To consider ancient traditions


While I expected to see many horticultural wonders during my visit to
what took me by complete surprise was a photographic exhibition on display
in the main entrance lobby.  The images were so compelling I used a great portion
of my garden-viewing time to read the entire story
behind each powerful photograph.

With kind permission from the desk staff, I used my phone camera as best I could
to make record of several I thought were particularly potent in their imagery & description;
those that were especially moving and/or important to me.
In light of recent Peace Day 2014 this seemed like an appropriate time to share them.

The original photographs have been slightly cropped to fit
the format of this blog post.  Reflections on framing glass couldn't be avoided
nor some odd angle and color distortions.
The descriptions were copied verbatim from the exhibit walls. 
Photographer's names are clickable to their websites.
Visit them.  They are all amazing.


no strangers  poses a fundamental question: What does it mean
to be human and alive?  When the people of the world answer this question, they do so
in 7,000 unique voices.  Tragically, half of these may be silenced within a generation or two.
At risk is our human legacy, a vast achieve of knowledge and expertise.
Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of culture is a
crucial challenge that should be faced.

            LHASA, TIBET
            A young Tibetan woman poses next to a Chinese fighter jet on display in front of the
            Portola Palace, the ancient home of the Dalai Lamas, the spiritual rulers of Tibet.  Such
            symbolic gestures of intimidation are encountered throughout Lhasa, which has become
            largely an outpost of the Chinese government and a symbol of their conquest of the 
            Tibetan nation.

            © Randy Olson

            OFU ISLAND, SAMOA, 2000
            The training of the Polynesian way finder, or navigator, begins in infancy as he is placed
            in tidal pools for hours at a time so he might feel and absorb the rhythms of the sea.  If,
            on his first deep ocean voyage, he becomes sick from the swells, his teacher will tie him
            to a rope and pull him behind the canoe until the nausea passes.  It was by such devotion
            and rigor that the Polynesian ancestors settled the Pacific.

            KENYA, 2006
            A Swahili woman from Kenya decorates her hands and feet with designs made from henna,
            a dye derived from a powdered leaf mixed with water and the juice of unripe lemons.  The
            designs are drawn with a fine twig; five to six applications are required to ensure that the
            henna doesn't fade too soon, a process that takes up to 12 hours.  In modern times, a black
            synthetic dye is used to enhance the elaborate designs.  A Swahili woman who appears in
            public must remain concealed in black veils and long robes.  Her hands and feet are the only
            parts of her body that may be seen.

            © Brent Stirton

            TIMBUKTU, MALI, 2009
            In 1914, when the French took control of Timbuktu, they confiscated the ancient manuscripts,
            threatened the scholars with jail and taught the children that their ancestors were not Arab
            or Berber, Tamashek or Tuareg, but Gaul.  The library pictured here is one of the oldest in the
            world.  It is filled with ancient manuscripts that have survived throughout the centuries.

            © Wade Davis

            For over 55,000 years, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia thrived as hunters and gatherers,
            and guardians of their world.  In all that time the desire to improve upon the natural world had
            never touched them.  They accepted life as it was, a cosmological whole, the unchanging
            creation of the first dawn, when earth and sky separated and the original Ancestor, the
            Rainbow Serpent, brought into being all the primordial ancestors who through their thoughts,
            dreams and journeys sang the world into existence.  This woman stands in a sacred site of
            the Rainbow Serpent.

            © Aaron Huey

            OGLALA, SOUTH DAKOTA, 2011
            Stanley Good Voice Elk is a Heyoka (clown dancer) and a dreamer of the Thunder People.
            His Heyoka name is Wakinyan Hoksila (Wakeeya Hokshila) which means Thunder Boy, or
            or Iktomni Hoksila, Spider Boy.  He burns sage, prays and prepares for a coming kettle
            dance to thank the thunder beings (thunderstorms) as they leave for the summer.

            © Steve McCurry

            HENAN PROVINCE, CHINA, 2004
            Young monks train at the Shaolin Monastery in Henan Province, China.  The physical
            strength and dexterity displayed by the monks is remarkable, as is their serenity.  At its
            core Buddhism is simply a wisdom philosophy, a set of contemplative practices, a spiritual
            path informed by 2,500 years of empirical observation and deduction that, if followed, offers
            the certain promise of a transformation of the human heart.

            © David Hiser

            SARAWAK, MALAYSIA, 2012
            A Penan family from the Ubong River in Sarawak with a feast of wild foods - sago, wild
            boar, fruits and seeds - all gathered or hunted in the forest.  A Canadian or American grows
            up believing that poverty for some is a regrettable but inevitable feature of life.  The Penan
            live by the adage that a poor man shames us all.  The greatest transgression in their culture
            is "sihun," a concept that essentially means a failure to share.

: : :

Traditional societies are not failed attempts to be modern, let alone
failed attempts to be like us.  Every culture is a unique expression of the
human imagination and heart.
When asked what it means to be human and alive, the peoples of the world
respond in 7,000 different voices, 7,000 languages that together
express the full wisdom and knowledge of our species,
insights that no doubt will prove invaluable to future generations,
even as we continue this never ending journey.

~ Introduction, copied from the entrance wall ~


this moment :: vintage buttons for a modern story


{  this moment  }
A single photo
~ no words ~
capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
~ SouleMama


inspired by the Friday reflections at Amanda's



Steady on


My last night in Scotland, a very diligent effort was made
to wash every trace of mud from my boots.
Never have they been so clean
as when I had to travel with them!
But it was the right thing to do and although some twinges of nostalgia
crept in for good times mucking about in that great River Tay,
better the remnants gurgle down the guest house drain
then land me in trouble with inspectors on the Other Side.

Since returning home, my head's been down so to speak.  Not too much blogging
yet slow & steady work has been afoot nonetheless.
A determination came home with me; a drive to better understand a few things,
conduct a few experiments, and to continue finishing the great pile of unfinished. 

A good deal of time has been spent
encouraging color from plants

exploring through failures and leaps of faith
without really knowing where all of this is going.
I'm putting trust in the process, following my intuition,
doing the work without knowing the outcome
because the work will take me where I need to go.

I don't need to know right now where that is.

~ inside the glasshouse, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland ~ 

Back in August, I began to post [almost] daily to my Instagram gallery ...
What started out as inspiration from Susannah Conway's daily prompts for August Break
has become a regular editing practice that's proven so valuable, I continue still.

In the beginning it was a way to post a somewhat unruly backlog from the Scottish adventures
but it's become so much more. My addiction to photo apps has found a comfortable outlet
where play, practice - and sometimes downright outrageousness - can be shared
with fellow picture makers.  I learn so much from them.
The creativity within the Instagram community as a whole
is nothing short of astounding.

Remember these?
Slow & steady work is happening within the pantry shelf jars, lots of changes over time.
Seven months and still counting ...
I'm oddly amused to not be feeling the least bit impatient
to view the results.  An indicator, surely,
of a certain kind of faith.




what there aren't words for yet

What those hummingbirds in your chest whisper when you tell
your first lie. The toothy rumble of the lions that scare
your lungs into giving up. The edges of a leap - half-murmur, half-yell -
that steer your feet away. The guffaw from the shadows tempting you to ignore
your own magnificence. The boisterous roosters pecking holes in your plans. The tire
tracks cajoling you to stay on course. How we search for a plain sentence
to fill the cracks of heartache, for language to pull us, like a ladder,
out of each dark and muddled well. We think thunder is a metaphor. Or the fence
dividing one yard from the next, its own instruction. But the story's yours, you know.
There is no better way to say it. Make the words up as you go.

~ Maya Stein

: : :

stitch, shibori, indigo, photography
Some means of expression
but only a small portion of the longer story unfolding.

Is there any better way
than to make it up as we go along?
I mean, really ... is there.