January 2007 Archives

settling in

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I spotted Lesa through frosted glass that divided international arrivals with Mexico. Her and her group were making their way through customs. After they got to my side there were general introductions, and then we began rolling our luggage through the airport, stopping for a brief lunch. Boarding a bus we embarked on a four hour ride taking us from Mexico City through the mountains to Cordoba.

Her "group" is a women's group and they are from texas. Their mission was to put on a "women's conference" for the women in that region. Partnering with a small private seminary, who's students would be involved in pulling off the details of this event, they brought the theme, content, structure, and even crafts.

I was simply going to take pictures.

Or so I thought.

After the bus ride we were shown our sleeping arrangements. Eight of us to a room with bunk beds, two toilets, and a shower.

If I didn't know this group before, I sure would by the end of the trip.

We settled in and were off for the evening meal in the seminaries dining hall.

Here are the students praying over the meal.

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The school is free but the students apply and are chosen to be here. When they aren't studying (which seems like all the time) they keep the place going. They do the cooking, the cleaning, the maintenance, the laundry...

you get the idea.

They come here to learn the gospel in order to take it back to their communities.


shot from the bus
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we've got a runner

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We've got a runner.

That is what the woman at the mexicana check-in counter said into her walkie talkie after looking at me like I was nutz.

It was 6:33 am

My flight was supposed to be in the air at 7:05.

Do the math.

Normally I am the kind of gal that totally follows the two hour rule for arriving at the airport for the security gauntlet but not today. I overslept.

at 5:57 I woke up and realized what time it was and that it would take a miracle to get me on that flight. Jumping in our clothes and grabbing my stuff, Bryan and I got in the car to drive the normal 30ish minutes it takes to get to BWI airport.

Of course this seemed hopeless.

Bryan dropped me at the gate so I could run in and check in while he parked the car hoping to reconnect for a goodbye kiss after check-in. At this point I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that I was too late. Stressed but trying to be gracious, I gave the woman at the counter my most pitiful expression as she ruefully scanned my passport while inquiring to the plane via her walkie talkie if there was any hope.

Yes.

Miracle.

I was flying Mexicana air and not checking any luggage so the woman escorted me to security where there was only one person in line in front of me (another miracle). I went through the security routine (take off shoes, put laptop in bin, put cameras in bin, put jacket in bin, put all on converyor, walk under scanner, get hand scanned by attendent) still stressing a little but encouraged so far. Then reassemble on the other side (jacket, cameras, laptop, put on shoes). I grabbed it all and bolted for the gate. About fifty paces I was greeted by a smiley young man (that I would later find out was a steward on my flight) who motioned to me that I didn't need to run. Sure enough, another fifty paces was my gate.

Phew.

I waved at Bryan, who was now standing on the other side of security.

And got on my plane.

Miracle.

The flight was fabulous. I even got enchiladas for breakfast. Awesome.

In Mexico City airport I have a few hours to kill before I meet the group that I am literally hitching a ride with. A few months ago I met Lesa Enganthaler at a gathering in Seattle, and listened to her express her excitement at a new work that she was involved in (leading) in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. I asked her if I could tag along in order to photograph these beautiful people. Laidback, flexible, and with a keen insight for making room for the spirit, Lesa was totally open to it. It was a simple, "what if" idea that lead to this moment. Me in the Mexico City airport.

So with some time to kill I walked into an airport bank to change some money. An older man in line in front of me turned around and looked at me...

Tu habla espanol?

No.

He regarded me with raised eyebrows and turned around.

I actually do know spanish. Four words. Olah (hello), Adios (goodby), Gracias (thank you), and the all important, Bano (bathroom).

I waited in line until my turn to the teller who I smiled my biggest smile at and said.

"Exchange"? while handing her my dollars.

Without skipping a beat she converted my money and I was on my way to wait for Lesa and her group. I had some time so I dipped into (of all things) a coffee shop with signs advertising espresso. Something I knew how to order. Sipping my coffee I pondered what kind of adventure was in store for me.

On my own in a foreign country where I don't speak the language.

I love this stuff.

here's to adventure.

mission accomplished-sort of

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Back at my temporary desk at the blue house cafe (wireless internet and awesome tea keeps me coming back here) I am trying to warm up after freezzzzzing my touchee outside. But I have to say, even though the new gear is uber intimidating, I got good results even on the basic settings. I haven't lost my mind and I can still take good pictures. This new camera is going to be a challenge but it may very well teach me the real art of traditional photography with its handy quick stats readout feature that reminds me how I got the shot. For me this is one step closer to actually retaining the info that has always been accessible in previous file formats, but frankly was just too much trouble to get to. Yes, I am that lazy. But it is also my learning style that tends to be a friend or enemy depending on the tool.

Anyway, only one minor mental meltdown when Bryan tried to teach me something technical over our lunch date, and after that I was fine. I am a difficult person to teach anything to. I seem to have to learn something from the inside out for it to stick, and then it takes lots of repetition to REALLY stick. That and my own insecurities can get the best of me occasionally. And my sweet hubby is just SO smart about everything. Anything he tries he just seems to become an expert on in no time (this might be really annoying if it wasn't so handy and he wasn't so charming;-).

So, my slow learning process aside, I think I will be able to get comfy with this new tool. Testing it on the streets of Fells Point (mostly shooting seagulls) proved successful at making me feel like I will be able to master the tool and get good results-again. I will have to take another day (at least) before my trip to feel confident enough for shooting those beautiful faces in mexico.

I will post a few pics of my "test day" when I am back at my home desk.

a grey day with the birds...

test one composition...

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test two, close up, depth of field...

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test three, this one lacks good composition, but I would not been able to catch this bird mid-flight with my old camera.

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my name is blair and I am a photographer

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I am off this morning to remind myself that, yes, I am still a photographer. The last few months have been abysmal in this category of my creative life. One of the culprits for this phenomenon may be that my current camera actually had something gradually going wrong with it. Where this left me was akin to the frog in the frying pan metaphor, only instead of getting fried, I just gradually lost confidence until I wondered how in the world I ever thought I could take good pictures. I have never been technically inclined and my cameras have always served as a tool for my ability to create good composition. If you asked me to rattle off what shutter speed I used for a given shot I would probably look at you like you had ten heads. This fact (which I have never been proud of) helped contribute to that lack of confidence and just had me doubt myself even more, instead of the camera.

My husband, observing that I took approx 200 pictures (instead of my normal 2000) on our trip to Arizona realized that something was up. While I spiraled down into creative self pity, he dug into consumer reports of the latest technology.

He's a take action kinda guy.

Days later he had me in a RITZ store putting the results of his investigation in my hands to test out the feel and function of these new machines. This was a big deal because frankly, some cameras would just be too big for my little hands. Like not being able to see over the dashboard being a reason not to buy a car, having a camera body that I couldn't hold would make no sense. Other issues for me included being used to the view screen on a strictly digital in contrast with actually looking through a viewfinder in a digital SLR. Hey what can I say, I am one of those people. Half of the work that I created for launching avisualplanet.com in 2001 came off of the little nikon 990 coolpix. Like I said, the camera is just a tool. In my creative funk I completely forgot that I have done some really good work in the past. It just goes to show you that I am a "now" sort of person and don't tend to rest on past accomplishments. In this case however, I needed to give myself a kick in the head and get out of the present funk.

Bryan compiled his info and ordered the stuff. Honestly, what would I do without him?

So today I am walking the streets of Baltimore to test out my new Nikon D80. A week from today I will be on a plane to Mexico to photograph a gathering for women of the Chinotecos, so I better be comfy with this new camera. My husband in his wisdom also thought it best to supplement this camera with the Nikon coolpix S10 the latest generation of my beloved 990. The contrast of these two cameras will allow me the flexibility to take serious planned shots with the D80 and those candid shots with the S10 which fits in my purse. It also takes great macros too.

So by the end of today I hope to have a restored confidence so that I can say...

my name is blair and I am a photographer.

We went to see Pan's Labyrinth last night.

This is not a movie for children. This is not a fairy tale fantasy. It is about war. I was expecting something akin to Mirror Mask. It was more like Apocalypse Now.

Again I feel as if I was a victim of misadvertising. You know the kind. When a movie is sold to its potential audience via a trailer that totally spins it in a direction away from that targeted audience.

Trailers sometimes do this. Or they tell you the entire plot in two minutes making you feel as if you don't need to see the movie because you just saw it thanks to the trailer. Or they show you all the best scenes which misleads you to think that there is more great scenes to come only to be disappointed(comedies often use this).

But the trailers that mislead are the ones that probably annoy me the most because they are deceptive for the sake of a sale. Not that the other trailers aren't sales tools, they are, but some seem more informative than others. Like letting you know that this is a movie you might want to see. Pan's Labyrinth trailer made it seem like pure fantasy.

It is actually about civil war Spain. And it is really more of a war movie than a fantasy. So if you were thinking of taking the kids, think again. It is rated R which I might have overlooked because of the fantastic fantasy driven effects on the trailer. It looks very much like a fairy tale from the trailer. But it is graphic and gut wrenching in its violence. It is grisly and dark, and breaks a few rules.

Having said that, it was an awesome movie.

It makes a deep statement about the evil of war by contrasting it with the imagination of a young girl. This made it truly profound. The visuals are wonderful and the story is not predictable and formulaic. I was on the edge of my seat, holding my breath for most of it. It was thought provoking and well crafted.

I just didn't like the bait and switch.

http://www.panslabyrinth.com/

07 list and the new Mondo

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Having recapped I can now move onto what I would hope for 2007. And I do realize that my list is more of a realistic list of goals than a truly MONDO BEYONDO list that should include only the most outrageous hard-to-reach goals.

But hey, it's my list.

And it is amazing how writing something down makes it one step closer to reality. I'd swear by it. Something about declaring your intentions to the universe even if in a simple blog gives a little push that gets cosmic wheels in motion. Maybe it is simply taking the prompting of the spirit seriously when otherwise we might set aside such dreams because we feel undeserving, unmotivated, or even afraid. Pish-posh.

So here are my hopes for 2007 in a handy little no-pressure list;-)

The big ones...
1. Complete the designs for the buildings for Exnihilo. This involves the help of architects and advisors along with oodles of research on my part regarding bahama law, green building, and a zillion other details. If this time next year I can check this off the list it will be truly MONDO.

2. Turn the tables on father time. Or more concretely, get in shape. I know, I know it is the ultimate in trite new year's resolutions, but I can honestly say for the first time in my life I am absolutely disgusted with the way I feel physically. Yes there is a vanity component because I don't like the way I look, but the larger issue is the way I feel. I have stuff to do, things to build, and feeling tired and weak does not fit into those plans. It is silly to have inspiration to paint this or create that only to punt the idea because of being too tired. Must fix this. Last year's yoga plan got derailed so this year I am going to try a more aggressive approach.

3. Take a class. This may seem like no big deal, but being in a class setting kinda freaks me out. But now many of my motivations are coming from the first item on my list and supports the building of that amazing place. So this year I am going to take a class on glass blowing. Chalk it up to research.

4. Finish the back yard. Our remodeling of our "shack" continues to be overwhelming so attempting to divide the projects up into pieces seems to help on some psychological level. Shooting for the completion of the back yard may actually be replaced by a bedroom remodel, or exterior improvements, or... well you get the idea. Last year we redid the pool and one bathroom.

The minor mondos...

5. Continue the painting journey. This requires being true to my artist date and not belittling the process. Remind myself not to fear the blank canvas and paint with the sole goal of exploration not results.

6. Continued collections creation for avisualplanet.com. Vague, I know, but, like I said, its my list.

7. Learn how to compost properly. Ok I know this sounds really funny, but it goes along with learning how to build green, being eco-friendly and all that stuff that in four-five years time we need to have nailed down to live bahama style. Plus I have a backyard full of leaves that could be a gold mine if I just intentionally put the stuff to good use.

8. Visit my FABULOUS friend Anita in France. Ok my minor mondo is now intersecting with her MONDO BEYONDO dream of living in France for a year. I plan on crashing her pad for a week or two with my guys in tow. Oh and by the way this list isn't in any particular order. France should never follow compost;-).

9. Photo trip to Mexico. End of January I am off to take pictures in vera cruz for a women's retreat. The challenge: get good pictures of faces. This is something that I want to be able to do better without staging. I want to learn how to get truly good candid shots.

10. Have more fun. Ok this sounds really silly and honestly I just needed a number ten. But my husband had this great idea of creating a weekend "options list". Unlike a to-do list which implies chores and obligations, we are compiling a list that includes fun things that we might like to do on the weekends. This can be anything from checking out a new exhibit at the smithsonian to driving to new york for a show. The point is to have something to refer to when we just have to get away from the house which is a bottomless pit of musts and should-dos that can drive us both crazy if we let it. We love all of our remodeling projects, but sometimes you have to step away to get some perspective. Why do we need a list? Because when those moments hit us we are always asking each other..."What was that thing we wanted to do...you know that thing we saw the other day...what was it?"

Ok, that is the list. There are a zillion other little things that I hope to do but that would just reveal what an absolute list nut I am (like my 101 little project list-no lie) and that is not what the Mondo Beyondo is about. The big thing this year is the first one which has so many tentacles to it that it may be the only thing that actually becomes a reality. Even so that would be MONDO BEYONDO enough. Don't ya think?

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january reboot and recap of 06 mondo

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Wow. Time does fly. Here it is the beginning of the THIRD WEEK of January 07 and I haven't even reviewed last year and set goals for this year. So here I sit in baltimore's Blue House with a moment sans distraction other than the musical selection piped in for the hipster clientele. Truth be told I absolutely love this place. It is a combination of coffee bar and recycled retail products for your home. They encourage clientele to plug in your laptop for indefinite periods of time as long as you plunk down three bucks and change for a Naked Juice. That is fine with me as the environment is worth more than three buck in inspiration alone and so it is the perfect place for me to regroup my little head in the direction of 2007 goals and a new MONDO BEYONDO list. The environment is inspiring, the juice is good, and there is no laundry here to taunt me.


So first a recap of 06 and what DID happen.

Last years (2006) list...

1. Continue to paint and have my new work in a gallery (somewhere) by the end of 2006.

Ok. I made strides in the right direction but honestly did not put the pedal to the metal on this. Although there is a local gallery that would probably take my work at the drop of a hat, I have kind of been holding out for someplace that really shows well and doesn't play mind games with the artist. During our trip to AZ I was on full scout alert having printed out postcards of my entire thin place collection ready to hand to any gallery owner that seemed interested. Once faced with each gallery I realized that in my gut I didn't just want my work to hang on any old wall that would take it. Touring several different galleries I became pretty selective. The advantage of being 42 is that I am not desperate for approval or hungry for attention. In the process of cold calling, I ran into some very nice helpful people and those that did look at my work didn't laugh in my face. One gallery owner did shut right down when I asked her whether she took emerging artists. The response I got from her was not sisterly at all despite the artwork that covered her walls espousing female empowerment and sisterhood. She instead regarded me more like an undesirable bug that had found its way uninvited into her sacred space. She didn't even get past the question long enough to see my work. Twenty years ago I would have taken it personally but those years gave me the ability to laugh at the woman who was clearly wound way too tight (not to mention a face that had seen too many face lifts). And frankly I have learned that I have no need, or room for someone like that in my life. And I can smell a sinking ship wrapped in the pretense of snobishness. That kind of behavior is a big red flag. Face-lift, bug-lady aside, I did find a couple of potentials in Sedona that I plan to pursue further. A good step in the right direction, which is the point after all...moving forward.

2. Trip to the bahamas. Not just for a vacation but to scout. My really MONDO BEYONDO idea is to begin the process of buying a piece of land that will ultimately become a retreat center for artists to come to and renew themselves.

Ok. This one, hands down, blew the rest out of the water. The original goal was to "scout". But this mondo went out of control when "scout" became BUY. So in a way, the energy that went into this baby may have stole some thunder from the other items on my list but WHO CARES. This one surpassed what I originally planned and has taken on a life of its own. WOOHOO! What can I say, I am really proud of this one. If there was a golden mondo award to be won this one would be my winner.

3. Double avisualplanet.com's subscription base and artist's community. This is a lofty one because frankly I don't know the steps to get there.

This one remains elusive. Maybe because (like I said with the last item) I didn't put much energy towards it. My little business continues to hold its own and we did increase the artist community but as far as income...not so much.

4. Start a project with avp that involves a whole new concept of video for churches.

Strides was made in this in the form of collecting footage but no more. The idea may be too big from a production standpoint, and so I am reevaluating this one.

5. See my son off to college.

Mission accomplished. Although when I put this on last year's list I had no idea he would be going to MICA and so this one unfolded in ways unexpected. It may seem like a simple thing... just the normal next step in life, but this (from a parental-letting-go standpoint) was truly mondo. And Daniel's first semester was somewhat life changing, growth-wise, spiritually, and artistically. And he made the Dean's list. We are so proud of you Daniel!!

6. Adding a garage to our house. Getting the addition built that includes an apartment for young son if he goes to college locally.

Obviously this got completely tabled.

7. The continuation of an incredible spiritual journey.

This one continues in a somewhat natural, non-stressed fashion. Perfect.

8. See my husband begin the process of getting his master's degree in Ethnomusicology.

This one completely fell off the table because he changed jobs and therefore going to UMD was no longer in the picture. Life happens.

9. Continue yoga, but add more advanced moves and some other aerobic exercise.

Ok this one came to an abrupt end when I got Vertigo. Not only did yoga have to stop altogether but I was just so glad when I could simply walk straight without feeling dizzy.

10. Buy a red dress.

This interesting fascination with red continues to show up in weird ways. Although I never did find a red dress that I loved I continued to paint my thin place girl in red. Then while experimenting with abstract expressionism I painted a break through piece (for me) all in red. So this color continues to be symbolic in a very big way for me. As for wearing it...hmmm... not so much.

I bought a green one instead. 2007 is definitely going to be a green year.

Oh, and I flew over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter and that wasn't even on my list.;-)!

Outside of my comfort zone I drove from Baltimore to Rockville (to use our car-being the one car family that we are) in order to fulfill some final hoop jumping required in the ongoing process that is land possession in the bahamas. Yes we signed a contract way back in July but like all things tropical even legal stuff happens on "island time". So having finally received the thick multi-signed document that will ultimately declare my ownership in this beautiful piece of sand I found myself wandering around the circuit court of montgomery county this particular friday. Notarizing, sealing, and various other requirements had me asking complete strangers about what I needed to do with the documents in my hand.

This is the tedious part of fulfilling a dream. And yes, it is just the beginning.

But considering that I had ultimately braced myself for a DMV kind of experience I was pleasantly surprised to have a day that was simply a series of steps that were not too painful.

Like driving an hour, going through security, getting the first set of directions to the notary's office, going to that office only to find that their notary was "out that day" but to find that there was another to be had at the "Sir Speedy" a block away. This little piece of info came from a humble civil servant manning the info booth in the court office. Before declaring the day a failure I bothered to ask this woman where I could find a notary outside of the court building, figuring that she may in fact be the wisest most well informed person in the entire building. I was right, she had the info. Onto "Sir Speedy".

So the notary at Sir Speedy made her mark, and me having need of a witness employed the only other person at Sir Speedy as a witness (again a total stranger). Keith, made his mark as witness to the notary.

2 dollars please.Transaction complete.

Back to the courthouse for the next hoop.

Through security (again) and into a long bleak room with a man in a blue shirt behind a big bleak desk with a gadget hovering over his head, "take a number". My luck that day had not another person in the room, so I sheepishly approached the man in the blue shirt clutching my precious documents like dorothy meeting the wizard.

"I need a authentication from the County Clerk, please, am I in the right place?". Until this moment I didn't know the function of a "County Clerk". The man lethargically grunted, took my document, attached the appropriate pre-stamped certificate declaring the approval from the elusive County Clerk. The contrast of his lithargy with my excitement was only punctuated by the muffled applause heard in the next room from the wedding that was being officiated (weddings 25 dollars). He completed my document...

That will be one dollar. (I felt like I had stepped into Terry Gilliam's Brazil.)

Wow, this part of the legal process is really cheap.

So with two of the three hoops jumped, I walked the two blocks back to my car. The next hoop involves the Secretary of State. Again another office that I have no clue what their function is. This hoop however, involves FedEx. So filling out the appropriate cover info I release my precious document in hopes that they come back to me soon so that I can forward them off to their final destination.

This particular day only highlights what has been an interesting journey in dialog with attorney and realtor regarding this property. It has been an up and down sort of experience so far. But one of the ups came while I was pouring through the documents and came across the survey of our little piece of paradise. What was originally supposed to be 1.18 acre...

was 1.54.

Someone made a mistake...

in our favor.

Here's to red tape.

nini goes to france!

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No backdated posts yet from me, still trying to dig out of post vacation work but I HAD to jot a note to direct you to my good friend Anita's new blog...

Nini Goes To France.

If you ever wanted to live vicariously "under the tuscan sun" style only in Provence, now's your chance. Fearless girl that she is we all know that taking that first step into your MONDO BEYONDO is the scariest part but my gal pal mustered it and bought her ticket. She has been given the opportunity to live in this beautiful town for a year.

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Taking an opportunity like this may seem like a no brainer but how many of us actually take the chance and jump of that cliff. Sometimes it is easier to sit in the car than to step on the gas.

Anita's story is already inspiring enough, having raised twin daughters as a single mother working as a freelance artist. Many years of sacrifice for family and friends have come to this crossroads - the girls are eighteen and soon to be out on their own...

It is Anita's turn to fly.

But if you have ever been faced with your ultimate dream you know that in the reality of day the details can sometimes make you doubt and in my mind that is when the women are separated from the girls, when words become action. Most people settle for dreaming, but action speaks louder as they say.

Go Anita!

So if you tend to read my blog I encourage you to visit Nini Goes To France and give her a big "YOU GO GIRL". There is much to follow her in this big step and she could use our support and encouragement as she embarks on this new, awesome, and scary adventure. So go over and give her a sisterly hug by leaving a comment or two. I for one plan on visiting her over there... and I am sure she would welcome guests...

hmmm...

Anyway, she goes in April so leave a comment and wish her the best.

Anita, we are so proud of you!!

Back home from an amazing few weeks. Us Andersons tend to pack in the fun when given the chance we don't waste a moment to cram in memorable experiences. I am such a lousy blogger (in the universal rules of blog-being daily upload) that I have to back date my experiences as I record what I can remember from the last few weeks of fun. But in a nutshell here are some highlights until I get a chance to fill in the blanks...

1. Amazing cherry waffles on Christmas morning made by my Sis.
2. Scottsdale art galleries
3. Dinner out with family-cowboys and indians
4. Mom's delicious rum cake
5. Fireflys at Phoenix art museum
6. Chats with mom
7. Arcosanti stay in sky suite
8. Meeting cool artsy people there
9. Info gathering for Exnihilo (bahamas project)
10. Sketches of nine new works at sunset
11. Montezumas Castle and Sedona red rocks
12. Shooting the moon
13. 20th anniversary massage
14. Many heartfelt spiritual conversations
15. Driving past a vortex
16. 6 gallery cold calls
17. 2 helicopter rides
18. 1 crunched rental car
19. 1 Soleri Bell
20. and a bright new shiny diamond ring.

playing didgeridoo over the canyon

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We took the lovely scenic route toward the canyon in hopes to get some interesting footage. Here we are near Sunrise Crater a volcanic crater (who knew Arizona had volcanos?).

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Jan 4th had us driving up to Grand Canyon for yet another 'copter ride. Here we parked while Daniel tested out the acoustics of the canyon.

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ready for take off.

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20 years today!

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As if our Arizona trip could be any more special this particular day marks 20 years married to the man of my dreams. To mark the occasion I booked a special "couples message" in the hotel spa. What that amounts to is that two message therapists work on two clients in the same room.

This was pretty cool.

What a way to treat yourself for 20 years of bliss. Punctuate it with more bliss. Even though we were in the same room we were both pretty quiet as our therapists did their work, leaving us literally unable to move when the session was over. Bryan and I laughed as we each tried to pry ourselves up off of our tables knowing that our therapists were waiting outside the door. We dressed and were greeted with a couple of glasses of sparkling cider in little champagne glasses and "congratulations". Taking our time (truly time had stopped) we each used the spa steam rooms and met for lunch in the hotel restaurant. Later that day we took the cameras and went hunting for the perfect shot of the moon (full moon on our anniversary). This became the ultimate joke as the moon kept moving and although we waited with cameras rolling for the moon to rise at the published time, alas we got no moon.

So finally we quit and ran back to the hotel to change for our night out atCucina Rustica.

This is where my husband broke a promise.

We had agreed not to do gifts (even though I booked the massage-that doesn't count) he pulled out a little black box.

Ok, some back story here. Picture two kids twenty years earlier struggling to get through college, dirt poor, etc. When we knew we wanted to get married I was making jewelry and gave Bryan a wax ring design to cast as my engagement ring. He had it cast with a cubic zirconia as the stone. I was not into diamonds anyway, and honestly the fact that it wasn't a real diamond actually seemed more romantic at the time-we loved each other that is what mattered. He and I against the world, and that sort of thing. So over a plate of potato skins (cuz that is all we could afford at the time) at a TJIFs he proposed with the ring that I had made.

Years went by and being the jeweler that I was I added another stone-an amethyst (Daniel's birth stone) after Daniel was born. More years went by and after 12 years of metalsmithing taking a tole on my hands I stopped wearing the ring because it first became uncomfortable and then it ceased to fit.

Fast forward twenty years and you can guess what was in the little black box.

A perfect diamond wedding band.

What can I say my husband has always been a romantic.

So now I have a diamond ring AND twenty years of bliss to back it up. The stones in my new ring are truly beautiful but they pale in comparison to being cherished like a jewel which has been my husband's greatest gift to me. My ring is so pretty but what it symbolizes is what makes it really special, the love that we have expressed for twenty years that seemed to pass in a blink. And it symbolizes the next part of our journey together.

Bryan I love you so much I don't have the words. And I forgive you for the broken promise.;-)

Happy anniversary my love.

sedona red rock from a helicopter

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daniel ready to fly.
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blair, scared to death.
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All of trips tend to be working trips and this was no exception. This excursion found us filming from a helicopter. If you are ever in this part of the country and have the inclination, seeing the red rock splendor from the air is awe inspiring. Being in the presence of these rock formations is humbling from the ground, but from the air...

well, they are just too cool.

So today I managed to be brave enough (in spite of a fear of heights) to board one of these things and go into the air with only a seatbelt and a windshield between me and 300 feet of air to the ground. Crazy stuff. It is a good thing that I had a camera to keep me distracted because otherwise I probably would have freaked out.

What fun

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rental car has a fight with a tree

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whirligig forest

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We moved on to Sedona and spent a quiet new years in our hotel. Jan first we went sight seeing and gallery spotting at a cool place that had some fun things to look at. This hacienda style complex of shops and galleries is plunked down in the desert sand among big trees that are part of its charm. These trees are lofty and beautiful and even grace the parking lot.

Which can be a problem when you aren't looking.

Our rental decided that a union with one of these trees would be a good way to start the new year.

After having a nice day of low key shopping and sipping coffee. We ended it by crunching the back right fender of our car. What can I say...

Life comes at you fast.

So vacation was put on brief pause to take photos to send to progressive (great insurance company) and a few phone calls later and we were on our way.

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Arcosanti inspiration

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We spent a few nights atArcosanti.

This portion of our trip was an intentional break from reality. Having spent a wonderful Christmas time with family I knew we would need some down time in a quiet place that didn't make us feel the need to do anything (because there isn't much to do here). This place is in the middle of the desert between Phoenix and Sedona. It is a place where students come to take workshops on urban architecture under Paolo Soleri, the man who founded it. Because they consider it an "urban laboratory" it has never been a huge tourist attraction but still offers overnight stays for those who can put aside their expectations and slide into a more layed back attitude. Even though the place (built in the 70s) shows its age it still has an inspiring vibe due to those who live there and care for the eco-friendly vision. Having been here when Daniel was 12 we also knew that we could probably get some unique building ideas for the bahamas.

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As if viewing the sunrise through this window wasn't enough, we also managed to make some new friends. We connected with Jim and Carrie. Jim gave us a tour of the foundry where they make the famous Soleri bells. He is the foundry director and his wife runs the Cafe. Another layed back concept, a buffet style set up that for eight bucks you eat your fill. Sharing with both of them our bahama dream left us with the promise of keeping in touch, possible foundry workshops in the future at our artist retreat.

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Daniel, being a repeated point of connection with people (it seems that he just looks like someone you want to talk to) we met up with this very cool cat named "Sparks" who was the onsite electrician. Not sure if the nickname was a positive or a negative we soon found out that Sparks knew his stuff in the field of solar and wind energy. So over breakfast he was gracious enough to allow us to pick his brain regarding our site. An hour later with oodles of information we promised to connect again when the site was ready Sparks would come and consult.

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So what started out as a simple getaway ended up being a wealth of info for our project.

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October 2010

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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