Sunday, October 27, 2013


Cow at Dusk
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

Been doing some thinking 'bout a simpler life free from cares that own me and consume. Suppose I want to find my own utopia here, a hedge against a chance no heaven awaits me. 

Heaven to me is a mental state where I simply float without a worry. A cat like place where I just am and exist just because. Where who I am matters not but that I simply am matters more. 

Suppose what really needs to happen is that I need to change. Can't wait on the world to change. The change I need and want is going to have to come within me. The proverb "as a man thinks, so is he" comes to mind. 

If I can think I'm at peace and free then just may be I will become what I think. I surely would welcome a change of thought and a life free of the worry chains that come with the striving life.  

Kebler Pass

If you've never seen the golden foliage of Colorado's aspens, you should add that to your bucket list. While New England provides the best shades of red and orange, Colorado aspens provide the brightest shades of yellow against sparkling blue skies. The yellow groves patch the countryside and stand out against the evergreen forests becoming a quilt of yellow and green.

Quilted Countryside
Along Kebler Pass
Schedule some time and rent a four wheel vehicle and trek alongside Colorado's Kebler Pass. Stop by the cities of Aspen and Vail and experience the slopes free of skiers and only the majesty and glory of the Aspens John Denver made famous with his songs. This is home and almost heaven a place where your spirit can soar.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Autumn: Springtime in the Fall

Autmn Excursion
Near Palenville, NY

Autumn is a second spring. Leaf bouquets appear and shower the ground with their colorful displays while squirrels pack their natural pantries ; geese gather and flock and head to a warmer clime. Shorter days and softer lights transition us to longer nights.

Harvest moods settle in beyond pumpkins and hallowed goblins. Cotton candy and ferris wheels also usher in carnivals and odors: funnel cakes, hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts and spilled yeasty beer.

For me, it's autumn and something more. Brisk days awaken me as I slide out of bed and step onto chilled floors. Mornings just right not too hot and not cold but enough of a nip to warrant a good cup of coffee or an occasional hot chocolate.

These things and more, Im grateful for. As autumn again greets my door.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In Light

Estudiando La Palabra
Templo y Museo de Santa Clara
Queretaro, MX

For the most part, we seldom see the whole picture. We see glimpses of truth between light and shadows. Within those shadows we see more than 50 shades of grey, to be exact we can detect 256 shades of grey.

Details are found within highlights and shadows. So it behooves me to study both and find them. For the greater part of my life, I've been fascinated by and obsessed with details. My photography gravitates to the intricacies placed in my path by a universe fraught with dynamic pieces. My eye is inquisitive but doesn't portend to know the answers. Consequently, I photograph and process images as an attempt to understand why I was drawn to them to begin with.

It's through this process, my creative process, that I gather clues about myself. The reason I view things the way I do is a mystery solved only by further inquisition. It compels me to discover and explore my own feelings.

Through this process playing with details of shadow and light, I become enlightened about who I am. I want to know and not merely regurgitate what I've been taught. The final process reveals a life and answers that otherwise would remain concealed from me. I use the light and the light finds me.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Domed Stairway
Hacienda Jaral de Berrio
San Felipe, GTO, Mexico

When you walk through life you often stumble upon things that don't make sense. Objects which don't seem to match expectations. As I walked through the infinite rooms of Hacienda Jaral de Berrio one object in particular perplexed me. It sat in a corner but it had all the trappings of a confessional.

A confessional in someone's house is an odd thing even for Catholic Mexico. Upon a closer examination, I discovered that the mysterious corner object was a dome to cover a wooden staircase which lead to a downstairs parlor and conceivable ballroom. It was built for the safety of guests and to keep with the sophistication of the era.

Must say that we don't always get things right the first time we see them. It's a wonder we don't have more conflicts based on misperceptions between people. How often we perceive some thing one way yet its quite another. Our cognition may not be accurate, its a function of our prior experiences and tainted by our beliefs. At times, we need guidance from other sources or fresh views and a distinct perspective.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Colonial Opulence

Casa de la Marquesa
Queretaro, Mexico

Had a few moments in between business meetings in Queretaro to visit the central part of the colonial city of Queretaro, Mexico. Not to far from my hotel was the impressive lobby of Hotel Casa de la Marquesa. Built in 1756 by Alarife Cornelio at the behest of Don Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana for his consort Doña Josefa Paula Guerrero y Dávila, the architecture represents one of Queretaro's finest structures.

If you should travel to Queretaro, you might want to consider spending a bit more just to have an opportunity to experience the opulence of an era gone by. Quite the contrast to what was being built in America at that time in civilized places like Boston and New York. It's a reminder of how things can shift over time. None the less, there's a tremendous history of entitlement in Mexico. It's also a reminder of how exclusion via access to education bars the rest from wealth. Opportunity should go beyond the grant of a ruling monarch.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Looking Up

Firework Nebula over San Miguel de Allende
Celebración del Arc Angel de San Miguel
San Miguel de Allende, GTO, MX
Complaining about the clanging bells and whistling fireworks of San Miguel de Allende is pointless because undoubtedly you will enjoy the stirring commotion of a real community united by celebrations. During the day, San Miguel is about colonial buildings and cobblestone streets and color. As sunset beckons, the mood changes as church bells remind worshipers and revelers alike that evening is nigh. Soon crowds gather in the plaza known as La Parroquia in front of la Catedral.

Carnival de Arc Angel de San Miguel
Merchants gather with toys, hats, and food to sell, while parents and their children flock to admire the church and the enjoy the pleasant shade of the manicured ficus trees. Lovers of all ages hold hands and sit on benches trying to find secluded spots of privacy to chat, kiss, and dream. You can't help but notice all the stages and phases of the life which surrounds and pulsates around you.

Like a play the lights dim and evening curtains draws and a new scene unfolds before your eyes. Bells clamor again and distant firecrackers and drums collude announcing the advent of the main drama: fireworks. The rapid burst of firecrackers pop pop pop catching your attention. Fireworks begin to spin on spindles circling in front of you whirling and whistling all the while shining their colorful bright lights.  It's night time in San Miguel and the dawn of celebration.

It's all around you a life you've may have forgotten or lost at a carnival somewhere in your youth. There you have it, San Miguel is a carnival come alive at dusk.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Abandoned Baby

Abandoned Baby and Nook
Hacienda Jaral de Berrio
San Felipe, Guanajuato, MX

It wasn't until I shot this scene at the Hacienda Jaral de Berrio, that I realized that there was a dirty doll in the middle of the scene. For a while, I thought that it was placed there by the other photographer accompanying me but that was not the case.

Many times when I photograph, I truly don't know why I shoot other than something compels me to shoot. As I rework images their stories surface. To be honest  with you can't say, I can come up with a suitable story for this image. It remains a mystery to me.

That could be the story: the abandoned baby beckons to be found.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Looking Back

Window and Silos
Hacienda de Jaral de Berrio
San Felipe, Guanajuato, MX

Spent a full day studying all of the massive rooms of Hacienda de Jaral de Berrio. Each room had splendid details and its own character. Each with its own story. At times, I found myself transfixed and transcended to a different era. Within its walls opulence existed at the expense of those that maintained it. Unfortunately, the revolutions that ended the era did not bring about the promises of a better life.

This could very well explain why the poor cling on to the only thing that they do have. Faith and hope remain and sustain the poor left behind. Dreams were replaced by nightmares.

The town surrounding the faded opulence is comprised of nearly 200 inhabitants descendants of those who tended to the needs of the Marques and his descendants. Although left behind, each day they walk past reminders of an era of prosperity they helped create with their labor. You can't help but wonder about what was and what might have been. At least I do.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Man's Home Is...

Moorish Room
Hacienda San Diego de Jaral de Berrio
San Felipe, GTO, MX

Off the beaten path about an hour's drive from San Miguel de Allende in the town of San Felipe, Guanajuato, you will find one of the largest abandoned hacienda in all of Mexico: Hacienda San Diego de Jaral de Berrio. You might recognize the facade itself from the movie Mariachi starring Antonio Banderas.

It's hard to describe the magnificent opulence that this Hacienda represents. Even today in its abandoned state, it makes you wonder what life was like was for the gentrified and for the nearly 6,500 people serving them. This hacienda is more like a beautiful fortress and a self contained city.

Suppose for the Marques de Berrio and his descendants, a man's home was his castle. The Marques received his grant from the king and quickly amassed land and wealth. He and his defendants prospered at the expense of the indigenous people who toiled the land and managed the estate. It was a good life to be privileged back then. 

Today in America, in nearly a decade of time, the disparity between rich and poor is once again beginning to surface. Unfortunately those of us in the middle whose incomes have dwindled fail to realize that in that same period of time, the very wealthy's income level has quadrupled while the middle class has barely kept pace or now earns less for the same amount of work.

There's nothing wrong with wealth. There is something wrong with not asking questions about the causes of income inequality in a society that prides itself in democracy and the notion that all men are created equal. We are again becoming a nation where some of us are less equal and our votes are becoming less meaningful as they are purchased by the very wealthy to support their lifestyles.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mexican Notes

Statue at Hacienda Jaral de Berrios
San Felipe, GTO, Mexico

SMA was a cacophony of whistling fireworks and clanging church bells performing into the wee hours of dawn. It took on a life onto its own without the cares of the complex city life. This past weekend a carnival atmosphere took hold on both citizens and visitors from the surrounding areas including Mexico City, Guanajuato, and San Luis, it was a time to festejar simply festejando. Colorful merchants selling even more colorful wares ranging from balloons to dolls while the aroma of fresh food from street vendors filled the air with happy yet unfamiliar scents that would make the curious succumb.

All of this was a welcome relief from the stress of my week's business travel.  You do have to be prepared for contingencies. In Mexico anything can happen to think otherwise is sheer reckless optimism. Routine is less than routine in Mexico but nonetheless taken in stride.

Upon our arrival in Mexico City on Wednesday, we rented a car which we never should have accepted. We had difficulty closing the trunk but the rental agent cajoled the lock with ease and showed us that it was fine at least by Mexico automotive standards. When we arrived at our hotel our faith proved optimistic. No amount of effort could bring the latch to work.

But in Mexico, there's always a plan B through Z. The hotel manager had a solution straight from Tim the Toolman Taylor: duct tape. No worries an out of the box universal male solution.

Second business day, Thursday was relatively uneventful. As we approached our hotel I saw a water truck pumping potable water to our hotel. Our always ready hotel proprietor had a prepackaged solution to a water main break. Thanks to him we had water to bathe with and for our toilets. Again we were reminded not to take things for granted. There's nothing routine in Mexico.

By Friday, work was over and I took a 40 minute cab ride from Queretaro to SMA for R&R. Got to my hotel to find out that the front half of the hotel had been repossessed! Had to enter hotel through the side door. Not a problem, I had a room near the main plaza right at the center of SMA life.

That evening the city was packed  because of the celebration of the city's namesake, the arch angel San Miguel. This celebration of parades, fireworks, and church bells lasted until about 3 am when I'm sure the last musician and mariachi finally ran out steam and or music. This is Mexico always celebrating some part of life.

The next day there was no need for alarms to awaken me. The church bells rang on cue like a gleeful father waking up children for school. They rang without mercy for the already sleep deprived.

Wide awake I figured a good hot shower would put me in a great mood to offset my sleep deprivation a form of torture that could easily replace water boarding. (Note to self, send message to Geneva Convention regarding clanging church bells and fireworks.) Again I assumed incorrectly as I was jolted by a cold shower. Although I managed to shampoo my hair I didn't have the stamina to let the cold water chill my back. Suppose I wasn't in the mood for that kind of awakening or just my sorry ass was sensitive.

Hastily gathered gear and off to grab a cab and meet with other photographers to photograph the old abandoned Hacienda jaral de Berrios in San Felipe. Our guide pleasantly stressed good behavior and that she recently had to handle an unruly crowd because the local children had been falsely accused of stealing what turned out to be a misplaced camera. More drama to start my journey. Do not piss off the natives. 

Fortunately one of the photographers accompanying us that day was a retired psychoanalyst so I did my best I have this friend who...all without the benefit of a couch.

Time lingered as we toiled our way through the endless hacienda. Finally after a day broken up by a wonderful arrachera buffet, we headed back home.

We hailed cab from the Mega supermarket on the SMA outskirts but a routine trip home was detoured by the revelry of an endless parade and cordoned off streets. In Mexico it's entertainment first.

Finally had to ask the cab driver to drop me off within a mile of my hotel. Had no other alternative. Bravely fight my way back through the throngs of spectators and dancing Indians twirling to the deafening bass drums. Made it safely back to my room where I made sure that there was no repeat of the hot water debacle. Argued for a lower rate too.

Hungry I thought I would grab a bite to ameliorate my throbbing headache but folks were to busy looking at fireworks and listening to bands. Resigned, I too joined the masses and took in the fireworks in between the claps of thunder and flashes of lightening. I sought the refuge of ample umbrella like ficus trees in the plaza near the gazebo and in front of the splendidly lit cathedral. Was able to enjoy about 45 minutes before threats were no longer and raindrops transformed into torrential rains. Most of the masses dispersed. However diehards and optimists continued the party through the night.

My driver reached me late that evening and we agreed upon a time to leave one that included enough time for contingencies. We had been through many drills before during over a decade of travels from SMA and Leon's airport.

The next morning my driver called to let me know that my hotel was on a direct collision course with the parade. The agreed upon location would not work. Perhaps we didn't have ample time after all. I found myself lugging my luggage and back back down cobblestone streets and narrow sidewalks and at times strolling with feathered Indians and crossing their paths weaving in and out between the throngs and parade participants. Finally at the intersection of Zacateros and Pila Seca across from the fountain I headed south to find my smiling help. I boarded his 4x4, a white F-150, smiled and said good bye to a city, an adventure, and a country.

Arrived at the airport in plenty of time. Long enough to have to wait an inordinate amount of time with other sojourners making their way back home to the states some with makeshift suitcase overstuffed.

All was good and after about a 30 minute wait headed to our gate where I fiddled with my iPhone and jotted notes of my travel travails. Gate call and some nervousness set in as I saw an attentive a security agent with latex gloves which reminded me of my dreaded annual position B exam. What else could happen in Mexico?