Friday, December 27, 2013

Venus, Christmas 2013

I spent a quiet Christmas day by myself.  Then in the evening I drove out to Santa Monica and took a leisurely walk along the stroll path edging the bluff.  It was an unusually warm evening and some people were actually out in their summer clothes.  At times there was a fairly strong wind, but even the wind was warm.  There was one bright star visible as the Sun sank behind the ocean's edge.  Presumably it was Venus, the 'Evening Star'.

An oddly related post:  Cool Tattoo Et Le Petit Prince

I Fall Off The Wagon

Since November I've lost 10 pounds.  On my last checkup visit my doctor said in no unequivocal terms that if current trends continue, I would definitely develop problems in the future (there are probably few things your doctor can say that are scarier than "definitely"); the trends having to do with my weight and diet-related factors.  I wasn't exactly overweight, but I was clearly heading in that direction.  So I took it upon myself to reform my eating habits.  I'm not counting calories or doing anything so scientific and strict -- that would be out of character^ -- but just eating a little less and being sensible all around.  And it was working very well.

On the other hand, the month before the winter holidays is not a great time to begin a weight-loss regimen.  I gained back a couple of pounds.

By the way, that is not how my neck normally looks.  In this shot I was 'turtling' back from the cupcake.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Present

A steel tarantula, from somebody who knows me well^

Wet Trees

Yesterday it rained.  I was hoping for more than what we got, but at least we did get some.  Just enough to blur out the trees^.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Iridescence Panorama

This one was unusually intense -- so bright that this photo makes me think of a giant tricolor flag being flown over a parade.

Synchronistic Event Of The Verbal-Visual Kind #26

Today I happened to be perusing some Korean books, and just as I came upon this volume with the impressive sandwich on the cover, I heard my coworker say "sandwich" on the phone.

Yet Another 'Just Looks Odd'

(I'm really getting good at timing these shots, if I do say so myself^)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Latest Acquisition

A raccoon skull.

Actually, I purchased one as a gift for someone, but it was so pretty I had to get one for myself, too.  The other one was bigger and more aggressive-looking, so perhaps this one is female or a juvenile.  It hefts well in my hand, and I like the smooth yet complex texture of it.  I find myself constantly picking it up and stroking it, as if it were a pet.  A pet skull.

Synchronistic Event Of The Verbal Kind #25

This actually happened last week, either Monday or Tuesday.  I was listening to K-pop stars Jessica and Onew singing "One Year Later" while perusing this Korean book, and as I came to the word "iyagi" (story/tale) Jessica sang "iyagi".

So far, the list of these words does not make any sense.  Perhaps some day, when I have enough of them, I'll be able to string some of them into a funny sentence or something^.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Synchronistic Event Of The Verbal Kind #24

Just now I was reading an internet article. As my eyes moved over the word 'plastic', I heard a co-worker say "plastic" behind me.

I was going to say that there has been a long gap since the last one, but then I remembered there were a couple that I did not bother to record. So there has still been a fairly steady stream of them.

Related Post: Synchronistic Event #23

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Another Hummingbird Today

At least I think it's a different one from the bird I photographed a few weeks ago.  But again, on a cold, overcast day.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Landscape In Tartarus

The dismal, barely-glowing body that is hell's counterpart of the Sun, which floats above the desolate floor of hell's deepest caverns.  Or so I imagined this image to be on this occasion.  After all, my motto for this blog is "Forever seeking Beauty and Terror in all things everywhere".

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Last Week's Worm Rescue

For a long time I had not run across any stranded worms on my walks.  My schedule has not changed, so maybe the lawn sprinklers are on a different schedule now?  Either that, or the neighborhood worms have been getting smarter^

Anyway, last Monday morning there were an unusually high number of dead worms drying out on the sidewalk.  Among them there were two that were still alive.  They were barely clinging to life, but when I picked them up they had strength enough to writhe a little in response, so maybe they were able to recover once I put them back in the earth.



Number of worms rescued: 69

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sand Mandala


Saturday I went to watch the dismantling of a sand mandala.  A group of Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Karnataka, India, had constructed the mystic figure at the county library in nearby Rosemead, and while I was unable to attend the opening ceremony, I was determined to witness the closing.

The mandala in situ:

A mandala is a kind of cosmogram -- a drawn or painted image that serves as a symbolic map or diagram of a universe or realm.  Being a very visual-arts oriented person, I myself like to think of them primarily as visual aids in meditation and contemplative focus, but there are many different mandalas, representing different 'buddhaverses' or states of mind, used for different purposes.

A near-overhead shot of the mandala:

Considering that the medium used to create the 'painting' is fairly gross by nature -- grains of sand -- it's pretty amazing the level of fineness the monks manage to obtain.  The photo above was uploaded without downsizing so it can be expanded to full size (after clicking on the image, you may need to right-click and 'open image', or whatever, to get the full expansion).  To obtain this image I stepped right up to the edge of the table and extended my camera arm as far as I dared -- I actually thought it would be a perfect 'Seinfeld moment' if someone tried the same thing, craned too far and fell over the sacred image, sending multihued sand flying everywhere^ (later I found out that such accidents have actually happened in the past).

The monks file in and make preparations:

The  Ven. Geashe Lobsang Tsetan, the leader of the group, spoke briefly about what mandalas are and why the monks travel the west creating and destroying them (he mentioned that this is the mandala of the Medicine Buddha, which would be the Buddha Bhaisajyaguru -- written སངས་རྒྱས་སྨན་བླ། in Tibetan and 약사여래 in Korean); then those who had been instrumental in making the event possible were recognized.

At last the ceremony proper commenced in earnest.  Here began the solemn and mysterious chanting that I had previously only heard in recordings.  Here is a short video clip of it:

Then, without any special announcement, the actual dismantling of the mandala began.

The initial 'crossing-out' of the mandala, followed by a spiraling sweep toward the center:

Finally, the sand was divided up into little portions, to be given away as reminders of a very special experience.

After I came home I poured some of mine into a tiny bottle (which I purchased years ago without any special purpose in mind -- everything finds a use, or a reason is found for everything, eventually) so I could carry it around with me, as a kind of rainbow-colored charm.