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(new here? read this first.)

Daniel here. Welcome back.

I attended an art parade a few years ago, taking lots of photos and videos. As I was packing up and heading out, I turned the corner and witnessed this scene. It was hard to resist taking this photograph. It appeals to me in so many ways, most significantly, it’s surrealism.

I’m never without a camera. In the past, it was a conscious decision to carry one. Heading on a big road trip. Flying somewhere new. Heading into the city. Or on a perfect cloud day.

Now I don’t always have to think or plan. I’ve taken some pretty cool shots with my iPhone. I take photos when I go running. On my way to meetings. Out with friends. I’m always prepared.

I’m always fascinated and amazed by witness or amateur photography and video during major events – sports, natural disasters, bloopers, Tosh.O, etc. You never, ever know what’s going to happen in life. I think that’s why I always like carrying a camera.

When I was younger (and even now, sometimes) I used to want to be a photo journalist. Someone that traveled to really diverse locations around the world – wars, natural disasters, extreme climates, you name it. I wanted to explore, experience and engage with local cultures. My camera would bring that world alive.

I don’t exactly live that life, but my camera does bring my world to you. I love photographing in new environments. Clouds. Airports. Cities. Food. Rarely people. Lego. Racing. And the natural landscape. And I love the unexpected. Like this shot.

I still remember this moment like it was yesterday. It was a moment I had to capture. And now I’m bringing it to you.

blow up dolls galore

blow up dolls galore

Long time no see! So, how are you? Me? I had a baby. She’s really cute. And it’s not just me that thinks so. Pretty much everyone is enamored with her to the point that going out in public is a big spectacle.

You know what else is a big spectacle? My six year old coming home from Kindergarten, throwing down her backpack, holding up her middle finger and proclaiming “HUNTER DID THIS TO ME ON THE BUS.

*deep breath*

So I remember flipping my dad off once, okay, so I don’t actually remember the flipping, I just remember staring down at my tiny feet attempting to dodge my dad’s enormous ones as he tried to pummel some sense into me. (To be clear, my dad didn’t smack me around or anything, let’s just say they didn’t have parenting books back then that told you not to freak the freak out when your kid does something super naughty in complete innocence.)

Then there was the time she came home and asked me if girls really had to take off all their clothes to kiss boys. (Thanks again neighbor boy!) Or the time she asked me what ‘sexy’ meant. Or there was last Tuesday where she asked what the “I’M NOT GOING TO SAY IT BUT THE FUH WORD” meant.

Thanks to all those books I have that my dad didn’t, I calmly replied “That is a word that is a thousand times worse than the ‘S’ word (the ‘S’ word being “stupid” score one for innocence!) and if you ever say it to anyone your face will melt off.”

If her eyes weren’t huge when I told her it was a thousand times worse than stupid they were practically water towers by the time I finished telling her the fate of her face if she were to ever utter such a word.

What? The books just said to stay calm and not make a big deal out of it, how am I supposed to remember what comes next?

Today I had to explain cremation, last month I had to explain birth, breastfeeding and umbilical cords in a span of three days. In February I had to explain drag queens and someday I’m going to have to explain a lot more…and until I’m feeling the pressure of her little inquisitive eyes? I at least know to stay calm.

(new here? read this first.)

Happy 2011. I’m Daniel.

I’ve become obsessed with desserts. In fact, I’ve become quite the expert. It happened shortly after I stopped drinking booze. Apparently I still needed that sugar. So I started looking at sweets in a new way. Cheesecake seemed appealing. Crème Brulee beckoned. Carrot cake called.

I’ve always enjoyed dessert after dinner. But, in the past, I typically opted for an after dinner drink instead. Limoncello would look longingly at me. Grappa gaped. Scotch stared. And as a result, I always went for a liquid option as my reward. A piece of pie would only get in the way of some ouzo. Gulp.

I gulped some good stuff too. I became a huge fan of scotch – Scapa 16 yr single malt being one of my favorites. I embraced rum with enthusiasm, often bringing back Cuban Havana Club when traveling overseas; It’s sweetness and smoothness – definitely a dessert. And I went euro bling from time to time, with a Louis XIII de Rémy Martin. I made the most of each sip. I knew how to order a drink. And I often felt the cruel effects of a hangover.

I’ve not had a hangover since switching over to cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream or chocolate. In fact, I’ve never felt better. Now, instead of sipping on a scotch on the rocks on my couch, you’ll find me on that same couch stuffing my face with a chocolate croissant, filled with strawberries and whipped cream.

Now that’s what I call progress.

Homemade carrot cake

Homemade carrot cake

(Casey here…hi!)

Walnuts tear up my mouth.

I know because there is a pie at a restaurant in Salt Lake that has a filling similar to cookie dough that is simply filled with walnuts.

It is a delicious pie, but the next day my mouth is very sad. I’ll spare you the details, because they’re gross. But I’ll still eat walnuts on occasion, until I remember why it is that I don’t eat them.

Band-aids make me break out in a perfectly shaped band-aid rash. Especially when I’m pregnant. In fact, anything medically stuck to me while I’m pregnant leaves behind these horrible itchy rashes. I once spent a whole day in a hospital while seven months pregnant and it was quite a shock to see the dozens of red welts from where various medical devices had been stuck to me.

Kiwis make my mouth tingle. Avocados make my throat itch. But I don’t really care about those, because kiwis are delicious and avocados are akin to perfection.

My little kid is allergic to carrots. Nothing else, just carrots. If she eats them she barfs. And carrot barf is gross.

I wonder how many people throughout her childhood are going to attempt to feed her carrots only to have her look up with her big blue eyes and say “but I’m allergic to carrots.

“Sure you are kid, sure you are.”

But she really is, so if you try to feed her carrots? You’re keeping her for 24 hours. Because as I mentioned, carrot barf, gross.

I used to tell people I was allergic to cigarettes and that’s why I didn’t want to smoke or be around smoke. Saying I was allergic always went over better than “I think it’s a gross disgusting habit and I hate smelling like an ashtray.” I once saw a girl at an Italian restaurant send back her fettuccine because it had pepper on it and she was apparently allergic to pepper.

Allergic to pepper?

Not going to lie here, I’ve used the allergic to pepper excuse, even though I’m not. I just hate pepper and don’t understand when chefs surprise you with a giant splotch of it on top of your food. Tell me it’s there in the menu and I’ll ask you to leave it off, surprise me with it?

I’m allergic.

(new here? read this first.)

Hi readers. I’m Daniel.

You may not recognize this through the fog, but this picture was taken on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I worked at the IMA until February for just over 5 years. It was a wonderful journey filled with unforgettable projects. That’s easy to say now. At the beginning, I certainly couldn’t see the path. It was kind of hazy.

Most things in life are like that. You start on a journey, not exactly sure of the final outcome. Along the way you make the right choice. You make the wrong choice. You adjust. You keep going. That’s the way it is. I’ve been surprised in life by a wrong or right decision drastically determining a destination. There are decisions I wish I could take back. And there are decisions I could have not made better.

I’m incredibly thankful for my opportunities at the museum. When I joined in 2004, I know that Linda Duke (Director of Education) had taken a risk in hiring me. There were times where I felt I was in over my head, days where I went home never wanting to return and countless moments of self-doubt. Often, I simply went through the motions, trying to do what I thought was right. I’m glad no one ever gave up on me. Then one day, things just kind of clicked and there’s was no going back.

I’m proud of the projects I participated in at the IMA – a trip to Cuba, a video series with the Louvre, an exhibition featuring an eastern mole, a pretty cool blog, The Nugget Factory, lots of websites,  ArtBabble, and hundreds of videos. It was an incredible five years and an experience I could never had predicted. Especially when I first started.

I’m in a newish job now, I’ve got a new baby, I’m trying lots of new projects and I’m trying to make the right decisions in crafting my next journey. Along the way, I’ve learned that the haze disappears. I’ve learned that persistence is key. I’ve learned that you don’t arrive in a short time. I’ve learned to be patient (maybe not). And importantly, I’ve learned to surround myself with brilliant people. I would never get through the haze without them.

Thoughtful morning

Thoughtful morning

Casey’s turn.

I haven’t left my house enough over the last 11 weeks to enjoy much of anything. I have been so consumed with keeping myself and the baby in my belly safe that going outside seems to be too much work. There are too many noises and not enough soft places for me to land outside. It seems as though the last 11 weeks have revolved around soft things. Soft places to sit, soft places to sleep, soft things to wear and soft places to recover from the overwhelming emotions that have nipped away at my spirit like birds pecking away at a peanut butter and seed covered pinecone.

It’s surprising to me how bright the world has become, some of it is a side effect of hormones surging through my body and a lot of it is the amount of time I spend locked away in cool, quiet darkness where the sickness isn’t able to get to me as easily. There are times when I look out my window and wonder if God has turned up the world’s exposure two stops, there are other times I wonder if it’s simply the sun burning away at the ozone and POW KAPOW! the world ends and who thought it was a good idea to bring more children into this world anyway?

I spent the last week in Toronto. The truth is I cried at least a dozen times because I was so scared of being away from everything and everyone I knew. I choked on the tears and forced them down because who cries when they are handed amazing opportunities? Me, apparently. More specifically a pregnant me. I have become so protective of myself when it comes to where and who I choose to spend time with, it’s instinctual. And somewhat crippling.

Every winter since I have lived in the midwest there comes a point where I mourn the loss of sunshine, however this winter the same fear isn’t staring me down with the same anticipated terror. I know darkness. I have been enjoying darkness. And not in a deep twisted way, but in a self preservation way…I am ready to spend the winter curled away growing a tiny human inside of me. This has become my biggest focus. Grow this baby. Love my family.

When the flowers and the leaves come back, so will I. Very symbolic.

(new here? read this first.)

Aye, I’m Daniel.

These are Scottish steps. Dumbarton one’s. Treacherous. Slippery. Uneven. Beautiful. Harry Potter-esque. I made it up and down without falling.

I love steps. I have apathy for elevators. Escalators kind of scare me. Especially if I’m wearing flip flops. I try to avoid ladders (corporate one’s are different). But I’m all for going up.

I’ve climbed lots of steps, just like you. And I’m talking physically, spiritually, metaphorically and other big words. What is next?

I’ve climbed steps to on my way to big meetings. Onto to a stage to give presentations. Boarding a plane (which I did at 5:40 this morning). Sight seeing in new places. At soccer games. Funerals. I’ve helped friends move. Double decker busses. I always go up and down stairs if I’m running. I watched in awe as my son mastered climbing the stairs. It’s hard to avoid them.

Steps take us to the next thing. They improve. They indicate ascension in more ways than one. It’s growth in some form.

When i reflect on the steps I’ve encountered, I experience a variety of feelings. There have been steady one’s. Joyful. Sad. Funny. Regrettable. Ground breaking. Humiliating. Beautiful. Stupid. Unforgettable. Frightening. Life changing. They’re taking me somewhere unknown.

It’s odd. I’ve never really known what i wanted to be when i grow up (in most ways).  I’m almost 38. I may never know fully. I’m aware I have a long way to go. There’s room for lots of improvement. It’s hitting me now more than before.

But, I’m ready for what’s next. I’m ready for steep steps. Dumbarton one’s or not.

dumbarton slippery steps

I’m Casey and I have a confession that nearly ended my relationship with my sister.

I didn’t like the “Lord of the Rings” movies. I don’t even think I forced myself to sit through the sequels after wasting seven hours of my life in the first one. (Three, seven, it’s all the same when it comes to cinematic torture for me.)

I remember reading “The Hobbit” when I was in fifth or sixth grade. (Hey, I liked to read.) It was easily one of the most magical and quotable books I remember reading. Closely followed by A Tale of Two Cities, Rebecca and Jurassic Park. I had the Shire imagined in my head down to the very last detail along with Frodo, Sam and Gollum (Sméagol if you’re nasty.) Everyone. Then Peter Jackson came along and told me how he saw the Shire and I immediately wrote him off as WRONG WRONG WRONG.

And Elijah Wood? Really? Maybe it’s because I was told by another girl who looked like Gollum that I in fact “looked more like Elijah Wood than any other person she had ever met.” that turned me off to him being cast as the legendary (and only real) hobbit of my youth.

My relationship with my sister survived (thankfully) until Avatar came out.

Oh Avatar.

Blue monkey people that can’t seem to keep their mouth physically shut for any activity. Breathing, talking, yelling, grunting, complaining, chanting…mating their hair with seven legged horse things.

Oh dear.

Here is the part where I admit that most movies that go over well with the general public? Don’t go over so well with me. I physically avoid movies that have won more than two or three awards of any kind. Only rarely have there been exceptions to this rule, and the only one I can think of at the moment? Life is Beautiful, or La Vita è Bella. The only way to watch it is with subtitles.

And while I’m certain anyone in their right mind has seen it, if you haven’t, rent it and if you don’t know anything about it? DON’T READ ANYTHING ABOUT IT before watching it. Just watch it. Promise?

(As a bonus today my friend and roommate Jessica from the Type A Mom conference in North Carolina saw this photo when I  saw it for the first time, her version of the story is below in the comments.)

(new here? read this first.)

Chef Daniel here.

I love food.  I will eat anything. Absolutely anything. Except duck. That’s another post. I’m envious of Anthony Bourdain. What a job – travel and food. Yum.

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don’t. From time to time, I think about it. The list is something like this – what I’m doing now, photo journalist, think tank-er, rich person with lots of free time, and chef.

I really love food. I love cooking. I love preparing, chopping, sauteing, marinating, grilling, and so on. I enjoy creating food experiences for people. It’s incredibly relaxing and a great creative outlet. I often think about winning the lottery and enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu. It sounds idyllic. And then I could hang out with Gordon Ramsay.

Perhaps the greatest food experience I’ve ever had was on a trip to Singapore with my dear friend Despi. Singapore eating represents a complete fusion of global cuisine. Wow. I ate things I had never heard of, seen or tasted. There were moments where I had my doubts. Things looked scary. And some things I wasn’t sure how to eat. But it was all incredibly delicious. Unforgettable. And yes, I drank a Singapore Sling.

Travel provides that authentic food experience. Which is a reason I love traveling so much – experimenting with local cuisine. One of my goals is to keep embracing these food opportunities so that I can bring them home with me. They can shape my food prep techniques. Travel can be my cooking school. I need to get going on that.

If any of you come across any new media, photo journalist, think tank, chef/travel opportunities that would make me extremely wealthy with an abundance of free time, please let me know. I’ll give you a cut of the action. I’ll even cook for you. But not duck.

food

Singapore grub

I’m Casey and my husband Cody once took me to this place in Rochester, New York called Nick Tahou’s Hots, Famous for the Garbage Plate. We had been married less than a year and aside from our honeymoon (which sucked-DO OVER!) this was our first vacation together and we ended up eating something called “garbage plates.”

Cody wonders why when I request a vacation I also request it involve fruity drinks with umbrellas and food that does not originate from a garbage bag.

What bothers me most is that Nick Tahou’s met every standard I have for the *perfect* hole in the wall restaurant, busy at all hours of the day, questionable appearance inside and out, salty employees and a crazy variety of customers preferably containing the elderly, college kids and some cops. The presence of local cops (or firefighters) at a hole in the wall is better better than a Zagat rating for me.

Dude, they even serve garbage plates at the New York State fair.

That’s practically GIFT WRAPPING A RESTAURANT IN A TIFFANY’S BOX FOR ME.

Alas, I hated it. I ate maybe three bites and was done despite the old school lunch benches, the stooped over couple in the booth next to us, the employee that barked at me in a thick NYC accent when I dared use all the syllables in the word “hamburger.” (Hint, at Nick’s it’s “hamburg.”) Even the cops hollering at each other from outside couldn’t win this place over for me.

I’m still pretty ticked about it. Mostly because a brilliant theory I came up with that is always! true, isn’t always true. It’s almost always true. I hate almost always, it’s risky. Babies? Babies are almost always cute, face it, there’s a chance you could end up with a dud, admit it, they’re out there. Politicians are almost always liars. Really screws up the whole benefit of the doubt for the honest ones. Traffic is almost always good on West 70 after 9 am. Except for when it’s not and you get stuck in traffic for several hours.

Don’t tell Cody, but I want to go back. I want to give it a second shot. Maybe my tastebuds are dulled after eight years and just maybe loads of questionable food piled on top of each other, smothered in sauce, topped with hots and hamburgs and served with bread out of a garbage bag is delicious. It has to be.

I am almost always right about these things.

(new here? read this first.)

Old man Incandela here.

I think about retirement a lot. I may never actually get to retire, but I know what it might look like. It’s this image.

I might win the lottery. My career might lead to some amazing opportunity. I might have a very rich Great Uncle out there. Who knows. I’m not asking for too much. I want a farm.

I want to rise with the sun and go chop some wood, feed some chickens, fix a fence, maybe find a duck that has a hurt wing, and in general, walk around some land that I can call my own. I might be listening to hip hop while doing this. Maybe checking e-mail on some bio-chip linked to my brain stem – or whatever the kids will be doing in the future. But I’ll take pride in all of this and appreciate my life, nature and the world around me.

Aside from chickens and a dodgy duck, I’ll have a trusty dog. I might have a lama, a goat, and if I’m brave enough, a horse. I’ll grow lots of stuff. Weird plants, herbs, vegetables and beautiful flowers. I’ll wear Wellington Boots a lot. A cap. And I’ll definitely carry a Leatherman.

I want a rocking chair. I want to eat pie daily. I want to build a fire and read books. I want to be surrounded by loved ones. I’ll entertain visitors. Every now and then, I’ll go traveling and bring back something for the farm house. Not sure what – some trinket, rug, painting from somewhere far away. I’ll always return, happier to be home.

In that rocking chair, I want to look back on life with few regrets, knowing that I created amazing opportunities, treated people with kindness, and truly experienced life.

Wish me luck.

A good retirement spot

A good retirement spot

by Casey, daughter of the best landscape photographer I’ve yet to know.

When I was little my mom would always whisk my sister and me away on camping trips in Southern Utah. We would sleep in the car, eat ramen soup for dinner and drink water out of those old reusable IV bottles. I would always get sick in the car so before we left Salt Lake I would pop a couple of Dramamine and be asleep before Provo. I’m not even sure if I realized that Utah had this whole wild middle section of brown and tumbleweeds until I was grown, I fell asleep up North and woke up surrounded by red rock down South.

I could spend hours exploring the caves and dunes of Southern Utah, one time I found what I swear were human bones, however no one was ever willing to agree with me. I lived for the time between meals when I could just explore. My sister and mom were more content to be back at camp reading or, well, honestly I’m not sure what they did because I was never around to see.

What my mom lived for were those 20 minutes that exist between night and day or day and night. Where the sun is fat and golden and the clouds finger out into fifteen different colors. I remember one morning, I was maybe 6, I awoke to everything washed in the most intense red-golden light. I poked my mom who immediately went to work, pulling out her Canon 35mm and running out the door without so much as a goodbye, leaving her two little girls asleep in the car. My mom speaks in sunsets and sunrises and thrives off sweet light.

When I imagine my mom it’s by some lake or other body of water, bathed in a rainbow of light. She has her viewfinder to her face and her old 4runner and insulated coffee mug in the background. To this day I can’t witness a sunrise or a sunset without thinking of her.

We’re going to be taking a road trip in October to the 5 states she has yet to visit (she wants to hit all 50 before she’s 60) and I am giddy to think that while at home I hate being up before the sun rises, with my mom I’ll be up and witnessing her in her element. I’ll have those memories of my mom to lock away forever both on print and in my mind.

(new here? read this first.)

Hi I’m Daniel. Nice to meet you.

I love traveling. I’ve already mentioned it in this post, and this one, and this one. And this blog is still a baby!

I am terribly happy traveling. I am most comfortable in foreign lands. I would visit anywhere. I like weird food, people yelling at me in languages I don’t understand, different currency, new cultures, and the exhaustion that comes from exploring. I’m envious of Anthony Bourdain. I love to travel, and I always request a window seat.

I daydream on planes. I think about life. I don’t talk to the person next to me. I sometimes play video games. I rarely sleep. I listen to music. A lot. But 99% of the time, I’m looking out the window. I guess, I read sometimes, but you get the idea.

I look at clouds. I try to understand what they’re interpreting. Most of the time they just look like Smurfs. Papa Smurf. Handy Smurf. Vanity Smurf. Rarely Smurfette. It passes the time and lets me think.

I listen for the ‘ding’ after take off for the 10,000 feet indication. That’s when I can listen to music. I feel a part of the plane as it glides 6 miles in the air. I look down on the landscape and imagine the life down there. The scenery always reminds me of paintings. I always have my camera in my hand or have it nearby in the gross seat back pouch thing. I snap away the entire flight looking for something that strikes my fancy. People give me weird looks. I don’t mind. I also love that everyone is a stranger when you travel.

Occasionally, you encounter such beauty, that it stops all thinking. You gaze out the window, mouth agape, looking at one of the most beautiful scenes you’ve ever seen. In this moment, with this image, I felt like I was at the Louvre. Not on a United Airlines regional jet from Chicago. I love discovering beauty found in exploring. And I love to travel, with a camera.

(‘window seat please’ is a reference to a Flickr group I joined a couple of years ago – check it out, here)

window seat please

window seat please

Hey, it’s Casey, and when we started this? I had no idea I was going to talking about death so much. Seriously. Death death, death and now death again.

My aunt died this week. Well, her body died but her very much alive spirit went to heaven. Because for people like her? The only way to go is up.

She spent 48 years as a quadripeligic. She’s now spent four days in heaven. With a perfectly restored body, that can do everything her earthly body couldn’t manage. She used to tell me about this dream she constantly had about running behind a pickup truck through a wheat field. I wonder if there are wheat fields in heaven?

I like to think about what she’s doing up there. If she’s just flopping her legs around at the edge of a pool because she can or if she’s attempting Olympic cloud jumps. I wonder if it makes any difference to her at all. She never really much minded that she couldn’t walk while she was here on Earth, I mean, she got to where she needed to go and if she needed anything it could easily be brought to her.

But still, I wonder what heaven is like. I mean, I know it can’t just be people swathed in gauzy robes playing harps all day. And I can promise you it’s an even better place now that my Aunt Cheryl is there. I’m pretty sure she’s the funniest person in Heaven. I guess when I think about heaven it must feel like all those tiny little magical moments that occur day to day just smooshed together into one eternal day.

My aunt would say that she got hurt because she wasn’t listening. So God sat her down and made her listen.

And she spent every day doing just that. And when I think about it? A lot of my “this is what heaven must be like” moments? Happened when I was with her.

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