cycles of life. sadly learning that an uncle has passed away, far up in mountains of Alaska to which my dad & his siblings all then flew to join together. and then attending here a happy celebration of a baby's first laugh (a Navajo/Dine tradition), in which the baby's family & community, also join together.

yesterday we took a long walk up our backyard, to the boulder outcropping that overhangs a canyon, and this time discovered another pottery shard. resting under a tree, sheltered by rocks, it was made, used & broken by a people we call ancient. we looked for the rest, and found none. 

sadness in passing, celebration in laughter, and all the while, time keeps passing. 

today the weather has turned, a cold wind and dark clouds. the hope is for snow, as these mountains & their forests are simply too dry. 


puesta del sol

Last evening I took the camera outside, just to capture the pink that was hitting the mountains to our East. Turning then to the the West, I could see that the pink was going to fill the sky in all the directions. So I just put up the camera and took pictures as the sky changed all around me. 

For just a few seconds, the colors were so bright, that it was like daylight outside, but in pink and orange. My heart raced a little, and I had to remind myself to take a deep breath. And I wanted everyone I knew to be there and be bathed in that that overwhelming pink/orange/purple sky light. Fortunately that's when d. returned from work, drove up the driveway, and didn't see me in the yard, as he couldn't keep his eyes off of the sky. So, not everyone I knew, but at least my loving partner was there. 


awareness of light

Light can be soft, harsh and full of neutral or contrasting tones. When you study light, it makes the world you see around you full of new shadows and patterns. Behind a viewfinder it means understanding what the light will do to your colors and details. This is how being a photographer can make you a painter too.

Week two of photography class was about lighting. At top is an attempt to capture "flare" and the others are my just-after-sunset photos. As I took these I was thinking about how I was taking pictures of what can't be seen more than what can be. 


down to the wild rivers

This last March, President Obama established the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. So we basically live next door to a national monument now.  Over 240,000 acres of land, from the deep canyon gorge to the 10,000 foot Ute peak, with volcanic cones, lava rock, mesa desert and the forest. 

d. and ponderosa

One spot in the the monument is the Wild Rivers area. Up top you can see the Sangres, the Tusas, and San Antonio and maybe even far off, Mt. Blanca in Colorado. From the flat plateau, take a hike down into the Gorge, and go from the scrubby mesa to a lush river area...the confluence of the Red and Rio Grande rivers. I'd wanted to visit for awhile, and we finally had the time/weather moment to try. 

Of the several hikes available, we took La Junta, which is also the one labeled "difficult," mostly because it was the most south-facing (and meant, the least possibility of snow). On the trail, we could feel the heat of the sun-baked rocks, occasionally interrupted by the cold breeze picked up from the rivers below. 

After walking down the steep, rocky trail, with all kinds of "oh wows" or "that's pretty" along the way, we reached about 3/4 of the way, and D., points up, showing me what we'll have to steeply climb back up. We decided to keep on a little further anyways.

In the massive rock formations, black rock with layers of red, orange and brown in huge boulders and pebbles. It is hard to escape the feeling that you are simply walking along a timeline of earth's creation.

We got close enough to hear the water rushing, but not quite to river side. and on the steep climb up we stopped a few times to breathe deeply, but really, it wasn't too difficult. Also, on the way back up I filled my pockets with red lava rocks. finding it amazing to find such reds in rocks.

Back on top at the La Junta Overlook point, with a view 800 feet down, I told D. I for sure wanted to come back, and this time, go all the way to the meeting of those rivers and explore some of that canyon.

The collected rocks are now in a jar labeled "Wild Rivers".


from class

as a part of keeping my brain active, and keeping the art inside of me doing something, I decided to sign up for an online photography class.

I've been shooting photos since I was about 16, when I took a class in high school. I learned to shoot with film, and then process it in a darkroom. though I love the idea of finding myself with film in a darkroom again, this is online and digital. 

our first week was about the basics. remembering how to use a camera on manual settings, rather than the super-easy automatic. all over again, I'm trying to wrap it up inside my head the difference between a low aperture & a high aperture. which ISO is best on sunny days. what shutter speed I need for light, but to also keep the picture crisp. these are all things I learned back in that concrete-block of a high school classroom, but things I'd dropped from my experience awhile ago.

so I've had my first week. and enjoyed being with camera in hand, and taking the pause to not just frame the photo but also set the light. letting the photography be more of an art, than a point and shoot. these are some of the photos I took for the class. 

this guy came back from a hike as I was outside shooting some class photos. he found a new walking stick, and was smiling because he'd gotten to spend a few hours outside hiking by himself. and it is my favorite photo from last week. 


empty but for all the wild

we took a drive up north a bit, to check on a friend's cabin. a winter check...making sure it was doing well since it was last used this summer. the cabin is just over the border in colorado. but you take a small highway to a dirt road, to another dirt road, to another. you feel more solitary at each turn. and there you are, in the middle of wild lands, at a cabin that sits on the edge of the rio grande gorge. this isn't a place you think of having an address. this is a place you choose because you need to escape having an address for awhile.

oh, and the wild ponies roam the mesa. these amazing animals that we think of as domestic, and yet for generations they have roamed. (seeing them for the first time, felt a little magical for me.) 

after opening the gate, and heading down the very snowy driveway, we might have both been holding our breath a little, hoping all was well with the cabin. and it was. 

even out here, having private property can be a challenge. and the horses aren't interested in fences staying up.

the rio was frozen. this formidable river, just a silent figure. 

tracks of coyote, conejitos and the horses were all we found of any cabin visitors. which was a relief. the cabin sits, with sunny windows, on a view to the deep gorge below. we sat on the sunny side of the porch (it was warmer outside in the sun than inside) and ate sandwiches. d. noticed a winged shadow on the frozen river below, and jumped up, knowing it must be a bald eagle. we both ran to the other side of the cabin, catching that huge bird in flight away. mighty wings that eagle has. 

blue sky, purple mountains and gold & snowy plains.
wild horses, wild land, and a bald eagle. 
it was a great morning adventure. 


the Fechin Museum

Nicolai Fechin lived in Taos only a few years, but in that time he created a masterpiece of a home as well as many paintings influenced by the area. This home is now known as the Fechin (or the Taos Art Museum).  The Fechin family moved here in 1927, at the suggestion of Mabel Dodge Luhan. They soon bought this house and began its renovation until in 1933, when they returned to New York City. 

More than a collection of Taos artists, the house is a fine creation of adobe & woodwork. I wasn't expecting to be more impressed by the home than the pieces being displayed. Fechin himself did the the woodwork, as he'd been trained in Russia by his carpenter-father. 

The Buffalo Hunter's Son, Bert Philips, 1920-25

A painting done by an artist from my hometown, was a wonderful surprise to walk in & see. 

Guadalupe Church, Cliff Harmon, 1948

Fechin bought the adobe house and then renovated it, with the help of craftsmen from the Pueblo. Much of the wood-carvings are influenced by Russian motifs, which in combination with the New Mexican-style adobe, is almost magical. It is a work of molded, curved mud walls, viga ceilings, sunny beveled glass windows, oxidizing copper fixtures and hand-carved wood.

The museum holds hundreds of paintings from Taos-based artists, many from the Taos Society (the group of artists that gathered here in the early 20th-century).