Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oops, Lost in the Outback

Self-portrait of Photographer 
Last Sunday I left to go visit my sister in San Fidel, New Mexico. I had intended to do my TW3 blog Sunday evening but one thing led to another. Have cameras and will use them. Monday we were in Albuquerque and upon our return too the great cloud/storm photos featured on Creative Journey.  Tuesday we went for a walk at the El Malpais National Monument. We chose the Lava Falls walk on the youngest of the lava flows in the area. Only 3000 years. It occurred to us that recent news of earth quakes in New Mexico and Colorado and upgrade of this "dormant" volcanic field to could be active without warning made this not the wisest of outings.

But, hell, what is life without some risk. One of the biggest risks on this walk was losing your balance on the uneven footing of the rough basalt and falling. I frankly began to look at the cacti as soft.

Reading of the hike brochure (after our return to the car) said that the following picture is smooth or pahoehoe  lava. There were definitions of Hawaiian terms but no definition of smooth. They did mention that pahoehoe lava frequently has a ropy texture which seems to contradict my definition of smooth.

Pahoehoe lava
This slab of basalt looked smoother to me, but don't let that fool you. The surface could still cut you to ribbons if you fell on it and the cracks seem to have no bottoms at times. Not unlike life frankly.

Life grabs a toe hold

Unexpected color
So how amidst this landscape do you follow the path? Cairns. A mound of stones erected as a marker or memorial. It is wise to note you should never leave one cairn until you have spotted the next one. And they advise you to not erect your own cairns or add to or take away from the existing cairns. Making of cairns is the priority of the national monument staff and they have a bit of a sense of humor. Many were "idols" like the one below with two stone eyes and a twig nose.

I found myself wondering if the more elaborate cairns were in fact monuments to those hikers, who like my sister and myself, left our water in the car, or lost their way between cairns.

Cairn Lavaman
It is wise to note if you decide to undertake this adventure that the iron in the basalt makes cellphone reception virtually impossible. The "field" is not flat always flat so spotting the car park not easy. Nor is discerning where the next cairn is. There is one in the picture below.

Lava Falls
And sometimes there seems to be rather challenging territory to cross to the next cairn.

Heading to the next cairn - can you see it?
We really enjoyed out walk on the wild side. By the way the seemingly baby vegetation is at times hundreds of year old natural bonsai. No worries about visitors digging them up and taking them home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TW3 Late

The late season humming birds are in full flight. According to most bird books the vast majority of humming birds I feed on a regular basis are only flying through on a long migration. And some bird books maintain that New Mexico is not their major flyway but Arizona. I think that has been wrong for a decade but never more wrong than this year when the Arizona fires pushed them west.

Now, whether it is two species or twenty, is when they head south. I will be filling up my quart feeder at least once a day until almost as suddenly as they came they are gone.

The cliff swallows are gone. Again as suddenly as they came. They hatched out a brood and got them all flying and for about a week hung around on insect catching lessons or some such. I got to watch them with their just above the ground aerial antics and then silence. I remember my dad and his love for Purple Martins. They always arrived to set up house keeping in the elaborate Martin houses he built on my mother's birthday - March 29th. And they left the houses for the trees with the new crop about the 1st of August. On Dad's birthday, August 15th, they left every year but the year he died. I can remember them in the trees outside his ICU room for a week beyond that. Until the day he flew away with them.

People laugh at me when I declare a day in early to mid-August as the first day of fall, but the wind does change. And not merely direction but feel and smell. The birds must sense it too because it seems to be a signal to hit the road. Soon all the summer birds will be gone and I will be left with the "natives" which every year seem more varied. We even get Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles all year long now. Once most species of hawks were migratory but now I am as like to see a Red Tail in December as in June. Ravens and Magpies are always around. And I feed any number of little birds which yearly seems to grow in number - Pine Siskins, Juncos, Chickadees.

There has been a lot of talk this last week about how strange the weather has gotten globally. Those that have scoffed at global warming theories have been rather quiet. I really didn't need Al Gore or teams of scientists to tell me the times they are a changing. I saw it in the birds that stop by to say hi. And those that stay. And those that have moved in where once they were just occasional.

So as the list of things to do before snow flies grows I find myself spending more time with my transitory friends and camera. I guess in someways I am more the grasshopper than the ant.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


When I was a kid I called them nightmares. Today I relegate them to the realm of disturbing. They do not contain monsters borrowed from a late night show my parents told me not to watch but from a odd arrangement of reality. They dwell in the area of the possible from which there seems to be no escape.

Per Wiki: A nightmare is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear and/or horror, but also despair, anxiety and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror. Sufferers usually awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a prolonged period of time.

These days I can no longer connect my disturbing dreams to bad food or bad movie or bad news. I more often see them as heralds of a bumpy road ahead or a signal that I have overlooked something important I need to attend to. I can describe them more by the terms despair, and anxiety and sadness than fear or horror. And with dawn and a cup of coffee I can begin to make sense sometimes of the images floating unbidden into my conscious world. Disjointed probably describes them the best.

I feel like a juggler of chain saws that is about to drop them all. And what I cannot remember from last night's dream sequence (oh, yes for me them come as a series) is more disturbing than what I do remember. And was last night just the latest in the series I do not remember but as a vague sense of unrest when I awake. Was this one remembered only because the alarm I accidentally set went off. Are all the questions in point of fact more disturbing than the dreams themselves.

I rode into the pre-dawn on a dark horse chased by images I cannot remember or totally forget.

Do you have nightmares? What form do they take? And how do you shake them off?

Saturday, August 6, 2011


And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. The Big Book

Acceptance seems to be a strange subject as we are in the beginning of Mercury in Retrograde. But oddly enough last week had a lot of acceptance in it. And I once again saw the magic of it. Because until you accept things as they are you cannot even develop a game plan for dealing with it. You can waste a lot of energy denying a situation or trying to wish it away.

And you can miss a lot that is good by not letting go of what was. I was so into Astro Van withdrawal I really hadn't accepted the good of the Corolla. The price was right - I traded a painting for it. For a standard car it holds a lot of stuff especially with the fold down back seat. And it gets 39-40 mpg! When I proved that last through two tanks of gas I finally moved into it. But it persisted in my mind of being just a transition vehicle. But this trip to Albuquerque I accepted it would be in my life for at a year and so I went to an audio center for cars and bought a stereo/cd player for it. It only had a cassette player.

Course there I was in Albuquerque with a brand new cd player and no cd's so off to Wally world I went. Amazing how much better I can like a car with tunes!

Notice how everything new you get these days has a manual! My Alpine MP3/WMA/AAC CD Receiver has one several times bigger than my cellphone (basic and not smart). But then it also has a USB port like my computer. So now I am learning how to rip CD's in MP3 format to put on my computer and then on to a thumb drive for the car a go go, now named The Queen. The good news is when I get that done I will be one ahead for my future MP3 player. Already planning out mixing tunes in an album that has my top 50 or so favorites. My impatience would normally want it done now, but I am finding I am enjoying the journey.

That is the big plus in acceptance for me. If you are always wanting to be through or over that or on to the next thing you end up missing the journey and often options or forks or side trips you might have otherwise enjoyed. While ripping cd's this morning I cleaned the studio and rearranged a shelf unit in it. And enjoyed it! Me, the non-neat person.

So three days into Mercury in retrograde I am doing fine. Not accepting it does not make it go away. And there is another 20 days.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Do I get do overs?

Door of Cimarron Jail
I stepped on this scale this morning and realized I had gained four pounds in the last week. How that happened I am not quite sure as I certainly did not enjoy myself that much. Nothing noteworthy stands out in my menu. But then I admit to not paying much attention.

This last week seemed mostly about taking photographs and then sitting on the computer downloading and reviewing them. And there were some noteworthy photos.

Inside Jail Cell

Where Antelope Play
And it is not like I have been totally inactive. Having camera, will travel does take some traveling. I drove to Raton and of course stopped in Cimarron. And then I walked with the fur kids and camera.

Barbed Wire
And did deep squats to get up close and personal with flowers and twigs.

Thistle blossom
And sometimes just wondered restlessly about the studio trying out various settings on my D90 to capture the flowers and plants drafted into posing as subjects.

Crown of Thorns buds
And I poked my head outside to record the birds just outside my studio door. Though capturing those moments took sitting very still for long periods.

Humming bird at feeder

Cliff Swallow feeding young

Thunderstorm building
And when the rain chased me inside I went to the computer to download. Oh, and there was a dog I am pet sitting that needs walked three times a day. I am guessing I just stuffed my face without thinking. Dieting must take concentration I am unable to give it currently. I am trying to find five awesome photographs to enter into the International show August 15th and I am convinced I have not taken them yet. Are all artists so insecure?