Thursday, September 30, 2010


I found these mushrooms when I was getting some drip line from Eric's. I don't like to eat mushrooms, but I associate health and prosperity with them. Amazing fungi...

Monday, September 13, 2010

A View of Hoa Hao

For years I have visited my mother-in-law's family village in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, but one particular visit was especially memorable and changed the way I viewed my family in Vietnam.

While attending the first anniversary of my grandmother-in-law's death, I learned about her religion - Hoa Hao Buddhism - and their unique view of the world. All day, my family's relatives had been preparing flowers and the house for the ceremony. About 5 pm, as it was getting dark, groups of men wearing brown clothes starting arriving. Most of the men had hair that was to their waist and were barefoot. Once dark, incense was lit and the men lined up and started to pray. For almost an hour, everyone recited Buddhist prayers and paid their respect to our Hong's Grandmother. For me, this was very interesting and unlike the other ceremonies I had been to. There wasn't the usual offering of fruits and money. There wasn't any elaborate house set up, just flowers and a clean area in front of their house.

Unlike most of the Buddhism I have been exposed to - with elaborate Pagodas, intricate mosaics and enviable locations - the Hoa Hao are the exact opposite. Choosing to live a life based on farming, philanthropy, and family, Hoa Hao Buddhists reject the notion of the pagoda and idolatry, focusing more on helping their immediate community by communal farming, raising funds, supporting the poor and defending their land. Another dimension to the Hoa Hao is their willingness to fight for their beliefs and fight for their land. Starting with their resistance of the French occupation of Vietnam, the Hoa Hao have remained a thorn in the side of many.

Ever since that first eye opening trip, I have wanted to return and interview my family members and their community, documenting their fascinating lives and the specific area of the Mekong Delta they live in. As changes in Vietnamese policy towards Hoa Hao Buddhism are making it easier to exist, challenges to their lifestyle and influence from ever expanding urban development in the Mekong Delta are threatening this vibrant and proud part of Vietnam.

This fall, I will be returning to Vietnam for 4 weeks, from the end of October 2010 to the end of November 2010. I'll motorcycle throughout the Mekong Delta region, photographing the culture, traditions and lifestyle of the rural Hoa Hao. I plan on shooting digital stills, B/W film and some video, then I will compile the content into a series of photographs and short texts of historical and biographical information of the people and places.

As a side story, I will also be documenting the 2 areas my father was stationed while on duty in Vietnam in 1967-68; one area near the Hoa Hao's traditional birthplace and another just on the northern edge of their influence. Both my Father and my Father in law were intelligence officers in the same area at the same time. My father's regional office was in Bien Hoa, the same headquarters that my Father in law worked out of.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


These were the first carrots I picked from my garden. I'm new to it, so I didn't separate some of the veggies far enough and they are growing quite dense. I love that they just grew around each other so nicely. And after all this, it tasted awsome.