Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Here, and There

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that I guess was a parody of the theme "I'd Rather Be Jogging," or "I'd Rather Be Fishing," or "I'd Rather Be Shopping."

The sticker I saw was: "I'd rather be HERE,"  and I took it as a gentle reminder that happiness is best found in the present moment, not in some dreamland, fantasy island place in the future.

Nevertheless -- and bumper sticker wisdom notwithstanding -- a friend and I headed up into the mountains yesterday.

We left here behind, and ventured there.  I fully admit that the landscape where I feel most content and at peace is up in Earth's high places.

Our trip took us through the Skagit Valley, where I photographed moon-set at dawn (above.) And then we drove up, up, up, toward Mt. Shuksan, one of the most beautiful peaks on the planet in my opinion.  And to Mt. Baker.

At a number of points in our snowshoe hike, my friend and I exchanged grinning expressions of joy, moments when no words were necessary.

We were both so happy to be where we were.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Losar: It's a Family Thing

The Tibetan New Year celebration, Losar, is not really a Kid Holiday in the grand scheme of things, but don't tell Tibetan children that.

Losar festivities are in full swing, blowout mode for my friends in the Seattle Tibetan community, and for me too.  Last weekend I photographed three events on Saturday and three on Sunday, ranging from Losar prayers and a number of Tibetan Buddhist teachings at the monastery (above) to a Losar party for the community's kids.  Another party for the 300-some Seattle Tibetans  is on tap for this weekend as well. We'll eat amazing Tibetan food, and there will be singing and dancing.

I've been to many Tibetan New Years parties before,  and one of the Losar traditions I think is particularly sweet is the point in the evening when children give their parents big hugs and thank them for their love and support.

After the Losar hugs comes the best part of the party, at least if you are a kid.

Losar Presents!  Lots and lots of Losar presents!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Seeing Resilience

We hear the word "refugee" so often these days, I wonder whether we now even stop to think about what it means.

Imagine: There is so much violence and strife in the place where you live that you feel you have no choice but to abandon your home. You flee, perhaps at great risk, to someplace you hope is safer. If you are fortunate, your loved ones flee with you; or maybe circumstances are such that some have no choice but to stay behind.

I just completed my eighth year of documentary photography of the small but active Tibetan community in Seattle. I'm around my Tibetan brothers and sisters so much, I must admit that I sometimes forget that nearly all of them have some kind of history as refugees. Our world has so many places like Tibet where people experience oppression,  that word too can lose its impact.

Yesterday I photographed the Seattle Tibetans coming together at their Buddhist monastery to celebrate Losar, Tibetan New Year. The morning was prayerful (photos above. )  But, once prayers were done, folks milled about outside the monastery,  and the afternoon was festive. It was a mild, almost spring-like day, and people visited, spun prayer wheels, and sang Tibetan songs. Barley flour was tossed into the air, a Losar tradition.

What you see here is the resilience of the human spirit, and the efforts of a people who will not allow their culture to be erased.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Momos and Fire Monkeys

BIG FUN is in the offing -- one of my fave holiday celebrations of the year -- and (lucky me!) I'll be attending a party that most Americans miss.

No, I'm not talking about the Super Bowl!

Two weeks from now my friends in the Seattle Tibetan community will celebrate Tibetan New Year, Losar, and -- trust me! -- it is always WAY BETTER than sitting in front of a TV set, watching some dumb football game.

Last Sunday I dropped by the Tibetan Language and Culture class that the Tibetan community holds for its kids. The class began, as most Tibetan events do, with a prayer for health and longevity for the the Dalai Lama. Then the parents and kids got down to the business of making momos, Tibetan dumplings, for the Losar party.

Stay tuned to this space on the web. Yes, ESPN and CBS might be hyping their coverage of this Sunday's Super Bowl, but in the coming two weeks I promise to be your go-to source for EXCITING Seattle Losar coverage of the Year of the Fire Monkey!