We're moving again! This time for a few months down in Savannah, Georgia. Just exploring all the southeast has to offer - it's been beautiful and healthy for me so far. We still got out to some interesting events in Charleston before we left.
I had been looking for an alligator in the lake behind Alexandra's house since we arrived in Charleston and finally got to catch a few pictures of one.
Still Soul Studio helped organize a wonderful full moon gathering on a beach at Sullivan's Island. I was fortunate to be able to lead some meditation practice - all credit to the singular Young Katherine for taking many of these lovely photos! There was also yoga, chanting, and some journaling with a fire ceremony. Very special evening for me - my thanks to everyone who helped organize and came out for that lovely time.
Wild Kate in the background
Yoga class with Katie Ashley
Beach Bum Warrior One
Moon leggings on Alexandra
Explaining why they should listen to someone wearing maroon pants
Touching Body Energy – Exercise 20 from the first Kum Nye book
All hail la luna
Wonderful photo by Katherine Naomi
Finally Alexandra, who's been our most gracious hostess with the most gracious mostest in Charleston for this last month, took us to see the final day of an art installation: Wade in the Water. A multimedia installation based on the subjective experience of people affected by climate change in a real way. It was a beautiful, non-invasive and non-chart laden experience to walk through - the artist, John Duckworth, is currently planning to expand the project into more cities. It made me a little sad to be leaving Charleston so soon, as I haven't had a chance to fully explore the artistic community, but it was simultaneously inspiring.
John Duckworth’s paintings downstairs from the installation
A downloaded iOS app would track you using GPS and provide contextually appropriate audio tracks
An immersive combination of song, photography and spoken testimonials
Finally - we went stand up paddle-boarding!
I know I said "more to come" on Charleston last time but life moves fast and so now that will become "more to come" on Savannah.
I feel like there's too much to say right now about my experiences leaving Ratna Ling. That place, the people and the teachings I received there are innumerable and intimidating to try and write down. Essentially I'm lazy. But! We're living in Charleston now.
Re-integration after renouncing (most) of my possessions and moving to a Tibetan Buddhist commune in the woods is a complex thing, but so far I've felt re-energized in a way I couldn't have predicted. I'm still going through the process and there are challenges, but for the most part I would place my general happiness and desire for creative output and meaning at an all time high. I have a beautiful, wonderful and supportive partner, I have some friends and a spiritual community here already, my family is closer than in Cali and I have a new city to explore!
So far, Charleston has been wonderful and fascinating to me. It's an old place, with deep and complicated roots when it comes to American history (and in particular, race in America). "A Holy City, a flawed city." Source. Once, many pirates lived and died here. And many unsettled ghosts purport to still haunt just about every street corner, if the guided tours are to be believed.
You can almost feel the fucking humidity in this video.
Edgar Allen Poe lived on Sullivan's Island for a time, and there's a restaurant I ate at called "Poe's" by the beach. No fried raven and waffles though (yuk yuk).
The greater Charleston area is called the Lowcountry, which encompasses swamps, pluff mud and what I can only assume are metric shitloads of alligators. I have to say the fauna around here is a little scary for my taste, what with the shark attacks and the gator attacks and the palmetto bugs (giant cockroaches that actually fly [they goddamn fly with their awful satan wings] directly into my nightmares).
The above is a Magic the Gathering parody card and of the 5 readers I have no doubt zero percent get the reference. If you do, leave a comment because that is funny.
But there are also beautiful herons, cranes, dolphins. The weather is fantastic and even though I'm too terrified of sharks to actually swim the cautious and anxious wading has been divine.
Charleston's past is tangled and gets pretty dark - politically I've seen some confederate flags around, although C Town (or Chucktown if that floats your boat) is pretty liberal for the South - here's how South Carolina played out in the election:
I've been teaching Kum Nye classes at Still Soul Studio thanks to Alexandra, which is Charleston's first and only meditation studio:
Life has been awesome so far - I'm also working on creative things with Layerframe and feeling up to any and all challenges, opportunities. I look forward to setting goals and making an impact here in the dirty south.
In our room
Sullivan’s island, Kate left Alex right
Downtown – disappear here
Franklin the turts!
Bae being Bae
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Nice jacket dawg
Blue Bicycle Books has an incredible selection of new and used books. SO GOOD
Pretty cool art gallery
boob lamp at said art gallery
Horseshoe crab – It does look like a horseshoe, so very apt name
Don’t swim, I guess
“Quit being a dumass”
This is our backyard until June. A six foot alligator was spotted sunbathing, and apparently it needs to be ten feet before the local government will do anything about it
After a two week road trip from Northern California Kate and I are now sort-of settled in Charleston, South Carolina! It was my first trip across the country by car and the small-but-mighty Ford Fiesta passed with flying colors. We managed to fit two people's worldly possessions into a single sedan.
We went about it like this:
I'll be teaching meditation at Still Soul Studio and collaborating with my friends at Layerframe to see if we can't cook up something interesting for the South.
It was an exciting trip - have some photos! Sorry I clearly dropped the photography game at certain points in the trip.
More on Charleston to come soon - but it's a great place and y'all should move here.
Ratna Ling flags
Reservoir at RL
Craters of the Moon National Preserve
As advertised, it looks like the moon
Uncle Jim and Aunt Annemarie on a hike
Lazing around Stevensville
Garden of 1,000 Buddhas, outside Missoula
Very cool: http://www.ewambuddhagarden.org/
Like we were back at Ratna Ling
Aunt Annemarie near prayer flags
Each statue had a dedication
Next we hit the Bison range
Sneaking up on Antelope
Big Pluff Cow
Hiking Blodgett Canyon trail
Blodgett Canyon River
Blodgett is in the Bitterroot National Forest system. Save the national forests btw. Donate somewhere maybe plant a tree: https://www.nationalforests.org/donate/plant-trees
Mountains so crazy they don’t even exist
Clouds, flat describes most of our mid-country drive
Snow in late April
Trying out for the Flintstones
Omaha Zoo Peacock
Leopard at the Omaha Zoo. Such a zoo.
Pissy Owl, I’d be upset too though
These penguins couldn’t get enough cold
I’m so incredibly brave. The consistency and texture is that of an overripe avocado.
Aquarium was amazing
The ocean is beautiful and also wants to kill you and eat you.
Muchos live music in Nashville in the middle of the day
Printers Alley – Yeshe De holla!
I had no idea this was a real thing, let alone a chain
Actual vending machine
Accommodations in the Smoky Mountaints of Tennessee.
View from our campsite, at Douglas Dam
Hiking to the top of Mount Le Conte, 6,594 feet
Big ole tree
Caves en route to the peak
Made it! The elevation gave us both headaches but totes worth it.
So I recently re-upped my commitment here at Ratna Ling / Dharma Publishing for another six months of volunteer work, and took a little vacation to celebrate! The eminently photogenic Kate has a friend named Alex who has a lovely spot out in Lake Tahoe. We had a (tragically cancelled) AirBnB that turned into a semi-seedy motel stay in Sacramento, hiked around a bunch, popped into Reno and generally had a great time.
First up, Old Sacramento. According to local legend and also a brochure that we found, there is a whole city built underneath Old Sacramento. I would tell you more about that, but we tried to take the tour and it was sold out. So you'll have to use your imagination like us, sorry.
Sad Native American
Creepy old figures in antique store
Not contented with one tourist trap, we moved on the next to Appleville, where they grow all the apples you eat! This isn't true but they had a $hit ton of apples and apple byproducts. Also, pumpkins.
So much pumpkin
Kate is very pleased with the pumpkin
Pumpkin afterglow probably
Old Car + Kate
Nap after wine tasting
We were orchard tourists but I still managed to hate other tourists
Atsa big pumpkin
Finally we got to Lake Tahoe, which is stunningly beautiful in a natural splendor way, and a little weird in the Ritzy Ski Resort Town way. It got really cold at night, but it was so gorgeous during the day it really didn't matter.
This is not Lake Tahoe, but it is a lake
That’s Alex, with Kate
Ryan aka Me
Kate aka Katherine
Hiking to a thing
Roads and mountains is most of America
I shot a man in Reno
Downtown Lake Tahoe has a railroad station
I almost drowned in a kayak on this lake
Shoutout to Alex for letting us crash at her lovely pad for so many days! We also went four wheeling which was pretty fun, and off roading at night which maybe made Kate a little sick. I'm not into skiing enough to live in Lake Tahoe but it was nice to visit - Sacramento, eh. Leave it.
Positive customer service experience - AirBnB was very good to us when our host cancelled last minute - full refund, offered to help us find a new place (we opted for shady hotel) and paid $40 worth of food and drinks while we abused wifi to find a new place! Not the company's fault and appreciated the extra service and responsiveness. So good on them.
That's probably the last trip until I head home for the holidays. I haven't been able to write much because I've been really busy with the 60 hours working and we just started a gang of new classes in the evenings. I usually have about 1 hour of free time a night and that's typically spent staring at the wall until falling asleep at 9:30pm.
It is still wonderful and mostly sunny here! The rainy season did start, and things are green again which is really nice to see. The rain is kind of hilariously soaking when it does come though, sideways rain, upside down rain, etc.
My family came to visit Ratna Ling! It was great to see them, think they had a good time despite being terrified of the coastal roads. We hit Napa to visit some wineries and then took a hike along the coastline from Stump Beach to Gerstle Cove. Pictures below!
Napa Tour, Castello Di Amarosa (very good wine) and Peju (not very good wine). Wine tasting takes the honors for "Whitest Activity" that I've participated in, as I've never played golf:
During the Perseid Meteor shower this week (which was incredible out here with almost zero light pollution) I tried taking some photos at night. First time doing it, below are some of the results.
I'm using a Canon Rebel T5 with the kit lens so there are some limitations I'm working with, but it was a fun exercise. I want to figure out a time lapse or "star streak" style one next. Means I need to get this remote control timer working properly, which has been a comedy of errors.
You can get these results with a tripod, DSLR and basic image editing software (I used Adobe Photoshop). The camera just needs to be kept completely still, as you're allowing light to enter the lens for 30 seconds or more. I still don't fully understand the mechanics of how cameras actually work but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the process, and I learn a little bit along the way.
Processing after the shoot is important. What looks like very little in the preview window can actually have a ton of content, and be brought out if you're using RAW file format. Processing is also difficult and seems to be an art in it's own right. You may notice a lot of artifacts as a result of my processing, I'm going to do some research and figure out how to better approach next time.
Having a foreground object helps framing immensely, it provides context and anchors what would otherwise be, by nature, sort of incomprehensible to people (and thus boring). The Stupa was a happy accident this time, but in the future I'll be keeping an eye out for good framing reference points.
The lens also starts to get moisture when it gets cold/foggy, not sure if there's a good solution but at least need to bring a clean cloth with me next time to wipe it down, as after about 1am I couldn't get any more clear shots.