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.