Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Artistry of the Japanese Tattoo in exhibition

In 1993, my sixteen-year-old daughter Francesca acquired a tattoo without telling me. I thought she was simply spending the weekend with a girlfriend when it was actually a mutiny of sorts.  

“Fran, what have you done?” I gasped. 
“I knew you’d never give me permission and Kelly was getting one. So . . .” her voice trailed off but she didn’t drop her eyes. 
“What is it anyway?” She told me it was a rose but it looked more like a dragon to me, smoking its way toward her knee.  
“You realize you’ve marked yourself for life?” Francesca nodded, a smile lurking at the edge of her mouth. 

Not long after, Francesca’s older brother Thomas had both his arms tattooed. At the time it scandalized my relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Twenty years later not a day passes without my noting young people and even elders flaunting tattoos that extended up arms and legs to the neck and ears.

On February 25, 2016 I gained a greater appreciation of tattoos when an exhibition at the Morikami Museum and Gardens in Delray Beach Florida featured a “sold out” Exhibition Preview. of Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World. Who would attend, I wondered? When a Sold Out sign appeared in the museum lobby I realized lots of people wanted to attend!  The night of the lecture/demonstration, the audience was filled to overflowing with people of all ages. Even a baby was there in attendance (an early introduction perhaps?)


On a blistering hot day a week later, Bill and I viewed the amazing artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos known as Irezumi on exhibit at the museum. Gorgeous life-sized photos of men and women adorned with full body tattoos – front, back, legs, arms – lined the walls. Having watched Horitomo (Kazuaki Kitamura) demonstrate the piercing technique on a slender young man at the exhibition preview, I knew the process was painful and appreciated the exhibition title – Perseverance! 

While there we encountered a beautifully tattooed couple. The woman, a nurse, told me she always wore long sleeves  out of respect for the sensibilities of her patients.This reminded me of the time my son, wearing short sleeves, volunteered to paint a church and was asked to leave. His tattoos were an affront to the other volunteers.

photos from Museum Website

Friday, February 26, 2016

Street Painting in Lake Worth Florida

This past Saturday, my husband and I attended the Street Painting Festival in Lake Worth Florida for the first time. It was crowded and noisy and brilliant. Though many of the artists were still in the process of finishing their works of art, it was fascinating to watch the process. They worked from detailed images, often checking the sidewalk art with the image they already developed. They sat, the  squatted, they lay on their stomachs, careful always to avoid the already finished portions of their work. There were too many to photo all of them but here are some of my favorites. By the way, this was not a competition but a celebration. No prizes just delight.






Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Snowshoeing on the Superior Hiking Trail

I miss winter. I miss the hush of  winter mornings, the soft lavender shadows the sun casts on a landscape of wind-driven snow. I miss the chickadees that cluster on our deck, awaiting their turn at the feeder. Such polite little fellows they are, hopping on the feeder to fetch a black-oil sunflower seed and immediately flitting away to crack and eat it. 

 Photo by Kathleen Anderson-Gray

I especially miss snowshoeing on Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail, a 310 footpath that runs from south of Duluth to the Canadian Border. Easily accessed in any season from our house, the trail in winter was always an adventure, especially when fresh snow offers a glimpse into another world. Then the journey through the deep woods becomes a constant discovery … the tracks of snowshoe rabbits, red squirrels, pine martin, and sometimes moose and wolf the only sign of passage besides the tracks our shoes make. 

Kathleen Anderson-Gray is a North Shore friend who sends a daily photo she’s just taken. I can almost feel the crackling cold of those winter mornings even though I’m here in Florida for the winter. Kathleen recently sent me a photo that reminded me of one winter hike I took when snow and ice clung to branches like crystallized circus animals on parade, a giraffe, a sitting lion, even an elephant. Topped by a soft covering of snow, they resembled lace cookies baked in the woods. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Review of The Yoga of Max's Discontent by Karan Bajaj

Based on bestselling novelist and spiritual teacher Karan Bajaj’s own experience, The Tao of Max’s Discontent, takes the reader on a breathtaking and often brutal journey in search of spiritual transformation—the dissolution of one’s sense of self and union with universal (or divine) consciousness.

Bajaj’s giant-sized protagonist Max Pzoras, shaken by his mother’s untimely death from cancer at the age of forty-nine encounters Viveka, a scantily clad East Indian food-cart seller whose experience living among yogis 20,000 feet high in the Himalayas intrigues him. Driven to make sense of his life and to attain what Viveka explains as the “un-born, un-aging, un-ailing, sorrowless, and deathless state” of immortality Max begins to investigate such a journey. 
When he learns of a South American yogi living high up in the Himalayas who teaches a method of yoga that leads to the end of suffering, Max impetuously leaves his job to seek this yogi. 

Gripped already by Bajaj’s gift as a story teller, this reader avidly followed Max as he confronted ordeals and disappointments bound to shatter many a spiritual seeker. Despite his focused effort to reach Nirvana, Max remains endearingly human. He might be living as the student of the great yogi guru Ramakrishna, but he is beleaguered by guilt for having abandoned loved ones in order to pursue his own goals. Starvation, intense cold, debilitating heat, exhaustion, fear, regret and anger threaten to overwhelm him as he continues his journey. 

Driven by the belief that his purpose in this life is to lose himself within the divine, Max continues his journey, experiencing intense love of and union with all of creation as his sense of self dissolves and union with the divine consciousness consumes him. 

The Yoga of Max’s Discontent is Bajaj’s brilliant and riveting meditation on the quest for spiritual insight and transformation. I couldn’t put it down.