What is it?

000 yellow blob1Can you identify this mysterious yellow blob that I photographed at a little park near the overlook for Snoqualmie Falls in Washington? It was lying in a grassy area strewn with pine needles after a misty rainfall; it’s about 2″ to 3″ in diameter. I would guess it is a fungus that grew out of the damp ground; or, perhaps, it fell there from one of the pines….

New photos from our Boise “backyard”

A few hundred yards from our home in the Boise foothills:

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Overlooking Cottonwood Canyon, Fort Boise Military Reserve, Boise Foothills 2014 © GaryERichardson

Sand and gravel used in construction of Fort Boise was taken from the hillside above the road to the gold mines near Idaho City, the largest town in the Northwest in the late 19th century. The road passed through the fort to ensure that gold from the mines made its way to the Union treasury.

Lupin & Arrowleaf Balsam

Lupin & Arrowleaf Balsam 2014 © GaryERichardson

At times like this, one almost forgets that we live in the high desert.

Phlox, balsam & sage 2014 © GaryERichardson

Phlox, balsam & sage 2014 © GaryERichardson

Bitterbrush, sage, balsam 2014 © GaryERichardson

Bitterbrush, sage, balsam 2014 © GaryERichardson

Boise Balsam

I’ve wanted to properly display a panorama of the Boise skyline that I created a few days ago with a series of digital images I made from a field of yellow arrow-leaf balsam flowers in the Fort Boise Military Reserve overlooking downtown.

Here’s my latest attempt:

0 Balsam-Boise pan

https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/118172392986028742669/albums/6004439893502745393/6004439893990354594

This is a Google+ link to the panorama that I previously posted on Facebook, where there is no way to enlarge the image and pan the skyline.

Once you establish the link, above the image click on the little magnifying glass icon with  the “+” sign. A box appears to the upper left that enables enlarging and panning the image from the M-K Plaza building on the left to the 6th & Fort, Jim McClure Federal Building on the right.

Thanks to Mike Rolig at Google, who turned me on to this capability of Google+.

I’ll be looking for a way properly to display panoramas here. If you’ve had success doing that with Word Press, please tell me how.

Photo (metaphor?) of the day

Jonathan, who removed Sravasti Abbey’s wasp nests, amuses the abbess.

Yesterday morning, I received my monthly eNews from Sravasti Abbey, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. Among the many colorful photos illustrating the monastery’s remarkable decade of progress, the one above caught my eye.

Ven. Thubten Chodron and her two cats, shared our Boise home for several months during her search for an abbey site. She had been encouraged to establish a US abbey for training nuns in the lineage of the Dalai Lama, who ordained her 30 years ago. Because of her close association with Treasure Valley Dharma Friends, she first hoped to locate the abbey in southwestern Idaho. As it turned out, a beautiful site became available north of Spokane, near Newport, WA, just over the state line from Old Town, Idaho.

While most of my Buddhist practice has been in the Vietnamese Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, we’ve had the pleasure over the years to host several Tibetan monks in addition to Chodron. Several years ago, we hosted Khensur Rinpoche and his translator, in Boise to give Dharma talks on his way to bless the Washington land Chodron had found for the abbey. Tulku Damsho Rinpoche and his attendant, Lama Sonam, stayed with us this past week while in Boise to give a commentary on Gampopa’s “Jewel Ornament of Liberation.”

TVDF-Damcho (2)

Tulku Damcho Rinpoche and Dharma Friends

For a couple evenings, I listened with about 30 Treasure Valley Dharma Friends as the Tulku recited his commentary in Tibetan, referring occasionally to his notes on the iPad in front of him. He would speak for a minute or two, then pause for translation and commentary by Jules Levenson, a professor from Naropa, the Buddhist university in Boulder, Colorado.

Gampopa was a student of Milarepa, the 12th-century CE Tibetan yogi and Buddhist lama. Tulku Damcho is said to be the reincarnation of Lama Tsokni, who led thousands of austere, fasting retreats in Tibet  dedicated to the Thousand-Armed Bodhisattva of Great Compassion, before the Chinese invasion. Reincarnation has not been an important tenet in my personal understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. Those teaching were not written down until several hundred years after Buddha’s death, but they are passed on in practice and orally from teacher to student in an unbroken line from students of the Buddha down to the present. Listening to Prof. Levenson translate Damcho’s commentary on the 12th-century “Jewel Ornament,” itself elucidating the then-1600-year-old teachings of the Buddha, I was witnessing the reincarnation of ancient thought.

John Rember’s persistent warnings to his writing students of the dangers of metaphor came to mind: “Metaphors damage your ability just to witness the world.” I think that’s what the 8th-century Zen monk Lin Chi (AKA Linji, Lam Te, Rinzai) was getting at when he wrote:

Followers of the Way,
Buddha is not to be attained.
There is no real Dharma;
it is all but surface manifestations,
like printed letters on a sign board to indicate the Way.

I slipped a copy of this iconoclastic Zen metaphor to the Tulku as he left for Shambhala meditation center in Colorado.

 

Matters of perspective

cassini

July 19, 2013: the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured Saturn’s rings and planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Nearly 900 million miles away in this image, Earth appears as a blue dot at lower right; the moon is off its right side. (The two are seen as separate objects in an accompanying composite image PIA14949.) Other bright dots nearby are stars.

Aug. 10, 2013: Smoke from a fire in the Smoky Mountains to the west rises over the Wood River Valley.

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Aug. 10, 2013: Smoke from the fire that a few days later threatened the Wood River resort communities, rises over the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s tribute to James Bond.

On Friday, Aug. 16, we were evacuated from our camp site on the North Fork of the Big Wood River, as the fire crept down northeastward drainages:

Beaver Creek Fire map

So, we headed north, over Galina Pass and into the Sawtooth Valley.

Northern Sawtooths, Idaho

There, our friends Donna Marie and Bob Hayes let us camp in their “front yard.”

FisherCreek

Fisher Creek runs through it. Click through to hear and see it on its way from the White Clouds to the Salmon, August, 2013.