Friday, December 28, 2007

5,4,3,2,1..... HaPpY NeW yEaR!

Well, it's just about upon us; another year! I checked on my resolutions for last year to see how I did and here's what I found......

~Lose 10 pounds........................ Lost 7, so it was close.

~Travel more............................. Went to the Sierra's 4 times for camping, kayaking, hiking,
cycling, and fishing. Spent a week in Monterrey. Several trips down to San Diego. Not bad!

~Become more creative............ Got back into photography and picked up the addictive habit of
printmaking. Started doing this blog. Pretty decent.

~Enjoy the family...................... Better than ever! I can't imagine having a better wife and son.

Sooooo, for 2008, here's the low down! I'm going to drop another 10-15 pounds, get back into bike racing, kick it up a notch on my art, do some serious outdoor adventures with my son, spend more grown-up time with my wife, do something spectacular with our front yard, stay healthy, and get one year closer to retirement (8 years and counting).

I hope 2008 is a good year for all!
The photo above is something I'm working on. It's the Minarette's in the Sierra's. Once I get a press, I plan on printing multiple images ad collaging them onto tie-dyed papers. We'll see how that works out......

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peace on Earth

As 2007 comes to a close, my wish for the Holidays is that the world finds a little more peace; that we reach in before we reach out, and that we find humanity in our actions.

I hope the Holiday Season finds you and yours safe, warm, and filled with Peace. Season's Greetings to all!

Curtis, Tami, & Kyle

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Last Piece of Lino

So, I get all these amazing cards and prints from some incredible printmakers from around the globe. Now, I'm all creative and inspired! I go to my lino stash and all I have is one sorry piece of 6x8 that has some bubbles in it. Well, time to make lemonade......

I did I quick rendering of a Maynard Dixon painting that graced the cover of Sunset Magazine back in 1903 and colored it with my wife's prisma pencils. Kinda fun! I think I'll revisit this subject again when I get some good lino in and I get better at carving.
Thanks to the printmakers on for providing so much inspiration!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fun & Sun Southern California...

For those who live in the land of 4 seasons, I thought I'd share with you what our morning was like in sunny & warm Southern California. Up here at 6000', we picked up about 6 inches of snow last night and the temps only crept up to 38 degrees.

Took the ladies out for a walk. Didn't take long for Shelly to pick up the scent of the rare Arctic snow squirrel. And Mabel? We'll, she was more concerned about the snow scraping her belly.

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Saturday, December 8, 2007


For several years, I've watched my wife get involved in swaps and challenges. I never appreciated just how much work they really are until I got involved in a print swap with 20 other folks. Dang!!!! It's hard work!

Thus far, I've received a couple of prints and I can see the addiction; it's completely fun to open up a card to see how others have interpreted a challenge. The prints I have received are amazing-much better than anything I'm capable of at this point in my relief print career.

Anyway, here's my submission for the exchange, done in a variety of colors. A great learning experience for me and definitely makes me want to get better and better!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Let Them Know

I'm in training this week; critical incident repsonse/hostage negotiation/dealing with mentally ill folks.... One of the facts stated in the training kinda intrigued me....

Adolescents report receiving ONE positive comment per week from their parents. Now, I'm thinking the number is so low because they are the ones reporting it! How many times have you said 'You look nice today' only to hear the retort of 'You're making fun of the way I look' or some version there of...

Still, I got to thinking and realized something. I constantly admire my son for the challenges he overcomes, the character he displays, and decency he shows towards himself and others. And, even though I think it, I don't always follow it up with anything verbal.

So, tonight, I told him I was very pleased with his report card, quite impressed with his art portfolio, and proud as to how he has been handling the last few weeks, what with my wife having to devote a lot of attention to her ailing mom right now. I swear he grew 3 inches taller and floated out of the room.

So, parents, give em' that good feedback, even more than you think you should. Sometimes it's hard to remember to do.

In honor of Kyle's artistic ability, here's a shot he did of the daschund. I told him to take some photo's, but make them interesting. Pretty good vision!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Under Watchful Eyes

I spent the afternoon trying to print up a linocut design for a seasonal card exchange. I'm pooped! Aside the fact that it was hard work using a barren to pull a bunch of prints, I had to deal with the pressure of an audience.......

My dogs kept a curious eye on me at all times; in part because they weren't sure if food was involved, in part because they heard me cussing quite a bit and didn't know if they were in trouble. For those who don't know, Shelly is the big dawg, a Hungarian Vizsla whose almost 7. Mabel is the lil' dawg, a Dapple Mini Dachshund whose about 9 months old. Quite a pair, especially when stalking squirrels (another sordid tale).

The card shot is a test. It's Akua Intaglio ink on sumi paper (the only paper I have as a rookie printmaker). I edged the card with a Krylon gold leaf pen for a little flair. Cardstock is parchment, 5x7.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Card Challenge II

In addition to the print below, I'm considering this one as well. I've got a thing about Canadian Geese and I'm going for a Northwest Native American look. I am incorporating "Joyous" as a homage to the season. Again, just a test print....
Any and all feedback is appreciated!!!!!

Card Challenge

Yes, the title could be from my wife's blog, but this is a challenge I've gotten into. Actually, it's the first I've ever gotten into.....

Anyway, the theme is winter season. Winter in Southern California isn't exactly Currier & Ives for it's scenery. But, I know it's getting cold somewhere when I start to see Canadian Geese coming down for the winter. So, that's my theme and I'm sticking with it!

Right now, it's a 5x7 print. I'm thinking I'll ultimately use ochre or rust Akua Itaglio inks on a natural mulberry paper. ANY feedback would be appreciated!!!! The photo is a test print, not a proof.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

1000 years ago, an artist sat in front of a sandstone wall. You wonder what went through his mind (and I assume it was a 'he' as it was generally a shaman or the like).

Was he trying to touch spirituality; was he trying to leave a message; was it his magnum opus; was he a tagger?

My guess? He sat there, just like I am today, saying "Dammit, I just can't make it work....." So, if you're stuck on your project, remember, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Hopefully I can crest the creative hump and get busy creating!

Monday, November 12, 2007

San Diego

With school still out due to the fires, we drove down to San Diego for the weekend. If I had to live in a metropolitan area, San Diego would be it. Laid back, lots of great restaurants, a thriving arts and cultural scene, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. We visited Sea World, Old Town San Diego, and Balboa Park (think Smithsonian's). We tried to get in to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, but it was pretty much sold out.

The culinary highlights included pumpkin pie gelatto, and a sandwich which had smoked turkey, fresh basil, tomatoes, gouda, red onion, cranberry mustard, and feta-cream cheese spread on a toasted whole grain bread. Yum!!!

Anyway, the picture is from the Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park. Not often that we all get to pose together!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

National Park Series

So, with the family down at Disneyland, I had a chance to do anything I felt like doing. Soooo, I slept in (til 7:00am- late for me), drank a whole pot of french roast, rode my bike for about three hours, took a nap, surfed the Internet, ate leftovers right from the pot, watched football, drank a beer or three, and did some carving.

I picked through some photo's from Zion National Park and found one of the Great White Throne with the Virgin River flowing beneath it. This particular rock face towers nearly 2000' above the valley floor. It was a poor photo as far as exposure, but the composition was decent, so I took a shot. I'm pretty pleased. I think I like monochromatic efforts more than color.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Autumn is my favorite time on the mountain. Despite the threat of forest fires, it still runs past other seasons for it's character and effect. Tourism seems to catch it's breath; tired from the summer visitors looking to escape the valley heat while quietly transitioning into it's winter persona for the snow.

Squirrels and woodpeckers scatter about in a manic frenzy to store fallen acorns and pine nuts, with blue jays screaming their encouragement. And the trees...... The dogwoods flushed with crimson hues, set against the dying golds of oaks and constant backdrop of evergreens and always in struggle to hold their flashy coat against the restless autumn breeze.

The air changes and sheds its heavy summer presence for a lighter, crisp feeling that invites you to breath in deeply. In all, it's like waking from a long afternoon nap, slightly groggy, but feeling energized and having the chance to see things with a renewed, if not fleeting, clarity.

So, I'll be out for a 3-4 hour ride on the bike today, enjoying the season. The photo was taken in Lone Pine, CA. last Autumn. Meanwhile, I'll leave the final word with a poem from Ernest Hemingway...

Best of all he loved the Fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sound of Silence

We are back and safely ensconced in our home. We are one of the few to have returned, so it's eerily quiet. Still. it's good to be back home. I threw in a shot of the fires at their worst. Notice, this was taken roughly from where the picture from the Butler Fire was taken (scroll down), but the omnipresence was overwhelming.

Giving credit where credit is due, the photo was taken by Kelly the Cable Guy and posted on rimof

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Home is Where the Heart Is

I was good all week, but today I needed to get back to the house to take a peek, pick up my bike, and have some quiet, creative time. Had to go through 5 roadblocks (man, it's good to have a badge aka-the brass pass...) to get there, but it was well worth it.

The house is fine; in fact it started to rain! There was quite a bit of ash and other burnt material so I'm relieved no spot fires happened.

Carved a little while I enjoy a beer. Never really appreciate those kind of moments until they are taken away, so I savored it. I felt compelled to say something about how I felt about the fires, and this is what came out. Did it on a scrap piece and, while it's not the best thing I've done, it felt good to do it.

For anyone else out there who visits, and is from SoCal, I hope your home is standing and you family is safe!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Can't post any new artistic efforts or photo's seeing's how we are off the mountain due to, as the local news loves to declare, FIRESTORM 2007!!! Our home is most likely to survive absolutely intact as the fires that threaten it seem to have burned away. But, this leaves all too much time to reflect on those that are not so lucky.

For those who don't know, Lake Arrowhead is a tiny community. Since most full-timers work "down the hill" you have to go the extra mile to find your niche and social group. For me, it's my cycling buddies; for my wife, her bunco and crafting friends. When the fires rip through neighborhoods that these folks go about living in, there's a certain amount of survivor's guilt that comes with knowing your home is safe. I have had to make the call to tell someone they have no home to return to. I can only guess that it's akin to telling someone they have a terminal disease.

I hope the best for all our neighbors, and for our mountain. It ain't paradise, but you can see it from there!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Power of Emotion

Rather than dwell on the events of the previous post, I put my emotions to use and decided to work on a scene from my favorite place in the world; the Eastern Sierra's. First, it's great to really concentrate and think about the locale for the print. It's almost like getting to go there. Second, coaxing the print out of the block, balancing the shadow and light, and seeing it reveal itself is very therapeutic.

So, without further commentary, here it is, titled "Sierra Moon."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The long week is over and ended on a horribly tragic note. This morning our SWAT team was assisting a neighboring city, Rialto, with search warrant services. While making entry into a drughouse, a Rialto officer was critically shot and succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

The regional trauma center is in my city and my shift shut down the world in order to get officer's, friends, and family into the facility so they could gather to grieve. Watching burly, veteran SWAT officers walk in, eyes swollen and red, made me take pause, but I stayed stoic in expression while I went about my duties.

When a sheriff's helicopter landed and the fallen officer's wife stepped out, it was too much. As cops, we know what we signed on for. We train against tragedy, and wear our armor, both physically and psychologically. But, seeing her and the look of what I can only start to describe as complete devastation, clarified to me that that we do not go into the job alone. For her, their family, their friends, and their co-workers, it's a world I hope I never venture into in any capacity.

So, please, think good thoughts and prayers for the family of Officer Sergio Carerra. He was 29 years old, married, with two children, ages 1 & 2. Tonight, he won't be coming home.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fun with Color II

Just tried some new inks and linoleum and am pretty happy with their quality; it's certainly better than the artist.... Anyway, the ink is pretty cool. It's all natural, waterbased soy ink called Akua Intaglio ink. The soy gives it that rich, deep look you get from oil based product, but without the environmental or health concerns. Learned about it from Gretchen at

Unfortunately, I'm looking at 50 hours of work in 4 days this week with an extra 8 thrown in on Saturday, so I doubt I'll be anything near creative or inspired. Hope someone out there will carry the torch for me! Also, thanks for the feedback on the linocut efforts!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fun with Color

Yep, I know the title sounds like one of my wife's posts, but I've been trying to expand my boundaries on the whole printmaking thing. Mixing some primary colors seemed like just the thing. Honestly, I did this on a spare piece of linoleum and was having some fun experimenting with rolling colors together. I've always admired how Northwest Native Americans have depicted nature in their carvings, so I thought I would take a crack at my interpretation of a trout. I like where it's going and once I get some new inks in, I'll make a more serious attempt.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Fishwife

Getting away is about getting some back; refilling your cup so it can 'runneth over' for others, for creativity, for whatever you need it to. Our trip to Pacific Grove was definitely a time to get some back.

For those who don't know where or what Pacific Grove is, it's the little seaside community that sits by Pebble Beach Golf Course, and is the wintering home for a majority of the Monarch Butterfly population on the west coast. Less well known, and from which we could see the memorial from our balcony, it's where John Denver lost his life in a plane crash.

The homes are Victorian and beautiful; the landscape raw and powerful; and the food was incredible. Our favorite was a little place called "The Fishwife." It wasn't the food (which was beyond compare- I had a crab, shrimp, and scallop quesadilla with a roasted chipotle cream sauce, while Tami enjoyed an heirloom tomato salad drizzled with a mango-pineapple vinegarette topped with seared salmon). It was the Fishwife...

Before we went to the restaurant, my instructor for my class warned me "There's a tiny little lady who greets you with a hug when you come in." We came, but no lady.

About half-way through our meal, she walked in. All of 4 feet tall, possibly in her late 80's-early 90's, and possessed of an energy and elegance that washed over the room. When she came up to our table, I told her "If you're the Fishwife, I would like my hug!" Keep in mind, I am not a hugger, but she leaned over and gave me a good squeeze and patted & rubbed my back, and then did the same for Tami, and chatted with us like we were here great grandchildren come to visit. Honestly, if you could start your day with that hug, it would all be biscuits and gravy from there on.

Her cup runneth over so much, it filled mine to overflow as well.

This photo is sunset at the Tobin James Vineyard in Paso Robles, CA. A great tasting room with an awesome late season zin called "Liquid Love." The vines are starting to gain their fall colors, and the coastal oak stands guard over rows of pinot noir grapes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No, It's not a Mirage

Day in, day out I deal with the same stuff as a law enforcement officer; drunk people, spouses who can't argue without their fists, kids going through puberty by holding a gun and claiming gang membership.... But, every now and again there's a mirage in the desert to quench my thirst.

Next week, I get to spend a week in Pacific Grove, CA at a class. It's being held at a resort on Monterrey Bay. And the best part, my wife's joining me (cuz Grandma's coming to keep an eye on the boy) for some relaxing, seafood eating, wine tasting, art shopping time. On the way home, we'll cruise down Pacific Coast Highway through Big Sur, and cross over through the Paso Robles wine region.

Thank goodness for mirages that turn out to be oasis's!

This photo was taken in an estuary of the Colorado River near Topock Gorge. In the middle of the desert, these marshes are major stops on trans-continental migratory routes for many different birds.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Okay, maybe this is a good excuse"

I swear, I was planning on doing a good road ride today til I got out on the Rim and saw a monster sized header from the Butler Fire. I guess I'll wisely stay off the road for emergency traffic and, sadly, looky-loo's. From this vantage point, the fire line is probably 12-15 miles away. Still, I could see flames which, based on tree heights, were up in the 100-150' foot range.

This is what drought looks like in Southern California.....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can

When I was in my 30's, an old guy told me "Aging is a battle of lethargy. It's easier to eat cheetos and drink a beer than it is to keep moving." I understood that as only a healthy 30 something could and went about life indulging in my loves of microbrews, good cheeses,olives, and summer sausage.

Now, I'm in my 40's and I'm starting to see wisdom in that theory. I have found myself making excuses instead of going out on my epic bike rides. "It's too hot, too cold, too early, too late, too many chores, too tired, too busy, my bike needs work, blah,blah blah....

And with that, ever so quietly, my belly has grown until it hit the 20 pound gain recently. Well, enough's enough...

I've recommitted myself to fitness and eating better. Not in some crazed "born-again" way, because quite frankly there's nothing more irritating than someone who wants to tell you how to eat and exercise. I'm just saying I want to be a little more healthy so my wife and I can enjoy each other's company, even when we are so old we don't remember what we were arguing about.

The photo was taken last week on the Sierra Fall Century Ride; 100 miles through the Sierra's with 6000' elevation gain.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Take on Things

The great thing about art is that it makes you look at everyday things with a new perspective. Plein air painters see swirls of color and light in a vista; sculptors visualize in 3 dimensions; collage artists find form in combining everyday objects.

This printmaking things has me looking at scenery and trying pare it down to the most bare essentials of black and white. I've found that, at least at my skill level, that some details are better left of the print and that simplicity speaks loudest.

That's kinda my calling anymore. Paring down all the 'stuff' in my life and focusing on bringing out the best of those elements that are left such as family, friends, creativity, health, and peace.

This linocut is an attempt to show the front range of our local mountains. If you are saying to yourself "Gee, why'd he add an arrowhead?" it's because there is an honest to goodness geological feature on the mountain that looks like one. It's about 250' long and it's comprised of exposed granite, soil, and scrub brush. Interestingly, it points down to natural hot springs. Native Mojave Indians believed it was placed there by the Great Spirit as a guide to bring them to a holy place.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gawn Fishin'

Just some rambling recollections from a great weekend; meandering streams, s'mores, great sunsets, lots of trout, sunburns, coffee from a french press, seeing the Milky Way, bacon on a campfire, chilly mornings, catching the big one, coyote serenade in the evening, fish smell on your hands, undoing snarls in your reel, cream sodas for son, pale ale for dad, trout cooked on a smoky fire, big frogs, Sierra wind, the cry of I've got one!, a good hot shower, holding up a stringer of fish, farting (sorry, it's a boy's weekend), watching the Perseid Meteor shower, the boy sleeping nearly the entire 5 hour trip home, getting pounced on by the dogs at home and kissed by mom.

The photo's are from the Owens River Campground. There was a massive wildfire in Santa Barbara that blew smoke across the entire Sierra Mountain range, where it settled in the Owens Valley. You could hardly see the mountains 5 miles away, but it did make for some amazing sunsets.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Great Divide

I don't refer to the Continental Divide when I speak to the title of this post. No, I'm talking about the cultural, generational, philosophical divide.

What a difference a week makes! This photo was taken at sunset at Minaret Summit, in the Sierra's. It sits at an elevation of 9600'. The wind was moving through and the temperature was hovering in the high 30's. The only sound you could hear was the rustling of pinion, juniper, and wildflower.

Flash forward a week to last night. Took the boy to his first concert. Not just any concert, but KISS. And not just KISS, but the full make-up, fire and blood, leather wearing, guitar smoking, nothing but kick-ass rock KISS. When I was 12, I would've killed to see KISS. If someone said "You'll see them, but it will be with your own 12 year old son," I would have thought them to be crazy. The irony, as well as the juxtaposition were not lost on me.

Still, it was a great night and yet another memorable moment in a great summer vacation. Now, if my ears will just stop ringing......

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Still More.....

So, it was a great trip into the Sierra's. Lot's of hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, and relaxing. The Mammoth Brewery serves up a real nice India Pale Ale, and for gourmet dining, the Mobil Gas Station in Lee Vining is hard to beat. Seriously, lobster taquito's rolled in chipotle' tortillas, with mango/papaya salsa, cilantro black beans, and shredded cabbage in a citrus vinaigrette. Or grilled tombo (fish) top with shoestring fried onions, chipotle mayo, tomato, on ciabatta bread. I kid you not... Best food around!
Anyway, the highlight was Kyle's first real fishing experience. We caught our limit of rainbow and brown trout on the Owens River. A great trip!!!

A Picture's Worth......

No descriptions necessary.....

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Through the Lens

By my definition, harmony is when the person that I am, and the person that I am seen as, are in balance with the person that I want to be. When one or more of those facets are incongruent, I find that I have angst and things don't flow as smooth. But, when they compliment and achieve balance, I find harmony. That's my tip for living.

Same applies to photography. When the view is in harmony with the vision, and others feel it at a gut level, you have a great photograph. Recently, I started testing a new program by Tiffen filters which can take nearly any photograph and bring your vision out of it. Good photography is about good composition and control. This program certainly gives you creative control.

Compare the two photo's; the original, while composed well, is pretty blah. I wanted to achieve an antique look. Not an Ansel Adams style, but something along the line of photography from the late 1800's. I wanted it to look like the original surveyor's of Mt. Whitney took a photograph to show the highest point in the continental U.S. to the powers in Washington DC. I softened the peaks and blurred sections of the photo to mimic old lense capabilties and washed it in a silver process with sepia toning.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Friendly Reminder

So, we'll be heading up to Mammoth for a week. There are few places that can match the Eastern Sierra's for scenery on a grand scale. and trying to capture the emotion you feel upon looking at a vista can be a challenging pursuit. Often times, I'm disappointed with my landscapes because they lack the drama of the real thing.

Rather than fretting, I make sure not to overlook the small stuff. Whether it be a pollen laden bee, or an interesting pattern in a rock, I always take the time to look in places that I might normally not for a good vacation photo.

This photo was taken while I was brushing my teeth in a campground on the Kern River. I looked down in the sink basin and thought I saw the backflow holes moving. Now, granted, I'm having some eye issues, and I was pre-coffee at that moment, but I knew I wasn't hallucinating when a happy little head popped out to say good morning. Apparently, frog's live in the backflow pipes in order to keep moist in the low humidity of the Sierra's. A simple, uncluttered shot, it's one of my favorites for it's fun-factor!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Let Them Spread Their Wings

To kick summer off, Kyle and I went camping in the Sierra's this weekend. Lot's of hiking, kayaking, and s'mores! But, there were some neat lessons learned as well.

Our campsite was on the Kern River, right at the start point for the Kayak Course, a 200 yard run of solid Class IV whitewater. While we scrambled on the rocks, I reminded Kyle to be careful; if he fell in, there was a good chance he'd drown going down the falls, holes, and washing machines.

As we listened to the roar of the rapids, a mother mallard and four ducklings started making their way across the pool above the rapids. We watched as they slowly got sucked into the current. Just before starting down the chute, the mom flew out and safely to shore. The babies? They dropped in and were flushed through 6-8 foot drops and chutes, and enough swirling whitewater to drown a fish...

Kyle and I watched the mom, sitting in the pool, and tried to figure out why she had been so stupid, and why she continued to quack uselessly for her brood. There was no way those ducklings were ever coming back.

After about 10 minutes, I was relaxing on the shore of the pool with a nice microbrew when I yelled to Kyle "You're not going to believe this!" One of the ducklings was making it's way along the opposite shore towards his mom, who was now quacking quite loudly!

I started to go into a speech about perseverance and never giving up when two more came along to join them. But the forth wasn't there. After another 10-15 minutes, it still wasn't to be found.

I told Kyle that in nature, 75% survival rate was pretty darn good, and that the three who had made it had become stronger as a result. We watched as they swam up the pool, around a bend, and out of view.

As we started up the bank to our campsite, we barely heard it over the sound of the rapids; a series of high pitched "cheeps." There was the fourth duckling, on our side of the shore, walking, scrambling, and swimming upstream! His mom must have heard the cries, because shortly thereafter she and the ducklings joined up to become whole again. This, near;y 35 minutes after the original plunge.

Aside from the lessons to kids about never quitting, I found a few as well; Don't underestimate kid's ability and desire; Let them take plunges now and then; and never question the power that family can give someone to overcome the greatest of obstacles.

This first shot, taken on the Kern River, shows a juvenile brood of mallards. Not the ones that took the plunge (the were still little fuzz balls), but you can guess they probably took their own plunges. Those river ducks are hard core! The second shows Kyle at the mouth of the kayak course.

Friday, June 15, 2007

By Design

So gently placed by grand design
sculpted, weathered, smoothed, sublime
My restless soul's rough edges soothed
like boulders shaped by wind and time

Creeping shadows lay long across
the sparkled face of these rocks
Time loses time in this quiet place
I drift away until I'm lost

Til the sun fades to gentle west
breath barely rises from my chest
This moment hangs like tapestry
I drift to sleep, my soul at rest

I took this photo from inside the tent one evening while my son and I were camping in Joshua Tree NP. This formation is called Jumbo Rocks. Carved by wind and time, these boulders are the size of cars.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Say It Ain't So!

Omigod... Paris Hilton's going back to jail! What kind of system allows an ultra-rich heiress to slum amongst normal folk, eating bologna and cheese on wonder bread, and sleeping on a 2 inch mattress? Will her hair be styled by some big gal named "Trixie?" Will she succumb to the siren's call of Wal-Mart brand mascara? I guess it's a good thing she had so much fun in her series 'The Simple Life' because now she has an opportunity to live, breath, eat, and yes, poop in the exact same environment as the folks she made fun of. Can you say "karma?"

Personally, I enjoy living in a world that's Paris free. I don't care that Rosie left, quit, or got fired. And, it's inconsequential who's left on Dancing with the Stars. I get my strength from things that are timeless; National Parks, wildlife, sunsets, nature. I'd rather spend an evening watching my dogs wrestle than listen to what's going on in Hollywood. Fortunately, even though we live on the edge of the Los Angeles basin, and the 15 million people that call it home (including Paris), we are less than a couple of hours away from incredible solitude. This shot was taken at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley NP. Way more amazing at sunrise, I'd tried my best to get its other-worldly feel in the mid morning sun.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

R-O-A-D T-R-I-P!

Someone once asked me "What's your best ever vacation?" Without even thinking, I replied "The one I haven't taken yet...." You see, for me, vacations don't start when the car pulls out of the driveway. No, No, No.... They start long in advance!

Usually, over lunch involving some type of microbrew, my wife will casually throw out a line like "So, have you thought about vacation this year?" At this point in life, what with a 12 year old son, 2 dogs, work, etc., she could as easily have asked "Have you thought about getting jiggy?" and it couldn't elicit a more excited response.

I casually reply "Well, you know, I've got some ideas, but nothing concrete." My wife knows better. Actually, I've already planned down to the nickel and gallon of gas, at least three potential adventures. I test the waters with a Hawaii trip, a cross country visit to the "Grandma Belt" and, for good measure, throw in a good old National Park road trip. I then say "But I don't know what Kyle (our son) wants to do."

There are moments in a dad's life; when your son is born; when he catches his first fish; when he tells you about the first love of his life; but my buttons were bursting from my chest when my wife said "He wants to do a road trip like we did in Colorado (or Utah, or Arizona, or New Mexico...). I practically blew beer through my nose as I tried to conceal my glee. Of course my wife knew my feelings as she's sworn from day one she was only a vessel for the "mini-me."

Which leads us to this summer. Nothing big planned due to work schedules, but Kyle and I are going on a kayak trip on the Kern River later this month, with an excursion into Sequoia NP. And, we will be doing it in a new Honda Element! No telling what will happen, but I can tell you Kyle and I talk about it every day. Occasionally, I'll hear the holy grail of kid compliments- Suuweeet! Don't wait till the car is running to get started or you'll miss the best moments!

Pow-wows are a great thing to attend, particularly if you have kids. The color and pagentry, mixed with appreciation for our native cultures, is something that should not be missed. This shot was from a Pow-wow at the Soboba Indian Reservation near our home. This gentlemen was the Eagle Warrior, chosen to lead out the opening procession because of his bravery and dedication to his People.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I'm pretty tickled because a visitor to The Rolling Turd took some photo-taking advice and did a great job of capturing her kids in the joyful act of being kids. She definitely worked to capture the essence of youth and it shows!

Another tip for the everyday shooter..... Find the 'picture within the picture.' This photo is of a wood duck. While wood ducks are spectacular in their plumage, a snapshot of one quickly loses that "Oh wow" factor. Try to focus in, using your zoom to crop a tighter image. Let the viewer of the photo use their mind to fill in the information beyond the borders.

When shooting animals or people, I love using this technique and always try to include the eye. All animals, regardless of where you sit on the evolutionary ladder, are drawn to the eye. As people, we recognize the eye as the window to the soul. Birds believe bigger eyes mean bigger predators. Even butterflies and fish use eye shaped patterns in their camouflage.

Try it out on your kids or family pets. You'll find you get a photo full of impact!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What would you give up?

I have spent the last few days in the company of opthamologist's who are trying to figure out why I see brilliant white light arcing across the periphery of my vision. Could it be the retina detaching; could it be related to diabetes; could it be angels sent down to teach me a lesson..... I don't know, but it got me to thinking. What would I lose if I lost my sight?

As you can tell, I love visual things. There's nothing finer than the changing colors of a desert sunset, or the strokes of a master plein air oil painter. Or, meeting a person for the first time and thinking "Gee, they are as dumb as they look..."

If I didn't have sight, I wouldn't create an opinion based on the cover a book. I couldn't see ugly in the world. I would not be a slave to style or trend. My wife would be eternally young, and I could choose any memory in my mind to visit if I wanted to see something.

But the scary thing for me would not to see my son all grown up. Would he be handsome and tall like I think he'll be? Will he have a face and a way about him that commands respect, but invites people in? If he marries, what will his wife, or his kids look like? And how will they look at him?

Losing sight is one thing; losing vision is another. And losing vision is something I would never wish anyone, sight or sightless.
I took this shot of a bearded lizard at Hovenweep National Monument. I still cannot described how amazingly beautiful this little guy was. I'm ashamed to admit I walked right by him until my son said "Dad, you didn't see that?!!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Eye Candy

I'm too dang tired to post, so I thought I'd throw out some shots from a recent National Park Road Trip. The first shot is from Death Valley NP and shows that there is abundant life in the desert. The second shot is dawn breaking over the Sierra's in Lone Pine, CA. The Alabama Hills are in the foreground, while hidden up in the clouds is Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. Enjoy the view!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Off the Beaten Path

The hallmark of any adventure in our family is to take the road less travelled. Now, I'm not going to lie to you; sometimes you find yourself in places where a full set of teeth is an exception and people have names like "Hootie" and "Cleetus" (I can make that joke as we have relatives with those names...).

But, getting off the beaten path holds treasures, too. Sights that you get all to yourself; quiet on a grand scale; a promise that WalMart would never soil the emptiness of the land. And the food!!! Biscuit's-n-gravy; navajo taco's with real goat meat and native spices; local micro-brewery's with spruce ale or dark razzberry hefewiezen and woodfired pizza.

The best find ever, and one we still talk about, was in Hanksville, Utah. It's not even a dot on the map, but it has some backroads worldliness to it. There's a rock shop in Hanksville, the only business as near as I can tell. The owner's a crusty old desert rat, probably in his 80's. From a rusted porch chair, he'll call out to you and tell you about any stone or gem you touch. If he likes you, he'll tell you to take a peek in his backroom at his dinosaur bone. Now, I rolled my eyes when he encouraged us to wander towards the back, expecting to see something that was meant to play a joke on the "lost tourist." But, inside the room was a thigh bone to a somethingoranotherasaur that was at least 15 feet long! Come to find out, he found it in the 1950's and had been cleaning it up ever since. He figure's it's worth a "quarter mill" although when he passes, he'll leave it in his will to a museum.

The other gem in Hanksville is the purple house. The guy who owns it 'tuned in, turned on, and dropped out' back in the 60's. Now, he lives amongst the ultra conservative rancher's and miners in Utah, baking organic breads and pastries in a little brick oven in his front yard. INCREDIBLE! He made me some organic, hand pressed coffee with cream from his cow that still makes me sigh to this day....

Long story short....... Don't shortchange yourself by missing out on the backroad culture. Sure, the Grand Canyon's are important to witness. But to get personal with the folks, the land, the moment; that's what lives in the memory.
This photo was taken somewhere in the Navajo Nation. Old Pueblo and Fremont culture ruins are scattered in the west. The craftsmanship that it took to build these structures is testament to the rich and advanced culture these people's had; and long before any European landed.