Many of you know that my wife is a writer and some of you also know that her first childrens’ novel will be published this coming August by Razorbill, one of Penguin’s imprints. After a lot of refinement and tweaking, I’m now delighted to report that the book cover has finally been revealed to the world:
You can read more of the trials and tribulations of a soon-to-be-published author over on her blog if you want to follow the story as publication draws nearer.
We’re just back from a short family trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We hadn’t been skiing for a few years so it sounded like a fun thing for us to do for a long weekend when the kids were out of school. Here are a few snaps from the trip. You can click on any image for a larger version.
I’ve just posted the annual family Christmas newsletter. Rather than repeat all the information in a post, I’ll just link to it for anyone who is interested in knowing what we’ve been up to in 2011.
After two years of very hard work, my beautiful and talented wife has some great news to announce today (though we’ve know about it for several months). I’ll let you read it yourself over on her blog.
I’ve already posted my favourite art images of 2010 but here are my top 10 family shots from the year. I counted a picture as a “2010 photo” if I posted or processed it last year which explains why the first picture makes the list (it was taken in 2008 but I just processed it last month).
Cameron during a summer boat trip on Lake Austin.
I’ve been using fill flash outdoors a lot more over the last year and this is one picture taken with it. It was taken the weekend after Thanksgiving while my Dad was visiting from Scotland and we took a trip to Johnson City to see the lights outside the Pedernales Electric Company headquarters.
At Thanksgiving, I took advantage of a captive family to take some portraits after dinner. I especially liked this picture of my wife. Nikki, and mother-in-law, Rae.
Here’s another shot from the Thanksgiving set showing Nikki.
Moving back to Halloween, here’s a somewhat less flattering image of Nikki dressed as a “Mombie” during our neighbourhood hay ride.
White Sands was one of the highlights of our fantastic summer road trip to New Mexico and offered another great opportunity to play with fill flash at dusk.
Of the pictures I took of the boys this year, this picture of Cameron looking goofy in a Santa Fe restaurant stands out as one of my favourites.
My favourite “solo” picture of Drew was taken at a pool party held by some friends. Thankfully, he didn’t decide to shoot the water pistol at me and the camera.
The last image in the set dates back to February when we had an almost-unprecedented 2 inches of snow in Austin and the boys had just enough time to gather it and build a snowman before it all disappeared.
It’s that time of year again – the time for Christmas cards containing little slips of paper with an obscure URL printed on them! In case your card was lost in the post or you failed to notice the little (though slightly larger than usual) slip of paper, you can find our 2010 Christmas newsletter online here. Apologies for the rather basic design this time round – things have been somewhat busy recently.
After work, I received a call from Nikki who told me that Alex Wallace, my friend and fellow tenor in the Central Presbyterian Church choir, had been killed in a traffic accident this morning on his way to work. He was 42 years old.
In any tight-knit group, like the CPC choir, there are always people who stand out as the “glue” of the organisation. People who everyone gets on with. People who go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome. CPC choir had a lot of people like this (which is one of the reasons it’s such a special group and one of the reasons I miss it so much after our church move earlier this year) but, of them all, I’m sure I would not be contradicted if I was to suggest that Alex was the best. Aside from being a great singer, his humour caused uproar during rehearsals and his ability to reach out and make everyone feel so welcome and so part of the group was legendary. Even after we left CPC, his friendship and outreach continued via emails and some of the nicest, most complimentary Facebook posts you will find anywhere. He’ll be sorely missed by a huge number of people.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends in Austin and his home town of Kerrville, Texas.
Alex’s memorial service will be tomorrow (October 26th) at 2pm in First Presbyterian Church, Kerville, Texas. I’ll be there singing with the CPC choir again (though I wish this was under different circumstances).
Saturday and Sunday were the 2nd and 3rd highest traffic days this blog has had in the 7 years it has been around. The only higher traffic day was when a post got linked to an internationally-reknowned photography site at the beginning of this year. I think this gives some indication of how popular Alex was – about 500 people have read this post alone since Friday night.
It’s been ages since I posted any family pictures on the blog so here’s one from our recent trip that I’m pretty happy with. This was taken on our first evening at White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo in New Mexico. The weather was breathtaking that night – thunderstorms all around, rain on the distant mountains and sun rays shining through it while we remained dry in a pocket of dunes in the centre.
The picture was taken with a self timer (obviously) and, since it was getting dark, I popped an on-camera flash to brighten us up a bit while darkening the background somewhat. Amazingly, the exposure is good (I never get more than 2 attempts at this kind of thing before one of the kids runs off) and everyone looks happy and has their eyes open!
Although I post a lot of pictures to Flickr on my “DaveWilsonPhotography” account, I also keep a second account which contains only pictures of the things we’ve been up to as a family. Click through this image to see some others if you are interested.
Things have been a bit quiet here recently since I’m currently on a trip to New Mexico and am relying on hotel WiFi which, unfortunately, is not universal. AT&T are living up to the standard I have come to expect by having no effective data coverage anywhere in the state as far as I can see – even downtown in Santa Fe, I am completely unable to get any kind of usable data connection. That is, however, a story for another blog posting.
Today, we spent the morning in downtown Santa Fe soaking up artistic inspiration. Not only is the city centre absolutely beautiful with fabulous adobe buildings everywhere, it’s also home to more excellent art galleries and museums than just about anywhere I’ve ever visited. After the must-be-visited Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the highlights for me were three photography galleries.
The Lisa Kristine Gallery contained some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen – large format prints of people and scenes shot mostly in Asia. Amazing portraits and landscapes with absolutely perfect light.
Since the demise of the last dedicated fine art photography gallery in Austin (by which I mean a gallery selling prints by internationally acclaimed and famous photographers) couple of years ago, I was also delighted to get a fix of superlative print quality at the Andrew Smith Gallery which features original prints by masters Ansel Adams, Yousuf Karsh amd Henri Cartier Bresson among others. You may think these photographers’ images are superb in books of their work but until you have seen original prints, you really don’t have any idea of just how amazing these images are. The tonal range in the prints is something to weep over.
In addition to these masters, I was also delighted to see more of the luminous landscape work of Christopher Burkett whose large format images blew me away when I first saw them four or five years ago. His large prints are, sadly, rather outside my budget but I came really close to signing a four figure check a few years ago when I saw one if his pictures of an aspen forest in autumn. You could see every vein on every leaf in a 30″x40″ print. Truly breathtaking.
The final gallery I visited was Photogenesis which featured the work of several photographers, most of whom were new to me. One that really caught my eye was Nicholas Trofimuk whose black and white landscapes are wonderful.
While I didn’t walk away with any large prints (unfortunately), I did treat myself to a copy of “The Portfolios of Ansel Adams” and several greeting cards to remind me of the day.
I’ve been in Texas 16 years now but, despite seeing about 3 or 4 snakes a year, have never actually come face-to-face with a rattler. Unfortunately, in the last 4 months, both of our dogs have so, when our Fox Terrier, Sugar, got bitten last night, it was time to track the critter down and try to persuade it (terminally) that hunting in our dogs’ yard was a poor decision.
Our quest began with us cutting down all the brush in the yard then looking for anything resembling a hole. A rancher acquaintance told me that the best way to flush out a den of rattlesnakes is to pour a small amount of gasoline in or near their suspected hideout. The smell, apparently, really pisses them off and they bolt out of there as fast as they can. The thought of confronting a band of pissed off, venomous snakes (especially ones that I used to have on a large poster entitled “The Worlds 7 Deadliest Creatures” on my childhood bedroom wall) didn’t appeal but it was less bad than the thought of one of the kids getting bitten so Nikki and I armed ourselves with various garden tools and the remainder of a can of 2-stroke and spent quite some time sprinkling holes and preparing to hit whatever emerged.
In the end, nothing did emerge so we’re left knowing that there is a snake out there somewhere but not knowing where. If there are any rattlesnake hunting experts out there, do leave a comment to let us know how we should go about catching (or, better, dispatching) this critter.
Oh, the photo – I didn’t have any pictures of living, venomous snakes so this is the best I could do. It’s a custom Lucchese cowboy boot made from a cobra skin. Someone obviously had better luck than we did on their snake hunt.