I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling

Get your kicks on Route 66

The desert. I promised I would write about the desert.

A couple of months ago I visited my Dad and stepmother at their new winter home in Needles California. Needles is on the border of California and Arizona, located in the Mojave Desert. I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I grew up in Spokane, WA, which is on the edge of a desert, and we drove through it on our way to other places. So my experience with the desert is limited to the High Desert of Eastern Washington.

I was delighted to finally visit this part of the country. I’ve never been to Arizona. I had an interesting reaction to this place. I felt very at-home here. It surprised me, frankly. I am not a hot-weather person. Physically, I don’t do well in anything above 80 degrees. But the heat didn’t bother me on this trip. I was really entranced by the place. It’s stunning in it’s stark beauty. The emptiness calmed me, made me feel at peace.

The history is interesting as well. Needles is on Route 66 and was once a very thriving town. The town has fallen into poverty in the years since Route 66 is no longer used as much. There are lots of vestiges from this time period. It’s both romantic and sad at the same time.

Here are some photos I took while I was there. The color shots were taken with my pinhole camera, and the black and white were made with an Olympus XA.

I was hoping to make it to the Grand Canyon, but unfortunately we couldn’t get out there this time. It is, for sure, on the books for next year.

You can read about Oatman Arizona at Pinhole Obscura, where I recently wrote a blog post about it. Many of the photos above were taken there.

A return to vinyl


I remember the first record I ever bought. It was the 45 single of “The Tide Is High” by Blondie. I remember the day I bought it at the Spokane Valley Mall when I was out with my friends for the day, hanging out. I was in 6th grade. I remember standing in the record store and staring at the cover and thinking that Blondie was the coolest woman on the planet. I played the record to death. And others, too. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with music and records.

I sold my record collection in my grandmother’s estate sale. I’d become a born-again Christian and didn’t think having them was wholesome. So I sold them for a song. Yes, including my beloved “The Tide Is High” 45. I have regretted doing this many millions of times. It hurts even now, just thinking about it.

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“Random Song Lyric Photo Title” playlist


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One of the things I am trying to think about when I make a photo is the storytelling element. I think the title is one of the very important elements in the storytelling that goes on in photography. The viewer doesn’t have much else to go on, there is the title and then there is the image. It is up to the viewer to create the story in their mind.

With that in mind, I was looking at the image above that  I took the day after our Ice Storm. I kind of liked it and thought I would upload it to Flickr. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a title. I thought of my standard “state the obvious” (ice on branch) but I’m sick of stating the obvious. I wanted to come up with something better than that. I decided to do something else, since my brain was being uncooperative.  I would let fate title this photo.

I turned iTunes on random and thought, “the first song that comes on, the first line of that song, that will be the title of this photo. I don’t care what it is.”

So I pushed play and Metallica’s One came on. I listened to the beginning musical lines and thought “wow, if I could title this photo with music this would be perfect” because have you ever sat and listened to the musical introduction to this song? It’s really beautiful and sad and it seemed fitting. But then the first lines played: “I can’t remember anything, can’t tell if this is true or a dream.” It was perfect.

So I have taken to doing this exercise lately when I upload photos to Flickr and it’s been fun – a nice creative exercise for my brain.  The two random things together seem to create an interesting story. Sometimes the lyric is quite appropriate, like the one for the photo above.

Many of the songs that come up are songs that I have only heard a few times. I download a lot of music that I forget about. Doing this exercise has reintroduced me to songs that I’ve been enjoying lately.

I thought, for fun, I would put together a playlist of these random songs and post them here as a blog post.  At the end of the post is a gallery of the photos if you are interested in the seeing them as well.