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
"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."
The top photo is just of those people related to Cecil, and the bottom one is most of those who attended his party.
Pamela and I were part of a small group on a tour with Jim Cline Photo Tours. It was the first time Pamela had gone along as well, and despite not being a serious photographer, she had a great time and did end up taking some good pictures.
We also experienced Afro-Cuban Dancing. As well as having two ballerinas to model for us from the National Cuban Ballet troupe.
We left Havana and went to Vinales, and Trinidad visiting the tobacco farms, and photographing companeros who showed off their cock fighting roosters, and offered me a chance to ride a horse - my first time in forty years. I was thrilled to find I was quite comfortable being back in the saddle again.
I have completed two 3 1/2 minute videos of our time in Cuba.
One focuses on the profusion of music we encountered:
and the other illustrates the variety of live dance we experienced:
I hope you will watch them!
I had hoped to have my book by the time of this reception, or at least before Christmas; but it has been shipped by container ship and is not due to arrive here until January 2nd. I have two expedited copies that came from China via air so I know how they turned out:
Nevertheless, we had the reception for the book: Beards: Beyond the Cover on December 8th and it was well attended by fifty family and friends. So Pamela and I read captions and I projected the book on a large screen. We were hosted by the Universal Unitarian Chruch of Freeland, WA and also in their foyer were nine large canvases of some of the portraits.
And a large number of the beard brothers attended, some in the costume they wore in their portrait.
This was a photo workshop lead by Joe McNally and Tamara Lackey, both very well known, accomplished photographers. Joe is known for his use of supplementary lights on location, and brought a number of light modifiers for us to try out. We alternated between photo shoots with professional models and wildlife excursions. It was the rainy season so we often used the afternoon rains to be indoors doing classes and critiques.
4th of July Parade:
This is a relatively small, rural parade in Clinton Washington on South Whidbey Island. The kids bring bags because everyone throws candy. It is like a Halloween haul for them. Lots of creativity, costumes and enthusiasm.
Two minute video slide show: https://vimeo.com/843322470
Gay Pride Parade in Langley.
At the beginning of this year a photograph I took of Matilda the Pirate caused some controversy when exhibited in the Oak Harbor Library. Somehow a guy with a purple beard and fake boobs was going to corrupt young people. Here on the Southend of Whidbey Island he was prominently marching in drag and enjoying the parade which included both the mayor and police chief of Langley. Inclusivity & acceptance was the mode of the day, and everyone was having fun!
3 minute video slide show: https://vimeo.com/843707869
This trip goes beyond Machu Picchu, and focuses on the indigenous people of the country whom we found open and friendly. Some people make their living posing for tourists, but only want the equivalent of a quarter or fifty cents to pose for photographs.
And a video of Peruvian dancing both professional and amateur:
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.
Dylan with his large chainsaw making short work of the fallen tree.
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.
The Sing-Sing experience is an explosion of sound and sights with many tribal performances going on all at the same time in a large field. Photographers are free to roam around and capture the action up close. Fill flash is important for stills because of the sun and time of day, but the best to capture the experience is video. Filmed in 2022.
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.
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.