And then.....

Friday, March 31, 2006

Tom makes an annual pilgrimage to a well known local restaurant for ( what he chooses to tell himself is) greaseless fried chicken. Seems he was there once and sitting next to him four elderly ladies were chowing down on four huge baskets of Famous Fried Chicken. They thusly inspired him to indulge in his own huge basket of fried poultry parts and the rest is, as they say, history. The clientele is of a certain age, the bar crowded with The Grey Brigade, the decor is as you see it, comfortable.
This is the waitress hugging Tom. She is full of stories that she will tell you right up front that "never happened". This is coupled with one that she says did happen - a story of going up to Clint Eastwood who was playing the piano at one of his Carmel establishments, asking him to dance with her, his accepting, her dancing with him and her subsequently being overcome by his......garlic breath.
You might think the waitress pictured here is overcome as well by the presence of her old friend, Tom, but they just met minutes before this picture was taken. ( said the wife!)
The chicken was not greaseless but, in it's appropriate greasiness, really, really good.

Amazon Cat

Caption contest?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jenny and Teacake

We received this e mail recently from Jay B.
A newly discoverd chapter in the book of Genesis has provided the answer to "Where do pets come from?"
Adam and Eve said" Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you any more. We are lonesome here, and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us."
And God said, "I will create a companion for you that will be with you and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unloveable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, inspite of yourselves."
And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all of the animals in the kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal."
And God said, " I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name and you will call him dog."
And dog lived with Adam and Eve and was a companion to them and loved them. They were comforted. And God was pleased. And dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while it came to pass that an angel came tothe Lord and said," Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are worthy of adoration, dog has indeed taught them that they are loved but perhaps too well.

And God said, "I will create for them a companion who will be with them and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations so they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration."
And God created cat to be a companion to Adam and Eve and cat would not obey them and when Adam and Eve gazed into cat's eyes, they were reminded that they were not supreme beings.
And Adam and Eve learned humility. And they were greatly improved. And God was pleased. And dog was happy. And cat didnt give a shit one way or the other.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This Man's Job back breaking work. He is paid $8.oo an hour.

I was down in Thermal this morning taking pictures for Hidden Harvest. This is one of the 10 or so guys who were picking. Some of them just showed up looking for work. They started early and will pick all day. Because the crop is large most of them are assured of work tomorrow.

The wind was blowing so hard that my eyes watered the entire time I was there. I could see dust tornados on other farms. Fortunately, it wasn't hot but when grape season starts in May, when thousands of migrant laborers show up for that harvest, it will be. Picking in 120 degree heat is not unheard of.

Now tell me again why we want to send these people back to Mexico? Who, again, is it that wants this man's job?
I spoke with the grower. He told me even with undocumented workers, it is very hard to find labor. Mark from Prime Time had said the same.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Abuelo y nina

The grandfather and baby girl version two. This was early on before the ceremony had started. The grandfather was waiting at the door of the church for the parents to arrive.

As with all of these pictures from Mecca, I will make prints and take them back to the church for them to give to the families. It makes me happy to do this because, one, I think the families will love having the pictures and, two, because they will love having them for nothing.

There are a couple of photographers there who make a lot of money at these sorts of events. They go around snapping every child, give the families a card and then offer the photos at a stiff price. Just doesn't seem right. I guess this is no different than souvenir pictures taken and sold at a fancy restaurant but with a good number of the congregation living at poverty level or below - statistics are stunning in that area - it just irks me for this to be happening. And it makes me really happy to give the prints away.

Forty Baby Baptism

There are several versions of this abuelo y nina. Here is the first.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Forty Baby Baptism

As described in part below, I attended the baptism of approximately forty children on Saturday. The children pictured here are about the average age of those baptized although there waw a handful of infants and at least one child around seven years old there as well.
I will send, at a later time, more pictures that will show you the crowd and some of the baptisms and will tell you then about the process involved in baptizing a crowd of kids. Here is an small example of the fancy dress. The little boy's suit has a picture of the virgin on the back.

Something very moving is the involvement of the papas and the grandpapas. So much tenderness! So much love!

Sabado fui a Mecca

Saturday I went down to Mecca, an entirely Mexican town situated in California less than an hour from here. This is the little town that I went to for El Dia de Guadelupe ( posted earlier ) as well as Good Friday, several quincineros ( a girl's fiftheenth birthday mass and party ), a Cesar Chavez march and an 80 baby baptism - 40 babies on a Saturday, 40 on a Sunday. This time I went for a mere forty baby baptismo.

I will post some photos as soon as blogger will let me. It seems to be having it's headache at the moment. I think one thing that happens may be something like a busy signal at certain times of day.
For now, I ask you imagine the church, one very large room with a strongly lit marble altar area, a center aisle, some small stained glass windows, overhead flourescent lighting and many,many wooden pews filled with caring and fretting parents and friends solely focused on the about to be baptised. It was hot, teeming and screaming, and absolutely wonderful.

I think some people are beginning to know me down there. Afterall I do look really different. Nevertheless the priest made an announcement about me before the service began assuring the congregation that I am "not immigration".

Friday, March 24, 2006


The mountain lion is a sweet kitty to have on the other side of reinforced glass.


Here is the youngster. I am not certain of the sex or age but can say that it is not fully grown.
Female giraffes give birth standing up so this kid came, as all of it's kin, into the world in an 8 foot free fall.
It would have been 6 feet tall at the time and been up and nursing in less than an hour.

Tom and I continue to discover more areas and more animals at The Living Desert. Only this past week we found the mountain lions. It was really a treat to see them, to look them in the eye.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Here in Palm Desert we live next door to The Living Desert, an amazing and very different sort of zoo. The animals may come from very different part of the world but they are all desert creatures. Further for the animals that need it, like Geraldine G. here, there is lots of space to roam in.

As the crow flies I think the giraffe family - mama, papa, youngster - are the closest Living Desert neighbors as their range borders the area we live in.

The giraffe is the tallest of all four legged animals. Male giraffes may reach up to 19 feet and weigh 1.5 tons.
Like most mammals, including humans, they have on seven neck vertebrae. These neck vertebrae are enormously separated by flexible joints.

Spines on their chest vertebrae project upward forming a hump on the shoulders. These bones anchor the muscles that hold the neck upright, much the same way cables hold up a construction crane.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

El Dia de Guadelupe

Here are some images that I was working on yesterday for El Sanctuario de Guadalupe in Mecca, CA.
They are from the huge three day and night celebration of The Virgin's Day, December 12.

Hundreds of people show up for the communion services, the music, the food, and especially for the presentations depicting the story that this event is based on.

A long time ago, an Indian from a hill area not very far actually from the border with the US had a dream wherein The Virgin told him to go to the Catholic officials in Mexico City and tell them to build a cathedral there in her honor. The Indian goes but is scoffed at and sent back into the hills.

He has the dream again and this time tells The Virgin that he cannot do it because noone will believe him. She replies in essence, go again, they will build it. He returns to the city and the officials and just as he is beginning to tell them of the second dream rose petals begin to fall out of his clothing. Everyone is astounded because, at this time, there were no roses in the country of Mexico. The cathedral was built.

The catholic churches of the Coachella Valley all have large celebrations of this day as do the churches throughout Mexico. This particular church in Mecca is called El Sancturario de La Virgine de Guadalupe, the sactuary of the virgin of guadalupe, Mary, so their's is the biggest celebration of this kind in the region.

The dancers represent the pagans that were convinced to change their ways.

The crowd inside and outside the church was - this in no exaggeration - just like a subway at rush hour.

The little boys, dressed like old men and carrying canes, are part of dancing in the style of the hill tribe of indians - some live in the area and do not even speak Spanish. This dancing went on for well over an hour with dancers moving up and down the aisles and along the sides.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It's Magic

After the tennis event ( and I forgot to add that Federer won this Open for an unprecedented third time ), we went to the McCallum Theatre to see It's Magic, a magic show unlike any we have ever seen - not that we are specialists on magic shows. This was the 50th Annual Edition of It's Magic and in all of those years they have figured out how to keep a sold out audience well entertained.

There were huge glittery curtains that changed for each act, music, sexy dancing girls, hysterically funny acts designed to be magic gone wrong, and, of course, the obligatory volunteers from the audience and the slicing in two of the girl's body. The acts were highly professional with at least two of the six regular Las Vegas entertainers.

After the show people of all ages lined up to have posters signed by the magicians. The flashy lady in the picture above is Dazzle. Dazzle appeared with Les Arnold, the "gifted grandson of The Great Leon, who won international acclain for his spectacular illusions and magical artistry during the golden age of vaudeville."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Roger Rules

The front page of The Desert Sun today:

We went back to the Pacific Life Open for the Men's championship yesterday. Roger Federer in a match against James Blake. After falling behind 4-1 in the opening set, Federer, who many say is the best tennis player ever, came back to beat Blake 7-5, 6-3, 6-0.

Blake, an American who wasn't even considered in the running, not top 10, played a formidable game. Because of his winnings at this Open, he is now ranked Top Ten. It is entirely possible that he will become Top Five.

James Blake's is a moving story. We were told by a spectator that he broke his neck 2 years ago when he ran into a post in a match in Rome. After that he had further complications and lost some eye sight. This was his comeback. Few expected it to be a true come back. In fact, we were told ( and reported to you) that "americans were out" back on Thursday.

At the end of this match of spectacular tennis Blake was given a huge ovation by the crown.
As he was given the award he told the crowd ( not verbatim): Roger Federer is clearly the best player in the world. It was a great, great pleasure to be able to play this match with him.
He went on to say that when, 2 years ago, he was in the hospital in Rome, everyone had their minds, understandly, on their game. He said: I received one note while I was there. It was from Roger Federer wishing me a speedy recovery.

You can see the press and pomp ( left and right!)

Saturday, March 18, 2006


What you see here is our host on the Hidden Harvest outing, Mark Nickerson, holding a tiny baby watermelon.
The workers, again with their faces and heads covered to protect them from the dirt and dust of the seeding process, are placing watermelon seeds in the tray by hand. Unlike the pepper seeds below that are placed on the top of the soil by machine, the watermelon seeds must be pressed exactly half way down in the pot and then covered by vermiculite.
Prime Time buys seedless watermelon seeds from Israel however, in order for these seeds to become more than blossoms, they must be pollinated. This is achieved by making every fifth seed a regular watermelon seed then, when the plants begin to blossom, bees are brought in to cross pollinate the plants.

A very big issue, as you might imagine, for farms like this one is labor. More and more laborers in this area are going into construction, landscape and hotel work. This county is 2nd in the nation in growth so there is an abundance of low level jobs in these fields. In addition to this problem, there is the extremely controverial bill before the Senate that is directed towards controlling illegal immigration. There is no question that some sort of control and reform should take place. It is unfortunate, however, that this heavy handed bill that appears to be concieved by someone from another planet is being presented as the first step towards a solution. Should it pass, we will all know it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

!$10,000 A Pound Pepper Seeds

Prime Time pays $10,000 per pound for his red pepper seeds. One can only guess what this machine is that places each seed into its own little pot of dirt. The worker is brushing the seeds about so that they will fall through seed sized holes into the dirt. From this point the trays of seed dirt are wrapped and refrigerated in a huge refrigerated room.
The girl, by the way, has covered her face to protect herself from breathing the dust.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Prime Time

Last Friday, when Heather was visiting, we went down to Coachella Valley on a bus tour designed primarily to raise awareness about Hidden Harvest. It was largely about massive farming practice in Coachell Vally and, while a lot to absorb, very, very interesting.

The host of the event was Mark Nickerson the owner of Prime Time that cultivates approximately 15,000 acres - mostly located here but also in Mexico and northern California in vegetables.

I am going to post more pictures and information about this tour. For now, however, here is an example of hot house peppers that are grown in soil. They are hand tended and have a heated underground watering system that also fertilizes the plants. They are trained up vertical wires, hand attached. At a certain height the wires are placed at a 30 degree ( more or less) angle because they would be too difficult to harvest if they continued growing straight up.

Nickerson has huge "houses" for these peppers but the vegetables can still be wiped out by weather. This past October a toronado came through and knocked down all of these highly sophisticated houses. ( picture of houses to follow later ).

A fact that was more or less casually passed onto us is the one explaining why the rows are so straight as pictured here. GPS. The driver isnt driving the tractor either. That is all computerized movement based on GPS. I asked our host what percent of large farming is using GPS. His answer:80%!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pacific Life Open

Yesterday we went to the Pacific Life Open tennis Tournament in Indian Wells.
It was my first time ever to attend one of these kinds of events. I was a bit in awe at the enormity of it all. In addition to the very large arena that you see here, there are eight other smaller courts all in constant use during the competition.

The big deal was seeing Mr. Big Deal, the 24 yr old top seeded superstar Roger Federer. He won his match against 30th seed Olivier Rochus but he needed three sets to do it. Federer lost the first set but managed to regroup and pull out a 3-6,6-2, 7-5 win.

We also saw an exciting upset match between local ( more or less ) and crowd favorite, 2nd seed Lindsey Davenport, and 19th seed Martina Hingis. Hingis, who has actually won this entire event, has been out with injury but had her comeback in full gear and won.

With Lindsey Davenport's loss, the Americans were entirely out of the competition as of yesterday.

By the way, we took these pictures with Tom's little Nikon 8800 point and shoot from our third floor seats.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


...forgot to mention below that our guide told us that the children of the Coachia indians did not receive their names until they were about 7 years old. The purpose of this was to make sure the name described the child. The village spent a full day discussing and approving or not the name.
Lackng a village she named us herself. Tom is Roaring Thunder, Heather is Walking Mountain Lion and I am Wind on Water.

Cochia Cocina
As I have said this is NOT about good photography. This object on the hill, we were told, is an ancient Cochia indian kitchen. It is up on a hill that overlooks the entire Cochella Valley. The purpose? So the the women could warn the men of anyone coming into the valley as well as alert the village below as to approaching storms.
Our guide, a tough broad with a butt length braid, didn't even have to climb the hill to predict the weather that arrived today.

Friday, March 10, 2006

desert fire

More data from the jeep tour on the San Andreas Fault: The trees in the front are what the native tree looks like without cosmetic surgery. It gets so hot in the summer that the dry fronds can combust and burn the tree.
The trees in the background have been burnt.
The Indians used to burn the trees as well as their own grass huts every few years for the same purpose.
The fire does not kill the tree but, in nature's way, makes the tree healthier by killings the palm beetles.
Behind those trees are sand drifts that have been pushed up by earthquakes. That sand is fine as face powder and is called gouge.
....I suppose for a jolly blog this is pretty dry data. insert smiley face.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Jeep Tourists IN San Andreas Fault

Heather arrived late yesterday for a visit.
Today we took her on a jeep tour on the San Andreas Fault. It was wildly interesting - a gazillion facts. Here are 3 - the fault starts in Cabo, Mexico and is 1000 miles long, palm trees die because they grow too tall ( the root system goes down like straws and dont far enough for the whole tree) flooding and palm beetle, in all California there is only one specie of palm that is indiginous.
Point and shoot didnt seem to focus or maybe we were having a wee quake and were out of focus. These other people were also in our jeep. It seems the one on the far left has something to hide!

Oasis Trailer Park

Hidden Harvest delivers food to a trailer park called Oasis. It is pretty grim but perhaps the nicest of these sort of places. Despite the extreme poverty evident there, they have fenced the whole park and are now in the process of building a gate house. This pride and community effort is moving.
I was there shooting in early December as Hidden Harvest delivered and haven't been back until yesterday. The little girl is looking, yesterday, at her picture - clutching a box of powdered milk - that was taken in December.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hidden Harvest

Yesterday I went down to Coachello to do some shooting for Hidden Harvest.

Hidden Harvest is the agency that picks the crops that are about to be turned under and then gets the produce to the needy in the area. They also pass on canned and boxed goods from the FDA.
In addition to delivering to the sub poverty trailer parks and having stations at various other locations they are available for walk ins. Hidden Harvest has an average of 40 walk ins a day.

Here are two women from a group of 7 that walked in while I was there.
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