In the footprints of Machig Lapdron by Mary Sharratt


Reblogged because I found this to be a fascinating adventure plus love the art.

Machig Labdrön with PadampasangyeMachig Lapdron, female Tantric Buddhist mystic and lineage founder

I’ve just returned from an illuminating trip to Bhutan, high in the Himalayas. Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and the world’s youngest democracy.

On our last full day in this enchanting land, my husband and I drove with our guide over the nearly 4000 meter pass of Chelela and into the Haa Valley which doesn’t see that many tourists. Our goal was the Hermitage of Juneydrak, where Machig Lapdron (1055-1145 CE), the famous female Tantric mystic, master, and lineage founder, once meditated.

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Star Tree – Star Goddess by Judith Shaw


See the paintings. With deforestation affecting so much of the world, the idea of trees as sacred is especially appealing and meaningful.

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In a world where humans were small and nature was big, surrounded by forests of trees of immense size and stature, it’s not surprising that the ancient Celts came to hold trees as sacred. Like many others, the Celts revered the World Tree or the Tree of Life as the mythic bridge between heaven and earth. The roots reach down and ground with the Earth while the branches spread their canopy up to the heavens.

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San Jose, Costa Rica


Two friends are headed to Costa Rica this summer.  While they will join a tour, they have a couple of days in San Jose before the tour begins.  I promised them I would suggest a few places they might enjoy, El Mercado, the downtown market,  the National Theatre, and the precolonial museum which is full of pre-Columbian gold and other ancient artifacts.  It remains my favorite but security there is tight.  To get in, you must surrender just about everything but your clothes.  You get a locker in which to place your valuables; the key to the locker is about all you can take with you.  As a consequence, no photos.  They do have a gift shop with quality items of all sorts including copies of many of the artifacts and jewelry.

Much of the downtown area is foot traffic only.  Vendors sell various goods on the street, you can wander El Mercado, in which various stalls for goods and food are located, and tour the National Theatre.  Inside the National Theatre next to the main lobby area is a lovely little restaurant, the perfect place for lunch.  The following are photos I took  in the National Theatre about one and one-half years ago.

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The first photo below is the highway from the airport into San Jose and the second shows a typical downtown pedestrian only area.

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I have been to Costa Rica in what in the US is summer and also at Christmastime.  Summer here is their rainy season so if you go then, be prepared for rain, sometimes a lot of it.  It is sort of a joke that on the east side of the main mountain chain, it is always the rainy season.  However, I have been there when it did not rain.  Take a sturdy, easy to lug around slicker with a hood because sooner or later it will rain.

The huge advantages of going this time of year are a lot fewer tourists and it is considerably cheaper.

 

 

Spring Break Adventure–5


On the fourth day of the adventure we went to Marfa, Texas.  My friends from college, David and Suzy, had booked a tour of the Chinati Foundation.  No photos of that because none allowed.  This foundation is the dream of its founder, Donald Judd.  His art and almost all the rest of the art housed here is not for display in houses.  All but a few consist of grand studies of space and light. An abandoned, refurbished military base, purchased by Judd, houses most of the exhibits.  Judd’s main interest it seems relates to the relationship between light and space.  First, the tour guide takes you to a couple of large buildings where the only changes made were to install new windows and a ceiling.  These buildings house Judd’s large, polished, stainless steel rectangular boxes.  While this may sound boring, I assure you it is not.  Light reflects off these boxes, makes shadows, etc. in all sorts of ways and the entire effect changes with the angles of the sunlight.

Another quite astonishing display can be seen in a series of U-shaped buildings, painted and repaired, in which eight foot long fluorescent light tubes in four colors, pink, green, yellow, and blue, have been installed in the corners of the U.  Depending on where a person stands, other colors appear, not just the four mentioned.  It became apparent to me that the artist, Dan Flavin, knew every scientific detail of the color spectrum and its effects on the human eye and brain.

I also enjoyed a smaller display by artist and poet, Carl Andre.  Even though his fame rests in sculpture, it is mainly his poetry displayed here.  I wanted to read all of it but everyone else went on so I quit.

There are other exhibits, including a lot of smashed and welded vehicles which I liked the least.  The final exhibit displays giant fabric sheets in black and white in a building specially designed by the artist, Robert Irwin.  If you think this sounds boring, take a trip there and look for yourself.  I assure you it is not.  Irwin actually worked on the exhibit himself at the age of 88.  He lives on now at 89.

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The only photos I managed in the area show the Marfa Courthouse which is, believe it or not, even a brighter pink than this photo and a photo from the vehicle window on the highway to Alpine. The second photo shows a mesa we managed to view on one day or another from nearly all sides.  It looms large in the middle of flat land. Here one of the endless trains slides by.

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On our last day we decided to drive to Presidio and take the river road which goes through Rio Grande Ranch State Park. While the road goes either along or down to the river in a few places (for people to put some sort of water craft into the river or to camp), most of it is way above the river on cliffs.  This landscape is not for the faint of heart.

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US on the right and Mexico on the left.  The fields and pasture in the distance are in Mexico.

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Looking into Mexico.

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Unusual rock formations near one of the small drives down to a campground by the river.

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Cliffs in Mexico.

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Apparently, in my efforts not to fall in the river while taking this, my finger got in the way.

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Yes, the river is down there between those cliffs.

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In case you wonder why the Rio Grande seems so small here, consider that by the time it gets here, 95% of the water has been removed for irrigation and other purposes.

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We drove back through Terlingua to Alpine.  Not much exists in Terlingua except a rather pathetic supposed ghost town area.  The river road is not conducive to speed; we were hungry and stopped for a very late lunch.  It was St. Patrick’s Day and many of the clientele had a good start on the festivities.  On Saturday I learned that Terlingua is a famous biker town.  However, apparently not that day.

Commit Random Acts


This speaks for itself.

I am one voice,
but I will not be complicit,
compliant,
quiet.

For every word of hate,
I’ll speak LOVE

For every swastika,
I’ll sign PEACE

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For every belief outlawed,
every book burned,
every person
mocked,
marginalized,
belittled,
bullied…

I’ll commit
random acts of
WRITING and ART,
shout
COMPASSION
and KINDNESS
from rooftops!

Poem + Artwork ©2016, Jen Payne

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“Commit Random Acts of Writing + Art” bumper sticker. Measures 4″ x 8″ with gloss UV lamination. Printed in the USA. Price includes shipping. BE PART OF THE CREATIVE MOVEMENT!  Click here to order now!

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Costa Rica Adventure, Day Five-Part One


After spending our first leisurely late afternoon and evening at Rio Perdido, we arose early the next morning heading to a farm near the Nicaraguan border.  On our way, about 3/4 to one hour from Rio Perdido, we stopped at the studio of the sculptor Tony Jimenez.  Apparently, Tony loves–perhaps an understatement-the female form.  With few exceptions, he carves women, mostly giant women, in wood.

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He sells smaller statues, even as small as eight inches high, but refuses to sign them partly because they are made from less substantial wood.  I bought one about a foot high.  Later, in another part of Costa Rica I saw some very similar to mine.  When I asked if Tony made them, I was told his cousin was the sculptor.

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Although Tony sells sculpture, his front door fascinated me even more.  It, too, is carved, a frieze.  Even the crossbars on his windows are carved.

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We drove along the west side of a volcano for hours.  Because of clouds, wind, and weather from the Caribbean, even though we were on the Pacific side, we never saw the top of the volcano.  It remained misty and rainy most of the morning as we crossed from the Pacific to the Caribbean side.

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I do not recall anyone mentioning the name of this volcano.  Given where we were headed, it would appear to be Volcano Miravalles.

 

Costa Rica Adventure, Day Four-Part Three


Yes, Part Two of Day Four is missing–it will show up later.  After floating down Rio Tenorio (the missing photos) and eating lunch by another river just off the Pan American Highway, we went a short distance off the Pan American highway to Las Pumas, a wildlife rescue center.  This photo was taken on the way–a very common sight in this area, grazing cattle.

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The center rescues various animals but mostly wild cats, including puma, jaguar, ocelot, jaguarundi–a long bodied, grey cat with short legs and a tiny head, margay, and tigrillo which is the size of a house cat.  Their goal is to eventually release the animals back into the wild.  However, the only place open to visitors is an area where none of the animals can be released back into the wild.

I mostly photographed the pumas–one of my obsessions.

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See if you can find the puma.

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Now you can.  He kept moving.

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Most of their stories went like this:  mom was killed or caught by a rancher for stealing livestock; baby was found and rescued and had become too familiar with people to release.  Another common story dealt with injuries where the animal had been caught in a trap and suffered too much of an injury to ever be self sufficient in the wild.  The smaller cats knew how to either hide themselves or hunker down where it was too dark for a good photo.  In the largest enclosure a jaguar lay right next to the fence.  Once he had been returned to the wild without success.  He did not seem particularly pleased with all us humans so close.  He arose, suddenly turned his butt toward the fence, and sprayed.  One unfortunate (or fortunate if she wanted a good story) girl was the recipient.  She took it well.  How often does one get sprayed by a jaguar!

Eventually, after twisting and turning on various unpaved roads through the dry tropical forest (a totally different type of forest than one usually thinks of when hearing the word tropical), we arrived at Rio Perdido early enough for some relaxation, a bit of exploring, and swimming.

 

 

 

Costa Rican Adventure, Day Two–Part One


After a buffet breakfast of traditional foods, e.g. gallo pinto and plantanos fritos–my favorites, we headed to the central part of San Jose which is only foot traffic, no vehicles.

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We strolled to El Mercado where my grandson bought a stuffed sloth–I love bargaining so we got it for a good price.  My only disappointment was the rush so we could see everything–the disadvantage of being on a tour. Eventually, we ended up at the National Theatre.

Located in the central section of San Jose, it is considered the finest historical building in the capital and remains relatively unchanged since it was built in 1897–it opened on Oct. 21 of that year.  Most of its opulent furnishing were imported from Europe.  At the time of its opening fewer than 20,000 people inhabited San Jose.  It was financed via a coffee tax which was then and still is the major export and cash crop.

This theatre remains in use today and houses a small, cosy restaurant next to the main lobby.  We ate our first Tico lunch there.

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This and the following photos were taken in the lobby of this theatre.

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I took this and the following photo while seated in the main seating area looking up to the ornate ceiling.  Originally, the theatre was designed for multipurpose use so the main floor has seating than can be removed and the floor risen to the level of the stage and consequently transformed into a dance floor.  Rarely is this aspect used today.

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We left this area and climbed the stairs to the balcony where the president and cabinet still sit for performances.  Neither the president nor any of the cabinet have body guards.  We were reminded that in 1948, the country disbanded its army and still has no military. The following two photos were taken from the stairwell.

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This area is a large reception room across from the balcony level.  The incredibly intricate parquet floor has been covered by carpet for protection  so you can see only portions of it as you walk around.

We also visited what is know as the Gold Museum, my favorite.  It houses a huge collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts and other antiquities. No cameras, purses, backpacks, iPads, nothing can be taken in so no photos.  It is literally underground.  Visitors are directed to lockers in which to put all these belongings, lock them, take the key with you as you browse the incredible collection.  There is an excellent gift shop where you can purchase copies of these artifacts, painted wood jaguar heads, and other handcrafts.  This is not our typical, touristy gift job.  As a result I now own four jaguars, three heads (two from Mexico and the one I bought here) and an entire jaguar from Mexico for a total of four.