Photo 101–Five-in-One: Connect, BIG, Natural World, Warmth, Mystery


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Amsterdam is an ancient city built in rings around a canal system, and there are very few cars inside the canal belt. Most people ride bikes to work, to school, on dates. You rarely see a fat Amsterdam local. My ancestors were Dutch. I’m not fat. Connection.

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Nyoman’s hands are creating a meditation mala for me out of rudraksha seeds, a very spiritual seed from trees that grow only in a few regions of the world, such as India and Indonesia. Nyoman lives on the island of Bali. Every time I visit Ubud, I visit her shop, appropriately named Ubudahh (a play on words). And I usually find something interesting, and unique, as she and her coworkers design and hand-make many items in the shop.


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Gunung Agung is a still-active volcano, and it is the spiritual center of Bali. It is also the highest point on the island. Agung (pronounced agung) is so huge, it influences the weather, as you can imagine that it is doing just that in this photograph.

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Abu Dhabi’s Saadyat Island Bridge connects the island of Abu Dhabi (bet you didn’t know it was an island?) to Saadyat Island (right, could have used it for the “Connect” photo submission…but here, doesn’t the bridge look more like “big” than like a “connect”?). Saadyat Island will be the home of the Abu Dhabi version of The Louvre (bet you didn’t know that either, eh?), and there will also be a version of the Guggenheim Museum there also. Saadyat is slated to become a world-class arts and cultural center. This is the bridge you’ll cross to get there when Venus de Milo visits.

Where I am now in the Middle East, it’s 0800 hours; that’s 8 o’clock in the morning to the those unfamiliar with the 24-hour clock, or as some call it, Military time. Where many of you live, it’s now closer to midnight (12 am or 0000, zero-hundred hours). That’s the thing about time—it’s always relative. I guess everything is relative. Some people like to say there are some absolutes, but they’ve never been able to convince me. Not even death. I mean, how absolute is that? Some say you die, and that’s it, the end. Dust is dust, your bones shed their meat, or worms eat it. And you exist as nothing but bone and memory in someone else’s mind. And some people say that you, your spirit, your soul or whatever we call it, that thing inside you that makes you uniquely you—that thing, they say, leaves your body and goes…well, that’s another one of those relative things, too, depending on whether you believe in a god, or a particular god, a slew of gods, or no god. What happens after you leave your body and go wherever you go—that, too, is relative, depending on a bunch of other relative stuff.

Some people say taxes are absolute. But they’re not. Big corporations, and GW Bush, got away without paying taxes. There are some countries, like the UAE, where there is no personal income tax. And no sales tax. Also, if you live in a country, say like America, where they do require you pay income tax, you don’t have to; you can opt to live off the grid, or go on the lam, or go to jail. So, what exactly might there be that is not relative to something or someone else? Certainly not time, which is actually what we’re supposed to be talking about here.

Apparently, I don’t have enough time. I probably could squeeze an hour or so more out of a day and make my Photo 101 course requirement of a photo a day. But I don’t. Therefore, I’m going to post another 5-in-1 photo thingy. And you’re just going to have to forgive me, or relatively speaking, not. And if you don’t, you’re probably sleeping right now anyway, unless you’re in Australia or Christmas Island, so you won’t even be aware of this until you rise tomorrow morning. And I’ll be here sleeping then, so if you don’t forgive me, I may never know about it.

This is not at all what I intended to talk about…again. What I was going to talk about when I started to write was that I’d just noticed that today (where I am), it is Friday the 13th. Now, I’m not paranoid about superstitions like this. I’m not truly superstitious. You know, that might be one of those relative things, too. I don’t freak out about it being Friday the 13th. But I am aware of it. Ladders do not freak me out. But I do not walk under ladders. I’m not freaked out by umbrellas. But I do not open one in the house. I really don’t like breaking a mirror, but I’m not paranoid about it. I will notice if a black cat is running a trajectory to cross my path, I might side-step the thing. I always blow out every candle on my birthday cake. I’ll make a wish on the first star I see in the evening sky. I’ll pick up a toad knowing it won’t give me warts, but I’m a little uneasy about touching its skin. If I see clover growing, I will inadvertently stop, brush my hand over it, check for four-leaves. I’ve found plenty. I am pretty lucky. But I’m not superstitious, I’m just being careful in case there is something to all this jazz. I know none of this is important to you, you are probably asleep. You don’t care. So…the rest of Photo 101.


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In the natural world, you might find anything growing next to anything else. Here, we find the large banana leaves nestling next to the frail and young mango.

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I see this plant every time I’m in Bali, it grows in everyone’s garden, by the road, on volcanoes. Does anyone know the name of this plant?


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What could be colder than steel, or a construction site of cement and steel, with steel cranes working from the top floor? But in this photo, it seems a much kinder, warmer place at sunrise on one of the rare cloudy days in Abu Dhabi. Because the city is growing so very quickly, cranes are not a rare sight these days.

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Some people say there are something like a thousand varieties of banana in the world. In a local fruit market in Bali, you can find at least six or seven, ranging from ones that are three inches long, to ones that are way longer. You can also find many other fruits, like mangosteen, dragon fruit, and rambutan—all sweet and tasty. One fruit you may not want to try, the bigger one in this photo, is called durian. Some countries ban the transport of durian in public transportation. Why? It stinks. Really stinks, really bad. Some people, like the Japanese, will not only eat it but pay an obscene amount of money for it—aphrodisiac. Some people like the taste of it. But some people, say like me for instance, think it has the consistency and taste of dog poop cross bred with garlic. Everything—remember—really is relative.


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This is a photo of a _______ in the city of _________ during _________.                           What’s a good mystery without a little mystery? Click photo to see it larger, it’s just goofy.

Buddha-redBokeh 0533 E2SMNo mystery in what this is, a finely-crafted statue of the Buddha from Nepal. But there is a mystery in many things relating to the spiritual world. And there is a mystery about whether or not the Buddha actually said many of the sayings now attributed to him. Some people believe he said them, others don’t. Again—relativity at work in our daily world on so many levels.

And just so you know and don’t judge too harshly, I’m a Post a week kind of guy, not a post a day. And just who are those guys who post five times in one day? Posting must be relative, too.


    • Thanks for sharing here! Glad you enjoyed the ramblings. And yes, I have traveled quite a bit, still get out there in the world when I feel the need for a hit of otherness. Is it a mellow beach, or a mellow poet at the beach?


      • I live in a funky little community on the Potomac River, about 20 miles south of Washington. The community was founded in the late twenties, the developers planned it to be a weekend resort community for air stream trailers. So all of the original lots were 50×100 feet, and there was a central community building with a couple of acres of open space. Well, the depression came along and they went bankrupt. Over the years an oddball collection of cottages and bootleggers shacks sprouted up. The residents were a mostly unsavory lot. In the seventies, a wave of ‘alternative culture’ types moved in. There was a film maker, a painter, a potter, you get the idea…a bunch of hippies. Our street name is Mallow Trail it came to be known as Mellow Beach. Although there have been a recent invasion of people who buy up a couple shacks and replace them with McMansions, there are still a few of us left from those ‘good old days’.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Another truly beautiful selection of photos, and an equally engaging monologue!
    I particularly love the mala beads! I’ve been planning a trip to Woodstock, (after the snow melts) where I buy meditation cushions, and they have some lovely mala beads.

    I did a goggle search for what kind of purple leafed plant/tree that may be, but no other picture showed up, so I’m thinking it’s the Bali Purple Leaf Mystery Plant.

    Einstein agrees, btw. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fim, you know, when I started this blog, I was believing it was going to be a memoiry-travel-photo blog, about places I’ve been, with photos of those places. I did a couple of those pieces, but mostly as part of the Blogging 101 course. And these photos are here only because of the Photo 101 course, both of those course did force me to post. But my blog is not what I thought it would be. I’m not writing what I thought I would write. And I didn’t think I’d be “replying” much at all…but that is a very fun part of things, eh.

      I love that shot of the malas, too. It’s not like a Wow shot. But there’s something about it I like. She was making that tassel and attaching it to the end of the beads. It’s a simple mala but I like it. Most of my malas are simple. I think my favorite is the one of Bali volcanic rock beads with a tiger eye guru bead, black tassel at the end–it’s all black, dark. Dark as in manly dark, not dark arts or Ted Bundy dark. The purple plant remains a mystery…shoulda posted it under “mystery” instead of natural world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that this blogging circuit is simply a part of a larger journey, where we get to share a bit of our Earth Walk with others. It evolves the way it should. I read one time, “everything happens at the rate at which it happens; no faster, no slower.” This is what happens while we’re busy blogging. I also think that when it is the right time to write what you thought you would, you will write. Like a good wine (I believe the commercial) everything has it’s time… or something like that.

        What I like about the shot of the mala beads being made, is that is represents a special kind of dedication, and shows the love with which the work is being done. That’s cool.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Obi Wan! I’ll have to come with some riddles for you… no, wait, that was Yoda. never mind. 😀 Just remember, not only, May the Force be with you, but use The Force.

        Woodstock NY, yes. They have all manner of great shops. Or did, when I was there 18 years ago. Might be all different, but I hope not.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah…ramblings is right. I was just responding to Fim above and saying how what is coming out on the blog is not what I had intended when I started the blog, and usually not what I intend when I sit to write. Like that long diatribey monologue in my first weeks where I mentioned you guys! I meant to respond merely to something Don had mentioned (can’t remember now what it was…getting old is a bear), then I digressed into that long piece. Didn’t even know it was a “shout out” something bloggers might do.

      And today, now this! I’ve been looking at a number of other “travel” blogs, following and reading them. And they, like yours, have focus. Well, they are true travel blogs. They/you are traveling. I’m still finding my way, still learning how to maneuver the site itself. Protocol and etiquette. You like the shot of the bridge? I almost didn’t put that one in because I thought you might not like the saturation…really! You’re a hard one to calculate!! I think my fav is the green leaves. The light was just so nicely situated on one leaf. But the bikes, though simple, warms my ancestral blood.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The green leaves are over saturated. I don’t like over saturated green 🙂
        The bridge is also but sometimes over saturation is just brilliant. If this was a bird in a sky that blue it would look like a cheap over saturated tourist shot. But the blue and orange playing off each other it becomes about design more than a photograph of something real.
        Ramble on dude! It’s always entertaining even if you haven’t found a focus yet.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The bridge…Go figure. I did like its boldness and its line. You think the green is over-saturated? Hmm. It was in the shade. Hard to meter, maybe. Don’t say it–LR–I know. And woman, you replied 3rd this time. You must be traveling? Fiji yet?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Looking forward to your posts…so focused, creep! Every time I get a post from you, I think, man, I should get back out in the world, travel, see shit. Then something in me says, no. Or maybe it’s more like not yet?? Don OK? Is he still bending over a big Pilate ball?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m trying to figure out where to start this comment. Photos or your writing?
    I go for rambling and see where it leads me.
    Each and every photo is beautiful and has a story.
    What makes it special and unique is the fact that it’s what you saw and only you know what you felt when capturing that moment. Only you can judge these photos.
    Anyone here, including me, can have an opinion, which is totally based on the truth we know, and which automatically disqualifies us to provide you with criticism that you should take seriously.
    Your words on relativism very appropriately prove that. All you said is spot on.
    Your photos may look over saturated to those who can only ‘see’ that instead of the full image coupled with your perception of the moment.
    Others may have a degenerated cornea like mine, which may occasionally see blur where it doesn’t exist (if there isn’t enough light), so I tend to focus on a holistic view and meaning, and forget details.
    This is all to say that this post made me feel like I’d rather have a long cup of tea and sit for hours to hear all stories you have to tell from what seems to be a life filled with adventures, diverse experiences and many lessons, wisdom, sad and happy stories…
    I do wish you keep writing like that, though you said that this is not what you intended to do.
    You shot stunning photos and you bring them to life in an enticing way.
    Keep doing it please. Your blog is worthy. Blog on.
    Now to the superstitions. It’s so interesting. I say that I don’t believe but respect it; and have some unconscious habits to prove me otherwise.
    Thanks for this post. Brilliant.

    PS. I won’t even read what I wrote here. So, it goes with typos, grammatical mistakes, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for…well, all of that above. What can I say, but I’m glad you crossed my path, and you like what ever is happening on this blog. I was never good at planning, so maybe what I thought I’d planned for my blog was just another piece of not-good planning. When I first learned how to drive a car, I would drive and drive until I got lost. Then find my way home. Later when I started traveling the world, I would wash up on some foreign shore without a map, without a guidebook, without a plan, without a hotel for the night, and see what happened next. Not a planner, but things usually work out if you expect they will, and perhaps expect a miracle or two along the way. Do you have time for the Elements challenge?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well I just woke up and every body has said everything, and it’s all relative anyway so I’ll say nothing further except that I did not know Abu Dhabi was an island. Oh, and I love all of your photos.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! Thanks for sharing. But listen, next time get up a little earlier, so everyone wouldn’t have already said everything and you can say everything. I mean that’s why we blog, right–so we have a reason to get up early! Or is that relative, too?


    • You know, I’m surprised nobody else mentioned that plant (or knew its name either!) because that is one of my favorite shots to look at. Something simple, but then…I don’t know, nice somehow. thanks again for visiting and sharing


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