Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Eureka Moment rooted in Purity

We have been planning to have a repeat of the Eureka moment that we felt more than a year ago. So a couple of months ago we came acalling, and was surprised to see the entrance barricaded on a bright sunny Sunday morning. On closer examination, we realized that it was our own folly for not checking ahead of time. The park had been closed for reconstruction and would be out-of-bound for the entire summer.

Two weeks ago, we were hit by the Eureka itch again, but this time we called in first, and was informed that the park has reopened. And we relived the Eureka moment this morning. We spent about an hour walking through the Eurepa Springs Park, following the gravel trail and boardwalk. The results of the reconstruction were not obvious to me; however, the expanse of lily pads was a huge surprise, teeming with water lilies of different hues and pads of different sizes that blanket the water surface with a lush green.

All in we took more than a hundred shots of the botanical galore, with a better camera (Nikon Coolpix L100) than before (Nikon Coolpix L11 at 3X digital zoom), especially with the close-up mode where the wide 15X optical zoom really comes in handy. And the various shots of the Water Lilies, the subject of today, bear testimony to the above claim. Thanks CY and Brian for the wonderful gift.

As always, Wify started the camera rolling by gracing the water lilies patch. Afterall, it's her exquisite taste of beauty and a keen sense of poise that come naturally to one who engages in the creative expression of drawing and painting that have led me up this garden path, to be taken literally and not metaphorically.

The water lilies sprouting haphazardly out of the uniform tapestry of green.

This scene is rather uncanny, being reminiscent of the legendary Grand Duke Jiang (the human form of a stump) fishing for whomever desires to be hooked, aka, a willing victim. Read the link to find out how he fished.

These and the following shots belong to the Water Liliies, in all its pristine milieux that do not detract from this symbol of purity (it seems that water lily is a common phrase that includes the lotus family as well, but there are distinct differences in appearance) enshrined in Buddhism.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Skyscape as a metaphor for Impermanence

The only thing preditable about weather, as revealed by changes in the sky, especially the cloud formation, is its unpreditability. Whimsical, capricious, thy name is weather. In a way, these are all manifestations of impermanence, the Buddhist worldview of the material world. Somewhat paradoxically, recognizing this phenomenon is essential to attaining mindfulness, a state of mind that does not revolve with the external environments.

Let's then see the following images of vagarious sky taken from my personal image library for what that are, just observe and let them pass.

Looks like fire in the sky, exuding smoke from a location just about the street light and forming an expanding blanket that rolls across the sky toward the left.

A mushroom-top cloud formation, but with much less ill-portent than one that heralds a pending nuclear winter, sitting on top a billboard that warns of, of all things, when the weather turns bad.

A two-in-one collage of the same piece of sky as viewed from the Keys Hall at UF, but at different times that truly exemplifies the whimsical sky.

A big blob of cloud now overshadows the same grandstand as the image above.

A prototypical silver lining, with beams of light struggling to break through the tenacious dark clouds.

Sky in the water, reflection that is.

We often see these pinkish clouds in the evening near our place.

A cotton field in the sky.

A dragon on land, rather than up in the sky, twisting its serpentine form and chasing after the proverbial pearl seen at Fo Guang Shan Temple, Orlando at the occasion of this year's Buddha's Birthday celebration.

Birds scurrying away in disarray from the tree canopy, perhaps sensing something amiss. Animal instincts fare better than human instincts in warning of impending danger.

A rare treat of a double rainbow arching across our piece of sky seen from our apartment.

A hind view of a airplane seemingly flying into the cloud ahead as seen from the ground of Fo Guang Shan Temple, Orlando, the green tent roofs being part of the setup in commemoration of Buddha's Birthday held on 11 May, 2009.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Whimsical, the Creative, and the Spontaneous

A scouring mission through my image bank resulted in another smargasbord of photo memories, registering first the whimsical Nature in terms of cloud formation and some unusual tree forms of the plant world, possibly in response to external stimuli. These are followed by the seeming unboundedness of human creativity and lastly, one demonstrating the fact that age nor status is a barrier to spontaneity, all in good taste, and being sporting, kind of finding the child in us, the elusive epitome of the non-judgmental. Sit back, but let the finger walk you through this photographic journey as my camera lens sees it.

The billowing ominous-looking dark cloud looming large, portending the stormy deluge that will surely follow as seen while on Interstate I4 enroute home from Daytona Beach, a real bane for road travellers.

I guess this is somewhere on I-95 (Virginia?) as we were NY-bound, but we were more worried about the plane flying just below the dark cloud canopy, conjuring up images of being tossed around by the maelstrom of air turbulence.

Contrasting Wify' sunny smile with the less than sunny sky and the roaring surf in the background at Daytona Beach. The seemingly distant storm, if it ever evolved into one, is perhaps furthest from the minds of the relaxation-seeking beach goers.

The discrete cloud formation, floating easily and dotting the sky, like little sails plying the vast expanse of ocean.

Backdropped by a cloudless sky, the lone leafless, at least the top half, tree, extending its welcome bare branches to a weary bird, making a pitstop on its flight in search of sustenance (seen across the Keys Residential Hall at UF).

Another fully-leaved tree in the neighborhood of the above, preferentially growing its branches away from the unyielding lamp post, and so it seems, a case of adapting to environmental constraints dictated by survival instincts.

A montage of artistic expressions of the (Chinese) mind, in Chinese brush paintings of the lotus, the cranes, the Chinese Plums) and poems, displayed in the homes of various friends that we are fortunate to have visited. These seem to confer a sense of serenity, a pristine aura rising above worldly materialism.

A montage of classic chinese brush paintings: the Four Gentlemen, as they are affectionately named, the Chinese Plum, the Orchid, the Chrysanthemum and the Bamboo, as seen adorning the walls of The Ivory restaurant, a Chinese Bistro in Dunedin where Betty Toh and her husband treated us to a lunch sometime ago.

Fruit (e.g., pumpkin, water melon) carving on display at the same restaurant above, packing creativity, patience, dexterity of the hand, and meticulous execution into their making.

And yes, being middle-aged and devoted to the call of the monastic order do not preclude being spontaneous and sporting at the same time, all mimicking the gesture of the Venerable Master Hsing Yun at the Fo Guang Shan Temple, Orlando, led by Venerable Chueh Yen flanked on the left by Viky (now Wes)'s Mom.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Picture-Perfect Memories

A picture diary is perhaps the best way to capture the sight (the sound will have to be self-generated in the mind as we have yet to invest in a videocam, talk about techno-phobia) bites of a road trip. The many frozen moments will help generate a memory-triggering trip in years to come, just when memory lapses will surely start to escalate.

Here then is another smargasbord of Nikon moments (wonder why it has always been the Kodak moments), documenting our trails to the Northeast, principally NYC, in recent months.

The Interior of the St. Patrick Cathedral, NYC, the pillar arrangement bestowing a profound sense of depth.

One of the many words of wisdom inscribed on plates affixed to the pavement surface somewhere in NYC. It pays to keep your head down and eyes on the road, literally. While taking the words to heart, don't be a smart alec, but rather a paragon of humility.

A disarmed torpedo on land, its size belying the tremendous destructive power packed into it while in service.

Turtle country, a great draw for environment-conscious tourists.

One of the many monuments conveying global messages that dot the landscape of the UN Plaza, NYC; this one with a twisted barrel symbolizing the call to cease wars.

Seen affixed to a lamp post along a street in NYC leading to the UN Plaza. I sought out this one that bears the Malaysian Flag.

Another monument (vertical tubes attached together at different heights) in the UN Plaza backed by trees with flat-top canopies.

A scene at Newark Airport as seen from a moving airtrain showing the Malaysian Airline System (MAS) logo behind that of a Virgin Airline with a line of crane gantries at Port Elizabeth (?) at the background.

The Macy Facade of rather intricate design seen in NYC.

The entrails of Grand Central Station. The view did not change much from a similar scene in the movie, The Curious Story of Benjamin Button (2008) starring Brad Pitt. Come to think of it, while the movie setting is the early and middle of the last century, it must have been shot in this century.

The Malaysian Flag fluttering in UN Plaza, NYC.

A sunny July 4th weekend in Washington DC, drawing a throng of visitors to the Reflection Pool and the Lincoln Memorial lying yonder.

Stacks of buildings surrounding Central Park, NYC, as seen atop the Empire State Building through Wify's camera lens, much like an oasis.

Two wash basins sharing the same drain pipe seen in a restroom at a rest stop along I-95.

Now, this is how you shoot from a moving airtrain, legs astride, body slightly prone, hand steady holding the zoom, no time even to put down the beg as the scene is fleeting.