idol

No, no….not American Idol. I’m not talkin’ J-Lo or Harry Connick, Jr. Settle down.

Can you remember being a small tyke? Think as far back as you can possibly remember. A time when you couldn’t do everything for yourself, but you were learning. Maybe recall a time when you still wore a onesie pajama.

grahamonwall

Do you remember idolizing an older kid who could do so much more than you? Maybe he could saddle his own horse.

paysonsaddlingAlmost saddle his own horse.

payson&dustinThis older cowpoke has his own cowboy hat, boots and spurs.

paysonwithhorse

He can climb on tall things without assistance.

paysononchuteHe’s a general stud, but you know what the coolest thing about him is? He’s nice and he takes time to play with you….a lowly little kid.

payson&graham1He takes you huntin’ for yyittle yyizards on the rock wall.

grahamandpaysonHe helps a small feller out when he needs a leg up.

graham&paysononwallThis friend is so nice, he allows you to play with the baby frog he caught.

Your friend responds with a sly grin when you ask for the thousandy-eleventh-time, “Can I go to youse house? Can I go to youse house? Bye mommy. Can I go to youse house?

After a long morning of rounding up, branding, working calves, yyizard-hunting, frog-playing, horseback-riding, and chute-climbing, the truck ride back to the chuck wagon can cause your older, idolized friend to get bone-tired.

Your only thought, your sole wish is…..you want to BE him. Just like HIM.

payson&graham

Soon enough, little guy. Soon enough.

Best-buddy love to all.

following light

It rained. I went from looking like this.

birdfacesTo looking like this.

handsuphannahPraise God! Answered prayer, for sure.

I have lots of bovine friends who are ecstatic, as well.

roundupPhotographed a recent branding at the northern NM ranch. Look at the green grass!

I took tons of pictures. Played with all the settings on my camera; shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Figured if I took enough photographs maybe one of them would be worth showing.

This recent foray into ranch photography served to reinforce the principle of the golden hour. Or in reality, the golden FIVE MINUTES known as sunrise/sunset. Let me demonstrate.

Here’s a picture of a couple of cowboys.

reidandwillAn OK photo taken at midday.

Now, take a look at the same cowboys at sunrise.

willandreidBe still, my heart! I’m in love with this light. The guys are alright, too.

Why does sunrise have to come so early? A sunrise photographer must be dedicated and carry lots of concealer to cover the bags under her eyes. The flattering light is short-lived.

cassadyThis young lady and her glistening sorrel horse are simply magnificent. She’s nice and smart, too. She looks beautiful in the golden morning light. These subjects make me look like I know what I’m doing with my camera. Thanks, Cassidy!

Following the light-a metaphor for life, right?

More sunrise glorious-ness.

sunrisejingling

 

horsejingling

Unfortunately, there is action that takes place AFTER sunrise. I did the best I could.

stever
Preparing to gather the pasture.

Ray1

rhettroping
Ropin’ and draggin’.
ray
Cowboy Ray was my favorite subject. I know a great face when I see one.

 

reid1
Branding fire.

 

walter

antelopepair
A couple of antelope roaming.

 

grahamonwall
A budding cowpoke still in his jammies.

 

I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve got to get up early and stay up late to get the most outstanding photos.

Hope you enjoyed branding day at the ranch. Now I’m off to purchase more concealer.

Stay out of the dark places.

Enlightening love to all.

sacred

I know this thirst will not last long for it will soon drown in a song not sung in vain,

I feel the thunder in the sky, I see the sky about to rain, and I hear the prairies calling out Your name.

Rich Mullins, Calling Out Your Name

 

The view from my window took a decidedly interesting turn last week.

window1

One week I’m playing a brothel whore in The Threepenny Opera.

threepennyandhannah 011aThe next week I’m guiding Amarillo artist Andrew DeJesse through the petroglyph cave at the ranch. Go ahead, reward yourself. Take a minute to peek at his art.

Andrew provided the interesting art gracing the cover of Amarillo Opera’s program last season. Seems our executive director, David O’Dell, wants Andrew to provide his unique viewpoint to our cover again this year. David thought viewing some ranch scenery and crawling through the petroglyph cave could fuel Andrew’s imagination. I became the chief tour guide.

andrewincave
Contemporary artist face-to-face with prehistoric artist.

Andrew was an excellent sport.

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On top of the art cave.

I enjoyed talking all things ‘art’ and ‘great plains’ with Andrew and his gracious wife, Elizabeth.

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In the midst of a three-year drought, browns are the predominant color in northern New Mexico. What could the artist possibly see in this stark environment?

Maybe I’ve enjoyed a day more.…but I simply can’t think of one right now.

We stopped at all my favorite places. Looking for inspiration on the Great Plains is not an activity for sissies.

ranchesandrewdejesse 119a
Rock pen.

Looking at the old rock pens, we spoke of wondering about the family who once lived here.
ranchesandrewdejesse 123aAt times I felt as if I should reimburse Andrew for the art lesson, as we discussed the many sources of inspiration for texture.

ranchesandrewdejesse 124aHe pointed out the inspiration for shape scattered around our feet.

ranchesandrewdejesse 129aHe helped me see how a jumble of rocks could be just as stunning as a beautiful bouquet of carefully arranged flowers.

ranchesandrewdejesse 147a
Nature’s bouquet.

I confided in Andrew and Elizabeth of how I like to have my camera slung around my neck as it forces me to see. To observe and not rush by.

Elizabeth and Andrew weren’t even the slightest bit irritated when I chirped,

Let’s go see the graveside. It’s just a five-minute walk!

ranchesandrewdejesse 178aAfter 30 minutes walking uphill in the wind and scaling a rock basket for a barbed wire fence, they remained unflappable. They possess the true wonderment of explorers.

Andrew explained he has a passion for this area of the country (he was born in New Jersey) and he wanted to move here. His muse is this land.

Come again, Andrew?? Were you out of town for the entire dust-bowl month of March?

Old rock storage shed on table-top pasture land. If you squint you can spot Rabbit Ear mountain.
Old rock storage shed on table-top pasture land. If you squint you can spot Rabbit Ear mountain.

Andrew’s knowledge of the history of this area is impressive. I prayed he wouldn’t ask me any ‘New Jersey’ questions. Garden state!!

I’m no art critic (a-men), but when I ponder Andrew’s art I see an artist with a profound talent for elevating the ordinary to the sacred. He never overtly sentimentalizes his subject matter. In fact, he says he tries to ‘stay out of it’. Much of his subject matter deals with the harsh realities of life on the Great Plains, but I think his art reveals his reverence for the area and the land’s hardy inhabitants.

ranchesandrewdejesse 188a
Swallow (mud dauber) nests along the creek bed.

To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Thanks Elizabeth and Andrew for the holy day. I’m grateful.

Hope you discover your muse this week, dear reader.

Sacred love to all.

ranch: update

For those of you who slogged through my three-post series last week: put on your hip boots for this update. I simply had to share!

What of the petroglyphs?

petroglyphAfter much scouring of the interwebs, I brazenly emailed a person mentioned in a recent science journal who was involved in dating the oldest petroglyphs (10,000 to 15,000 years old!) in the United States. He very kindly wrote back indicating this rock art was surely of Zuni or Hopi origin. He mentioned this deer as a very common symbol in the SW United States. He put me in touch with a Hopi expert from Northern Arizona University. I’m waiting to hear back. See how much we are learning?

Now for some sad news. Remember this stalwart kitty who entertained our toddler for hours?

grahamwcatGot a text from Sprout #1 yesterday telling me to be very careful with the little dogs while at the ranch. The ranch foreman related he had seen a coyote carcass in a tree being devoured by an eagle. He said all of the barn kitties had been swooped upon and carried away. ***gulp***

Rest assured baby H and Roxy Doxy will never be outside unattended.

If you object to hunting, don’t look at the next picture.

Really, don’t look. Leave now. You’ve been warned.

mountainlionSprout #1 has been enthusiastically tracking the mountain lions for over a year now. He’s seen lots of them, but he’s never bagged one. He has a state permit to take two cats a year. From the looks of his game-cam photos, there’s a nice population of them at the ranch. He finally bagged one a few days ago. It looked to be quite old. Hunting these is an adventure. Can’t wait to hear the Sprout’s full story.

Like I said before, this is a rough country. Not for sissies. Or small animals.

If you are a petite person, you might want to look up now and then.

Thanks for reading this update.

Eye-on-the-sky love to all.

the ranch: photos

I’m pulling the photo album out of my granny-handbag. Finishing up the three-part ranch series with my favorite captures. I snapped these with the Nikon d700 and the 50mm fixed lens. I didn’t want to be bouncing around in the 4-wheeler with tons of equipment. Simple is best.

Sit with me on the loveseat, won’t you? ***grabbing your sleeve***

I know you’ll want to see these, honey.

backlitcow
What’s a trip to the ranch without a cow picture? These softly back-lit ladies are beautiful.
103a
Our intrepid archeological assistants at the petroglyph cave. Who knew how much they love rock art?
185a
Elk horn sheds line the wrap-around porch.
174a
Adorable ranch kids riding their faithful horse, Smoke.
214a
Caught the sun just right in this rock formation. I like it best in B&W.
kathyonporch1
Moi, in the waning light. Proof I was really on the trip.
168a
This photo made me LOL. Observe the shadows. Looks like we’re about to be attacked by a wolf! Run, Sprout!
barn
Who knew the Texan had such an artistic eye? He saw the sun setting through this barn and summoned me to capture this moment. Grateful I still listen sometimes to the Texan. A photographer must always be ready at sunrise/sunset.
grahamwcat
G played for hours with this friendly barn cat. Nothing bothered this cat….tail-pulling, swatting, inadvertent kicking….he kept coming back for more. The toddler was endlessly entertained.

Now…..drum roll, please….my favorite photo of the ranch trip. I like the starkness of it. Feels familiar and it feels like art to me. I call it hommage a O’Keefe. I think you’ll understand.

sheepskull
A desert big horn sheep skull hanging in the bunkhouse. I admire the starkness and beauty of the skull, but I’m also drawn to the negative space in the photo. I may have to print this one.

 

Oh….you have to go now??***unfurling my tightly-wrapped arm from around your shoulders***

Come back and visit real soon.***wet kiss***

Here’s hoping you always find the flattering light.

Land of Enchantment-love to all.

the ranch: outcroppings

Rocks, rocks, and more rocks. Never knew there were so many varieties slumbering on the ground, jutting proudly from the earth, being utilized as a writing slate, leaning against one another for support, or forming mazes for us to ponder.

Behold the boulders.

201a
Example of rock outcroppings one sees driving across the ranch. How did the red boulders get here? I named the rock formation our mini Sedona. Or Garden of the Gods.
206a
Are these the gods? No, just hardy climbers who were inexplicably compelled to make it to the summit. Luckily, I was holding the camera.
216a
I love the Texan. Because the rock he’s standing on looks like the profile of an old man to me, I call this photo ‘old man on an old man’. Think I’m cross-eyed from trying to decipher cave drawings.
198a
A stone column in the distance. These are natural….not man-made. Crazy.
219a
Another stone column. The car gives you some idea of the size of this formation. There is an old copper mine at the base of this rock.
221a
The copper mine. Be careful!
228a
The menfolk had to climb the columnar rock formation to check out the bat cave.
109a
Much of the open country in this part of New Mexico is dotted with these crumbling rock homesteads. We think these started springing up around 1850 and into the turn of the century. Usually there are sheep pens nearby.
128a
The walls are made of dry-fitted stones. The sites can be dangerous to explore because of falling rocks. And old barbed wire. And unexpected holes in the ground.
151a
Doesn’t this make you wonder what life was like for these homesteaders/sheepherders? This is unforgiving country with extremes in weather. We wondered who was born and who died in this small house. This structure is a little larger than many others dotting the countryside.
audinstonehouse
The Sprout braved the possibility of large falling stones to let me snap a photo. Look at the rock precariously balanced over the door. I think the lovely picture was worth the risk.

Enjoyed exploring this Lonesome Dove-like land. If I was still riding a horse……oh, well.

Is your head spinning from staring at rocks? Do you feel like a geologist now?

On Friday, I’m gonna whip my photo album from my over-sized handbag and force you to lovingly gaze at my favorite ranch photos. I’ll probably invade your personal space and talk too loud. Some of the shots are artsy-fartsy. Prepare yourselves….you know I’m an over-sharer.

Rock of Ages love to all.

the ranch: petroglyphs

Enjoyed a wonderful and scenic MLK weekend at the ranch in northern New Mexico. Sprout #2, the Son-in-Law, and the 2 Grands invited us to tag along on their adventure and we quickly nodded YES.

Since my camera is jam-packed with images from this trip, I’m going to write a short series. I’ll write three blogs about the ranch. Hopefully, I’ll have them all posted by the end of the week. Stay tuned, chicken-wingers!!

First topic: petroglyphs, or rock art. I’d heard about the drawings but never had the chance to see them. Seeing the petroglyphs was my first request for a ranch outing.

Four adults, two babies, and 3 faux-ranch dogs piled in the 4-wheeler for the half-hour drive to the site.

gator
My top-notch archeological crew. Explore we must!
jeepview
We set to the northeast. The baby protested the ride as too bumpy. We held her tight, but explained this was her initiation into hardy ranch life.
entrancetoglyphs
This is the entrance to the petroglyphs. This is in a very remote area….away from any main road. It is highly unlikely one would stumble upon this site. The first petroglyph is seen on the thin rock on the right. The glyphs are written on the surface of the thin rock facing towards the large rock.
zigzags
These zig-zag designs are the first indication of what mysteries await inside.
audincave
Sprout #2 in the ‘roomy’ portion of the cave. I’m not exaggerating when I say one must crawl on his belly to make it through this area. This makes photographing the petroglyphs difficult. The space is very tight….and snake-y. Note the cave dog.
petroglyph1
The best overall view of the rock surface with the petroglyphs. What do you see?
petroglyph2
Another view. These shots are taken with a flash, since there’s not much daylight in the cave.
petroglyph3
I’m guessing this is a bighorn sheep. Note some of the carved area is lighter in color and some of the carved area is almost black. The images are more black the more centrally located in the cave.
petroglyph4
Not sure about this image. Thought it might be a rabbit, but it could be a couple of smaller images.
petroglyph
This image of a deer intrigues me. One can see every small carving pock and bump. The snake-like tendril meanders around the deer and the face of the rock. Can you spot the smaller images to the right of the deer? One (looks like a fish) above right, and a smaller animal-thing lower right. Isn’t that amazing?
sophincave
These images look as though they would continue on the rock’s surface as it enters the soil. Would we find more if we did some digging? I think it’s a possibility. The cave-bichon is intently waiting for the ‘dig’ command.
human
This image is outside the cave. Is this drawing a representation of a human form? That’s my guess. There are no figures (that we could see) inside the cave that look like this.

These glyphs lit a fire in my imagination. Spent 3 hours on the internet last evening trying to discern if these are of some Plains Indian tribe origin….or if they are earlier than that. These images did not seem to match images I researched of the Pueblo Indians. The fact that these glyphs are dark seems to be a little unusual. Most photos I saw were of dark rocks with lighter petroglyphs. Why is that? Are these images so old the surface has darkened because of some chemical reaction? Have they been underwater? Are there more underground? Could they be….prehistoric? Were they carved in this small cave-space or has the rock moved with time? Or…..is all of this recent activity? My research indicates these things are incredibly difficult to date. My obsessive-compulsive self has surfaced and I’ve dreamed for two nights of these drawings. I wish I knew more about things like this.

Are you betting I’m gonna find someone who does?

If you know anyone who might shed some light on the origins of this rock art, please feel free to forward this post. I’ll talk to anyone.

I must end this post with a photo of our budding natural-scientist. She occupied herself on a blanket on the ground while we explored the cave.

hannahwithhat
Seems she’s studying the native New Mexico grasses.

Look for other ranch-posts this week, if you are interested. I’ve got some fun things to show you.

Dream-catcher love to all.