30 December 2010

"I heard a bird sing in the dark of December..."

December Dusk, Bracelet of Ceramic, Leather, Turquoise, Coral, and Copper
 I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

-Oliver Herford

Just like this time last year, I have had a strange burst of creativity recently that seems out of place in the cold, dark weather typical of late December. This year it seems to be jewelry, specifically bracelets, which, unlike necklaces, offer a fairly constrained format that keeps me from getting overwhelmed as I experiment with new techniques.

Another constraint I'm imposing on myself is to use what I have: years ago I remember Christopher Lowell (oh how I loved Interior Motives! It always left me with a smiling heart full of happy) talking about how limited resources can actually spur our creativity, and over the years I have repeatedly found this to be true. In fact, in addition to the creative possibilities I find while poking around in my stash for treasures like the beads and charms in the above bracelet, perhaps the constraints of cold and dark have awakened or highlighted something that I might not notice when the weather is sunny and warm and I'm outside taking pictures of flowers and bugs. Kind of like how a candle is barely noticeable until the lights are dimmed....

Okay, so I won't get too corny on you, but yes, work with what you have -- it always turns out to be much more than you thought. Creativity comes from within; materials help, but nothing happens to them until a spark within you illuminates the possibilities.

I bid you all a happy new year full of creativity and joy.

28 December 2010

Adventures in Sari Silk: Dragonfly Neckpiece

I consider this a signature piece and, if I even offer it for sale, will put a silly price on it so I don't have to part with it anytime soon... I started this piece in August and finished it a few weeks ago, taking time to let the elements come together and to get comfortable with the scale and complexity of the piece. I used 3 strands of sari silk yarn and ribbon, brass chain, an oxizided brass dragonfly (from Patina Queen, one of my favorite suppliers!), an enameled brass dragonfly from Nepal, lampwork glass beads in various shapes and textures, crystal, pearls, glass seed beads, and miscellaneous small gemstones. I have another one in the works that will draw more from the blue-green part of the color spectrum and will probably be more spring-like. In the meantime, more bracelets... stay tuned, I'm feeling creative!

New Directions

One benefit to hibernation is uninterrupted downtime, which sometimes (when I'm lucky) becomes creative time. Yesterday, inspired by creations from two of my favorite jewelry artists, Lorelei and Stephanie, I finally figured out some cool ways to incorporate sari silk into bracelets. Above is one creation, not quite finished (I'd like to add more danglies, aka charms). The millefiore and fancy brass links came from a necklace that I remember my mom wearing back in the 1970s; a few of the links had broken so I thought repurposing the beautiful components would be appropriate. The bracelet below uses tiger eye, dichroic glass, brass, and a scrap of sari silk; it too needs some charms and then will be finished. More pictures to come as I finish more pieces on deck while watching my favorite TV dramas and some cool independent movies on this cloudy day. I hope you all find some creative time in this quiet wintry space.

21 December 2010

A Peaceful Solstice

Kelly Church, Magdalena Mountains, NM, Dec. 2010
The full lunar eclipse very early this morning was only occasionally visible because of moderate cloud cover, but I did get a few glimpses through occasional breaks in the clouds and also noticed the eerie silence that fell as totality began. I had no illusions of getting a great photo given the limitations of my 55-200mm lens (which I might sell), not to mention the inconsistent view of the moon, which kind of took the pressure off and allowed me to just enjoy it.
This morning Dad and I took Lucy to the vet and listened carefully as he described a surgery that essentially involves rebuilding tendons and ligaments, and will help her mobility a lot. The healing time isn't as bad as I thought it might be, so she'll be able to do gentle walks through the winter and (fingers crossed) start hiking with me as I gear up for my summer "quest for the crest" or whatever it will be. Is it possible to hike the whole crestline of the Magdalena Mountains? There's only one way to find out....

Winter Solstice is always such a relief for me. The sun finally stops slipping away, pauses, and slowly returns a bit more every day. Our weather has been quite mild and lovely -- in the 50s and sometimes 60s most days lately -- so the loss of light hasn't hit me as hard as it usually does. Hiking always helps my mood, too, and after more than two weeks of sitting on my butt (to finish coursework) I was aching to hit the trail and let everything else fall away. My hikes on Sunday and today were a bit lonely but now my heart has eased considerably, and I can look forward again to hikes with my best and truest companion.

20 December 2010

Good Thoughts for My Bestest Hiking Buddy

Lucy hiking with me in the Magdalena Mountains, NM, July 2010
Tomorrow I take Lucy to the vet to see if we can do anything for her leg, which was injured when she was hit by a car in 2008 and is deteriorating fast. She's only 7, and she has so much happy spirit in her that it breaks my heart (literally, my chest hurts; sounds corny but there it is) to see her hobble and falter when she so very much wants to run. I hiked without her yesterday and felt terrible leaving her behind, and although I'll always love hiking it feels too solitary without her running along with me, chasing rabbits and deer, patrolling for bear and big cats, and just being my buddy. She goes on walks with my dad out on the property, runs along with the kids when they're out and about, and has helped me get more active again by being both a fun and a safe, protective companion. Not to be too maudlin about it but we can only take so much loss in a year, so please send Lucy good healing thoughts so she can have another 7 or more years with us. I want to hike up to and along the crest of the Magdalena Mountains next summer, and I don't want to do it alone....

Lucy hiking through a creek in Patterson Canyon, Magdalena, NM, June 2010

01 December 2010

A New Creation

Corazón Inflamado, Necklace of lampwork glass and sari silk kumihimo, Anna Lear, 2010
A dear friend gifted me this exquisite lampwork glass heart almost 3 years ago, and I knew something special was in store for it when I found some flaming bright sari silk ribbon at a fiber arts show last summer. Kumihimo (Japanese braidwork) with sari silk is no minor feat, but of course I had to try it and have just loved the results. Put this amazing heart pendant on a plain chain or thin silken cord? No way. As bright and shiny as the silk is, it doesn't upstage but rather complements the heart beautifully. And I'm very pleased to be able to photograph this creation so accurately and artfully....

27 November 2010

Not Quite Winter's Bone

Penstemon, Kelly, NM, Nov. 2010
We awoke to snow up here in the mountains of New Mexico on Thanksgiving morning, and while it's not unheard of, it was still a bit of a surprise. The (relatively) bitter cold kept me mostly inside the past few days, but today was sunny and calm and my whole self yearned for a hike. Ten minutes later, I was up at the Kelly Mine area which, getting full southern exposure, seems to be very hikable on a mild winter day. A bit of snow left in the shadows made for some nice contrast, without which I might not have even noticed this delicate, soon-to-be-dust Penstemon along the trail past Juanita Mine #2. I'm hoping for a mild winter so that I can keep hiking, especially since I have finally found boots that fit properly. And an early spring... well, I can always hope.

20 November 2010

Still. Life.

Mom's heart in my window, Nov. 2010

Yesterday, I felt the urge to photograph something but have felt my photo mojo waver recently, so I stayed close to home and spent some time studying the still life. The photo above is of a glass and copper ornament I gave my mom several years ago; when she passed away this summer, I brought back some treasures from her and my dad's house in Philly, and this one is now in my "office/studio" (really the dining room).

Why the low mojo? I've had some discouraging photography outings recently and am trying to regroup rather than just throw in the towel. Of course, it's something I love to do -- feel compelled to do, really -- but I don't take discouragement very well. The first disappointment, a photo trip last week to the Bosque del Apache, was really about me not understanding the limits of my 75-200mm zoom lens at sunset with flying subjects -- it is hardly a fast lens at f4.5/5.6, but it was all I could afford, and I haven't figured out yet how far I can push it. I would have used a tripod but, um, it was stolen out of my car (along with my Metallica S&M CD set) during the interminable 5-week repair after my accident in October. So, lessons learned. The second disappointment, a photo shoot of a local cheerleading competition, revealed the same limitations of my smaller zoom lens and also helped me realize that, very poor lighting aside, I am just not interested in "event" photography, particularly indoors.

One of my favorite things about photography is that it gives me an easy excuse to get outside and ramble. See, I'm not wandering aimlessly and using up time and fuel; I'm going on a photo trip.... And sometimes, like yesterday, I look up and see something especially beautiful, and I just want to capture the moment. With winter close on our heels I'm hiking less, but I can always do a still life while I'm waiting for the day to warm up....

Indian pony, Nov. 2010

16 November 2010

Morning Sun

Max, Nov. 2010

Over the summer the kitties got used to going outside to hunt, play, and loll in the grass every morning, and we all miss the entertainment. They do get plenty of sunshine indoors thanks to large sliding doors and a picture window. Max seems to enjoy it; Rocky does, too, but still can't believe how cold the air is outside. When we let him out, he seems startled, then looks up and sometimes meows plaintively as if to tell us, "Make it WARM!" They still get outdoors time during our frequent warmish (50 or so) afternoons, but spring won't come a moment too soon for any of us.

Rocky, Nov. 2010

13 November 2010

The Quiet Season

Icicles near Kelly Mine, NM, Nov. 2010
Well, it's not winter yet; in fact, even after numerous very cold nights my flowers haven't quite kicked off yet. And we get some wonderful days in the 50s, which is definitely warm enough to hike without a jacket, even up the mountain a bit. Today my dad, his friend Marilyn, and I hiked up to and then beyond Kelly Mine, and on the way down we came across this weird and amazing sight, created by a perpetually leaky water line that sprays into the air and collects on a nearby tree to create these icicles. Since the line will probably freeze solid in another month or so, I'm glad to have gotten this picture while I could. Lucy, of course, was thrilled for the water and even chomped on a few icicles. We're slated for more good weather, and I'm just itching for a good long hike, so I might try to take the Copper Canyon Trail all the way up to North Baldy. First, though, I need new hiking boots. I bought a pair last year but they kill my toes and the balls of my feet -- they're women's boots, which I usually know better than to buy, but they're such a pretty blue leather... Nope, gotta get the wider men's boots, even if they're not nearly so aesthetically pleasing, so I can actually hike in them.

11 November 2010

Post-Processing Experiments

Sandhill cranes, Bosque del Apache NWR, Feb. 2007/Nov. 2010 (postprocessing), (c) Anne C. Lear

I'm not sure why I've been so quiet (well, entirely absent) here lately, though I must admit that coursework is kicking my butt this quarter, with assignments (as well as the usual discussion posts) due every week. And the cooler weather has slowed down my hiking, hence my photography.... But I'm getting back into the swing of things now that I have Photoshop CS5 and Photomatix (thanks to huge student discounts... so I guess I should stop kvetching about coursework) and am learning new ways to process my photos.

The shots above, from the 2010 Magdalena Old Timers Parade, have both been Photoshopped, but I used a cool technique I just learned on the Digital Photography School web site to enhance the photo on the right, then ran it through Photomatix for tone-mapping (which means something but I'm not sure what; I just know it does something that Photoshop doesn't). VERY nice. I can get really fancy and add all kinds of artistic effects (I especially like the "painterly" setting, which I used in to top image of the dancing cranes) but I do prefer realistic images.... So that's it for now; tomorrow I hope to go to the Bosque del Apache around dusk for some cool bird shots that I'll have fun with in post-processing.

Here's another set... you know, I've wanted a Palomino since I was 6 years old. This one will do.... Anyhoo, again, the left image has been Photoshopped, and the right one is that same image, put through Photomatix.

I spent about 15 minutes playing around with the slider thingies (yes, I'm such a techie) and resetting the image and playing some more, and am very pleased with how much more texture comes out in the second image. So, yes, I'm sold. And I haven't even tried the software's HDR features yet; HDR stands for high dynamic range and refers to a process that combines images to select the best features from each level of exposure and provide good detail in both highlights and shadows. Or something like that. It requires bracketing -- taking multiple exposures of the same shot (underexposed, proper exposure, and overexposed) -- which really requires a tripod, which I don't have right now because it's in the back of my car that is STILL at an Albuquerque repair shop one month after a minor accident. So, yeah, HDR will have to wait. I'd love to see how the crane shot above might turn out with HDR processing, but this version, put through the Photomatix "painterly" tone-mapping process and then Photoshopped with the technique mentioned above, is still pretty cool.

23 October 2010


Cat on a Hot Stone Chimney, Magdalena, NM, Oct. 2010
As the weather changes, my cats get more "affectionate," which is our interpretation of their behavior as they move closer to us for the warmth we provide. My spoiled kitties just have to set aside their pride to crawl into our laps or dive under the blankets; some cats, such as my neighbor's kitty pictured above, don't always have the luxury of being inside and so must be more creative in finding heat. This bold little creature is often seen scaling fences and rooftops, so I'm not surprised to see her up there, just highly amused. My cats, staring and hissing from the warmer side of our glass doors, are less than amused... or maybe they're just taunting her.

16 October 2010

Autumn in the Magdalena Mountains

Autumn colors near North Baldy peak, Magdalena Mtns., NM, Oct. 2010

Autumn oaks, Patterson Canyon, NM, Oct. 2010
I've become positively addicted to hiking. Today, having pored over Forest Service and topographic maps, I set out to find a hiking route from lower Patterson Canyon up to the "main road" (such as it is) that winds south from Kelly Church across the western face of the Magdalenas. It was cloudy when I set out, so I kept my camera in its case and just hiked. And hiked. I found the route I'd hoped to (listed on one map as Forest Rd. 305) by cutting through a creekbed to get around a closed-off portion of another old forest road, and as I headed south I realized I was hiking straight into the view above. It took another mile or two and about 800 to 1000 feet of elevation gain to get to the spot from where I took this photo... and then the sun came out. Amazing. The hike itself, the discovery of yet another mine, and the other photos I got would have made it worth the effort, but... yeah, I'm pleased. I didn't have time to keep going upward (I set out at 2:30 this afternoon and had to turn back to get home before dark) but you can bet I'll be up there again to plow on towards the top. Just another 1200 feet or so to hit that 9400-foot peak. (Guess I'd better plan out more hikes if I want to get into good enough  shape for some serious peak-bagging...)
Aspens, oaks, and Ponderosa pines in the Magdalena Mtns., NM, Oct. 2010

14 October 2010

Feeling Prickly

Thistle at sundown, Magdalena, NM, Oct. 2010
The autumn light continues to entrance me; I've always noticed and enjoyed how the light changes as the sun "falls" toward its Winter Solstice, but now that I'm doing photography again, I am immersed in it and am fascinated by how it changes everything. The sun's lower angle illuminates new landscape details and highlights things I hadn't noticed all summer... and someday I'll have developed my landscape photography skills enough to really capture this (to my liking). In the meantime, here are some of my usual (but, of course, none the less lovely, to me at least) closeups of some beautiful "residents" of this landscape. I'm feeling prickly these days, a feeling always soothed by a long hike, so these seem especially appropriate right now... I hope you're all enjoying autumn, too, and would love to see your visions of it.

Cacti near Kelly, NM, Oct. 2010

06 October 2010

Who Knows Where the Time Goes

Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) female, Magdalena, NM, Sept. 2010

Across the evening sky
All the birds are leaving
But how can they know
It's time for them to go?
("Who knows where the time goes," Fairport Convention)

Our first hummingbirds arrive in mid-April, a good month before the last frost, and the last ones leave in early October, so any day now they'll all be gone... and the garden will be much quieter. The fiesty Rufous hummers come later and leave earlier -- funny that the most aggressive are also least tolerant of the vagaries of our mountain weather -- so the hardier, more peaceable Broad-tailed and Black-chinned hummers have lately had a few weeks of relative calm in which to fuel up for their winter journey. Many range maps don't put the Rufous hummers in our area, or just note them as passing through during their seasonal migrations, but anyone up here who has a feeder can attest to their strong presence for about three months every summer. Even the females, as shown below, are fiesty and territorial, often dominating feeders to the point where nobody can get a good drink for all the fighting. They're amusing to watch but I must admit that sometimes I just want to shoo away the Rufous so that everyone else can have a peaceful meal. But now that they're gone, with the rest soon to follow, I miss the excitement and drama of their aerial acrobatics.

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) females, Magdalena, NM, Sept. 2010

04 October 2010

Summer's Final Flourish: Hollyhocks

Peachy hollyhock (Alcea rosea), Magdalena, NM, Oct. 2010

Pink hollyhock and morning glory... a heavenly combination
For the first time in my seven years here I was able to grow hollyhocks, and they have been resplendent. The commercial seeds I tried in years past sprouted and then wilted, so this year I just took some seeds from a large clutch of old plants outside a neighbor's yard and threw them in my garden. They are clearly adapted to our weird microclimate because the plants are now over five feet tall. I'll scatter the seeds from these throughout the yard this fall for more gorgeousness next year; as the photo below shows I'll have enough to share with neighbors.

Hollyhock seeds

02 October 2010

Sunset over Magdalena, Oct. 2010

Painted Lady on chamisa, Magdalena Mtns., Oct. 2010
The best thing about yesterday's hike in the Magdalena Mountains was... well, all of it. We're having a warm autumn so far (unlike last autumn; it had already snowed by this time last year), which makes for delightful hiking and keeps the flowers and butterflies and other summer life abundantly busy. I had set out to just do some exploring but felt an urge to conquer the mountain as I got moving, especially as the crest and its changing colors came into closer view. The elevation gain was staggering -- close to 2000 feet -- and the old forest road I took had some serious straight ascents with only a few switchbacks. The loose, rocky trail made for tough footing, especially on the steep sections, which added just enough peril to make for a real challenge.

Although I did bring water, Lucy and I were both relieved when she finally found a good puddle, very near the top (we were at 9000 feet at this point). She took a few long slurpy drinks and then plowed right in to cool off for a few moments. Up to this point I had been more than happy to share my water with her but didn't have enough for her to wallow in....

As difficult a hike as this was, pushing through my resistance (both physical and mental) and reaching the top was exhilarating. From one spot (shown below; that fist-pumping shadow is me in my goofy but highly effective sun hat) I could see both west to the San Mateo and Sawtooth Mountains and east past the Rio Grande Valley to the Manzanos and Sacramentos. Just getting to almost 9200 feet above sea level on my own power felt like a great achievement and gave me some insight into why people become addicted to mountain climbing.

At the crest (looking east toward Rio Grande Valley and beyond), Magdalena Mtns., Oct. 2010

01 October 2010

Glorious Morning

Glorious Morning Glory, Magdalena, NM, Oct. 2010

As is usually the case here, the first day of October is gloriously sunny and warm, and my flowers continue to bloom as if they were going to live forever. We know better... but perhaps forgetting that is sometimes a good thing. So today, as my extended vacation from school winds down and responsibilities press in, I will go hiking way up in the mountains where the oaks and aspens are turning and the air is decidely crisp even at mid-day. I had planned to camp in the Jemez Mountains this weekend but an iffy weather forecast and anticipated crowds for the ABQ Balloon Fiesta will keep my feet here, where I live. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, wherever you go, and that you enjoy the always amazing turn of the seasons.

28 September 2010

Hiking Adventures: Some Interesting Local History

Mullein and Rebar, Magdalena Mtns., NM, Sept. 2010

Autumn in New Mexico... well, I can't write anything original about it, so I'll just call it absolutely enchanting. Most days are crystal clear, and the shifting light reveals new details in the landscape that awaken my inner vision yet again. Knowing time is short till winter sets in, I've been getting out for good hikes whenever possible. Last week I cruised up to Kelly and then hung a right on a rough dirt road to see what I could find further afield. After parking, I hiked a steep road up past 8,500 feet towards what looked like a mining site, taking in the magnificent view of the crest between North Peak and North Baldy. Hints of gold and russet tell of autumn, and the ridge was so tantalizingly close that I considered plowing towards the top....

I then came across a sign, fallen and clearly out of commission for a good long while, indicating that I was at what had once been a research site for military munitions storage. I took a picture of the sign so I'd remember the name of the site (no, not because it's so picturesque) and, upon Googling various combinations of the terms, finally found a document entitled "Environmental Assessment and FONSI for the Joint United States/Republic of Korea Research and Development Study for Improved Underground Ammunition Storage Technologies Tests, Magdalena, New Mexico." [FONSI stands for Finding of No Significant Impact," meaning the proposed project would  not significantly affect physical, cultural, or other aspects of the site.]

This report describes in full detail the purpose and nature of the experiments conducted there and actually answers the first question in my mind: Why would the Army Corps of Engineers pick such a remote, hard-to-reach site? Well, the obvious answer is so that they could blow stuff up in peace, but apparently the geologic structure of this area, its relative proximity to New Mexico Tech, and ready-made testing chambers in the pre-existing Linchberg Mine helped tip the scales. Some of the debris left behind, including the heavy steel plates twisted by heat and shot full of holes, suggest the tests were rather comprehensive, but what of all the unused equipment and supplies left behind? The document states that "Posttest, any disturbed ground caused by construction will be recontoured, and construction debris removed from the test site... and disturbed areas will be reseeded with native grasses" (p. 62). The contractor's plan would include restoration which "would provide for a reasonably natural appearing final condition of the area" (p. 27).

Um, yeah. Are they just not done yet (16 years after issuing the FONSI report) or...? I'm not complaining too loudly because this site offers some very cool photographic opportunities, but it's still not right to leave all the crap up there just because it's remote and the locals have no real means of recourse. Just sayin'...

21 September 2010

"Bits of Silken Down"

Thistledown, Patterson Canyon (near Magdalena), NM, Sept. 2010
"The milkweed pods are breaking,
And the bits of silken down
Float off upon the autumn breeze
Across the meadows brown."
-Cecil Cavendish, The Milkweed

The meadows here aren't brown yet, and the photo above shows our far more abundant thistle rather than milkweed, but yes, the breezes have an autumnal tinge even on these warm, sunny September days. Summer doesn't want to let go yet -- we have had refreshing summer-like rainstorms the past two afternoons -- but the "bits of silken down" seem to be everywhere lately, just another sign of the ripening and dispersing that marks the close of another season of growth and abundance. Even my garden has been fairly abundant this year, with enough onions, Roma tomatoes, basil, and oregano to make my own spaghetti sauce and almost a dozen butternut squash ripening for storage so we can taste summertime during the cold, windy days of autumn and winter. Each year brings a better harvest as I get the hang of New Mexico "gardening," which involves endless wrestling with the elements and workarounds for issues like cold nights (not good for tomatoes or peppers) and the lime deposits from our hard water that endlessly clog the drip-system emitters that are essential for adequate hydration of these plants we're trying to grow in a less-than-hospitable environment.

The thistle, however, enjoys this land just fine thankyouverymuch...

20 September 2010

"Dancing the golden sunlight..."

Aspen Leaf, Magdalena Mtns., NM, Sept. 2010
"The wind-blown leaves turn
Dancing the golden sunlight
across the tired floor."
- Matt Dimmic

From town, no yellow tinge in the aspens is yet visible in the Magdalena Mountains looming to our south, and as I ascended the tortuous road toward South Baldy yesterday I saw no hint of gold until I reached 10,000 feet. Even there only the occasional aspen is beginning to change, yet as a few golden leaves drifted down to the forest floor during our hike on the North Baldy trail I sensed summer slipping away. Autumn in New Mexico is especially exquisite, with almost cobalt skies, brilliant backlighting and deepening shadows as the sun descends toward its winter basin. As beautiful as it is, I always feel torn between awe and ache. D.H. Lawrence expressed the latter perfectly for me:

"The autumn always gets me badly, as it breaks into colours. I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold doesn't crouch over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce." (D.H. Lawrence, Letters)

This year I needn't dread winter quite so much; thanks to new windows and a central heating system I won't need to wear several wool sweaters and a hat inside my own home, and Dad and I will soon be heading out to bring in wood for a fireplace that will finally be more for warmth of feeling than (inadequate) heating. I will also try to take a new perspective both generally and through my photography, perhaps not as enthusiastically as the following but at least trying to see things differently:

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." (Andrew Wyeth)

It's worth a try, anyway... not like we have a choice, right?

17 September 2010

"God Is in the Details"

Spiderweb, Patterson Canyon (near Magdalena), NM, Sept. 2010
... and in the capacity to see and marvel in them. When this capacity diminishes, when I can't see or appreciate the innumerable small but amazing details in the world around me, I know I'm slipping toward the abyss. So being able to see and then take the above photo of just another small woodland feature that most hikers would have walked past, and marveling at how a ground-spider's delicate web catches the morning light and spins it into shards of rainbow, represents for me a step away from the abyss.

A loved one's death is stunning. Shocking. Unfathomable. Seven weeks after my mom's death I still find myself floating in a fog sometimes, barely aware of sensations either around or within me, and I think it's the mind's way of protecting me from a reality I still cannot bear or even really fathom. Other times, random times, kind of stupid times like brushing my teeth or waiting in line somewhere, it hits me: she's gone. Oh my f-ing God, she's. Just. Gone... and then the fog comes and softly envelops me again, and I have grasped another shred of the reality, just a shred so it's bearable. Just barely, but enough.

And once in a while, lately, I find myself noticing the small amazing things around me, and I can begin to believe it's going to be okay. Never the same, but okay.

14 September 2010

Pie Town Festival, Part 3: A Whole Lotta Eatin' Goin' On

Whoever won, the kids' pie-eating contest was fun for everyone, especially the contestants

 Of course the main focus of last Saturday's Pie Town Festival was pie, and the pie-eating contest is for a special kind of person who REALLY loves pie. I thought about entering myself but then remembered (with some relief) my gluten intolerance, so I was more than happy to stand by and photograph the event. The kids went first and were treated to chocolate cream pie, which the winner scarfed down in just a few minutes. The adults had a more challenging apple crumb pie that took the winner close to five minutes to devour; the contest in the photo below on the right stated it had "too much pectin" but still gave it a thumbs up. Some contestants were having so much fun that they had to stop eating to indulge in fits of laughter, and almost everyone mugged a few times for the many cameras along the sidelines.

Much to my surprise, neither of my kids wanted to do the kids' pie-eating contest (Laz said he would have done it if it had been an apple pie), but they had their own impromptu hot-dog eating contest, scarfing their lunch both because they were hungry and because Grampa showed up at our table with, yes, apple pie. They then promptly ran off to the playground to burn off some energy with the other kids, missing the festivities but having so much fun that they slept almost all the way home in the car.