360° beauty

Beauty is truth, truth beauty
that is all ye know on earth,
and all ye need to know.
- Keats

Having recently discovered that the most visited page on my site is the one in which I put NO attention; it seemed time for a bit of dramatic re-visioning - take a peek:
Kolam-Ritual & Art

My initial inspiration for the Kolam Page came from a hope that the Indian practice of "creating beauty on the doorstep" would catch on for real in the concrete mazes that some of us live in...but alas, most people don't have time, energy or inspiration for such "trifles". But what if we did!?... Every morning we might all begin the day with the creation of a simple work of sacred art. The fleeting impermanence of it all would become part of the meditation and the offering as each morning the previous day's Kolam would be washed away and created anew. The mind set of creating and sharing beauty with zero attachment, everyday, with everyone, would certainly lead to noticing beauty in other things, maybe all things... I can only only imagine where that would go.

An invitation: Send me your Kolam photos people!
I'll post them here:
Kolam Photo Archive
[with location] to: laurissa@dakinidesigns.net
Let's make the world beautiful!


equi nox

Happy Happy Joy Joy! First day of Spring!
(or the first day of autumn for those in the southern hemisphere)

The day is the same length as the night (equi-nox: equal night), the sun will rise exactly in the east and set exactly due west and while all of this is happening, we will be carried along by the sun on a journey around the center of the galaxy. It takes 200 million years to travel once around the galactic center... and then the galaxy is moving too! Through a universe of galaxies! I find it comforting to know that I've never been HERE before and I will never be here again...

Last week I was ...
*making this add to go in this magazine:
*whipped up 4 brochures
*taught 7 dance classes / 1 yoga class

*added some new photos to:
Dakini Designs
*did my taxes....woo hoo...
*and watched
: Jean Cocteau's 1946: Belle et la Bête
A lovely movie, like poetry strewn across the screen and fashioned into a magically surreal vision of life, death and all the desires that hold them together. The aesthetics of the Beast's enchanted castle were truly inspired; candelabras of moving arms, smoke-breathing caryatids (look it up) with moving eyes, magic talismans, a horse, a glove, a key, enchanted gardens...
a profusion of delight.


final straw

Is it not remarkable that in the last weeks of winter, after 5 months of snow and wind chiselling away at the landscape, that these spindly-top-heavy bits of dried twig still reach for the sky?

...an architectural impossibility


lion's paw

i hold the lion's paw
whenever i dance

i know the ecstasy of the falcon's wings
when they make love to the sky...

if you think i am having more fun
than anyone on this planet
you are correct...

i hold the lion's paw whenever i dance

praise the scone

...and pass the butter.
Its been a long time coming, tracking the elusive combination of elements, but here's the final outcome of my "Study in Scone". Many thanks to those of you who subjected yourselves to the seemingly endless days, weeks, months [OMG! ...has it been years?] of scone consumption...may we never speak of this again.

pre-heat @ 375
4 C. all purpose flour
5 T. *sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 C. cold unsalted butter cubbed
2 large eggs
1 C. plus 2 T. buttermilk or cream
2. t. vanilla, orange or almond oil
3/4 C. blanched almonds
3/4 C. currants, cherries or apricots (fresh are best!)
raw sugar for dusting

sugar is a term I use VERY loosely, experiment with agave, stevia, etc.

-keep ingredients cold-- flour can live in the freezer for this purpose
-sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda
-crumble butter in
-in another bowl whisk eggs, vanilla, buttermilk
-combine wet and dry
-add nuts and fruit
-mix just enough to incorporate
-shape into round flat disks (being a fan of the small scone, I make at least 3 disks)
-place the disks in el fridgo for at least 20 minutes (you could also freeze them @ this point)
-cut disks into triangles
-dust with sugar
-bake on parchment or exopat for 20 min.


sunset coyotes

The Holga 120N still holds me under her spell.

Last week, while standing alone in a snowy pasture at sunset, hoping to capture the inner essence of the the Dipsacus Fullonum [aka.: dried weeds] I noticed 2 coyotes racing towards a baby cow (its calving season in these here parts). As my heart began to palpitate in its oh so predictable girlie way, I tried to console myself with images of the fuzzy baby coyotes yelping for dinner back in the den… it wasn’t working.

Next -- the big black mommy cow lurched forward between the coyotes and the calf who was now holding very still, lying low, hunkered down in the weeds & obviously understanding the urgency of the situation. For the next several minutes I watched a very tense standoff between mommy cow and the 2 ravenous Canis Latrans. Each step the coyotes took was blocked by the lumbering bovine.

Finally, the coyotes got discouraged and sauntered into the sunset. The heifer watched them disappear over the horizon. When she was convinced the danger had abated, she turned back, took a couple steps to her baby, licked him all over and resumed grazing. The cutest part came next, the baby jumped up and began frolicking, kicking and cantering circles all around the ever so docile herd…I could almost hear him sing the, “I’m alive! I’m alive! I'm alive! Hey everyone, did you see my big tough mommy chase off those mean old doggies?!”

As I walked back to the car I noticed how quiet the evening was and yet I felt the earth speaking to me loud and clear…


living color

The Saffron
Mirabai 1504, Rajasthan, India

The saffron of virtue and contentment
Dissolved in love and affection
Pink and red clouds of emotion fly about
Limitless colors raining down...

I have thrown away all shame before the world
Mira's Lord is the Mountain-Holder, the suave lover
I sacrifice myself, to His lotus feet

Holi (The Festival of Colors) is celebrated in India on March 15th this year. This is a time zeal and exuberance as spring beckons us to let go of what has already passed and celebrate with new hope, what is to come. Holi is a festival of wild processions, loud drumming, mischievous pranks, dancing the rasalila, throwing colored powders at every passerby and shouting:

Bura Na Mano, Holi Hai!
Don't be angry, it's Holi!

Krishna as a young boy, asked the reason for his dark color while Radha was so fair. His mother suggested that he smear colours on Radha's face too and change her complexion to any color he wanted. Captivated by the idea, Krishna proceeded to do so and thus, introduced the play of color.

apple a day

and it all began with an apple...

bake this for the ones you love-
the rustic yet sophisticated

Garden of Eden Apple Pancake
Drizzled in Maple Pecan Syrup

preheat oven @ 425

3 apples peeled/sliced

6 eggs
1 1/2 C. milk
1 C. flour
4 T. sugar
1 T. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
5 T. butter

-Place butter and apples in LARGE pie dish [or oven proof pan]
-Bake for 5 or so minutes to melt butter and soften apples
-In a blender combine all the remaining ingredients
-Pour batter over apples
-Bake for 20-25 minutes [till puffed and brown]
-Let cool for 5 minutes

-At this time you can prepare the Maple Pecan Syrup
-Roast 1 C. pecans in a pan for 3 minutes
-Add 3 T. butter and 1 1/2 C. maple syrup
-Stir on medium heat for 3 minutes ---serve


heart lotus

ooooh, let's decorate the day with a poem!


on the day when the lotus bloomed
alas, my mind was straying
and i knew it not

my basket was empty
and the flower remained unheeded

only now and again
a sadness fell upon me
i started up from my dream

and felt a sweet trace
of a strange fragrance
in the south wind

that vague sweetness
made my heart ache with longing
and it seemed to me
that is was the eager breath of the summer
looking for completion

i knew not then
that it was so near
that it was mine

and that this perfect sweetness
had blossomed in the depth of my own heart
- Rabindranath Tagore

This week I was working on this:

And making updates to this:

Conrad's slide show now has amazing audio and lives here:

1. make sure the volume is up
2. wait for it to download (.....breathing)
3. press 'PLAY' button in lower right (....patience)


apsara asana

I recently found myself with the rare privilage of photographing this mysterious *apsara. I first encountered her, by chance, in South India during the winter of 1989. After tracking her for more than 17 yrs., I've observed that she seldom touches down long enough to be seen at all -- to capture her on film is truly a noteworthy event.

*apsara (Sanskrit- apsarā):
Described in ancient Indian scripture as a female spirit of the clouds and waters. Acting as the handmaiden of Indra (King of the Heavens) , she dances and sings in the celestial realms.

The total number of apsaras is 26, each represents a distinct aspect of the sacred arts. The Natya Shastra (ancient scripture on performing arts) lists the following apsaras (such lovely names they have!): Manjukesi, Sukesi, Misrakesi, Sulochana, Saudamini, Devadatta, Devasena, Manorama, Sudati, Sundari, Vigagdha, Vividha, Budha, Sumala, Santati, Sunanda, Sumukhi, Magadhi, Arjuni, Sarala, Kerala, Dhrti, Nanda, Supuskala, Supuspamala and Kalabha.

Apsaras are able to change shape at will, as we see in the photograph. One of thier many duties is to guide fallen heroes to paradise although the more mischievous apsaras can be the nature spirits who lure men to their deaths...


woodland nymph

Last week's photo trek led me to the continental divide in minus 11 degree winds. While there, I came across this blythe nymph. Singing in melodic seraphim tones she asked;

Do you feel the G R A C E?

Do you F E E L it?

Do Y O U feel it?

D O! YOU feel the GRACE!!!

Then with a wink and giggle she cartwheeled off into the ice-cloaked forest.

tashi deleg

How does one digress from the Tibetan New Year to a recipe for macaroons?
Watch this...

For those wondering; Tashi Deleg means Hello and Good Fortune in Tibetan.

In honor of Losar, the Tibetan New Year (which occurred yesterday), the glorious moment has finally arrived for the sharing of this fabled Dasila Macaroon Recipe. The beseechings for this recipe have been long... pitiful and unrelenting! I can no longer carry the burden on my own, guard it well, for it may soon vanish back into the ether from which it came.

The mystery revealed:

by turning life upside-down
we find the deepest sweetness
that lies beneath e v e r y t h i n g
[i.e. chocolate bushed on the bottom of each cookie]

Dasila’s Orange Macaroons
pre-heat @ 350

3 eggs
1 c. sugar (or other sweetener)

4 T. soft butter

2 ½ c. coconut

4-5 T. flour (depending on coconut moisture)

½ t. salt

2 t orange oil

1 bar (3.5 oz) high quality bittersweet chocolate

the process:
beat -- eggs, sugar, butter, salt

fold in -- coconut, flour

scoop – (with sorbet scoop) onto parchment paper or exopat

bake – 10-15 min.

cool – 20 min.

melt – chocolate in double boiler

brush – chocolate on the bottom of each macaroon

Unsolicited review of this recipe
provided by a food critic of much acclaim:

"Yes, those coconutorangechocolate macaroons are indeed something special. I hear that people are volunteering for immolation since there is a rumor that upon arrival in Heaven the starter kit includes 72 of these macaroons."