Photo 101: FIVE-in-ONE                   1. TREASURE & CLOSE-UP

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I’ve said it before: everything is relative. What is garbage to you may be gold in someone else’s eyes. A chicken is a tasty supper to one person. To another, a loved and treasured pet. This rooster is a treasure to his owner (at this point in his life). Cock fighting is not exactly legal in Indonesia. And gambling is very illegal, but you still see cock fights, sometimes under the guise of a religious blood-letting ceremony, so police look the other way at those times. Sometimes, the fights are just illegal, and police will haul your fine ass off to jail. Most every time, sanctioned or not, it ends poorly for one of the cocks and usually gets pretty messy since the birds have razor-sharp blades (called taji) attached to one of their legs. Then one or both of them, depending on their wounds, may become dinner. Along any road in Bali, you may see cocks held under this type of basket, awaiting their destiny.

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I’m not going to lie to you and try to make you believe I’m a man’s man—a guy who likes to hunt and fish and fix carburetors on old cars and scream for the Green Bay Packers (or Manchester United) every Monday night. I don’t kill animals. Pulling a huge hook out of a beautiful marlin or a 30-pound mahimahi is even worse. And football, sure I like watching it, but I have no favorite team, I just want to see someone who’s making 10 million dollars a year do what he’s paid that kind of money to do, whether it’s American football or rest-of-the-world football. So I don’t collect moose heads for my wall or sailfish over the mantel.

I am a collector, though. Usually, what I collect is something I find while traveling, so generally it is going to be lightweight. Right there—on my office wall—I have a woman’s sarong, which hangs from an artistically designed, hand-carved piece of teak. I don’t usually buy tourist trinkets. I don’t own a miniature of the Eiffel Tower. A few years ago, I was in Legian Beach on Bali, simply cruising the streets and alleys, not shopping. I stopped at this one shop because they had teak statues of Buddha displayed right next to a heap of teak bottle openers shaped like giant penises. How can you not stop and photograph something like that? The lady wanted to sell me something so bad, she would not stop offering me deals. I told her repeatedly I didn’t want a teak penis at any price. She continued her harangue. I did admire her sarong, which was unlike any other I had ever seen on Bali; it was very professionally done, a unique design of batik in shades of brown—my favorite color. I facetiously told her I would buy her sarong. She disappeared, came back in a different sarong, handed me hers, slightly damp from the humidity. Right, I told you—any guy who buys a sarong right off a woman’s hips and hangs it on his office wall is not a man’s man. My only excuse is this: it is very light weight, dude. And you have to admit, for a sarong, it is more masculine than most. And in Bali, men wear sarongs. But yeah, I hear what you’re thinking.


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I was not always like this. Years ago, when I began my wandering and traveling, a hotel room was the least important thing. I often spent less than $10 a night for a hotel room, less than $5 many times. We’re not talking the Ritz, we’re talking mosquito nets and hole-in-the-floor toilets down the hall. I spent very little time in my rooms, mostly only to sleep. I was traveling, 3 to 6 months at a time, to see what was in the country, not hang out in a hotel room. However, I would spend hours looking for a room. Even after I had a room, I would look at various other places searching for one that made the most sense. It was a “thing” for me…to look at rooms. I should have written for Lonely Planet. These days, when traveling, and visiting a foreign land for extended periods of time, I like to have more space than a hotel room, but more importantly—a refrigerator. In places like Bali, you can rent houses fairly inexpensively. I still have a “thing” for looking at potential places to stay. This house, an antique Javanese joglo, sits next to a forest of coconut palms right at the edge of a beautiful and vast rice field. It was not cheap. If you want to eat dinner, you better pray a monsoon doesn’t drift in. Obviously, that glass room and the stove were not part of the original home.

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Yale University has been operating in New Haven, CT, since 1701 and is arguably one of the world’s finest, or at least highest-ranking, universities. The campus is a maze of classic buildings, but you may be surprised to hear that there is very little ivy growing on their walls as it once did profusely. Apparently ivy ruins buildings; the roots mess with the mortar, and the vines hold moisture in the rock, causing dampness and mold. So much for natural beauty adorning ivy league schools. Yale’s mascot is the bulldog. If you’re standing at a bus stop at the right time when a bus comes by, you might see something like this in the window if you’re lucky.


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You can find many things in Amsterdam: cafés, hotels, trams, windmills, tulips, awesome architecture, funny tobacco, pubs with no Australians, cheese. There is one thing you won’t find too many of in Amsterdam: doors in need of paint. I remember when I was young, there was a paint made by a company called Dutch Boy Paint. Is Holland famous for paint? And why isn’t it called Holland anymore?

Besides the beauty of the canals in Amsterdam, one of the things that strikes me most is the beauty of the doors. Not just the way they are made. “Dutch doors” are really cool, but all doors there are not made that way, cut in half. It’s the way the doors are painted. There is something very…hmmm, what’s the word? Maybe it’s about “quality.” The paint has a luster. A gleam. A persona all its own. A weight, a dimension. As though it were 30 layers thick, and almost creamy.

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What can we say about the beauty of a rice paddy that we haven’t all heard before? I’m showing this photo here because even though the top level of the field is not a razor-sharp edge, such as a door or a step, I thought it a good idea to “align” that top terrace. That’s my excuse for having this photo in the “edge” section. That, and because I love the uniqueness of this particular rice paddy, which lies half an hour by motorbike outside the village of Ubud, on Bali. You can photograph rice fields a number of ways. If you want a gleaming effect, as opposed to a flatter or duller effect, you have to get there when the sun shines behind it at a low angle. The “dull” effect is not a bad effect, just different. And of course, it’s always cool if someone is working the field when you arrive. Which happens often because it literally takes a village to raise a field of rice.


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Galungan and Kuningan are the two days that mark the beginning and end of a 10-day festival, one of the most important to the Balinese. Bamboo poles decorated with coconut palm fronds are erected outside homes and line the streets of the villages. The pole, called a penjor, rises straight up, bends from the weight, and then dangles these pieces at the end (bottom of photo is the bending top of another penjor). Celebrants wear their finest traditional attire to attend temple ceremonies with their families. They offer fruits to the temple and family shrines. Groups of kids play drums and gongs for others dressed in a barong costume. It seems to be a very festive occasion. My friend Made (mah-day), a traditional healer living in Ubud, told me that the spirits of their ancestors arrive on Galungan, the first day of the festival, and they leave again on Kuningan, the final day of festivities.

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Say you find yourself holed up in your hotel room in the town of Puno, located on the Peru side of Lake Titicaca, and freezing your buns off because your hotel has no central heating, and one large fireplace in the lobby/restaurant area, and the space heaters in your room, though large, can’t keep up with the frigid air outside (with little insulation in the walls) at an elevation of something like a gazillion feet—where it’s so difficult to breath you can barely move, so you chew coca leaves to alleviate the problem (because it’s legal and you can). Say you enjoy the view of the lake and the snow-capped mountains of Brazil lying on the other side in the far distance. Say you like it here—the ambiance, the culture, the other-worldly nature. But say one day you think: “enough is enough.” You haul your frozen buns down to the Puno train station and book a first-class seat to Cuzco, with an elevation not much lower, but at this point, you’re thinking every inch might help, and in a larger city, maybe someone had a forethought about heat. Your train ride is worth every penny; they serve good food and pisco (local brew with a wallop); you hang in the big-windowed viewing car; a stunning canvas of mountain scenery unrolls outside.


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If you head out of the village of Ubud on Jalan Raya toward the Antonio Blanco Museum and cross the Sungai River bridge, you will begin to climb a long hill. A mile or so up, you will see a set of stone stairs leading up to the rice fields of Penestanan, where many foreigners have built homes in the fields. A shame really, because this area was once very unique and beautiful, a few houses with long views of rice fields. Now it is the burbs, Bali style. Still cool, and homes are unique, but instead of having a view of rice fields, you now have a view of your neighbor’s nice house, or his stone-wall fence. Sometimes, progress and making money ruins some things. Still, there are no roads into the area; people use former rice field paths, some cemented over for ease of walking. The only way to build in this area is for a human being to carry your materials—cement, bricks, rebar—up the many steep steps from below. There are so many steps, it is rather difficult to climb even without carrying a load on your back. You see gangs of women performing this kind of work, usually not men, and usually the women are not young. It’s a triumph every time you see them reach the top. Most Balinese like having their picture taken. These women, hauling lava rock to build a house foundation, could not understand why I wanted to pay them for taking their photograph.

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If you’ve read Eat Pray Love, you know Bali can seem magical. I find it magical not because you might find your next lover there; nor because they’ve got world-class yoga courses running all day; nor because if you want to hear Australian spoken, all you need do is walk to the nearest pub; nor because Balinese food makes your taste buds climax and scream for more. I find Bali magical because you can walk out of Starbucks, hike off into the wild, climb a steep hill with the sun at your back and discover a spot like this where you see nothing before you but your shadow and lush land all the way to the horizon. Yay!

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering what’s up with the title of this post: Sympathy for the Devil. Yeah, about that. I’m still ambivalent about power blogging. We’ve discovered that one thing power bloggers may do is to post a number of times in one day, many days. And last week, I felt a little embarrassed to have done exactly that, post twice in one day, because of time constraints. Why do I feel bad, and why do I simultaneously feel sympathy for power bloggers, especially those devils making 20,000 bucks a week? Why am I still ambivalent? Here’s the thing. I was frustrated because all the emails from sites I followed hindered my finding my actual email messages. One fixes that issue (I learned from a couple lovely followers) by utilizing the functions for fixing that issue in the “Blogs I Follow” cog. It’s really a cool function. You can select to get email from blogs “instantly” or “daily” or “weekly,” and you can choose the day they will arrive in your box. When they arrive, you get a scroll of all that blogger has posted in the week, or day. So bloggers you want to get immediately, you get immediately. Those you can wait to read, you get later. Voila! Mailbox fixed (uh, until the day they all arrive…but it’s one email, not each separate post).

But here’s the other thing: for some unknowable reason, the day after I posted twice last week, I got a message from WP stating that I had broken my previous record for receiving “likes in one day.” It was not all that many likes, really, compared to some sites I’ve seen who get hundreds of likes, but hell, it broke my personal best. And, I got more “likes” later in that week than any of my previous posts ever got. It went viral—OK, OK, the term viral is relative, also. It did not go viral viral, it went relative-to-my-history viral. What’s a blogger supposed to do with information like this is all I’m saying? I mean, I have an ego. I like to be liked. And…I don’t want to become a nuisance. Ergo: ambivalence. And worse—who knows if posting twice was the cause for all the likes…can’t really see how it was. Does anyone actually believe in coincidence?


  1. Fascinating writing and I love your photos – I want to go to Bali now. Your musings? Well, I have a lot of followers (no idea why) but the number of visits to my blog doesn’t bear any relation to that. I only follow blogs that I visit, much as I’d like to follow everyone back I don’t have enough years left to live and I wonder if followers don’t visit because of that, what do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bali is a very cool place, you’d love it. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t. Maybe you have so many followers because of your blog name–who wouldn’t want to follow a lucid gypsy?? And I’ve noticed on your site that many people also leave comments. You have good stuff, and you have good followers!


  2. I’ve personally never looked into power blogging. Didn’t even know there was such a thing until you mentioned it. I will never live up to their standards I’m afraid. Lucky to post once a week. And I don’t get it. Posting a lot makes you more popular? Even if what you’re posting is drivel? Like I said I don’t get it. I just plod along with our little story of being nomadic, and of the wonders of the world.
    I enjoy reading all your travel stories. This post I especially like the rooster, red door, train and women-hauling-rocks photos. The photo of the train is especially fabulous. And you really captured the hard toil of the women. We did that same train trip from Puno to Cuzco – heaven!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah…no, I don’t know much about power blogging either. And I don’t get the concept either. And I’m not going to waste my time posting just to post so someone likes me?? What’s up with that? I’m with you…once a week is about all I can handle, all I want to handle. I now have time on weekends, that’s my blog time. I read your train post…yeah, brought back great memories. I did not see the salt place!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. I really enjoyed this post. Especially liked your thought processes talking us through each picture. Dutch doors. Most interesting! I want to see Dutch doors! IMO you should still be writing for Lonely Planet!

    Liked by 3 people

    • HA!! Dutch doors are really cool. You can leave the bottom half closed, so kids or dogs don’t get out, and have the top half open, so you get some fresh air. And when they are open like that and you pass by, you get to see inside their house, which is also very cool. Glad you could follow my thoughts…I’m so scattered, I’m never sure a reader could follow! Thanks again.


  4. As much as I like your photos, I LOVE the stories you tell about your photos the most. Today, my favourite was the sarong story. Not only is it a great souvenir, but even more so for the story 🙂

    The concept of *power* anything has a tendency to make me feel inadequate and power blogging is no exception. Then I remember that’s not the reason why I blog. Who doesn’t like getting *likes* or feel thrilled about getting comments? … but when I start to do things purely to *get* numbers, I think it will be time to quit. I hope that if my blog ever starts to get that feel, my friends in the blogging community will stage an intervention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • !!!HAhahaha…an intervention! That’s perfect. I’m with you. I don’t want my blog to be in some competition. I don’t want it to become something I “have” to do, or become “work.” I wouldn’t mind the 20 grand a week thingy, but I still want it to be fun! I’m so glad someone likes the writing because for so long, I’ve wanted to sit and write. And for so long, I never could discipline myself to do it. I resisted blogging. Now I are one. I’m looking at that sarong again right now. Thanks, Joanne, again.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Now, have you ever considered breaking up these marathon blogs into several small ones? I can count at least 8 different individual blogs here. That would make you an instant power blogger, $20,000 a week richer and able to hire someone to write your blogs. The only downside, aside from the email problem, is you’d be so viral you might actually pick up a disease?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steveo–hahahaha! You are right. What am I thinking? I’m a power blogger already and don’t know it. Why put 5 in 1, when I can post five separately. Then get rich. Then hire someone to write my blogs. Then…hey wait. Is this some kind of test?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A most interesting post! I enjoyed “traveling” through your photos, jumping from one place to the next and getting into your mind for the most part that you were willing to share to us. Before I took up WP online classes, I only used to post maybe once a week if I’m lucky. I never really felt the pressure to post something and although I admit I was so ready for the Photo 101 class to end (I took 3 back to back classes), the exposure has increased my readership beyond my little network of family and friends. As for power blogging, I always thought wow, those people surely have a lot of time on their hands but to each his own. Sometimes when I have free time, I power blog too, write as many as four posts in a night but I learned to schedule my posts in advance and spread it out so as not to saturate my blog and overwhelm the blogosphere. Happy travels! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting and I’m glad you found it interesting enough to read all the way through!! And yeah, I learned a bit about sharing and creating community from the Blogging 101 course (I only took it once so far, but missed some stuff so may retake it again to brush up–I still don’t get how to do some stuff on the site). I might need to retake the Photo 101 course as I didn’t have time to post nor party with other participants.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great photos and tales. That rooster looks mean! I enjoyed your story on Bali; I would love to go there, but doubt that I ever will. As Lucid Gypsy said, I think if you make a comment on someone else’s blog, they will come back and visit you as it’s easier to use your comment as a springboard back to your blog…otherwise you won’t be seeing them (as a rule). Funny how that works.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right, you wouldn’t want to mess with that rooster, especially after they put the blade on his leg. But you see the roosters being held by their owners and being stroked, almost lovingly (as one might pet a dog). I’ve never figured out if the owners love them, or if the stroking calms the bird? And for commenting–we only have so many minutes in a day, only so many blogs we can visit, eh?


  8. So I’m reading through your post, which is A#1! Really… not just saying it to be nice. No, you have a talent, (stop blushing), and I figured it out. THIS, what you’re doing here… THIS is what you should do for a living. Seriously, dude! you could make money, traveling and writing. You don’t just show pictures, you also tell stories, and the pictures are really top notch, but the stories just go deep, into so much more than, ‘look at the really cool doors,’ but into the guts of every picture, which brings us the history, the personal experience of each place and makes a reader want to go buy a ticket and see what you’re showing them! You could write for one of those travel magazines, that would give the prospective traveler a reason to, not just want, but to HAVE to go.

    It’s funny you brought up ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ because, regardless of how the author made the place look, it was the personal story; the kind that has some readers (me) asking, why can’t I have done something like that… but what I’m getting at, is you have that special way with words and pictures, that paints the canvas of the life and times of a place in a way that just really makes a person need to go.

    Oh, and you don’t need to be a power blogger, in the vein of the rest of those ilk, because your once a week post is far more valuable to your readers than I’m sure any of those over-driven posters’ stuff is. Value isn’t monetary, IMO, but in the Spirit of what you’re giving us, lucky enough to have found your world.

    The pic of the house, is my favorite! Sad for the roosters. Thinking the Sarong is amazing hanging on the wall. It’s got a history no other wall hanging has. 🙂 You’re right, the color on those doors: LUSH! A bulldog on a bus. Now THAT’S a sight to see. Those women, walking up those stairs, oh my gosh! I should be that able! The 10 day festival, I can only imaging what a time was had! The ‘penjor’ just be amazing to see everywhere. That rice paddy, so different from what I expected. One day you’ll tell the story of how the rice field is raised, and harvested. The trains remind me of this song, from Blackfoot, “Train, Train.” But I have my own train stories to tell. And that last picture, the one I’d call ‘shadow dancing’ is gorgeous. Just tell me what is growing there in those fields?

    Oh, and Sympathy For The Devil! Two words: Rolling Stones! GREAT song!

    Thanks for the ride!

    Peace Out!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fim, Whew! And I think you could write a book of “comments.” That is one long comment. And listen, I did not want it to end–that’s how spoiled my ego has gotten. And I’m so glad you liked it, the writing and the photos. Sometimes, I wonder if what I write is making sense to other people. I wonder if they get my humor. You know, I don’t think I’d be more happy than to write for a travel magazine. And get paid for it. But actually, this blogging thing is really a pretty cool second-best kind of thing. You do get instant feedback and ego stroking. But you don’t get paid (well, I don’t get paid because I’m not that dang power blogger who does get paid…a lot). Is it your mind that says I should write…or intuitive tarot divination? 😉 The thing I like most about writing the blog is that I can write what and how I want, it’s me on the page, not what an editor expects in a certain style, someone else’s writing style, with borders and limits (and maybe no words like poop). In your “shadow dancing” photo, rice is growing in the field (it’s Bali). Thanks for being you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t speak for others, but what you write makes sense to me, and that is what keeps me coming back and reading. Also, I know, from seeing the number of comments you receive, that others get it too.

      That was me (not the cards) saying you should write for a living. And, while it’s true that a lot of publishers probably would edit the heck fire out of submissions, not all are like that. Consider that travel mags want people to want to go to these places. So having a story that’s more like home cooking (yours) than fast food, can only be a plus.

      When you get a job, you can worry about if poop is okay to include. Maybe it will be. Maybe it won’t. I can absolutely understand not wanting to be under the thumb of some editor who has no vision. Thing is, I believe if they had vision, they’d see what you’re putting out there is what will capture the people’s imagination, and turn it into what’s needed.

      You need only submit some of these most excellent posts, were you thinking of trying it on for size, and see what the reaction is.

      On the card reading front, I need you to answer the letter. We can take it from there. Let me know if you have questions.


      Liked by 1 person

  10. Dude, this is a great post, and I love the story behind each photo. The sweaty sarong – that is an unusual story. I think my favorite photo is that Peru Rail photo, with the reflection, leading lines, etc. Great shot.

    On a side note, I drank like 3 Pisco Sours in Peru before I had the courage to propose to my wife there. (She isn’t Peruvian, but we were traveling there.) That stuff is strong, delicious and great for overcoming fear.

    On the subject of post frequency – you can schedule posts for the future, in case you didn’t know. I didn’t realize this at first and posted 5 times in one day when I returned to the land of wifi in India.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A sweaty sarong…I know, I can still feel my glee, when she handed it to me, and then my…what?…surprise, when I felt the damp cotton. But now, there it is on my wall, so high fives all around. I took quite a few shots from the train, nice landscapes. I’m not much of a drinker, I think 3 of those pisco sours would have done more than calm my nerves.

      Proposing in Peru–besides being a good title for a book, or post, is a very cool idea. Romantic, especially if you were at that place called “sexywoman” outside Cusco. But you were probably…let me guess…Machu Picchu after four days hiking the Inca Trail? Am I close?


  11. Well written post. I guess the more of blog posts, the more visits that you get. And you have wonderful blog content, so that attracts more!
    You know Bali very well! I have a complicated relationship with Bali. I love Bali and I also hate Bali plus sometimes I do miss Bali…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks much, Indah. Yeah, I don’t know what power blogging is about. I’m sure I’ll never be able to write that much! Posting once a week is about all I can manage! I have spent some time in Bali over the years, and LOVE it. I’m wondering if what you hate is the way things have…er progressed/changed? Are you in Amsterdam? Tell me: do you eat Indonesian food there? Where?


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