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Time for the darker posts. It’s October. The mornings are crisp, the nights damp and chilly. The sun still coaxes us outside to feel its rays on our face but they feel weaker each day.

These are some photographs I took in 2014 in Cape Cod on a swamp trail. My mother and I escaped to the beaches, but it being early June it was still very cold. The trail was only a mile long but the rich darkness of everything in a swamp is eerie. I remember loving it- it felt like every bend of the boardwalk led us to another secret part of the earth. It was somewhere I wanted to see at night but with somebody I felt safe with.

Blood Moon + Tidal Pools

The blood moon + lunar eclipse happened on Sunday night, and I felt that I had to go and see the moon change. I had never been down the beach alone at night, but I put on my rubber rain boots, put my best lens on my camera, and put on the heavy wool lopapeysa sweater I bought in Reykjavik. It wasn’t truly cold, but it was  bone-seeping, saturating chilly, at 8 pm. The air felt heavy, overwhelming. The closer I got to the beach the more I saw car lights- my poor dark adjusted eyes burned each time a car drove down the curve by the beach.

My idea to watch the eclipse was not original- far from it. I heard people before I saw them. Burly, coat-rounded forms of humans perched on various blankets and pieces of driftwood all over the smooth-pebbled beach greeted me- some bright phone screens, some spindly-looking creatures that were tripods holding up cameras far nicer than mine. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get any photographs- it was too damn dark to get anything of value without moving the camera one way or another.

Regardless, the moon was already beautiful, a rusty, eerie red sphere hanging out over the sound. I made far too much noise as I walked on the rocky beach, feeling horribly aware of my presence, but quickly found an enormous tree piled on rocks and other trees. It sat about 6-8 feet off the beach, but it was old and sturdy. I dangled my feet and buttoned up my sweater as the chill settled.

Watching the moon eclipse for the first time was a lonely experience, perhaps magnified by the cold, but the moon itself is a lonely thing, so it was fitting. The waves lapping at the beach and the light refracting on the water’s surface added to the beauty of it all. The symphony of the earth, unaffected by human presence, continued as it had for eons, and I was able to sit and reflect on a storm-tossed, smooth, enormous piece of driftwood and think about this.

Eventually the blood in my hands was gone and the persistent chill of the heavy night air drove me to head home. The moon was back out in beautiful, ivory and grey-flecked brilliance, and I walked home with some horrible pictures and a head full of wonder.

The photographs above are very near where I sat and watched the eclipse. I loved discovering that we have tidal pools here.

All the Icelandic Angst: Alliterations and (finally) some film

Victoria thankfully has several worthy developers of black and white film, so after putting about 3 rolls through my mum’s trusty 1980’s Olympus I dropped them off. Three days later I held sleek beautiful rolls of film in my hands and felt exhilarated. I love my DSLR, I love how practical it is to take a digital camera and be able to make several hundred photographs in one day and process them and really get some good ones.

But film, oh film. You have to respect it- your hands can’t be oily, you handle everything with cotton, you must keep them from heat and cold. Cutting negatives, carefully putting them in the trays, and calibrating your scanner, all of these are conscious, direct actions that you do. You have to work for and with your film. Even if I don’t develop my own, I still get one on one with making my pictures a reality in a way I never can with digital.

Anyway, I forgot I had taken a roll of black and white film in Iceland, so when I unrolled the negs on the light table at Prism Imaging some rocky landscapes caught my eye and made me smile. Unfortunately I think my poor camera has some light leaks- might DIY with a flashlight in a dark room and see if I can identify any and just put some electrical tape somewhere but if not…well….luckily old cameras like Olympus were mass-produced, so if I need a new body it’ll be pretty cheap.

Emily and I wish we had spent our whole 3 weeks abroad in Iceland. It was unsettling but familiar. I feel homesick like crazy right now, but if I had to be somewhere else I wouldn’t mind being there. Someday it would be a blast to get a group of 4/5 people and do a month driving around the Ring Road, camping out of a van and spending a few days here and there. We barely scratched the surface of this beautiful country, I feel like I experienced 0.0000001% of the potential awesomeness.

It was a lot of quiet moments. Emily drove us around, as I can’t drive stick (yet- I want to learn!) and I read aloud from The Gunslinger, the first of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series throughout the days. Emily thought it was bizarre but awesome. We ate chocolate covered raisins everywhere and I drove her crazy making her stop at different places while I looked for somewhere that sold stamps (an information office outside of a National Park finally did!). We picked up two sets of hitchhikers- two sisters from France, and two best friends from France.There was black sand in the floor mats and my hair was a tangled mess. It was never dark and sleeping was a chaotic mess because you’d wake up and it would be 3 am out but it would look like 9 am. All the hot water has a sulfuric smell so after showering you didn’t feel like you really smelled any better, more like a minion from Hell. Living out of backpacks meant that our clothes were wrinkled messes constantly. The tiny heater in our cottage was hyper-efficient and perfectly located for me to put a chair right next to it and press my cold feet against it.

More to come. It’s rainy and chilly here, but I do want to take a walk. Yesterday it was raining all evening and the streets were so beautiful. The bus floors were slippery though and several people had trouble getting into their seats with dignity. (As a clumsy fool I empathized).

New haunts

Homesickness has me in it’s inevitable grip. Yesterday I ended up talking with a professor for over two hours and she asked me how I feel here and it took a lot for me to not just begin crying. You don’t break into tears in front of Oxford educated professors. I’m pretty sure that’s a rule. I did try to wear heels to class, for some reason that seemed like a good idea- my horrible ankles, ruined after so many injuries and falls, failed me shortly after I hobbled into the library, and thankfully the cynical side of me tucked some flats into my purse. It was fun being 3 inches taller for a while, though, and you never know until you try. They had free food yesterday on campus so I obviously took advantage of that. Finding optimism in the little things, like the cold air coming in from the open windows on the bus, or feeling how warm your sweater is against the chill of the rain, or the snug comfort of well-fitting rain boots- these are things to focus on and draw power from. How satisfying it is holding a warm mug of tea in my hands, seeing my little plants slowly grow, these are all beautifully worthwhile things to concentrate on instead of wanting to be elsewhere.

A hike near Hveragerði

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I took multiple rolls of film on this hike. It was impossible not to- the whole hike had such a varying degree of landscapes, lighting, and weather patterns. It was cloudy, then sunny, than rainy, then windy- or a mix of various parts of those. Emily and I hiked with our swimsuits packed, excited to see the naturally heated creek that gushed down the valley.

The soil on the hike varied in color, from burnt orange to hues of purple, deep grey, blue, and brown. I couldn’t put my camera down. I regretted not bringing my DSLR, but if I had I would have taken hundreds of images rather than less than 100 on film. Pacing myself, I tried to just revel in the landscape and in how lucky we were to be there. I was thankful Emily had driven us this far, because it was worth it. I was glad the weather held until almost the end of our day.

We found pits in the earth that gushed steam and gurgled water. We did not dare get too close to the edge of these pits, as the soil or earth might have been weakened. We saw few people- one group graciously pointed us to a hidden waterfall as they walked away from it. Everybody respected the fact that this was a place of extreme solitude and beauty. Emily and I wished we had a tent so we could just camp in a meadow. Such a beautiful place deserved more than a day of our attention, but sadly that’s all we could give it.

Bits of Blue


I arranged the film I scanned in two parts: White and Blue.

Montana in the winter tends to be shades of White and Blue and Grey, but luckily my pictures were a bit happier than just being Grey.

I don’t have much to say. My photographs here are mostly quiet morning moments on the weekends when I would put on my heavy boots and head outside with the camera in my gloved hands. More crystalline ice structures, beautiful evening light on the grass, the light streaming in through my filmy curtains, and time outside. Working 40 hours a week I do find it hard to commit to being outside, but lately I’ve been trying very hard to go on walks, sit outside when it’s sunny, and just have more time, no matter how short, with a less artificial world.


I recently got some film developed and spent all of last Sunday curled up with my scanner, watching it slowly reveal what my negatives had gotten from my adventures outside. I watched A Streetcar Named Desire and swooned over Marlon Brando a bit while my negatives appeared, and remembered capturing these images.

A few months ago the lake would get the most incredible ice structures and snow patterns and I avidly tramped all over the frozen surface to capture the nuances. Depending on the light and the crystals I got to see many different kinds of frozen H20, and it was incredible.

I hope you enjoy admiring all the beauty nature gives us without a second thought. It’s beginning to be a Montana Spring, which is where Winter and Spring go into a fight to the death. For several weeks there will be intermittent lovely days and snowy days, windy and clear, cold and warm. Spring always wins, Primavera always comes with her flowery cape and brings greenery to the landscape, but she has to fight very hard indeed here.

This morning, and other observations.

001_24A 002_23A 003_22A 004_21AI walked my co-worker’s dog at a way too early hour this morning- I was out until 2 am last night, and surrounded by way too many people I never wanted to see again. My only comfort came in the form of a few greyhounds.

This morning, the inversion in town made everything look misty. The light was gorgeous and glowing. Unfortunately for some reason my SLR camera decided to not give me the crisp focus I desperately wanted. I crunched through the snow and finished the roll of film, and enjoyed my time alone. I didn’t see a soul for the whole hour I spent tramping around, and that sort of total isolation was oddly serene.

I then spent the day reading in the Starbucks- I’m currently reading The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro- it’s riveting, and as an Art History major I love the spin of history with fiction, and how the author describes forging a painting and the intricacies of art (plus NPR recommended it).  I’m also reading Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut- I attempted to read his things this summer but didn’t commit enough, and I feel less flighty now. Another novel I’m currently perusing, Priceless by Marne Davis Kellogg, describes the world of an anti-heroine jewel thief in rich, visual detail.

Afterwards, I thrifted a vintage scalloped-mink-fur collared black silk cardigan, an extraordinary find that I was surprised by. I almost thrifted a gorgeous strapless blue and white lace party dress but it was floor length and reeked of a Cinderella-y vibe to the point that I wondered if it came with white gloves. I’ll be damned if it didn’t make my neck look longer and my pale shoulders nice, though.

A quiet source of inspiration.

I forget that there’s a mountain in the middle of my home town. It sits in a corner of the city, rather rotund, not ominous in the least- just there. Mount Helena is an omnipresent part of the landscape, a token rise in elevation, a constant in my view of the city. Apparently, it has so much presence I take it for granted and forget to reconnect.

While I spent a good deal of the summer running on the lower trails, many of them unmarked social trails, I had not actually made it to the top of Mount Helena in years. Literally. I can count the number of times I’ve made it to the top on one of my hands. Feel free to send me mental waves of shame.

Well, it just increased by one more. After a casual suggestion that I didn’t take seriously enough, AK and I set off walking towards the mountain, through downtown, past locked doors and dark stores. While he was wearing entirely appropriate clothing- Goretex shoes with treads, waterproof gloves, two layers of practical jackets, and pants- I wore leather boots with no treads, a red wool pea coat (another possible post- why is it called a pea coat?!), cashmere/wool gloves with a few holes and no waterproofing capabilities, and a leather bag to hold my camera. I looked, quite frankly, like a moron. Or somebody from out of town. (To be fair, I hadn’t packed boots, actual pants, gloves, or any sort of practical coat for the weekend.)

I went first. It was probably best- I didn’t have to match a pace, but was rather able to set it. A hobbled pace, to be sure- the boots were very good at keeping away water, but terrible at making me feel like I could stand up and stay on the trail. I slipped, slid, and had to engage in all manner of balancing moves that made me feel more like an amateur trapeze artist than a walker of mountain trails. (Note to self: Toss hiking boots in the car, you may need them in the future). I led us down a trail that was entirely erroneous (my apologies!) for a bit, too, to add to the utter ridiculousness.

The top was rocky and icy. A 360 degree vista of trees, valleys, faraway hills and mountains made my breath catch in my throat for a few moments. I have resented this landscape, felt violated by the isolation, and have loathed Helena as a backwater town of little to offer. Little by little I forgive this town, realizing that these feelings of hate are ill-placed. When I can see for miles on the top of a long-neglected mountain with a worthwhile human being and breath the crisp air and feel more vital than I have in a long time, things are clarified, life is simplified, and my caustic feelings turn less acidic.

As we descended, AK led us through drifts where the wind erased the trail for some yards, led us back down the mountain, and occasionally turned around to wait for me when my shrieks and curses for fear of falling grew too common. In the end, we hopped a fence and got hot food, a good afternoon spent outside in my own little-traveled backyard.

Here’s the path we walked, courtesy of AK’s smart phone:

Food and thoughts. Or, if we want to go cliche, food for thought. You choose.



What does it say that I’m super sensitive to spicy food but always find myself being with the people who love the hottest food possible? (I’m trying to eat more spice to get myself used to it!)

Seriously, though.

This weekend was mediocre pie with somebody not mediocre in any way, La Tinga and sharing our space with a bitter Michigander whose presence I found quite humorous, and Sunday morning donuts worth drooling over for a pittance.

Just so you know, writing a check for $4.50 for six donuts doesn’t make people, specifically older already feisty men, very happy. In case you were wondering.

I hate gin! Or, Hanging Valley, the hike that ended up being ridiculously hard.

First, let me preface this by saying that I’m in decent shape. Not GREAT shape, but I hike and walk and run and all that healthy stuff.

Ahem. Anyway, Kristin and I had been wanting to hike Hanging Valley for awhile- since about June, in fact. We got up there at about 9:30 this morning after getting bagels, and we promptly found a trail that wasn’t really a trail. Eventually finding the RIGHT trail, we marched. Uphill. A lot.

Hanging Valley is a round trip of 12 miles through dry timber. There is not a lot of gorgeous scenery, and the trail is mostly steeply uphill for the first two miles. For us, it was also really hot- we were literally dripping sweat after about 15 minutes because of the temperature.

Basically, the combination of steep grade, temperature, and our lack of enthusiasm for the less-than-spectacular scenery led to us only making 6 of those 12 miles. The end of Hanging Valley supposedly leads to a 300 foot drop off with views that are breathtaking, but we didn’t hold our breath to find out.

So, if you are in the mood for some serious 12 miles of hiking, go for it!  If you’re like us, you might just reconsider…after all, 200 meters down the road is the Trout Creek Trail. Our code phrase for turning around was, “I HATE GIN!”, which we both exclaimed after reaching a point that was dry and depressing.

Summer: Beginning



Summer is officially here. After winning a 3.86 GPA this semester, and beginning work full time next week, summer seems to hardly be staying with me at all, though!

I’ve been reading Nabokov, Heller, and taking lots of photographs downtown. Meghan left for D.C. yesterday, and Wednesday she and Jackson had a barbecue, complete with potato salad, chips, brownies, cookies, burgers and hot dogs.  I drove down for the day to pick up parking permits and do nothing at all. We drank mimosas, lounged on chairs outdoors, fended off wasps and played various backyard games. The day was almost as perfect as one could hope for.

Bower, the skittish cat, made a few cameos. Mark performed card tricks that left everybody mind boggled. Shelby and Jake didn’t stay long, just long enough to eat food and lament their early departures. We all discussed nothing and everything, and when the sun started dipping low, I hopped back into the car and departed. The 1.5 hour drive yielded some of the most gorgeous clouds I have ever witnessed.

Lately I’ve been running in the evening with Kristin, which has been beyond magnificent. I missed running, and my body is getting back into the rhythm beautifully. It’s like it was just hibernating. I find running to be a total release from everything stressful or confusing, and it smooths out the wrinkles in my life better than most things.

Anyway, enjoy some photographs from my life recently!

Food lately

Target was closed on Easter, or you would have seen these much earlier! (That means about 30 something hours sooner). I’m still so pleased with how the f/1.4 lens is making everything seem! I guess I’m in the honeymoon stage with a camera lens- oops.

Emily and I went to Cafe Zydeco, a Cajun food place off Main Street, and it was delicious! Nova Cafe with Kristin was perfect, per usual, except this time I didn’t gorge myself! I got a nice, normal sizes meal (le sigh)- normally I leave feeling like I could sleep for hours with a full stomach.

There was snow this weekend, but it quickly melted. I’ll post photographs sometime later. It’s Montana, it’s April, but snow keep showing up, unwanted. Like that party guest who comes and drinks all your liquor and then disappears and shows up sporadically.

Anyway, back to the point of this post: FOOD!

Alright, so I’m in love with food in a way that I haven’t encountered in a whole lot of other people. To me, it’s a gorgeous creation that I couldn’t imagine not having in my life. I love photographing it and eating it, savoring the image later to rekindle how good the meal tasted. Good food is something to be savored.