What do I think of Christmas?

The other day I overheard someone “bah-humbug” Christmas. It startled me really and got me to thinking – what does Christmas mean to me? I grew up a Christian – went to Church and all, plus I had more than a little exposure to Eastern philosophy and religion as my father was a follower of the Hindu religion. And now I’m a Scientologist.

Take away all the commercialism of Christmas – it is looked upon by many as a Christian holiday but – a celebration at this time of year is not new to Christianity. My understanding of Hinduism is that there are many ways to God – so generally they will honor or acknowledge religious celebrations of other faiths as well as their own.

My view of Christmas – it’s a celebration of the spirit of Man – a celebration of all that’s good in us. It’s a time I can read Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas In Wales to my friends; people greet each other more effusively; I can phone someone that I otherwise wouldn’t, just because it’s Christmas; if I smile at someone on the street anywhere in the world and tell them “Merry Christmas” it’s ok and they’ll smile back and wish me well.

That’s all very cool stuff.

So, have a great Christmas and give someone a smile and a hug.

love,
Martin

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Adventure on the Catamaran

I’ll take adventure however I can get it. Sunday, Grant and I decided to move my catamaran to his place. The reason for this was that we could leave it in the water for some of the time and wouldn’t have to go through battling the mast every time we wanted to go sailing. We decided to do this a bit late in the day and with the time change it didn’t leave us much daylight. We got the boat out and started sailing a bit before 5, giving us about an hour or so of daylight. Note here that I’ve been sailing about 4 times in my life – I had Grant’s daughter Amber with me but she knew virtually nothing about sailing so essentially, first time alone.) Grant took the car back to his house to meet us. Well about 5-10 minutes out and I realized that I hadn’t put the plugs back in the boat before we launched. For those of you who don’t know – these plugs allow the water to drain when the boat is out of the water but obviously needs to be replace before venturing back into the deeps. So, to continue – I jumped down on the first pontoon and told Amber to just hold the tiller where it was – steady. Well, of course, the wind didn’t cooperate and just as I was reaching down it shifted the boat and I was thrown off! Now it is very hard to swim and laugh at the same time. I was swimming like a banshee and shouting at Amber to turn into the wind – it took her a minute to figure this one out. And all the while I was trying not to laugh at myself and my predicament – swimming after a sailboat. She managed to slow it down and I caught up. I screwed the plugs back in and we continued. We were having to tack back and forth a great deal because of the direction of the wind and we got to watch a very nice sunset and were getting a bit nervous about sailing the last half in the dark. We were sailing on the intercoastal so it’s pretty safe and lots of lights but none on the boat. Anyway, fate solved this one for us as well. We were sailing in toward the mainland right near the Dunedin Marina – I was just about to come about and the fastening for the tiller came off. (I promise you that I checked that and all other fastenings before we left.) It was an “Oh God” moment. But – we were aimed at the only 20 foot piece of beach on that side for 3-4 miles either way. I was able to keep us pointed to that little patch of safety. The whole thing was a total blast! But I don’t think Amber wants to go sailing with me anymore. This did give us an excuse to go sailing Monday morning though and it really was a gorgeous day. You can see here a picture of my boat parked on the water at Grant’s place.
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Mom’s Reception


I‘ve been meaning to write a few words about my mum for a while. It hasn’t been easy to confront. She died in February and it took a while…
We had a reception at my brother’s place a few days after mum died in February and the four of us with much difficulty said a few words. I knew it would be very difficult for me to speak so I borrowed some words from a couple of different passages. The first was from the Bhagavad-gita. My father was a Hindu and mum kept a copy of this book. It is very lengthy and it is a beautiful work – I just stole a few lines:

“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.”

Mum was always learning – taking courses – traveling – she lived life. I couldn’t read the whole poem but read a few lines from Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
You can read the rest of it at Dylan Thomas

My sister said something about my mother that was quite profound, beautiful and a wonderful thing about her that we could all aspire to. Mum had amazing communication lines. I remember Niels telling me that mum would get several letters a day in the mail sometimes when she lived in Denmark. My memories of her when I was very little were of her in the evenings sitting on the couch writing letters to friends and family. When she got email she was thrilled.

Gwen pointed out that mum never waited for someone else to contact her or start the conversation. She would call or write you first (needless to say she was happy when you wrote or emailed or called back). So, Gwen’s invitation at the ceremony was that people not wait for someone to call or write them but to start the communication themselves. It’s tough in our busy lives but try it. Find someone that you’d like to be in communication with and write or email or call – don’t wait for them.
Keep well – write me any time.
Martin
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In July

Watched a German film last evening called “In July” German with English subtitles. I’m not always thrilled with subtitles, though I generally prefer them to dubbing. I wasn’t long into the film when I failed to notice whether I was reading anything at all. Perhaps it’s all my years being around Dutch and German. Also, it is a very visual movie. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the “lovers” wend their way through Europe from Germany to Turkey. Enjoy – two thumbs up!! I’ll try and set up a page of movies that I like – look for a link on the right. And send me yours.

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My Mother

Mom died at 2 am this morning (Tuesday the 20th of February). We we with her to the end. She went peacefully in her sleep. I’ll miss her like crazy. I’ll put some more info about her here over the next few days. I wrote an article on my other blog about things she taught me in photography.

Check that out at my Photo Article Blog

Martin

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Things My Mother Taught Me About Photogrpahy

My mother was one of those people who took lots of pictures and cared about what she was shooting. She actually would submit her pictures to contests and win prizes. The first thing she said to me about taking pictures was “watch your background”. Told more than once, I daresay – like many other thing that were hounded into my thick skull. You might say, “Watch your background – Well of course!! Who wouldn’t?” Yeah, I know, but one needs to look further – see what resulted from that simple command.

When you are watching the background, hopefully you are really looking at the whole picture. That’s what this imperative got me to doing: looking. Instead of just pointing away willy nilly with the camera, even as a youngster I tended to slow down and look. This fared me well later in life when I was in India visiting my father. You can see photos of that trip here and I’ll tell you more about how and why on another page.

Even as a child the photos that had fewer and fewer clothlines and spires sticking out the tops of people heads. Not only that with the simple drill of looking the composition naturally became more attractive.

Nor did it hurt that my siblings and I had use of a camera that used 2 ¼ film. We really had no idea of how fortunate we were. I never really notice what others were using so didn’t know what was being generally used back then.

So the next time you pick up a camera and rush out to take pictures of the cousins from Nebraska , slow down a bit and look – tell me if you can see what the camera sees.

Martin

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