A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness

A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness


"Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."

John Kerestes


Monday, March 6, 2023

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If you wish to leave a comment or want to contact me please do so using my email:

I still can be reached at my Denver email:


and that website has all my personal work:


(If your interest is primarily biographical, and you want to see what my early adventures were, be sure to view the older posts on this blog. They go back seven decades to my childhood.)

Do not reproduce without my permission!

To see an archive of our personal artifacts,
as another way to peek into our history,
go to:  mholtby.blogspot.com

More of our travels go to:


I now have a studio on Whidbey Island in Washington State
and am working on a photo book: the Whidbey Beard Project


Wednesday, March 1, 2023


These are Dunlin birds, part of the sandpiper family. They travel in synchronized flocks that burst into the air like an undulating cloud. This was a flock of several hundred, and they can get to be ten thousand. They are migratory birds, and are only in Birch Bay for part of the year.


Visited Semiahmoo Spit on Blaine Harbor where a large salmon cannery used to be. It is now abandoned leaving this fishing boat (and the building behind it). At one time the cannery was a big operation - until they fished out the salmon. At the time it seemed like they were so plentiful no one thought it could happen. I discovered a small museum there where I was the only visitor and had a personal tour by a volunteer named Brian who explained the history of the cannery and salmon fishing in the area.

Monday, November 28, 2022



Pamela and I did a getaway weekend in Sequim staying in a B&B which was a caboose. It was great fun, but Sequim itself wasn't particularly unique. It has a reputation of getting the least rain in the Northwest, and has become a retirement community - with no particular character. It has a Costco, and Home Depot and looks like suburbs anywhere in the USA. We much prefer the Victorian homes and architecture of Port Townsend.


When I moved to Whidbey Island my brothers said there were two things I'd need: a chainsaw, and a generator. On November 4th at 10pm I needed both.

We had a terrific windstorm, preceded by softening the ground with rain. The 60mph wind came in the opposite direction from usual, and trees were pulled up by the roots. The truck pictured here fortunately wasn't mine. The owner also lost 42 trees.

I lost a half dozen trees, my Dish TV was totaled, and a branch speared a hole through my garage roof. Larry, a neighbor had a truck windshield & back window shattered, as well as the hood and cab top dented. He winters in Arizona so I covered it all with a tarp. One large tree could have crashed into my house, but instead blocked my driveway and sheered off part of my madrona tree. My brother Jeff and I spelled each other with my chainsaw and cleared a path to get my truck out. The next day Dylan (of the Whidbey Beard Project) came and cleared the tree the rest of the way out of the driveway. Jesus' crew came and spent two days cleaning up all the downed branches, leaves, and logs; which cost $2,040. I also had to have Jesse, a professional arborist come and take down one of my large poplars in the driveway which was leaning across the road. It was a tricky removal that cost me another $886. We were without power for three days.

Dylan with his large chainsaw making short work of the fallen tree.


 Since the completion of my new photo studio I have been working on a photo project, collecting photos of interesting men with beards on Whidbey Island. I have thus far photographed 48 guys and will continue to collect subjects through February. I also produced a 2023 Calendar featuring 24 of the men, at a press run of 250. I have, to date, sold or given away about half of them. They are selling in five retail outlets throughout the Island. I also have ordered a dozen 20" x 24" canvas prints with a walnut drop shadow frame. I have commitments to display them in both the Coupeville & Oak Harbor libraries. I hope I am accepted to attend the Chico book review in Montana this coming March to get portfolio reviews and lots of advice about publishing this collection as a book. You can currently see the entire collection at: https//:whidbeyphoto.com/whidbey-beards. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


This was my third trip to Papua New Guinea, and it will be my last. For a number of reasons this was one of the worst trips I've done:

1. I didn't receive my visa until literally the day before I was due to leave.

2. It involved 12 flights and the trip cost was twice what I had paid before. With long layovers, two cancellations and the rebooking involved I spent more time waiting in airports and on planes that I did actually at my destination.

3. Myself, Anny a woman from France, and Sandy a veteran traveler from New Zealand found ourselves lumped in with eleven people from Poland who treated us like we were invisible. After an initial confrontation with them where they kept an entire village waiting for them for two hours while they insisted on a hot meal for a second lunch, we spent the rest of the trip trying to avoid them. That meant constantly changing our itinerary, and them bumping us from the best accommodations.

4. We encountered "civil unrest" which closed down the airport for most of a day on our return trip, and the sound of gunshots. Sandy experienced even more violence when he returned from the post-trip scuba diving on the coast where there were riots in the town of Kimbe, and he needed a police escort to get to the airport with roads blocked by burning trash, and then the airport there was also closed for most of a day.

The highlights of the trip involved my travel companions Anny and Sandy, my reunion with Big Man Ronnie and his son Jonah in their village Kuminabit, and the primary reason I went: to attend the Goroka Sing-Sing.

On my first trip to PNG I photographed Jonah when he was eight years old in 2015. You can see that photo by going to that post. He is standing buck naked with a crocodile over his shoulder. When I returned in 2017 he knew I was one of his favorites, despite being deaf since birth, and when I left the village he presented me with a penis gourd. This time the gift was a crocodile skull wrapped in a woven enclosure. 

Here is Jonah, now fifteen years old. He has learned to read and write by attending school and just being very observant despite the fact that he can't hear or talk. He has developed his own sign language. His name for me is rubbing his arm, referring to my white skin, and then stroking his chin, referring to my beard.


The other highlight was the Goroka Sing-Sing. In 2015 I attended the Mount Hagen Sing-Sing and this was similar, although with some different tribes. They all spend hours putting on their makeup and costumes, then march, dance, drum, and sing their way into the arena. They don't stop once there and it ends up a cacophony of sounds, and a profusion of colors. At first only tourists (mostly with cameras) are admitted - which prove difficult to keep out of the background of my own photos - until 2pm when they let the locals into the arena. At that point it is packed with people. It is a two-day event and due to a plane cancellation, we were late arrivals on the first day. The total number of trip photos I came home with were a fraction of my usual.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022



On the way to Papua New Guinea and on the way back I had layovers in Singapore. I purposely took an extra day on the way there so I could visit my favorite bird park: Jarong Bird Park. I've been there before and this day spent my entire day there.

I stayed at a hotel actually in the shopping mall adjacent to the airport that is a convenient walk. It is called Yotelair, and provides very small rooms where you hardly need to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. But it is clean, the bed is motorized so you can sit up, and the shower is deluxe. The mall is called Jewel and is five floors built around a giant fountain that spews water from the top, and is lit in different colors in the evening.

                      Hotel room:

The bird park itself is going to be combined with the Singapore Zoo in the next few months. It has two great shows with birds that fly around the audience. One is primarily parrots and macaws, and the other is raptors. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Monday, June 13, 2022


Visiting Port Townsend for a getaway weekend. It is a very historic town with many buildings from the Victorian period when it was the main port in the Northwest. That changed when the railroad didn't come all the way there, and Seattle became the main shipping port. 

A paper mill saved the town, providing employment and it is still making corrugated cardboard.

It also still has a thriving boat building dry dock.

We stayed in the Starrett House (Air B&B) which was completed in 1898 by a boat builder. The home has been carefully restored and refurbished and was like stepping back a century.

Saturday, May 21, 2022


 A trip to attend the opening of Beatriz Bearden's paintings using my photographs of Buddhist monks.

Pamelagrace added musical entertainment, singing her classic jazz songs most of the evening.

Spent three days in the ancient town of Besalu.

Also did a day's tour of Girona.

And in Barcelona Toured Anton Gaudi's Granada Familia

Friday, May 20, 2022


 On safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

Had the opportunity to reunite with the Hadzabe Tribe I photographed in 2019

I was flattered and impressed the whole group walked 70 kilometers to come see me.

Also spent some time in two different Maasai villages.

Saturday, March 12, 2022


Just back from a visit to Washington D.C. to go to the Mall and visit the Smithsonian. We went to the African American History Museum, the American Indian Museum, the National History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Art Gallery - FIVE museums!

This "Vietnam Veteran" turned out to be too young to be in the War in Vietnam, and actually had never been to the country. He was homeless and this was his hustle. It was creative but wouldn't be appreciated by vets who were in Nam. 

Our primary goal was to visit the new African American History Museum.  We had tickets to two days, but only went one. It was clearly the most popular museum we visited, but it was an intense experience and one day was enough. You might call it "critical race theory" that would make some people uncomfortable. Yet it is the reality of our heritage, and purposely made us emotional. We didn't even consider the Holocaust Museum.

I think my favorite was the National Portrait Gallery. Besides all the presidents there was a lot of diversity as well - sports figures, artists, activists. Probably my favorite portrait was of Russel Means.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021


This trip was postponed for a year due to the COVID pandemic. Even so, with the Delta variant, I was uneasy about the travel portion, as were some of my fellow travelers.

 It was a safari where we stayed in the luxury of the And Beyond Kitchwe Tembo Lodge in Maasai Mara National Park, and had a vehicle customized for photographers with a photo expert guide, Hendri Coetzer from CNP Safaris, South Africa. There was only one other guest, David Laronde, from Canada, who turned out to be a semi-pro photographer as experienced as myself.

We did twenty game drives, and I took 6,850 photos. That was in part because I was using my new Sony A1 mirrorless camera that shoots 30 frames a second. So catching a bird in flight might involve a burst rate that is blindingly fast.

We also had significant encounters with lions, leopards, hyenas, hippos, baboons, vultures, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, and wildebeest. 

On the last day I was able to visit a Maasai Village. They had been closed to outsiders due to the Pandemic, and they had no cases of COVID. However, at the end of my time there they opened up to tourists. On the day I visited I was the only tourist.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


I did a photoshoot at the Triple D Game Farm which provides photo opportunities with semi-wild animals for movies and still photographers. Here are the best shots of the week.

A horse roundup consisting of about fifty horses herded right at us. However, the impact is lost when all the horses were in the frame. Here the white stallion is leading the herd.

A mountain lion is charging through the water right at us  

but I was shooting with a long lens.


Thursday, April 8, 2021



In October, 2020 I moved to Whidbey Island, closer to my family. My two brothers are ten minutes away, and my oldest sister is about 15 minutes away. My daughter, son-in-law, grandson, younger sister, and lots of nieces and nephews are all here in the Northwest.

I have two acres with a pond, some great landscaping, and regular visits from black tailed deer. I also have two very busy bird feeds, and hummingbirds year around. 

Due to the pandemic all of my travel plans were cancelled for 2020, and into 2021. I have spent time keeping up my photo skills by focusing on my resident birds: