Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Texas Wildflowers, Part 2

Awhile back, at the end of March, I posted about Texas Wildflowers. There was a patch near my own house that I never got a chance to photograph before I left town and was hoping it was still in bloom when I got back.

It was. It took me a few days to get down there (yucky Houston humidity, usual post-job laziness/attachment to the couch). It was worth the few honks that I got and probably a few strange looks that I didn't see.

Red & Pink - Close


Red Red Red

Falling Over

Up next: Houston Roses

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy List, Week 22

Perfect Rose

1. JapanFest. It was a lot of fun, plus I got out with the camera and spent some time with fellow photographers from Flickr.

2. Being around all of my own stuff.

3. Sleeping in my own bed.

4. Cooking in my own kitchen.

5. PS. Because hanging out with good friends is fun.

6. Getting more feedback on pictures lately. It's really rewarding, especially when they're from photographers who I consider better than me.

7. Houston Zoo. It may cost an arm and a leg to get in, but visiting the baby sifakas and Toby the Red Panda was worth it. Despite the millions of children.

8. Crosswords on the iPhone. It constantly makes me think, be creative and I've got an incredible backlog to catch up on. Keeps me on my toes.

9. Good Houston food. It's been awhile since I've had Chuy's, and I remembered why I liked it so much.

10. Getting ready to leave Houston right before the really hot yucky weather starts getting going.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Japan Fest 2009, Part 2

The first day, I just worked all day. The second, I came back to deliver photos from Day 1 and to experience the festival at a slower pace. And I'm glad I did. I experienced two performances of Taiko Drumming (as beautiful visually as it is musically) and wandered in and out of exhibits and vendor stands.

I got my name wrriten in Japanese calligraphy:


Watched a turtle balance and sun itself simultaneously:

Balancing Act

And tried to capture Taiko Drummers making music:

Jumping - Mid-Air

Blowing the Conch


Over the Shoulder

Up next: Rose Garden and Houston Wildflowers, cont'd

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Japan Fest 2009, Part 1

This weekend, I spent a lot of time in Hermann Park, mostly working on and/or visiting Japan Fest. A fellow Flickr photographer ask for volunteer photographers to help him out in a booth he helps to run at Japan Fest. So I agreed to help out.

People pay a very small fee to try on Yukata (lighter version of the kimono, if I remember correctly) and we take their picture. These are mostly pictures of our props which were a lot of fun to use, but a few of my favorite shots... whether they were ones taken for the official site or just candids of other subjects.

Parasols & Fan

Parasol & Yukata

Beautiful Pair


Coming up next: More Japan Fest, Houston Wildflowers and Rose Garden

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cutest Animal In the World?

Pandas are pretty cute, but I'm partial to the big black and white ones. However, I'll settle for a darling red panda named Toby who is pretty darn cute.

His debut at the Houston Zoo was the day I left for Tosca so I didn't get to see him that day. I finally went to visit him and the new Sifaka baby the other day. I spent far too long with the sifakas, and perhaps to my detriment. Toby was fast asleep when I arrived at his exhibit. Determined to see him (I paid $10 after all, darn it) and with only loose plans with a friend for lunch, I waited him out.

It was worth the wait, because he did wake up after about 30 minutes.

Sleepy Toby

He stretched really cutely.

Sleepy Panda Stretch

And he ambled about, using his litterbox and munching on some bamboo.


And then he went to sleep again. Most of the hundreds of students on field trips saw this:

Sleepy Panda

And had to settle for this:

Cutest Picture of Cutest Animal

He's pretty cute, but he'd be cuter if he was awake more... I know it's a lot to ask of a nocturnal creature. I just hope he's more up and about the next time I drop by.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sifaka Family

Despite my allergies acting up (this is getting to be a very boring and annoying pattern), when I awoke very early in the day, I decided to visit the Houston Zoo. This was both a smart and stupid idea. Smart because I went before the crowds and got some great pictures of a few animals. But it was also Earth Day and therefore elementary school field trip day. YIKES.

I was introduced to the sifakas by some colleagues who love them more than I. However, I agree that they are adorable, especially when they have a newborn son. Kelyfamata was born Jan 6, 2009. I finally got to see him and it was so worth waiting for. He's quite adorable and starting to get more independent so there were times he was away from momma, cuter than can be.

When Zenobia (momma) was pregnant, she didn't get along with her mate, Dean, so it was really nice to see the whole family out on exhibit.

Here's the highlights of the 40 pictures I uploaded to flickr (downgraded from who knows how many):


Words of Warning

Reaching Out

Family Picture

Close Up

Post about the world's cutest (yet sleepiest) animal next...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Palo Duro Canyon

Many day offs ago, BF and I went to the Palo Duro Canyon. It's apparently the 2nd largest canyon in North America (guess which one is first).

BF had never seen a canyon before (he's a NY'er) so he was a bit more enchanted than I. Nevertheless, a canyon is still an impressive feat of geological history.

Here's a few photographic highlights:

Up Close Cactus

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

More can be found on my flickr photostream a few pages back... I uploaded them awhile ago but forgot to blog about it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy List, Week 20 & 21

Perfect Rose

(1-6 written for week 20, 7- written for week 21)

1. Assistance in taping out the floors from the TD who came with the set. Talk about knowing the set pretty darn well. It took no time at all. But really, taping with anyone was better than with just me.

2. Time with my camera this week - it's been far too long since I've been able to have it out and use it.

3. Getting carded trying to buy spraypaint for our visit to Cadillac Ranch. Boy was he surprised how much over 18 I actually was.

4. Knowing that Opening Night is fast approaching. And going home is too.

5. My awesome cast - I've gotten to spend some time with them recently and am really enjoying it. I'll be sad to say good-bye to them.

6. Trivial Pursuit. 1981 and 25th anniversary editions have made for two fun games so far.

7. Braum's Chocolate Almond shake. I finally got one today and it was better than I remembered. YUM.

8. Visiting JL & AF in OKC. I haven't seen them since I worked with them last summer. It was a very brief visit but it was a good time.

9. My hosts in Amarillo were fabulous. Very sweet, kind and giving. Their house was huge, luxurious (their own small movie theatre on the 3rd floor) and comfortable. They made me feel like part of the family. Having the cast party there after closing was so much fun.

10. The show. The show was a lot of fun. It was a lot more work on my part than I expected but the payoff (the performance) was great. I had a great crew and production staff supporting me and a great cast.

11. Opening night gifts. My Scarpia gave me one of the best opening night gifts ever - a bullwhip - to help with the cat-herding that is usually involved with opera chorus. I certainly had my hands full on TOSCA, thankfully the principals were both sympathetic and helpful. I laughed SO hard when I opened his gift. Some of the other principals were joking about giving me a cattleprod. A whip is every so much funnier.

12. Kroger Sushi. Healthier version of fast food when one returns home to an empty refrigerator.

Remembering April 19, 2005

Written to be posted on the 19th... but flickr was poky

Johnny Allen Wade

I happened to be already heading to OKC to visit some friends/colleagues when it came to my attention that today was the anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Building, 14 years ago today. When I worked in OKC, I visited the memorial and museum on Father's Day (coincidence) and paid my respects.

I knew that I had to go visit today, and I'm really glad I did. When I visited on Father's Day, there were just two chairs decorated for the occasion. Today, nearly every chair had a tribute of some sort. There was definitely beauty today in the face of tragedy.

Mrs. Joan Wade

Most people who were wandering around were out-of-towners, but I happened across a woman who had a personal tie to the tragedy. I initially spotted her because she aimed for one chair in particular and had a beautiful bouquet of flowers in hand. At first, she placed them on the chair, and seemed to pray. I gave her plenty of room because I did not want to intrude. In fact, I wouldn't have except she was trying to secure the bouquet to the chair with string, and seemed to be struggling.

I offered a hand and she took me up on the offer and we secured her bouquet to the chair. I choked out a "I'm sorry for your loss," and she thanked me on both accounts. Again, wishing to give her privacy, I wandered away to take more photos and gave her room. She and I crossed paths once more and we started talking about the tragedy and the memorial in general. After mentioning our mutual disbelief that it had been 14 years already - that her then young son was now graduated from high school, college and married... that's when the conversation turned to the opportunity to gently inquire as to her connection to the tragedy. I figured that it was a coworker, or perhaps a friend.

She lost her husband, 14 years ago today. The pain of her loss hit me incredibly and after repeating my condolences, I asked her if she'd accept a hug from a stranger. I told her I felt compelled to give her a hug on this day of loss. To lose anyone in a senseless tragedy like that is painful, but to lose a spouse... I can only imagine. She accepted it and hugged me back and we spoke a little more before parting our ways. We introduced ourselves and wished each other well. Her husband was Johnny Allen Wade, member of the US Dept of Transportation.

Joan Wade, it was my distinct pleasure to meet you, today of all days. I can only hope that our conversation was as powerful for you as it was for me. Perhaps in different ways - but the connections made by strangers are often the best. Because they are unexpected.




More pictures - which you should definitely check out - at my flickr page

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Art Cars of a Different Sort

In a field located just outside Amarillo Texas, is the Cadillac Ranch. 10 Cadillacs in the ground, on the fields owned by Stanley Marsh 3. They are free to be graffitied, and occasionally get repainted for a 'fresh' canvas. More details and other pictures over the years here.

Here's a few of mine from our visit yesterday:

Cars in a Row





I've still got pictures from the Canyon trip from over a week ago... and of course, the weekly happy list... that'll come later this week...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

All Tosca, All The Time

Life has been a little more than crazy lately. Despite us not rehearsing the expected three sessions a day, the week has been long and never ending. The director doesn't have an assistant, nor do I. So we serve as each other's... thankfully we're a great team. But even that doesn't cancel out exhaustion. And Amarillo is so dry that I am getting quasi-migraines more than once a week. And I can't exactly abandon rehearsal because I don't feel well. But quasi-migraines don't go well with powerful opera singing, especially high notes.

Nevertheless, things slowed down in the last day or so and I was able to pull out my camera... something I'd sorely missed. Here's a few shots of the theatre (which in itself is unique in appearance) and some of the props. Hopefully more to come...

Scarpia's Table


Cavaradossi's Paint Brushes

Sneakers & Baby Grand

Quill and Inkwell

Many more can be found at my flickr page... and hopefully more to come.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy List, Week 18 and 19

Perfect Rose

Life has been a little crazier than usual in Amarillo, TX... I have no assistant which means every waking hour is spent doing paperwork... sometimes I forget to eat or sleep enough... so needless to say, both Mondays went by without me even thinking about the blog.

So here's 10 things for two weeks...

1. BF - because he makes this experience all the better. So glad AO introduced us because we do make a good team, especially when we end up as each other's assistants.

2. The iPhone - there have been some great fun apps that have come out recently. Plus several members of my cast have them, making life a little easier as well.

3. Flonase. For the first time in years, I'm not taking Claritin-D daily. This isn't a fool-proof solution, but not being a slave to the meth drug restriction rule is nice.

4. Good steaks. I've been craving steak, a good steak, for awhile. I've had the opportunity more than once to get a decent steak here in Amarillo.

5. Palo Duro Canyon. This is the 2nd largest canyon (guess who is first), and it's 20 miles away from where we are. It was a lovely little visit.

6. My hosts. They're really nice, I have a nice place to stay, and sometimes they're out later than I am.

7. Ruby Tequila's signature drink which is a house margarita swirled with sangria. Pretty tasty!

8. That nothing in Amarillo proper is more than 10 minutes away. It's a lovely change.

9. Annie tour. Seeing old friends was a lot of fun - especially DZ who I haven't seen in YEARS. It was great to spend 15 minutes with him pre-show. I do wish I had had time to see ZM in it, though!

10. Tosca - I'd forgotten how much I liked this show musically.

That's it. More posts to come soon, I think. Wait until I get through tech week...