Archives for the month of: October, 2007


see it? in the corner? that is the first box that i moved into my new home last night! it was so incredibly exciting. i cried and giggled from room to room, running my hands along walls to find light switches…opening doors and drawers…turning on water faucets…breathing the air of my personal oasis. (for those nosy ones, the box contains my birthday present from my mom, which are beautiful large clear glass candle holders that will be hung on my back patio this weekend!! super big thanks Mom!)

margaret left me a present as well, possibly unknowingly. one that she couldn’t have known how deeply I would be touched by. when i first toured the home, i knew the house was one that i could make myself a home within. this feeling was solidified when i found a print of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the hallway alcove. last night, i found the Virgin still presiding in the alcove, which is the center – the heart – of the home.


she is simply beautiful. i am not an overtly religious person, but the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe has always brought me solace, comfort and inspiration. i love the moments when i unexpectedly find her image. she inspires me to take a deep breath and give thanks for all that i have in my life. i feel comforted that she and i will share this space…protecting one another.

several folks have asked to see the kitchen.


cool switch-plate.


thanks to another belated birthday gift from mark’s mother, Linda, i treated myself to two margaritas that can only be described as beautifully smooth. thanks Linda!


the day was quite possibly the most splendid that i’ve had in a while! it started fantastically with a phone call from my dearest friend Becki to say that she had received the formal invitation to join the Peace Corps! it had barely been 24 hours since her first formal interview – that tells you what a bad-ass she is!!! her posting will be somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa and will begin approximately in May 2008. i’ve got a five week break over the summer and i know where i’ll be traveling to! a huge hug of congratulations to you Miz B!! i am so looking forward to hearing about this amazing adventure that lies before you.

we also took the youth staff to the University of Arizona to hear professor and author Sharon Crowley speak. she is a nationally-known Rhetorician who has observed and stated that until our polarized populace can find a common language to communicate through, that we’re going to keep yelling at each other – and if we can’t find ways to speak and be heard that our ever-cherished democracy will fade away. her talk was fascinating and the Youth Staff were phenomenal, asking questions and participating in the discussion forum. several of them were hyped by being on a college campus and were talking animatedly about their future college careers. as an instructor, it was music to my ears.

i have a great weekend to look forward to – cleaning and moving into my house, helping set up a wedding here in Tucson for Sophisticated Shindigs, the wedding & event planning company owned by my sister Julie and my awesome brother-in-law Jason. and possibly taking my nieces to an pre-Dia de los Muertos event for young people.-

go spread some love!


i think weekends are for doing things that you want to do…and this weekend i didn’t want to do anything social. so i didn’t.

i arrived home friday night with total brain drain. we had an open house friday night to show off our new work/classroom space in the “lower level” of our building. i wasn’t feeling terribly social to begin with so i found myself lacking in the “small talk”, but the evening was a success. two glasses of wine and some pizza with colleagues ended the evening well.

over the weekend i did: workout, did crossword puzzles, read a Carl Hiassen book, play on my computer, made a quick run to the grocery market, organized my finances, talked to friends and family and watched a little television. pretty darned boring, but completely lovely nonetheless. it’s now monday morning and i feel ready to dive back into the world of productive people.

so…Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize! wickedly cool. i never saw that coming, but i am thrilled that climate change is being recognized internationally, if not here in the U.S.

for all ya’ll living in Ethanol producing states: on friday i listened to a story on NPR on how the fancy new E-85 gasoline is actually RAISING the ozone levels at street level. the story, based on research done by atmospheric scientist Mark Jacobson of Stanford, states:


“Using ethanol-based fuel instead of gasoline would likely increase the ozone-related death rate in Los Angeles by 9 percent in 2020, according to a new study by atmospheric scientist Mark Jacobson.

Ethanol is widely touted as an eco-friendly, clean-burning fuel. But if every vehicle in the United States ran on fuel made primarily from ethanol instead of pure gasoline, the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations likely would increase, according to a new study by Stanford University atmospheric scientist Mark Z. Jacobson. His findings are published in the April 18 online edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T).

“Ethanol is being promoted as a clean and renewable fuel that will reduce global warming and air pollution,” said Jacobson, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “But our results show that a high blend of ethanol poses an equal or greater risk to public health than gasoline, which already causes significant health damage.” (credit: Mark Shwartz/Stanford News Service)

click here for the full story.

and for anyone who is curious about the thousands of rail cars full of coal that roll across our country every day, read “Coal Hard Facts” published by Texas Monthly last year. it’s unsettling just how many coal plants are currently under construction or planned.

The Climate Project, a non-profit based in Nashville, Tennessee, give these ten really simple things you can do to help the climate crisis.

Ten Things to do

Want to do something to help stop global warming? Here are 10 simple things you can do and how much carbon dioxide you’ll save doing them.

Change a light
Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Drive less
Walk, bike, carpool or take mass transit more often. You’ll save one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don’t drive!

Recycle more
You can save 2.400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

Check your tires
Keeping your tires inflated properly can improve gas mileage by more than 3%.
Every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere!

Use less hot water
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of CO2 saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year).

Avoid products with a lot of packaging
You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

Adjust your thermostat
Moving your thermostat just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer you could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment.

Plant a tree
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

Turn off electronic devices
Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Spread the word!


after having bad dreams last night about failing at my first full photography exercise as a teacher, i am happy to report that today’s lesson went well. which was great because today’s lesson really was just to go “play” with the camera. i’m relieved no one yelled at the staff while they were out or that any of the cameras were broken. funny, the things you worry about when you are in charge.

the coolest part was watching them all trickle back into the office – laughing, smiling and excited from an hour of free creative time. the images the youth staff brought back were imaginative and experimental. they all have a keen sense of visuals. they are going to be fun to work with once we get their stories going.

yesterday they all went out to conduct their first “on-the-street” interviews, and they all came back in with the same laughter and smiles. i tell you…it’s a great feeling as an instructor…to see them discover the creative magic of journalism.

i really, truly like the staff. they are a very interesting cross-section and they all seem to be getting along well. i’m excited for the coming weeks of training.

i’ve got an early morning tomorrow. i’m showing my portfolio and talking about my photojournalism career to two high school photography classes. i’ll let ya’ll know how it goes.

last week we had a photograph-inspired free-write exercise with the youth staff, which was a lot of fun. everyone had to bring a personal photograph to share, then everyone in the group left comments about your photograph on a post-it note. it was fun to see what some people said.

here’s the photo i shared:


this photograph of my sisters and i – all 5 Niles Girls – was taken by my dad when we lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. the year was probably 1987, not too long before we moved to Colorado.

i have always loved this photograph of us girls. dad caught us all in motion, and our personalities were frozen in time. now that we’re all grown, some of us with children close to the ages we were when this photo was taken – well, our personalities are still reflected here.

here’s the free-write that i did in about 5 minutes. i haven’t edited it since, so you word-smiths out there, take it easy on me. i haven’t actively written in a few years.


5 sisters

getting crazy

for an afternoon dance

along a Tulsa river

a moment

snapped from history

my entry into teens

caught wearing dirty white keds

we’re all caught

in fits of personality

one tries to fly away

another stares a challenge

a mini wink over a banana

rigid stripes

vertical over horizontal

who wears blue socks, anyway?

dad’s behind the camera

mom, looks over his shoulder

laughing at her gaggle of girls


it’s silly, but it was fun to write.

over the weekend i attended a creative workshop, hosted by Kimi Eisele and Josh Schachter of the Living Stories Project, that was super fun. the workshop blended dance, movement, words and images into a piece of work of remembrance of someone lost. the event was part of Tucson’s month-long celebration of Dia de los Muertos. i’ll share the work i made that day later. the poem i wrote needs a little tweaking. look for it closer to DDLM.

today i got fantastic news! the ever-so-lovely and amazingly-talented Neko Case will be playing at the Rialto theater on nov. 15th – the day after my BFF Becki flies into town to celebrate her birthday. as Becki said: “Will we be going? The hell to the yes!” wanna go?


moments ago i found out that a hero of mine, photojournalist Alexandra Boulat, died today in Paris following complications following an aneurysm. she was 45.

i have never met her. i have never heard her speak, yet her death makes me feel so incredibly sad.


(copyright: Alexandra Boulat/VII)

i first came across her work years ago, during the genocidal conflict in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. her images spoke truths i did not find anywhere else. her work, which has centered around conflict and war, has a heart. it is compassionate, yet totally unyielding. her work documents the effects war and conflict has on the people who continue their daily lives in parts of the world where war takes over.

when i discovered her work I was still in college, still forming my connection with documentary war photography. Alexandra Boulat was the first contemporary female war photographer that i discovered and her work was different from war photographers with male surnames. she didn’t focus only on the “front line” where the guns were. whenever i would see her work, i often had the feeling that the battle had just ended and the soldiers had left only moments earlier and people (often women) were coming out of hiding to survey the damage or collect their family member who had been killed moments earlier.

her work has power. deep and long-lasting power.

i am very sad that her time as a documentary photographer has ended, but i am ever thankful for the life she led.

other female war photographers to check out:

Georgette “Dickey” Chapelle (Vietnam)

Susan Meiselas (Nicaragua)

Margaret Bourke-White (WW2)

Gerda Taro (Spanish Civil War)

today is a phenomenally great day. i am now the proud possessor of two shiny keys to my future home here in Tucson. i have never been so gleeful to sign my name on a lease.


the gate to my own private paradise…


peeking into the courtyard.


the front door is on the right and the french doors on the left lead to the bedroom.


this is the courtyard that leads to the back patio. to the right is Margaret’s studio.


this will be where you’ll find me sipping my coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening.


the citrus tree bears fresh oranges. perfect for my citrus margaritas. yummy.


the house comes with a saint in the laundry hut.


unfortunately, this awesome lamp and shade does not come with the house, but i had to share this photo anyway. i love the 60’s kitsch of it.

i arrived at Margaret’s at 11am to go over the lease. we started chatting, and chatting and chatting until i looked at my watch and “gadzooks!” it was 1:30pm. we had a great conversation that ran from topic to topic. Margaret is a really fascinating and inspiring woman who charts her own course in the world. she is currently hoping to depart for Amman, Jordan on or around the 17th of October…after which time i am cool to settle on in to my paradise.

after Nov. 1st, my door is open to visitors, so head on down to the southwest. i’ll welcome you with a big hug and a fresh margarita.


i found a new quote, a wearable one. this one speaks for itself. i found it, had to have it, had to wear it…so i did. looks nice, eh? (wink).

i had really wanted to blog last night – due the fact that yesterday was an awesome day – but i was so tired when i got home that my dinner was literally half a can of BBQ pringles chips and a pumpkin beer (it is fall, after all).

yesterday my health insurance started! cool beans on that one. even with the high price of my self-coverage, it is still less than a titanium elbow. trust me.

but even cooler than having health insurance…the youth staff started yesterday…and they are all so cool. we overwhelmed them with a stack of paperwork which left them all with a glazed look in their eyes. they all came back today for a photo/writing exercise based on a personal photograph. it was a lot of fun. i wrote about a photo of my sisters and i from our days living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. i left the piece that i wrote at work, but i’ll post it tomorrow. i already see so much talent within these people. they are so interesting. i’m looking forward to getting to know them as the year moves on. we’ll be posting their portraits and bios on the web soon. i’ll let you know when and where to look.

today…i got a box. one that i’ve been waiting for. and it finally arrived. inside was some delicious australian raspberry licorice, a very long ether-net cable (so i don’t have to sit on the floor huddle next to the cable modem anymore)….and these lovely keen’s.


aren’t they cute?!? i never tried these on, just ordered them out of a catalog and i “l-uh-v” them. they are super cozy and i hope to take them on their maiden hike this weekend. thanks for sending the care package, mr. mark.

tomorrow i head over to my new house to sign the lease and see Margaret again. i’m taking my camera with me so i’ll be sharing some pictures soon. i can’t wait for ya’ll to see how beautiful this place is. and becki…bring our trowels, will ya? we’re going plant shopping (swoon!).