Monday, December 30, 2013


Commercialism has made the Christmas season a time of unbridled gift giving, particularly in America.  But gifts comes in all shapes and sizes.  Like children playing with the box in which a particular gift came, adults revel in time spent with family and friends, and cooking, creating, and growing things for later presentation. I, personally, love it all - giving and receiving - and as you know, spend time photographing these special gifts.

Nearly thirty years ago, a friend gave us some delectable morsels called bourbon balls.  In the years since, I have adjusted the recipe in a number of ways, and quadruple the recipe in order to make multiple batches.  Here are early rum balls in progress.

This year, my sister gave the gift of challenge and imagination to my husband with the adult version of Legos.  One of Lego's architectural artists Rok Zgalin Kobe brought architect Frank Lloyd Wright's blueprint of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo to life.  I just noticed on the website that it took a 14 year old six hours to build it.  It took my resident architect ten hours to complete, which I (totally lacking the geometry part of the brain) thought was excellent.  He says "The next time you need a problem solved, call your local 14 year old!"

Big Al had a bumper crop of fruit and brought some to New Mexico from his home in the Palm Springs, California area.  I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see and eat grapefruit and lemons grown in someone's yard and brought directly to northern New Mexico.  It is a little like receiving gardening catalogs at this time of year.  Aren't they beauties?  

I cannot end 2013 without thanking each and every one of you for reading my blog, and commenting throughout the year.  May 2014 be filled with good health, creativity, joy, and love! 

until next Monday (and next year)


a passion of the image

Monday, December 23, 2013

Santa's reindeer?

Although their noses may be similar to Rudolph's at one point or another, and they are in the same family (Cervidae), Rocky Mountain elk or Cervus canadensis nelsoni, are probably not suitable for pulling a sleigh.  Wapiti, as elk are also known, occupy a broad swath of the western United States, and unlike deer, are grazers because of their four chambered stomachs.  They are alarmingly large animals.  The cow elk weigh roughly 500-530 pounds, and a bull elk's weight ranges between 710 and 730 pounds.  Bull elk need that extra weight for many reasons, one of which is the tremendous racks or antlers they grow and shed each year.

From pure observation, the groups of elk within a given herd might contain a bull and a harem of perhaps 10 cows.  But last week a fairly large herd wandered through the sagebrush.  We counted four bulls, several spikes (yearling bull elk), and as many as forty cows.  It is somewhat unusual to see a group that mixed during the winter months, when the bull elk seem to be more solitary.  They have already done the job of extending their blood line, and can frequently be sighted ambling alone.

...and finally, a demonstration of why they are called Wapiti.  According to Wikipedia, the word is derived from Shawnee and Cree, and roughly translates as "white rump".

Merry Christmas and to all, a good night!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image


Sunday, December 15, 2013


Those of us living in the American Southwest are spoiled.  We are blessed with massive amounts of sunshine.  So when it is overcast for any length of time, frequently, there is whining.  Little wonder why the ancients celebrated the lengthening of days, building structures that played with sun and shadow in such a way as to pinpoint the solstice.  For many, particularly those in more northern climates, the solstice celebration is more significant than any other during the winter months.

This year's solstice is Saturday, 21 December, and thus, here is my photographic toast to the season and the kinds of sunsets that only happen as longer nights envelope the daylight with mystery and hope.

Below is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taos with farolitos on the parapets 

a peaceful solstice to you

until next Monday,


a passion for the image

Monday, December 9, 2013

snow puzzles

It has been quite the weather week all over the United States, not to mention Scotland, Germany, and Denmark.  Snow, ice, wind, hard freezes in the valleys of California (which comprise a large part of our nation's grocery carts), combined to keep people talking about the weather in not so positive terms.  Technically, winter has yet to arrive.  But try saying that to people in Texas who were without electricity due to ice storms, or those in more temperate climates with heat pumps that are not quite working as prescribed.

As a photographer, it is always tempting to tease and show images of tropical islands or lush gardens during this time of year in the northern hemisphere.  But there were some fascinating designs were created on the mesa this weekend from the effects of wind on snow and graupel.  I call them "snow puzzles" because the slight changes in elevations which make the surface look more three dimensional look like pieces of a puzzle.  If you click on the photographs, you will see a larger image as well as some of the details.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image

Monday, December 2, 2013


Some years ago, I photographed scientists at the Santa Fe Institute and many, if not all of them, regardless of discipline, worked on chaos and complexity in natural and human-produced systems.  Nature is extremely complex and I love it when I stumble upon and am able to photograph "in your face" examples of it.

Although it is one of those pesky imports and invasive species, the many types of eucalyptus trees never cease to enchant me.  This particular tree near Morro Bay is a huge puzzle and portrait of life as the tree lives it.

Human made complexity is everywhere.  Barbed wire was created out of necessity to keep cattle enclosed in a small or large areas.  According to Wikipedia, Lucien B. Smith of Kent, Ohio, invented what many open rangers viewed as the bane of their existence in 1867.  To the uninitiated, the wire produces a powerful bite and lasting scars if encountered at the wrong angle (almost any).  It seems benign coiled in the snow, but it will be very interesting getting it untangled after the thaw.

Embrace the complex nature of life.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image