Again. I had another sort of disheartening talk with two older gentlemen today. I decided that before I worked myself into a full blown funk, I’d better do something nice.

So, I decided to make a pretty picture.

My gallery, Albuquerque Photographer’s Gallery hangs a small show every month in addition to our regular work. Sometimes, we hang a guest photographer’s work. Other times we hang our own work, but by topic. When we do this, we can hang anything we like as long as it fits the topic.
January’s subject is called, “Skies.” I thought a picture that I made over dinner of the trees surrounding Bueng Kaen Nakhon Lake in Khon Kaen, Thailand might be a nice image to include in that collection.
Unfortunately, the compression software does not show my post production work off to it’s best advantage. What you cannot see is that the image is painted, very gently, turning the trees into almost a pencil drawing. And, at this size, you cannot see the background very well. That’s too bad because you can see spires and the pyramidal shapes of wats and temples in the larger work.

Standin` by a snow drift in the pale moonlight
Hitchhikin` west on a highway at night
Tryin` to get to Frisco lookin` for my girl
Here comes a trucker, hope he don`t mind my long curls
I remember years ago hitchin` this same road
Never saw a trucker leave a man out in the cold
No riders sign on the window never meant a thing
Nowadays they just roll on lookin` kind of mean
Kind of makes me wonder, scratch my head and kick the snow
Four years of overseas who are these strangers in my home
Where are the country people does anybody know
Do you remember the Americans where did they go
Were they simply bought and sold?

This is an old Stephen Stills song. He wrote it as early as 1969 when the Vietnam War was raging. He finally recorded it with his band, Manassas in 1973 with Richard Nixon on the Scene and Watergate started to emerge into our collective consciousness. Like good prose, the song is symbolic and strangely prescient.

It came into my head – word for word – after talking to two older men who were disappointed, hurt and disenfranchised.

The picture? Oh, that? It was made in Virgina City, Nevada, home of Mark Twain and televisions’ The Cartwrights. Pa, Hoss, Adam and Little Joe.

The TSA rules changed… again. Rather then go through them one by one, it’s really much easier to say that you might or you might not, you can or maybe you can’t. Lines will be long or maybe very long. Or short. People, including babies will be hand searched. Or not. You can move about the airplane. Or not. Crews have final authority… unless they are told otherwise. One one plane, there were three passengers and 8 crew members. Those three people couldn’t move in the last hour. On another plane, the crew tried to stop passengers from even reading during that last hour. The entire cabin laughed at them, did everything else that they were instructed to do, but kept reading.

Sound confusing?
Ooooor, is it? Maybe this is an attempt to keep any potential terrorist off balance by using misdirection and inconsistency. Good ploy. Sounds like something a good football team would do.
What does that really mean? What does TSA still suspect?

For now. With the events over this Christmas weekend, and the stories in The New York Times about just how hard it is to travel by air right now, I’m going to wait until the smoke clears before I get on an airplane again. I have no problem checking baggage. Actually, it’s very freeing. But, in my carry on — or hand luggage as they in the rest of the world — I have a camera body or two, a few lenses, a computer and all the stuff I need to do my job and get by if my checked baggage is lost. I already walk through a pat down because of my hip and my carry on bag is scanned pretty heavily. I’ve already been asked to prove that my cameras work by taking a picture. But, now everyone will go through what I do. Transit times will increase and with the on board one hour movement prohibition prior to landing, long flights will become unbearable because that’s when the last meal is served and that’s when people flying — let’s say to Asia — typically visit the restroom trying to make themselves resemble a human being after 12 hours in the air. Since most US flights are around 90 minutes in duration, with normal ascent and descent prohibitions, once you get to your seat you will not be allowed to move and you will not be allowed to do anything at all. No working. No reading. No listening to music.

All of this, because the normal security protocols were not followed by the people charged to make them work.

Christmas in New Mexico is a more spiritual thing then it is in many places. Yes, New Mexicans suffer through the typical shopping sprees and gift giving guilt. But,they also take time to attend to more meaningful pursuits. This picture was made at the church in Old Town. These are wooden crosses that supposedly contain a piece of the church’s original cross which would make them around 300 years old. But, even if that is just legend, these are more then crosses. They are rosaries which Catholics use to help with prayers.

When I roamed around Old Town during the lighting of the luminarias, I came to a small plaza with a well and am old bucket. According to the shopkeepers, this is the original well in Old Town, which makes it one of the first wells in Albuquerque. The bucket looks very nicely lighted with all the Christmas lights and color. It also looks a little more recognizable when it is photographed from a few more steps back. Not to worry. I did that too.

In Old Town, Albu – querque, Christmas takes on many symbolic looks. Luminarias are lighted to guide the walkers. The Plaza and the church are beautifully lighted. There is music in the air. Beautiful, Mexican Christmas music. The air, normally crisp, will be very cold tonight… around 15 degrees. There may even be a second winter storm, but I don’t think it will reach the city.

As I think about it, I’ve been very, very lucky and humbled to see Christmas celebrations in the Southwest and in New Orleans, both of which are very special. This year, I even got to see Christmas celebrations in Bangkok… a place I did not expect to see anything Christmas-related.
Merry Christmas, y’all.

goes on forever and the party never ends. Winter storms in New Mexico. Woke up to a couple of inches of snow on the ground and the high today is going to be a pretty cold 23 degrees. I had plans of working around here, but I think it’s time to head north and make some snowy Christmas pictures which would should make a whole lot of editors happy, including one who is a new client. Maybe we’ll actually have a white Christmas…

How nice.

Today marks my fourth anniver – sary of moving away from Louisiana. I’m a bit conflicted about whether to look back or forward on this blog. I did the safe thing and took a look back to New Orleans by posting this Mardi Gras parade picture that is essentially a hand held time exposure of floats passing by when the big – Endymion — parade was held Uptown because Mid City was still too storm damaged to hold it. That’s all. Christmas time for me is both joyous and a time for reflection.