Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A New Start

When January rolls around, there is sometimes a sense of nostalgia for the good old days. I wonder if it is part of the mourning the passage of time, or fear of the unknown or just another Hallmark Moment that has been ingrained into society’s psyche. None the less, January 1st came and went and Las Cruces life for this northeastern transplant has become busier and busier, with a side of medical mischievousness thrown in.

At this point, I have taken on the role of Photography Club President. I have a really good board behind me and a really good club in front of me. My task however is a bit of a difficult  one. In one word, it is CHANGE. When I joined back in May of 2012 we had about 50 members. Since then we have tripled that number. We are looking to become a not for profit organization which will require a bit of work, including rewriting bylaws and procedures, drafting a budget and planning for the new year. One goal I set for myself was to increase the club’s exposure in the community and we have been hard a work about that (more on that effort later). We even have changed our name from Camera Club to Photography Club.

In actually, all this is a lot of fun for me. I earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work like 200 years ago but never really used the organizational, leadership and policy skills I learned in the jobs I had. Now however, they come in very handy. Everything from putting together a symposium to running a regular meeting falls under that umbrella.

Speaking of umbrellas, life always throws us a couple of storms to see how we handle adversity, stress and unexpected changes and January for me was filled with storms, medical ones. In late December I had some minor (haha) surgery, a vein ablation, to help with swelling in my leg. Well, it immediately got infected and the merry-go-round started with my going to the Wound Clinic here in town. It seemed to be improving size wise but there also was an inordinate amount of drainage (I will go no further in description lest the TMI police issue me a summons ((TMI = too much information))). In digging further (pun intended) the doctor found a large abscess under the wound and doing a culture found a highly resistant bacteria. A referral to an infectious disease doctor identified this as a bacteria that is resistant to every and all oral antibiotics known to man. At this point I was put on an IV antibiotic, after the expected insertion of a PICC line. This was to last 6 weeks without a resolution but soon there will be help on the way. Check in on my next post.

No January pictures but my next post will finish the infectious story of my health and show a nice picture or two.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

November turns to December

For many people (most perhaps?) December is the beginning of the Holiday Stress Olympics. The closer one gets to the finish line, the higher the stress levels, until they start to take over peoples lives. One only has to look at Black Friday with its fights, shootings, trampling of people, at the big box stores to see what I mean

Years ago, Mrs. Penguin and I gave up on the stress. The kids were older and so we scaled back on the holidays in general, in order to avoid the Himalayan stress levels. When the kids were home, we cooked together, relaxed and enjoyed each others company. Moving to New Mexico necessitated changing our approach but still held the goal of stress free holidays.We miss the kids and talk with them on the holiday but it is not quite the same as being all together. Gives us something to work on.

For the third time in New Mexico we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends. Everyone contributed food and so stress was minimal for everyone (at least I think it was). There was no Black Friday for us and Saturday was spent at the State Park enjoying the atmosphere.

Early December produces its own brand of stress and drama for me. I was taking over as president of the Camera Club and had the headaches of transitioning new people, new roles and new policies and procedures. After a few weeks, this settled down and countdown to Christmas was at hand.

There was the Choral Holiday Concert that our friend Karen participates in and as usual, it was a spirit lifting event. However, for the first time since moving to Las Cruces, missing our kids became an everyday buzzkill. Redditboy was scheduled to come just after the holidays but the thoughts of just hanging out with him and MillieJupiter, cooking, laughing and just enjoying each others company seemed harder this year than in the past couple. So despite the lack of stress, spirits were a bit low. Even with the Camera Club annual holiday get together, things remained a bit off center

To top it all off, I had some minor surgery just before Christmas and the consequences and issues persist to today. Nothing like a little medical mayhem to put a stamp on the holiday package.

Next up, January, medical backflow, camera club updates and such. But until then, a few photographs...

Early in December we went to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Sanctuary for a little holiday get together. There were luminarias, hot cocoa, singing and just a time away from the stress of the holidays

This was the roaring fire that kept us warm all evening long!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going?

Keep this date in mind, August 25th, 2013. Before last week, that had been the last time I posted in my blog, a short 5 months ago. Totally unacceptable. A lot has gone on in my life during that time and so I thought i would take a post or several to update, commiserate and investigate, the world around me here in sunny New Mexico.

We traveled a bit this summer, a wedding in Colorado, a couple of National Parks, Taos and Santa Fe. We even slipped in a trip to Albuquerque in early November. However, the busiest time of this period began in early September. I was helping the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park plan for two  November events, a Native American Marketplace and then the Park’s anniversary/holiday gathering. The Marketplace was a big success but had all of us at the park on edge for most of the last 6 weeks. I was working with Native American business students from NMSU and their professor which turned out to be very similar to herding cats. By the end of the month, I was helping out at the park planning for the Holiday Gathering and the Park’s 5th Anniversary.

While all this was going on, I decided to run and was elected president of the Dona Ana Camera Club for 2014. Up until now, we have been a club but we are going to seek 501 c 3 Federal Non-Profit status which requires us to move more toward being an organization. I had two thoughts about this. First is I don't want to lose the feel of the club and secondly we need to do more education in the community. Our Symposium this past September was a huge success but we also need to continue our outreach to the community at large. In my 2 + years in the club, we have grown from about 50 members to about 150 members and I expect to keep growing and reaching out to more people. We are right now, the largest camera club in southern New Mexico so we continue to have a lot to be proud about but also have the pressure to continue our growth and outreach.

And now a few pictures:
Cliff Dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park

Native American dancer at The Marketplace event at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park
Mural painter on Rt. 66 in Albuquerque 

Ms. Penguin reading a Santa book at the Holiday Gathering

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I've been missing writing my blog for a while and was determined to get back to it. However like any good procrastinator, there were always a whole lot of reasons why this was not possible.

Too busy? My Facebook wanderings beg otherwise.

Writers block? Tell that to the hundreds of emails, facebook posts and reports I have written in last several months. I don’t think so.

Working on photography stuff? Again the proof is in the pudding or lack thereof.

Waiting until I migrate the blog to a different website? Dude, the regular site is fine for now and even if I post many more posts before the move, it will all move with me. Stop procrastinating, please.

The straw that broke the camel's back came yesterday however. I was looking to see what were the last few posts on the blog and made a somewhat startling and thoroughly embarrassing discovery. In 2010, I wrote over 160 posts or about one every other day. In 2011 it was 83 posts or about 1.5 per week. By 2012 it had fallen to 38 or bit more that one every two weeks. This lead me to the disaster called 2013 with 16 posts or a bit better than one per month.

Did I finally run out of things to say. Oh come on, I don't even believe that. 

Did I get lazy or too attached to the Banal Facebook spell? Moving in the right direction. 

Did I just become too complacent? BINGO!

So, anyway, back to the grind of regular blogging. It really isn't a grind but does require me to be more dedicated to writing, more disciplined to write more and more creative to get the ideas I have out of the brain and onto paper.

Hopefully over the coming weeks and months you will hear more.

And now a couple of random recent photographs...

Fossil from a storefront support beam in Cloudcroft, NM

Rosaries from the Farmers market in Mesilla

Old wind pump in Soledad Canyon, NM

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Las Cruces Salsa Fest

"Go to the Salsa Fest" they said.
"It will be fun" they said.

Our friends Bill and Clair, the ones with the six dogs, several cats, countless chickens and one rooster, always say don't go to these kinds of things. That includes the Salsa Fest, Enchilada Fest, Taco Challenge, and many, many others. "Too crowded" or "Too hot" or "Too something or other." Well today, I did not take their advice and went to the Salsa Fest to take some pictures. Yes, it was too crowded. Yes it was too hot. But I did get some good photos.

We arrived after brunch at about 12:30 and drove around a bit to find a close parking spot. When we exited the car, the smells of spicy food and Mariachi music assaulted us. And what a great assault it was.

We stayed for an hour or so, got good pictures and the Mrs. tasted some good salsas. We drank water, listened to music and watched dancers. Saw the tiniest baby we have ever seen and got back into the the air conditioned car and drove to our air conditioned house after an hour.

So as they say on the intertubes, pictures or it didn't happen. What follows are a few pictures!

Mariachi band

Mr Balloon Man

More Mariachi


Cool Sax...

The sign of a really good salsa? Wearing it so everyone knows you like it. 

Mandatory husband comments:
1. You can take the girl out of the northeast to the southwest but you can't take the salsa out of the clothes...
2. I can dress her up but I can't take her out...


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What I did on my summer vacation

Part 1: The Wedding...

We knew that there was going to be a wedding, in Colorado, this summer, about 18 months ago. When we first checked and saw it was an 800 mile drive, we decided then and there that we would take our time, do some sightseeing and enjoy visiting a couple of states.

As the date slowly approached, we refined our thoughts to include a couple of National Parks - Arches and Grand Canyon. This was our agenda for quite awhile until about a month or two before the wedding when we began to realize how far a trip the Grand Canyon was from the wedding town of Estes Park, CO and how long a return trip it would be from there. This was complicated by the fact that we were going to send our dogs to a "Pet Spa" that was more costly then I had hoped for and we didn't want to leave them for all that long for the first time ever.

We spent a great deal of time studying the maps of the area and decided on a grand circle tour from Estes Park  toward home, visiting 2 other National Parks in the process, Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde. Today I will talk about the wedding weekend.

I have known Bill for almost 40 years. He gave me my first job out of college, encouraged me (demanded really if you know Bill) that I go back to school for a MSW and then helped me get my first job in Massachusetts and hired me essentially for my second job there that I stayed with for 30 years. He has two sons, who I watched grow up, playing little league and hearing all about the traumas of adolescence, college and their growing up. It had been close to 15 years since I had seen either of them but that would change as one, Fred, was getting married.

The wedding weekend took place on in a lodge on the Lake Estes, a very beautiful location. We were invited to the rehearsal dinner where we caught up with friends and new acquaintances, and then spent the rest of the evening at the lounge discussing life. Saturday was a bit threatening with clouds and we spent part of the day looking at the town and the mountains during a bit of a drive. A passing shower had people concerned about an outdoor wedding but the clouds opened up, sun shined and the wedding went off without a hitch. The reception featured non stop dancing that left participants and bystanders dizzy for sure.

Overall it was a wonderful weekend of celebrating, catching up and enjoying the mountains and lake. Sunday morning would bring us to the Big Climb!

Storm approaching from the west

Threatening skies

"and the bastard dog becomes legal..." maid of honor

Monday, July 15, 2013

Three day countdown

Anyone who knows me might think this is about Dunkin Donuts coming to Las Cruces, but it is not. Well, DD will be mentioned again so perhaps it is, but the underlying theme for today is 3 days to vacation. My vacation or Mycation as we used to say where I worked. On Thursday morning at some ungodly hour, we will put the dogs in the car for a ride south to the Doggie Spa (more about that later) and then head north for day one's adventure - Trinidad, CO. No, there is not much to see there but it is a stepping stone to Day 2's goal, Estes Park Colorado, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. There we will attend my best friends, son's wedding, play and drink at the Lodge, catching up on old times and then leave for Rocky Mountain National Park

Over the next several days we will also visit Arches National Park and also Mesa Verde National Park with the cliff dwellings. I hope to post almost every day, include some iPhone pictures and then do a couple of photo blog posts when we return.

We will finish up our trip in Taos, NM before returning home. Our friends Bill and Clair visited there and raved about the little social and artistic mecca of the northern New Mexico frontier so we are looking forward to that too.

This will be  one of our typical whirlwind tours but hopefully will give is some ideas about future vacation trips. I know the National Park Hat Trick (Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion) are in our future as is Death Valley and San Diego so our trips out are stacked up for us.

Just to whet your appetite and mine, a couple of pictures of what to expect, courtesy of the National Park Service;