Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its fifth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

March 26, 2017

QUINCEAÑERA

... yesterday evening it was my privilege to be invited to take pictures at patricia's "quinceañera" ... she's the soon-to-be step-daughter of my brother's friend, erick ...

... it was a wonderful night, one filled with joyous emotion, traditional ceremonies, good food, energetic dancing, and, from beginning to end, great joy ...

... the pictures i took can be viewed and downloaded from this public folder ...


... at shutterfly the pictures can be viewed, printed (to a local cvs or target, or delivered by mail), enlarged, and made into bound albums ...


... patricia, thank you so much for allowing me to share your "page out of a fairy tale book" ...

March 17, 2017

EYE SLUMP & ZODIACAL LIGHT

... at first i thought it a bit odd, that in the almost two weeks since i returned from nicaragua even less than actually taking photographs, i've not been much at even seeing them ... i've come to think that it's a combination of the intensity of that experience coupled with the fact that while i was there i got to focus my lens in the direction i most enjoy, people ... also, i suppose i must be truthful admitting that this time of year i'm a bit tired of winter and eager for two-wheelin' across the countryside on clear roads ...

... john's been offering up some wanderabouting medicine, but all i've managed is a single image ...

... it's interesting that even as i slogged my way through the deep snow to gain this vantage i knew that it was a rather busy scene ... that'd usually put me off, but for some reason i was drawn to this rather complex composition, and even as i raised my camera to eye i was already "seeing" in black & white ...

... later i snapped a shot of john as he continued learning to master his new canon "L" super-duper zoom lens ...

... i'm not really concerned about this little "slump" ... has happened before, will happen again ... as relates to photography, all i need do is look at the pictures i took in nicaragua to remind myself what a lucky man i am ...

... and, as it is, i know that wanderabouting requires nothing but the doing ...

----

... john texted, "want to go out and photograph the zodiacal light" ... nice warm living room, cozy slippers, and piles of blankets with which to wrap in while i'm watching a movie vs. snow on the ground, cold, windy—was an easy decision, "pick me up in front of my apartment" ...

... my toes're still frozen, mostly because i dressed for spring instead of winter, but that doesn't matter because i managed to both see and record the zodiacal light ...

... this time of year, just after twilight, if the air's clear you can see the light of the below-the-horizon sun reflecting off the "zodiacal cloud" ... never heard of that ... ??? ... it's the layer of dust surrounding the sun ... imagine the sun is a marble in the center of a plate and the planets are little dots spread out along the plate ... well, the zodiacal cloud is the plate itself ... it's composed of wicked tiny grains of dust, 99.9% of which are less than 10,000,000 years old (on the cosmic scale, that's very, very young) ... the other .1% is stuff that's floated in from the vast spaces between the stars ... how much dust is up there ... ??? ... if you gathered it all from the entire solar system, which is 178,333,532,172 miles across, you'd only have a pile maybe 7 miles deep ... in other words, there's not much of it—

—which, of course, makes it even more cool that i managed to get a picture ...

"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."
STEPHEN HAWKING





March 10, 2017

NICARAGUA - EPILOG

... it's been four or five months since jon asked, "would you like to go to nicaragua with me to build a house" ... in a few hours it'll be two weeks since roger dropped me off at the portland jetport, and, although five days now, it seems just yesterday my sweet liz's smile welcomed me home ... now, comfortable in my apartment (five times the size of the house we built) and already snuggling up for tomorrow's 0°f temperatures (for my new friends in nicaragua, read that as -17°c), it's time for me to reflect upon what already i feel was of my life's greatest experiences ...

... first of all, although it looks like all i did was take pictures, yes, indeed, i did work ... favoring my healing shoulder,  when the others were applying their healthy muscles to heavy lifting and back-wrenching pounding i found other tasks needed to be done ... i got quite good at forming re-bar c's, to the point that when marcos worked next to me i was no slower nor less efficient than he, and his approving "thumbs up" will in my memory forever be a badge of honor ...

... i helped tie rebar ladders, too ... kevin excellently tutored me in this task, which was nowhere near as simple as it appears ...

... keri kept giving smile lessons ...

... so odd, me, who has never been all that good at being a "part of the gang," yet in this group i instantly found myself perfectly comfortable and completely accepted ... as a part of a "crew" i think the last time i felt like this was when i was in the military ... this, as much as anything else, says a great deal about my experience in nicaragua ...

... the first day, learning about the organizational foundation supporting our efforts ... several people in our group took these pictures, but right now i'm not of the mind to try to dig back into my emails to offer up specific credit so instead i'll thank kevin, austin, sarah, kara, keri, jon, and diane for the evidence that i was there ... !!! ...

... my favorite picture from the trip because it shows the house we built, and that i was so very fortunate to share the experience with my nephew, jon, who made it all possible ...

... the second day, a little tourism stop as we were heading up into the mountains ... already i was having to force myself to focus my eyes towards the specific task of recording the activity for which i had come to nicaragua ... still, [big sigh], i might have to take my camera back for some plain ol' wanderabouting ...

... i know that when i am a very old man i will look at this picture and even then it will still cause me to feel really good ... 

... there're other images of me sent by members of our group, but—well, what can i say, since i'm the editor of this little journal you don't get to see pictures of me unless in at least some small way they bring you to say to yourself, "oh, my, i just never noticed how much george clooney looks like patrick" ...

... some thoughts:

... if you've followed my journal, and, even if ever so faint, a certain questioning thought has crossed your mind, you should bring to full consciousness the idea, "accepting that it's okay to be nervous, i think i'd like to do something like this" ...

... then, if you like, ask me questions ... email or use the little comment box at the right side of the journal page ...

... next, drop my nephew, jon, an email ...


... he'll give you all the details ... he will not try to "sell" you on the idea because an important part of it is that you do that for yourself ...

... i will tell you that i was unbelievably impressed with the depth and degree to which this trip was organized and managed ... i never felt anything less than perfectly safe and completely cared for ... even more, from the first moment on the job site i felt an important part of something very important ... i doubt if any of you reading this couldn't benefit from that feeling ...

... allowing that it may sound a bit trite, still i will say that for the rest of my life i will treasure this experience ...

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE TRIP MAY BE FOUND AT

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1cvcgXf_CDvblY4aW1ESUFDMXM

THE IMAGES I TOOK ARE COPYRIGHTED AND LABELED AS SUCH

I'VE GIVEN THRIVENT FINANCIAL AND HABITAT FOR HUMANITY FULL RIGHTS TO USE THESE IMAGES

EVERYONE ELSE, FOR PERSONAL OR NON-COMMERCIAL USE WITH RESPECTFUL ATTRIBUTION PLEASE SHARE TO YOUR HEART'S CONTENT

FOR ANY OTHER USE PLEASE CONTACT ME

THESE IMAGES ARE SIZE/QUALITY REDUCED, BUT WILL PRINT NICELY UP TO 6"X8"

FOR FULL-QUALITY VERSIONS CONTACT ME





March 5, 2017

NICARAGUA - DAY 7: THE VOYAGE HOME

... our last evening in esteli, from the roof of the hotel los arcos ...

... our room was behind the first full arch ... i would highly recommend this hotel ... the staff were very friendly, the room was quite comfortable, and the "atmosphere" was most charming ... it has a nice restaurant and bar, there's a first-class market across the street, and the town's center plaza is only a couple of hundred feet from the hotel's entrance ... best of all, this time of year a double room goes for about $50/night ...

... this was the open courtyard our room faced ... we held our team meetings at the tables, and sometimes i would enjoy sitting and working on my photographs ...

... the quiet courtyard reflects perfectly the mood of this little hotel ...

... our last full day in nicaragua was one of touring while we traveled back towards managua, where the international airport is located ... along the way we drove to the top of an active volcano, one of many which line the western side of the country ... jon bravely posed for a photograph ...

... the sulfur fumes were so intense that park rangers allow visitors only about ten minutes at the edge ... most of the time it was tolerable, but i got one whiff that stopped my breathing for a few seconds ... way worse than the (second) time i destroyed my high school's chem lab ...

... every now and then the smoke would clear and we could see the lava flowing at the bottom of the caldera ... there were a couple of times i saw huge waves of it fly into the air what i would estimate to be 50-100 feet ...

... so that those who wished could do a little shopping we stopped in granada, which to my eye seems to be much more geared for touristy-tourists than is esteli ... alejandra, who was the overall manager of our tour, and who i found to be one of the nicest people i've ever met, posed in front of a mural of her town ... it was fascinating learning about being a child growing up in a country that was both suffering and recovering from a devastating earthquake, a revolution, and an economic embargo by the united states government ... as she spoke of her mother, her upbringing, and the life she herself is building, i thought of something the dali lama taught:

"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness."

... in nicaragua i learned much from alejandra ...

... jon's growing a beard ... or, perhaps better put, he's "thoughtfully not shaving" ...

... we went for a cruise on lake managua, the 19th largest lake in the world ... it's classified as "freshwater," but based upon the fact that the city of managua still discharges much of its sewage directly into the water, and that the huge lake has no natural outlet, i'd be careful about eating anything caught in these waters ... still, it was quite beautiful, and i think the government and people of nicaragua are a least aware of the problem and they are doing the best they can to clean up the lake ... 

... at a private island we were served a scrumptious lunch, after which we had free time to swim in the pool, explore, or, tired as most of us were, enjoy the hammocks and rocking chairs ...

... on return voyage we marveled at the volcanic skyline ...

... our last night was in granada ... tired, i only investigated the city from the front steps of the hotel, but on the drive in i could see it is a place well worth visiting ...

... jon, still discovering new bruises and sore muscles, agreed with me ...

... our last meal was a wonderful buffet of nicaraguan food ...

... the result of my first pass along the serving line ...

... after our meal we were treated to some traditional folk dance ...

... for me, her grace and beauty allowed a special time for my heart to reflect upon all of which i had been a part ...

... flying out this volcano seemed symbolic of a country which despite a most turbulent and tortuous history is working very hard to grow and develop into a new and better land ...

"To stop and light a candle when you see another walking in the dark,
that is the true beginning of your own great journey."
K. DALE

March 3, 2017

NICARAGUA - DAY 6: RIBBON CUTTING

... our task for the last day was to finish the subfloor, pour the concrete floor, and clean the site ... sounds simple, but mixing four cubic yards of concrete by hand is labor intensive back-breaking work ... to be clear, sticking to my plan to allow my shoulder to heal i did none of this work, but observing the efforts of the rest of our crew it was clear to me that this is not a task for the weak-hearted ... instead, i did other odd jobs and snapped as many pictures as i could ...

... sarah looked at this picture and remarked, "i look skinny" ... "you say tom-a-to, i say tom-ah-to," i think she looks rugged ...

... kari and kevin give it their all ...

... austin chugged away like one of the john deere machines he works on ...

... kara digs while her aunt diana takes a supervisory break ...

... fast as he was moving, i don't know how that hat stayed on ...

... kevin's pleased that his shoulder has healed so that he can do this work  ...

... no labor-saving electric powered rotating mixing barrel, in this part of the world concrete is made by building little "volcanoes" ...

... a very pleased and proud "volcano crew" ...

... austin displays the flag of his alma mater ...

... sarah and her aunt diana ...

... that's my "tropical sun without sunglasses" expression ... 

... a little girl awaits her new house ...

... our "jefe" makes the floor ...

... across the street the kids sell tortillas ... this is one of the ways the family we're building the house for makes a living ...

... a selfie of jon and me ...

... "that's going to be where i sleep" ...

... brian prepares the piniata ...

... the fine cement goes on ...

... kevin during clean-the-tools time

... for next year's "construction girls calendar" ... 

... "the family that builds together grows even closer together" ...

... that's an "i'm so blessed" expression ...

... in her sunday best, awaiting the formal ceremony ...

... like me, jon was tempted ...

... each of us left a message in the bible we gave the family ... my inscription said, "there's no place like home—there's no place like home" ...

... how nice, this "little house at the edge of the city" ...

... the van got stuck in the construction sand—we're lucky jon was around to free it ...

... such happy children ...

... so odd, that this aspect of modern technology has so permeated this part of the world ... hopefully it'll be a tool with which they build a better society ...

... hamilton practices working the piniata ...

... marcos enjoys the tinted safety glasses i gave him ...

... kevin, reflecting upon all we've done ...

... we all gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony ...

... lestor spoke beautifully in english, i'll assume his spanish was equally eloquent ...

... it was a moment of great joy ...

... ruth cuts the ribbon marking the completion of her new house ... of course, it'll take a couple of crews in the next few days to raise the roof and do the finish work, but, for today, it was already the grandest of houses ...

... emotions ran high on the site ...

... the neighborhood kids lined up for the piniata ...

... lestor introduced the littlest of them to this fascinating custom ...

... in the background with great expectation wait those who completely understand the event ...

... the little dancing minion was difficult to hit ...

... he danced away from the swinging stick ...

... "sunday dress means nothing, i'm here to get this guy" ...

... "how did he know when i was going to swing" ...

... for minion smacking usually shy linda wasn't ...

... that's a major league stance ...

... when the piniata finally burst all scrambled for the candy ...

... so excited ...

... our site leader, hamilton ...

... lestor and sarah, our group leader ...

... kara makes a friend ...

... pineapples and melons arrived on the site ...

... this little one perfectly rested in diana's arms ...

... austin, who works for john deere, was excited when the garbage collection came by ...

... the pineapples and melons were scrumptiously juicy and seriously sweet ...

... sarah, relaxing for a moment from her duties and responsibilities ...

... kari, a neat watermelon eater ... good thing i didn't take a selfie, 'cause i'm not ...

... the girls couldn't get enough of the little one—i think the feeling was mutual ...

... the last of our wonderful communal lunches ...

... alejandra rejoined us for this last lunch ...

... the director of the "impru" organization thanked us for the work we've done ... of course, all of us are completely in awe of the work she and that organization does ...

... we visited a house similar to the one we worked upon ... this family has added to the house, completed a more modern septic system in the backyard, and is slowly building a business that will help them to improve their lives ...

... extending helping hands, that is what our work was about ...

... nicaragua 2017: we came, we built, we helped ...

"No one has ever become poor by giving."
ANNE FRANK