Updated: Dec 30, 2001
Digital audio was the theme of the month. I bought a Sony PCM-M1 digital audio tape recorder (DAT) a couple of months ago, and now I just bought a Sound Devices USB Pre, that can record 2 channels of 24 bit digital audio direct to my computer hard drive. I also bought an Audio Technica AT822 stereo mic and a couple of Audio Technica AT4041 mono cardioid mics.
To play back the digital audio I use either the USB Pre or a Roland UA-30, into a 14 channel Mackie 1402VLZ mixer and then into a pair of Mackie HR824 bi-amped studio monitors and/or Sony MDR-V6 headphones.
For all the digital editing as well as conversions to mp3, I use Cool Edit Pro, and I burn the CDs on an HP 9510.
And when I'm not playing with digital audio I am generally either reading, playing guitar or out running. January is a good month for hibernation.
Puerto Penasco Mexico is the closest place to get to the sea from Colorado. It is a 17 hour drive, and the trip is always magnificent, through mountains and desert to get to the sea shore of the small Mexican fishing village. As I left Colorado there was fresh snow in the mountains, and as the picture at the left shows, there was fresh snow in Monument Valley in northern Arizona also.
Sometimes there are way too many gringos, but other times Puerto Penasco is nearly empty. The town was nearly empty on this visit. I had the beaches all to myself... but there was a cold breeze blowing in off of the Sea of Cortez and it was too cold and too windy to actually enjoy the beach.
On my previous visit to Puerto Penasco someone broke out a side window of my Pathfinder and stole my video camera and my digital camera. But this trip was uneventful in that respect.
After I got home from my adventures in Mexico, Sreedevi Bringi started offering Upanishad classes in Jamestown and in Boulder, so I went to both classes. Sree is a quite a scholar in Sanskrit and makes many of the seemingly arcane Sanskrit terms come alive with meaning and depth. I had once read several of the Upanishads, but I just wasn't ready for such mystical insights at that time. Now they are pure delight.
I went to a week-long spring gathering on Maui. The Maui Sufi gathering is held annually at a YMCA camp, Camp Keanae, on the northern shore of Maui. Nine of the Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society senior teachers including the new head of the order, Shabda Khan were at the camp, and each of them held classes and/or dances during the course of the week.
I took my tent and camped in a large meadow. From my tent I could look out and see whales and dolphins playing in the magnificent blue waters. One day the winds were so strong that one of my fiberglass tent poles just shattered. There were some very strong wind gusts. And a couple of the tents that were not well anchored began to blow across the meadow. Quite breezy.
The picture above, on the left above, is a view across the meadow, looking toward my tent, which is about in the middle of that row of tents. Not a bad camping spot.
The picture to the right is a view from the dining hall, looking down on the Keanae peninsula. On many days the waves breaking on those rocks were 15 or 20 feet high and the spray shot up 50 feet or more above the rocks. Spectacular.
Another adventure down to Puerto Penasco. On this visit someone tried to steal my spare tire, but didn't do any significant damage.
Again, Puerto Penasco was nearly deserted, and again it was windy and cool. But no matter... the trip down there, through the mountains, through the desert, and down to the seaside is always magnificent. The picture to the right shows some saguaro cactus (the tall ones) and cholla (the fuzzy-looking ones) in the senora desert, south of Arizona.
The picture at the left shows the only two other gringos who were at Manny's, my favorite bar on the beach in Puerto Penasco. The town was very quiet. At spring break or around holidays, the place is totally packed with gringos sunning themselves and drinking large quantities of cervesa.
After the adventure to Mexico, I went to a dance leadership weekend in Pagosa Springs Colorado with Dances of Universal Peace teachers Darvesha MacDonald and Bernie Heideman. There were twenty-some people, and we took turns leading dances and then listening to comments from the instructors. It was great fun.
Twice a year, Dances of Universal Peace are held in a magnificent cave in the desert majesty of the Canyonlands National Park. About seventy-five dancers attend the three-day event. You can see a lot of pictures and hear some sound clips of the dances on Susan Sheely's web site at http://www.frontier.net/~sss/album.htm .
On the last morning of the Canyonlands weekend, as the morning sun began to warm the desert air, I noticed a friend who was wandering about, obviously very unhappy. As I began to meditate of how we humans can manage to be unhappy in the midst of such beauty, these lines came to me on the breath of the dawn:
Life is not happening “to” you,
Life is not about “you" at all,
Eknath Easwaran, one of the premier Sanskrit translators, says of
At the end of the month I went to the week-long Ozark Sufi Camp. This was my first trip to the Ozark Sufi Camp, held in the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks state park, south of Jefferson City, Missouri. The immeasurable natural beauty of an area such as the Lake of the Ozarks offers a sense of peace and serenity that allows for profound inner development. Each day began with prayers shortly after dawn, classes, meals, more classes and evening celebration of the Divine in song and dance.
Kathryn Sky offered me the delightful opportunity to lead a couple of dances in Durango, Colorado in early June. I really enjoy the Durango dance circle, and it feels like home to me. I started off with a song by Evan Hodkins called "There is a Bridge" and then led the Peace Darood dance.
I bought Anahata's booklet called Guitars of Universal Peace, and now have my 12-string guitar in the open C tuning that she describes. Here are the string sizes, starting with the first (highest pitch) string: .008, .023 / .013, .013 / .030, .013 / .023, .010 / .030, 013 /.053, .030. The first and fourth pairs are tuned to G, all the others are tuned to C. On some songs I really like the sound, but on other songs I miss the scale intervals that you get when you just tune an ordinary set of guitar strings to open G, where the first and fourth strings are tuned to D, and all others are tuned to G. They each have their merits.
My dear friend Chris gave me magnificent ring that has a heart with wings. It's too small for my finger, but it fits perfectly on my toe... so I have a Sufi toe ring. It is quite magnificent, with a golden heart in the center.
During the last week of July and the first week of August, I went to the Mendocino Sufi gathering in the magnificent redwood forest along the northern California coast.
I drove down to the coast four times, but three of the four days it was so foggy at the coast that I could not even see the ocean when standing on the beach. The picture to the left is the Mendocino coast on the one clear day.
The ocean fog settled into the redwood forest each night and made for foggy, misty, cool mornings at the camp. The foggy picture on the right is an early morning view across a marsh in the redwood forest.
At the camp, the classes and events started shortly after dawn and ran all day until 10 or 11 pm. It was cool, a damp 50 to 55 deg in the mornings and generally sunny and around 70 deg by mid afternoon.
Each day there were classes in things such as yoga, prayers, indian raga singing, poetry writing, mirroring the Beloved, and many other subjects, and of course there was much dancing and zikr. The lower left picture is the trail leading through the redwoods to the dance hall.
After camp, I stayed around the San Francisco area for a couple of days and went to a Mevlevi zikr at the Arab Cultural Center in San Francisco.
On a magnificent summer evening, as I was driving through the countryside on my way to Boulder, these lines came to me:
What odd sort
where the sober ones
and the drunken ones
Whose wine is this?
A wonderful four-day weekend of Dances of universal Peace in Canyonlands National Park.
The picture at the left is the group gathering for a dance in the Split Top cave.
The picture at the right is my friend Chris, beginning her morning meditation.
Whenever the weather begins to get cool here in Colorado, the Arizona desert and the shores of the Sea of Cortez in northern Mexico begin to call to me.
So, I drove down into the Sonoran desert for a few days. The picture on the left is a dancing cactus that I saw in the... which way is it pointing??
The picture on the upper right is the view out of my hotel room in Puerto Penasco.
And the picture in the lower right is of some pelicans just standing around in the warm morning sun.
On the first weekend in November, Mariam Baker, a Sufi teacher from Fairfax, California was in nearby Boulder. She held two days of classes and also led a wonderful zikr at the Starhouse. The picture at the left is Mariam, after her Sunday morning class.
And the silly picture at the right is me and my friend Chris, just being the bozos that we are.
What happened to December?
Another birthday zoomed past. Then all of a sudden there was the solstice, then Christmas and presto... the end of another wonder-filled year.