Photos. Finally!

Sometimes working in software is more of a disadvantage than an advantage. You see, when you spend your professional life building systems, you know how they’re supposed to work. The best software is easy, intuitive, and user-friendly. This week has been an exercise in finding none of that.

So, I put off posting the rest of my photos from Santa Fe until I got a chance to pick up a copy of Photoshop Elements. Once I bought it, it then took me a couple of days to find time to install it. Today, I decided to take a few minutes during my lunch hour to install it. Except that it didn’t take just a few minutes. It took basically my entire lunch hour. Seriously. How could this happen you ask? You just insert the DVD into the drive, you say. Yes, one would think so but no, sadly it’s much more complicated than that. Not to mention that once I opened the software, I (yes, even I, software tester extraordinaire) found a bewildering assortment of buttons and gewgaws, all of which seem designed to distract me from my purpose, which is flipping through the photos, picking a few and writing this post. Ugh.

It appears that to be successful with Photoshop is going to take more patience than I have today. So, I navigated over to my trusty free Google product (Picasa), found a few pics to share with you, and here we go.

We loved the desert landscape around Santa Fe, and particularly the way the mountains and hills look so different from at home. We also got a bit of a geology lesson while visiting.

The mountains around Santa Fe and Los Alamos look so different than in Colorado, mostly because they weren’t raised up out of granite the way the Rockies were. These hills are actually ash from a volcanic eruption.

Bandelier National Monument is a large national wilderness area run by the U.S. Park Service. It covers over 70,000 acres and adjoins the Valles Caldera National Preserve, which is another 89,000 acres and also the site of the volcano that created these hills by burying the landscape in ash for hundreds of miles around. Surprisingly, the Caldera looked very much like the high Rockies, complete with an elk meadow. The area is surrounded by over a million acres of Santa Fe National Forest so there are certainly plenty of wild areas to be found.

Another beauty shot of the cliffs. I just could not get over how lovely they were, and such a beautiful shade of red. (Unfortunately the colors washed out a bit in the photograph).

I thought this shot was interesting because you can see the layers of volcanic dust and some places where it has started to break away. At first, we thought some of the holes in the cliff were from people or animals digging but they were everywhere. Eventually we figured out that most of them were places where boulders were no longer held in place by the ash and just fell away.

Layer upon layer of volcanic ash. So cool.

Eventually I’ll find the patience to learn PhotoShop and use that to post my photos. I’m going to have to summon up some patience for that (which those who know me will say is in very short supply in my world). In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos and tomorrow, I’ll post the cliff dwelling pictures from inside the park.

Happy Thursday!


The Lazy Blogger

I’ve been a lazy blogger this past week. Usually I try to write every day but with the kids moving back home, things are just a lot busier than they were and it seems I always have something else that needs doing before I can sit down to write. That said, I promised myself that I would keep this up and take the few minutes that it takes to write something – even if it’s not all that interesting – every day.

I know that most of my readers enjoy seeing the photos I’ve been taking – and I will get them posted soon, I promise. It’s taking longer than I had hoped because I decided to buy PhotoShop Elements to edit them with, and I haven’t had time to install and play with it yet. With the holiday weekend we were a busy doing a graduation party for the kids on Saturday and on Monday took a long hike in Pike’s Peak National Forest. (I’ll post those photos soon too, a great reminder of why we love Colorado). And of course, there is the usual stuff like paying bills and washing laundry that also gets in the way.

It’s been an interesting few weeks since the kids moved back home. While I am delighted to have them back in Colorado, it’s odd for them and for us. After being off on their own, living how they wished, for several years, they’re back living with their parents and none of us is quite sure what our role is. Am I responsible for cooking and dishes? Do I need to pick up after them?  I always did when they were little (to be honest, I tried to make them help but never was very successful at it). But they are adults now, so we are navigating through the shoals of being a group of adults living in the same house, all related but not entirely sure what the rules are. We’ll sort it out, I’m sure, but it’s an interesting process to watch.

This is also part of a process of self-discovery that I’ve been on for a while. With the kids grown and being at mid-life, my perspective has changed. I find myself having been a person that lived for my job most of my adult life and always had jobs that literally ruled every minute of my day. I find now that I have work-life balance for the first time and don’t quite know what to do with it. So, I’m trying new things, branching out a little. It’s growth, but at the same time just a little bit stressful because the clear identity of “Mardee the Software Person” or “Mardee the Boss” becomes more complex, perhaps more interesting, but definitely different.

All of this philosophy is a bit heavy for a Wednesday, so I think I’ll leave you with this guy, a remnant of our trip to Santa Fe and a precursor to the photos I’ll post soon of Bandelier National Monument.

Camel rock. He is on one of the pueblos near Santa Fe. He’s such a celebrity he has his own casino.

More to come. Tomorrow. I promise. Or maybe Friday.  🙂

P.S. Mardee the Software Person says to go update your anti-virus programs. There’s a new virus out and this one sounds ugly. And if anyone knows who tp’d my daughter’s car (in our driveway no less), please let me know. She’d like to give remedial lessons on how to do it properly. 😉

On History and Old Santa Fe

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll already know that we spent last weekend in Santa Fe. We had lots of fun with the new camera and took a bunch of pictures. I won’t burden you with all 250 of them but wanted to share a few that you might find interesting.

As an amateur photographer, I’m trying to be more creative and playful with my images and not just take the traditional tourist shots. I’ll admit that this does not come naturally, and sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle, but I’m learning and improving, which is really all I can ask.

If you’ve been to Santa Fe and these photos trigger any memories, please feel free to share them in the comments. Part of the fun of blogging is the discussion that occurs.

We started our visit to Santa Fe on the Plaza, at the Palace of Governors. Having grown up in the Midwest where the oldest buildings are in the late 1800s, this building sort of astounds me. It was built in the 1600s by the original governors of the territory under the rule of the Spanish.

Palace of Governors, the oldest continuously occupied government building in the United States, built in the early 1600s. The people gathered along the front are buying jewelry and other handmade items from local Native Americans.

I love the adobe architecture and thought this was a clever response to the challenge of drainage on a flat roof.

Posts and drainage on the roof of the Palace of Governors. This reminds me of the photos I’ve seen of the Forbidden City (the Chinese Imperial Palace) where the drainage method is similar but the water comes out of the mouths of dragons.

Santa Fe is an art-filled community and some of the art really caught my eye. This lovely lady was part of a pair outside a gallery.

A statue outside an art gallery. She seems to be watching over the tourists as they meander down the street checking out the shops.

The architecture is as much art as the sculptures, though.

A handsome doorway on a side street also caught my eye. I think this was on the New Mexico History Museum.

This little adobe house was an interesting combination of old style construction and modern conveniences.

I had fun playing with the colors on this one and in the end, decided that it was a more compelling image in black and white.

Not all of the interesting parts of Santa Fe were art or sculpture, though. This pair of pots with the contrast of pink, green and sand-colored brick caught my eye too.

A nice contrast in pink and green, along with a little fun playing with photo editing software to give this a bit of a vignette look.

And finally, a mural from downtown Santa Fe to introduce tomorrow’s topic, the cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument.

A bit of Indian cliff art (reproduction, of course) to set the tone for tomorrow’s topic. This is on a side street in Santa Fe.

Have you been to Santa Fe? What was your favorite part? Do tell!

On the Solar Eclipse, or Photos Thereof

Okay, so I promised that I would post pictures of the eclipse once I got the chance to clear away the debris from our weekend and get a little sleep. I’m better rested (although still not what one would call bright and shiny but I’m seldom that way these days) so I figured I’d better get it done. Plus, I have to show my homework at my photography class tonight so I had a deadline which was definitely a motivator.

For the photo buffs out there, one of the things I learned is that photographing an eclipse is a lot harder than it looks. (Yeah, duh. Guess I should have known that. It’s not like you become a professional photographer by just dropping a chunk of change in a camera shop). It’s a good thing I splurged a little on filters at the local camera shop because it turned out that we needed more than one. I was worried about not having enough light, especially during the totality, when really the issue is about suppressing the light of the sun enough that you can see the moon passing over it. Without the filters, all you get is a very bright haze and significant overexposure so the image looks very blown out. We bought a solar filter at the camera shop and also a polarizing filter. The better of our pictures were taken with both, because we finally suppressed the light enough that you could really see the eclipse clearly. In all, we took over 250 shots in about an hour and a half, but I’m only going to share the good ones. 😉

This first shot shows the eclipse beginning, with the moon starting to cover the sun.

Beginning of the eclipse. I think this is before we added the polarizing filter, which explains why it’s a bit blown out. The solar filter by itself wasn’t dark enough.

Gradually the eclipse began to deepen and it started to get darker around us too. Unlike at sunrise or sunset, when the partial light is very yellow, the light around us was sort of an eerie blue.

The eclipse deepens. I liked this shot also because of the puffy clouds below.

Almost there!

The moon has almost covered the sun. Just a few more minutes to wait…

This was our first glimpse of the totality, or ‘ring of fire’ as it’s called. This was a very cool moment, as you could kind of hear a hush through the crowd as people watched it happen, then started to clap and cheer.

The moment we were all waiting for. What a cool sight!

The eclipse was a very neat experience, but half the fun was the crowd that we were with. We were on top of a mountain in Sante Fe National Forest with probably 40-50 other people who had all come just to watch the eclipse. People brought all kinds of interesting devices to view the eclipse with. The best, clearest view was from this one. At one point, it was such a crisp image that we could see sun spots. (There’s a handheld telescope behind that grocery sack, which he’s using to project and magnify the image). Another guy used a pair of binoculars mounted backwards.

A great homemade method for viewing the eclipse. Clever guy and also really nice about sharing.

It was a big crowd and lots of people came from far away to see it. One van-load of college students from Fort Collins CO saw our license plates and introduced themselves. They had driven even further than we did.

All photos (c) 2012 Mardee Brosh. Please don’t just gank my photos. I’m happy to share, just send me an email at to ask first.

Home is Where the Sleep Is

So, we’re home from Santa Fe but I’m beat. I’m not even entirely sure why, since David did all the driving while I slept in the car, but we got home at 2 a.m. Poor dear, he left for the airport at 4 a.m. so it was a very short night but he said it was worth it because it was a great trip.

The eclipse was a great experience; we viewed it from a mountain top in Santa Fe National Forest with about 50 other people. It was really cool to see how clever people were in designing ways to see the eclipse. One guy brought a small telescope and white board, another guy brought binoculars on a tripod which he projected onto a white board. Interesting, the best image was from a monocular mounted on a tripod with a grocery sack to create shade and projected onto a piece of brown cardboard. It was so clear that we could even see sun spots.  Another lady brought a welding mask and some had special glasses. The best part was how everyone was very excited but also very generous about sharing their equipment so others could view. The lady with the welding mask was walking through the crowd asking people if they wanted to look, even at the moment of total eclipse when you could see the ring of fire.  At that moment, the whole crowded started to clap and cheer; it was really fun. All in all a great experience and definitely worth the late night getting home.

Santa Fe was also a very cool place. We actually stayed out in Los Alamos because we were using hotel points, but that was neat because it meant we were near Bandelier National Monument and got to hike out and see the Anasazi cliff dwellings, which are very cool. We also enjoyed walking through the old parts of Santa Fe and splurged a little on Indian art.

I’ll post more once I get a chance to clear up the debris from the trip and look through the probably 400 photos we took this weekend to see what I have.

Hope you all had a great weekend too.

On Journeys and Adventures

I’m super-excited today because hubby and I are off for an adventure this afternoon. We’re going to Santa Fe for the weekend. We’ve been to Taos, which is also in New Mexico, but never been to Santa Fe and people tell me it is awesome.

So, I’ve charged up the camera, washed all the laundry, and when noon hits, we are packing up the car and heading south. I hope to take lots of pictures to share with all of you next week.

One of the reasons we’re going is to see the total eclipse that will happen on Sunday evening just before sunset. The path will cross the southeastern US in a diagonal line from California to Texas and part of the viewing area goes through Santa Fe. Of course, you can’t look directly at the sun so we won’t be viewing it directly, but we are going to play with the new camera and see if we can get some photos of it.

For more info on the eclipse, you can check it out on here:

I’m not sure how much of it will be viewable outside the area, but people in Colorado might be able to see part of it.

So, wish me luck. It will be a long drive home on Sunday night but hopefully we’ll have some great photos as our reward for it. Plus, we’re going to see Santa Fe which in and of itself sounds really cool.

Happy Weekend, everyone! Over and out.


On Grey, or Shades Thereof

Okay, so some of you may be surprised to hear that I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey. (Frankly, so am I). This book has been in the news, so when someone in my book club recommended that we check it out, I was game. After all, I took Danielle Steele novels to the beach years ago, how much worse could it be, right?

It’s worse. Much worse. And I’m not just talking about the content (although that is definitely on the seemy side), this book is JUST.SO.BADLY.WRITTEN. Granted, it was written as fan fiction and therefore was probably never professionally edited, but wow, I just can’t believe people are so in love with this book. The prose is badly worded, she repeats herself too much, and as a friend of mine said, you almost want to celebrate if she uses a word with more than two syllables.

But my dislike of this book runs deeper than just bad writing. One of the main literary techniques the author uses is an inner dialogue within the heroine’s head (if you can call her that, the term victim might come more to mind for me). Her ‘inner goddess’ and her ‘subconscious’ battle it out as she decides whether or not to play in an ugly, dangerous sex game with a very rich and troubled man. All of which has my ‘inner feminist’ pretty pissed off, to be truthful. Our mothers, who marched for equal rights in the 70’s, would have to be fuming if they knew what we were reading. Maybe I’m biased because I come from a long line of very smart, independent women who don’t need men to tell them what to do. I love my husband, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not my boss – because we’re equals in this relationship. Add to that the fact that the heroine in this book is the exact same age as my daughter, and that just makes me cringe.

The other thing that troubled me about this book is the way the author uses the fact that Christian Grey (the male main character) was abused as a child to explain why he likes to inflict pain on others. I’m sure the real BDSM community kind of cringes at that, and I have to believe that adult survivors of abuse do too. I seriously want to call this character up and suggest that he needs counseling.

So, if you liked the book, I hope I haven’t offended you. I try to be pretty open-minded and I’m all for letting adults believe and behave in any way that they choose. That said, given the plot and the amount of  just plain bad writing, this book was a serious slog. I decided last night that I’m giving up, so if anyone wants a free copy, drop me a note because I’d be very happy to be rid of it.

I’m off to read some Jane Austen, I think. I need to clear this junk out of my head and read someone who can put together a whole sentence without using the same word twice.

Happy Thursday, everyone.