Have a Holly Jolly...Day of the Dead?

Christmas this year was awesome! This may be the only year I've ever received what I asked for; in this case a Canon G-10 camera. My hubby is far more sneaky than I thought... So now you'll be seeing snapshots taken by me - not nearly the photo quality of my husband's, but in a much more timely manner. And as you can imagine, I photo'd just about everything from Christmas day.

This pie didn't get eaten; in fact I fished it from the trash to take this pic. A bit like foam rubber, I thought.

We got up so early to open presents (Honey was kicking me out of bed at 7am) there was a lot of free time between present elation and prep for dinner. I think we watched Nostrodamus 2012 (by the way, I'm now pretty convinced the world as we know it will end or just literally end. But even if I'm wrong its a great excuse to recklessly go after your dreams) and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, which I didn't care for nearly as much as the first one. Honey helped me start the pork wellington - it came out devine even after too long in the oven. Get the recipe here.

This is before the oven.                                                                                 This is after carving.

This is some of my holiday sparkle. Photo taken by me with the help of a mirror.

Alethea and Darrin joined us for dinner and an impromptu Day of the Dead photo shoot. Alethea was also kind enough to bring some of the most heavenly mac 'n cheese ever and guid-moc-shoe - it's a veggie dish covered in bacon, even my husband ate it. Here are some pics of the make-up session and resulting spectre.

One big happy, albeit strange, family. Unfortunately the pic with Darrin in it was blurry, but he's family anyway :)

The Ol' Days

I was thinking when I went to bed last night: about this time 8 years ago Honey and I were living out of a Lincoln Towncar in snowy Minnesota. We were so broke we lived off the McDonald’s dollar menu and camped at the construction site where Honey worked. On pay days, we got the cheapest hotel we could find to shower and do laundry. We were cold, hungry, and completely free. I may have been quoted as saying, “You know if we had a van and it wasn’t wintertime, this would be great.” I know for me it was a huge growing experience: I spent most of my days scribbling in journals; we lost everything in a storage unit we couldn’t pay for (I’m still upset about my VitaMix…), the alternator died on the Lincoln… I didn’t have a choice but to suck it up and become stronger.

And then the pendulum began to swing the other way.

Honey got his ‘break-in’ job at state line, then his gig at the Rio. I went back to school and got the gig at Wynn. We were making what we considered ‘bank’; we had the house, a fancy car, the fishing boat…

And here we are now: getting pretty close to the freedom of having nothing to worry about. I can’t say I’m upset by that. As hard as it was in MN, it was also simple. We could all use a little more ‘simple’ in our lives.

If you’re in Vegas any time soon, swing by O’Shea’s on the Las Vegas Strip and check out Acoustic Soul. They’re the only ‘jukebox’ band I’ve ever heard that sings solely by request and they rock. However, there website pics kinda suck – we’re hoping to help them with that.

Got to see Train perform not to long ago. Pat Monahan has recovered from the bronchitis that caused them to cancel performing at Bite of Las Vegas, and they sounded awesome live. The venue though, Pure Nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, totally sucked: standing room only, $9 drinks, and zero access to the bathroom due to stage placement and the crowd. Not a good choice to host a live band.

Anyway, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Enjoy it in whatever fashion you can manage. Remember it’s not about the stuff, but the memories and time well spent.

Altered Perspective

Let me see if I can express this…

I read somewhere that your soul is like a bird inside your chest. That’s what makes your stomach flutter, your imagination soar, and your heart swell with feeling. Mine is trying its damnedest to get out right now; she’s flapping about so hard it feels a bit like floating and that I can’t breathe at the same time. We saw a movie tonight that truly moved me. There was a beautiful world, alive with life, like nothing I’ve ever seen or will see. There was a tribe bound together by a great energy that resided in all things. There was harmony and balance. It was awash in color and vibrancy that I struggle to describe. Quite possibly it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

This produces two distinct reactions in me, at complete opposites with each other. On one side, I’m overflowing with hope, a sense of happiness and peace, and an inner smile that’s felt in every fiber of my being. On the other, everything around me looks flat, gray, and lifeless, and the point of everything is completely lost. I’ve lost all perspective about here.

Which brings up something I’ve struggled with my whole life, since I was old enough to read and fully comprehend sci-fi novels: the urge to be something other than I am and be someplace other than here. I’m not talking about being a lawyer instead of a designer, or living in Hawaii instead of Las Vegas. I mean something more than me and someplace out of this world. As you can imagine, it makes it rather hard to be content within myself.

Honey tells me I’m going to have to make peace with myself within the world I live in, inside my little sphere of influence. Do what I can, where I can, and find peace knowing I’ve done everything possible to make my world better. It feels almost pointless, if I’m being totally honest. People can be so horrible; there’s greed, want for power, soulless fools who think only of themselves. These are the so-called ‘civilized’ people of the world. This is not the first time I’ve been ashamed to be human.

And yet…there is hope. I’m not quite sure for what; it’s very ethereal and if I try to grasp it too hard or define it, it slips away, but my future prayers will be for the balance of life in all things. Everything wanted in life seems pointless, the stuff, the money, the need for bigger, better, more, but this – this has purpose.

Go see Avatar and see if it doesn’t change your perspective… I can’t be the only one.

Awesome Weekend

I've just had an awesome weekend: took a 'personal day' and went Christmas shopping (Honey is taken care of), went hiking in Valley of Fire for a photo shoot, got some excellent one-on-one time with my hubby, made sugar cookies, and got a massage. I am a happy camper. :)

Last Thursday night we had a shoot downtown. Apparently you're not allowed to wear a mask around the vendors because they're afraid of theft - even if your arms are tied behind your back in a straight jacket. A lady handing out flyers made a bee-line for Darrin, saying he needed this (this being a brochure for mental health during the holidays). We got to walk around for maybe ten minutes before security showed up and escorted us to the other side of LV Blvd. Right before we crossed, the guard asked if Darrin would put the mask back on so he could take a picture on his camera phone. There was another security guard on the other side of the street who wanted a picture also. Guess he's already been alerted to the presence of a man in hot pink tights, a straight jacket, and gas mask.

Sunday's shoot was at Valley of Fire - there was no nudity so we didn't get hassled or kicked out this time. We did get some strange looks though, hiking off into the wilderness with 20 black balloons streaming behind us. Stephanie, our model that day, gets big trooper points for not complaining - it was cold and windy and she was wearing a strapless dress and no shoes. On our way back out there was a wedding party, all of them freezing their tails off in wedding attire, who actually got married on a rock while we got a couple last shots on the road. I told Honey they couldn't borrow our balloons, which are still in the back of my truck.
So is anyone ready for Christams? We put the tree up yesterday, but didn't do the outside lights because of the rain. I need to find something nice for Mom. We're going to be printing calendars of Honey's photography...I was just thinking of making them available for purchase thru here... more on that later, and as always feedback is appreciated. Off to work, like a good leming.

Missed You Guys!!

Long time no post. Yeah I know. This last month has been rather uneventful for me. Seems all the photo shoots are during my work hours, hence I don’t get to assist or pick up fun stuff for blog content.

We did go to the 2009 Aviation Nation at Nellis AFB. It was cold and windy, but the jets all flew, the parachute jumpers jumped, and a good time was had by all. I ate entirely too much kettle corn. We got to watch a gun store with wings run drills and set off explosions. (A crowd always loves a good explosion). My personal favorite was the C-17. It’s a cargo plane half the size of a football field (175’W x 170’L) that weighs 315,000 lbs without cargo and floats through the skies like a 300 lb woman gracefully doing toe-point ballet. It was enough for me to seriously consider joining up if I could only work on that plane. That and past a physical.

We did our customary “Strays Thanksgiving”; there were 9 of us. There were two strippers - one male, one female – and two massage therapists, one who moonlights as a professional clown, one very short Mexican woman (Mom), a bible-reading nude photographer, a retired Alabama boy who never turns down a meal (he turned down turkey day in Alabama to be with us), my good Honey and myself. We extended the table using a spare, 12ft sheet of chipboard and a king-sized bed sheet. Everything was ready on time, the male stripper texted thru most of dinner, my pumpkin crisp was renamed “insanity cake”, everyone got leftovers, and a good time was had by all…until I remembered I had to work the next morning – that part supremely sucked.

This weekend we went to the indoor swap meet, to see Ninja Assassin and 2012 (in D-box). Let me just say that the main character of Ninja, a man who goes by the name Rain, gives the phrase “body karate” a whole new meaning. I’m still having dreams. I’ll be buying that when it hits DVD. 2012 was also awesome, just in a different way. We watched it in D-box, the new 4th dimension movie experience where the seats move like a motion ride. The only drawback is the vibrations seriously speed up how fast soda filters down the system…yeah.

And on a humorous note, I’ve just been looking through the gag gift catalogs that come every year. They include T-shirts that read “looking for love, but will settle for green jelly beans”, “Danger: mouth operates faster than brain”, and “easily distracted by shiny objects” (my personal favorite). Also a door mat that reads: “never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic” and a wall plague that reads “Diplomacy: the art of telling someone to go to hell, and having them look forward to the trip”. All winners for the kinds of people I shop for.

Can you spot Yours Truly?

Happy Halloween everybody. I’m writing this in between hordes of munchkins coming to the door. When I was a kid we walked till Mom was tired and went home; now they’re driving them around and releasing them in waves at the mouth of each cul-de-sac. We didn’t expect this many and will be out of candy soon; for self preservation the guys are going to get more. Kinda like a beer run…

I was all excited last week because the desktop has been resurrected and I was about to get my computer back. Unfortunately, Photoshop CS4 runs better on 4GB of memory than 2GB and now we’re where we started – I still don’t have my own PC. Combine that with Honey’s prolific schedule in the studio and basically I never see this thing. Sad, I know.

So 15+ models have come through the studio; I’ve missed just about all of them. Well, actually all of them. My days off he hasn’t scheduled any shoots. The last one I went to involved an awesome cat from London named Nick; there was a Mohawk and yellow skivvies involved. I’ll say no more. Check him out on Model Mayhem.

There are still no pics from Bite of LV. By the time they’re ready I’m sure no one will care. I’m getting the barking kind of response – he says I’m nagging. So until he’s ready I guess we all wait.
Please enjoy the visuals.

Trying to catch up...not there yet

Ok, so there's an old post (already written) and a new post (swirling dangerously in the gray matter), both of which are admittedly very overdue. As usual, I was waiting for edited photos and computer time, which should be remedied soon, more details later. On to the old-to-me, new-to-you post.
I think I’m losing my mind, people. I’ve been having dreams about counting (probably due to the recent inventory at work), being a Wild West woman (complete with trusty steed and shooting people), chasing things, being chased by things (what kind of things in either case I don’t know), and the largest build-your-own-whopper-sundae ice cream parlor ever. This morning in the grocery store I thought there was nothing to eat in the whole place. And I think my age is showing: I’ve made a good friend of a 75-yr old woman, and I recently listened to an 18-yr old tell a roomful of strangers she should get married immediately (to her lesbian girlfriend of 4 months) because she might die at any moment. My immediate solution to this whole mess is to make at least two batches of cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Everything seems better after you’ve eaten a cupcake.

And what is with the people who’ll gladly pay twice as much for something that has a box versus the same thing that doesn’t??? It’s just a box!

We got a little spoiled this last Saturday (Oct 17-also just learned the pics still aren't ready. sorry gang). We got to go to Bite of Las Vegas ’09 as VIP guests. Bite of LV is a one-day festival where a bunch of restaurants come out and sell sample-sized versions of their dishes so you can try them. There’s live music; this year there was Catherine McPhee, Parachutes, Uncle Kracker, Blue October, plus some local bands. Train was supposed to be there but had to cancel last minute cuz the lead singer ended up in the hospital with dehydration or something. So as VIP’s, we got access to a fenced off area beside the main stage, free water, free beer (Michelob Ultra only), and catered food we didn’t have to pay for. There were tables and chairs under a pavilion, private port-a-potties, and a little area used for “underground lounge” type performances. We got to hear Katherine McPhee and Parachutes sing acoustic from 6 feet away. I got my picture taken with Katherine; she thought Honey with his big camera was a paparazzi – she says thru the corner of her smile, “Do you know him?” I got a kick out of it. I also got a poster of Parachutes signed by all the band members, who are very down to earth guys. I think we were there about 7 hours. If we’d had to buy all the water we drank we wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long. The lasagna from Brio was fantastic, the guys really liked the spare ribs from Roy’s, and the folks at Cupcake Lane saw us three times. Like I said, everything is better after a cupcake. We had a great time and will be back next year (but quite possibly only if we get VIP tickets again – it made all the difference).

Don’t know if I’ve said, but the home studio is finished. Honey’s been very busy in it. A few samples of the fruits are below:

Two Weeks in Photos

There’s a photo shoot going on right now in the newly constructed studio. I’m here but I’m apparently no longer necessary. I’m needed to clean up and make sure the house is presentable, cook chicken wings and order pizza, but Honey is something of a one-man show in a studio. Fruits of that shoot will be along soon.

A couple things I should address for anyone who’s curious: I finally got to see the horror short that Kendra was in (she’s the disturbing child clown), and honestly I was confused and thus didn’t ever post the link. It was something along the line of ‘bad things are coming to get Daddy, but your guardian angel (Mommy) will protect you if you sit in this bathtub’; then Daddy gets attacked by an orc (for lack of a better term). Daddy got disemboweled, then the orc considers Kendra thru the shower curtain (a clear one no less), and Mommy turned into a demon, kinda like something at the end of those emails where you’re supposed to stare at the super hot chick but then she turns into a zombie hag accompanied by the scream from the Exorcist. And that was the end. I personally thought Kendra was creepier during our photo shoot.

Secondly, the photos from the other photo shoot I was working on getting are done. They’re here for you now.

Then there's the stuff from Stephanie, aka The Guess Model.

And lastly, a sample from the Barrit Jackson auto auction and a very disturbing creature at the Renaissance Festival.
For those that don't know, that's a Maserati emblem.

Can You See the Baby in this Picture??

Note: Honey still isn't ready with Meghan O's images - they'll be up as they're available.
It’s been another busy weekend. We worked with the lovely and always prepared Meghan O’Hare on Saturday night. Also got to meet her new fiancé, Ben. Congrats, you two! The location was basically in the middle of nowhere on some railroad tracks. I think a total of three cars passed in the two hours or so that we were there. Very eery after dark.

Sunday we met up with a fellow photog. While on vacation in Hawaii he got his main camera wet with sea water (for those that don’t know that equals instant death). His back up camera is in the shop, so we loaned him our old Sony, the one we bought for my college graduation pictures back in the day. His model for the day was…damn - and not in a good way. She had really bad acne, the make-up she put over it was too light for her skin tone, and there wasn’t an inch of her with any muscle tone. Plus she was almost 30 minutes late and still had to get ready. Ladies, this is not how to be professional model! She wants to work with Honey. I’m gonna leave that as “no comment”.

Later that afternoon we did our first expectant mother photo shoot. Belly pictures are a must have for soon-to-be grandmothers apparently. The model and I used to work together; I haven’t seen her since I quit, mostly due to scheduling conflicts or either of us being out of town. We’d sent sample photos to give her some ideas; it took about an hour and a half altogether. She was, as I’m sure all expectant mothers are, concerned about stretch marks and looking lumpy in places, but Honey smoothed everything and she’s very happy with the two sneak peak photos she’s received so far. I think we’ll be doing her new born pictures here in the next 3-4 weeks. Fingers crossed.

The Britney Spears concert was surprisingly good. I say that because it never would have occurred to me to buy tickets, but having gotten them for free – which reminds me I need to send an email thank you – it was really good. She had two opening acts; someone named Kristinia Debai and Jordan Sparks, who looked fabulous in a black fringe dress. Then there was a 25-minute intermission of sorts. A big clock showed up on the megatron saying the show will begin in…and started counting down. When the show, called The Circus, did get underway there were real circus acts: acrobats, feits of balance, ninja warriors, and a very talented and flexible lady with lots of hoola hoops. The crowd cheered so loud when Britney did take the stage that I think I went slightly deaf for a few minutes.

I gotta give it to the girl – she’s gotten her shit together. She looks good, can strut the entire concert in heels, and has learned not to dance all the time and so hard that she can’t catch her breath to sing. This time she was actually singing and she’s got a good voice live. The stage, which I’m sure was custom made for her, has three discs (to represent the three rings of a circus, duh) and lots of floor panels that spin, raise, lower, etc. There was also a round LED screen the size of the center circle (think like 30 feet across) that raised and lowered to show videos and stuff in between sets and costume changes. And it was a sold out show, which in these economic times, is saying something.

Attendees ranged from 8-yr old kids to woman in their 40’s or beyond, some dressed like they were going to prom and some like they were going to a backyard bbq. I saw a lot of skin, some good and some other, and one man dressed convincingly in the blue stewardess outfit from the ‘Toxic” video – he had very nice legs and managed just fine in heels. I watched four grown women seat-hop and get booted three different times before returning to their original seats. It was a good time.

Yesterday (Monday) we took Darryl to dinner for his birthday which was earlier last week. As far as Honey is concerned, his last meal if he ever gets on death row will be stuffed shrimp embrochette and bananas foster. We all ate too much and it was savor-ever-bite fabulous. I’m pretty sure that’s the only dish I’ve eaten at that particular seafood house.

Oh! Before dinner I managed to tame the closet monster. It took 4 hours and several waves of dust bunnies, but I reign victorious. It was a pretty big deal so I thought I’d share.

Please enjoy the music

Play music here
So I haven't got the link to Kendra's horror short. And Honey isn't ready with pictures from the last photo shoot, even though I have the next blog written already. I'm working on both parts, hopefully coming soon...

Brianna, Stephanie, Seth, and Kendra

I’m writing to you from a work computer today. Not that I’m seeking sympathy for my crazy schedule (photo shoots, work, meeting models, fishing, business infrastructure, the necessities of everyday life, etc) I just hope ya’ll appreciate my dedication, despite how long it’s taken to publish this post.

Last week Honey did a photo shoot with two new models, Brianna and Stephanie. I didn’t get to go since I was working – same feelings as previous shoots I’ve had to miss: bummed, “it’s not the same without me”, etc. But Honey got some great stuff out of it.

Just found out the guys are going to Henderson for a car show without me. Again, bummed.

Got to go fishing last weekend. After you’ve gone for 8 days, 3 days just seems kinda short, like you’re not trying hard enough, but now that I have a job it’s the best we can hope for. We got rained on twice the first day, both times hard enough to bring us in off the lake. The second time we headed back to camp, because even though the rain had passed us, the camp was getting dumped on, and Honey had had the bright idea earlier to leave the rain cover off the tent so it could “air out” from the last trip… luckily there wasn’t too much stuff in there to get wet and what did was dry by night fall. His first ‘blonde’ moment of the trip. His second came the next day when we launched the boat to fish, and as the boat was sinking at the dock, Honey realized he forgot to put the drain plug back in (after taking it out so all the rain water could drain). There was good fishing that afternoon; Honey caught an 18” bass that came home as fillets. The last day was so windy we weren’t on the lake much. The fishing was lousy; caught one decent rainbow trout but decided it wasn’t worth the hassle for one fish and let him go. Maybe it’s snobby, but I love fish only if it’s no longer attached to its body. We had lunch and both of us dragged our feet a bit when it came time to pack up. That was our last trip with our faithful boat.

“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.”
–Henry David Thoreau

We know, the fish are just a bonus.

The first day home we had a night shoot with a Cirque family, featuring Seth and his sister Kendra. It was a lot of laughs and flowed easily. Kendra is in a 3-minute horror film you can see on youtube.com here.

A Lady and a Clown

Labor Day, aka Creepy Clown shoot day. It was a last minute deal; the model called and said “hey, I’m off tomorrow, you wanna shoot?” Of course, we said yes. Alethea's boyfriend Darrin is a professional clown (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) and apparently his “inner creepy clown” is just below the make-up. See Alethea's link at right. We met at a bar – we’ve never shot in a bar before – this one a seedy little, off-neighborhood bar which shall remain nameless. We expected it to be empty; the people expected a peaceful afternoon drinking, not I’m sure, a clown and photography show…it worked out. One couple carried on like they were witnessing something akin to celebrity. These are a sampling of the fruits of Labor Day…

We also met an upcoming, prospective model that night. I’ll link to her site when she has something worth showing – she’s in full agreement of that statement, by the way. That was after Applebee’s “2 for $20” and a mile high ice cream pie. It was a great day.

Last night was the monthly meeting of LVPS, a rather disorganized and forced emotion kind of night. When people say they’re excited but their body language says otherwise, it’s very confusing. There was “brief” presentation of Lightroom. I sat through one of these in Portland that lasted 2.5 hours; the local one was very similar. So far both presenters have been lazy wedding photogs.

Tonight we’re guesting at the Nevada Camera Club (NVCC). They’re having a guest speaker from the Review Journal on photojournalism. We’ll see how it goes. My only complaint so far is the chairs are agonizing. Young and spry meets hard and non-ergonomic.

Lightning and Thunder

It’s been kinda busy this week. Darryl, Guy, and Honey went to Hoover Dam to see the completed arch. For those not familiar with the area, there is a massive arch bridge under construction to connect Nevada to Arizona, bypassing the dam which was never meant to carry as much traffic as it currently does, called the Colorado River Bridge. See details on their website here. The roadway that will be on top isn’t finished yet, but the keystone of the arch was placed not long ago and I’m told it’s pretty impressive. It was stormy on the day the guys went and Darryl Ginwright caught this amazing lightning shot.

We got free tickets to the Brittney Spears concert the end of this month. My job has some perks after all, besides being ridiculously laid back, easy money, and stress free. Her new album is good; there’s only one song I don’t care for. It should be a T&A festival of epic proportions. We’ll let you know.

Last night we went downtown for the last night of “Summer of ‘69”. For the last two months free concerts have been held every weekend, the bill being footed by the casinos on Fremont Street, who I’m sure are easily making back their money in beer sales. Got to see a guy win a ’69 Camaro. There was a really bad Fleetwood Mac tribute band.

It became a mob. A stationary mob with people trying to pass thru spaces that weren’t actually spaces to get to the other side. Some people made multiple trips in both directions. We got very friendly with lots of people we didn’t know, to say the least. The band was Three Dog Night and was very good. I was surprised how many songs I knew, having not been born yet during their peak years. After awhile, the crowd was starting to feel suffocating, so we headed for open space away from the stage. Honey is very effective at getting thru a crowd; he basically squares up and walks – people just move. There were a few who didn’t and were nearly bowled off their feet – we didn’t feel bad about this since it’d been happening to us for the last hour. There’s no such thing as crowd courtesy.

We witnessed a fight, sorta. A big Hawaiian guy was walking towards us; he stopped and looked at another guy, punched him in the face, and kept walking. The guy doing the punching was former heavy weight boxer, James Thunder. Once ranked 12th in the world by the WBA, he’s now homeless by choice on the streets of Las Vegas. He holds the record for the fastest knockout ever. See it here. The guy being punched was an off-duty police officer from Arizona, who thankfully wasn’t carrying a gun because he was drinking that night. Having witnessed an assault on an officer, we stuck around to write statements. We’ve seen James many times before; he hangs out downtown, always shirtless and shadow boxing (it’s like boxing the invisible man – you’re going thru all the moves but no one is there). He looks exactly the same now as he does in the video I linked – in top shape and ready for a match. The marshal who arrived on the scene knows James from a previous incident, where he put another marshal in the hospital with a broken nose and ax-handle to the head. He said drugs and a criminal record are keeping James out of the ring. I guess he can’t get a license to box. Every time I’ve seen him though, boxing appears to be all he thinks about. It’s a shame.

I miss my Friend

I don’t really know how to write this. I’d planned to write a post on what animals can teach us based on a great email I got. And then my best animal friend died.

Bubba was my favorite; I won’t try to pretend otherwise. He shared my pillow (often completely stole it), comforted me when I was sick or sad, waited in the window for me to get home, and stayed up until I went to bed, often reminding me how late it was getting. My neighbor called him a puma and joked we should have a permit. Darryl called both of them dogs, saying they were too cool to be cats. I called him Handsome a lot, with his big blue eyes. My massive Siamese, who wasn’t old or sick, was found dead in our garage last night. An hour earlier he’d been lounging in front of our TV. We don’t know what took him, but we’re speculating about a heart attack or a black widow. There’s nothing poisonous in there for him to accidentally eat. So we cried like school children, held each other, and buried him in the back yard. Honey’s never had a pet long enough for it to die on him; he was pretty upset. I broke down again after work today – there are too many big empty places where he should be. His sister, Bebe is taking it fairly well. She’s lying on the computer desk in front of my monitor right now so she can be with. She’s more of an internal-emotion type cat; never seems to care about much, but if her brother got locked outside she’d let me know.

So then there was one. It’s brutal to say, but I wish it was the other one.

So the animal lessons are as follows:

Live simply.
Love generously...
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

First Solo Trip

Well, Honey got to go to Antelope Canyon in Arizona without me this past week. I keep telling him he shouldn’t miss out on opportunities to see amazing stuff just cuz I have to work, but…it sucked to be left home. Here are some of the shots from that trip.

I didn’t get a whole lot of details; the trip was basically eat, photo, sleep, repeat. As I understand it, Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope are across the highway from each other and belong to two different Indian tribes. The Lower ones are much friendlier than the Upper ones.
The next trip we’re hoping for is to San Diego Zoo. I said it had to be a weekend trip so I can go. I’m missing all the fun staying at home, regardless that I’m working towards our dreams.

Met up with a friend I worked with in Portland last night. She’s now home-basing in Minnesota in her home town, but came to Vegas for a concert and to see friends. We took her to the coveted local taco place and for frozen custard; both were a big hit. Took the ceremonial drive up the Strip back to her hotel; the smoke from California fires are killing our skyline right now, but the lights still look good. Hope to see her again soon.

Long Trip - Not Long Enough

I’ve been stalling off writing this post a little bit. I think my head is still in the mountain-fresh air, lazing in a camp chair, watching the Milky Way and random satellites wheeling by. Going to work the following morning was a bitch.

So we didn’t fish on this “fishing trip”. Anyone who’s ever traveled with a photographer will tell you that every trip, regardless of original purpose, becomes a photo trip. I just traveled with two of them. The near-cliché of “have camera, will travel” is practically the photographer’s motto [ section deleted by author ].


Panguitch was beautiful as always. The folks at Bear Paw Lakeview Resort remember us and are expecting their first child together in October, hopefully right after they shut down for the season and not before (Congratulations, Nikki and Adrien!). We docked the boat but never used it. There was just enough wind to make the lake choppy with little white caps, and if you’ve ever been on a boat, even one with a flat bottom that’s stable in the water like ours, choppy water is basically no fun and the fishing will be lousy. We went to Bryce Canyon National Park a day ahead of plan. On the way, we stopped at The Paunsaugunt Wildlife Museum (aka The Bryce Museum). I’ve driven by it twice now on previous trips and decided to stop. I hugely underestimated – it was amazing. 800 animals on display in life-like scenes, all the way down to the lizards and toads, with real preserved plants and backgrounds painted by a wildlife artist. 1600 butterflies from around the world. Not to mention trophy game fish, beetles and bugs to give you nightmares, a rhino skull (already deceased – they’re endangered you know), an ocean shell collection like I’ve never seen…a lot of visitors just wrote “WOW” in the guest book. There were also a herd of live fallow deer outside you could feed corn; there was a lot of begging and slobbering involved. Absolutely worth stopping if you’re going that way.

On to Bryce. Somewhere in the region there was a wild fire going and unfortunately it made the horizon a bit hazy. We did every stop on the scenic route through Bryce (with the exception of Inspiration Point and Paria View), saving the best for last (Bryce Point, aka The Amphitheater). Darryl was with us on this trip and as far as I’m concerned, he can go on every trip. The guy is great to road trip with – never complains, always enthusiastic, laughs easy – just make sure you have your own tent cuz he snores like a grizzly bear. On our way back to camp we stopped at the worst steak house I think I’ve ever been too; even Darryl couldn’t find anything nice to say. At the Family Steakhouse outside of Bryce but before Red Canyon it took 30 minutes for us to be acknowledged with water. I saw one waiter for probably 40 tables and only one table of people chewing. Everyone else was just sitting there fiddling with their menus and looking around with that hungry stare and probably contemplating biting someone. Honey seasoned his own steak and slathered it in the equivalent to A-1 sauce to make it edible. I had a Rueben to be on the safe side but the main filler was sauerkraut instead of roast beef. The iced tea nearly put hair on my chest so I sent it back; when we finally left we ask the cashier to take the tea off the bill, and I swear she looks at Darryl (who was gracious enough to buy dinner that night) and says “Is that the $1.95?” Enough said.

The following day the skies cleared a bit. The guys decided if I wouldn’t kill them for asking, they’d really like to go back to Bryce to get better horizons and improve on a few not-as-spectacular-as-it-could-be photos. We agreed on the four main stops only, had a hearty breakfast that almost put us back in our sleeping bags, and decided we’d make it back to the café for a buffalo burger even if it meant leaving early. The guys get all starry-eyed and start drooling when you mention the buffalo burger. At first, I wasn’t impressed cuz it didn’t look like much: bun, burger, bbq sauce, and an onion ring. Where’s the stuffing – you know lettuce, tomato, pickle? But it didn’t need anything else. We each had it twice in the three days we were there.

So we returned to Bryce. Darryl had purchased the Annual National Parks pass, which paid for itself entirely on this trip. It’s $25 a car to get into both Bryce and Zion. This time around we did Inspiration Point and Paria View (which has been closed all trips previous), and Bryce Point. Paria View is under-publicized as far as I can tell. It’s not on the list of “if you only have a short time in Bryce, see this” list, but it should be. It’s the view that gets you closest to the landscape and gives you a slight feeling of vertigo as it shows you the depth of the canyons, plus you can see for miles. We skipped Sunrise and Sunset Points because the views we were seeing were better, and the buffalo burger was calling us. We’d been discussing shooting the sunset at Cedar Breaks National Monument, which is actually an overlook platform on the edge of a cliff. But I believe it was Darryl who said first, and was quickly supported by my hubby, that if the burger would be rushed, we weren’t going. That got compromised too. Adrien, the owner of Bear Paw, gave us directions to see Cedar Breaks from the side, thus putting the sun off the shoulder instead of in the face. On the way we were slightly sidetracked of course - by skidding off the road to photograph the fire suppression helicopter while it sucked up 700-1000 gallons of water from a reservoir. Darryl’s big lens got some great shots on both cameras and we still made it in time to see the sunset.

Third day we pulled the boat out of the water since we weren’t going to fish. It basically acted as a gear-hauling trailer this trip, and a good one. We slept in, packed up, ate hearty (the order of those last two is very important), and headed for Zion, via Panguitch for gas and a ridiculously thick milkshake, which I later managed to drip all over my lap whilst driving highway speed and trying to kill a spider on my leg simultaneously. By the time we got to Zion I think we were all just worn out. We found parking at the visitors’ center in an RV space; even though the sign said the lot was full (it always says that). We took the shuttle to the last stop and walked to the river bank to take some photos, and get my feet wet. This was not to be the trip where we spontaneously decided to hike the Narrows for several hours. We got back on the shuttle, back to the visitors center, back to the car, and into town for our traditional dinner at Oscar’s Café. I know I’ve linked their menu here before, and as always it was awesome. We all got chili verde pork burritos, plus a pesto quesadilla. Nobody had room for dessert and we had to walk it off for awhile before even considering the drive home. We went across the street to David Pettit’s photo gallery. The guy uses 4x5 large format (huge!) and has some breathtaking images of Antelope Canyon. There was also some cool pottery by a local artist I wasn’t allowed to touch. The guys started chatting techno-speak so I went next door to the book shop. Unfortunately, I found the same photo book I’d found the guys at the visitor’s center – only half price. Oops.

Another amazing and memorable trip for the books – or blog, as it were. The ‘service engine soon’ light came on the night before we left, stayed on the entire trip, and went out as we were pulling out of Springdale for the drive home. Either it realized we were completely ignoring it or it just got tired – it hasn’t been on since.

Don’t know when the next trip will be, but I’m dreaming about it already.

Another Re-Arrangement of your Typical Week

Today is actually my Thursday. We’re leaving Friday for four days of sunshine, cool temps, fishing, sight-seeing of the highest caliber, amazing food (a trip essential), and camaraderie. So tomorrow is my Friday before the actual Friday when we leave bright and early. The main reason I’m keeping this job, as opposed to applying for others offering twice the money in my original field (aside from the possibility of a complete fallout like Portland), is these guys don’t hassle me at all about wanting time off for trivial [to some] activities like fishing. For the record, fishing is not trivial.

And so today is the day Honey decided to clean out the garage, which actually has nothing to do with the fishing trip as far as I can tell. But he took 6 boxes to Good Will, and bunch of stuff to storage, pushed the camping gear into the living room…I’m truly excited about this since I’ve been trying to get him motivated for the task for the last two years. He’s doing it because he’s building a studio in there. Bought the insulation so nobody dies and everything. His timing is a bit…interesting, but he’s cleaning the garage so I gave him a margarita and let him be.

I got kicked off here for awhile.

But it’s back to business now. The bra has been ditched, there’s a pudding chocolate brownie in front of me, and the boys have run off to play darts and trade jokes of a homosexual nature with the neighbors – tonight is Dart Night. Also used to be Girls Night except no one’s interested but me. Ah well. Their lost – I’m fabulous.

Meet Steve

Hi everyone, this is Steve. Well, this was Steve. Steve has now been reduced to several Ziploc bags in my freezer and various other refrigerators around town. He will be fondly remembered when all leftovers are gone.

The bbq was a great success. People showed up, much eating and drinking ensued, and merriment was abounded. I got to put on gloves and do horrible things to Steve under the watchful eyes of my colleague and fellow, temporary forensics specialist, Beth. I managed to get to work the next morning, though in a somewhat altered state (see previous post).

(This is actually where I left off last time…)
Last Sunday we were invited to an exhibition of roller derby, as part of RollerCon 2009 by fellow photog and podcaster, Sazzy and The Vegas Tourist. I’m not sure what I expected – ok that’s not entirely true, I expected vicious bloody combat like you see in the movies – but it actually turned out to be rather tame. I don’t know the rules of course, so I cheered when my section cheered. The people-watching was worth the drive; we stayed for less than two hours and called it quits. Sazzy had attended the two previous days in full and was exhausted.

We went to see Julia & Julie today. It had a lot of great one-liner advice, things like “Don’t be afraid; never apologize or give explanations”, “Home is wherever we are”, and “You can never have too much butter”. Honey and I spent the entire ride home discussing our dreams for the future. Crazy stuff, all of it.

The night took an unfortunate turn, however, when I discovered the toilet wouldn’t fill, and in turn Honey discovered the water main to the house had burst…again. I just returned from taking a shower at the neighbors, whose bathroom I’ve never been in before. It was a bit like college, collecting all my stuff into a little basket and walking down the hall (or in this case, across the street) in my bathrobe. Their shower head is short and the spray hits me in the chin with needle-like force, but I’m clean and can go out in public tomorrow without people giving me dirty looks or change because they think I’m a filthy bum.