A Conundrum of Contradictions

The musings of one born in the wrong decade

>Peace and Solitude September 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 6:27 pm

> Sept 28-

I’m sitting in Valley of Fire, back off the trail to Mouse’s Tank, watching the LV Art Models Group does a workshop while typing this post on my Blackberry. I’ve been so sick all day I’m not up to being lead photog all day like last time – we had to do it anonymously but some of my stuff is posted on Honey’s website from that shoot – but I didn’t want Honey to miss out, plus he’s assistant organizer and semi-required to be here. The models’ name is Lorelei and the preview on Terrell’s blog mentioned earlier implies that she’s about 5’9″ in height…when she’s actually a tiny 5’1″. There are three new guys here today who, quite honestly, look a lot nerdy and a little creepy. I often wonder how T’s group hasn’t attracted more perverts who just want to see a naked girl up close. Charlie, one of the regulars, thinks they’ll dissipate soon. Word spreads thru Photographic Society meetings, word-of-mouth, and the underground, horny guy network till people are coming out of the wood works, but few stay for more than a few shoots. Some of the places we go are a lot more work than sitting at a pc surfing the internet, if you follow me. It’s not as fun to sit on the sidelines, especially since Lorelei seems to be making an effort to be friendly with me – maybe it’s because I’m the only other woman here – but it still sucks to just watch. I’m not a photog by any means, but I can handle a camera and get good stuff sometimes and its fun, which is the most important.

I thought I’d mention something I touched on briefly in an earlier post: the quincenera. For those of you who don’t know, its a coming out party for Mexican girls turning 15 and going into womanhood. Its a huge deal and would be a wedding if a groom were present. Honey’s cousin, Janet (pic at left), had hers on Friday and to me its still culture shock. There’s choreographed dancing, catered food, more people who are all related in some way than I’ve ever seen before, family from out of town who came down just for this – its organized madness that requires you get all dressed up in heels and full make-up. My sweet sixteen was nothing like it. Honey filled all his memory cards plus one of Terrell’s, so I have no idea when I’ll get close enough to the computer to post this but I’ll do my best. I think my next day at home is Wednesday or Thursday. There are gray clouds gathering; hopefully Terrell won’t get rained on or flooded out while camping. These canyons are deceptive; sometimes a little rain equals a lot of water rushing your way from somewhere else. We also happen to back off the beaten trail and I’m in no condition to run or climb for my life. The guys are back over a hill somewhere and the silence is deafening, sounds like a very loud low humming in my ears. John Leslie Wolf and I were discussing earlier how one day out here can save you: from the multiple crisis in the media, your work or home stress, and even the daily grind. There’s peace and solitude that you have no choice but to align to. A $6 dollar entry fee into here is better than therapy with a psychiatrist. It’s not about figuring it out; it’s about letting it go.

>Apoligies for Slacking September 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 11:09 am

>September 28-
I know I haven’t been able to keep up with my postings and apologize for it. Our good friend, Terrell, who combined with my husband, Felix encouraged me to start this blog, tells me that once a week is a good ratio to keep the material fresh and the interest of you good people. Excuses are meaningless, but if you need a few I would offer 10-hr days 5 days a week and limited to non-existent computer time due to Honey’s photographic appetite. I get to check my email at home about once a month – good thing it goes to my phone as well! – and I generally pen my posts during down time at work, which is no longer possible since I’m now exclusively in the field and haven’t seen my desk in about 3 weeks. I pledge to do better, even if it means staying up too late and failing to spell check.

We may be suffering a little, like everyone else in this shaky economy, but we are pursuing photo ops nonetheless. Today is another nude art workshop, presented by Terrell Neasley and the Las Vegas Art Models Group. A preview of our model for this afternoon is available at Terrell’s blog; be sure to check back in a day or two for a full review. T is camping out at Valley of Fire after the shoot for a little solitary time – if I wasn’t working on Monday, we’d be there too.

Monday night we’re attending a free showcase at the Flamingo Library on the History of Flamenco. If you haven’t discovered this venue for free performances, I highly recommend it. I’ve linked to the list of upcoming events if anyone is interested. Entry is free as is the ample parking and photography is generally allowed. The seats are a little narrow, but if your hips aren’t as wide as mine, you’ll be ok.


>Art out Loud

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 10:03 am

> September 23-
As you may have read in my previous posts, my honey is out of work. When they say it’s rough out there, they’re not lying; however, there is a silver lining to the whole thing: he’s got lots of time for photography and believe me, he’s using as much of it as I can manage. We’ve been to the Strip for night shoots, to the Valley of Fire for scouting and a model shoot (read details on Terrell’s blog here), scouting out at Lake Las Vegas – which has a nice place to pull over in front of a water fall, emerald grass, and palm trees – new baby pictures, the photos for a quincinera sign (printed in 20×30) plus the event itself on Friday for probably ten hours. My personal favorite though was the event we went to last night (Sept 22) called 10MinMax. It was kind of a round-about last minute thing he learned about through a new member of the Las Vegas Art Models Group, who knew the guy putting the whole thing together, who didn’t mind letting us in to shoot even though he already had two photogs on the payroll for the evening. For those of you who scream, “Never work for free” like I usually do, in this case free publicity is priceless, for them and us. The event is basically by performers for performers, which equals they all know each other all over Vegas. And considering the number of business cards Honey handed out last night, a fair share of them will be coming to his website to look for pics of themselves or their friends during their performances, which last no longer than 10 minutes, hence the name. Anyway, Marco, the guy who conceived this wonderful madness, puts a show together every six months in a different venue – last nights’ being the Celebrity Theatre downtown on LV Blvd and 3rd (which I didn’t know existed and has very nice bathrooms) to showcase talent is Las Vegas, focused on staying out of the repetition rut which can kill creativity – at least that’s something like what it said on the bio I was handed walking through the door. We went really early so we could sit in the first row in front of a small round stage. To be honest, I felt like I was apart of something special, sitting there watching the true artistic community come together and mingle before the show. How do I say this? Going to First Friday for example just means you were there, you participated – going with a photographer makes you involved, makes you contribute and care about the success of it all because now it’s your success too. I was moved before anything actually happened – that’s how awesome it was.

The show itself started about 15 minutes late but made up for it almost immediately. The passion displayed by every single performer belied the small-scale venue and empty seats, and the crowd in attendance made up for the poor suckers who missed it. There was music and dancing, an acrobat working a ring suspended from the ceiling (expertly, I might add), belly dancers (one group we recognized from the Renaissance Festival), a rock band (my only disappointment of the night: they had a great look, but I couldn’t understand a word the singer said), a magician named McBride, a step crew (think Stomp the Yard, the movie) with a white guy (!) a drumming band using wash tubs and hollow plastic tubes as instruments, plus a fashion show featuring two designers, one of whom is Marlo, the new member from whom we learned of the event. Told you there was a roundabout circle thing happening! The show was from 9 – 11pm, though it lasted till 12:30am, after which a DJ took over and we bailed. After a 10-hour day and looking at another one, I needed sleep. Yeah, I know – party pooper.
In closing, I would say it was the best $15 bucks I’ve spent recently, only I didn’t have to spend it cuz my hubby is a photog and gets me into stuff for free. But for those of you who missed out, you really missed out. We’ll try to alert everyone in 6 months when it comes around again. Not only is it a great venue supporting artists in Vegas, it’s a great photo op and a fantastic evening out with booze and varied entertainment. And Honey’s name is on the program! How you do you like that!
Also, I know there aren’t a lot of pics with this post, but there are loads on Honey’s website under the DreamCity tab. Check them out – you won’t be disappointed!!

>The Road North September 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 1:08 pm


September 2 –

So Friday I sneaked out of work early – it’s easy on a construction site and I worked 10 hours straight the day before so I felt entitled. Honey had the boat all packed, the coolers ready, and had even done a load of laundry (after step-by-step instructions via phone from me), however, the duffle bag full of necessities was somewhat lacking. He didn’t have any pants or a hoodie, I forgot the flat sheet for the air bed, and I didn’t have enough clean shirts – ultimately neither did he since one got used a mop – more on that in a moment…
It was an easy drive of about 4 hours. I got a cup of coffee just to be safe – some of you may know that I don’t drink coffee: I like it in iced and frothy form, but it doesn’t like me generally. It was pitch black by the time we got there; I dodged a deer right after the ‘Watch for Animals’ sign and checked out two campgrounds before finding a spot. I’ll admit with some shame that we ultimately unhitched the boat and pushed it in to the space we chose. Neither of us could see if we were on the edge of a cliff, up against a tree, or clear for miles to back in. The campground was set up in a loop with all one-way traffic and spaces angled to ensure it. Since the boat and Rover together took up all of the gravel space, we set up the tent a little ways off back in the trees – there were some draw-backs to this: more on that in a moment…
Saturday morning we hiked down the path to the bathrooms – nice bathrooms too, in-door plumbing, real toilet and sink with toilet paper, no flies; they even had a shower! Anyway, a couple of spots down from us we met an old cat named Jimmy who thoroughly inspired us. He’s a world history teacher and country boy from Louisiana, been on the road on his motorcycle, Sun Stallion, for 40 days touring the US and all her wonders. Said at 55 he was in the best shape he was likely to be in from here on out, so now was the time. He’s also writing a book about his travels, got a journal about an inch and a half thick filled up already; now we’re in it. Showed us some pictures, including his ‘lucky’ picture of his two best friends, Betty and Bones (her husband), and mentioned something about working on a fire to heat his coffee. We floated back to our camp with wonder in our hearts and smiles on our faces. Here was the embodiment of our dream (one of them) – someone living without all the “requirements” of life and traveling for the sheer joy of it and to see it all before it’s gone. I went back down the hill with our single burner propane stove under my arm and a fresh bottle of propane to find Jimmy chatting with his neighbors across the road. When I said I had something for him he stared at me for a minute, then he asked me what I wanted for it. I told him I wanted him to have hot coffee on cold mornings and nothing else. He was touched and accepted, called me ‘ma’am’ the whole time, and even said he could buy his own propane. I waved him off, saying we had extra and that he should use it in good health and keep in touch when he could. Tithing does wonders for the soul; if you haven’t tried it, you should.
After breakfast we headed for the first of two lakes. It was a beautiful day, fish jumping everywhere, lots of anglers on the shores…we still didn’t catch anything. We came back to shore briefly to tighten a screw on our trolling motor and the ranger asked us to notify a couple kids on a float tube that they should come back to shore immediately. Apparently they “borrowed” the float tube thinking it was available for their use since it had been on shore for two days. They didn’t mean any harm, but we thought it was pretty funny. By then it was time for lunch and bait fishing is pretty boring though we’d resorted to it just to get a couple bites, so we headed for the dock to load up. Jimmy came down to see us, all suited up for the road. He said he’d left a gift for us on our camp table; it meant a lot to him, hopefully it would mean a lot to us. Upon returning to camp there was a letter, a photo, and a real estate brochure under a rock. The photo was his lucky one of Betty and Bones; the letter explained he wanted to gift us something in return but there was mostly junk in his saddle bags, so he gave us what meant the most to him and hoped it would bring us luck as well. The real estate brochure had cabins for sale in Idaho, one of which was circled and noted that he was thinking of buying it and we’d be invited up if he did. Currently the entire package is folded neatly in my glove box for luck and memories. We made lunch out of pineapple sausages (try them, they’re awesome!) on our two-burner camp stove. It normally lives at the bottom of our camping necessities tote – had to take everything else out to get to it.
About then our friendly ranger from that morning came by and told us all hell would break loose in about 2 hours. The clouds looked a little gray but I thought it was bit overkill. We tightened down all the tent stakes, closed everything up into something watertight and covered the firewood…and waited. The remainder of two hours past lazily with us sitting under a tree in the shade. There was some fun in the tent in there too, but mostly lazy sitting. When it did start it started slow – enough that we moved our chairs into the tent and took to reading, but not enough to be considered ‘hell breaking loose’ in any way. Not to worry – that came shortly after, at which point the tent was bending in gale force winds, the thunder was shaking the ground beneath us and the rain seemed more like a water fall than individual drops. It lasted four hours by my estimation, bucketing on us the entire time. It was during this time we discovered beyond a doubt that our 7-man, Hilton of a tent leaks, profusely. We kept scraping our stuff towards the center, at one point deflating the airbed to save it from getting wet, and setting all our pots – consisting of a coffee pot, soup pot, and one coffee cup – around us to catch drips. We also discovered that the ground we’d pitched on that looked so lovely and flat turned to mud with a cup of water, and since we had several, several cups of water, if you stepped into either end of the tent mud displaced beneath your foot. Honey went out a couple times to try to fix the rain cover, but to no avail, not to mention returning with about 5 pounds of mud stuck to his flip flops. It stopped just before bedtime, which was really good since I’d had to pee for the last two hours.
Morning dawned windy but clear. Everything was still there, including the Mexicans at a near by site who’d sung the same Vicente Fernandez song for 2 hours of the storm. Honey made the best breakfast bagel I’ve had in ages…and then came another ranger/weather man saying rain was imminent in hours. We debated strongly at this point whether we should stick it out, pack it up and do something else, or just go home. The ultimate decision, and the right one, was to unhitch the boat and go exploring. We took a 33-mile loop through some beautiful country with secluded campsites you need reservations to stay at and found a tree standing like a lone soldier in a field flat for miles. I also saw the best deer sign ever.
We ended up in this great little town, but the story on that will have to wait until another blog post for photographic project secrecy reasons. You fellow photogs should understand.
So after that we wound up in another great little town and spent some time in their train yard. I’m pretty sure we got into some places we shouldn’t have been, and at one point I was waiting for the junk yard dog to come barreling out from under something, but luckily none did. By then it was getting late. We’d been watching the clouds over what should have been our campsite all day – they’d been ominous and very gray. When we got back and checked the tent, all our bedding was wet. I made the decision right then and there that I was not sleeping in wet bedding. It started raining again while we were packing up, reminding me of Panguitch Memorial Day weekend. By the time we were loaded, we were both wet, shoes caked in mud, cold and hungry. We stopped to get food and hot liquid before driving less than an hour to a place we knew would have a room and rent it to us that late at night. As it turned out, we got the worst beds we’d ever had at our little hotel – we tried both beds with little comfort. We woke early to a colder morning than expected and drove home, arriving earlier than we normally do, but very tired and extremely satisfied…with great plans for our next adventure.