Friday, March 28, 2008


I've kept myself buried in my "photo cave" since returning from my quick trip to Sacramento last week. After a couple of successful book projects, one for Diane from her retirement odyssey last spring and another for Jesse and Carmen's wedding in July I launched into a third book from my trip last May with the Sacramento Ballet to China, a much broader endeavor. There is a purpose to my hermitic behavior which needs to remain undisclosed for awhile. Suffice to say, the editing of photos, layout, type, copy editing and overall proofing of the product was difficult yet amazingly efficient even though I've been at it for a week. Think about that: taking a collection of photos from a two-week, non-stop experience and converting it all into a ready-to-publish book in seven days on a Mac. The production details almost made me forget what was happening outside, a wild spring snowstorm that has dumped about 6" here at the foot of the Cascades. Snow in the Willamette Valley? Much more in the higher elevations. I've conceded defeat and just can't bring myself to shovel the driveway at the end of March. A trip to the mailbox adds insult: spring and summer catalogues from L.L. Bean and R.E.I. with glorious covers of lazy days I think will not be seen here anytime soon. After the book was uploaded and out of my computer I grabbed a camera and got out of the house to see what my mushy brain and eye would concoct. The fence was perfect in it's graphic symbolism of getting over a barrier and back into the real world. Hellloo!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Once Upon A Time

I just returned from a couple of days on the road to see friends from my days in Sacramento. Kirsten Bloom, the prima ballerina with the Sacramento Ballet, was performing the lead role in "Sleeping Beauty," a full-length production that challenged the entire company in it's complexity. Suffice to say, the performance was exquisite. Kirsten and I have know each other for the past 12 years. I've photographed her in many different dancing roles, in rehearsals, the studio and recently during the tour to China. She is the only dancer who has been in the company throughout my tenure. I never tire of watching her dance. Paul Kitagaki and Renée Byer are two of my former co-workers at the Sacramento Bee. It's a bit strange returning to a city where one lived for 20+ years. Everything is familiar yet I see the city through a much different perspective. The comforting part staying with Paul and Renée. The common link between Kirsten and them is the "once upon a time" factor. Kirsten dances to fairy tales, Paul and Renée are photographic artists. They pursue their careers with passion and total commitment and I think about my years doing the same thing alongside them. I enjoy the occasional trip to Sacramento as a reminder of my crazy life as a photojournalist. I'm reinforced in my decision to retire and carry on a smaller version of photojournalism, yet there is a reverie for my Sacramento days that are still so close and real yet far, far away in another time and place.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Circle of LIfe

With Spring approaching the high desert in central Oregon the circle of life is in full swing. For Gayle Baker and her herd of cattle, the "girls," as she calls them calving season is a busy time of year. She watches carefully as each cow proceeds through the birthing process and for the most part, all has gone well. One calf was born with very low birth weight and was not feeding with her momma so Gayle used a substitute milk formula to get the calf through the first few days of life.

I have been out on the bike a couple of times when the weather was temperate enough for comfortable riding. I do still attend two spin classes a week which are 60 minutes of near-threshold work. With the surgery date now three months away I am more intent on getting as strong as possible. I think a lot about the pace of my life in a time-space continuum manner. Space being a three dimensional concept is understandable; time, the forth dimension is more difficult to comprehend in relation to space until I'm on the bike traveling through time and space as an ordinary activity. This is probably not what physicists would affirm. Life does move that way for me in most instances and probably for Gayle and her girls as well. Castenada's observation didn't mention the time it takes to understand the space one occupies at any given time. That one's on me.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Diane and I went to a concert in town last Friday night. Tracy Grammer, a great folk singer, played her Martin D-28 and sang two hours plus of soulful and personal songs. During her performance she referred to her former singing partner Dave Carter a lot. They were becoming the new faces of modern folk music when Dave died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 49 in 2002. He died in her arms in a Massachusetts hotel following a run. She is still coming to terms with the space of time and loss since his death. The concept of "space" is so vague until it affects your daily life. Instantly Carlos Castenada's philosophical perceptions of space between tree leaves become much more intimate. Space, for Tracy Grammer, is the perpetual absence of closeness of someone gone, so dear and important in her life. That void is immeasurable. My issue of space is on a quieter and less traumatic level. For several days now I have been in a vacuum between recent and upcoming activities. In short, not much to do. That space used to be nerve wracking. One of my fears of retirement is that I'd be bored and at a loss without work. I have not felt that way (yet) and have accepted stillness and temporary inactivity as one of the ebbs and flows of life in my post-career life. It took me two days to realize that and the reason I hadn't written on this blog was I was in that "space," the invisible elephant in the middle of the room. The part of "space" that drives me a little nuts is that I don't have to do anything about it. Restlessness is a way of telling me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and if I don't like it, then do something about it...when I'm ready. In the meantime I think about the things that are in my space (having nothing to do with the mega-internet site): Allison's high school graduation and my knee surgery in June, daylight savings time beginning this weekend, a trip to Sacramento in a couple of weeks and cycling in warmer weather, a home remodeling project. These are easy days and my superficial discontent is not in the same league as life changing events that I know will come. That is the space I will not understand until the day it happens. My favorite quote comes to mind: "The years teach what the days can never know."