This photo was taken at Westbluff park near my work. I go there for my lunch break sometimes. It overlooks the Rio Grande, the Sandia Mountains and most of the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. There is incessant car noise from Interstate 40 to the south. I never knew about the park until the day I returned to work after my sister passed away. I needed to get away from the office and drove down a nearby street. There was the park, and once I found it, I sat down and read all the sympathy cards people had given me. I still go there occasionally and every time I think of how I miss her and wish things had been different. She died at a very young age from a painful disease. Things should have been different for her.
This flag flies over the backyard of one of the larger houses next to Westbluff Park. The neighborhood is like most in Albuquerque: some very expensive houses (with the best views and sometimes exclusive, gated access) right across the street from, if not right next to, very modest homes. Foreclosures are not as prevalent in Albuquerque as in other big Southwestern cities, like Phoenix and Las Vegas, but the city does have its share. I guess the fact that this tattered flag flies over one of the most expensive homes in this area is rather symbolic of Albuquerque.
I have a part of my house that I almost can't describe. It's an extremely small garden, I guess. It's not even big enough to call a courtyard because there's just no room to walk there. It's more like an outdoor closet full of nature. There is a sliding glass door which opens from the atrium of my house. I use the atrium as an office and it's usually a mess. But I do like looking out at the plants and the Japanese maple tree growing right there, and I almost feel as though they are inside my living space. All that green diffuses the spring sunlight. In the fall, it's hard to clean up all the leaves. The tree with the bright red berries doesn't lose its leaves, though. I really don't know what kind of plant it is.
This is our dog, Bella. She is a full bred Doberman Pinscher who was more than likely abused when she was first born. We got her from New Mexico Doberman Rescue when she was 14 weeks old. She had what appeared to be bite or scratch marks on her head, and she's missing a bone in one of her back toes. Our vet said she may have had the umbilical cord wrapped around her foot in utero or may have been injured in some sort of trauma after she was born. She doesn't notice she has a malformed back foot. She's a big, happy puppy and still growing. We've had her for almost two months now and when we first got her, a man in the pet store asked if she was a Miniature Pinscher. "No," my wife said, "She's just a puppy". But she's gotten so big since then, today my neighbor didn't recognize her. He asked, "You get a new dog?" No, she's just a puppy.
This picture was also taken from Westbluff Park and includes the Sandia Mountains and the historic Rio Grande. When I first came to New Mexico, my parents bought a house in a subdivision on the very outskirts of town and I frankly don't remember ever being on the west side of the river until I was in high school 7 years later. My father worked as a telephone lineman and used to complain about how far it was having to drive back and forth, over the river. Now I drive across it every day and it only occasionally strikes me how iconic this particular river is to the heritage of the American West. Frankly, for something still to this day called the Rio Grande, it's not that big anymore. The West is running out of water...fast.
This is our bed. It's not usually this tidy. The wall behind it used to be completely empty until we found what I call the "tapestry". I know it's sideways. It could fit properly. The wall is definitely high enough, but for some reason, I prefer it sideways. I don't think it was made to be a wall decoration. It's a really supposed to be a bed cover. For some reason, a vast majority of our most important discussions, arguments, good times and bad times happen in this room. This is where I get dressed in the morning and prepare for the day ahead of me. All of my worries for the future, all of my regrets and triumphs over the past...this room has become their focal point. This is where I can close my eyes.
May 15th is usually a good time to see blossoming prickly pear cactuses. These grow wild all over Albuquerque. The actual fruit is delicious and practically nobody here eats them. People make jams and candies out of them and sell them for outrageous prices in touristy places like the airport. I have no clue why it's not a staple in New Mexican cuisine. The quintessential New Mexican food is chile. Our chile is world famous. I would have taken photos of chiles but everybody does that. I'm rooting for the underdog with this shot.
This is a view from our stairs down into our sunk-in living room. Our house is quirky and we've been very happy with its quirkiness. This is my favorite room in the house, where we play games, have company, throw parties, and drink wine together. I love the windows in the back and the fireplace. In the winter, I tend the fires and on weekends, usually stay up late to watch the flames and keep the house warm. I go to bed late and wake up early. My daughter, wife and I play my favorite video game in this room (Wii Sports Bowling). The wood floors remind me of real bowling alleys.
I started playing guitar when I was eight years old. I should be pretty good by now but honestly, my work has all but destroyed my guitar skills. I work in an office and write all my own reports (I am an Administrative Law Judge) and all the typing has really weakened my ability to play guitar. Rock and Roll music served as my moral and ethical compass growing up and still is an integral part of my psychological and spiritual well-being. I learned the right way to express myself by learning to play guitar, to create new ideas out of the ashes of old ones. As I've adapted to new methods of self-expression (like writing and photography), I've progressed from simply calling myself a "guitarist" to a "musician" and now to an "artist". I feel more than ever that my collective attempts at self-expression are and always have been my art which makes me happy.
These are the colors of New Mexico's sunsets, the whole spectrum. I've seen sunsets in other parts of the world and they all have their unique beauty. But if this were a movie, the main character would be riding off into this sunset to find his way across the Rio Grande in search of his next adventure in the American West. And I would be throwing popcorn at the screen yelling, "How cliche! I want my money back!"
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