Friday, August 28, 2009

Jake the Great - 12 months later

It was one year ago today that we lost Jake the Great, the best dog ever in the entire universe. Still miss ya, boy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Book Review - Being Caribou

"Being Caribou", by Karsten Heuer, is about about a journey embarked upon by Karsten (wildlife biologist) and his wife Leanne (filmmaker). During this trip, Karsten and Leanne followed the Porcupine caribou herd ON FOOT from the Yukon Territory to the caribou calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and back ... a journey of around 1,000 miles.

Their trip was designed principally to learn more about the caribou's reliance on ANWR so that they could generate a more informed opinion about efforts to open up parts of ANWR for oil development.

Can't even begin to imagine the conditions that they endured during their 5 month journey. From the storms to grizzly bear encounters --- unrelenting mosquitoes and navigational challenges --- and the complex logistics of planning and coordinating such a trip. Pretty amazing stuff.

Overall I give the book about a 6. An interesting read, but not so compelling that I couldn't step away from it from time to time.

Some of my favorite text from the book is actually introductions to certain chapters, where the author quotes from Sonnets to Orpheus (which was new to me). Some good stuff. Mom, you'd like it, its got a Zen-like feel to it. Thoreau meets the Budha?

P. 79 (Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, XII)

Pure attention, the essence of the powers!
Distracted by each day's doing,
how can we hear the signals?

P. 111 (Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XIV)

There's a lightness in things. Only we people move forever burdened,
pressing ourselves onto everything, obsessed by weight.
How strange and devouring our ways must seem
to those for whom life is enough.

P. 175 (Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XIII)

Be. And, at the same time, know what it is to not be.
That emptiness inside you allows you to vibrate
in resonance with your world. Use it for once.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Inniswood Metro Gardens

More flower pictures. I know, I know, I might have a problem. Admitting it is the first step, right? "Hello, my name is Stuart, and I take lots of flowers pictures."

These are from Inniswood, a nice little park over in Westerville. Ran over there this past Sunday morning for a couple of hours. Fortunately the weather was cooperative, with little/no wind, so I was able to try a couple of different things. Still working on this depth-of-field (DOF) thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book review - Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild

"The importance of wild places is not that they, unlike other places, are sacred, but that there we find, as Henry David Thoreau said,'our own limits transgressed.' We confront in wild places evidences of powers greater than our own; this evidence humbles us, and in humility is the beginning of spirituality. Wildness matters not because it alone is sacred but because it arouses in us the sense of sanctity that makes visible the sacredness of everything else in life." (p. 201)

Man, I dig that. Its from Paul Gruchow's Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild. I just finished reading this book, and I give it a thumbs up. I am, however, a bit biased because a good portion of this book is set in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), which just happens to be one of my favorite places. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, and if you experience a spiritual reaction to time spent in the wilderness, then I think this book would be worth throwing in your backpack the next time you hit the trails.

I found several other selections from this book to be really compelling - here are a few of 'em:

(1) "My face had grown windburned, and when I arrived back at the cabin after my outing, the outer layer of my coat was soaked in sweat. I was healthy, contented, happy, and peaceful. I had time to think, the company of people I liked, lots of fresh air and physical labor, good plain food, and sleep. I could not remember why I thought, most of the time, that I wanted or needed anything more." (p. 130)

(2) "I open my senses. I hear more, see more, taste more, smell more, feel more. The world comes to me like a shock of icy water this foggy wilderness morning. My pores gasp, and the world enters them." (p. 23)

(3) "Still, in the silence of forests, in the austerity of cold, beyond reach of the marketplace, there does seem an innocence of spirit capable of transcending the ordinary pettiness of life." (p. 137)

(4) "Life is always and everywhere manifest in ways that eyes do not see nor ears hear. It lies hidden, waiting to be expressed in attentiveness." (p. 127)

(5) "The silence deep in the wilderness and the one at the center of the human heart are sublime and serene, and they cannot be heard except when alone, and over a broad margin of time and distance. There are some communications, such as those from the stars, that require a greater darkness than can be found at the edges of society." (p. 26)

Monday, August 3, 2009

OBX 2009 Photos - Part 1 (scenery)

Here are a few shots from our recent trip to the Outer Banks, as well as a few pics from the nearby Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.