Archives for the month of: November, 2007

“Do you love me because I’m beautiful, or am I beautiful because you love me?” – Cinderella

I can pinpoint – very specifically – the event of my childhood that set me up for lifelong disappointment in my romantic endeavors. This event created, what I now understand (after very few successes and repeated failures) are unattainable dreams, hopes and expectations of love.

It was the day my grandmother took my older sister and I to a movie theater to view our very first Disney film: Cinderella.

Yes. I am blaming Disney for my failed attempts at love. Go ahead and snicker if you will, but I’ll have you know that thanks to Disney’s version of Cinderella, I – and countless other little girls – learned at a very impressionable age that “someday my prince will come” to save me from drudgery and loneliness. I was led to believe that when Prince Charming arrives all my worries (especially financial) will cease to be, along with all the horrible people in my life.

From Cinderella, I jumped to Snow White, where I learned a catchy little tune to sing while I work, but again I found that Prince Charming was on his way to rescue me from an ugly hag (a stand-in for being an old maid, perhaps?). Only a kiss from her one true love can save Sleeping Beauty from an eternal coma. Fast-forward a decade or so to Beauty and the Beast where I learned that if Belle could search deeply enough in her heart to find some love and immense forgiveness for the Beast’s ghastly behavior that he would eventually turn into her “true love.” Hell, even Ariel, The Little Mermaid, had to abandon her family, her whole world and sell her soul to get land legs so she’s be attractive to her Prince Charming.

As silly as it may sound, these ideas settled deeply into my young heart, turning me into a truly hopeless romantic. The feminist pragmatist that I am now cringes as I write that, but alas, I feel it is time to openly admit that – yes, I am a romantic. I adore dancing close to the man I love in the grocery store aisle to melancholy love songs sung by Barry Manilow. I believe in chivalry and I love the way I feel when my man guides me through a crowded cocktail party by the small of my back. I enjoy when my man takes over things around the house, puts the tent up when we go camping and when he brings me daisies after we’ve had an argument.

The ugly truth is that Prince Charming does not exist in any recognizable form…and when someone resembling him has shown up in my life I have nearly always been the one to save him. There have been no white horses, no castles, no singing animals and only one carriage ride to date. At this point, I’d settle for the court jester. His jokes might get old after a while, but at least I’d have a built-in babysitter.

I don’t want to sound too cynical, yet of all the Disney films from my childhood, I think Bambi is the only one that has deep truth within it. Due to events beyond our control, the people we love and depend upon for love (and safety) are taken away from us. We are left alone to find our way through the woods. Along the way we make friends who accompany us on our journey, and through the harrowing adventures of life these friends become family. Thankfully, I have found such friends along my journey through the woods, which are far less scary with them by my side.

Sadly, I’ve learned that singing to animals will not inspire them to sew ball gowns for me and that most beasts are simply that – beasts. Most importantly, I’ve learned that if I ever do take a carriage ride in a pumpkin, I must return home before the stroke of midnight…even if I do “accidentally” leave one of my Franco Sarto’s behind for you-know-who to find.


i had a hard time sleeping last night, so i pulled out my collections of poetry. i rediscovered this poem by Mark Strand. as a person who feels like i am in constant motion in search of finding a sense of being “whole”, this poem has particular meaning to me. enjoy.

– Keeping Things Whole –

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

– Mark Strand (b. 1934) –

this little gem caught me as i was leaving my house this morning…


i’m not entirely sure if i find hearts or if the hearts find me – either way i’m glad for their appearances. they are always lovely reminders that there is love in the world, we just have to remain open to receive it when it comes our way.

i have a bit of a rant to share, in the form of a question: how can dead people have MySpace pages???? anyone?

while i was wasting time a few days ago, i found that Georgia O’Keefe has a MySpace page. granted she died in 1986 at the age of 98, but apparently someone felt comfortable communing with her spirit to create a MySpace page for her. naturally, her friends include the also dead Frida Khalo, Rene Magritte, Leonardo da Vinci and the Italian baroque painter Caravaggio. Not bad, eh? oh…and the song that plays is none other than Ray Charles’ “Georgia”. creepy or cliche?

go see for yourself:

here are some words of wisdom:

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.” – Olin Miller

it is a truth universally known that if you are feeling crappy and have a negative attitude about the ability of romantic relationships to sustain themselves, all you need to do is take yourself out for a long bike ride along sandy and rocky trails in Catalina State Park on a beautiful, crisp fall afternoon…and ride all that negativity right out of your system.

i had a great ride today. i found some really fantastic trails that i hope to get back to soon. there were a couple really tight spots going down a rocky path that i nearly ditched Suzette down a cactus-filled embankment (yikes!). i saved the ride, just barely, and my ever-healing elbow was screaming at me when i got down the hill but it so worth it! nothing like a little adrenaline to open your eyes to a whole new world.

i spent the Thanksgiving holiday up in Phoenix at my sister’s. we had a fun time cooking together. we made a fantastic southwest-style stuffing with chorizo and butternut squash. yummy! and i guided my niece Scarlet as she made her very first pecan pie (yes, from scratch! i don’t do frozen pie crusts. i make my own, thank you).


this photo, which i call ‘Baked Heart’ has a lot of metaphor and meaning for me right now, and it adds to my archive of random heart images i’ve been collecting for a few years now. a heart shape always seems to show up when my own heart needs some love….usually around the time when my latest relationship became overcooked.


and who picked at the pecan pie???


i am really proud of this beautiful bougainvillea. the poor little bugger didn’t even resemble a bougainvillea when i first moved in, but after a month of feeding it my coffee grounds it has finally sprouted beautiful magenta petals, which are beautiful in the evening sunlight.



Miz Becki came to visit last weekend and we had a great time!! It was beyond great to see her and go explore my new town with her. We hadn’t seen each other in four months, but we sat down over a beer and it was like no time had passed at all. here’s a visual tour of our adventure…


…at the Neko Case concert. We’ve seen Miss Neko a few times, and this show was by far the best show we’ve been to. It was a benefit for “No Mas Muertes“, a local humanitarian organization with the goal “to provide water, food, and medical assistance to migrants walking through the Arizona desert; to monitor US operations on the border and work to change US policy to resolve the “war zone” crisis on the border; and to bring the plight of migrants to public attention.” They do awesome work.

Neko’s voice is truly unique. The upright bass was heavy and thick, adding more depth and mystery to the music. This photo includes the weird lady that showed up solo with the apparent wish to invade Becki’s personal space as often as possible. (Note Becki’s Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash t-shirt. A photo of me is now up on the BSOJC’s MySpace page. Thanks Vance! But Mark – the lead singer – is still my favorite Bastard! )


Flam Chen. A local performing pyrotechnic artists group that treated the participants of the 25th el Tour de Tucson (bike race) to a show. I’ve heard a lot of about Flam Chen since I moved to Tucson and I was excited to finally see them.


We found a bar in town, The District, that is slightly reminiscent of O’Rourke’s bar back in Lincoln. Cool pool tables there.


On the last night of Becki’s third decade, we had great tour guides in Sean and Bill. We pulled in a great live music show at Plush, where the super sexy drummer of Transfer gave Becki a birthday gift by taking his shirt off for most of their show. Thanks to the ‘Tall Boys” for such a fun, and very late night, on the town.


The next day we took the one hour drive up to Mt. Lemmon and went for a quick, but fun hike. The place is beyond stunning – and even harder to believe that this playground is 30 miles from downtown Tucson!









Becki’s birthday dinner was lovely and relaxing. I spent most of it thinking how great it was to have her in town, and how next year she’ll be half a world away on the African continent. She looks lovely in this photo.



Becki left on Monday, after purchasing an adorable cowgirl hat before leaving. She looked totally cowgirl punk with it on! Her departure was only tolerable due to the fact that Miss Jill & Mr. Michael arrived in Tucson the very next day!! I took them to the B-Line for lunch (same place as pictured above) and later in the afternoon they both presented their work to members of the Youth Staff before heading back to Phoenix to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday with Michael’s family. Thanks again you two! It was super to see you and even more super for you to share your work with aspiring photographers. Oh! And – find the irony in this – as we were dining a photographer from Sunset magazine approached us and asked to take our photo while were were dining. Keep an eye out for us in the pages of that magazine.

William is my next house guest, during the second week of December. Hey William, can you bring my golf clubs down with you? We should hit the driving range. And we’ll definitely be making some mole! And bring your bike too! Great trails abound.

Everyone else…my door is always open to guests. I now have hot water to offer. The gas pipe repairs were approved by a city inspector earlier this week, the gas guy came the next day and I have never though a pilot light was so fascinating!

today was momentous!

today, plumbers started work to fix the leaky gas pipes in my house. they are even coming back tomorrow morning to finish. Three angels came in the form of Don, Danny & Arden. I’m so happy to have them around, I plan on making them coffee and breakfast in the morning. I am going to pray that they’ll complete the work tomorrow, then I’m going to pray even harder that I can get both a city inspector AND the gas company to visit on Friday so I can have hot water for a shower over the weekend.

The past week has been crazy, crazy! But in good ways.

Since I took this job, I’ve been stressed out about one BIG thing – one specific week of training – THIS WEEK. This is the week that I am teaching the very technical parts of photography – ISO setting, shutter speed settings and aperture. I’ve been so nervous about teaching this part, partly because I’ve never taught it before but mostly because I clearly remember just how confusing and overwhelming it was when I learned it nearly 20 years ago. Most of all I was scared that I wouldn’t be successful at teaching it because it has become second nature to me after so many years as a photographer that I don’t think about it anymore, I just plug the numbers in and go.

I am beyond giddy with happiness at how quickly the Youth Staff have absorbed all the information – which is a lot of numbers and theories that run opposite of conventional wisdom. I am very proud. This stuff is really complicated and confusing. I can’t wait to see how they each use this information to express their creativity and artistry as they begin to document their stories.

A few of you already know that I did something really crazy this week. For those of you who don’t know yet…check out the photo:


Yep. It’s all gone. I finally did it! I cut my hair super short. I haven’t had the courage to take the chance for years, so after giving my niece a pep talk about how she should be more daring with her haircut – well, I had to practice what I was preachin’…and here’s the result. I’ve gotten some mixed reactions, which is fun from a sociological perspective.

I never anticipated that it would look so retro, which is a great surprise. As William said, it fits my 60’s retro style. It’s pretty cute, if I’m allowed to say so myself.

As soon as I finish this post, I’m heading out the door to pick Miz Becki up at the airport!! I abso-tively can’t wait to see her! She’s stepping on down to Tucson to celebrate her birthday – so send her some birthday love over the weekend. We plan on hiking, exploring my new town and downing several margaritas and/or beers at as many different bars as we can walk to and fro. We’ll also be taking in the vocal awesomeness of the incredibly talented Neko Case on Thursday night. Good times are ahead…and we might even have a hot shower (separately, of course!)!


Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane. Philip K. Dick

I logged onto my email a bit ago only to find nothing from my landlord, which is exceedingly discouraging due to the email that I received from her yesterday that said:

“Hi, goodmorning…where are we with the gas leak problem? Can you send your phone number(s)?”

Ummmm….the gas leak is the same as it has been for nearly two weeks, of which I have outlined it in great detail in EVERY email that I’ve sent her. AND my phone numbers are at the bottom of EVERY email as well. Sheesh! I understand how people can lose their sanity just dealing with that crap of trying to live comfortably….simple little things like trying to wash my dishes with warm water and eat a warm home-cooked meal. so the gas pipe saga continues…check back for updates.

Last week the Youth Staff was formally introduced to the concepts of Composition & Framing. The photos the staff produced are really imaginative and daring. Some are still too timid to get crazy with their framing and subject matter, but they’ll find their groove. One staff member has a very poetic and subtle way of shooting…another is extremely experimental. It really is amazing to watch another person’s creative process.

Here’s a couple photos that the Youth Staff took of me while we were out shooting an assignment on Composition. They are pretty funny…


it was Halloween, therefore the demented synchronized swimmer’s hat (borrow from my great co-worker Steph).


yes….i still know how to work these things called cameras.

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
Robert Frost



“Fortuna, you vicious slut.”Ignatius P. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I love this quote, and after the past couple week’s events it makes perfect sense to start this post off with.

So…in my last post I was totally blubbering about moving into my new house giggling like a school girl on Valentine’s Day as I turned all the lights on and that kind of mumbo jumbo. How quickly the yang caught up with the Yin….and now Fortuna is laughing at me, but I don’t find the joke funny at all.

I “moved” into the house the day the electricity got turned on. The water was turned on the next day. It was three days until a technician for the gas company could come to turn the gas back on…no problem, I say. I can deal with not taking a warm shower or cooking on the stove for a few days (note: both water heater and stove are gas powered).

So, the gas guy comes – at 7:45am, mind you. (i was told between 8am-12pm). Okay, so he’s 15 minutes early. I can deal with that. He’s here to do me a favor, right?

Well…45 minutes later he tells me that he can’t turn the gas on because there’s a gas leak. A leak of 1.2 cubic feet of gas per hour. Not terribly bad I think at first, but then I start doing to math and that makes 28.8 cubic feet of gas per day….times how many days it has been leaking (a number which I can’t possibly know) and that the leak is most likely under the concrete floor in the kitchen. it’s an amount that is more than plenty to raise the house off the foundation should it ever explode.


I’ll spare ya’ll most of the details, but after one plumber came and gave his estimate of $1600 for repairs…and an average of a 24 hour (or more) delay in my email communications with the owner of the home who now lives in Jordan…and another plumber coming to see what he could do – I still have no gas, have taken one warm shower in the past two weeks (at my sister’s house last weekend) and have had to purchase an electric water kettle and an electric griddle. I won’t even complain about not being able to do my laundry (also gas powered).

I truly am a pretty darned flexible person and it usually takes a lot for me to get angry, but today I got really pissed off. REALLY PISSED OFF!!

This morning, after making my coffee with the assistance of my hot water kettle…and making my breakfast on my electric griddle…I ventured to the back yard to water the trees because they were starting to droop. I attached the hose to the water spigot along the back wall of the house, turned the water and was greeted with hissing. Water was spraying from the base of the water spigot and then…Boom!…the whole thing blew off due to the water pressure.

Old faithful on my very own patio. Charming? No.

It took me twenty minutes to locate the water main and turn the water off completely. At that moment I had no gas AND no water. Superb! (insert sarcasm here).


Luckily (??), a plumber was able to come this afternoon to take a look. The first estimate he tossed at me was nearly $500.00…a sum that is totally not in my budget and one that I can’t approve without the homeowner’s consent. He took pity on me and only charged me the $30.00 consultation fee. He replaced the corroded pipe, not charging me for either the labor or the new pipe. It’s a band-aid solution, which allowed me to at least turn the water back on in the house so I can wash my hands and such, but one that took my cooling system off line.

What gives?

How long is “long enough” for a new tenant to expect hot water for a shower and to be able to use the oven?

I absolutely love the house, but if the gas leak situation isn’t fixed REALLY soon, I don’t see how I have any other option but to find a different place to live.

I send a special thanks out to Becki, William and my sister Julie for allowing me to vent my frustrations over the phone. Thanks for being such great sounding boards and for not taking my anger/frustrations personally! Much love to all of you. I cross my fingers that this gas situation is fixed soon. Becki arrives for a visit in 12 days and I’d feel like a rotten host if a warm shower wasn’t available.