Goodbye From Inside The Box

Urn with Ashes

It was morning.

It was morning, and I had taken my father in law to the beach, one last time. I took the solid, cedar box to the balcony overlooking the sea.  He had died nearly two years before, but our family was unable to return to Seattle for a memorial.

I took my father-in-law with me as I moved and traveled. He was always quiet, as usual.  I teased him that perhaps he’d see some pretty girls on the beach, if only his view weren’t obscured by the box.

Fall at La Push Beach

He enjoyed the sunrise more than me.

Never much of a morning person, so getting up early to show him the sunrise one last time was, I hoped, not lost on him, although he never really said anything about it.  I felt the sunset would surely be even better, even if only one of us was actually awake.

Fall at La Push Beach

Even big clouds didn’t elicit a response.

I was sure the evening sky would at least spark some conversation… but perhaps he was full from the dinner I had.

Fall at La Push Beach

At last, the thunder!

At last the excitement arrived. A giant thunder cloud, poring down its feelings onto the ocean before us!  The air was blanket heavy with moisture. I clapped when the thunder came, but alas, he did not.

Fall at La Push Beach

By morning, steaming coffee in hand, I waved goodbye as he waited on the deck, and wandered out onto the rough shore, huge trees adorning it in grassy, wooden necklaces.

Fall at La Push Beach

I felt a little guilt for leaving him for so long, and that, well, he couldn’t see what I was seeing anymore… or could he?

Fall at La Push Beach

The brave roots of this enormous tree were so thrilled with their new view!  Sky!  Clouds!  Each other!  Roots cannot normally see each other, I am told.

Fall at La Push Beach

Some trees snuck a rock or two in between themselves, just for kicks.  I told him this when I returned some time later. He has not made any new coffee for me.

Fall at La Push Beach

The glorious blue sky sang even louder than the surf, and my friend, you’ve never seen happier roots than I did that day.

Fall at La Push Beach

Even the sideways wind got in on it, gurgling with the little tide, tiptoeing across the wood – here, on the beach, and back there, in the box, where my father-in-law waited, quiet, as usual.

Fall at La Push Beach

My favorite: being with the little ones I like to call, “The Waiters.”  Not like people who bring spaghetti to the table – no.  I mean, the things that seem to make a living waiting.  Yes. The rocks.

Fall at La Push Beach

But before I could dwell too long on the various hums and sighs of the still-waiting stones and pebbles, the sun arrived – or rather, we here arrived to it.

Fall at La Push Beach

Boulders are rocks, too, yes, but they don’t seem to wait. They are too busy ducking the waves.  At least, that was what I told my father-in-law later.

Fall at La Push Beach

And this is how we said goodbye, me from the shore, and he from inside the box.

Goodnight, sweet Jose.

Goodnight.

Anjani Millet

©Copyright 2014

Related Images:

Yours truly!

Anjani Millet, Behind the Scenes

Your truly!  Many thanks to my friend and photographer Lori Patrick who shot this at our Photographer’s Vintage Tea Party.
from Instagram: http://ift.tt/1o7gdAo

Related Images:

At Least Make That Brick Wall Attractive

Today is Monday, and that means waking up to the brick wall which is my own hesitations.  I’ve decided that 2014 will, for me, be The Year of Yes.  I’m doing my best not to fight hesitations now, but to listen to them and act upon them – or not act, depending on the nature of the hesitation. For instance, recently I had a decision to make in my business and I was dragging my feet. I sat my hesitation down in my mind like a friend over lunch and looked and listened, and then made my decisions based upon what I heard.  I don’t want to do that kind of shoot.  I just don’t.

So… I say yes!  Yes to that brick wall!   Dress it up, invite it in, have coffee with the pretty wall!

We all have our own brick walls, both internally and externally. Maybe, instead of fighting them, it’s time to decorate the wall. Dress it up, take it out for coffee, and enjoy the walls we’ve got. They are probably there for a reason, and rather than being the enemy, maybe – just maybe – like every good wall, they are protecting the good stuff inside, and connect to the doorway in.

Leave me a comment and let me know, what’s your wall, and how do you get across it?

-Anjani

Related Images:

Is “Follow Your Passion!” Just Another Rule?

My dear friend told me an astonishing thing: he is passionate about nothing. He enjoys life, is happy and busy, but passion?  No, he said.  Then he told me a second surprising thing:
“I need to find out why.”
To me, this sounded as if he is feeling there is something wrong with him, as he is not internally experiencing what is externally called “passion.”  Living a life with passion in the U.S. is de rigueur. Anyone living without a passion needs to find one right away. Go to classes. Talk to a therapist. Find out what is wrong with you.  We undergo a tremendous amount of pressure to have, and live, in a state of passion.
But is that really healthy?  Is it even a natural state?  Is my friend, for instance, broken or impaired if he does not have a driving passion, or do he just lack a true understanding of his ‘natural state’?   What if his natural state does not include passion at all – is that like having a misappointed soul?
What if he is happy but not wildly passionate, or driven?  Is that ok?  Is that enough?
And what about purpose?  Is life worth living without purpose?  Is a life worth living if it is a happy, content life, but with no particular purpose?  In both of these cases the answer could be yes, or no.  The reasons for a lack of passion or purpose could be fear or lack of resources.  But even this implies lack.
My sweet dog Henry is sleeping next to me as I write. He was engineered, as a pug, for companionship.  He’s lucky – there’s paperwork on his purpose, which seems to be to hang out with me all day or anyone whose lap he can conquer for napping. What if he has no purpose?  Is his little pug life less worthy, less living, than the life he was given?  And what of children?  Are they only worthy of just being happy but only until they are, say, 16, at which point they need to start thinking about purpose and passion?
I wonder if passion and purpose were invented during the industrial revolution to get people to work more, or, during the 60’s, as a result of working too much. I might have to research this.
Is a life truly lacking if the bearer simply is? 
 
I don’t have the answer to this for myself.  How about you?  What do you think?  Do you have purpose and/or passion?  Do they go together?  How does your view of yourself turn based on these components?
If you aren’t passionate or purposeful, is that ok with you?  How do you feel about yourself in this regard?  Are you trying to change it?
If you are, what do you feel about that part of you?  What if it went away?  What if your passion evaporated tomorrow – who would you be then?
Love to hear from you.

Related Images:

Alone at the Himalayan Buddhist Monastery

 

The kind lama loaned me his cottage high in the Himalayas, a three hour hike from Dochula Pass, in Bhutan. Below are the photos from that blissful (and really, really cold) stay I had alone in the mountains at the monastery over which he presided. Some shots take place in his cottage, including self-portraits.  The shots in blue are the treacherous walk to the ‘bathroom’.

Related Images:

An (Almost) Arresting Sunset

None of us realized that resting somewhere in this vast amber meadow was a little yellow bird and a big, black SUV. The police pulled the big machine up behind our cars, blocking us in, and bellowed from their windows to go back to our cars immediately.  I was elated to have gotten that last shot, and wondered what the hell was happening.  

As we handed over our ID’s and registration, the shorter of the two short men informed us that we were trespassing into a protected area, due to the presence in this meadow of an endangered species. From under his authority-imbued eyebrows, he informed us that we were on Federal land, and could potentially be arrested for trespassing, or heavily fined, or have our cars impounded, or all of the above.  The second stood on the far side of my car, looking in through my passenger window.  He seemed to be willing my camera, pregnant with amber-lit shots and waiting in the front seat, to give up its secrets.

They were tough alright, with their black car/crewcuts/uniforms/guns. But even a bad ass cop looks less fierce when, after I ask him what exactly is the name of the endangered animal, answers a little meekly, “Oh, well…I believe it’s called a Streak Horned Lark.” Turns out this little lark is on the “proposed” list for endangerment, but is not yet.  Good news!  It was obvious we were only there photographing, and had no idea we were potentially harming any birds. We had followed back roads and simply did not see the signs.  

After 30 minutes, we were duly and sternly warned and free to go, and given instructions about how to purchase a permit for the future. In the meantime, we walked away with beautiful, sunset shots from the God Hour, and I was pleased to know there are police out there patrolling on behalf of innocent birds nesting on the ground.  As it turns out, the bird has been proposed to be endangered, though is not official yet. Nonetheless, one mustn’t cause unnecessary tweets of the actual variety.

The Streak Horned Lark is lucky to have bad ass cops, a gorgeous, open meadow, and plenty of God Light every single day.  That’s a beautiful thing.

If you’d like to learn more, click here for a bit more information about this little bird – the original kind, strictly tweeting offline.

-Anjani

Related Images:

Hostal Spa Empuries, Spain

On a beautiful Spanish Tuesday afternoon, I landed at the Hostal
Empuries, near the sleepy Spanish town of L’Escala, in the Costa Brava
region, near Girona. Don’t let the name of this wonderful hotel confuse
you: ‘hostal’ does not mean ‘hostel’: far from it. It simply means
‘hotel’. Nestled between pine trees and sand, the hotel rests on
Portitxol Beach with its “dainty” cliffs.

This seaside resort
is a quiet and beautiful hotel and spa, established more than 100 years
ago. It is the first hotel in Europe to be awarded Gold LEED
certification — the highest environmental achievement, and aside from
being gorgeous and environmentally responsible, boasts a beautiful
restaurant as well.  Serving sumptuous eco-mediterranean cuisine, the
Villa Teresita provides formal dining under the excellent care of Chef
Rafa Peña, as well as the more casual Bistró del Mar.

In a
pleasant afternoon interview with Susana Bosols, Director of Marketing,
we shared black coffee and she described for me their main objectives:
social and ecological responsibility, rejecting waste culture, and the
notion of “following the ant’s trail.”  Along with LEED certification,
the hotel espouses the concept of “cradle to cradle.” From their
website, they describe their principles:

“One of the
principles of Hostal Empuries, according to our social and ecological
responsibilities, had been to think globally and act locally, in order
to create awareness of the Earth as an organism which must be cared for.
Based on the idea that the population of ants on the planet is 3 times
greater than that of humans, understanding that they are beneficial to
this biological organism, the Earth, we want to follow the ant’s trail.

The
building type we have used, therefore, has green roofs which increase
plant life and biodiversity. We have chosen plants typical of the local
area, which are drought tolerant and are only watered from rainfall
collected from the roofs or recycled from the bathrooms and kitchen. For
fertilizer we use nothing more than organic matter left over from the
kitchen.

At Hostal Empuries we care
about humanity and the inheritance to which we are connected. We aim to
provide the best experience possible for our guests and leave a lasting
legacy for future generations…In truth, human beings are the only ones
capable of carrying the responsibility for their harmful behavior and
actions which instigate the destruction of our habitat and the habitats
of all other life forms on the planet.

We
must therefore commit, in a personal way, to take preventative action
and plan for a better future.In order to best plan and develop the
greater part of our initiatives we take advantage of the finest
standards available in order to guarantee sustainability.”

The LEED certification and Cradle to Cradle principles are:
* The Certificate of Sustainable Architecture “LEED,” whose aim is to
ensure that a building becomes a regenerative agent in its environment,
preventing erosion, improving water quality and increasing biodiversity
to benefit the whole community.
* The “Cradle to Cradle” Principle
or “C2C” which promotes the use of materials which are not only
sustainable but whose useful life might continue beyond that for which
it was originally intended, to be re-used in other ways and finally
being converted back into new base material.

Aside from
outstanding environmental stewardship, the hotel has a beautiful
restaurant, including on-site organic gardens which supply the kitchen.
The spa too adheres to the strictest environmental standards, using
natural oils and other products for the body, and natural products for
cleaning. This is true throughout the hotel.

Chef
Rafa Peña generously spoke with me after a beautiful evening meal, and
even shared his recipe for Cod Brandada. He offered a great tip for
finding the perfect restaurant while traveling:

“When
you travel, go to the best restaurant you can find and afford –
Michelin starred, for instance – and have a meal there.  Lunchtime is
often a bit less expensive. Then, ask the chef him or herself where to
eat in that city. Go where they tell you.  The good chefs always know
where to go!”

What a great idea. Thank you, Chef!

I
loved the Hostal Empuries, its philosophy, the lovely rooms, the
gorgeous beach environment… and the food was outstanding. I’d go back
tomorrow if I could. Maybe I will!

-Anjani

Hostal Empúries – Platja de Portitxol s/n Ap. Correos 174.17130 l’Escala, Girona, Spain

Tel: 972.77.02.07 | Fax: 972.98.29.36, info@hostalempuries.com, GPS: 42.13182400, 3.12234900

Related Images:

Hotel Review: Silken Park Hotel, San Jorge, Platja D’Aro, Spain

On a sultry afternoon in September, I finally found the Silken Park Hotel in the town of San Jorge, Platja D’Aro, in the Costa Brava region of Spain. I had been invited, as a Travel Blogger’s Expo guest in Girona, Spain, to stay at, review, and write a piece on the resort. I was excited about the seaside resort, which was said to be top notch. I arrived two days early due to a scheduling error but the hotel kindly found a room.

Unfortunately that room was not facing the blue sea at all.  It was a dark brown prison-like room facing the parking garage, which faced a busy highway. The room was depressing and lightless, with one tiny window, and smelled of mold and fuel. Unfortunately, I had another night to spend there two days later, with a brief interlude at another hotel the following night. I was glad to leave but would have to return in two days, much to my chagrin. I couldnt’ wait to leave and didn’t want to return.

The day I did, I was given a room with a view – of a tree. I asked nicely if they might have a room in which I could actually see the ocean, since I had been invited there to report to their potential clients about how great the oceanview hotel was. I was begrudgingly given one. A room with a gorgeous view was made available and it made more sense why the hotel was well-considered. The room, though, was nothing special and retained a distinctly mildewy smell, as had the two before, but the view was spectacular. Just beneath my lanai was a sandy veranda, and below that, the beach and its lazy sea, dotted with one tiny island. Its crest was adorned with a few enthusiastic trees stretching their happy limbs out over the water. The island could be reached on a brief walk from the hotel.

That evening a wedding was taking place in the main gathering area of the hotel and as I relaxed over a book and a glass of wine, I was asked by a waiter to leave. “No hotel guests are allowed here right now, because of the wedding.” Guests had to clear out of the bar, restaurant, cafe, foyer, and patio, and had to either leave the hotel entirely or head to the beach for several hours – or go back to their rooms. In those rooms, incidentally, wifi was iffy. But why would you spend time on the net with that view?  Dinner that night was surprisingly delicious, though expensive, and service was curt.

Once the pretty bride left with her retinue, the veranda was clotted with 14 drunken Irish retirees, who were so amusing I laughed Coke out my nose. As they left I asked one of them how long they’d all known each other. “Over 40 years!” he answered, “They are the best men you’ll ever know, that’s certain.”

The next night, despite my shyness, I crashed their party and they took me in for a long night’s silliness. They boasted one beefy young man in the group, a handsome firefighter who never once took his sunglasses off in the dark night. He couldn’t remember our waitress’s name, so she gave him her badge so he’d remember – “StePHANIE,” he repeated over and over. Eventually he got so drunk, StePHANIE had to stop him from falling off a balcony trying come back down to the party from his room – three stories below it, in fact. He’d forgotten he could take the stairs.  Eventually the gentlemen insisted I join them in town for dinner, where they competed over who in the restaurant would sing me the loudest song, or give me the biggest bouquet of flowers (borrowed momentarily from the busker), or buy me the next round of huge, head-sized drinks I couldn’t possibly finish. At 2:30 a.m., when when I couldn’t keep up anymore, one of them walked me by the hand to a taxi. I told him I needed to get to bed, which he noted was ‘pathetically pathetic’. He was easily 20 years older than me. Evidently the swoozy crew, all pushing 70, stayed out until 4:30 a.m., or so said StePHANIE at breakfast; they all appeared at 8:30 sharp, chipper and Irish, for breakfast. Except the fireman, who couldn’t bear morning just yet.

That final oceany day, so sunny and blue, was eclipsed only by that evening’s lusty full moon floating over her watery view. I lingered in my room for hours in the dark, listening to the tide and watching the world disappear into the azure evening.

The moonlight was worth the bride, the mildew, the closet, and the curt staff. All of it was worth the drunken golfers with their crazy loud songs and brazen disregard for noise regulations and good punchlines.

I wish I could promise you the Irishmen or the moonlight. Barring those, my advice on this hotel is to skip the stay and visit the hotel and beach during the day, or if you do stay there, be very sure you’re getting an oceanview room. Without that room, I’d skip this hotel.

-Anjani Millet

happypersons

Silken Park Hotel San Jorge Platja D’Aro – Costa Brava

Avenida Andorra 28, 17251, Spain

T. +34 972 652 311

F. +34 972 652 576

View Larger Map

Related Images: