28 February, 2008

Ze Film and Ze T

This is the first time, I think, that the Mighty T has made the blog. Long overdue. A fantastic kid. And her dog is cool too.

Near Home

27 February, 2008

Checkin in from the Alien Ranch

A poem from mom....

Poets need to write about happy days

So I will write about mine

Perhaps the carefree days of my childhood

Swimming all Summer at the municipal pool

Playing kick the can, arrow and hopscotch

With the neighborhood kids until dark

Having a fox terrier sleep on my bed

Reminding me of my mothers tender touch

Putting rolled blankets around my head on cold Winter nights

So the snow that came in around the bedroom windows

Would not fall on my head

The fun hunting and fishing with my dad

Eating raw vegetables in his garden

Keeping him from snoring during church

Visiting grandma and grandpa every Sunday

Playing with my sisters in their front yard

Eating apples that exploded with juice

From the orchard behind their small Ohio farm house

Gathering papaws in the woods nearby along the river

With my dad on warm, lazy Summer days

Playing at the cemetery where grandpa trimmed all the shrubbery

Making arches over my head and fences

Playing hide and go seek behind headstones

Going to the farm next door to gather eggs

Family reunions at the schoolhouse in a small town

Because there were so many of us

Tables of homemade food stretching down the hallways

Satisfying hungry eyes and filling empty stomachs

Cousins playing basketball in the school gymn

Walking to the Princess movie theater uptown

To see Roy Rodgers, Dale Evans and Trigger

Stopping at the soda fountain after school

For a chocolate coke or green river

Remembering my first high school boyfriend

Dancing with him at the prom

Sitting in detention during my lunch hour

Having skipped school to go shopping with friends

Marching in the band at football games

Going of to college

Kept in place by a loving family

Creating wonderful, happy memories

That have held me for a lifetime

I am grateful for these happy days

19 February, 2008


Some recent snaps.

Checkin in from the Alien Ranch

Mom and dog....just a typical day. This explains a lot.......

Gypsy, my 9 year old English Pointer, and I watched the sunrise through the lacy leaves of the trees in the woods. For some reason we felt this would be an unusual day. The branches looked black against the orange glow of the first light. It was very still. There was a mysterious chill in the air that made the steam slithering up from my mug of expresso visable. Ruben, the black and brown, long haired dachshund that lives next door was barking. Why didn't the little, yellow school bus come today? Why were the birds not singing? The Girls, two donkeys who live nextdoor, were making a strange screaming sound. We scanned the feeding area with our morning eyes looking for visitors? The only thing moving was the sunlight as it wrought ghost like figures across the floor of the woods. Where were all our visitors? Why was Gypsy digging holes and burying things? Why did I have a sense of impending doom?
We shook off these uncommon events of the day, and decided to do some outside work. The previous owners had left a huge pile of beautiful rocks. Many I could just pick up and move, the rest I would move with my new dolly. The cairns I would build with them, would mark the perimeter of our driveway, our flower beds and our alien self parking area. Gloves on my hands, pulling the dolly behind me, I headed for the rock pile. As I lifted the rocks, small critters scurried for a deeper spot to hide. It wasn't long before I was uncovering scorpions, centipedes and snakes. All of them were acting strangely. I tried to build some cairns and couldn't because something was disturbing my ability to balance them. I decided to take a break and sit on the cabin porch with Gypsy. We noticed how different the clouds looked today. They were very unusual. Then, off to the southwest we noticed a series of very mysterious looking clouds. They resembled the cap on a mushroom. They were white, but, looked like they had a dark gray center. They were all sizes, but, they kept the cap like shape. It occured to us they looked like space ships. Then, we decided they were space ships, disguised to look like clouds. They were probably on a secret, surveilance mission. Hiding in the clouds, they would not be noticed except by those of us who look for them. Perfect. As we pondered this, we decided there was a chance one might land here at the Alien Ranch. Gypsy and I watched and listened, but, the cloud shrouded ships drifted on by. Perhaps, they would return another time. Perhaps, they would only land in the cover of darkness. Gypsy hurriedly buried all of her chew bones and checked to be sure the gate to her cedar post, rabbit fence was securely locked. She wondered if they would bring dogs with them? She hoped they would not bring cats. Rabbits and squirrels would be be fine. She stayed close to me for the rest of the day. As the sun was setting, she was in the cabin securing her toys and food dish. It was not that she was worried that aliens might arrive after dark, she just wanted to be prepared. She told me she thought if they came to the cabin they would be nice and bring her some of her favorite biscuits. She said they might even bring her chickens to chase, like the ones our neighbor Joe has in his yard. I noticed as she crawled into her pink, sheepskin lined bed, on her navy, blue leather sofa, she left one ear uncovered. She slept with her paws over her eyes. She wondered if tonight, here at the cabin, the visitors in the woods would be more exciting than the visitors in her dreams. As we drifted off to sleep in the eerie, dark quiet of our woods, we listen for the unknown sounds space ships make when landing and for the rustling of small feet through the fallen leaves on the floor of the woods. Are we alone? Probably not. Here at the Alien Ranch we are watching, waiting a listening, not for if they come, but, when.

18 February, 2008

Behind The Curtain Three

It's Official, It Is All Downhill From Here

I was just asked to moderate a panel on photojournalism, which in my mind is the official announcement that I have reached Middle Age.
It's all downhill from here.

How Did I Get Here?

17 February, 2008

Movie Review: No Country For Old Men

Get in the car, right now, drive to the cinema and see it. I had not been to the cinema in a long, long time, and I have to say, this was the perfect picture to see.

Behind The Curtain Two

13 February, 2008

Burrowing Owl

Only three of these left in the area. Just stumbled into this beauty.

12 February, 2008

Michael Ventura: Letters at 3am.

A friend recently reminded me of this guy, same friend who told me about him in the first place. Michael Ventura, Austin based writer, who is just plain good. No other way to put it.
Read it, and all the others.


11 February, 2008

Mom and Her Camera

Mom checking in with some thoughts of the camera. What she doesn't say in this little story is that, I think, she was the only woman on this trip, which meant she was getting a CONSTANT ribbing from all the guys on the excursion. In fact, I too remember images from her trip, and I'm actually not sure if she knows that I remember them, but I do.
There is a photo of her sitting on a rock, smiling, as one of the guys behind her throws water on her from one of the coffee cans they used to bail the boats.
And another thing....her nickname is Annie Oakley, and she was, in many cases, the only woman on these trips. Hunting, fishing, hiking, etc, she was there, keeping up with all the guys. In that world you have to earn your respect, and she did.
But, with having said that, she still favors my brother the most, her first child, but denies it to this day!!

I got to thinking about all the photographs I have taken during my seventy years. How much of me is in those pictures? Who will look behind the print? Who will find me standing there behind the camera searching the view finder for just the right mix? Who will wonder who I am and why I took the picture? Who will find me? Who will learn my secret?
My hands first found a camera when I was about twenty or so. My mother-in-law gave me a Graphflex 35millimeter Camera that was totally manual. I studied it for a few days and set out to take pictures. All the settings for the camera were a guess for me. I remember I took a picture of blue, flowering chicory growing along a guardrail next to a road in Indiana and of white Indian Pipes growing near a huge rock in the woods where we lived. When my husband John and I floated the middle fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, I carried this camera in a plastic bag inside my shirt. We started at Dagger Falls, on the middle fork, and floated to the main Salmon River. There were five of us in each small, rubber raft. One was the guide. As we approached a set of rapids I would grab my camera, jump up and click, click. Then I would jam it back in the plastic bag and grab the ropes to secure my position for the trip through the rapids. Luck was with me. My camera stayed dry. We were cold and very wet, but, we bailed the water out of our raft as fast as we could. Big coffee cans did the job well. Everything got wet, including most peoples cameras. They kept them wet so they wouldn't be ruined. We had a lay over day at a spot on the river called Hospital Bar. There was a rock bathtub near the river where hot spring water mixed with the cold water of the river. It was like a bath. John took my picture sitting in the warm water. I still see him taking this picture. I didn't want to leave. After the trip we sent our pictures to many of the people whose cameras got wet. My husband gave a slide show with the pictures at Rotary Club in the small Indiana town where we lived. It wasn't hard to get good pictures on the river. Everywhere you looked it was beautiful.
Over the next few years I took pictures of my family and lots of wild flowers and wild scenes. We lived in a woods and owned an additional area that was the Jean Stratton Porter property. She was an Indiana author. It was a swampy woods, with a creek running through it full of wild flowers. Our neighbor trapped the creek and caught mink. There was an old cabin in the woods near a bend in the creek that the local boyscouts use. It had a wood burning stove. Visiters would sometimes knock down the door to get it. My husband put a sign on it. It said, "The door is open." Spring time was a beautiful time there. I supplied a local artist with pictures of old, fallen down buildings. During the next several years, I took hundreds of pictures at our ranch in Wyoming. I have taken and looked at alot of pictures, but, it wasn't until my sister Nedra sent me a picture her son Tom had taken, that I realized I had been missing something. Tom had taken a picture of Abigail, the blue, cream, persian cat my family had given my mother.
I do alot of thinking in the bathroom. There are times I have revelations during my visits. The claw footed tub is a great place to meditate, as well as other modern conveniences. The cat picture Tom took hangs in this room. It is big and shows Abigails huge, copper colored eyes. They stare at me with great intensity. What are those eyes asking of me? What do they want? What are they telling me? What am I missing? Maybe she wants me to see what was happening at the time the picture was taken. Maybe she is telling me Tom is there with a camera in his hands. He is hoping Abigail will not move so he can get a great picture for his grandmother. They are having fun trying to get this picture. I don't know what kind of camera Tom had. I am not sure I even knew Tom liked to take pictures. Now, I know he did. I am sure glad. I like thinking of them and fun times.
So, now when I look at Abigail there on my bathroom wall, I see Tom and my mother together. A sense of humor was not spared on those two. They were both wonderful human beings and sent joy and happiness to those who knew them. Mom, Tom and Abigail are all gone now, but, this picture holds them for me to find and enjoy. Now, when I look at a photograph, I see the mystery of the story behind it. Not knowing for sure if what is revealed is intended. Wondering if the eye of the camera found the reason for the photo in the eyes of the photographer. Wondering if their photography gathers and holds them in its lights and shadows. Maybe you will see their secret hidden in the stillness when a second of life is stopped on film. Maybe you will see the image of the cold, wet woman behind the camera on the river. Maybe she will pull you in and hold you in the spell of the river that brought her closer to herself. Pictures dance around her like leaves in the wind. They are everywhere. They never stop. The camera in her head is never still. Maybe she knows the secret left behind in her pictures for you.

07 February, 2008

Final Wash

Develop 2:30 min
Stop: 30 Seconds
Fix: 10 min
Second Fix: 10 min
Perma Wash 3-5 min

Final Wash: 25 min

Another Day In Paradise

Another day at mom's ranch.

A chigger is a 6-legged mite larva that sucks the blood of vertebrates and causes intense irritation. We got introduced to these tiny guys last Spring. The heavy rains that belted us day after day, setting records, led the way for them to become extremely prolific. We suffered under their influence all Summer as we mowed down the rain soaked, shoulder high grass that surrounded the cabin. With each storm, the mowing began again. This pattern continued for most of the Summer. We tried everything to get rid of the chiggers, so, our bites would disappear. They seemed to thrive on the sprays and cream insect repellents were tried. We put them on our skin, our socks, our boots and our long pants. We also put them on our arms and shirts. Well, guess what we got? Chigger bites everywhere, that kept us itching all Summer. Even though we mowed with our pant legs tucked inside our old knee high snake boots, they still found us. We were real tired of this problem.
We checked with our gardening friends and some of our neighbors and most of them had the same issue. It wasn't until I checked with Joe that I found a solution. He is my neighbor to the East. I can't see his place from mine, unless I crawl up in the tree house on the back forty. From there I can see the roof of his house. He has supplied me with some of the best fresh eggs I have ever had. We always have a nice visit when I return the empty egg cartons. When I have Gypsy with me she tells me she wants one of Joe's chickens real bad. They are always our walking around his yard. During one of our visits, I ask him about chiggers. He said he used sulfur to keep them at bay. I had never heard of that, but, I was glad to learn of something that worked. Well, Winter settled in and we forgot about the chiggers.
Now, the end of Febuary is in sight and the weedeater is in the shop for it's Spring service. We know the mowing will need to be done soon. So, when we were in Craig's Hardware yesterday, we decided to check out the sulfur. Reading all the warning and instructions on the side of the bag that only confused us. We were not sure whether to use it or not. For instance, it said keeps chiggers and ticks off your dog , but, if you get it on you wash your clothes and take a shower? I ask the young check out girl and she wasn't sure what I should do. She went and ask Craig's wife about the problem. I was still stewing, staring at the rows of products used to kill every insect known to man, when his wife walked up to me. She said people put the sulfur in an old sock, tie it off and bang it against their boots and pant legs. Wow, that seemed like a great idea to me. Banging the bag it will be. I am still pondering whether or not I will bang it over Gypsy. There was a warning. I don't want her mad at me. Living with her is difficult enough. She told me at the beginning she doesn't do yard work. She said she is an aristocrat, and they hire people to do jobs like that.
The sulfur in the sock technique will be put to use soon. Look out chiggers, we are ready for you. Our fingers are crossed. If you have never suffered at the hands of chiggers, you might think this is much ado about nothing. Please know you are welcome to come to the cabin and mow anytime. Call to make a reservation. If this results in chigger bites, you will understand our plight. Wouldn't it be nice if sulfur socks could get rid of all those things in life that cause you intense irritation? We will see.

05 February, 2008

Do It

Super Tuesday people, let's look alive.

04 February, 2008

Recent Snaps...

Answer me this..

Election advice:

"I'm not sure how to fix this country. Or, if it needs to be fixed. I really don't know much of anything. I would end the straight up wars, continue the covert, press the conservation issues in terms of energy and try to instill an overall positive atmosphere, not caving to the negative aspects of life in our world.
I would also encourage Americans to get involved abroad, a "never settle" campaign about continue to learn and share with the rest of the world. We are so powered by consumerism it has blinded us from all but what is right in front of our face......namely our television. "

02 February, 2008

Damn the Hog

I knew that damn groundhog was going to see his shadow. I slept in a hat last night, no kidding, and this morning I think there was frost of my coffee cup.
California building requirements in the mid 1950's leaves much to be desired. I realize that after living in warm climates for much of my adult life I am no longer capable of dealing with anything resembling cold weather.

As we speak I am making plans for retirement in S. Florida. Enough of this tundra of cold.
I would have left earlier but I can't find my bermuda shorts or insect repellent.