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archive for March 2011

feeling (sub)lime

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Recipe: lime sorbet

By the end of last week, I was a broken woman. My neck and right shoulder were inflamed as was my lower back. My good friend Advil and I worked through it as best we could, but when my aunt dropped me off at the Eldorado in Santa Fe Friday afternoon, I was barely able to walk. She urged me to make an appointment with the spa at the Eldorado to see if I could get some relief before the long car ride home.

I’m not a spa girl. Manis, pedis, facials, saunas, massages, waxing – it’s all foofie stuff to me. I had only had one real massage before… for an injury. Luckily, they had an opening and I winced with pleasure as my muscles crunched under the force of a deep tissue massage. The 7-hour car ride home negated that rather expensive massage by the next morning and I was in pain no matter what I did. After an appointment with a massage therapist (there are a lot of those in Boulder), heat, ice, exercise, stretches, and staying off the computer – I am finally feeling good. There is nothing like being sick or broken to make you appreciate how amazing it is to be normal. Just in time for my next road trip too!

it’s green food week

This week is St. Patrick’s Day. I like the color green. Half of my Patagonia jackets and tops are green (it’s the color that’s always on sale)! I also have a fascination with green food. However, I’m neither Irish nor do I drink beer – so you’re stuck with lime sorbet today.


**Jump for more butter**

and we keep going

Monday, March 14th, 2011

My favorite thing to say or play when I was a wee tot was “let’s pretend!” Even my Po Po (Chinese maternal grandma) who spoke little English, knew what that meant. After I got home from pre-school, I would insist on eating my lunch under the table pretending to be the neighbor’s dog and Po Po obliged me. These days I don’t pretend anymore unless I’m playing with kids and I let their imaginations weave the adventure. I’m not sure when I stopped pretending some time in my youth, but I find I don’t need to pretend anymore. Life is pretty exciting as it is – more compelling than a make-believe world. Life is also far more challenging in the real world.

this beautiful planet

Last week I sat in the dark on my laptop watching updates suddenly come streaming in on Facebook. There is always some chatter after midnight, but not like this. Thrust mechanism, subduction zone. Mw=8.9. Japan. And then the ocean raced in.


In my past life, I studied the Earth. Whenever there was a sizable earthquake, grad students and faculty alike would go down to the seismograph on the first floor for a gander at the wave forms coming in on the N-S, E-W, and U-D drums. I thought about seismic events in terms of stress and strain, co-seismic and post-seismic signals, convergence rates, recurrence intervals, seismic gaps. You become keenly aware of how much the Earth is a mover and shaker, how she never sleeps. After graduate school, my office was across the hall from the LA Times newsroom in the Seismology Lab at Caltech. If for some crazy reason you missed an earthquake, you’d know soon enough from the throngs of reporters and camera crews crowding into the room asking the question you can always count on hearing, “When is the BIG ONE coming?”

Some of my friends are busiest just after a major seismic event. They scramble to gather satellite data, retrieve GPS measurements, take field measurements – to better understand the earthquake cycle… to ultimately save lives.

I have seen a lot of people curse and hate earthquakes and tsunamis on Twitter and Facebook of late. Yes, I completely understand where those emotions come from and I too want very much to keep people safe from these violent and incredible phenomena. But I think it’s important to remember (and I believe the Japanese appreciate this better than most) that the Earth is dynamic: these very processes that can take lives with such indifference are also part of what makes life on this planet possible. Ours is a special planet. Understanding our complex home is essential to mitigating the loss. To think otherwise is just pretending. In the meantime, we are in this together.

fiery sunset

Last week went to the birds, literally. The Sandhill Cranes have begun their northward migration from the Bosque del Apache in New Mexico passing through Colorado. I took it upon myself to pay them a visit in southern Colorado. Sandhill Cranes are jittery creatures. You can only get but so close before they launch into the air and far away from you. The same goes for large birds of prey and pronghorn antelope. That’s why a long lens comes in handy. Really handy.

jeremy for scale

I wouldn’t have bothered shooting the trip at all without this 200-400mm f4 Nikkor lens courtesy of Pro Photo Rental in my arsenal (if you want to rent pro equipment, these are the guys to call). I don’t photograph wildlife in general unless they happen to traipse through my viewfinder on their own accord. That requires patience and skill and talent that I can’t seem to muster. But it’s fun to play at wildlife photographer once a year. And sometimes I get lucky.

in the great san luis valley

morning call

There are parallels between hunting and wildlife photography. We stalk the animals. We anticipate their behaviors and actions. We sit around waiting – a lot. When Jeremy told his colleagues at the conference that I had left to go shoot the Sandhill Cranes in Colorado, they thought I had gone to SHOOT me some birds! I don’t even know if the cranes would taste good, but there were some cute ducks that flew past which did trigger thoughts of Peking duck with hoisin and green onions as my stomach growled on empty. But if I miss my target, I get several more chances. Of course, hunters aren’t concerned with focus, exposure, shutter speed, or composition. They have plenty of other things to worry about (ask my friend Tamar).

take off

a pair in flight

You can see other photos from the shoot on my photo blog.

**Jump for more butter**

on the road and in my head

Friday, March 11th, 2011

I love a road trip with a good companion. Jeremy is my ideal companion. I love a photo shoot with a good shooting partner. Jason is a great shooting partner. But sometimes things come up and I have to go solo – like this week’s shoot. I left Jeremy at his conference and headed back north for a few days.

the road from new mexico to colorado

The fact that the American West is so big and spread out is both a blessing and a curse. More blessing than curse though. Sure, it takes a long time to get from point A to point B. I cherish the wide open space between them. People talk about what a small world it is, but if you drive the empty roads under big skies and through sprawling landscapes and really have a look around, you understand that the world is quite enormous and you are but a measly speck. It’s awesome.

fresh snow

Empty roads, wide shoulders, views for hundreds of miles. Out here, you can slow down to 15 mph and cruise for antelope or birds of prey. Pull over, step out, and take a breath of that clean air. The only sound is the wind racing across the high plateau. If you pass something interesting, it’s easy enough to take your foot off the gas and turn yourself around. Go back. Check it out. How many times do you continue driving and then think “I wish I had stopped”? When I tell myself I’ll go back later, most of the time I end up not returning. I’m trying to be better about this.

hasta, baby

**Jump for more butter**