Monday, June 25, 2007

The Wonder of Music

Ever wonder why there are so many musicians in the world? Because making music is one of life's greatest gifts and treasures. My sister and I have been singing and songwriting under the moniker, The Hello Strangers, for several months now. Today we recorded our first CD of songs, thanks to our friend Conrad's roommate, Bruce, who agreed to record our latest tunes pro bono. It was a fantastic, musical day, the kind I would like to have more often, with good people and a warm, live recording space. It rained hard for most of the day, so Conrad made us tea for our recording session and we nestled down for several hours of good, hard work. Brechyn and I left the experience feeling filled to the brim with the kindness of people and the wonder of music.

I have attached some photos from our great day for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Road of Life

"On the road of life, it's not where you go, but who's by your side that makes the difference."

This was the quotation on the inside of the card I gave my husband for our anniversary last weekend. In our years together, we have traveled (and lived) all over the country by car and, thus, this quote seemed fitting as an expression of my feelings about him and our relationship. Well, we have come to yet another interesting turn in the road of life. We have decided to pick up our Austin roots and move back to the Appalachian mountains from whence we came. Yes, we are moving to Pennsylvania!

This has long been a goal of ours, as we have been living away from home for a decade. But, like the twists and turns of the road, one can never quite predict how or when one's goals may come to fruition. We made our decision rather abruptly, two days ago, about a month before our apartment lease will expire. Yet, it seems this is how things must happen sometimes: in the blink of an eye, as if life is suddenly going 90 miles and hour. Despite the speed at which we feel these things often come to pass, it is with peace of mind and joyful hearts that we make our decision. This is, after all, how the tires feel as they hug the curves in the road, you gripping the steering wheel: unfathomably fast, but true in purpose.

We have driven the route from Austin, Texas to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania and back 19 times (one way). The twists and turns of the route have become ever-familiar over the past four years of driving home twice a year. We have our favorite pit stops and landmarks, stopping always at the same Cracker Barrels for breakfast (with winter stops being particularly fun since they often have a fire in the fireplace), always ordering the same thing off the menu (the Old Timer's Breakfast with hot coffee and tea), and remarking on how the black to white employee ratios change as we move from South to North and vice versa. Our 20th trip North in July will be our last on this route, at least in this era of our lives. Surely we will return to Austin in some fashion, but the chances of us making the trip under these circumstances are slim. And so we end another chapter of our lives and start a new one. The feeling is much akin to passing over state lines on a long road trip home; leaving the past behind and driving headlong into the future.

We will greatly miss, but always appreciate, our friends here in Austin, all the wonderful people we've met, and the fun things that we have done. Living for three years in the same city as my younger sister, for example, has been a dream come true for me, one that I have tried not to take for granted. I know I can leave this place knowing that I've made the best of the city and the people we know here. I have made many an effort to "keep Austin weird", swam in Barton Springs Pool, hiked on the Barton Creek Greenbelt more times than I can count, frequented the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, eaten a plethora of breakfast tacos, and two-stepped many a night at the Broken Spoke (Chaparral rocks!).

I have spent most of my time here loving this city. I remember our first night in Austin, falling asleep with a big ol' grin on my face! But my heart always seemed to be calling me home. Having a husband who grew up in my hometown has made it even harder to be away, since we both know many of the same people and pine for the same place on this earth. Perhaps moving home will be just another pit stop in the long journey of life, or maybe we will find it to be a perfect home base from which to go out and have many new adventures. Regardless, our heart strings have been pulled for many years by hundreds of goodbyes to family and friends, watching the mountains of our home fade in the distance as we drive away yet again. We will drive the road to Mercersburg this time knowing that a few goodbyes in Austin will yield a hundred hellos at home. I'm ready for this, as bittersweet as it will be.

Photo by Ryan Smith

Monday, June 11, 2007

Puttin' On the Ritz

Ryan and I celebrated our 1st wedding Anniversary yesterday. We were so excited to celebrate, both of us daunted by the rapid passing of time and rejoicing in all that we have done in our first year of marriage, such as starting a business. We also thought about our family and friends who gathered with us a year ago to witness our marriage in Pennsylvania. What a wonderful, albeit blustery, day it was. I have posted below a handful of photos from our anniversary celebrations, followed by a few reminiscent shots of our wedding day a year ago. We enjoyed our anniversary immensely, first getting muddy while hiking, swimming, and picnicking with friends, then getting gussied up and dining at the Mansion on Judge's Hill Restaurant here in Austin. Drinks and dinner were divine and we enjoyed the juxtaposition of the activities we partake in and enjoy together (getting very muddy, then allowing ourselves to be pampered). We hope you enjoy these photos as much as we have relished in the experience.

Wedding: June 10, 2006

Me and my "girls" at the rehearsal

Sadie, the flower girl

The handsome groom

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Photographic Memory

Think back on all the magnificent places you have seen in your lifetime, or the moments of pure jubilation you have experienced. Do you ever wish you could put them all in a bottle to save for less splendid times, to open and allow wafts of memory to soothe your tired soul? Do you ever look at a photo and find a pure moment of stillness captured in its frame? I discovered this photo recently by chance and find it to have a similar affect on me as a meditation session might. How nice that by spending a little time with this picture I can access a part of myself that is soothed by memory and a continued affection for my dog, Sadie.

Thus is the power of the image, and my experience in the photography industry so far has shown me many examples of how emotions and memories are tapped and channeled through an image. This is the foundation of advertising, of course, but photographs also play an enormous role in our personal lives. How many times have our moods been changed simply by passing a treasured photo in the hall, or by watching a family movie containing moments we had all but forgotten? Photographs are our visual history, and may someday be a major part of our ancestors’ memories of us, even if they never got to meet us. Likewise, this picture of Sadie will help us to remember her graceful ability to climb rocky trails, her love of the snow and the woods, and her many endearing idiosyncrasies, when she one days passes on.

For now, I look at this picture and remember how beautiful snow in Idaho can be (I live in Texas now), and how fortunate I was to have this as my backyard for a year with my old roommate, Katie. I also view the present in this image, enjoying its peaceful quality and the wonderful thought that Sadie is still with us: healthy, silly, and loving. Like a bottle, this photo captures in its frame memories that soothe, without words, my spirit today.