Time Capsule

Fifth-graders crane their necks for a first glimpse inside a 30-year-old time capsule buried by fifth-graders in 1982. Personally, I don’t think 30 years is enough time for the contents to become relics or even antiquated. Still interesting to see what people in the 80’s thought represented their lives. Items included a pair of designer Levi’s jeans, a Hardy Boys book, a Rubik’s Cube and, in case they had since disappeared, a pencil.

Day of Caring

I had two related assignments covering United Way’s “Day of Caring,” which organizes volunteers and pairs them with submitted requests for help from various groups. Phase one was a huge undertaking, literally, spelling out the words “LIVE UNITED” on a mountainside using black plastic sheeting (last two photos). Phase two was, of course, the actual work. I visited five different work sites and tried to show the range of projects which volunteers found themselves tackling.

Powwow

On Sunday I literally happened upon the annual Monacan Nation Powwow in Elon, Va. In the back of my mind I knew it was happening this weekend but I never quite got around to planning a trip to see it. So when I saw huge signs advertising the powwow I immediately pulled in. Unfortunately, I was informed that there were only a couple dances left so if I was going to make some photos I would have to act fast. Enter Scott Strazzante and the iPhone. Let me explain. Chicago Tribune photographer Scott Strazzante has been pioneering iPhone street photography where he shoots from the hip and is able to capture very close-range candid shots of people on the street without disturbing them. I decided to try my hand at his technique. Although I would have loved more time to experiment, I was pretty happy to come away with the following photos, all shot from the hip with my iPhone except the second. This photo, of Lipan Apache descendant Robert Soto, I took after a brief but informative conversation with Soto about his elaborate outfit.

Mom-day

Inspired by a fellow blogger who also didn’t know what to do for Mother’s Day, I am dedicating this post to the woman who has given the most of herself to enable me to be where I am today. I am not writing this as a list of all the things my mother has done that inspire me. Rather, I want to share some of the biggest lessons I have learned from her and show how they came to be.

Karla was born in the tiny farm community of Munich, North Dakota (pop. 210), and for some reason (or perhaps that very reason) she has since traveled all over the world. I don’t know where her spirit to explore comes from but I know I have inherited it. And she has only ever encouraged me to blaze my own trail. My appreciation for the world around me began with weekend camping and hiking trips. As a family, we endured mosquito swarms, downpours and sleepless nights. But, believing that there is an obtainable solution to every problem, I learned how to see through obstacles in my way over the years. Before a family trip to Australia, she learned to swim so we could all go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef; in preparation for a trip to Colombia, she and my father learned Spanish. I couldn’t ask for a better model for trying new things. And I have seen how easy it is to make a difference in others’ lives. A couple years ago she began training as a Red Cross volunteer, to assist victims of fires and other disasters. Now, when she sounds tired on the phone in the afternoon, I know she was probably up all night working an event. The balance of fun, work, conservation, indulgence and taking everything in moderation is the lesson I will continue to practice all my life.

Despite all she has seen and done, I believe her small-town upbringing lets her enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like a sunny day or the wind in her hair.

I love you, mom!

Leaning over the edge of a whale-watching boat in Maui last year.

Lizard Legacy

Although he has been in my sister’s and then my parents’ care for the last five years, my leopard gecko Ardie died today. He lost sight in both eyes years ago and hasn’t been able to feed himself for a long time. In the last month he went downhill quickly and lost about half his body weight. When my mother took him to the vet recently, his charts indicated DOB as 1994. 18 years. I thought he was only 14. Which means he lived a longer life than I even realized. RIP little guy.

This photo is from probably one of my earliest “studio” shoots ever, from 2002, for which I used a lamp, some leaves and a big white piece of cardboard. I’d guess it was taken in the fall…