Category Archives: Curiosities

A Delicate Transformation

Baudelaire – 1855

The marvelous envelops
and saturates us
like the atmosphere;
but we fail to see it.


The following quote is from the Parisian Gentleman a site I stumbled upon when searching on-line for instructions on how to do invisible mending. Their Journal post yesterday titled The Theory of How to Wear a Suit  caught my attention. At first it was the writing style  dry wit,  and fastidious attention to detail, that had me transfixed.   And somewhat bemused at entering into a totally alien realm of smart clothing, for men. Rev. Master Jiyu encouraged natural pride (in one’s appearance) and I do believe she would have given thumbs up to what is written here.

When we give the art of dressing well the attention it deserves, we move into the midst of an inner transformation, and this inner shift is a delicate transformation to manage.

It’s great to find a way to present ourselves well with clothing and finally (sartorially speaking) experience the feeling of self-approval. Yet, achieving self-approval poses a risk, as too much self-approval can convert into an ego explosion which annihilates the goal of ‘looking good’ as haughty and proud behavior can turn a person into a human atrocity.

Perhaps it’s better to say that understanding the art of dressing well opens the door to a more profound emotion created by beauty itself, and when we dress and leave our homes and feel surrounded within the vapor of beauty (created from somewhere within ourselves), we get a fleeting glimpse of the eternal.

As Baudelaire said, “all forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, have something eternal and something transitory — an absolute and a particular element”. But perhaps even more striking is Baudelaire’s epiphany, “The marvelous envelops and saturates us like the atmosphere; but we fail to see it.”

And with all this time to recover from the cold I caught in Latvia I’ve been able to mend my treasured monastic, 100% wool coat, which had been attacked by a moth while my back was turned. Always good to be turned out sans moth holes! Thank you Rev. Master for your teaching.

Storklet’s – Really!

See my comment attached to this post for further details.

Living On Alms

Not every day a hot air balloon comes close enough to see people in the passenger basket, dangling dangerously close to tree tops! Yesterday evening was such a day. Such excitement among the children. And the rest of us! Eventually the balloon made a dignified, all be it unscheduled, landing on the local playing field. Was it a flight or a voyage? It must have been scary what ever it was.

This evening a walk along the marshes at sun set. The tide was out the mud flats exposed. Not a place to venture out into. And stay alive.

Exactly a week ago I transferred across the Pennines from the monastery to stay in Cumbria again. This time to ‘flat-sit’ in South Lakeland close to Morecambe Bay. And close to a number of sangha members.

It’s been good to have lived in both Shasta and Throssel this past year and connect with my fellow monastics. Now time to return to where you all live. To connect. Directly.

Living takes many forms. Talking to a plumber about her work this morning on Skype and then this afternoon a short drive to visit an 80+ year old grappling with living her life. Then sitting in the car while a swarm of workers sprayed and wash it. ‘You work very hard’ I said in appreciation of a job very well done. Their English didn’t stretch to an answer. Living takes many forms. Living on donations, as I do, is……? Humbling.

Thank you people for your financial support which makes it possible to live as I do. And for offerings too. Today a bed sheet arrived by mail and a frying pan handed me. Much gratitude all around.

Where Colour Photography Began

Mount Shasta - 1916
Mount Shasta – 1916

Words escape me…! These images, in colour and black and white, were taken by National Geographic Society photographers in the early 20th century, curated by Retronaut and showcased by Mashable ,are something to behold. Enjoy, but don’t follow the links unless you have lots of time to spare! That’s if you enjoy photographs, as I do.

These Autochromes – the first commercially available color photographic process – were taken by National Geographic Society photographers. The Society eventually moved on to other slightly more advanced photographic processes and finally to Kodachrome by 1938, but not before amassing a collection of more than 12,000 Autochromes.

These images are truely amazing. An amazing document of the time, of photography and the people (including youthful celebs). Scroll down the page to find more archive images and articles too.

Hat tip to Michael in Canada for sending me the link and bows to Mashable, the National Geographic Society and Retronaut. These images need to be seen, and appreciated.

Keen To Lern!

When I wrote my first letter applying for a job I was unschooled and innocent (ignorant). Not only was I applying for a job I wasn’t qualified for (no, I didn’t have a driving licence, no, not (yet) 21 years old and no (save for amateur tinkering about) experience as a photographer). However, I wrote, I am keen to lern. Apparently my spelling learn wrongly got me an interview because the employer liked the spirit behind my writing – and I also shared my first name with his daughter! Anyway I got the job. I did learn a great deal and became almost a member of the family. Early learning, (I was probably 17 years old at the time) stays deeply embedded in ones self (body/mind) and I’m still at the point where I could probably  print black and white prints at speed, perhaps with my eyes closed!

Like most children I learned to ride a bicycle which when I started seemed completely impossible. But I persisted, fell off, climbed back on again until I could steer a steady course across the lawn. And in no time I was tooling up and down the main road and riding no hands down the local hill, on a minor road. Riding a bike is complex learning and to make the point a chap illustrates in this video how difficult it is to unlearn and then relearn riding a modified bike. His learning looks as difficult as that old childhood trick of rubbing your tummy while tapping the top of your head. That’s had many a youngster engaged, or distracted, while practicing something which is essentially useless!

But, or however, I’ve remained keen to learn and over the years my unschooled state has changed to something resembling ‘educated’. Not in a traditional sense probably. My point, and there is one, is that the brain can learn to do new things, it can and does change itself fundamentally.  And what we call the self, isn’t what we think!