greetings from the chile capital of the world

Greetings from Hatch, New Mexico…a little desert town surrounded by fields of peppers and cotton….that lives, breathes and eats chile peppers!  While enjoying some quality time with friends in southern New Mexico this week, we took a short trip to Hatch for lunch…at a place called Sparky’s Burgers BBQ and Espresso…famous for green chile cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches…and giant fiberglass figures.

Sparkys in Hatch, New Mexico

 

Sparkys in Hatch, New Mexico

 

Sparkys in Hatch, New Mexico

 

Sparkys in Hatch, New Mexico

 

Sparkys in Hatch, New Mexico

 

Why a menagerie of giant fiberglass figures?  The owners, Teako and Josie Nunn, seem to have an affection for collectables.  They started out opening a store that sold collectables and memorabilia, then a used car lot, and then a restaurant.  But what remained consistent throughout?  Their love of collecting…

Later! gg

 

 

miss manhattan

Audrey Munson.  The first time I even heard the name was during the tour of the Woolworth Building back in November.  It was just a short remark about the gal on top of the nearby Municipal Building (below)…and those few words from the guide intrigued me enough that I knew I wanted to learn more about Audrey Munson.  When I’m intrigued…I research…and that sent me to the New York Public Library to check out the book…American Venus…The Extraordinary Life of Audrey Munson, Model and Muse.  What an amazing story.

Audrey Munson in NYC

Here she is on top of the Maine Monument in Columbus Circle of Manhattan…

Maine Monument at Columbus Circle NYC

 

And here she is as Pomona…the lady in the fountain…

in front of the Plaza Hotel at the entrance of Central Park…

the Bergdorf Goodman building in the background…

Audrey Munson in NYC

 

Clearly…she had a beautiful body…regardless of the direction…

Robin W Craig-11

 

Today, we think nothing of seeing a nude female or male sculpture, photograph or movie…but think back to the early 1900’s.  Audrey was born in the late 1800’s and came to New York City as a teenager. Recognized on the streets by her good looks…a photographer invited her to his studio and thus the beginning of her career posing nude…photographs, sculptures, and even movies…as she was the first woman to appear nude in a non-porn movie in 1915.

In the early 1920’s…after being connected with several scandals and perhaps failed attempts at other types of careers…she attempted suicide…then in 1931 she was admitted to a hospital for the insane and lived there for 65 years until she died, at the age of 105.  A remarkable, yet very tragic story.

There are 15 statues of her throughout the city…and I know now…that when I see her throughout my city…I’ll certainly have a different perspective…thanks to that one little comment from the guide…

Missing my city…
but enjoying the warm temperatures and sunshine here in the Arizona desert…
more soon!  gg

 

bagan, myanmar

on the left bank of the Irrawaddy River

a 26 square mile area filled with over 2,000 pagodas and temples…

some dating back to 11th century…

a vast network of bumpy dirt roads…

the ancient city…

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

 

Bagan, Myanmar

 

Bagan, Myanmar

 

Bagan, Myanmar

 

The best way to really get out and explore?  Rent an electric bike.  Available everywhere…around $8 a day.  Not for the faint of heart though…especially heading out at 5:30 in the morning (sunrise!) when it’s your first time on something electric and it’s dark…but hey, that makes memories…right?

 ~~~

Since I’m having withdrawals from my city…a little NYC coming up…to showcase someone whose face and figure that has inspired thousands of modern masterpieces of sculpture and painting.  She’s all over the city…and what a story…

stay tuned!  gg

children of Taung Ni village

No doubt…the highlight of my visit to Myanmar was the rural area of Kalaw.  The area is filled with pine and bamboo forests and ideal for trekking…as well as impressive views of the mountains and valleys including orchards of citrus, bananas, avocados and figs.  We made our way into the village of Taung Ni for an overnight stay in their monestary.  Before sunset, we set off to take a walk through the village with my little Fuji Instax Mini in tow…with lots of film.

Think about how many children have never seen a photo, much less one of themselves. And to be able to keep it? Priceless moments.

I’ll let their little faces tell the story…

 a few were hesitant…at first…

Children of Kalaw

 

 but hesitation soon turned into full blown excitement for a portrait session!

children of kalaw, myanmar

 

kalaw children of myanmar

 

children of Taung Ni Village, Myanmar

 

children of Taung Ni Village, Myanmar

 

children of myanmar

 

So proud.

children of myanmar

 

More soon!  gg

 

 

pay it forward…

children of myanmar

I recently accepted the challenge on FaceBook to pay it forward

Here’s the deal…you ask five people to commit…you’ll pay it forward some time during the year…a card, a book, something that reminds you of them.  At the same time those five people will pay it forward to others.  Yes..it could go on and on…generating lots of goodwill…or…it could die a slow death.  Regardless, I think it’s a brilliant way to spread some love!

Within no time I had my five…or was it seven…anyway…it just brought me back to being in Myanmar and being reminded so much of how fun it was to pay it forward. Knowing how much the children enjoyed receiving little gifts the first visit…made me think about what to bring this time.  Now…to be clear…I’m not one for giving out candy to rot their little teeth…nor do I want them concentrating on how much money a tourist could put in the palm of their hand…(thank you Suzan)…

But…the joy of giving them pencils, notebooks, balloons, tiny toys etc…well it just makes my heart sing to be able to do that

This time…knowing there would be more opportunity for interaction within a couple of small villages…<besides these little gifts I mentioned>…<and remembering what a hit it was during my visit to India>…I packed the Fuji Instax Mini and loads of film.

And boy did we have fun…

…and I can’t wait to show you…

p.s…if you’re receiving this in your blog feed and there’s no photo…just click to my site for a view of the showcased photo.  Simple as that…

And you must…cause he’s adorable…

the irrawaddy river…

irrawaddy river in myanmar

…life on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar…

…stretching for miles connecting the entire country…

A few evenings on the river banks of the Irrawaddy brought quiet, contemplative time…and an opportunity to experiment with the ever-changing light from the evening sunsets…a fusion of time, motion and natural light.

irrawaddy river in myanmar

 

Irrawaddy river in myanmar

 

Irrawaddy River in Myanmar

 

Irrawaddy River in Myanmar

 

I came across Eva Polak’s work several years ago…an impressionist photographer in New Zealand…and immediately fell in love with her alternative approach to traditional photography. It’s always fun to do something different and I so enjoy using my camera as a paintbrush instead of a software program.

By the way…last night I watched the documentary Grab a Hunk of Lightning…a film examining the life and career of Dorothea Lange.  If you have interest in photographing the human condition…this is a must watch!

I hope these captures bring a touch of mindfulness your way today!

 

savoring the moments

the life in myanmar

I don’t know about you…but after a trip I often find myself jumping right into the craziness of life and those feelings from traveling just seemed to vanish – poof – gone.  On to the next event!  We really need that time to decompress…to think through what was just experienced…whatever it is that helps us process that time we’ve spent away from our normal routine.  I find diving into another culture excites me beyond belief.  Every moment there’s a visual…a constant twang to the taste buds, as well as learning even more about myself as well.  At the end of this trip, I made the time to process and I have so much to share…

You see…immediately following my return from Myanmar, there was another trip to the airport for a surprise trip to the farm to visit my mom over the holidays.  This was a big one…the first Christmas without my dad.  I knew it would be hard for all of us, but I couldn’t imagine not being there with her.  So the few days were spent mostly trying to get back on my time zone, just hanging with family, but also dealing with this crazy little bug that I picked up while traveling.  More on that later when I know more.  <doctor’s appointment this week! Yeah!>

Anyway, after returning to my city from my mom’s visit…two days…and then back on the plane to head to Arizona for a few months.  The best decision I made was to cancel New Year’s Eve celebrations and just hang.  Not only for health reasons, time zones changes, but also to have that time to think through my experience in Myanmar. It’s been perfect.  Well almost perfect…it will be when I rid this bug from my system!

So why did Myanmar have such an impact on me this trip?  Well there’s so much, and I’ll be sharing over a few postings…but for now let’s go back to that photo that I posted a couple of weeks ago.  This one…the Enjoy Life! one.

People of Myanmar

But you see it was more than “enjoy life!” It was also the Grand Royal signs throughout the country…a company whose mission is not only to sell their whisky, but to assist in community development…and then of course the people of Myanmar and their simple life…all just as you see in this photo…

a little woven bamboo house with a first floor bodega…

the wraparound skirts for both men and women…

the chewing of the betel nut juice…having a similar effect as a cup of coffee…

the dirt between their toes…watching the comings and goings in their village…

all you see here, yet so much more…

dogs barking, roosters crowing and pigs grunting…

laundry hanging from a tree limb…

a home in myanmar

a grouping of kicked off shoes in front of the doorway of their house…

a flowering bougainvilla shrub adding a touch of red to their dirt yard…

smoking in myanmar

napping in the afternoon shade…or a smoke in the evening sun…

afternoon nap in myanmar

burning wood in the late afternoon for warmth and cooking…

children playing in myanmar

children playing…women working…the clatter of pots and pans…

melodies floating in the air from their fishing boats…

paying homage to buddha in myanmar

a visit to their local temple to pay homage and seek enlightenment…

traveling home from a hard day in the fields…

bathing in the river in myanmar

a bath in the river…

The people were quiet…such elegance and grace…there was no pushiness…no one was in a hurry…everyone just softly going about their business…without the want created by popular culture and media…totally content with their life.

So much of this is what I missed on my first trip to Myanmar…and the reason I am so glad I returned.

More to come…

to laugh with wild abandon

with wild abandon

“I love people who make me laugh.

I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh.

It cures a multitude of ills.

It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

― Audrey Hepburn -

with wild abandon

 captured on the streets of new york city…

~~~

Here’s to a heathy and laughter-filled year!

~~~

dimmy, I dedicate this post to you!

YOU make me laugh wth total wild abandon…

and yes, accompanied with explosions of fun and joy!

~~~

Happy New Year!!

the word

clothes dryer in Myanmar

Don’t know about you…but I gave up on making resolutions a long time ago.  Great intentions…I just never seem to follow through.  Oh, and then there’s the “word” for the new year. Hmm…never had much luck with that either. So even though I have one (a word) this year…I do wonder how long I’ll feel inspired to keep it in front of me as my guide for the year. So we’ll see. Perhaps if I tie it to photography that’ll help. <smile>

My “word” came to me in the mountains of Kalaw in Myanmar. Trekking along…not feeling well…putting one foot in front of the other…just appreciating being in the moment.  The word “mindfulness” came to me. Then the phrase…”simple-mindfulness.”  Our modern lives here in the U.S…our hectic lifestyles…our metropolitan conveniences…all coming to almost a complete halt in this country called Myanmar.  In Myanmar the electricity goes off when you least expect it…the internet may shows some bars…but often not a connection…the clothes dryer? A simple limb of a tree.  A simpler life…a more mindful life?

I’m sure there are a number of different definitions of mindfulness, but my definition is simply being present in the moment. How often do we just skip through the day…we don’t have or take the time to be present…to really see.  I think Georgia O’Keeffe summed it up well in her quote…In a way, nobody sees a flower really, it is so small, we haven’t the time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.

So I want to be more mindful this new year…even if it’s just a minute or two a day.  Who knows…perhaps that minute or two will become a few.  And perhaps with my photography, if I could persuade you to find a moment or two…well that’s just a win-win for us all, right?  Which is why this year I’m really going to delve into still life photography.  Don’t worry…I will still be “on the streets” so to speak when I’m in my city – more on that a little later – and yes…still travelling – more on that a little later too – but for now…I’ll be getting tons of inspiration for documenting my family and travel “treasures” from an upcoming year long course on still photography…and yes, more on that later too!

So here’s to simple-mindfulness and the new year!  Would love to hear about your intentions…resolutions…your word…your approach…but most of all…

~~~

Whether you celebrate with the coming of winter solstice…

or at the beginning of the new calendar year…

may 2015 bring you peace, happiness and a joyful spirit!

 

P.S.  If you’re interested in a some meaningful comments about mindfulness…check out the daily Buddha inspiration here.  It’s perfect if you find yourself a touch interested.  And yes, Jim…mindfulness is a work in progress for sure!