09 March 2015

All the Pretty Horses and the Vaqueras Bravas!!

February 4, 2014 

All the Wild Horses and  the Vaqueras Bravas!! 

My Original Essay : working draft 

The important part of the background of the Colonial Spanish Horses is that they are indeed Spanish. These are descendants of the horses that were brought to the New World by the Conquistadors, and include some feral, some rancher, some mission, and some native American strains.....These horses are a direct remnant of the horses of the Golden Age of Spain, which type is now mostly or wholly extinct in Spain. The Colonial Spanish horses are therefore a treasure chest of genetic wealth from a time long gone.  D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD

One needs a lot of faith to survive in the desert. "La Pistolera," Eva Wilbur Cruce, walked out of the darkness of anArizona prison cell into the blinding light of the relentless Arizona sun. She had sacrificed 9 months of her freedom in 1945 fighting for the protection of the horses her “Rock Ponies”as she affectionately called them ever since childhood. The memory of freedom, or the loss of it, must have been palatable as Eva was never without a gun. Stories say she never hesitated to use her gun when it came to protecting her horses or her freedom. In Eva’s memoir, "A Cruel, Beautiful Country," published when she was in her 80s she recounts memories of a childhood growing up on a remote ranch in the borderlands of Mexico and the United States. As a young woman Eva left college and returned to run the ranch to find herself in the middle of one of the worst range wars in the American West as reported by the LA Times. Eva finally lost her many court battles but not the love and her passion to save the horses. Harsher were the ways of man and injustice compared to nature’s indiscriminate balance in the desert.

Eva's horses are the Colonial Spanish Barb horse. They were the noble and courageous war horse of the Berbers of North Africa and later the Spanish Conquistadors. They were favored by royal courts throughout Europe. The Spanish Barb shares a direct linage to the horse traditions of Spain and to Mexico’s Haciendos and Vaquero traditions. The Barbs' compact size, their great lung capacity, and agileness on the rocks made them the perfect companion for long distant explorations into the unknown frontier. Eva's strain of the Spanish Barb came in 1687 with the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino, "The Padre on Horseback." Kino rode over 50,000 miles exploring, mapping and saving souls, establishing a network of twenty four missions and ranches in the northern frontier of New Spain, now the borderlands of Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Security never came later in life for Eva or the horses with the sale of the ranch to the Nature Conservancy. Eva’s rock ponies, were endangered again slated for removal or slaughter. Synchronicity, a chance of fate, it just so happened wildlife biologist Steve Dobrott, had just finished reading Eva’s book. Dobrott wondered if the horses were related to the horses of Padre Kino. Calls and tests were made. Dr. Phillip Sponenberg,
DVM, Ph.D. confirmed the rare genetics of the Wilbur Cruce horse strain as “critically endangered” by the Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The genetics of the Colonial Spanish Barb horses is one of the rare strains scientifically verified to be of the
direct descendants of the very first horses reintroduced to America and of Padre Kino’s breeding stock. Eleven thousand years ago the vast wild horse herds disappeared from the continents of North and South America. Presently a 2014 census registers just more than 150 Spanish Barbs in the world. The Wilbur Cruce horses were saved by the miracle of Eva’s stories.

The Spanish Barb Association was formed and brought together people passionate about conservation and preserving the lineage of the Barb and it’s special place in history. These people inspired and seasoned by the elements and the landscapes they call home and have chosen to live life in a similar cadence with their horses. Each lives in a location remote and spacious where the Apaches of Geronimo and Cochise roamed; where the Spaniards explored and where the ancient Hohokam and Mogollon Native cultures left signs in fragments of obsidian and grinding stones. Breeders and owners agree, the "animas" or the "spirit" of the Spanish Barb horse is inspiring as their personal affection and bonding with it’s rider are endearing. “One of the most important things about saving the Spanish Barbs is their genetic diversity which is more diverse than all modern breeds. The characteristics of the modern Barb is very similar to the Barbs described in the 14th century," says breeder, Marjorie Dixon. She and her husband Jerry raise descendants of the WilburCruz Barbs at their ranch in Arizona's Dragoon mountains near Tombstone. In 2011 Arizona's then Governor Jan Brewer declared the Spanish Barb as the official horse of State of Arizona.

Heidi Collings and her husband Jerry also breed and train their Barbs on their ranch in the oak and piñon country of New Mexico. “When we realized how rare these animals were, we knew it would be a huge loss if their important genetics were not preserved to share in the future. This is what compelled us to become conservation breeders ourselves" as Heidi throws a couple bails of hay into the back of the truck and smiles at the horses as they gather round to feed. “We have never encountered another breed that is so easily trainable, companionable, loyal & sensible.” Dr. Louise Cash of the Red Hat Healing Center offers chiropractic treatments for riders and horses in her office in Silver City and out on her ranch in the Mimbres Valley. “As an equine chiropractor I had adjusted a few of Heidi Collings’ Barbs before I even knew about the breed. I came to appreciate their strong & dense bones, healthy feet, and levelheadedness. These horses "think things through." Her partner, Bob Shelley, a 4th generation rancher, traded in his quarter horse, the common ranch horse of the West, for a Barb because,“they’re good on the rocks and get the job done.”

Silke Schneider is also a woman who appreciates freedom. As a young woman in Germany, Silke ran off to join a circus. Later she found herself horse trekking 1200 miles on old horse trails and then working horses in the Australian outback before calling New Mexico home. She also wrote a book, “Arizona’s Spanish Barbs, the Story of the Wilbur Cruce Horses." As cofounder of the Drylands Institute, she advocates the preservation of heritage livestock breeds in-between her work as a kindergarten teacher and time riding her Spanish Barbs.

Back in Sonora, Mexico, dusk has fallen on the Santa Cruz River at the Rancho Santa Barbara, one of Padre Kino's cattle ranches. The ranch is being restored by international lawyer Luis Parra and his family. Luis notes the connections of the past to the present. “The Spanish Barbs are an intricate part of our heritage in the Arizona Sonora Borderlands considering their contribution throughout history. Spanish Barbs blazed trails for the early Spanish explorers in North America and now through equine therapy they endeavor to provide joy and comfort to our handicapped youth.” The mountains are a pink gold in the distance in the last light of the day. Up above the river, grave sites of previous generations are worn beyond description and time as the young vaquero Ricardo heads home riding into the setting sun his horse a descendant of the Spanish Barb.

What is rare and perfect in this world is the legacy of the Spanish Barb. The advocacy for freedom and diversity are treasures worth protecting. Eva passed her final days of winter stoking a humble wood fire in her small adobe house in urban Tucson. It was impossible to take the ranch out of the girl whose first love was the land and the horses.

“Throughout history, agriculturalist have been stewards of the genetic legacy passed to succeeding generations.  What took centuries to develop can be lost in our lifetime. If lost, it cannot be recreated. Only a commitment to stewardship will protect this genetic legacy for future generations. “     American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Mil Gracias to my editor Jesus Huarte for championing my stories of the US/Mexico Borderlands and Conservation.  



Tumacacori Mission AZ

Desert Caballero Museum, Wickenberg, AZ  spring 2015
Cowgirls with A Camera Exhibit:
March 10, 2015 noon
Talk with Maureen Kirk-Debetner on the Spanish Barbs

Spanish published essay:
IBERIA Airlines:  Excelente Magazine March 2015: 

BOOKS of Interest:




The ecstasy sandwich of seeing your hard work and passion in print for the first time. From the lens and life of Eugene Smith.  It is not unfamiliar to the great writers and photographers. Things get misconstrued. . The life we learn out in the field is often presented differently in editorial form.You give it your best and still have to do the work believing maybe a few photographs can help change the way people see the world and value life. Much gets lost in translation and you just got to keep to the doing of the thing; your work, your expression and follow the story lines.

In the spirit of the documentary tradition and the struggle we all face when seeing our work in print for the first time.  Insight into the life of photographer Eugene Smith whose work has been a a great influence.

16 June 2014

Overlander from Down Under in Barrio Viejo with Mark Shea

Overlander from Down Under in Tucson with Mark Shea 

Notes from the barrio.

Mark Shea  editing before the next leg of his journey across the USA.
Mark interviews Vanda J Pollard in Barrio Viejo, Tucson,AZ
Sometimes it takes a visitor to help you see your world anew and learn more about the place called home. The history of Barrio Viejo unfolds and takes ahold. I am learning even more about this compelling shrine just a few blocks away from where I live. It still captivates me just as it did the very first time friends Keith and Carli walked me through their world.

Yes it is hot in the desert this time of year. I've heard if you're a local you're not suppose to talk about the heat. I am still settling into new ground.  In our little pocket of our barrio Viejo my vecina(neighbor) Vanda Gerhart  hosted fellow digital story teller Mark Shea, an Aussie global explorer in his post Vegas recovery. As they say, what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas or you can check out the videos. They joined me for my 49th birthday Mexican dinner sharing the finer detailers of Greyhound travel and stories of far away lands; food;biology;history; Irish immigration;mesquite harvesting. The local history of the  El Tiraditio, the Shrine of the Unforgiven caught fire his imagination.Next thing I knew we were standing in a 100+ degrees  on revered ground making a video.


Mark  has since discovered in less than 24 hours more details about the event of the shrine and fleshes out the story far more than the plaque could ever explain. After our interview I thought of more things I would have like to say in less than two minutes.

The Tiradito still brings me great hope and comfort to many people who come to visit.He is perhaps like an old friend to share your troubles and stories to. For such a tragic event the shrine of the Unforgiven offers an eternal refuge of compassion for  people of all walks of life and beliefs.  People in Tucson gathered at the shrine after  the tragic shooting and miraculous recovery of Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords  made international headlines and contributed to the dialogue of the ongoing debate about gun control in America. 

Barrio Viejo poet Issak Kirkman at El Tiradito, The Shrine to the Unforgiven in Tucson, AZ.
The love and empathy felt here in this ancient altar of adobe comprises years of devotion. His Spirit and a cast of other Divine intermediaries, saints and personal totems create an ambiance of reflection that the veils between worlds isn't too far especially where love is concerned. Even in middle of the day I am blinded by such tender expressions of love and a much larger faith standing under the hot desert sun. The old adobe wall looks like it is weeping. St. Jude, St. Francis, Our Lady, the photos of family members, beloved strangers all are gathered in the notes, flowers and dust of the seasons. The salt of tears and the wax of so many candles over the years seep through the wall and seal the ground. How nice it was to meet a fellow traveler and share a part of Tucson that still captivates us with mystery.

In less than 48 hours we shared my 49th birthday dinner. We were both inspired to see Mark's social media process and each had our ah ha moments. He blew us away with his media savvy. In less than two hours a story idea was locked and loaded at Vanda's work table. He Shot it. Edited it. Compress it. Upload it and share it with his followers - bing bang boom!  Next thing I knew,  they were off  in the opposite direction of the setting sun heading east with Vanda at the helm to get him closer to his next destination. From the roadtrip notes looks like he's somewhere  in the middle of nowhere  in the wild west of New Mexico. Closer but still has further to go. Gracias Mark for sharing some of our local southwest history with your readers. Have a great odyssey gathering stories from across the USA! A Dios Bendiga!

Here's a song about our Barrio Viejo sung by Lalo Guerrero born and raised here.

Follow the journey : 

The Aussie Overlander Mark Shea Travel Blog: 

Stay tune for the interview with my vecina Vanda Gerhart and her work documenting international food traditions and cultures. 

Vanda J Pollard

For more information on Tucson's Barrio Viejo visit the Pilita Museum next door or have a meal at El Minuto Cafe.

03 April 2014


I often reflect on this essay Nothing Personal when I need a shot of faith to renew my conviction to see the world through a camera and aspire for mastery of words like Baldwin. I wonder what they were like in high school, what they discussed and they found each  other.

I wish everyone could read this essay to grasp the history of America as we repeat ourselves again. I am  inspired by their dedication to tell the truth in their own language. Each is strong unto itself but together the images and the words synthesis a stronger meaning.

I would love to hear the words  read over the photographs ; some one like Morgan Freeman.
It was great to discover these little videos looking at books and also find the original essay.
The book is a rare find these days.

James Baldwin with Richard Avedon's portraits: Nothing Personal 1964

"The light that's in your eyes reminds me of the skies that shine above us every day-so wrote a contemporary lover, out of God knows what agony, what hope, and what despair. But he saw the light in the eyes, which is the only light there is in the world, and honored it and trusted it; and will always be able to find it; since it is always there, waiting to be found. One discovers the light in darkness, that is what darkness is for; but everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found, there is a light. What the light reveals is danger, and what it demands is faith. " James Baldwin

A book designed to be seen like  a symphony is meant to be heard.  

30 March 2014

RAEchel Running Up Against the Wall portrait by Stefan Falke

 Border Artists Project  portraits by Stefan Falkes 
RAEchel Running Up Against the Wall

All photographs Stefan Falke. The work can be seen at The IMAS museum in McAllen, Texas and will go on show in Frankfurt, Germany on 7 May, accompanied by a book of the project published by Edition Faust.

I first became aware of Stefan Falke's project when I still lived in Mexico. We began our correspondence and eventually met last year when I first moved to Tucson. We traveled to Agua Prieta, Sonora where I have worked documenting projects for the Rancho Feliz Foundation over the past four years. The Wall has served as my background for my portraits.
The original wall has since been replaced with the costs varying from one million to twelve million dollars per mile. What IF this investment were put to education, healthcare for families and vets, and creating a humane solution to our immigration problem ? I stare up and down and look both ways and see not security but tragedy for miles. And really are we any more 'secure ' ? It doesn't make sense. 

Artist's and poets are the senses of our culture. They invoke our eyes and hearts to feel and become aware. Art inspires  us to share our stories and experiences..  It is with dedication Stefan has looked for the light in the dark politics and reality of the our current border wars. Families are divided as people seek economic stability. People continue to risk their lives by the thousands as the worlds they knew have been effected by the Central American wars of the 80s, NAFTA; Sadly human trafficking of women and girls continues and the  the current war on drugs  proves futile. Yet the colors and the strong messages written on the walls and voiced in strokes of light reflect the resilient Spirit and the hope of the dreamers  in spite the madness of war and walls. 

Stefan's work is a collaboration;  It is a  pictorial tapestry of portraits reflecting a collective vision. Moments captured at each mile along the way to tell us of why walls don't work. He honors  the voices of the artists as a conductor leads an orchestra.  There are traces of memory to be heard and lessons to be learned. Listen to the notes captured within the frame of his eye; Listen to what the walls, the earth, and what people are saying.

It has been really exciting to be apart of his Border Artists project. I am inspired by the work of the other artists involved. What we all have in common is sharing our response to our time in history. I look forward to seeing the exhibit and hope his work can be shown locally. 
I look forward to meeting some of the other artists and learn more myself about this
 in -between world we share. 

Please follow for updates on the upcoming book and exhibitions.
For more info please visit Stefan's website and follow him on FB. 

BBC -Stefan Falke-Border Artists

Raechel Running - Border Artist by Stefan Falke

A portrait in the series of Raechel in Agua Prieta, Sonora      by Stefan Falke

01 February 2014

Hijo Del Canon Del Cobre, In memory of Santiago James Barnaby, guide and friend

Hijo Del Canon Del Cobre, Son of the Copper Canyon

in memory of Santiago  James Barnaby July 22,1946-January 25,2014

They don't make many men like Santiago Barnaby anymore. He was a rare one. Rouge scholar, scientist, anthropologist, artist, philanthropic in his efforts  to help contribute and sustain the Raramuri culture of Chihuahua's Copper Canyon. Santiago was a great story teller, cultural ambassador and my guide on my collection trip for the Musical Instrument Museum in 2011.  We spent 10 days documenting the traditional musicians of the canyon.  Guide, great friend and God Father to many Tarahumara children. He helped build schools and sponsored ceremonies for the community. He was  kind, generous and a genuine culture keeper. In ancient times there were the Sacred Traders ; the Puchtecas, who travelled the sacred trade routes of the Americas and these same mountains and canons bringing their seeds of change, the gift of song and ceremonies for rain along the way.  People danced and shared their stories from other lands. Sharing the protocals of friendship spanning thousands of years.

A guide is a photographer’s best friend in the field. They help you see what is essential and important.   Their reputation, trust with the people offers invaluable insight to help us record our work. Santiago  helped me see and love the people of the canon. So much changes with each year; the media wars continue; people stopped visiting like they used too because of the fear. Still the ceremonies are offered; The sweet long note of a hand made violin lingers; the driving tuba and accordion and deep carino, the canto of the Soul of El Hijo Del Pueblo pumps  life through beating hearts. Yes my heart skipped a beat knowing a rare kind of man as Santiago, a modern Puchteca has left this world. We are all enriched all the more for the love he shared for a people, a time and a place.  He taught us  much.

Spencer and Emi Mac Callum brought him as one of my first visitors to Casa Azul in Pueblo Viejo my first spring living in Casas Grandes.  I fed him green chile and we sat around the table sharing stories.  He knew the people in my father and Bennett's Tarahumara photographs. He named the people of the portraits that hung on my  living room walls made in the early 80s. Faces I have known from archives of photographs.  In slides, in Black and white fiber prints in the darkroom, in color prints made  at Richard Jacksons's photo lab; RED, and dark strong faces. Fat baby cheeks. Colors and prayers.  

Santiago joined  the Spirit world on Sunday January 25, 2014 rising  like a phoenix to help light our way to understand better  and hold dear these people and way of life  and cherish what is rare ,beautiful and good. He passed away in Montana staying warm in the cold. I hope he is now free in the warm cosmic glow like the long ray of sun down the canyon. 

Thank you SEB my FB friend who shared these beautiful words; 
"I always have to remind myself that they haven't vanished, they just went Home earlier than I to a place where postcards come in the form of dreams. As Bobby says to Christina as he dies in the storm in the film The Perfect Storm: "There are no goodbyes, only Love."

Thank you Kathyrn for holding space to share our lost of our great compadre and for sharing the joy of meeting you all these years since Santiago introduced me to your writing  that cold winter day in Pueblo Viejo on his way to Tucson. 

it's all for you to see at the MIMs Here's a flickr set of our journey; 

The beautiful work of fellow photographer Richard Speedy and tribute to our compadre.

Santiago on our first leg of our Copper Canyon journey.

10 October 2013

SOS Messages to the World

The Power of  WORDS. The Power of MUSIC. 
The Power of Beauty to Change the World. 

As of October 10st, we've raised over $1700!!! Well I am completely awed, amazed for all the support for my sponsorship for the Rancho Feliz BIGGER THAN BORDERS RIDE. 

Styled by The Thrill Billy Magnet Queen 

I am inspired by the Spirit of the Guardian Warrior example of Rancho Feliz.     I admire the we can do this attitude with gratitude. I hope some of this will resonate for you and perhaps inspire you to ride a bike and find yourself a way to give back to community and discover a treasure within yourself. 

Words of Wisdom From the Buddha thanks to my vecino Alex Streeter 

FREAKIN A!!! We Made IT!!!! now only 50 miles to go!!!

I began writing this post a few days ago and wanted to share some of what has been on my mind as I ride. Thank you for sharing the space.  

Words are powerful.We are often left speechless. When they are held captive they demand to be heard. They inspire and break our hearts. Words can be silenced. They flow like a river. Sometimes they run dry and then come pouring out in an unexpected torrential flood. They wage for space inside our heads. Less is sometimes more. Poets wield them like swords. We often don't know the words inside of  another person and even our own selves. Sometimes we communicate without them. We feel and experience life and at times we can't find the right ones.  

Editing takes up my time and keeping a pulse on social networking and the world I glean my FB posts and Yahoo news to weed out the mundane and check out the pulse of  world. It's stunning how much I get to know about things I don't really am not interested in. Like the media's obsession with people who are 'celebraties' so I've heard but have no idea why they're  famous or what they do; why do I have to dig through pages of it; in the junk mail; in the grocery aisle; on the web; at the gas station; I am almost compelled to visualize without conscious their image;  a dancing menagerie of " beautiful' tortured people who look freaking great! they also seem to get in trouble with the law a LOT; they know how to Twerk and have documented baby bumps. I am also amazed at all the football players getting paid way more than our teachers and sadly they still end up beating up their beautiful  girlfriends, or killing someone. Daily news. The noise builds and then  there's the Fence. The pinche Fence. The fronteria. A multimillion dollar exercise in futility - laying to waste people's resources, the land and dividing the history and fate of countries. Most of all wasting the energy of so many dreams for a better life. 
Lost Dreams but not forgotten.  Sign of the Times - A morning shrine Trayvon Martin along my bike route to A Mountain.

I see these sad reports EVERYDAY  about weird shit that happens to women and girls and boys. "What IS Going on ?? " as Marvin Gaye laments.   Are you noise / WAR Weary ?? Some days I feel I could  curse and scream out loud and I do my best to compose my intention to go light a candle and ask for some divine guidance. Then in the midst of the sshiittt  there's these little gleaming lights. collectively the glimmer of hope stands out really shining bright. I have gleaned such wisdom from my friends FB posts these past couple years following their lines of interest, I have been inspired, enlightened, amazed, appalled and truly amazed. They've made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes. So it is;  there are somedays when a message reveals itself to you and makes you smile. A piece of trash on the street has a message. A bag in a tree takes on a new metaphor.  You swear that image of the St Jude just winked at you.  The quality of the light causes pause. A gesture of a man in repose with his shirt looks up at the mountain like an Adonis along the river's shore.  It's such a picture perfect moment but I don't want to disturb his peace.  Do you ever find it strange how certain random stories seem to fit into the  message of the day?  Like a sign from above.  Just like when I see a roadrunner cross my path I think of Juan Quezada telling me it means good luck!  You just know the Spirit of life is speaking to you like those random songs in foreign languages even if you don't understand the words. 

This is stuff I'm airing out in my head as I train for my riding the 50 miles in the Cochise County Cycling Classic. and the Rancho Feliz Bigger Than Borders post ride Fandango.   There are so many endings and new beginnings I can barely keep up the sequence of the rapid fire changes in my life.  I am not alone and the words crowd my head.  So many people are in the current and Lordisma knows where we're heading. A flood of images flows in a stream of memories.  From what I've seen of the world there are more people who want to make the world a better place. Even if they're one in a million. 

Along the Santa Cruz River Trail below A Mountain. Tucson, AZ 

Another good reason I  ride is  I am also thinking about the resiliency of the  human spirit.  Even when it's  hard I feel I could cry as I climb the mountain that is the metaphor of life; alone we must travel each one of us. We are compelled to meet the challenge for our own reasons. I have also been working on being conscious of gratitude and to say GRACIAS and BUENAS DIAS. The air is sweet after the rain and the dark of the morning cool in the desert. The only reprieve. The breeze. The creosote. Looking for the river's path after the rains. It is good to see the river's path and look out so far across the valley. It looks mystical and surely I am learning it is. Ancient people's lookout from this place 1000's of years ago. Today a viejito, an older grandpa, is wearing a AZ Wildcats baseball cap. He picks up last nights party trash and puts it into one of many trash cans not because it's his job but because he loves this mountain.  His family is from Sonora - ranchers and farmers del Oeste he gestures  with his chin and looks south and west with crystal blue eyes.  Todo cambio... asi es. Asi es. The sun is behind a bank of clouds making a majestic display. I share my dried mangos with him; looking out we admire the valley each imagining farmlands and times when the Santa Cruz river ran. 
Bike Haven : BICAS.org  Someday I hope something like this will exist in Agua Preita ; ) 

The words of the poets and writers stories come to mind when I ride. Randomly I listen to my ancient ipod from 2007. I have Jack Keroac's  On the Road read by Will Patton; Old Mexican love songs and Flagtown Punk Rock gets my amp on  between a honky tonk and Chopin and Cher song ;  I think of all the stories I now carry in me thanks to  the words that were poured into me  telling me of peoples ordeals in the desert climbing and climbing and walking through the brutal heat. I am just going for a ride on  this  cool and beautiful morning through a sleeping neighborhood; from the barrio to the mansions on the hill.  Jesus! How AM I going to do this?? I laugh at myself. I comfort and cojole. Next rock. Next tree. Yes you can! Flashback 5 years old and the Little Train that Could. Flash back that beautiful girl in the barrio living in a shack. Some one loving on her. Reading to her. Pull my knees in. Breath. Breath of fire. Get that negative crap out. Now breath in this beautiful morning!  flashback  Meeting yourself on the matt.Yoga class. Be like a strawberry and wear your heart on the outside. Tap into the BIGGER energy. I give this practice to honor those who are helping others. Children's faces flash before me bright eyes; dreams gleaming!  Go further. Ride it like you run the river. Hold that line -Set a point and go for it. Jesus!!! It's Beautiful in the morning dark and this is kicking my ass! 

Here was a  bit of news that has enlivened my own sense of purpose in the 'doing of the thing' I've never done before. I gleaned this very tender story of 5 year old Toby Little whose dream is to write a letter to every country. So far he has written over 234 letters.  I LOVE his letters ! His curiosity and interest in the world. and has a list of who else he'd like to contact which I found endearing.  

As it goes, one link leads to another. Two young people , one 5 years of age in England, another 11 and blind in a refugee camp , are inspired to reach beyond what they know even at their young age through expressing themselves. What wisdom in their true response to the world.  

Boy, 5, Writes Handwritten Letters to Every Country in the WorldBoy, 5, Writes Handwritten Letters to Every Country in the WorldPicture
Toby's website: http://www.writingtotheworld.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/writingtotheworld

Boy, 5, Writes Handwritten Letters to Every Country in the World

Toby at 5 years of age is contributing to SHELTERBOX.ORG by writing letters to strangers who become pen pals from  the world. How amazing is that??? 

A boy and his Tambur in Iraqi Kurdistan

A boy and his Tambur in Iraqi Kurdistan

Syrian refugee Delan playing his tambur with his father holding his microphone as he 
plays at Qushtapa refugee camp, Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, September 2013.

A child on the edge of chaos sings his heart out into the world with a gift that inspires those who are suffering around him. Music is what keeps him calm.  I discovered this little clip on Shelterbox.org and heard the powerful voice of 11 year old Delan, which means 'Heart'.  As a Syrian refugee his beloved instrument was damaged at the border crossing. I realize again I do not know anything about Syria; I know of the ancient history and that we are balancing between war and some alternative. This interview imparts  a window into a world that is covered in headlines and visions of war.  The photo is compelling and I can feel I am there in the refugee camp. I can feel  the Soul of the people.  The music reached down deep and resonated deep within me when I heard his song. I wish I could hear the whole recording.  His songs are so powerful the government has prevented him from attending his music school.Yet he plays into the night for the people his own compositions.  

" Hug me and I forget my pains
I want compassion
I need you my mother
 I am going to sing for 
the childhood. 
With my songs and my words 
they make me 
forget the gift of seeing 
Thanks to my God. "  


" If you put your mind to do something 

nothing can stop you. "

The other reason giving purpose to my ride is to ride for those who can not.  I did not know it was against the law for a woman to ride a bicycle. All the more reason to ride!  

WADJDA  The first  Saudi  Arbian movie and the first woman director  Haifaa Al Mansour, an International film award winner about a teenage Saudi girl  and her quest for a bike.  

Haifaa Al Mansour

Haifaa Al Mansour, the director of Wadjda, the first feature film shot in
 Saudi Arabia opens September 20 across the U.S.


He Said: 

I wrote earlier about how we are inundated, saturated with the tragedy of sexual abuse/ violence in our world. It's a case of "they're" much worse over "there" as if what's happening right here in not just as disturbing. Sadly abuse is Everywhere. It knows no borders. Yet these brave women are taking their place back in the world as beautiful survivors and warriors reclaiming their light from a dark place. I was overwhelmed with emotions as I read and looked into their tender faces and let the honest truth sink in. I too share space with the survivors and for this reason too I ride. We are free to recreate ourselves in our own time.  

Since its founding, the project has showcased over 2,000 survivors' stories.

Since its founding, the project has showcased over 2,000 survivors’ stories.


Creating Beauty in a Crazy World. 

I have loved writing letters all my life. I used to circled words in books before I knew how to write. I was anxious to write or color. A deep desire to communicate. I can still remember my 1st grade teacher Mrs. Mackler taking extra time to help me write left handed. I have had pen pals through out my life and participated with great zeal in the art of passing notes on tiny pieces of paper folded into intricate origami. These images were created in my friend, art educator Meg Bitner's ESL Class at the same high school we attended while growing up. She had her students do their profiles and creative writing and I combined them with their portraits in photoshop. I really think it was a beautiful collaboration. I have been inspired by the work of Jose' Antonio Abreu and his Global Youth Orchestra movement. If we nurture our young people and light a fire within them they will shine. The importance of art, music, inclusiveness and the tools to be able to express oneself.  Beauty is also a human right. 

Words Inside of Me. 

These 'sketches' form a series  from a small body of work made a few years ago with my long time friend, fellow artist and educator, Meg Bitnner's English Class. She invited me to photograph her students and teach a book making class. I  created  Photoshop composites with the student portraits , their actual writing and the portrait tracings they made into hand made books. 


Reaching for the Stars:                                                           Music Education Gustavo Dudamel and José Antonio Abreu

Sometimes I will feel slightly shy or embarrassed to say one of my goals in my work is to show the beauty of the world. After I listen to Maestro Jose' Abreu I feel assured I am not LOCA - WE need beauty to keep us connected to the magic of the the miracle of life and all what we can experience and share with one another on our brief time around the sun. We are each a star. Here's to the LIGHT and inspiration of dreams.

Here's to the Magic ; )