for security, and leave it unzipped for quick access during use.
The hand strap on my silver Fuji X100S is a Barton1972 strap. I love the feel of it. The stretchiness of the strap design feels very natural. My black Fuji X100T is fitted with a longer Cub & Co. shoulder strap.
And who can resist decorating the X100's with soft shutter release buttons? These are Artisan Obscura ones made of wood. The only small annoyance I have is they sometimes come unscrewed. Nothing that can't be fixed with a little Loctite.
Just to be clear, this isn't a paid post. I shared this because I like their stuff and they make my cameras happy. Also, I have a soft spot for the smell and feel of premium leather and the look of real wood.
I just hope auntie next door didn't think I was off my rocker taking photos along the corridor, on my tummy.
I am trying to catch up on my travel updates and photo editing, so rest assured, more photos and posts to come. Especially want to share the lovely Airbnb places I stayed while in Japan. Here is a peek at the lovely cottage we stayed in at Karuizawa.
Here is the backyard…
I know. It is gorgeous. We were there just as autumn turned into winter and the leaves were in striking red, and the weather cool and lovely.
It was more thorough than I expected, and I am now convinced it's something we should do more regularly.
She juggles a lot as a mother — the household, her job, me, the kids — and I want her to stay healthy and happy. Her health check is like my little Mother's Day present to her (but got other present also lah, dear).
I have a little time before today's NDP shoot so I thought I'd open my bag for you to see what I usually pack for out video shoots.
Ryan is carrying the main camera, a Canon 5D MkII, and most of the video gear in his bag. I carry the audio bag, which includes all our wireless microphone sets (you see their little antennas sticking out on the left), a handheld and a shotgun mic, and audio cables.
Also in my backpack is my Sony Nex-5 with kit zoom and two prime lenses. It is used for some photography and as a second video camera (hence the mini-shotgun mic you see mounted on top of it).
If you look hard enough, you can also see the GoPro HD camera we use for action video shots. Like 1st-person views from a helicopter or a skydiver.
And last but not least, I always have sunblock. If you shoot as much as we do in the sun, you must always be protected. And drink lots of water.