Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 305: My Altar

In 1998 I had the honor of winning Stanford's Lloyd W Dinkelspiel Award for "distinctive contributions to undergraduate education".  It was the high point of a four decade teaching career.  The award is generated by student letters, and winning it is better than the Nobel Prize from a teacher's vantage point.  Along with the honor was a cash award.  In thinking what to do with this unexpected windfall I decided that I wanted to buy a Tibetan antique prayer table.  This hand-painted chest started its life somewhere in Tibet and then was bought and brought to the USA by Asian antique traders.  We found it in a Carmel, CA shop.  I use it as an altar with candles and incense, religious trinkets and photographs of my ancestors.  From left to right (looking at the photo) Juliette Bethel Ryan (my paternal grandmother), Wendell and Lu Phillips (Ron's mother and stepfather), Correll Madson (Ron's father), our cat Buddha, HH the Dalai Lama, (far back, behind the urn is my father, Harry Michael Ryan, Jr).  On the right side (from the middle back) is Pasang Dolma and her mother, Josephine Landor, Louise Pittman Ryan (my mother), H. M Ryan (my dad), Gertrude Curtler, and another photo of my mother.  

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