We all have to remember in our own way

A tree stands in the median on I-25, north of Las Cruces, not quite to Radium Springs.

It’s a scrubby little tree, maybe a mesquite or a juniper. You know, the kind of hardy tree you see out there in the New Mexico desert. Something tenacious.

This particular tree stands out because it’s festooned with tinsel and garland.

It’s been that way for several years. I’ve seen it, driven past it several times, actually.

The first time I saw it, the time of year wasn’t much past Christmas, so I figured it was a leftover holiday decoration.

But when I saw it again a few years later, I realized it wasn’t just leftover holiday decorations, but something more serious. I knew it was a roadside shrine often found in our fair New Mexico.

The roadside shrine is a memorial located where someone has lost their life out there on the roads. It’s a pretty common sight in New Mexico.

It’s a tradition I grew up with and so it’s never occurred to me to question it. I find outside the borders of my homestate, it’s questioned. A lot.

Questions of taste and decency, actually. Whether it’s appropriate, or not, to put one’s grief so garishly on display.

See, I think we in our American culture have really weird and uptight ideas about death and dying. Ok, it’s probably because I grew up in the cultures of New Mexico that I feel that way.

But I’ve always really appreciated the Hispanic and Latino cultures celebrating and remembering their loved ones who have moved on. I appreciate the ability to show grief openly without remorse or embarrassment.

Dia de los Muertos offrendas and roadside shrines are simply the outward display of deeply held cultural beliefs. Beliefs such as that the dead have moved on to another world, but a world that is not so far away from our own.

A woman is comforted, perhaps, by knowing that her child, while not in her arms, is not that far away. While she remembers with a keening loss the child who was taken away, she can still bake bread and place sweets on an offrenda, and it helps her cope.

A mourning wife can drive to the spot where her husband met his end, and remember him. She refreshes the shiny bits of paper, and can feel her husband not so far away.

I think this is healthy, personally, and I don’t find it to be weird. I find it to be beautiful.

Those roadside shrines are called descansos. They aren’t just tacky plastic crosses and brightly shining tinsel. For the family that constructed the shrine, they are an essential part of the grieving process.

The garlanded tree located in I-25 highway median is a descanso to honor the memory of a child.

The shrine in the photo at the end of this post honors two kids who rolled their ATV by the irrigation banks on the Bosque in Los Lunas.

When someone you truly love dies, the grief never goes away. It tends to ebb and flow, welling up sometimes, overwhelming. Other times, the volume is turned down and you can almost, but not quite, forget.

I think we all have to find our own way of grieving.

No one can say who is right or wrong.

Source: Las Cruces Sun News

Ok, so go with me on this…

You ever have those moments where your monkey brain isn’t working on anything in particular, and when given free rein, it jumps around from topic to topic? There it hops along and suddenly you end up in some crazy neighborhood in your mind, and you are unsure how you got there.

And at that point, it’s best to just back out sloooowly.

Yeah. This happened to me the other night.

I was really, really tired. I hadn’t been sleeping well and my fatigued brain wasn’t making coherent thoughts. I oh so needed to get some work done at home, but couldn’t get my head into the game.

Instead, I lay down in my bed figuring hell, I’ll just sleep. Things will look better in the morning.

As I lay there trying to get to the REM’s, I thought “man, wouldn’t it be great to have one of those oxygen tents like Michael Jackson? I understand that a boost of oxygen can help you be more alert and think more clearly. That would be so rad.”

So *then*, my untethered mind, thinking of oxygen tents, remembered that episode of Seinfeld where George and The Bubble Boy got into a big fight.

And so of course I laughed.

But THEN, The Bubble Boy reference made me think of that TOTAL made-for-TV movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble which oh yes I totally watched after school.

Which then made me think to myself, damn, who was that actor who played the boy in the bubble? Dark hair, kind of cute.

So then the other side of my brain hollered in response, “Robby Benson!”

And ta daaa! My brain was now stuck on, “So whatever happened to that guy?”

So there I am, trying to sleep but instead thinking about Robby Benson. You know, circa “Ice Castles” and “Ode To Billy Joe“?

Young, cute, all soft focused and baby faced? Quiet voice and acting chops suited for made-for-TV?

Yeah! That guy! Where the hell is he now?

And that’s how I went to sleep.

Only trouble is…in the light of day, I realized. The Boy in the Plastic Bubble wasn’t Robby Benson, it was John Travolta. You know, circa “Welcome Back, Kotter” and right before “Saturday Night Fever.”

So I spent all that time pondering Robby when I should have been pondering John.

Damn. What a brain. Ain’t worth the price of headcheese with mayo on marble rye from Molinari (a deli in North Beach, for my out of town friends).

I really gotta learn how to do Sudoku or something…..

Ya Just Can’t Take a Bad Picture

There are certain places in the world where, seriously, other than utter camera failure (or utter user-of-the-camera failure) you just can’t take a bad photo.

Yosemite seems to be one of those places. I’ve not been myself, but I’ve seen plenty of friend’s shots and damn, each was gorgeous!

The Grand Canyon is the same. Here’s a link to shot that blogger friend NewMexiKen took on Friday with his iPhone. And it’s beautiful!!

I know that there are plenty of similar examples.

On Saturday, I visited one of those “can’t take a bad photograph” places. The Good Man and I needed to get out and enjoy the sun, so we took one of my favorite walks along the Marina Green, through Crissy Field and ending up at Fort Point, the Civil War era Army fort located right smack under the Golden Gate Bridge.

No matter how many years I live here, I still think the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most awe inspiring man made items ever constructed. It’s truly breathtaking.

And so yes, I brought my new-to-me camera along for the walk so I could learn how it works, and I snapped away.

Here’s the thing…there have been millions upon millions of photographs taken of the bridge, professional and amateur alike. We’ve all seen it from all of its angles. It’s all been done, and so it’s damn near impossible to get a new and different shot.

But it doesn’t matter. The bridge is stunning, and the photos taken, regardless of photographer, are always worth seeing.

So here we go, this was taken from the pier outside of the Warming Hut at Crissy Field:

It’s not an especially different or unique view of the bridge…but it’s still cool!

So then I try to add some artistic and photographic flair!

Ooooh! The big boat tie-off thingy in the foreground! And a fishing rod! I’m so artistic!

But what does your eye naturally want to see? The glimmering bridge in the background. With the sailboats underneath, it really makes the shot.

And then there’s this one:

We’ve all seen that view. Doesn’t matter. It’s still stunning! And that clear blue sky! Whoa!

By the by, it turns out the bridge isn’t only pretty up on top with the art deco towers and the graceful support cables.

The bridge is even beautiful underneath:

A man made work of art!

And even this…a terribly composed photograph, but it’s still fascinating.

This is the tower on the San Francisco side. It seems to be showing some breakdown and rust. This worries me! I understand that the bridge is constantly being painted to keep it sealed and also looking good. So I’m hoping that cutbacks haven’t caused a lack of care of our beautiful landmark.

Anyhow, I adore our orange bridge. Completed in 1937 it still stands proud and useful. I wish those yahoolios who are over budget and failing miserably on the rebuild of the Bay Bridge would take some lessons!

All our modern knowledge and technology still can’t beat what they made 73 years ago!

Ah, Spring

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

– Alfred Lord Tennyson

Yes, yes, it’s inevitable that the famous Tennyson quote will be trotted out when the weather turns warm. Especially after the winter we’ve had.

But is that true? Does a young man’s fancy lightly turn to thoughts of love?

Is it love? Or more like “damn, baby, it’s been a long cold winter.”

And if young men turn to thoughts of love, what about the thoughts of young ladies?

Well, I may not be young and I’m no lady, so what do my thoughts lightly turn to?

Well. Those cute little strappy sandals. You know the ones, with the heel, not to high, but high enough to make my legs look nice?

Oh, and if I’m wearing those, then I totally need a mani-pedi.

*ahem* Excuse me. Totally girled out there for a minute. Bringing it back to center….

My thoughts lightly turn to…

Margaritas on the patio of my favorite restaurant while nomming guacamole and hearing light mariachi music in the background.

Iced tea. Preferably made by the sun.

Liberating my legs from the tyranny of pants. (oops, better shave ’em. It *has* been a long winter!)

Apricots ripening in the side yard.

Farmer’s Markets with all of the rest of the produce that arrives with spring including nectarines, peaches and artichokes.

Daffodils on the dining room table. Followed by tulips. Followed by a cacophony of all the flowers of Spring and Summer.

Achoo! Sneezes. Because god knows all those fabulous flowers bring not so fabulous pollen.

Longer days and fabulous sunsets.

Riding my bike! (getting it tuned up today!)

Stepping outside and turning my face to the sun like an over ripened sunflower because oh-my-am-I happy to have that big fireball back in the sky where it’s visible. My vitamin D-cell batteries are running low!

Photo from: Kimberly Clark… time out, tired of Flickr!‘s photo stream.

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And so here’s the thing….

I’ve been asked to add one photo to an upcoming local annual group photography exhibit.

This is a very big deal for me and I’m super excited!

Trouble is…how to narrow it down to just ONE photo?

There are no bounds or themes to submissions other than no nudity.

So I’ve been pouring through my iPhoto library and have narrowed the list down to five.

Here’s where you come in…

I’ve posted thumbnails below for first glance, but I actually recommend you view the five photos in a Flickr Slideshow.

Once you’ve viewed and made your choice, please click here to vote. This will open a new page on Survey Monkey where you can give me your choice. (be sure to click “done” after you’ve made your selection!)

Bear in mind these haven’t been cropped yet and have only minor color enhancement done. Once we choose the photo, I’ll do more work with tweaking and cropping. I’m looking for the photo subject I think has the best chance of being sold, so I can donate the proceeds to the burgeoning art gallery. Keep that in mind as you look.

Herewith, the contenders:

Sunset Building


Curious Giraffe


Pretty, On Sale


Thoughtful Lemur


Housefinch in Winter