Thursday, July 10, 2008

What I Knew, I Learnt Again

On June 20, I went out to shoot with my first photography teacher, Warren Thompson.We went on Old Route 66 as much as we could from Algodones to Gallup. We left at 9:30 am and returned at 1:30 am. Long day. Jackson and Warren's wife, Patti, went with us. I have to say, they were both troopers. Gallup is a 6 hour round trip and we took 16 hours to make it thee and back. So that's 10 hours of shooting (and eating). That's a lot of photography for a 3 year old and a high school math teacher!

We went to Albuquerque on Saturday.We found this great sign for the Ponderosa Mobile Home Haven on Central. It was probably made in the 50's and it's one of those classic Route 66 neon signs, complete with an "Adults Only" on the side.

Warren got out to shoot and was gone for a long time. I parked Patty and the sleeping Jackson in the shade and got out to see what he was interested in.

There was some great white cinder block architecture all around the place,

an abandoned pool, and those weird trailer park trees...I think they are junipers but they grow straight up and just don't look normal.

So I got out the "real" camera (you know, with film) and started shooting.
I guess you just never really know what's going to happen when you go out and shoot. What happened next is a classic example of being able to "lose yourself gloriously in the moment of being exactly where you are and being led", (thanks to Laurie Knight and Don Usner from the Upstream Documentary for this quote).

While I was shooting, a guy with a grocery bag asked me what we were taking pictures of. After my introduction of "I teach photography at CSF", I told him we admired the architecture, and the sign. He said he liked it too and that he liked living in a trailer. He told me that the park was in probate and that most of it was unoccupied, but that some people lived in the back of the park and the landlord that they paid rent to gave all the money to Albuquerque Public Schools. We chatted a bit more about how great it is to live in a trailer because you don't have too much stuff, and life is simpler. (I lived in a 26 foot travel when I first moved to NM, so I have a real affinity for trailers and their occupants!)

He went to his trailer and I shot a few more frames. Warren was ready to go and asked if I would drive through the occupied portion because we might see something good. I guess we had already been there over an hour.
As we were driving through the park, we all spotted this great old Thunderbird under a carport. We drove around to it and Warren and Patty were telling me that when they first got married, they almost bought this same kind of car. We pulled up in front of the trailer that belonged to the carport and got out. The owner was the guy I had talked to!

The car was cool, but even cooler was the guy, his wife, and his grandson, Julian, who was playing in the hose. We spent about another hour and a half talking to them. His daughter and son-in-law came back from Wal-Mart with an inflatable pool for Julian. Great photos just unfolded in front of us.

Down the way was a great trailer all decked out for a 1 year-old's birthday party. We asked to photograph it and the people said "yes". Jackson even got a goody bag from the party.

I plan on taking prints back and asking to talk more to the guy and his wife. I'd like to do an interview and some still pics, maybe some video. His trailer is about the size of the one I lived in and I could only do it for a year. It seems like they have been there for a few years.

So, what did I learn? Getting out there is half the battle, and I need to get out there more.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Still Can't Believe It....

I'm fine...really. Just still a bit bewildered as to how it exactly happened.

I ordered a Bike Tutor from eBay. It's the coolest bike seat for a kid because the kid rides up front on the bike instead of riding on the back of the bike. There's more opportunity for interaction with a child since they are between your arms and not staring at your butt for the whole ride. We received the Bike Tutor last week and Todd installed it on our Diamondback mountain bike yesterday. It takes some figuring out to install....two hours of actual time, but it's worth the trouble. At about 6:45 Friday night, Jackson and I hopped on for our inaugural ride around our little village, Cerrillos.

Cerrillos was a busy mining town in the 19th century. A lot of the buildings still standing were built during the mining boom which makes it a great movie set for films like "Young Guns" and John Carpenter's "Vampires". Cerrillos is a quiet town with not much going on except at Mary's Bar, where many of the local personalities spend Friday afternoons drinking and conversing. I've never been in Mary's Bar, but have heard stories about how even into the 1990's people were having fights and even shooting at each other. I've never seen anyone with a gun, so I maintain that Cerrillos is a safe, quiet place to live.

At this point I'd like to say a bit about premonitions. I have them from time to time, but usually don't live my life by them. Most of the time I don't even know they are premonitions until it is pretty clear that I should have paid more attention. Friday morning I should have paid attention. This is a literary device called foreshadowing.

Back to the Bike Tutor. It is such a great piece of equipment. Jackson loves riding the bike that way and even likes wearing his helmet. We took a cruise down Main Street about a block and turned around when Todd took the above picture, and then took off for a ride around Cerrillos.
I've been wanting a Bike Tutor for a year and a half. I was very happy with it and with the way Jackson was enjoying it. We cruised up Main Street past Third Street and Second Street and turned left at First Street with Mary's Bar and her patrons on our right. We then turned left on Railroad Road to get back home and go to dinner with Papa and Banka, Todd's parents from Gallup.

I was talking to Jackson about what it feels like to turn, how you shift your weight to keep the bike upright, when I felt it. A dog biting my calf. It was the same Doberman Pincher that I had seen that morning roaming the streets. The same Doberman Pincher I thought looked dangerous and shouldn't be roaming the streets.
At this moment, I realized that seeing the dog that morning and sensing danger was a sort of premonition.

I screamed "Come get you're ******* dog!" hoping that one of the Mary's Bar people would come get the dog. No one came. I felt a surge of adrenaline like I've never felt before. I'm not scared of dogs and I've been chased on my bike by dogs, but I've always known when a dog was chasing me because they growled or barked. This one didn't. It just bit me hard. I then became completely overwhelmed with outright fear which I know led to the second and third bites. That adrenaline surge and the "mama bear" mode made me pedal faster than I ever have in my whole life.

I couldn't stop because Jackson was on the bike so I just went towards home as fast as I could. I was screaming at the dog, screaming for help, and screaming for Todd. I don't think Jackson actually saw the dog biting me, but he knew I was scared and screaming for help.
Todd heard me as I rounded the corner from Third Street back onto Main Street. He and my in-laws came running out thinking I had crashed only to find me bleeding and terrified.

I told Todd that a Doberman had attacked me. The dog quit chasing me when he heard a dog bark....I think it was Barney, our Bassett Hound. Todd went immediately to the Tuff Shed and got a bat and headed down the street. Ron took the bike from me and I laid down on the ground since I couldn't breathe and felt like I was going to pass out.

Todd saw the dog at Mary's Bar and said to the people standing around "If this is your ****** dog, you'd better get it because I'm going to kill it." A woman came forward and said it was hers. She and all the folks there had been drinking for hours and didn't even notice the dog had chased me when I rode by. Of course I think the whole attack took around a minute, so I suppose that in their drunken state they wouldn't have noticed. The owner and her friend did not believe that the dog attacked me, so they came to the house to see my injuries.

Todd asked if the dog had been vaccinated and she said yes. He then told her to go get the papers so we could take them with us to the hospital. While the woman was away, her friend stayed behind talking to Todd and Ron, Todd's dad.. He offered Todd some "awesome pain killers" for me. Todd declined.An hour later she still hadn't returned. So we called the sheriff's office and they contacted animal control who then took a statement from me. Animal Conrol found the owner in Madrid and gave her until Tuesday to produce the vaccination papers. I'm sure she won't have them.

We went to the hospital and got my wounds cleaned and bandaged. I did not have to have stitches or take antibiotics. The bites still hurt, but no signs of infection have shown up. Jackson seems to be OK with all that happened. The one thing he keeps saying is "Mommy wanted Todd."

I love the Bike Tutor. I'm sure that if we had used a traditional rear mounted child seat, the dog would have gone after Jackson. It's a great piece of equipment that I look forward to using every day.
Even though this has been a pretty traumatic experience I still think that our little village is a safe place to live. I just need to pay attention to premonitions.