May Their Brave Spirits Soar

 fallen4.jpg

Fallen Four Memorial in Mayerthorpe

March 3rd 2005 saw events unfold in a small town called Mayerthorpe that changed the lives of four men. The impact of this event rippled through the community, the province and even the nation. Four RCMP Officers - Cst Brock Myrol, Cst Anthony Gordon, Cst Leo Johnston and Cst Peter Schiemann - were gunned down in cold blood - an unprecedented tragedy mourned across North America. 

In 2008 the Fallen Four Memorial Park was completed. Four bronze statues, each representing one of the slain officers, were scuplted by artist Don Begg. Each statue stands on guard at the four compass points, and at their centre stands an obelisk pointing skyward and topped with an “uprush of doves” that represent those whose spirits now soar free - police officers, soldiers and other peace officers killed in the line of duty. The plaque on the obelisk reads:

Honouring ALL peace officers who
have died in the line of duty.
May their brave spirits soar.
We give thanks for them, and all
who still protect and serve.

You can see more of my pictures from Mayerthorpe HERE.

 

The Butterfly Effect

 IMG_0129 - Copy.JPG

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.” - Zhuang Zhou

How do we know that enjoying our lives is not a delusion? Only upon wakening do we know what is a dream and what is not. Or do we?

 

Smokey Sunset

 sunset.jpg

More than 400 wild fires are burning today in British Columbia, most of them uncontained and some threatening communities that have been evacuated as a result. BC has suffered awfully these past couple of years with forest fires, aprtly because of dry weather but also because of the Pine Beetle infestation that kills large swaths of forest in a matter of months, leaving them as dry tinder to the elements.

The resulting smoke in the atmosphere from the wildfires is causing some intense sunsets for us here in Edmonton. I am happy to take the pictures of this phenonmenon but I can’t help shake the feeling that this situation could ultimately cause us more grief in the future then we currently think. Today I am grateful for gorgeous sunsets and brave firemen.

Silly Old Bear

poohbear.jpg

When I find myself unemployed I usually indulge in a period of reflection on what I learned and then I speculate on where I want to go next and try to devise a plan on how to get there. And then I want to go to Disneyland.

Both of my trips to Disney (California and Florida) came at the end of contracts that involved a lot of hard work and it seemed like an appropriate reward for the efforts - but really it was a way to try to make up to my kids for the time I had to spend away from them while doing the jobs in the first place.  A Disney park is the perfect place to bond with family and get to know each other again.

This most recent period of unemployment will not (likely not anyways) include a trip to see Pooh Bear. My kids have already laid claim to most of my spare time in August and are excited to have me home. That’s better than a  trip to Disney any day!

Yesterday is Today

 boatonalake.jpg

Every time the sun sets it gives rise to a new day. What seems like an ending is actually a beginning, a perpetual cycle of opportunity. Even the darkest night will pass.

Sylvan Lake Evening

sunset.jpg

We took an evening boat cruise across Sylvan Lake.

Listen Bird Hunting

54.jpg

When I point my finger at the moon, don’t mistake my finger for the moon.”

I’ve been photographing the Listen grafitti in Edmonton since early 2006. I worked on the university at the time and I kept seeing Listen everywhere, without paying any real attention to it. But a seed was planted and the message started clawing at my mind… and when I started dreaming about it I knew that it was time to give in and embrace it - and whatever message it was bringing to me. That started a photographic adventure for me that I called “Listen Bird Hunting.”

Simply, we tend not to actually “listen.” It’s not that we are so busy, afraid or too lazy. It’s complacency - which is worse. Our culture continuosly tells us that it’s going to be okay so we are soothed into a (perhaps) false sense of security that seperates us from any real responsibilty or duty to change something. Anything. What?

I have a Listen Bird set on Flickr, a Listen Bird Group (with pics from all over North America) and even have some pictures up on a long lost blog.Some of my Listen Bird pictures have been published in corporate documents (if only they knew), academic books and even on the front page of the Journal. Listen grabs the attention and imagination of all types of people, even if they never fully understand why.

In Acceptance, One Accepts

tao.jpg

The Personification of Perfect Compassion

This is an old favourite of mine from a trip to Las Vegas in 2007. I found this in the Venetian Casino and Hotel.

I think that this might be the “Thousand Arms Guanyin Bodhisattva” (Qianshou Guanyin) from the Ming Dynasty (the original is found in the Shuanglin Monastery in Pingyao, Shandong). The thousand arms help the feminine Bodhisattva to save all beings from suffering.

It’s a big job though, as everything, basically, causes sufferring. Our sufferring is based in attachment and almost everything we feel, desire and act upon is rooted in some type of attachment (love, craving, greed, hatred, delusion, ego, beliefs, posessions, etc).

Buddhism teaches us that self improvement is the way to end sufferring - working hard to overcome all attachment, find acceptance, compassion and to free the self. This perscription is found in the doctrine of the Eightfold Path

Red Friday

 IMG_9334 - Copy.JPG

Last Friday was the “Official” Red Friday here in Edmonton - a day set aside every year to show support for our troops by wearing red. This year I was happy to find this awesome shirt at the CANEX. I wear red on Red Friday not just because I come from a military family, or because I served in the Canadian Forces, or because my son is now a soldier himself… but because I am honestly grateful for the people who commit their lives to the defence and service of our country. They do tasks no one else wants to do, they help clean up when natural disasters strike close to home, they put themselves in harms way to help bring brighter futures to less advantaged populations and they are prepared, god forbid, to defend us and our land if ever the need arises.

A lot of people take this kind of thing for granted. I’m happy that I get to live my life the way i want it because they are wtaching the line and holding down the fort. Thank you troops!

Paying the Piper

 epcor.jpg

It’s not our highest utility bill but I bet it’s close! Bills might not be a whole lot of fun to pay but every time I drive by the EPCOR buidling across the Walterdale Bridge I see this angle of the EPCOR building and I want to take this picture. However, stopping on a bridge during rush hour isn’t usually met with much enthusiasm from my fellow travellors. So I always drive on by.

A couple of days ago Raven wanted to take me to a trail down by the Walterdale Bridge where she had some some Listen Grafitti that she knew I would want to take a picture of. Since we were down there already on foot I suggested extending the excursion along the bridge. I’m really glad I did as I think this is as great a shot as I had imagined it to be.