Monday, May 23, 2016

Little Miracles

A female robin decided to build a nest in the wisteria that climbs under the eaves along our front porch.  And thus, for the past couple of weeks,  we have had just the best time watching mama bring twigs and mud to fashion her nursery; we saw her sit and sit for about 10 days; and then we grinned like proud grandparents when we noticed little baby heads peeking out from the nest.

We were careful to give mama and babies their space (the above image was shot with a 600mm lens.) And, on the day that the babies left the nest for the first time, we kept our dogs leashed and made sure no neighborhood cats came near.

As I readied the image of the robin family for this post, another photograph came to mind, something I shot recently as a gift for a young woman, I'd guess in her early 20's,  who just had her first baby.  The woman was a phenomenal runner when she was in high school in the town where I live, and was a Pac 12 star in college. I have kind of hero-worshiped her from afar.

Because a really good runner's feet are -- in my mind at least -- kind of akin to wings, I thought these two images paired together nicely.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Creation and Destruction

A group of Tibetan Buddhist Monks came to the art museum on Bainbridge Island last week to create a sand mandala,  and, as I photographed that process on two different days, it appeared that the monks' visit made quite an impact on my neighbors.

You see, the making of a mandala is an elaborate and fascinating process, usually taking several days… monks patiently and painstakingly funneling grains of sand through metal tubes onto the design, one color of sand,  then another.  The finished mandala is quite beautiful, but it is a work of art created with an unusual twist:

Once finished, the monks will brush away the sand and destroy the mandala, dramatically trying to illustrate the lesson that we human beings too often become attached to things that are not permanent;  or we look for fleeting sources of contentment like wealth or possessions, traveling  dead-end behavioral alleyways where lasting happiness will not be found.

The monks spent five days making the mandala; and, on the last day, a group of about 50 museum visitors gathered around the mandala as one of the monks explained the lesson behind the mandala's creation and destruction.  Initially the visitors chatted among themselves, talking about what a nice day it was outside, and about where they'd go for lunch,  paying (it seemed to me) only cursory attention to what the monk was saying.

Slowly, however, the visitors began to listen.

In the end, as the monks brushed away the grains of sand, the crowd was silent.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Passing

Most posed, formal photographic portraits you will see of important, revered Tibetan lamas make them look stern and perhaps even scary. They stare stony-faced into the camera, rarely even a hint of a smile on their face…which surprises me because the lamas and monks I know are actually quite happy individuals, prone to impish belly-laughs and even child-like giggles.

His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, most often simply called "Rinpoche" (Precious One) by Tibetan Buddhists at the Sakya Monastery in Seattle, passed away last week after a long illness. His family, who knows me through my involvement with the Pacific Northwest Tibetan community, contacted me and asked me to photograph the historic ceremonies surrounding his passing. Of course I replied that I would be honored to do so.

In the eight years I have been documenting Tibetan culture here,  Rinpoche has been the focal point of many of my pictures. And, yes, if I'm photographing something like prayers at the monastery (first photo above)  Rinpoche has been serious.

My favorite photographic memories of him, however, will be of his smile, and the twinkle in his eye.

Yes, it was an honor for me last week to photograph events marking Rinpoche's passing;  but more importantly it was moving to see the people, individually and collectively,  who came out to honor him. 

What I'm sure all of us will remember is Rinpoche's warmth and compassion.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Heart Picture

Thinking of Moms today, two in particular. My mother, Ruth; and Leah's mother, Louise.

Love to you both.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Away, and Home

My hiking buds cooked up a plan to climb Mt. St Helens this past weekend. And, though my reaction to any proposed outdoor adventure is typically "count me in!", my feeling about slogging up St. Helens for the umpteenth time was:  "Been there, done that (too often!)"

What I'm posting here today, then,  are my What I Did With My Weekend (Not Hiking or Climbing) pictures.

On Saturday Leah and I made a little one-day road trip to Central Washington and to Yakima. Above is a picture I shot from a ridge high above Ellensburg -- Mt. Stuart and her sister peaks (Sherpa, Argonaut, Dragontail) under a dramatic, Ansel Adams-esque sky. The first two pictures below are from our drive through the rocky landscape of the Yakima River Canyon.

The last two pictures are from Sunday, back at home in Western Washington,  as Leah, Pax and and I worked at gardening and other outdoor chores…the payback labor I had promised my mate who, other weekends,  lets me run off and play in the mountains with my ne'er-do-well friends.