Saturday, November 7, 2009

Full of Hot Air

On the morning of my youngest's second birthday party, I rose early because I have a bad habit of rushing around at the last minute to get ready for parties, and I was determined to do it differently this time.  Also, I needed to go do laundry.

So I packed up my laundry baskets and headed out.  I'd gotten a couple of blocks down the road when I saw the balloons.  I'd forgotten today was the Balloon Fiesta.  I promptly turned around and fetched my camera.  I tried to take pictures while I was driving, but that didn't work so well, so I pulled into the bank parking lot and got out of the van.  Several others had done the same thing.



I climbed back into the van and headed over to the Free Box, which is a fenced area next to the Taos Recycling Center, where people can drop off or pick up whatever they want.  It's where I found the camera that I've used to take all the photos on my blog.

I've always been a big thrift store shopper.  It's the treasure hunter in me.  And also an expression of my belief in recycling.  Most of the clothes I own are secondhand, and when I've occasionally shopped for new clothes, I don't find things I like as much as I do at thrift stores.

The Free Box takes secondhand shopping to a whole new level, especially in the sense of serendipity.  One of the things I love about thrift stores is the way I'll put something I need or want out there to the universe, and then find that exact thing.  The Free Box is even more like that.

I found my camera, for instance, right when I was starting a blog.  All my life, I'd avoided photography like the plague.  Before digital cameras, I had issues with using a camera because of having to press it up against my glasses and squinch one of my eyes shut.  It was uncomfortable and awkward, and my photos were always off center.  Digital cameras intimidated me because they were so technical.

I've also had a philosophical problem with photography.  In all honesty, I held some latent contempt for those who go around photographing everything as a way to record experiences instead of actually having them.    Wendell Berry has a great poem about this, called "The Vacation."  There are definitely people who are too busy taking pictures to see.

But a camera came to me, out of the free flow of the world, and because it was free, I wasn't afraid of it.  I started playing with it, and discovered that photography actually helps me see better.  I pay attention more closely now, notice what is worth noticing.

Which is just about anything from the right distance and angle, and in the right light.   

 The antenna thingy on top of my house, for instance,

or puddles in the courtyard of the St. Francis church.

So now I'm to the point where I have to turn around and get my camera so I can photograph hot air balloons.

I felt slightly guilty, though, because I needed to drop off some things at the Free Box and then get to the laundromat so I'd make it back home in plenty of time to get ready for Eliana's party.

However, I couldn't resist taking one more photo at the Free Box.

And then one more on the way out.

And then, what was I going to do while I waited for the clothes to wash, but amuse myself somehow?

 I also visited the nearby Farmer's Market while the clothes were drying.
It's red chile ristra time.

At home, my kids had been decorating for the party,
so I was greeted by more balloons.



The party went great, Eliana had a wonderful time, and even the cake I baked came out pretty good.  I made it from a mix because, although I'm good at other kinds of baking, I suck at cakes from scratch.  But it was a really fancy yummy mix called Mam Papaul's - six bucks at Albertson's.   

It was a great day.


  1. For someone who never touched a camera or cared about taking pictures - wow - there are some great ones here. I love the shadow cast on the roof objects and the puddle reflections. Glad you shared them with your readers. (I've dropped over here after reading your thought provoking comment about grief at Anchors and Masts.

  2. Motion seconded! These are some of the most beautiful balloon-related photographs (heck, just photographs in general) that I've seen in a long time.

    I've never encountered Mam Papaul's. My mother makes these really amazing chocolate chip cookies using Betty Crocker spice cake mix instead of flour. I'm glad the party went well...and you got some camera-time in. Looks like you don't need the practice, though.

    P.S. Thanks to Sunrise Sister's hint above, I was reading that truly profound and touching comment you made over on Anchors and Masts myself. I have a friend who's recently gone through just the same thing: he was engaged to be married. He broke it off himself, but was nonetheless heartbroken about it. At the time, I was trivial and perhaps mean-spirited. Just because I had believed that he was making a mistake by marrying this woman, I'd ignored his feelings and said some truly callous things. I'm ashamed of myself now. You're right as rain. Loss is loss, no matter what kind.

    I think I'm going to go buy a six-pack of his favorite beer and go over to his house now and try to be a better friend from now on.

    Thank you for the indirect insight.

  3. P.P.S. The Blogger comment code word for the above comment was "perettes" and, mindful of your suggestion to whip up a cocktail named after one of these weird code words, I went ahead and did it for you. One and a half ounces vodka, two ounces Sour Apple Pucker, three ounces club soda, and half an ounce of superfine sugar. I call it "Perettes Syndrome."

  4. Thank you both for the photo compliments. I've definitely been having a lot of fun learning this new art.

    Sunrise Sister - Thanks for visiting! I looked at your blog, and it seems like we have some common interests.

    Postman - I'm glad my comment inspired you in that way. I hope it goes well with your visit. Let me know.

    Perettes Syndrome - I love it! I'm going to have to try that, it sounds good. Did you enjoy it?

    Maybe you could publish a book of cocktails all made up from Blogger verification words and all originally published on your blog! That's just the kind of thing that would totally sell.

  5. I love the shots you took, keep on shooting! I know what you mean when you say photography helps you see better, I feel the same way and never leave the house without my camera!

  6. I loved it. It came out very mild, slightly sweet and slightly sour. I impressed even myself. I'd highly recommend it. Whew, a compendium? Always wanted to try that, particularly one booze-related. I'll start collecting verification words right off.

  7. Chloe - Thanks! I'm still not quite in the habit of taking it with me all the time. And right now it needs new batteries but I keep forgetting to buy them. Which sucks, because I saw a huge raven eating something off the middle of the road today, and really wished I had my camera!

    Postman - Mild, sweet, and sour all in one drink? I'm sold.

  8. I love this story. I love the balloons. My favorite picture is the first one in the story. The clouds in that picture are amazing. That was an amazing moment to capture.

    The picture of your daughter & her delight was the BEST!

    One of the things I LOVE most about your pictures is the story behind the camera.

    I've noticed that using my camera meaningfully has grabbed my attention. I am more mindful of what & how I document things. Bigger than that WRITING has made me MUCH MORE attentive to my surroundings and the moment I am in.

  9. Thank you!

    Yes, I was thinking about that the other day, how writing makes me more aware.

    I've returned to my childhood habit of narrating myself - it's great!

  10. That was absolutely lovely and tell Eliana (what a beautiful name!) happy birthday from E.C.

    You are becoming quite the photographer in spite of yourself- LOVED the pic you took to amuse yourself. Hahahahaha. Clever.

  11. I'll have to blog about the story behind Eliana's name some time.

    Thanks for the photo compliments. I'm glad you appreciated that laundromat photo - I felt I was being quite clever.

  12. I had not seen Wendell Berry's poem, "Vacation" before, but had often felt that very thing; it's one reason why I never video taped my family life: I wanted to be a participant, not a family videographer. The other, and more important reason I avoided cameras is that I did not want my family memories to collapse into only what was going on while I was behind the camera. Finally, I couldn't imagine sitting down and watching old tapes of family life without feeling sad.



Related Posts with Thumbnails

Search This Blog