Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thomas Wolfe Had a Point

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Sometimes you can’t go home again. Same applies to Caliente Creek Road. While my little story here has nothing to do with Wolfe’s isolation from home, it does connect with his famous title. And, let’s face it, I can go back to Caliente Creek Road and, indeed, have already done just that.

Sadly, it wasn’t the same. Those magical late March flowers that blanketed the area and the extraordinary spring light that touched the trees just as they were leafing out—gone. There still is a great deal there to interest me; but, as is often the case with love at first sight, closer examination has shown the subject of desire to be a bit more ordinary than it initially appeared to be.

[Note: The photo above is from the March 29 visit.]

The Husband was in a mood for a drive a couple of days ago, and I never say “no” to the possibility of a scenic drive. He wanted to check out the possibilities of expanding promotion of his farrier business into that close-by area, and I happily grabbed camera gear, eager to tag along for the ride.

The fact-finding mission was a success, and The Husband will be asking for help sending off ad copy to the small local paper. However, the drive convinced me that my original idea about making Caliente Creek Road the subject of my SoFoBoMo project was ill-conceived. The flowers are almost all gone; the oaks no longer appear lavender in the evening light; and, the greens are downright earthly. As I’ve said already, there are still many more photos to take along that road, but it won’t be the location for my photo book. The light is terribly tricky on that twisty windy road through the canyon. I will need to study the area for quite some time to do it justice.

But, all was not lost. An unexpected bonus of the trip was our stop in the midst of the ranching country outside the canyon. We checked out the Twin Oaks General Store and Restaurant. The Husband had wanted to stop to ask about the local paper and to grab a cup of coffee—which, of course, meant a treat for him. He had the gall to choose one of my favorite treats, one of those packages of powdered donuts. (I know, not exactly a culinary triumph, but I still remember how much I loved them back in graduate school.)

What now serves as a general store and cafe is an old schoolhouse—complete with a chalk board that covers an entire wall. The building itself will be fun to examine more than once, but the most fun for me was meeting a gentleman at a table near ours. Partly because there were a few interesting photos on the wall and partly because the sight of those donuts was driving me crazy (I have mentioned that I have to maintain a strict gluten-free diet. Sigh.), I soon got out of my chair and wandered. Before long, I approached an elderly couple by the wall and asked permission to look over their shoulders at some fading black and white photographs behind them. I asked a question about the photos and we got involved in a conversation. It turns out that the fellow in one of the photos was the gentleman I was talking to and he had lived in the Twin Oaks area all his life. Indeed, with his well-worn black cowboy hat, dusty boots, and weathered face, he looked to be part of the land.

As usual I chickened out on asking his permission to take a photo. They were eating after all, and once he apologized for being difficult to understand saying that he had just had his teeth pulled. The meeting had seemed charmed. These strangers were friendly and only appropriately guarded, faced with a stranger asking questions. The man’s eyes twinkled, and he was quick to smile in spite of his recent dental surgery. I couldn’t bear the thought of having it all end on a negative note. Not to mention that I haven't explored portrait photography and know I couldn't begin to capture the fascination of this marvelous old character.

The couple left before we did and I watched them walk out, he stiff and seriously favoring one leg. As they disappeared, I resolved to revisit The General Store and some day I will take a new photograph of that friendly face—along with some of the other residents of Twin Oaks, I hope.

Oops, I suppose I have made the point that on one hand, the Caliente Creek road just got more interesting as her blinding beauty faded. Beneath the surface is a grand old gal with marvelous stories to tell—stories that deserve more than a month’s worth of exploration by an outsider.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Framing and Matting Blues

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I have barely begun the process of transferring prints into frames that will allow me to lower prices so I am more in line with the local market, and I’m already burned out on the job. As much fun as shooting is and as much as I enjoy and get lost in the job of processing, that is how much I dislike matting and framing. I need to discover some way to find real joy in that job. Yes, I do enjoy seeing the final product, but the work? Yecch. For the last few days, I have had a lot of other work to do; but today I couldn’t justify not spending some time in the salt mine. Finally, I ran out of wire. Thank goodness. Another excuse to do something else. After all, I will have to go into town to the hardware store, won’t I? I can’t get around that. Yippee!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Horses and Contradictions

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Yesterday at 5 PM, we had sleet along with an 18 to 20 MPH wind. One thing I have noticed is that precipitation here frequently comes at us on a diagonal—rarely straight down. Temperatures in the 30s, wind, sleet. So much for the imminent arrival of spring. Well, I can’t say that I hadn’t been amply warned.

At any rate, this weather proves that Lancer is a pretty smart horse. Lancer grew a heavy furry coat this winter and he hasn’t yet begun to shed. I guess he is getting the last laugh. Night, on the other hand, never grew as heavy a coat.

I think that I know some of the reasons for the discrepancy. (Mind you, this is not a scientific article.) First, Night was born in Idaho and lived there for the first couple of years of his life. Lancer had never lived anyplace other than balmy southern California. I am guessing that Lancer realized he was in for something early on with the first cold spell up here and his body went a bit nuts with the fur coat idea. The second thing is that Lancer is always a tad underweight. There is nothing wrong with him—well, nothing physical, at least—he is just hyper, even for an Arabian. He stays pretty much on the move. If he is penned up in his corral (currently a 24’ x 24’ space), he spends an inordinate amount of time weaving (shifting his weight rapidly from one front leg to the other). All he accomplishes is burning tons of calories, but he doesn’t see it that way. Still, it means that he doesn’t have much of a layer of fat to help keep him warm.

I have already mentioned that Lancer is from racing stock. While he has never seen a race track, his sire had quite a racing career. The result of the breeding is that while The Husband enjoys participating in endurance races, Lancer only gets the race part of that concept. His idea is to take off as soon a possible and cover ground as quickly as possibly. The endurance part means nothing to him. Because endurance rides are interchangeably known as endurance races, I suppose we can see where he gets confused. However, since the rides/races cover anywhere from twenty-five to one hundred miles, it is obvious that a horse who doesn’t “take care of himself” does not have the make-up for endurance. Lancer isn’t an endurance horse.

Night, on the other hand, is atypically lazy for the breed. Take note of that final qualifier. The gray would never be taken for a Quarter Horse, but compared to the chestnut he’s down right calm. He, by the way, is fine with endurance rides and sees no point in racing unless urged.

All this rambling leads me to my point about the photo above. When The Husband recently took Night out for a ride, leaving Lancer behind, I wondered what the show would be like. I was a bit surprised. While Night had remained agitated almost the entire time Lancer was gone, Lancer got over his abandonment issues fairly soon. He charged about madly for a bit, calling out to his buddy, and making a big fuss. But, before long, he began to notice that there was quite a lot of uneaten grass and after a bit, he would charge once around the pasture, pause to nicker plaintively, then take some time out from missing Night to nibble. Horses are a mass of contradictions.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Time Management

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The harder I work the behinder I get. What’s with this? I know that many of our faculties begin to fail as we age, but I seem to be less and less efficient at keeping up with my self-assigned chores.

My to-do list never shrinks. It just keeps growing longer and longer. Believe me, this isn’t happening because I spend my time doing admirable things such as keeping a pristine house and cooking three meals a day for The Husband. By the way, I love him enough to cook for him, but we both have rather strange eating habits. Because of my pesky digestive problems, I am forced to graze throughout the day eating tiny, strange meals that are the mostly the antithesis of what average folks would consume. The Husband is all about quick, easy and he, too, eats light. One advantage is that we don’t have weight problems; but our refrigerator and pantry certainly don’t look anything like those of the typical family, or even couple.

Furthermore, I don’t spend much time on the cliché girlie stuff. I hate shopping, don’t like spending time in that female haven, the beauty salon, and can’t think of anything more boring than spending a day at a day spa.

While I have been adding new projects, I think I just am less efficient. Part of the problem is that I have made an effort lately to stop working at around 8:30 or 9:00 PM. The Husband and I typically take about forty-five minutes to sit together and watch one of the recorded episodes of the few television shows that we can get through. The distraction is welcome and it allows me to decompress so I stand a chance of being asleep by about 10:30 or 11:00. In this environment, I find I rarely sleep past 6:30 AM (all too frequently, my eyes pop open at 6:00). These days, being in bed until 7:00 qualifies serious sleeping in.

Of course, I am spending more time currently on printing, framing, and publicity plans than I have in the recent past. (Here I have never posted my business cards, and now I’m spilling the beans that I prepared a postcard for the owner of the shop in Tehachapi. Shame on me.)

Whatever all the causes for the behinder syndrome, I post here about half to one-third as often as I would like. Moreover, I never have as much time as I would like to read other wonderful blogs. It goes without saying that I haven’t done my practice book for SoFoBoMo, and I still haven’t a clue what my project will be for 2009.

Enough. I’ll wrap up this whine and get on with today’s share of my to-do list. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just send brain waves to our blogs and skip the sit down at the keyboard part?