Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Playing with Food

I’m sure my parents did their best to teach me as a child not to play with my food, so I guess I must begin here by saying publicly: Sorry, Mom. Playing with food is exactly what I did this week.

Working in the garden, harvesting the bounty that Leah would take to the kitchen to can and preserve for us to eat this winter, my cameras and I eventually got waylaid. I mean, a man can only pick peas and strawberries for so long when distractions get the best of him. I made off with some of the peas and found a spot where the camera and I did a photo exercise in light and composition. Another day as I picked strawberries, I took a break from my labor and enticed the always-willing model, Pumpkin, to be part of a snapshot.

You gotta feel sorry for the two long-suffering women in my life. My Mom tried to teach me proper table manners, but her efforts apparently went for naught. And my wife would dearly appreciate it if I spent more time picking produce than I do photographing it.

What can I say? I’m a male and a photographer, so visual distractions are what I do best.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dalai Lama in DC

The Dalai Lama is in the U.S. this week, giving a 10-day Tibetan Buddhist teaching in Washington DC. Several friends of mine from the Seattle Tibetan community have made the trip across the country to take part in the event (it’s called “Kalachakra for World Peace,”) and even those who could not attend and remained here at home in the Pacific Northwest are nevertheless excited that the teaching is taking place.

Yesterday morning I was thinking about my friends who are in DC. I stepped out my front door -- I was headed toward our barn to feed the sheep and goat and chickens -- and took only three or four steps when the picture you see here presented itself.

Simple. Peaceful. Tranquil. These are qualities the image suggests to me...and everything I’ve read and heard about the Dalai Lama gives me the sense that he is a humble, compassionate man, whose mission is to spread loving kindness among all members of the human family.

“Re-order your habits and attitudes so that you think less about your own narrow concerns and more of others,” he says. “In doing so, you will find that you enjoy peace and happiness yourself.

“Relinquish your envy, let go your desire to triumph over others. Instead, try to benefit them. With kindness, with courage and confident that in doing so you are sure to meet with success, welcome others with a smile. Be straightforward. And try to be impartial. Treat everyone as if they were a close friend. I say this neither as Dalai Lama nor as someone who has special powers or ability. Of these I have none. I speak as a human being, one who like yourself wishes to be happy and not to suffer. If you cannot for whatever reason be of help to others, at least don’t harm them.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Fair!

I was a bit too young to appreciate the ‘60’s.
I was only 16 in 1969 when 500,000 folks headed to Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm in upstate New York for the Woodstock concert, an event that Rolling Stone has since labeled as one of the Fifty Moments that Changed the History of Rock and Roll.

Yes, I was young, but I read a lot and was aware enough of what was going on in my world to be outraged by the war in Vietnam, and was sympathetic with the peace movement. But I was, after all, just 16, and I remember now (with some chagrin) that a centerpiece of my young life was something pretty lame: Anticipation of the date I’d finish my driver’s training class and be able to test to get my license.

Not that I would have gone to Woodstock, even if I had been able to drive.
I was just a kid.


Leah and I made a five-hour drive south this past weekend to attend the three-day Oregon Country Fair, a time-honored Pacific Northwest happening that’s now been going on each summer for 42 years. Held in a rural area outside Eugene, “Fair” -- it’s simply known by that one word by the many who attend regularly -- might appear to be a 1960’s-throwback kind of event. But I went to Fair for a day last year, and for two days this year, and I’m reluctant to pigeonhole the experience, or make generalizations.

An incredible 46 thousand people attended Fair in three days this year, and how can you generalize about that many individuals? I suspect that some Fairgoers were there primarily to attend the awesome concerts (there are by my count 18 venues and stages on the grounds, all with performances going on all day long.) Others were there to wander around and look at the accomplished art and crafts that vendors had for sale. Personally, I just enjoy people-watching, checking out (and being amazed by) the colorful rainbow of folks: Adult human beings in costumes and masks, little girls dressed as butterflies or fairy princesses.

I'm told that those who attend Fair every year get a bit mystical about the experience. You’ll sometimes hear the veterans refer to the Fairgrounds as a kind of “Home,” and their fellow, regular-attendees are “Family.” I can tell you that most people I met at Fair were incredibly friendly. “Happy Fair!,” is the greeting I heard most often.

I know this for certain: For a visual fellow like me, Oregon Country Fair is really something to see.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Star-Spangled Sunshine

So...first off, let me admit that, as I write this, I am a Man Under the Influence.

No, I’m not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or anything hip like that. I’m under the influence of SUNSHINE...plain, old, bright-shiny-orb-hanging-in-a-clear-blue-sky sunshine. After months and months of just the wettest, chilliest, I-can’t-stand-this-crap-anymore-est weather, the sun came out today...and our dear, sweet little town, not to mention our entire, deserving Puget Sound region SMILED. We grinned ear-to-ear. On a beautiful Fourth of July day, finally, we got SUMMER.

Oh how we smiled! We were, to a person, obnoxiously, deliriously, ridiculously high on life.

“Happy Fourth!!!” high school kids happily exclaimed to passersby (and you know how moody and sullen teenagers can be) as we adults walked to the parade. We wore our goofiest, star-spangled-banner-est outfits. We decorated our cars, ourselves, our pets. We strutted. We paraded. We celebrated Independence -- from the British, but particularly from the rainy monsoon season.

Our entire town, every giddy one of us, basked, raised our faces to the sun, and shouted “HEY MAN, GIVE ME SOME OF THAT BURN!!!”

We were ALL under the influence.