The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is imposing and beautiful – perhaps the most stunning structure in this modern city littered with immense and stunning structures rising out of the desert floor.

The courtyard, paved in a floral marble mosaic is approximately 180,000 square feet. The hand-made carpet inside is believed to be the largest in the world, measuring over 60,000 square feet, and weighing 35 tons. The chandeliers hanging in the center of the main rooms are studded with thousands of Swarovski crystals.

Over 3,000 people were employed in the mosque’s construction, from 1996 to 2007. Artisans and materials came from countries around the world, from India to the United Kingdom, and Italy to New Zealand. It is hard to comprehend the expense and the labor lavished on of this place of worship — intended as a monument to Islamic diversity and historical and modern art and architecture, according to the Sheikh after which it is named.

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Main Domes

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Interior Pillar

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Small Inner Dome and Ceiling

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Inner Courtyard and Minaret

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Large Chandelier

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“Small” Chandelier

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Exterior Walkway

 

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Magic in the Garden

There is a magic in the garden. One can see the cycle of life, plants emerging, others flowering, some healing wounds, and still others dropping leaves and flowers in preparation for their next stage. By nature some are expanding, competing for air and water and space, while others live in cooperation providing benefits to their neighbors and partners. And of course, there is the rich diversity of nature.

Each time I visit it seems different. Not just different plants in bloom, but the magic and wonder of it has somehow shifted. Or maybe it is me that has changed, and I just notice different things. Here are a few I noticed during one of my recent visits.

Palm Flower

Palm Flower

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An Old Wound

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Bat Flower

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Leaf’s End

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Oblivious

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Root

 

Walls and a Fence

There has been a lot of talk about walls — and one wall in particular — lately. As it happens, I’ve been making images of walls lately, too. Below are a few.

As you look at them, consider these things about walls (and fences). They can keep us out … or in. They separate us from others, but can also protect us from harm. They can be a canvas for light and reflections, or have designs of their own. Some can become homes to house people and businesses, while other  walls and barriers may define or limit our opportunities. But then, for some, creating and building these walls can be an opportunity in itself. What has been your experience with walls and fences?

Reflections on a Wall

Reflections on a Wall

Fenced In or Fenced Out

Fenced In or Fenced Out

Corrugated Steel Wall

Corrugated Steel Wall

Shed Wall with Door

Shed Wall with Door

New Walls

New Walls

Bank Walls

Bank Walls

No Exit

No Exit

New Orleans

The city of New Orleans is a rich mix of the modern and the old, of wealth and poverty, of music, historic buildings, a new flourishing arts district, and all the good and the bad of the culture of the Deep South.

In areas like the French Quarter the excitement — and sometimes drunkenness — of the tourists floats like a thin sheen over the hardships endured by the street performers and service staff, the poverty of nearby neighborhoods, and the failures of the public sector to provide services and maintain public facilities. Of course, visitors are encouraged to look past all that, but it is there and is a part of what makes New Orleans what it is.

Cottage on St Ann Street

Cottage on St Ann Street

The masks we wear

The masks we wear

The locals

The locals

All dressed up

All dressed up

Forgotten remembrance

Forgotten remembrance

Open street surgery

Open street surgery

Just before the night begins

Just before the night begins

His money, his life

His money, his life

Surveillance

Surveillance

Building Boom

Sarasota is a town on the cusp of becoming a city. And there’s a building boom going on downtown — mostly hotels and high-end condominiums. One, ironically named “The Vue,” blocks some of the view of Sarasota Bay as it crowds in just a few feet from two of the busiest streets in town in a very pedestrian-unfriendly way.

This surge of new construction dwarfs the older “historic” parts of downtown. Of course, change and growth can add vitality and diversity to a community, helping it become a city. On the other hand, too much of one thing can put a community out of balance and sap its strength.

Many of these new buildings will be filled with wealthy older residents looking for a low-key but upscale lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that — unless, of course, they put up a metaphorical wall around downtown to keep out others who are different. In that case, this new growth will suffocate rather than vitalize, and the town will become not a city, but a slightly more dense area of the sprawl that is so much of Florida.

Which will it be for Sarasota? The jury is out.

A View of the Vue at Sarasota Bay

A View of the Vue at Sarasota Bay

Bricking up the View at the Vue

Bricking up the View at the Vue

A Piece of Sky - The Vue at Sarasota Bay

A Piece of Sky

More Next to the Palm Avenue Garage

More Next to the Garage

Feeling the Squeeze

Feeling the Squeeze

Light on the Water

Early morning, and the sun begins to lighten the sky at the Audubon Society’s Venice Rookery. Most people come to see the birds roosting on the small island in the middle of the pond. And the birds are wonderful, as they come awake, squawking and beginning to feed their young.

But so is the gentle rise of color as the sky lightens and reflects off the water. Enjoy this other bit of magic, too.

Between me and the island

Between me and the island

Cattails

Cattails

Urban Dreams

There is plenty to see and wonder about in most urban places. Behind the scenes in the alley there may be places of rest, or of mystery. And the busy street may hide a surprise for the attentive imagination. It pays to keep one’s mind and eyes open.

Evening Star

Evening Star

Chihuly Does South Beach

Chihuly Does South Beach

Back Door Playland

Back Door Playland

Place to Rest

Place to Rest

Keeping Watch

Keeping Watch

Window Dressing

Window Dressing

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