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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where is it?

When I showed Mom the tipi photo from today's earlier posting, she harumphed. "So where is this place, anyhow!!??!!"

Encountered this dashing fellow — I call him StoneTurban Sheik —
 on a walking break from campsite meditation.

THANKS, Mom, for reminding me that not everybody knows Utah so here's a map: 
wish I had included it in first posting, and more photos are coming - but not today!

The Professor Valley is about 1/2 way along the road marked in red, east of Castle Valley but not as far along as Fisher Towers.
Similar terrain - stunning! - all the way. 
Canyonlands Field Institute
October 2011
Pretty good place to practice being silent, doncha think?

Dining "room" view

view from deck of meditation yurt  - almost sunset

from pit toilet area looking toward Manti la-Sal Mountains

from pit toilet area toward meditation&kitchen yurts. 
I slept in the cream-colored tipi at photo-center.
Yes, you are looking at somebody washing up - only cold-water at that sink!

from pit toilets toward monoliths enclosing the Professor Valley,  named after Sylvester Richardson. Professor by nickname only, Richardson added to Moab's colorful history - you can read a tidbit here or the whole story while you sit in the john at Canyonlands Field Institute.

no words needed by now

Blogging Backwards
a bit behind~times from Professor Valley, Utah
October 2011

Crescent moon flecks dawnrise over tipis at Canyonlands Field Institute on Bijou Creek.

That lunar smile readied me for departure after a weeklong retreat led by favorite dharma teachers, Susie Harrington and Eric Kolvig. The time was right for leaving those red rocks I embrace as second home. Truly awesome place - more photos soon.

Pre-winter chill can't fend off sun's warmth. But, oh, it was cold in late October's frosty dark with no campfire to warm my first-ever tipi sleepover. I was grateful to have an extra sleeping bag to fend off nightime's near-freezing temperatures.  No cold could still my midnight mind-walks -  wild dreams careened far outside this double-down cocoon.

Sitting meditation along creek or walking meditation among silent stone deepened my practice, and I'm back on the cushion again - almost every day. Awareness opened to new dimensions that are best shared in person. If you want to know more, let's talk soon about mops and ants and awareness that might just be infinite.

Must admit that my body welcomed return home:  to savor long shower, hot tub soak, and root-deep hairwash after eight days in near-wilderness.

Sent loving-kindness (metta) far and wide while on retreat - maybe you caught some?
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Annual family camp-meeting in high Sierras - south fork of San Joaquin River and Infant Buttes set backdrop for lots of fishing, hiking, Scrabble, cribbage, and conversation.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Baltic birds soar, swim, sup, and strut their stuff.

We watched and listened to massive flocks of lesser white-fronted geese travelling to summer feeding areas. Two scout-geese led the vees to safe ground. From what we saw, we would never have guessed that these geese are considered an endangered species. Nearby, storks guarded their nests which were perched atop utility poles. We guessed that one might be sitting on eggs as it spent most of its time with only its head visible above the nest's rim. After lunch at Altja Kõrts, we walked along the beach and watched swans preen and feed in the Baltic waters.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Michael, Barbara, and Peter in the watchtower - bog in the background.

Bog-walking is a natural park pastime at Lahemmaa National Park, not far from Tallinn. Peter was good enough to find us a lengthy bit of bog with a boardwalk and a watchtower -- no need for special racket-bog shoes or a guided tour. If we wanted to feel the bog underfoot, we merely stepped off the boardwalk to bounce on the drier mounds. In the background, you can see Peter's shoe sinking into the moist vegetation that varies from trampoline bouncy to super-soaked sponge. At some places, we tiptoed on boards that seemed to float on crystalline clear water, touted to be some of the cleanest in the world. Estonia ranks right up there with Finland as one of the boggiest lands in the world. Lovely at this time of year, but maybe not so pleasant after a mosquito hatch!
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Barb waves, "Hasta la Vista," to Helsinki.

Mix color and light with drab and dark, and you've got our 24 hours in Finland's capital.  We left feeling glad we had gone but in no hurry to return.
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Helsinki's spirit of rebirth, the lovely Havis Amanda.
Not even a short rest on one of her spouting seals can break this day's gray gloom!
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Finland's capital looks much better in sunshine, especially if you imagine hearing Finlandia flowing across the waterfront hill where we stopped to see the Jan Sibelius monument. Opening chords reflect our first twelve hours in Helsinki: dark, dreary, oppressive. We gained a new perspective the next morning — sparkling waters greeted us at almost every turn. At last we could understand why Helsinki came to be called the "Pearl of the Baltic."

After just shy of 24 hours in Helsinki, I no longer consider it a "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" sort of place. If I was in the neighborhood, perhaps on a Baltic Sea cruise, I now know how to enjoy a Suomi-day: visit only in summer, ferry to an nearby island, bring a picnic, and enjoy a waterside day.

p.s. Can you hear the organ thundering across the sky as you look through the monument's pipes?
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Selection of Art in the Embassy

A Selection of Art in the Embassy

Barb and I were amazed as Rafi began pointing out some of his favorite artwork on the embassy's entry-hall walls: prints of quilts from Gees Bend! Just 18 months before, we had seen the quilts that inspired these prints at the Boise Art Museum. We truly do inhabit  a world of multiple connections.

Rafi's favorite piece is the Cup´ik Mask - the slide on the link above does not do justice to this indigenous art masterpiece.

Monday, May 2, 2011

  • Barbara, Jean, Maggie, William, Rafi, and Smiley the dog

A brief Sunday stroll in Viktoria-Luise Platz after breakfast at Montivideo is such a civilized way to set Barb and me off on our sightseeing afternoon to the Pergamon Museum — more on that in another post.

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So, you might wonder - why on earth are we looking at this collection of buildings behind a hanging street light? Well, the coolest thing we've done so far is to spend a few minutes in that round room at the upper right of the photo.  This circular glass room, called the Quadriga Conference Room, sits atop the U.S. embassy. Unlike TV personalities, we could take no photos in this room, but this is one view it's impossible to forget.

Imagine standing in an elegant space with windows opening right onto the quadriga view. Our voices hushed to a near-whisper as we entered the silent space on the embassy's rooftop. Stunned, our group turned all its attention across neighboring structures that stand below the embassy's roofline. We marveled at our view of the top — yes, the TIPPY-TOP! — of the Brandenburg Gate.  An incredible vantage with unimaginable proximity to the most famous statue in Berlin stunned, amazed, and absolutely awed us. Whispers seemed too intrusive for these moments spent admiring the quadriga from this marvelous perspective. So few people get to see this view that all we could say as we left the room was, "Lucky us!"
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  •  Click first link to learn more about that green statue on top of the columned building :-)
View of the Brandenburg Gate Quadriga from the panorama platform of a nearby skyscraper. We rose to the viewing deck in Europe's fastest elevator: 24 floors in 20 seconds.  On the smooth and speedy ascent, we thought we might have left our stomachs back at the ground floor, but neither in the going up or the coming down did we experience anything like the whiplash we expected.

From this lofty position, we saw not just the city's astonishing array of old and ultra-modern buildings  sprinkled among extensive parklands but also patches of rainfall. Hence the haze in this photo. Visible downpours dowsing different areas of this huge metropolis gave us the sense that each Bezirk (borough) is its own climate zone.
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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Einstein lived here. Well, not actually on this spot but can you imagine him walking where Jean rides the wooden whale next to the Schwielowsee. In German, a See is a lake, although this whale plays alongside such a very narrow part that this part of the lake feels more like a canal. 

Caputh, near Potsdam, is about 20 minutes' drive from William and Rafi's house where we're staying.

Don't you just love the baleen?
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Charles Bridge on the Vlatava River in Prague — so many tourists we could hardly find room to walk. From our waterfront cafe, this view reminded us of our last visit in 1995.
After two days of hard walking, we're off to Berlin!
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This one speaks for itself - I guess you could say that Prague, one of our favorite old-world cities, has gone international.
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From giraffes in unexpected medieval cities, Jean got us back on track in Prague. This city's meridian pointed us to the correct time almost as effectively as the St. Ludmilla Church close to our hotel that sounded bells on every quarter hour. After one night of counting bells instead of sheep and one day of walking on countless cobblestones, we slept right through those bells!
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No folks, we haven't detoured to central Africa. Believe it or not, this giraffe called to us from the castle tower in Cesky Krumlov.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Bidding Bratislava Bye-Bye!!

You can see from the wake that this is a high-speed catamaran.
It makes the 60 km trip between  
Wien (Vienna) and Bratislava in 75 minutes.

Barb basks in spring sunshine at Bratislava castle. In the background is the arched Apollo Bridge, one of many that spans the Donau (that's "the Danube" for you dolts who don't do Deutsch).  Can you tell how much fun we're having with this blog?

Like mythical fishy men with hairy thighs?
Have a penchant for sea-horses with flippered hoofs?
Then the Neptune Fountain at Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna is for you!

From a distance, the entire fountain resembles many Hapsburg structures: grand, monumental, elegant, ornate. But from up close, charming individual details reveal themselves to the careful observer. A smiling lizard suns himself beneath a chambered nautilus. The forceful curves of a finned hoof suggest the strength and power of the mythical hippocampus. The graceful curve of the sea nymph, Thetis, contrasts with Neptune's dominant presence. Their story is told in stone: a supplicant nymph-mother entreats the sea god to protect her son, Achilles, on his voyage to Troy. What do you think he will tell her?
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Traditional melodies and rhythms mix with a "handy's"  digital bleeps & blips
on stone steps of Bratislava historic city doors.
How else can an enterprising Slovakian flute performer
manage his professional life
unless the "handy" remains as close to his ear as his flute may be to his heart?
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I went to Bratislava and it was not closed! In fact, I met a great guy crawling out of the sewer! He shared all kinds of tips for finding the tastiest tortes in town: Cafe Schoort lived up to his recommendations. Barb and I guzzled ginger lemonade sweetened with maple syrup and taste-tested cheesecake that supposedly rivaled New York's Best. Results will be revealed in a later post. Till then - much pleasanter to ride the back of the sewer rat than to be in his shoes.
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Lunch at Durnstein's Schloss Hotel in the Wachau Valley of the Danube River just west of Vienna. Perfect spring weather, perfect views, simply perfect in every way.

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The Glorietta at Schloss Schönbrunn was just one of the Hapsburgs' many monuments to themselves and their glory. For us, it was just lovely to share Vienna's spring sunshine with so many local families. As we watched young people lounging on fountain walls and making out on the lawn, we both laughed as we wondered what Maria Theresia would be thinking if she could have known that 200 years after her death, her private gardens would be sullied by so many common folk.
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