Discovering traditions

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

I am going to be exploring the Day of the Dead ceremonies in Mexico.

Last night I looked at the shrines with food and candles for the dead in Santa Elena. I will be updating later about my discoveries.

Stay tuned

Easing back in slowly

Location: Ticul, Yucatan, Mexico

I have been away from Mexico for two and a half months and it is amazing how much I need a refresher course.

You do not flush toilet paper. Oh right, I remember. Topes (speed bumps) can sneak up an you have to take them veeerrrrry slowly. Ka-thump. Oh, where did that one come from?

I did remember where to find the market. The smells from the taco stands are tantalizing, and I am sure they are tasty, but can my system handle it?

Not today.

I am trying to remember the Spanish numbers. It doesn’t really matter. My brain can not figure out what they are saying anyway. Then my mind has to go over the conversion rates from pesos to dollars.

How much is 38 pesos? Does it matter? It’s not much, and I am going to be buying the watermelon anyway.

What color is the car I am driving, the maroon one. Right. I will open it with my keys.

It does not open.

Oh, this is not my car. I have no idea what the parking attendant is telling me in Spanish, but I am relatively sure it is not complimentary.

I do find my car, tip the attendant, and make my way back to Santa Elena.

At least the road is familiar. It is all falling into place.

Taking the dam tour

Location: Hoover Dam, Nevada

Looking at this monumental project and marveling at the engineering, the labor, the lives lost, the capital involved, and the political will to make this happen. Living part time in the Yucatan, I see parallels to the construction of the thousands of Maya pyramids, roads and temples.

People ask why the Maya stopped creating their big glorious projects.

I ask the same questions about our scaled down visions of today.

Closing a door

Location: San Francisco, California

Another pile of sand, or in this case bay fill.

I have had my loft in San Francisco for nineteen years. It has been my student lair, a working studio, my primary residence, a homey place to be when visiting the Bay Area, and place of hospitality for friends and family.

But as my interests are moving further away from San Francisco, it is time to bid it farewell. I look over at files of my artwork stored on three different types of extinct media and boldly toss them in the trash.

If I have not archived them by now, so be it.

Over the course of four days, and with the help of two friends, everything has been packed into a truck and ready for relocation.

How is it that I, an experienced packer always always underestimate the number of boxes I will need?

It was only on the last day, sitting on the floor of the now empty bedroom/office that the wave of memories crashed over me… choosing the wood finishes, tiles, flooring and lighting fixtures; my grad student projects at the San Francisco Academy of Art; quiet times with my first wife; reviewing the absurd California & San Francisco voting propositions; the politics of committee meetings; photo shoots in the next room; exploring the then-new phenomena of digital photography editing.

The memories tug at me. But even though the past has made me who I am, I have a new life now, and mad schemes for the future.

Yes, the sentiment is deep in this place, but I think the cash will be more practical

What a difference a day makes

Location: San Francisco, California

I am looking at the news.

What a difference a few days makes. Looking at the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. I have seen a news picture of where I was staying at Flagler Beach… the motel is still there but half of the road is washed away, and my tranquil viewing embankment is now part of the lower sands of the beach.

Building a city on a sandbar may seem rather foolish, but very little lasts forever.

We need to just weather the storm and rebuild our dreams on a different pile of sand. It may last for a season, a generation, or a billion years. It is what we do, not how long it lasts.

The old stomping grounds… or undergrounds

Location: Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

After visiting the limestone caves of the Yucatan, I went back to explore the caves of my childhood at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

I still marvel at how the mineral laden water builds the stalactites, stalagmites, and stone curtains far beneath the surface, an accidental beauty that only those who venture into dark places can see.

A little learning respite

Location: Flager Beach, Flordia

I am attending a conference on the Maya in Florida. The conference can get pretty technical, but I can always unwind at the beachside motel in Flagler Beach.

The place is a bit of a dump, but it does have the wonderful Atlantic ocean across the street.

It is surprising how you can go into a meditative state walking the sandy beach with the warm surf flowing beneath your feet, or simply sitting on the embankment at night watching the waves and hearing the sound of the surf.

What did I like best?

Location: Eagle Point, Oregon

Visiting a ranch in Oregon, where I enjoyed looking for wildlife, climbing the hills, and riding around in an ATV.

But what I liked best, was simply paddling my canoe into the lake.

I could see the people far away on the shore, but here was just me, the lake, and my canoe. I love my friends and relatives, but the quiet and solitude was greatly recharging.

Then I head back to the delightful frenzy of a child’s birthday celebration. It is surprising how much fun and how messy the act of eating a cupcake can be.

Is it good to go off the grid?

Location: Black Rock City, Nevada

I have just finished an eight day fast from electronics.

Black Rock City

No smartphone.
No iPad.
No Fitbit.
No apps.
No computer games.
No social media.

I have no knowledge of the latest political scandals, scientific discoveries, or archeological finds.

Black Rock City

This can wait.

I was also out of contact with my friends, extended family, lawyers, employees, and contractors. If there were any crises, they would just had to deal with them without me for a week.

Black Rock City

I felt a little strange to be unplugged.

To be honest, I slept for the first three days. Then spent my time with meditation, self reflection, bonding, a bit more sleep, bicycle riding, and dancing my ass off.

Now that I am back, the world seems a little less urgent.

Starlight, star bright…

Location: Searchlight, Nevada

Meter showers have been considered a grand entertainment long before YouTube and reality television. We decided to make the best of the show, so we packed up some blankets, pads, pillows, and a few snacks and drove 45 minutes south of Las Vegas to get away from the bright city lights. Then under the dark night skys, between moonset and dawn (2 AM to 5 AM) we lay on our backs to watch the Perseids meteor shower.

For most situations there is the metaphor for dusk being symbolic of obscuring truth and the dawn bringing light and clarity. With astronomy this is the exact opposite. The lighter the sky becomes, the less stars, planets, and meteors we can see.

The first thing that we notice is the Milky Way.

It has been there all the time, but with the bright city lights of Las Vegas, it is never quite visible. Then as our eyes become accustomed to the dark, more and more stars appear.

Then there is a bright brief streak of a meteor burning its path in random directions in the sky.

It may see silly, but we “Ooh” and “Aah” at every one of them. There seemed to be a meteor flashing about every 90 seconds.

We bring out our smart phones to verify the constellations and to see when the Hubble is moving across the sky.

With the coming of the daylight, the stars and meteors become harder to see. We pack up and head back to watch the sunrise, have a light snack, and finish our interrupted sleep