Holi Festival — Shanti!

Today I went to the Holi Festival — or Color Festival — at the Krishna Temple in Salt Lake.  I went with my traditional adventure and cultural events partner, Marti, with her kids — my niece and nephew — Nik and Emi, and Emi’s friend Savannah.  I was curious to know the history of this festival, and found the following description on the utahkrishnas.org website:

Holi has long traditional links with several legends. According to one popular legend, the word Holi is derived from the demoness, Holika. She was the sister of Hiranya Kashipu (the name meaning love of gold and a soft bed), a demon king, who having defeated the Gods, proclaimed his supremacy over everyone else in the Universe. Enraged over his son’s ardent devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranya Kashipu decides to punish him. He takes the help of his sister, Holika, who is immune to any damage from fire. Holika carries the small boy Prahlad into the fire but a divine intervention destroys her and saves Prahlad from getting burned. Thus Holi is celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, kindness over cruelty.

The color, noise and entertainment that accompanies the celebration of Holi bears witness to a feeling of oneness and sense of brotherhood. The festival brings home the lesson of spiritual and social harmony!!

I loved the band that was playing, and the amazing feeling of fun, friendship and acceptance.  The music the ban played was a fusion of Hare Krishna lyrics, rock, and bagpipes.  Very trippy.  I loved it!

The band leader guided us in a singing meditation of Ommm Shanti, Shanti Shanti, Ommm Shanti, which is a song of peace.  In fact, “Shanti” means Peace.  Nik and I jumped in and participated in everything.  We were encouraged to hug strangers.  The band leader said something that really struck me:  Look around!  Look at the people around you.  I don’t see white people.  I don’t see black people.  I only see colorful people!  I looked around and realized that most of the people I saw were so painted that it was impossible, in most cases, to tell their skin color.  What a wonderful way to see our neighbors, our friends, our enemies!  We are all colorful people.

Nik, bless his heart, spent most of the adventure staying near me.  I really appreciated this, since I was hobbling around slowly and couldn’t keep up with Emi and Savannah and Marti.  All in all, it was a lot of fun.  Nik and I are making plans to go next year, but to the one in Spanish Fork, which apparently draws a crowd of up to 100,000!!!

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This Baby Hippie Chick was having a great time tossing her color on people.  And, obviously, they were having a great time returning the favor!  Kudos to mom for giving kidlet shades and a bandana to protect her eyes and mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was taking random shots of the crowd and this guy saw me.  When I was done, I gave him a thumbs up, which made him happy.  Thanks for the great shot.  Peace out, Peace Dude!

 

 

 

 

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The Throwing of the Colors.  Initially, all the colors could be seen individually, but they quickly blended together to be one color.  Kind of metaphorical, if you think about it.  Doesn’t matter what color we are on the outside, we’re all the same.

 

 

 

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My partners in crime:  Nik, Emi, Savannah, and Marti.

 

 

 

 

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Krishna

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was overcast most of the day, and I had my ISO bumped up a little bit.  I took this shot as we were leaving the festival, forgot to adjust it back down, since the sunshine had come back out.  The result is a an over-exposed, somewhat saturated shot of my shoes.  I kind of like this happy accident.

Shanti!

 

Afternoon in the Garden

My daffodils are on their way out already, and my tulips aren’t far behind, but there are still a few photo ops lingering.

Tulip BWOne of my favorite photographers is currently doing a series of b&w photos from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  They’re gorgeous.  When I got this photo onto the computer, I realized it might lend itself well to b&w.  Thanks for the idea, Lee!

 

 

 

 

Shelter from the Rain

I’m calling this one Shelter from the Rain.  I love the way the leaf is wrapped over the top of the tulip, protecting it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hint of Color

You should have seen me, lying on the grass, twisting my display screen so I could see what the camera was looking at.  I’m sure it was amusing to watch.  Because I was in such an awkward position, I didn’t have as much control over the camera as I would have liked.  My intent was to get the entire tulip, but I really like the artsy feel of this.  And by not showing all of the tulip, it kind of gives a feel of being unending.  That’s what I think, anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

Daffodil

This was a happy accident.  I knew it needed to be cropped, and was going to make it be just the daffodil.  But then I tried this.  And fell in love

Emergence

I enjoy snow.  I love walking in rain storms.  Hot summer sun and the change of colors in the autumn.  All of them fascinate and delight me.  But…  I LOVE SPRING!!!  I love watching new life beginning.  Crocus, tulips, daffodils, pansies, lilacs: all of them make me smile.  Maybe spring is my favorite season because I’m a spring baby.  Maybe.  I really think it’s because of all that new life bursting about me.

I’ve started carrying my camera everywhere, and looking at things around me from different angles than I normally do.  Today I was looking up.  Up at the sky, up at branches, up at birds.  Today I noticed leaves just beginning to emerge.

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A Study of Tulips in Twilight

It has been raining all day.  Sometimes barely sprinkling, sometimes pouring down in buckets, but always raining.  I don’t really mind.  I planted peas Friday, transplanted some iris on Saturday, and they need the moisture.  Around 8:00pm I realized I wanted to take pictures of my tulips with raindrops on them at twilight.  I looked at the clock, jumped up, grabbed my camera, and ran outside for today’s adventure in “Shooting in M Mode”.  I really left it a little too late for all but the first couple of shots.  Tonight, I experimented with keeping the ISO at 400 with the f-stop as low as I could get it.

IMG_0302Here’s a lovely tulip, all closed up against the cold and dark and rain.  It was the only one in the garden with raindrops clinging to it.  I didn’t even mind kneeling down in the wet grass to get the shot.  When I got it on the computer, I had to increase the highlights a bit, increase the shadows a little to darken the background.  And I was happy with it.

Until…

 

 

 

 

Tulip BW

I changed it to black and white.  Historically, I’m not a fan of black and white.  But I’m developing a growing appreciation for it.

Into the Depths

I spent some time this afternoon out in my garden, getting up close and personal with tulips, daffodils, and ground cover in my garden.  The tulips just opened up yesterday, and the daffodils are in full swing.  It was a great opportunity to practice shooting in M mode.  The results were somewhat mixed, but I had fun anyway.  I need to keep learning how to adjust the settings so that the exposure is right.  I have these little tiny fairy tulips that are about 6″ tall and this incredible red!  All of my photos of them were either blurry or over saturated.  While trying to process them, I was able to tame it down, but then I lost the amazing contrast of the green and while variegated leaves.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  What worked well, though, were some macro shots.

IMG_0291Up close and personal with the center of a daffodil.  I wish the lighting were more dramatic, but, really, this is what it looks like.  Just really mild colors

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0293This is the ground cover.  I’ve never really paid much attention to it before, to be honest.  Just the green stuff that is soft to walk on and looks nice in the garden.  As the seasons progress, it will eventually produce tiny little white flowers.  I’ll have to be sure to take pictures of those when they’re in bloom.  I really like the look of this little plant.  Very prehistoric looking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0295Here’s my last shot of the day, and it’s my favorite.  The center of the tulip is so mysterious looking, and so symmetrical.  I love it!

Daffodils at Six

Jim took me to the doctor, then ran some errands, and we got home around 6:00pm.  The sunlight was coming around the side of the house, making the daffodils in the corner garden just glow!  So I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and spent a few minutes outside.  While I was out there, I noticed my little red Fairy Tulips are about to bloom.  My front yard is just AMAZING in the spring time!

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Antelope Island aka Return of the Photo Mojo

Life is funny.  I had reached the point with my old camera that I could no longer see the image on the itty-bitty display screen.  None of my pictures were turning out the way I expected.  So, for the better part of 2012, I set my camera aside, concentrated on quilting.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’m still quilting.  But just at the right time, just when I was looking for it, Fate brought me the perfect camera: a Canon t3i with a wonderfully huge, articulated display screen, easy to use features, and a couple of lovely lenses.  I’ve spent some time reading through the users guide, I’ve joined a photography forum, and I’ve begun taking my camera with me almost everywhere.

Yesterday, the weather was perfect, my husband and I had nothing on the agenda, so we loaded up the truck and headed up north.  Our first stop was the Burger Bar in Roy, Utah.Burger Bar

This is not my photo, but this is exactly like the scene we encountered at 3:30 in the afternoon.  Lots of people, limited outdoor seating.  In fact, we ate sitting on the tailgate of the truck, which just added to the fun of the experience, in my opinion.  Some of the items on the menu include Buffalo and Elk burgers.  Jim settled for the Big Ben Burger, and I had the Sea Ben, which is the same thing, only with fish.  The servings are HUGE, all sandwiches come with a mountain of french fries, and the prices are amazing.  I’d probably go there again.  I don’t know that I’d go out of my way to go there again.

Next Stop: Antelope Island.  I LOVE this place, and cannot get enough of it.  If I lived in the Roy/Syracuse area, I would likely make regular treks out there.  As it is, I’m already planning my next trip.  I would love to do some light hiking, or take my Kayak and paddle down to the southern tip, which is restricted to vehicles.  Or, as Jim suggested, explore it on horseback.  In fact, there’s a group that operates out of the Fielding Garr Ranch, running horseback tours.  Definitely need to look into that!

Fielding Garr Ranch

The Fielding Garr Ranch is home to the oldest buildings in Utah that are still on their original foundations.  There is a barn, the house, bunk house, spring house, and an assortment of other small buildings.  The spring house is just a few feet from a natural spring that is surrounded by giant cottonwood trees.  The cottonwood trees on the ranch seem to be a favorite nesting and roosting spot for large owls.  In fact, we saw one!  I believe it was a Great Horned Owl.  He was quite large, about 25 feet up in a tree, and was the same color as the branches.  I took a picture, but it’s not worth sharing since I had the wrong lens and you just really can’t make him out.

Reflections

The water surrounding the island was perfectly calm.  Like I said, it was a perfect day.  This stump is on the south side of the causeway, and is so striking, particularly because there’s nothing else like it around.  I made Jim turn around so I could get this shot.  As I got out of the car, I said, “Be back in a minute.  Under his breath, Jim said, “Yeah, if I’m still here.”  Funny sense of humor that man has.

Good SamaritanAfter leaving the Ranch, we headed north, working our way over to the west side of the island.  We passed a few bicyclists along the way, and when we saw this pair, I didn’t give it a second thought.  About a minute later, Jim turned the truck around without a word and went back, then got out and went over to talk to them.  He had the impression that he needed to offer assistance.  One of them had 7 thorns in his tire and didn’t have a spare tube.  We loaded their bikes into the back of the truck, squished them into the back seat of the cab, and drove them about 8 miles back to their car.  I was really impressed by Jim’s actions, and so grateful he listened to that voice in his head.

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Antelope Island gets its name from the Pronghorn Antelope that are indigenous to the place.  It’s said that Kit Carson and John C. Freemont were exploring the island in 1845, and shot an antelope for dinner.  In gratitude for the meat, they named the place Antelope Island.  There are roughly 200 of them on the island.  We saw three of them, including this beauty.  Thanks to Jim for making enough noise to get his attention and make him turn.  Otherwise, I’d have just had a picture of his backside.

Buffalo Fashion

Antelope Island is famous for its Bison herd.  There are roughly 700 on the island, and the population is carefully controlled to prevent disease and over-population, which would be devastating to this unique environment.  The Bison are used to having humans around, and generally ignore them.  They go where they want, when they want.  This guy was less than 10 feet from the truck, ambling along at his own pace.  Not really sure what the argument was that he had with the sage brush, but I think the brush lost.  Either that, or he’s trying to start a new fashion trend among the herd.

Resting by the Lake

This is my experimental shot for the day.  I used a 55-250mm lens with both a macro and a wide angle attachment.  I like the blurred effect around the edges, bringing your eye to the bison in the center.  More experimentation is required.

Bison on Antelope Island

We saw about 100+ bison while we were there.  This is one of my last shots of the day, and I think it’s becoming one of my favorites.  It just epitomizes our day.

1930s Lady of Fashion

Friday morning (4/27/12) was the funeral of my great-aunt Elaine.  Her funeral was more a celebration of her 92 years than it was a lament for her passing.  That’s how I want my funeral to be!

At the graveside, while the sun was shining, the temps were cool and the wind was blowing, making it quite chilly.  Mom was all bundled up with a shawl around her shoulders, a blanket on her lap, a big fleece-lined jacket wrapped around her, and a jaunty red knit hat on her head.  I was wandering about taking pictures of the family when I looked back at mom.  She had adjusted her hat, until it was at a jaunty angle and she just looked SO CUTE!  It just reminded me of pictures I’ve seen of women from the 1930s, with their cloche hats and fur collars.

Grownups Day Out

Recently, my friend Laurel suggested we get together, with the plan being to eat something new and different with an international twist, then to walk around City Creek Plaza, check out the stores, enjoy the fountains, and generally just have fun. As the discussion progressed, it went from just the two of us to including our husbands and two other couples.  And so, on Saturday the 21st, Mat and Wendy, Laurel and Roine, Michael and Geri, and Jim and I met downtown for a Couples Day.

We started off at Bruges, which is a tiny little hole-in-the-wall Belgian Waffle house. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to how the dishes are served. What I mean is, if you order a sandwich and a waffle (which I did), there may be 10 minutes between when one dish is ready and the the next. Meanwhile, others who came after you may get their food before you. But no one seemed to mind the wait. I will say that was absolutely the BEST waffle I’ve ever had! I got mine with strawberries and fresh cream. This picture shows MOST of Bruges. There’s a cool plank table along the opposite wall that seats about 3 people, maybe 4. We opted to eat upstairs on the patio. Twas lovely.

Probably my FAVORITE things at City Creek are the fountains. The children’s fountain is so much fun! You never know when the spouts are going to do their thing and drench you with water. Laurel jumped right in and the rest of us females soon followed, while the men just stood by and watched, no doubt shaking their heads about how silly we are.

 

As fun as it is to play in the Children’s Fountain, my favorite still remains the bubble fountain.  Don’t know how else to describe it.  In this shot, I crouched down so I could pick up the play of light and shadow.  I even like the distortion created by a few droplets on my lens.  I love this shot!

 

Our husbands are sweethearts and spent a considerable amount of time just hanging out and waiting for us. Truly we’re blessed to have them in our lives! In fact, I told Jim I really appreciate him spending a day with me doing stuff he’s probably not all that interested in.  We were able to get the guys to go into most of the stores, but they flat refused to set foot in Tiffany’s.  Well, can’t say I blame them on that one.  I love the idea of Tiffany’s, but don’t live the lifestyle that would warrant jewelry from there.  Geri, at her husband’s insistence, went back in and asked about the most expensive thing in the store.  It’s a beautiful diamond solitaire in the window display, 3 ct in weight.  It’s only $140,000.  Oh.  Is that all?  Let me write a check…

We spent a bit of time in a fun furniture store called Restoration Hardware.  So many fun ideas on how to decorate!  There were a lot of things I saw that it would be fun to have, like a chandelier inside a large birdcage.  But when am I ever going to have a house that would accommodate such a thing?  Too frou-frou for me and Army Boy.  This table and wicker chair set was so beautifully lit from the subdued lighting in the room and the sunlight spilling across the rustic wood.  It just spoke to me.  So much so that I waited for several minutes, and thought I’d missed the lighting at one point, just so I could get the shot without customers wandering about in it.  I particularly like the angle.

Michael, Roine and I raced over to Temple Square for about half an hour so that they could go see Michael’s friend’s photo in the LDS Church History museum.  While they did that, I popped into the Family History Library.  We meandered back to the rest of the group through Temple Square.  The tulips were outstanding!  Huge thanks to Michael for pointing out how to shoot a large group of flowers and making sure to eliminate unnecessary background noise.

You know, I took so many pictures on this outing, and so many of them speak to me on different levels.  This one, however, is probably my favorite.  It so captures Laurel’s joie de vivre, and I love the symmetry of Laurel and Geri’s eyes.

Dear friends, thanks so much for a fun day and a much needed outing!

Battle Buddies

Nolan, Jim’s oldest son, recently completed his first (and hopefully ONLY) deployment to Afghanistan, after which he received a 1 month leave. He spent two weeks at home, visiting family and friends, before hooking up with his 3 battle buddies, Tim, Ben, and Mike, and going on an EPIC cross country road trip.

The first stop, after leaving Salt Lake, was to go to Lake Tahoe. Via Vegas! After a few days in Tahoe, they came back through Utah and spent a night with us. Their next stop was going to be at Tim’s place, east of Denver, then work their way to Key West for a few days before heading back up to Fort Drum, New York, where they have to be on April 29th.

It was wonderful to see Nolan and to meet two of his battle buddies, Tim and Mike. What wonderful young men! I was able to feed them all breakfast Friday morning before they headed out. Then tortured them with a photo-op. Because that’s how I roll.