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We are going to Iowa…

On April 4th, 2010, our wedding anniversary, Arann and I went to Tomales Bay, to the house where we stayed the night we got married.

Well, fake married. We haven’t legally gotten married yet.

In November 2008, we were at the height of our wedding planning when California passed Proposition 8, denying same-sex couples the right to get married, and we were heart broken. We thought about canceling the wedding, but instead we decided to continue with our plans, because we felt the ceremony with our loved ones was the most important part.

And on April 4th, 2009, we had an amazing celebration with family and friends.

But because we want to get legally married in a state where all people are allowed to get married, we haven’t gotten legally married yet.

At first I didn’t think the legal part mattered to me. But a year later, I can feel the difference. Even though people, and insurance agencies, don’t question us when we say we’re married. And even though we made our vows to each other, and in my heart I know that is the most important part. I also know that if anything happens to one of us, the other one has no legal rights. And that bothers me.

So in June…

We are going to Iowa.

Because who wants to go to Iowa to get married?

We do.

We want to support the middle state that has historically been a leader in civil rights.

First making a stand against slavery in the civil war, and then putting woman’s suffrage on the agenda 50 years before the rest of the country.

And now leading the way again with same-sex marriage, which became legal in Iowa on April 3, 2009, the day before we got fake married.

Coincidence?

No way.

We are going to Iowa.


I love to do my taxes, as much as pigs love Easter…

(This post contains a photo of a butchered pig and may not be enjoyable for everyone.)

I would be editing photos from the pig butchering I went to a couple of weeks ago, but instead I have to do my taxes… this is one time I would rather be editing.

Part of this pig, who was raised by my friends, was in fact enjoyed by our community at our Anniversary/Easter dinner. While I did not have any of the ham, because I do not eat much meat, my loved ones said it was very tasty.

How much do you like your bacon? (part one)

My friends, Rebecca and Nick, like bacon so much that in December they got their own pigs to raise… and slaughter. And ever since the pigs arrived, they have been talking about all the different ways they were going to eat their pigs when the time came.

Well, last Wednesday, the time came… and Nick called me to see if I wanted to document the process.

Personally, I don’t eat bacon, or much meat at all.

When I get to choose the food I eat, I choose vegetables, partially because I am lazy and meat requires a lot more work than vegetables, but mostly because I don’t want to support the inhumane and toxic practices of factory farming (for more information watch Food, Inc.)

But if I am served meat then I will gratefully eat it. I don’t like to be rude and I don’t like to waste food. And if I know where the meat is coming from and how the animals were raised, then sometimes I actually even choose to eat meat, like heritage turkeys at Thanksgiving, or grass-fed burgers at the Fremont Diner… so I call myself an opportunivore.

Because I do occasionally eat meat, I think it is important that I know what it means to eat meat… to see the process of going from a live animal to, in this case, bacon.

So Wednesday I documented the first step… Killing the pigs. I have documented sheep being harvested before, at Windrush Farm, but never pigs. Pigs are a little smarter and more personable than sheep, so I was a little nervous and not entirely confident I could watch. But really it wasn’t so bad.

Actually I would be grateful if my death were as quick and painless, and if my body could continue to be a part of the life-cycle, instead of having to be cremated or preserved in a box, wasting valuable resources and land.

So I arrived and met the pigs. I gave them both belly rubs until they rolled over and passed out in pure joy.

Then the truck arrived. We met JD and his special truck that is equipped to process animals on site, which is less stressful for the animals because they don’t have to be transported to a slaughterhouse.

Nick was also nervous. He was the one who cared for these pigs every day for the last three months, and he wasn’t sure he could watch them being killed either. But before we realized, JD had already shot the first one and the process of cleaning and butchering began.

The photos posted were taken with my Rolleiflex, which actually make the event look less graphic. If you would like another perspective, or to compare the difference between film and digital, then there is also a slide show of photos I took with my digital camera.

If you would prefer not to know where your bacon comes from then now is a good time to close your eyes…

These were two lucky pigs. They lived a good life and they will continue to live on in the bodies of my sustainably farming friends.

Next step in making bacon: butchering. Those photos coming soon.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A wedding dress for five dollars…

Matilda got this wedding dress for five dollars from a thrift store in Maine last summer.

When she gets married she wants to have an all vintage wedding

And she wants to wear this dress.

Matilda is in the second grade.

The dress will have to wait.

My grandpa will always be my favorite Santa…

Christmas has always been my grandfather’s favorite holiday and because of all the love he puts in to it year after year, he has made it our favorite holiday too. It is all about the traditions.

Every year all 14 of us roll in from where ever we live and move in to their house for the week.

Every year I wrap my presents for my family in newspapers, hoping maybe one year it will catch on.

Every year my grandfather gives my grandmother at least one gift she doesn’t like.

Every year my mom really likes to sing Christmas carols.

Every year my vegetarian brother eats fake bacon and my grandfather refers to it as his eating disorder.

Every year we wear crowns on our heads, say grace and eat lots of food.

And every year, after is all said and done, we pack up our new loot and return to our respective states and my grandparents once again have their house back. But this year there was a small but significant change in tradition…

This year my grandfather waited and let us decorate the Christmas tree.

But it wasn’t an easy thing for my grandparents to watch. 65 years of marriage means they know how they like their Christmas tree to be decorated and they weren’t so sure we were doing it right.

And although we enjoyed ourselves, despite our lack of Christmas tree decorating style, it was hard for us to let them sit there.

It was breaking tradition. It was my grandfather taking a step back and giving away a little control. And the reason for his step back is a hard thing to think about. So we do our best not to think about it.

Instead we are so grateful for every day and every tradition we have and we hope with all our hearts that it will all be exactly the same next year.

My horoscope said so…

Most days I love what I do, but some days I feel like the lonely old peach tree that lives in my backyard that has been sprayed with herbicides. So lately I have been wondering if being a photographer is really the right path for me, or should I be something else… like a vet. (But I can only be a vet who works on healthy animals because just the thought of blood makes the room go black as I start to pass out.)

And then, one week in December, as I was wrapping my Christmas presents with the North Bay Bohemian I read this…

Libra (9/23-10/22) I’m hoping 2010 will be the year you do whatever it takes to fall more deeply in love with the work you do. I’d like to see you reshape the job you have so that it better suits your soul’s imperatives. If that’s not possible, consider looking for or even creating a new job. The cosmos will be conspiring to help you accomplish this. Both hidden and not-so-hidden helpers will be nudging you to earn your livelihood in ways that serve your highest ideals and make you feel at peace with your destiny. – Rob Brezsny, Free Will Astrology.

I haven’t read my horoscope in a really, really long time, and I don’t know Rob Brezsney, but I feel like he read my brain. He heard my doubts and knew I would wrap my presents with his newspaper, so he threw his wise words in front of me and made me think. And he is right, this is the year I have to jump in with both feet or switch pools.

I have been so incredibly lucky in 2009.

I have had so many wonderful opportunities and jobs that have just landed in my lap, and I am grateful for each and every one. I have met amazing people, and been to amazing places, and learned so many amazing things. But this year, I am going to put myself out there and find documentary photography jobs that make me fall more deeply in love with the work I do. Jobs that tell stories about communities, about people making positive change, about people overcoming adversity. Stories that show what it is like to live in the year 2010.

This is my new year’s resolution and it starts now. Here goes everything. (ps: I am going to need those hidden and not-so-hidden helpers so feel free to help away.)

Happy New Year.

This is how we do it, and you can do it too…

Nature created amazing plants.

Rebecca Burgess dyed wool into cool colors… with the amazing plants that nature created.

Heidi Iverson designed patterns and knit fun gloves and a blanket… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.

Beautiful ladies and cute children modeled the fun gloves and blanket that Heidi Iverson designed and knit… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.

I took photos of the beautiful ladies and cute children… who modeled the fun gloves and blanket that Heidi Iverson designed and knit… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.

All of this teamwork is for Rebecca Burgess’s book about creating dyes with native plants from the different regions in the United States. Her ultimate goal is to help people become more aware about their fiber-shed, which means thinking about wearing clothes that are made locally, just like the food we eat. Through her book, Rebecca hopes to show people how easy it is to create vibrant colors and cool clothes from the plants that are in our own environment.

It has been a fantastic project to work on and I can’t wait to see how all this teamwork comes out in the end.

Love that dog, like a bird loves to fly…

This is Frannie.

Frannie’s mother wanted some photos of her, to give as a Christmas present to Frannie’s dad, but Frannie’s mother couldn’t keep it a secret from Frannie’s dad.

So… Merry (early) Christmas, Frannie’s dad.

dog

by Valerie Worth

Under a maple tree

The dog lies down,

Lolls his limp

Tongue, yawns,

Rests his long chin

Carefully between front paws;

Looks up, alert;

Chops, with heavy

Jaws, at a slow fly,

Blinks, rolls

On his side,

Sighs, closes

His eyes; sleeps

All afternoon

In his loose skin.

(The title and poem above are from the book, Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech.)

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