Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

I spent quite a bit of time at the Flagstaff homeless shelter while I was going to school. I was working on a project at the time on the lack of shelter in the harsh winters, when homeless people would get themselves arrested to avoid being turned away from a bed at night.

I would always show up around dinner time when everyone was in the same area. The nights were noisy and crowded, and I was constantly being pulled every which way – they all had a story they wanted to share, or to smile for a camera. But there was one person there who was quietly sitting, not physically alone, but solitary in his own mind, reading his bible. He pulled on my shirt sleeve to get my attention.

C.R. was a Vietnam Veteran. I thought I was preparing for a story about his hardships, but I was going to be surprised.

He hadn’t planned on making the army a career, but what started out as a 4 year job kept going, and 10 years later, the army was all he was trained for, so he stayed in it. He didn’t have a family. He’d been caught up on the way and by the time he was ready to settle down, there wasn’t anyone to settle down with.

He was developing Alzheimer and his hands shook a little bit. He couldn’t afford medication because he didn’t have a job. He couldn’t get a job because he needed medication. The same went for a home. He said it was his bible who kept him warm at night – everyone he met he asked to leave a note on the first few pages.

Despite all of these, somehow he didn’t regret anything.

“I don’t care if you remember anything else I said, but this part you’ve got to tell everyone you know about: I would do it all over again if I went back. I didn’t get to have a family, but that’s okay. I fought for you guys, so you could have a future , because someone needed to fight for you so you could do better things. God bless you.”

More images at www.nowellsphotography.com

All Rights Reserved. 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

 

There’s this roadrunner who has lived on our farm, who has been there for as long as I can remember. In theory, a roadrunner only has a life span of 7-8 years, but I liked to think that this was the same bird, year after year. He showed up when my grandfather was first paralyzed, and I can remember him loving that stupid bird. He would sit and look out the window daily to see what it was up to.

Years later, my family moved out to that farm. I spent a summer on the back porch painting – early in the mornings to avoid the summer heat – and there was a roadrunner who would always show up on the steps and every morning he would get a little closer until finally he was sitting a few feet away, watching me paint every morning.

Then the peacock showed up and the two started with their completely inappropriate flirting. I looked forward to the offspring of that. I had a great website planned out: http://www.roadcock.com. Figured I’d pull in a lot of unexpected traffic with a name like that.

I learned that roadrunners were carnivorous when this here bird developed a curious habit. Whenever he caught a meal, he had to run around the house, pecking at the windows until someone noticed him. He couldn’t eat until the food had been sufficiently shown off. He particularly preferred the dining room window.

More images at www.nowellsphotography.com

All Rights Reserved, 2012

Days of Dublin in Black and White

There’s something about black and white, especially in a big city. The incredible city of Dublin in gorgeous on all it’s own. Some cities

have a historic district. Dublin looks like it’s all history. Monuments rise from the streets and buildings hold onto their rich architecture. Vines cover brick walls, surrounding brightly colored Georgian Doors (so colored because men would come home drunk and not know which door was there’s, ending up climbing into bed with the neighbor, illustrating the dangers of our cookie cutter homes). Businessmen still walk down cobbled streets and horse drawn carriages can be found sitting outside the Guinness Factory ready to tempt the drunken tourist. But behind its quaint store fronts and the appeal of a big city is a certain grittiness.

Behind the cheery dispositions and regular friendliness – the people in Ireland were some of the best I’ve met – is not just hardiness as

strong as their whiskey, but the willingness to stand up. When something is wrong or something is disagreeable, these are not people

Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland

who will sit back and let be, gosh darn it, they will sit in the pub, drink a lot, and then start a

Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland

rebellion. And you can hear it in the old historic jails full of long cold tunnels and thick wooden

doors shut tight with padlocks where they tell long stories of the multiple rebels who were kept and killed there with a proud sense of admiration. You can see it in the bullet hole covered statues that sit in the middle of O’Connell Street, the main street in Dublin from when they were hit during the Easter Rising, mounted by Irish Republicans (It may have only lasted a week and ended with their leaders being court-marshaled and executed, but that’s really not the point here. The bullet holes are timeless and it brought the separation of Ireland from Great Britain to the forefront of politics and eventually lead to the separation of the Republic of Ireland from the UK. Not your average Easter Egg Hunt there.) And yes, many leaders of the Rising were held and executed at the Kilmainham Gaol – pronounced Jail, just spelled fancy.

You can see more images below and at http://www.nowellsphotography.com

Art feature at Trinity College
Vine covered building in Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland
Here you can George Salmon who was reported to have said women would enter the college over his dead body, but finally withdrew his veto to allow women to attend Trinity College. Ironically enough, he died 8 days before the first 3 women were given letters of admission
Locks over the Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland. In January, Dublin cut the locks off the bridge and asked couples to cease and desist. Clearly it didn’t work. Padlocks are symbolically locked here, the key thrown into the water below.

But There’s Always Ireland

I am officially an unemployed college graduate and living the life of job applications and Craigslist ads. Only one of those jobs have even mentioned a higher education. It’s nice to know the majority of my education was on scholarship. The experience was fantastic, but the return paper doesn’t appear to be entirely necessary.

The goal is a studio, an art showing, my own business. The reality is sitting on the couch watching the Olympics.

At this point, the goal could happily be reduced to a shabby-chic studio apartment, art showing on my walls, and twice the business I currently have.

The good news is those that this is not the good news and that is that living with one’s parents leave a lot of time for editing pictures from the single greatest return of a college degree: Ireland.

 Those there are the cliffs of  Carrick-a-Rede, the location of a tiny rope bridge that leads to a tiny  island of the coast of Northern Ireland where the locals used to fish for salmon. Back in the day, the fishermen would cross the bridge with one hand on the single rope and the other carrying their catch. Today, you can cross the bridge with two ropes, no limitations on rocking, bouncing, or swinging. Ireland mostly has a “misbehave at your own risk” attitude towards public locations where tourists and locals are at risk of getting hurt.

Both of the images at the Carrick-a-Rede bridge are panoramas taken with a Canon 50d, 17-35mm lens. The first images consists of 6 images (thank goodness I’d had the sense to update my computer to Windows 7 so I could employ a very speedy 12 gb of ram instead of the originally… 2.3 gb of ram that I’d been forcing to attempt to run Photoshop. This would not have happened otherwise.) I fought with the usual grey skies of Ireland that constantly threaten your already wet shoes but also hold back the sun just enough that your chances of getting the light of the land to cooperate with the tone of the sky is at about… a .5%. And even if you do get them to cooperate, the clouds are flat and undifferentiated.

The picture to the left that shows the bridge was done with a much simpler 2 images and is taken looking over the other side of the cliffs you see in the initial image. It even displays one of those brief moments of serendipity when you can make out just the slightest cloud line.

More photos are available at www.nowellsphotography.com