“Normal Day” by Mary Jean Irion

farmher woman hay bale Marji Guyler-Alaniz

Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure that you are.
Let me learn from you, love you,
bless you before we depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest
of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
Let me hold you while I may,
for it may not be always so. One day
I shall dig my nails into the earth,
or bury my face in the pillow,
or stretch myself taut,
or raise my hands
to the sky and want, more
than all the world, your return.

(Farmher photo by Marji Guyler-Alaniz)

How to dress in Florence, Italy

Tell it: “Even the bus drivers look like walking magazine covers with Ray-Ban sunglasses and fitted pants.” I do think we can feel better about ourselves when we make the extra effort on our own behalf and see to the details. Also, in case you were curious about Orkin’s “American Girl,” who would now be 85: http://www.today.com/id/44182286/ns/today-today_news/t/subject-american-girl-italy-photo-speaks-out/#.UhUL8bZKzQY

Girl in Florence

I love this photo. I like it so much that I bought it for myself, my dad and pretty much anyone who likes anything in black & white. The enigmatic appeal of the American girl in Italy. One has to look at a photo like this and say, wow – those Italians were so elegant.

Well, pretty much they still are except for the occasional shiny silver sneaker and black puffy trash bag jacket. While I personally wouldn’t describe Italians as ‘trendy’ since I think people tend to stick to what’s safe (with obvious super fashionable exceptions and many being the younger crowd), I would reason that people tend not to leave the house sporting shower shoes and wearing their favorite Nike t-shirt.  Oh no, the bella figura would have none of that (though don’t get confused and think it means purely your image..)

To quote Eyeitalia:

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I love this—and have surrendered too often to my weakness for letterpress cards. It’s fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making them, especially when you realize just how much work goes into making something look easy. Reminds me of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry quote, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Spoken like a true editor!

amaryllis log


I learned how to print on a letterpress yesterday. It was an awesome experience. Here’s the back story; although most of the work I do is for the corporation I work for, from time to time we do pro bono work. Almost a year ago we did a letterhead system for the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. As a thank you they allowed us to come for a day and learn to press type. It was just a small group of us, with lofty ideas. Quickly I figured out it takes a lot of time to set up type and prepare it for the press.

As you would expect, I took tons of pictures. The place is beautiful, full of old cool things including wood and lead type. There are drawers full of type and old advertising images. It was a surprise in each drawer. We probably spent the…

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The feel of home

The small, rural San Joaquin Valley town where I grew up is not a place that garners much national press, at least as far as travel goes. Oh, there’s an article in Saveur here, or a few blurbs in AAA’s Via magazine there—even a one-off “36 Hours in Fresno” in The New York Times—but the Central Valley is not SoCal or the Bay Area. It can be a tough sell to a travel editor who doesn’t see many people making the trip out there, and to see what?

The Empty Cup by Miche Watkins. It reminds me of
an old truck-stop diner that was razed to make way
for the new highway near where I grew up.

Still, I never fathomed how much I’d internalized the idea of the valley not “counting,” sights-wise, until I started to see images that validated my own experience of growing up there. Even travel stories in respected publications don’t peg what it was like on balmy summer evenings when my dad would pile all of us neighborhood kids into the back of his Datsun pickup and take us for rides in the country. We’d be talking and laughing, wind in our faces, the smell of damp earth rising up from the irrigated orchards, crickets and cicadas chirping incessantly, moonlight glowing down. Or how it was to grab our bikes and go for a ride along bumpy country avenues that sloped past vineyards at sunset, pedaling madly whenever a dog would come tearing out of a dirt road, yapping and nipping our heels. 

Travel articles don’t capture the familiar chitchat of longtime parishioners milling around after church services, or Rotary Club or Knights of Columbus pancake breakfasts where everybody knows your name, or how it feels to lie on the grass in summer, reading a book in the shade as a lone plane drones overhead. My hometown was a great place to grow up, even if, by the time I got to high school, I was restless to leave. I wanted to spread my wings, see the world, experience the cultural riches of the big city.

My story is not unique. For years after moving away, first to L.A. for undergrad, then to Eastern Europe with the Peace Corps, then to the Bay Area for work, I’d return to my childhood home only to feel stifled by the memory of who I was. It was as if the ways in which I subsequently strove to define myself would melt away, leaving only what I felt like when I’d left: a gauche, dorky teenager who never quite fit in. But then I realized: Thomas Wolfe may have said, “You can’t go home again,” but you can, actually. You just have to redefine the experience.

There’s the Knight’s Ferry Bridge in California’s Stanislaus County, for instance. Built in 1862–1863, the covered timber truss bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior this past October. I spent the first 18 years of my life just over the border from that county and never knew this bridge existed—and now it’s protected by the National Park Service? Cool. Who knew there was a piece of the storied covered bridges in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County right in my old backyard, or practically? Well, obviously the NPS did, ha. But that’s what I mean: I grew up there and yet there’s more to discover. I love that. I love the idea of being able to approach something I thought I knew with a fresh perspective. I’d like to take all the good of a place and weave it into my personal narrative, without the baggage of my prior notions limiting how I perceive it.

let's get lost

Shaun Sundholm, Untitled (Let’s Get Lost). It reminds me of
the river roads winding through the countryside where I grew up,
and of the canyons where I live now.

(from top, first, third, and last images via the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Tumblr, the National Park Service, and 20×200; middle photo by Ivan Sohrakoff)

The fourth shot left me breathless. I would so love to be traversing that path!…just dawdling, taking my time to take in the colors, nowhere to be but where I am.

Eric E Photo

Fall came early this year with leaves starting to change at the end of August!  The colors are nearing peak right now as the aspens turn from green to yellow and catch up with all the vine maples that are exploding in red.  Yes, it is a good time to be in Park City:)

Sorry, there’s nothing exotic in this post, just a few photos from some hikes that I do a few times a week.   I hope you get out this fall and enjoy every minute of it before the color fades.   EE
*Thank you to all for looking and I’m glad I am able to share this with so many people!! EE

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