Southwest: Part 2 of 3

We rest for a day in Moab, UT - realizing we have, once again, planned a road trip that's a bit "too ambitious" with not enough rest time (our vacations actually tend to be more exhausting than rejuvenating). We get Thai food + I buy a few souvenirs (a maroon dreamcatcher, some agate wolf figurines in desert colors...). I find a book called Sister Moon Lodge all about menstruation in a free bin at a health foods store. We shower in the motel for the first time in a few days, having not had running water the past two nights, and it is glorious. We just lay around in the comfy bed for a long time. I DJ music on my phone for us. 

The next day we hit Canyonlands National Park + Arches National Park. I take a lot of photographs and we stand on the edges of canyons with the pups and meet a cool, older biker couple. We drive SW for the rest of the day mostly listening to the new Fleet Foxes' album. Sam starts to get a bit car sick and we pull over quickly onto the side of the highway. We finally get to a hotel near Zion National Park where a lot of movie stars used to stay when they'd come to the area to film cowboy movies. Several hours later we are at the hotel and Edward realizes he can't find his phone. We learn from technology (magic) that it is on the side of the highway where we stopped for Sam, about an hour away from our hotel in the direction we came from. We are both grumpy because we are exhausted and I had a low blood sugar freak out while waiting for dinner. We had to leave the restaurant because they were super packed, hadn't even taken our drink orders yet and I needed food ASAP or I was going to pass out. We ended up running to a grocery store and whipping something together quickly in our hotel room to eat. Edward and I were both upset because we both really wanted to eat at the restaurant - they had amazing vegetarian options and good vegetarian food is hard to come by on the road.

We drive an hour in the dark, it's late by now, to go retrieve Edward's phone then an hour back to the hotel. We drink a bit because things feel weird and we aren't sure how to get back into adventure mode. There are no photographs from this grumpy part of the trip. 

Southwest: Part 1 of 3

Edward drives us over 4,500 miles on this trip. We are gone for 8 days. Lena's favorite place while we drive is sleeping across Edward's lap, facing me. We stop often to give the dogs water. It storms a lot while we are driving at various points - sometimes our visibility is almost zero from the rain hitting the windshield. The first night we stay at a hotel in Forth Worth, Texas. The second night we stay in a yurt in Madrid, New Mexico. Madrid is a weird little town I hadn't heard of until this trip - it seems to be populated by hippie artists and largely LGBT, or at least very LGBT-friendly. There are "watch for dogs" signs along Main St instead of the usual "watch for children" or "children at play" signs you typically see. The sunset and sunrise from the yurt are amazing - we see both. We drive up a very rocky and unpaved road to get there - it's a bit anxiety-provoking for everyone. Edward and I yell "BIMP!" frequently because someone put signs next to some of the bigger bumps in the road to warn people like us who do not have the right car for this situation and we are amusing ourselves and mildly spastic already from all of the time in the car. The next day I fall in love with Santa Fe. I feel more at home in this landscape of mountains, canyons, plateaus, desert and very determined plants than I have anywhere else I've ever been - which is a little strange given that I am from Pennsylvania. It scares me and thrills me and makes me feel at peace all at once. I feel safe here for some reason. It inspires me - as cheesy as that is - and I feel like I could live here and make art about this landscape, this little portion of the country, for the rest of my life. I decide Edward and I might need to move here when he does his residency after medical school. Sam "learns" the cactus lesson three times but doesn't really learn it any of those times. He runs around the yurt like crazy and gets cacti needles in his skin but is like a tank, he doesn't even seem to notice. He gets a clump of them on top of his head and it is a little funny watching poor Edward try to remove them because Sam thinks it's the best game in the world to not let Edward pull them out. He's not at all bothered or hurt, he just thinks everything in the world is a game. He's 13 or 14 months old but is still very much a puppy sometimes.

We walk Sam and Lena around the main square of Santa Fe where the Native American artists lay out their goods to sell on blankets in the shade and walking with Sam feels like being with a celebrity. Everyone wants to say hello or ask about him or comment on his size or call him a horse or pet him or let their child pet him or take his photo. I am amused by the attention but Edward feels uncomfortable with being a bit of a spectacle. We leave Santa Fe and head towards Utah. The first of my false eyelashes, which will all come off during this trip, does. We drive for a long time and come to Monument Valley. The roads are unpaved and I'm afraid if I put the window down to take pictures the whole car will be filled with dust, so I just do the best I can shooting through the dirty windows. Lena is used to road trips and is super chill about the entire process. Sam, on the other hand, is new to this "road trip" idea. He went with us to Saint Louis when he was much younger but probably doesn't remember. He's only used to short car rides to Paty's house or the dog park. We were going to leave him at a dog kennel but the day before we left he broke my bleeding little liberal heart, so we brought him along. Edward and I were sitting on the couch working on our laptops and Sam was whining up a storm. We couldn't figure out why he was being so extra because he'd been out and had food and water. We tried to shut him up by offering him different bones and other things he usually likes. This did not work. Eventually we made room for him on the couch and he immediately calmed down, curled up into the smallest ball of dog a Sam can and fell asleep. I kept thinking "All he wants in this entire world is to be where we, his people, are. That's literally his deepest fucking desire." So there was obviously no way I could leave him with strangers for 8 days after that, even though I knew they would take good care of him. He'd miss us too much and, admittedly, I would miss him too much too.  He was A LOT the first day of the road trip in particular. We had to stuff blankets, sheets and a bag of large breed dog food between our seats and sides of the car to keep him from (good lord can he make himself fit through a space when he wants to) climbing over the sides of our seats and onto our laps. At 140 or so pounds he still thinks he's a lap dog sometimes - typical.

The third night of the trip we stay in a little converted post office in Cisco, Utah. Edward is absolutely exhausted from a super long day of driving and we arrive much later than we planned. Once there we perk up a little - Edward has a few beers and I try astrophotography in real darkness for the first time. I become giddy from photographing the stars. It is in a ghost town that is being rebuilt by a super cool woman who dropped out of SAIC (she did drawing and painting) to move to a ghost town in the desert with a population of one: her. She is renovating the town with found materials and learning the construction skills as she goes. We hang out with her and her friend the next morning and it is fun to be out of the car and socializing with interesting and new people. She says I can come back and stay for free whenever I want as long as I bring Lena with me. Her and Lena really hit it off. She dreams of hosting artists-in-residence in her little ghost town someday. I find her absolutely fascinating.

We drive by an abandoned school house as we leave Cisco - supposedly it is quite haunted. One day later I will firmly believe that it is.

New Project: Birmingham Zoo

I got a cheap annual student pass to the Birmingham Zoo and intend to spend a lot of time there over the next year photographing/video recording the animals. I made a page on this site for the photos and videos I take there. There isn't much on it yet, but I am going back with my photographer friend, Jessica Colyer, on Thursday to shoot some more. It's going to be an ongoing project. My big goal is to document almost all of the animals at the zoo while learning their names and a bit about them.

Here's a snapshot Edward took of me yesterday right before I began this project:

There is only one video up on this new page so far, but there will be more photographs and videos very soon. It's going to be a fun project and I am really excited about it.

"Life is better in a book haze." - a good old friend

  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • Rising Strong by Brene Brown
  • White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • America's Women by Gail Collins (re-read)
  • Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
  • The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott
  • Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
  • A Theory of Human Motivation by Abraham H. Maslow
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
  • I Love Dick by Chris Krauss
  • Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
  • Heroines by Kate Zambreno
  • The Best of the Best American Poetry anthology
  • The Best American Essays 2013
  • Touched With Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison
  • It Chooses You by Miranda July (re-read)

Some still, some dancing

My photographer friend, Jessica Colyer, and I got together a week ago and shot each other (with our cameras lol). Here are a handful of photos she took of me in my favorite dress - I especially love the ones where I am dancing and the fabric is flying around. She's very talented and I am so grateful to have her in my life. There will be more photos from this shoot posted later (some of her that I took, too!) but I there are over 400 RAW files on my laptop right now from it, so I am having patience with myself as I work through them because this was just a "for fun" shoot with a photographer friend, not a client shoot, so there's no rush to get the images edited and to the client right away. I edited them but she took them.

Kait makes a dust storm

My balcony garden has been getting murdered by bugs etc since we got into the season in Birmingham where it rains for at least a while almost everyday. I went out and bought some bug dust yesterday to try to protect my little green things. I may have overdone it slightly with the powder, but the plants seem fine - now we just wait to see if it works.

My mammoth sunflower seedlings (second attempt) also got eaten by the bugs and I could tell they weren't going to survive so I pulled them and planted another packet of seeds (third attempt) because I am stubborn.

I just want to share something really sweet that happened to me the other day. I shared some of the photos on Facebook that I'd also shared of Ghost (my beta fish) on this blog... and I got a message from someone I don't even really know who saw the photos and wanted to let me know that Ghost's stomach looked a little sick (dark and sticking out more than normal) in the photos - she said he would probably feel better if I fed him a bit less and that one of her beta fish had died from the condition because she didn't know about it and overfed him. I've started feeding Ghost less and he already looks healthier and has more energy. Isn't that just something really cool that can happen with social media? This amazingly sweet stranger cared about my beta fish, knew I didn't know much about beta fish and wanted to make sure nothing bad happened to Ghost because she could tell he meant a lot to me. Isn't that just really cool? I thought it was. Anyway: THANKS, JESSIE. :)