Tim's Blog -- November/December 2009
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December 24, 2009 Rescuing Horses and People
I spent nine hours Monday with the great people at Ride to Pride, a unique equine-assisted psychotherapy program for troubled youth serving San Miguel, Mora, and Guadalupe Counties from its facility on the northeast outskirts of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
That's directors Greg and Lorraine Esquibel, above. They conceived and created the program in 1997; today it serves 240 youth and their families, and it's still growing. Western Horseman had asked me for a 1500-word feature but I found that the program and people have so many essential elements that it was a struggle for me, yesterday, to wrangle it all together into a cohesive whole that totaled 1900 words. I feel bad for all I had to leave out.
Greg and Lorraine's daughter, Callie Jo Moore, right, has grown up in the program since she was 8 years old. Now 20, she's on staff as an equine professional while pursuing a double major in social work and business at New Mexico Highlands University. When she completes her master's degree, she'll come on board full-time, with ambitious designs for expanding and even franchising Ride to Pride to serve even more people. While she's at it, Callie is an avid member of her college rodeo team, competing in barrels and breakaway.
My article will feature one young man's story. 14-year-old Richard Pacheco, Jr., lives near where Christina and I lived in the late 1980s, 17 miles southwest of Las Vegas. What a great kid, and he's become a horseman. Watch for the whole story in a spring issue of Western Horseman. Check today's photography blog to see pictures of Richard in action.
Meantime, my article on Mary Lou Kern is in today's Chronicle-News. The full-length feature, twice as long, will run in RANGE Magazine in 2010. (See my December 20 blog entry, immediately below.)
That's it. It's been an amazing year. Thanks for visiting. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
December 20, 2009 A Woman's Work
I had a delicious sense of anticipation all week. It's turning out that wrapping myself around one of these magazine assignments is just pure in-the-moment joy -- and I've had a pair lined up. The span from December 18 - 24 looks to be one of immersion in reporting, photographing, writing, and submitting these stories.
I spent Friday afternoon outside Maxwell with stock(wo)man Mary Lou Kern. I think I'm safe in saying that we both enjoyed it immensely. My Folsom neighbor, B.B. Cornay, called last month to suggest I write about Mary Lou. B.B., it turns out, has been reading my articles in Western Horseman, RANGE, and The Chronicle-News (it's so nice when I get a chance to find out who's reading me!), and she told me that Mary Lou is "the real deal".
B.B. was right. As my visit with Mary Lou unfolded, it became increasingly obvious that hers was a story I was going to enjoy writing. And I did! I wrote a 1500-word piece, "A Woman's Work", for RANGE; it will go out with a dozen photographs in tomorrow's mail. (Magazines use photos of such high-resolution -- TIFF files up to 70MB each -- that even one is too big to go by e-mail.) Hopefully, I'll not be too late for the Spring issue, which will be published in mid-February.
Then I sent a second article, about half as long, to the Chronicle. I'll add that to the website here when I get back from Las Vegas and Santa Fe.
By the way, B.B. is particulary enamored of the fact that Mary Lou bought her own 1988 International semi tractor so she could haul her own cattle and hay without waiting on someone else's schedule. Here are pictures of Mary Lou in her semi ("Leo") and with her stock trailer ("The Bull Wagon").
I'll spend a full day tomorrow with the good people at Ride to Pride in Las Vegas, NM, developing a feature for Western Horseman. The program works with troubled youth, pairing them with horses to tend and ride. They have a large professional staff and provide services to three counties. I'll focus my story on one boy, a 14-year-old named Richard -- who I'm looking forward to meeting! It's more of that delicious anticipation, wrapping myself around someone's story, learning it, then telling it in words and pictures. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
December 13, 2009 R & R, R & B, B & B
I was so deeply engaged in my writing and photography this year that I never went camping on our land 40 miles southeast of Raton. For the last seven years I'd spent about 20 nights of each summer camped -- first in a tent and later a 12-foot 1950s camper trailer -- reading lots of books, playing guitar, hiking, writing poetry, staring at stars.
Working through the summer made the times I do stop and relax all the more valuable. Christina and I are both workaholics by nature -- I'm better at turning off the switch at the end of the day, but I start a lot earlier in the morning!
I took the photo above last summer in the guest room at Christina's family home -- built one room at a time beginning in the 1950s -- twenty miles south of Santa Fe on the Turquoise Trail. For 23 years now, it's served as a home away from home, sometimes with Christina and sometimes by myself. I wrote dozens of songs there, including much of the Little Miracles album. Christina's mom, Helen Boyce, has always welcomed me.
That and camping have been my primary retreats, but this year, in light of how constantly both of us have been working, we've scheduled two stays at B&Bs in the rural countryside north of Taos. In August, we spent three nights at Little Tree B&B, and we enjoyed it so much that we're planning to spend four nights after Christmas at the nearby Cottonwood Inn. I'll take a guitar and stacks of books. It's mostly about hanging out together, with idle time. In the evenings we enjoy going into Taos to try different restaurants.
But before we head to Taos we'll spend Christmas with Christina's family. We'll have the Red Room, a two-room suite beyond the far closet, beyond my feet above. At both retreats, I'll hone my skills at doing little, or nothing.
December 5, 2009 Enjoying My Work
I'm turning my attention to my next Western Horseman feature after the success of last weekend's photo shoot with Brittany Rouse (left), whose Women of the West feature is being rushed into the February issue, where it will join my Long Riders: Crossing America from Mexico to Canada on Horseback, the first time I'll have two features in one issue.
Monday, if the predicted snowstorm cuts me a little slack, I'm scheduled to spend the day in Las Vegas, NM, with the good people at Ride To Pride. They work with troubled youth from three northern New Mexico counties, pairing teens with horses as a part of their therapy program.
At my request, they've selected one teen for me to build the article around, a 14-year-old boy referred by his juvenile probation officer (JPO) for fighting. I'll meet with the large Ride To Pride professional staff and tour their facilities. I'll meet with the JPO and the boy's parents. And of course I'll spend time with the boy, interviewing him and photographing him with staff and horses.
It will take friendly light and weather and lots of luck to get the whole story and photographs all in one day. I'm assuming I'll need to make at least one more trip early in my Christmas vacation. (Las Vegas is 140 miles from my home in Des Moines, NM.) I've told Western Horseman that I'll have the feature to them before the end of the year, and they're planning to run it in a spring issue of the magazine.
November 29, 2009 Reading, Writing, and Murder
For Steven Havill's reading at Studio C last weekend, Christina ordered up eight of the Raton novelist's titles for sale. I had Steven sign his new one -- Red, Green, or Murder -- and left it with Christina until I paid for it.
Christina is gradually honing her sales skills: Friday she sold me the whole set. (Actually, the new one is number 16, so I still have plenty to buy.) I started with the first in the Posadas County Mysteries series, published in 1991. Like all good mysteries, it's a fast fun read: I think I'll get through what I have during my approaching two-week Christmas break.
Originally from rural upstate New York, Steven fled Cornell University for UNM in Albuquerque in 1965. He spent many years living in the villages of Milan and Lincoln while teaching English in Grants and Ruidoso. In 2002, he and his artist/writer wife Kathleen retired to Raton, where he teaches writing workshops and continues churning out page-turners.
The Posadas County series is particularly fun for me because it's set in a small rural county much like where we live. In fact, since moving to the area, Steven has been incorporating local experiences into the long-running series. I've been a sucker for mysteries since discovering Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler in 1972. I've enjoyed Michael McGarrity's New Mexico mysteries, so it's fun to start a long series by an author new to me...though Steven won't be new to me for long.
November 27, 2009 Celebrating a Birthday
One year ago today, the morning after Thanksgiving 2008, I launched my website TimKellerPhotography.com.
Initially, that was all I had in mind. But by the time I had launched TKP, I'd decided to continue work with web guru Mike Schoonover and add TKA -- TimKellerArts.com -- for my music, poetry, and other writing, though at that point the writing consisted of only one article about to be published in Western Horseman's January 2009 issue.
Writing and opportunity cascaded from there, though, and TKA has become a very busy site. Western Horseman, now designating me a Contributing Writer, published 3 of my features this year, with 3 more slated for the first half of 2010. Another is in the current issue of RANGE Magazine. The Chronicle-News, a regional newspaper published Mondays through Fridays from Trinidad, Colorado, has run a hundred of my features and several hundred photographs.
TKA was folded into TKP for administrative purposes; online, they are separate but linked. Together they reached a milestone of averaging 100 visitors daily for the month of October. To photography and writing I've added webmaster to my endeavors, creating and managing all content on both websites, including at least one blog on each side each week. It works nicely: the website is a venue that requires new content constantly; the photographs and writings are content that long for venues. The three have grown into one -- and they keep me busy!
I never saw any of this coming a year ago this morning. It's been an exciting ride that appears to be still in its earliest stages. Thanks for coming along: it's good to have you here.
November 22, 2009 A Night to Look Back and Say Thanks
Last night Christina threw her 3rd Annual Show of Gratitude at Studio C, a big potluck extravanza in which she (well, technically, I) provides a 20-pound roasted turkey with homemade stuffing and gravy. Dinner is followed by the final "Live at Studio C" monthly entertainment night of the year.
I've written a review for the Chronicle-News; now I'll wait and see how many pictures they run. I'm submitting four, not including this wonderful shot of Christina trying featured performer Karen Anderson's big Gothic harp.
Here's my portrait of Karen during her performance, and one of prolific New Mexico novelist Steven F. Havill, who drove from his Raton home to read from his new mystery -- Red, Green, or Murder -- the 16th in his popular Posadas County series, set in a fictional New Mexico county that often bears an uncanny resemblance to our own.
It was a fun night, one that reminded us all that there is always much to be thankful for. Thank you, Christina, for a lovely night.
November 22, 2009 SEO: Search Engine Optimization
I'm just back from a brisk 7-mile hike up Sierra Grande in which I spent a lot of time thinking about something I'd never heard of until last month: SEO. I've gradually discovered myself engaged in not just writing and photography, but in creating and designing web content, too. I've slowly gotten hooked. Mike Schoonover was my dealer.
The beauty of photography leading me to writing was that neither took me away from the other: they came wrapped together. This website grew simultaneously from the marriage of writing and photography. Mike and I created TimKellerPhotography.com one year ago, not foreseeing the need for TimKellerArts.com. Yet, no sooner had TKP launched than my first feature was published in Western Horseman and we immediately set about building TKA and wrapping it into the TKP site. It should have been the other way around, photography wrapped into the arts site...but the photography site was there first.
Ten months later the sites averaged 100 daily visitors through the month of October. How that happened, I have no idea. But it set me to studying more. I've "attended" two webinars on building photography websites and search engine optimization. I just added Google Search to my sites, and I'm about to add a function that will allow visitors to send a page directly to Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or a dozen other popular destinations with just a click. Mike tells me I'm now qualified to write "Building a Photography Website for Dummies" and sell it on Amazon. This time next year, I'll be able to write one for smart people.
One thing I've learned is that keywords and phrases such as "Sierra Grande", "New Mexico", "Western Horseman", photography, cattle, and cowboy won't draw as many Google hits as, well, "Live sex with Sarah Palin produced Michael Jackson's love child." Or "Can Facebook Twitter my wife's Blogspot as well as Google does?" But I won't stoop that low just to draw Google hits. Besides, it'll only draw the riff raff, which wouldn't do me any good.
I'm happy to just spend my time here with you, my friendly highbrow reader. Thanks for continuing to visit...it's nice seeing you here again. Even if I can't really see you. But without you, I would have had only 99 visitors today. See, you keep me in triple digits. That's something.
November 14, 2009 I'm Sure Editors Always Mean Well
RANGE Magazine published my Harvey Shannon story this week. It gives me a good opportunity to discuss copy editing, and what happens after a writer or photographer submits work to a magazine.
A photo that RANGE dropped was a portrait of Harvey smoking a cigarette, with a pack of Marlboros clearly visible in his pocket. I captioned it, "Harvey is a Marlboro Man." They moved that caption to another picture that had no visible cigarettes. Different statement.
My title was, "Harvey Shannon: 'The cattle business is gambling at its best'." Theirs is "Addicted to Cattle." Different statement. (You probably have to be an English teacher to even give a second thought to these things.)
My second sentence begins, "Finally reaching the Dry Cimarron River..."; the copy editor "corrected" it to "Finally reaching the dry Cimarron River..." In mine, the men and cattle take a break where the cattle can finally drink. In the magazine, the cattle rest at a dry river. Locals know that the Dry Cimarron is never dry. Its name comes from history, both human and geological.
Western Horseman did something similar in my first story for them. I wrote, "No one in a hurry drives Johnson Mesa." They printed, "No one who is in a hurry drives this route to Johnson Mesa." In reality, there's only one route to, and on, Johnson Mesa -- Highway 72. In the story, we were on the mesa, not on our way to it. My point was that, if you're on Johnson Mesa, you are, by definition, not in a hurry. Theirs suggests that some people might take a different route to Johnson Mesa...if they're in a hurry.
Minor changes, perhaps significant only to the writer. By the way, Western Horseman made six such changes to my first story but has not changed a letter in the two that have followed.
You might like to know that I usually send Western Horseman about a dozen of my best shots and let them choose what to run. Their editors and design people all read the article carefully, then select photos and design the layouts and graphics around it. Their staff is top notch. It's always exciting to see what the feature looks like. My next one, "The Long Riders: Crossing America from Mexico to Canada on Horseback", is scheduled for the February issue, out exactly two months from now. The anticipation is delicious.
November 9, 2009 Paz
You must be
you wish to see
in the world.
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