Selfy Sunday | 09-25-11

Purple In Silver City NM...

Google+ has turned out to be quite popular with photographers and other creative artists. Jeff Smith and Levi Moore collaborate on a project called "Selfy Sunday" open to photographers on Google+ for posting and sharing a self-portrait taken that day or the week before. This photograph is my contribution to Selfy Sunday - Sept. 25 | 2011.

This has turned out to be an enriching project and a great way to share with other photographers, amateur and professional, new or experienced your work and see the work of others. It is an exercise in how you portray yourself with your photography.

My contribution and the associated comments can be viewed by clicking on Purple in Silver City NM and clicking on +JR Snyder Jr will take you to my Google+ posts and profile. You may also want to visit my Picasa Web Photo Albums where I will also be migrating my photos currently on Flickr.


Purple Sage

Riders of the Range...

Out West in America means Big Sky and Wide Open Spaces. 

This is true from the northern reaches of Montana to the southern ends of Arizona and New Mexico and relates to perception. Many of us see the vista as an expansive range of opportunities whereas some people feel small and engulfed. How someone perceives the landscape is an indication of individual perspective as well as point of view and to me provides an insight into the essential nature of someone's soul. Do they sense fearlessness or fearsome, awed or overwhelmed? How they ride through the range and react to it hints at their comfort with themselves, the geography they're surrounded by and ultimately their interaction with people and perception of reality in the world.

In this photograph in the highlands of southwestern New Mexico I am experimenting with impression through grain and color. In the foreground is purple sage muted rather than bright and the grasslands are a sandy color rather than a richer green amber hue due to the dry conditions at end of hot summer. Distant mountain ranges are characteristically pewter beryl dividing the picture by the toned down big blue sky with white clouds caused by a light storm of rain mixed with dust that had passed through a few hours prior.


Desert Gold

A wash carved by runoff water from a mesa...

Channels of water run through it to sustain an ecosystem.

The grasslands of golden green tinged with orange flowers are shallow fed by water disbursed from the wash in the foreground. The wash itself was created from the runoff of water from the distant mesa. Runoff from high ground in the desert channels into multiple washes that diverge and spread throughout lower ground providing water for vegetation and wildlife in an ecosystem of survival on the barest essentials and the minimum required.

The desert serves as a metaphor for living a life with beauty nourished by the least required elements and allowing them to flourish unfettered without too much intervention. The lesson for us is to allow life to take it's own course, letting go what we cannot control, allowing what is meant to be to happen.


City of Rocks

Boulders crafted by nature 35 million years ago...

There are only six places in the world with rock formations like these boulders and one is in New Mexico. Created by a huge explosion named after what it formed, the Kneeling Nun monolith, the volcanic ash was roughcast by wind, water and time leaving these stone monuments to sit in a grassland plain. They rise up in chimera as if ancient secrets are hidden in recesses with passages that wind around to wander and wonder if they hold some answer to an unknown question.

Over centuries people have sought shelter and protection among these geologic pinnacles from weather and animals of prey. Among them were the Mimbres Indians who left behind arrowheads, pottery shards and
mortars ground into the stone formations by pestling seeds into flour. The mortars are called "Indian Wells" since water collects in them after it rains. Apaches later came to the area. During the 1500s Spanish conquistadors passing by left carved crosses in the lava and soon after Spaniard settlers arrived. In the early 19th century mining began in nearby Santa Rita.

The area is rich in flora and fauna occupied by eagles and hawks, horned owls, roadrunners and cactus wrens. Squirrels, jackrabbits, packrats, mule deer, javelinas and coyotes call the area home where many types of snakes are also found alongside a wide variety of lizards. Yucca and ocotillo, barrel and hedgehog cacti, century plants and desert willow surround the rocks among the grama grass. Within the passageways of the rocks emory and gray oaks grow. A trail goes to a desert botanical garden.

The City of Rocks has been a New Mexico State Park since 1952. Located in the Mimbres Valley near Bayard. It is in the far reaches of the Chihuahuan desert at an elevation of 5200 feet with mild winters and warm
summers. The unique geography makes for imaginative exploration of the volcanic ash formations thrusting up into the air and trailing the surrounding area. Clear night sky star gazing chances an "ah ha!" moment on ancient pathways.


Road Trip

See you later...

I am on a road trip through Arizona and New Mexico through next week. Follow me on Google+ as I post pictures along the way.

In the mean time consider following this blog in one of two ways. On the left center on my blog under Follow either choose to click the RSS button for your RSS Reader of choice or right below enter your email for email updates. Look forward to posts of Arizona and New Mexico in the Great Southwest of the United States on my return! See you then.


Alien Among Countrymen

Who ARE these people anyway?...

Most people who know me in person, online or read my blog know I grew up on Bermuda around Britains and Americans. My mother is British and my father was American and he and my aunt made a point of teaching us American speech and culture since they knew that by high school we would be in the U.S. It prepared us somewhat but it was fragments of American culture. Additionally the Americans we knew on the island tended to be highly educated and associated mostly with oceanic research or NASA.

When my cousin, my sister and I arrived in this country we could easily fool most people but we still had to work at being assimilated and "Americanized." There were many gaps in our knowledge, the rituals of high school such as American football, pep rallies, yearbooks, homecoming, graduation ceremonies. Since we were kids it didn't take long to fit in and adopt and adapt to the culture. I went on obliviously for decades thinking I was thoroughly American but in recent years I realize that a lot of what I thought of America was actually is what this country once was. My father, aunt and uncle were from a previous generation, one of "spend and invest" while there was disquiet within me about my generation of boomers who I now recognize as "borrow and spend" consumers. It was the previous generations America that I had been coached and raised on.

Sometimes I feel like an immigrant to a country I don't understand.

My uneasiness really started bubbling beneath the surface when in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001 I was bothered that after the tributes, the songs had stopped playing on the radio, people then went on the biggest borrowing and spending spree that I could have imagined. I was breathing from a straw air from above the surface and didn't fully comprehend why I felt the way I did. I was asking myself "Who ARE these people? They aren't what I thought they were."

Since the economic crisis began in 2007-2008 I began to slowly understand. Many of my friends, natural born Americans, felt a similar disquietude and many hours of discussion revolved around feeling out of place. Recently Mike, writer of the blog rockandconfusion, made a comment that I instantly recognized: "Sometimes I feel like an immigrant to a country I don't understand." It was a relief to be able to put a phrase to what was really bothering me and it came from a red-blooded, born in the USA, natural born American in the heartland. Ah ha!

This sense of being an alien among countrymen has nothing to do with not being born here or that I went to British schools until I was in high school. It is about values of worth, chroma of beliefs and position in the spectrum of what life is about and it's deeper meaning. It has nothing to do with whether I was trained how to appear American. It revolves around the core merits of the American Way that most of my generation strayed from to their detriment. There is no question now who these people are nor even why they have become the way they have because it no longer matters.

What is relevant is that many people feel the same sense of discomfort about how many people in this country have become. The good part is there are still more than enough people who have the values of previous generations to be able to pick up the pieces and put the country back again no matter how long it takes. That is the true America that has never totally disappeared but lays just beneath the surface waiting to break through for fresh air and rebirth.


Working for The Man

Working in the fields you get your facts learned...

and I got my facts learned real good.

This economic climate is like the weather, we have no control over it. The storm is gusting winds, huffing and puffing and blowing houses down, rain is flooding the basements and lower floors and no amount of sandbagging is going to stop it. Politicians and bureaucrats egos may lead them to believe they can do something about it but most of the population has figured out that we're in a disruptive contraction that will run it's own course.

Personally I don't believe the unemployment figure is going to remain stagnant and only go up or down a notch or two as the so-called experts predict. It's widely agreed that unemployment is going to be a problem for a long time and it is my opinion it is going to go higher. Already it is higher than official numbers reflect. The broken record is that this is an economic contraction due to overleveraging of debt by individuals and government. If people are not employed they cannot pay debt or taxes. That is a fact.

Our country has created people with a mindset of a job or career working for a large or medium sized employer with an implied contract of benefits and a pension. The Man. No longer is he willing to carry the contract though. This administration has also done everything it can to kill many of the remaining average micro entrepreneurial enterprises as well as small businesses out there that might have employed a few people or kept a family going. A "jobs program?" Really? My additional thought is there is no point in retraining or educating for careers unlikely to exist in the coming years. Working for The Man is past tense. Small businesses must rework their way around the obstructions. Thinking otherwise is a delusion.

Individuals work in the present to plan for a different future.

The people who are thriving and will thrive are those who are thinking creatively while looking down the road and taking control now of what they can. They aren't putting themselves into debt or deficit spending and if they are in that position they are digging their way out of it. The Americans who are making it are those who are achievement oriented, still have a sense of reward for hard work and self-reliance, cutting a swath for their own path. Perhaps that means working at a job now as a means to an end but the end game is not to work for someone else in the sense we have been. The primary intention at this juncture is a future forward assessment of skills that are of value and develop them alongside additional ones.

What a thinking ahead person is doing in one way or another is fashioning tools in every moment of spare time. They're figuring out how to make a living or already are in the coming new period and create a different way of life. In stormy weather they're holding fast to values in order to rebuild lives above the flood line. There is not a politician or bureaucrat that can provide the ingredients necessary to prepare and act to accomplish the reconstruction required. While this economic contraction is running its course simultaneously individuals and communities are reinventing themselves on their own. People are or will be working for themselves, either in their own enterprises or as free agents for another enterprise by choice. The government can't machinate that. Only individuals and communities can engineer the kind of renovation our economy needs for our country to fully function again.

(With apologies to Springsteen on this Labor Day.)