Sunday, February 21, 2010


"I call that mind free which master the senses, and which recognizes it own reality and greatness: Which passes life not in asking what it shall eat or drink, but in hungering, thirsting and seeking after righteousness.

I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which does not content itself to a passive or hereditary faith: Which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come; which receives new truth as an angel from heaven.

I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, and is not the creature of accidental impulse: Which discovers everywhere the radiant signatures of the infinite spirit and in them finds help to its own spiritual enlargement.

I call that mind free which protects itself against the usurpations of society, and which does not cower to human opinion: Which refuses to be the slave or tool of the many or of the few, and guards its empire over itself as nobler than the empire of the world.

I call that mind free which resists the bondage of habit, which does not mechanically copy the past, nor live on in its old virtues: But which listens for new and higher monitions of conscience, and rejoices to pour itself forth in fresh and higher exertions.

I call that mind free which sets no bounds to its love, which, wherever they are seen delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering: Which recognizes in all human beings the image of God and the rights of God’s children, and offers itself up a willing sacrifice to the cause of humankind.

I call that mind free which has cast off all fear but that of wrongdoing, and which no menace or peril can enthrall: Which is calm in the midst of tumults and possesses itself though all else be lost."

- William Ellery Channing
Sermon on Annual Election, 1830
With thanks to Laura Liang for reminding us of it

Here is yet another image in my series, "The Appearance of Reality".  It is the interface between the night sky and New Year's Eve fireworks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, flipped upside down.  The shapes that resemble birds are the wrappings of the fireworks as they were thrown into the air.  This image was very much visually enhanced by removing the gamma (glare) many successive times.  This brought out the rich silver texture in the background and the faces in the flames.

The Appearance of Reality:


Thursday, February 18, 2010


The human mind is a wondrous thing.

It creates thoughts from nothingness.

It controls us as we control it.

It creates our reality.

So which is our consciousness:

That which controls the mind,

Or that which controls That?

The Appearance of Reality:
Emerging Consciousness


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


It's been a week now since Snowmageddon ended.  The city is slowly getting back to normal, at least as much as "normal" ever happens around here.  The remnants of the storm have taken on a new appearance.  Huge piles of snowpack loom over the streets and will likely remain until spring unless front-end loaders strip them away.  At curbside dirty granular slush repeatedly freezes and thaws, making for unsure footing. Weary neighbors are slowly clearing the remaining drifts on the side streets unworthy of the city's attention. 

Welcome back to reality.  Now we can get back to the matter at hand. 

Which is???

Just what is left when all life's snowpack is stripped away?

1. Life is a journey, not a destination. 
2. The medium is the message.
3. Life is what happens when you're making other plans.

THIS is what matters.  The here, the now.  And our task is to make the most of it.  To submerge ourselves in the richness of every experience.  Because THIS is all there is.

Here is another image in the series "The Appearance of Reality", enhanced refractions from my hallway sconce, that might help you see what I mean.  Or might not.

The Appearance of Reality:
Ripples in Green Time

There are much to ponder and much to wonder
in this life.


1. Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Marshall McLuhan
3. John Lennon

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Whew.  It's over, at least for the time being.  The Storm of the Century has come and gone, leaving much of the Mid-Atlantic region paralyzed in its wake.

Today it is above freezing and some snowmelt is already taking place, just in time for another storm this weekend.

This is my street.  The views from the living room and front stoop are half a story above grade.  The mounds  in the street are as high as a person.  Already the snow has settled quite a bit.  When it was fresh the cars were buried up to the windows, with about two feet of cover on the roofs and hoods.  Most of the cars had already been cleared once before the second storm hit. 

View from the Living Room to the Right

View from the Living Room to the Left

Stoop-Level View to the Right

Street-Level View to the Left

Though the storm has passed, much of the city is impassible.  It is still very quiet - no sirens, no trains, no sounds of disturbance.  This too shall pass, I suppose.

It's been nice while it lasted.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Wednesday, February 10 at 4:30 p.m.  Still snowing, has been all day.  At this point it looks like the City will be shut down all this week.

Not that I'm getting stir-crazy or anything, but I seem to be imagining figures in the snow.  This one appeared in the alley behind my back yard. 

I can't decide whether to call him George Snowington or The Lion in Winter.  What do you think?

Lionel Washington
Hallucination or Reality?


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It's about 5:00 pm on Tuesday, February 9, and the snow has just begun to fall again.  This is supposed to be the one-two knockout punch for the Mid-Atlantic region, resulting in what may be an all-time record accumulation.  Even though I know this episode may cause hardship in the form of lost wages and possible food and gasoline shortages, the falling snow still has a quiet beauty. 

At the moment there is no wind - that is supposed to come tomorrow.  So for the time being I'm watching large flakes come straight down.  They are beginning to stick on the ground as twilight takes over. Soon we won't be able to see them.  So we will go to sleep tonight not knowing how bad the situation will be in the morning when we get up.

It's fortuitous that I have been keeping this blog already.  It may become a record of a historic event - the most snow ever - and I can point to it with my grandchildren - if the present form of the internet has not fallen by the historical wayside by then.

Here is an image that was originally the view of our fire escape through a frosted bathroom window.  I enhanced it in Photoshop® to make it look more ethereal. Our house is the only one on the block that still has an old-fashioned iron fire escape.  It's quite an engineering marvel, with a counterweighted movable ladder that gently swings down to ground level when someone is descending it.  This design was intended to keep burglars from climbing up and entering an upstairs window.

Now it is mainly a monument to history, as tonight's snow may turn out to be.

The Appearance of Reality:
Ascending Dreamscape

Here's hoping everyone is safe and warm tonight,

Monday, February 8, 2010


It's Monday, February 8, and the "Snowmageddon" is still with us.  Worse yet another storm, forecast to bring up to a foot of additional snow, is bearing down.  All the schools and businesses are closed as we get used to the idea of being snowbound.

It's really not that bad.  We can always dream of spring.

Here is another image from "The Appearance of Reality" series, to remind us that spring will eventually come.  And we will be ready for it, for without the winter there could be no spring.

The Appearance of Reality:
Idea of a Flower


Saturday, February 6, 2010


It appears that the Great Snowfall of February 2010 may be a record-setter.  We are still ensconced in the house - or perhaps entrapped would be a better word.  The world outside is very strange indeed. 

Here is a picture of my back yard, somewhat accentuated by the below-grade walk-out:

And here is an imaginary landscape, changed from water droplets and ice crystals on the window to a view of churning energy:

The Appearance of Reality:
Emerging Thoughts

Isn't it interesting how one reality can change to another by looking at it through a different lens?


Friday, February 5, 2010


This is Friday, February 5, 2010, and we are awaiting a predicted 28.1 inch snowfall.  We are definitely in the throes of more winter.  All wishful thinking of an early spring has been put on indefinite hold:

So is there anything positive one can say about this situation?  For one thing, it will be a wonderful way to spend a weekend for those of us who don't need to worry about getting to a hospital in childbirth or some other emergent condition.  We have the time, voluntarily or not, to spend with our families and reading material.  We re-connect with old friends by telephone or e-mail or social networking sites, so long as the electricity holds up.

There is something exquisite and exciting about the city in newfallen snow.  Crimes, traffic and passing-by conversations crawl to a standstill.  Everything lies in a state of suspended animation, except bouncing dogs and exhuberant children temporarily freed from the constraints of everyday existence.  Families and neighbors spontaneously come together to build snowmen and help each other shovel out.  Daily routines are temporarily forgotten, and the world returns to a state of civility.

So long as we have a roof over our heads and food in the fridge, we are grateful for the break in the humdrum of our normal lives.  Let us hope that those who do not have the luxury of a home or the next meal have found respite.

In the meantime, here is an imaginary landscape for you to enjoy.  It is a section of the ceiling in the casita in Boquete, with the contrast and brightness tweaked in Photoshop® to create this unpreditable outcome. 

This is part of a new series, "The Appearance of Reality", where new possibilities appear when the normal constraints of reality are removed.  Like the normal constraints of our daily lives when it snows.

The Appearance of Reality:
Bridging the Gap