We moved house in early July, relocating from a three-story Victorian house that backed on to the River Thames in central Oxford to a more modern two-story house near a quaint village, which is just a few miles from Oxford town centre but still near the river. It's a tranquil and naturally beautiful area to live in, and our neighbors are friendly and interesting, so it already feels the closest to 'home' for a long time.

It took weeks to pack up our old house because of the countless artifacts and the several tons of paper, due to the hundreds of books and the tens of thousands of postcards and prints that were stored in every nook and cranny. However, the new house has an internal garage where the cards and prints can be shelved, and best of all a large vaulted living room that is like a little chapel, where the black wrathful deity thangkas now hang. It will still take a while to organize my workroom again, where mostly I now tend to work all day on computer, though I never imagined I would end up doing something like this. Ten days after we moved in broadband was re-established again, and I was surprised to discover that this website had just gone live.

It was a wonderful feeling to know that this website was finally up and running, for it had taken eight years of trial and tribulation since I first acquired the tibetanart.com domain name to accomplish this. Various people became involved in trying to help me, most were well meaning, but inevitably self-interest would arise and their desire to help would often result in long drawn out therapy sessions. This turned out to be quite frustrating and the only voice of reason in all this was that of my artist friend David Ford, who likewise had to endure a similar fate at the hands of several so-called website designers.

What was most disappointing about this series of defections and broken promises was my own deep commitment to the work of the artists themselves, and most especially to that of my departed friend and mentor, John F B Miles, who was one of only a very few that I would call a true artist in every sense of the word. They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and one of Blake's Proverbs of Hell relates that: "The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow." There are few eagles left in this word, but there are always many crows.

I finally had the sense to realize that I should accept the proposal to create this Himalayan art website with Wisdom Books of Ilford near London, who have been serving as the main European distributor of Buddhist books for the last few decades. So over the course of this past year I have been developing this website with Wisdom's webmaster, Chris Hill, who has patiently remained calm and clear throughout, given my initial lack of technical knowledge. And the same is true for the staff of Wisdom Books - Phil, Dennis, Mike, Leigh, Grant and Anoop - all of whom are delightful to work with and have a great sense of humor.

Patterns in the Sky

Since the eruption of the Icelandic volcano earlier this year the sky over Britain has appeared to be quite different to me, though when I mention this only a few people seem to be aware of it. Initially the lack of vapor trails and jet engine noises created an azure serenity in the sky's expanse above, especially for those who lived close to airports or below major flight paths. But when flights from the UK resumed and the familiar vapor trails appeared once more like God's graffiti on the sky, something about the sky seems to have radically changed.

Apparently this is due to the fluctuating waves of the jet stream, with its northern meander drawing warm Mediterranean air up to Russia that resulted in the forest fires around Moscow. And to the east the jet stream has moved further south to intensify the monsoon rains over northern Pakistan. One theory is that the northern jet stream has become more static, holding these extremes of hot and moist air in place. Over Europe this has resulted in a continuity of high altitude cirrus clouds, with wispy streaks of 'mare's tail' and 'mackerel' clouds frequently patterning the sky, with long veils of thin cirrostratus clouds extending across the sky within them. At times the entire gamut of cirrostratus, cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus and cumulus clouds appear in the sky at the same time, creating a vivid three-dimensional illusion of the entire stratosphere extending outward into space. Sunsets have been spectacular; the intense eruptions of a 'solar tsunami' have made the northern lights visible further south, and there have been other strange atmospheric phenomena, such as fire rainbows, and circumhorizontal rainbows that arc like smiles instead of frowns.