—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Day 190, Part 3, Merridy.

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Here is Merridy, who just got back to Reno. She’s in the Air National Guard and had been deployed, ferrying troops and cargo around the Middle East.

She flies C130s and when she told me and Vesta that and I had to kind of laugh to myself, cuz I’d flown from El Toro in California to Cherry Point in North Carolina in one of those more years ago than I care to remember. I was surprised they’re still flying.

Merridy is Jasmin’s mom and while Jazz was building her snowman, Merridy was shoveling snow with the kind of shovel you bury people with, so I walked across the street and got one of my snow shovels and brought it back. Cuz with the grave digging shovel, she’d still be shoveling.

Then I took her picture and Vesta and I went home and I started shoveling the rest of my driveway.

And guess what? When Merridy finished her driveway, she came over and helped me, so I really got the better part of that deal, especially cuz she’s younger than me and can shovel faster.

Day 190, Part 2, Jasmin.

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Here is Jasmin at 7:00 this morning, smiling in front of Bill. Bill’s a snowman and he’s not quite finished. If you check the comments below, you’ll can see Jazz and Bill together and Bill’s got his eyes, nose and mouth in place, so he’s a complete and happy snowman and Vesta and I were happy to make his acquaintance.

I remember one day in Minnesota, when I was maybe a bit younger than Jazz. I asked my mom could I go outside.

“Sure,” she said, “but you have to bundle up. So she stuffed me into a jacket with a fur lined hoody that hung down the back and let me out into the front yard and it was cold.

Day 190, Part 1, Larry.

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Here is Larry, who lives across the street from us. He was out picking up falling branches as Vesta and I were about to start a long trek in the snow to our bridge.

When we got up, we saw about eight inches of snow and we started shoveling our driveway at 5:30, hoping to get it done in an hour, so we could drive to our bridge.

“Let’s walk,” Vesta said, so we quit when we were less than half done.

“That’s crazy,” I said.

“How many times did you tell our kids that you used to walk a mile to school in the snow?”

“But I don’t wanna.”

“Oh, come on, it’ll be fun.”

So we bundled up and I gritted my teeth and my loins and everything else for the mile long walk ahead. Then I saw this guy across the street, cleaning up the falling branches which had fallen in his yard and I started over.

“Hey, can I take your picture,” I said and he said yes and that’s how I got outta walking downtown in the snow.

And I thought I was finished and could go back into the warm house when I saw this little girl building a snowman and I had to go over and say hello. And then we met her mom and all of a sudden I had three photographs and I couldn’t decide which one to put up, so today, because it’s a snow day, I’m gonna post all three.

Day 189, Jim.

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Here is Jim this morning at the Gold Run rest area in Northern California. Vesta and I were on our way home from Livermore, hoping to get to our bridge, while it could still be called morning.

But when we got here, we saw it wasn’t gonna happen, so I asked Jim could I take his photo and, of course, he wanted to know why, cuz there’s lotsa hustlers and scam guys at rest areas these days. But Vesta convinced him we were on the up and up and didn’t want any money.

Jim’s from Utah and he’s been married for fifty-four years and he loves his grandchildren and there in lies his problem. His children are grown and live all over the place, so he and his wife are always on the go, visiting this one and that one and so on and so on.

“It’s a good thing,” he said, that he loves driving.

We hung out with Jim and his wife for ten or fifteen minutes, talking about life in general and whether or not we were gonna need chains to get over Donner Summit. He had a pickup with snow tires and we had our little Yaris with normal tires.

But we decided to take a chance, even though the signs were saying we needed chains and we didn’t have ‘em.

It was snowing to beat the band when we went over, but it wasn’t sticking and the road wasn’t icy and we made it okay, but the car got filthy. Ah well, we’ll wash it tomorrow, after we take our morning photo.

Hope the snow goes away before then.

Day 188, Isabella.

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This beautiful girl is Isabella, who is four years old and cannot go to preschool anymore, cuz she’s gonna go to kindergarten. She’s very excited, even though she’s only been awake for ten or fifteen minutes.

Vesta and I were quite taken with her, so much so that I asked her dad, could we take her home with us. He said sure, with a smile on his face, but Izzy said, “Nooooo,” I don’t think we’re that bad, but she didn’t wanna come with us.

I made this photograph yesterday morning at Izzy’s aunt’s house, where she spent the night, cuz she was gonna be the flower girl for her aunt Nichole. It was a beautiful wedding with a beautiful bride and a beautiful flower girl.

In the comments below, I’ve posted my alternate photo of gorgeous Isabella. I couldn’t decide which to use, so I flipped a coin, then decided to post ‘em both.

PS: I shoulda posted this photo yesterday morning, but we had no internet where we were and from there we went to photograph the wedding and we didn’t get back to our hotel till late and the internet was out, so I was out of luck.

But here it is now and now we’re back in Reno, so our lives should be back to normal. For awhile at least.

And in Fifteen minutes, I’m gonna post today’s photo.

Also, it’s snowing outside, so happy winter all.

Day 187, Haji.

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Here is Haji in Downtown Reno at 7:00 on Saturday morning. Vesta stopped him as I was tying my shoe on Virginia Street.

“Hey wait!” I heard her say as I was bending over.

“What?” I said as I quickly tied the shoe. I thought she was talking to me.

“Can we take your picture?” I looked behind me and there he was.

“Really?” he said and Vesta told him about our project and then I took his photo.

Haji is a traveler, who had been in Reno for about a half hour when we met him. He came in on the Greyhound and this evening, at 7:30 he’ll be back on it, heading to Denver and from there he’s gonna make a connection to South Dakota, where he’s gonna spend sometime on an Indian Reservation.

From there he’s gonna go south to Guatemala for six or seven months and after that, he hasn’t a clue.

Vesta and I spent a good part of our lives as travelers and I hope in a few years we can hit the road again, cuz there’s a lotta places we wanna spend time in. Kiev, Paris again, Costa Rica and Nova Scotia for starters. After a year in each of those places, we’d like to take off and photograph the world.

But we’re in Reno for at least a couple three more years, trying to earn the money so we can go to those places. And we gotta convince somebody to pay me for stories and photos from those places, so we can stay in those places.

It could happen.

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Here’s a photo of Haji with all his gear.


Day 186, Mike.

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Here is Mike, standing on the corner of Virginia and Second in Downtown Reno in the Dawn’s Early Light. Mike is originally from San Francisco, but he’s been in Reno for seven years, a year longer than us.

When Vesta asked could we take his photo, he couldn’t’ve been happier. In fact, from our few minutes with him, I’ve learned that this man does not have an unhappy bone in his body.

Even waiting for the longest traffic light on earth couldn’t dampen his spirits and the traffic lights on Virginia and Second are depressing as heck. I don’t know how many people have committed suicide waiting for one of ‘em to change from red to green so they could cross the street, but there’s gotta be a lotta dead people cuz of ‘em.

This intersection, the one at Virginia and Second in Downtown Reno, first stops cars going north and south, then it does the left turn arrow, then it stops the east and west traffic, then it does their left turn arrows, then it lets the pedestrians go and we can walk north or south or east or west or diagonally and it takes bloody forever.

And Mike missed his chance to cross the street, cuz of our picture taking business and he never lost his smile cuz of it. Now that’s a guy who lives in a happy world.

Lastly, I know this is the latest I’ve ever posted one of my daily photos and that’s because right after we took Mike’s photograph, we hit the freeway and didn’t get off till we got to Wente Vineyards in California, about four and a half hours away. We had to go because we had to be at a wedding rehearsal, but we’re back now.

So, I’m sorry it’s late, but sometimes late is better than never.

Day 185, Kalie.

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This is Kalie at 6:45 this morning. Vesta and I got to our bridge a little early and we managed to catch Kalie as she was on her way to the gym. And after the gym, it’s work for her.

We’ve noticed that a lotta people work out before they go to work and I’ve thought about doing that too, but then I’d need a nap when I got home and when I got up it’d probably be noon and I’d want lunch and then Vesta would want to take an afternoon walk and when we got home, I’d want another nap and before you know it, the day would be gone and I’d’a got no work done, so it’s good that we don’t belong to a gym.

Day 184, Bob.

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Here is Bob, out on the Sierra Street Bridge in Downtown Reno at exactly 7:00 this morning. He’s a nice guy, who’s traveled the world and knows a lotta people. He regaled us with stories, so cool and so funny, we almost forgot it was close to forty below.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we don’t like the cold, Vesta and me, not a bit, but somehow Bob made us forget about the North Pole like weather as he told us stories about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Hillary Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, Jeb Bush and how cold it can get in Russia.

“I get it that Russia can get cold,” Vesta said. “But it’s plenty cold here. I’m freezing.”

“Oh don’t worry,” Bob said. “I’ve seen the weather report. It’s gonna warm up.”

“Yeah, when?” Vesta said.

“August.”

And that’s how it went for about a half hour. And though we woulda liked to stay and talk with him longer, we had a meeting and a busy day. So busy, that again, I’m late getting my photo of the day up, but at least I’ve been able to post it before dark.

Best to you all, from Vesta and me on a cold, cold Reno day.

Day 183, Ken and Vesta.

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Here are Ken and Vesta out on the Sierra Street Bridge in gorgeous Reno, Nevada at 7:00 this morning.

We were leaving the house, on our way to the bridge, when Vesta said, “You should go back and get a tripod.”

“Why?” I wanted to know.

“Because we just passed the halfway point and we should be the photos in the middle.”

And that made sense to me. So I got one of our tripods and we set out on our way.

The sky was overcast, it was cold and we wore coats, but our hands were freezing and I felt like frostbite was gonna take all my fingers as I fumbled with the tripod, getting it set up.

Jeez, I hate the cold.

We’d visited Reno several times in our lives, but always it seemed in the summer. And we moved here in the summer. That was six years ago, when Reno had a horrible huge harsh winter with snow in our backyard four feet high.

We had never lived anyplace that had winter before. Snow is something you’re supposed to get in your car and drive four hours to visit for a couple hours unless you rent a cabin to stay overnight and then you go home and don’t see it for another couple years, except maybe on television.

That being said, we’ve had no harsh winters since then, though we did manage to destroy a car by sliding off the road cuz of black ice into a ditch. You don’t get that in Southern California or the Caribbean or anyplace else we’ve ever lived. Though we did roll a brand new car in Canada once when we were on our way to Alaska, so you’d think I’d’a known about the possibility, but I guess I forgot.

And I’ve slipped and fallen quite a few times cuz of ice in the wintertime here and Vesta’s had to help me up, cuz she’s more sure footed than me.

And my toes ache when it goes below freezing. And it’s not like a toothache, it’s a screeching ass pain that shoots from my feet to my gums.

And my eyeballs hurt in the cold and I could go on and on and on, but I’ll stop here, cuz even with winter, Reno is a wonderful place and I’m glad we’re staying for two more years.

Day 182, Grant.

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This is Vesta’s friend Grant on a Reno Monday morning. It was sprinkling when we left for our bridge and nobody was there, which was no surprise. We waited for a bit and the rain stopped and it turned into perfect photo making weather, overcast, but no rain.

So we decided to walk by the river and we ran into Grant. Vesta used to see him every morning as she ran along the river, but she hasn’t done that for six or seven months, so when we saw him, we stopped and talked for a bit and I asked could I make his photograph.

He said it was okay and I took this shot. We were very lucky everything was perfect for this photo, cuz rain started coming down to beat the band before we got back to the car. But, like my Trinidadian friend Gary is fond of saying, “It’s only water, it comes off.”

Vesta had seen Grant just about every morning for a couple years or so and she introduced me to him one evening, when we were walking the river last year. He’s always there and now that we’ve moved, we’re gonna be there a lot more too.

Cuz I gotta do a lotta jogging to get ride of my Jabba the Hut figure.

Day 181, Sherry.

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Here is Sherry out on our bridge at 7:15 this morning. She’s on her way home from a Halloween party and when she told Vesta that I have to admit I was a little jealous, cuz I just don’t think I could party till dawn, then walk home.

There was a time, but sadly that time is not now.

Still, we can make it to a couple hours past midnight and that’s not so bad, cuz we can usually absorb a ton of fun before 2:00. Any more just might kill us.

Day 180, John and Gigi.

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Here are John and Gigi out on our bridge at 7:40 this morning. John is my brother and he and gorgeous Gigi came up from SoCal to visit for a few days. So this morning’s photograph was supposed to be dead easy.

But it didn’t turn out that way, cuz sometimes I’m stupid.

We got up on time. We showered and shaved, well John didn’t shave, but I did. We had coffee, talked for a bit, then I grabbed my camera and we piled in the car and headed for the Sierra Street Bridge.

And I made their photograph. Or attempted to. Cuz right after the camera clicked, the words, “No Card,” flashed on my screen.

I told them about the no card business and told them we had to go back and get one and they, all three of ‘em, wondered out loud why they had to go back, and Vesta said I had to go alone, cuz I was the one who forgot to put the card in the camera.

So I did and they went to Cal Neva and had coffee, without ME.

When I got back, we made the photograph and afterward we decided to go to Cal Neva for breakfast and while there we ran into Don, who we photographed back about a hundred people or so ago and we also saw Lou, who is homeless and usually hangs out with his friend Gary. We photographed them way back when we started this 365 days of faces by the Dawn’s Early Light project.

They spend cold days at the Keno area in the Cal Neva and play nickels or dimes. They don’t win or lose much, but they stay warm.

But we didn’t see Gary and I asked Lou why and it turns out he’s in the hospital with some kind of lung infection and while there they discovered some nodes or something like that on his heart and they’re gonna take them off. So Gary’s gonna be confined to a bed at St. Mary’s for three or four weeks.

Anyhow, we’re gonna go and visit him today and get the lowdown on his condition. We hope he’s okay and Lou said he should be fine. We hope so.

Day 179, Augie, Joanne, Sophia and Madelinne.

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Meet, Augie, Joanne, Sophia and Madelinne with two ‘Ns’. We met them on the Sierra Street Bridge at 7:15 this morning.

We were a little late getting there today and we drove, cuz our new place is two miles away. Vesta and I can do a mile or so there and back on foot in the cold, but two might be one too many, so we’re gonna be driving, at least until the weather warms up.

This morning we were driving south on Sierra when Vesta saw them on the bridge ahead.

“It’s a family, we’ve never done a family.” She was excited. “Hurry, we gotta get them.”

The light turned red and I had to stop.

“We’re gonna lose them.” I think she wanted me to run the light, but I didn’t have to, cuz they stopped to look at the river.

The light changed just as the family looked away from the river and started back on their walk.

“I’ll pull up next to ‘em,” I said. “And you jump out and asked ’em.” And that’s what I did.

And that’s what Vesta did. She hopped right outta the car and asked and they were pleased to have us make their photograph.

They’re from Las Vegas now, but they used to live in Reno and they wanted their children to see the city and the places they used to go and that’s why they were on our bridge. Our first family in the Dawn’s Early Light.

Day 178, El.

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This is El and we met him at our bridge at 7:15 this morning. He pulled up, parked, got out of his car and was trying to figure out the parking meter and was about to zap his card, when Vesta told him that it was free till 9:00.

He thanked us and I asked could I make his photograph and he said sure. Young people never say no. I guess it’s cuz they’re so used to taking cellphone photos of each other.

After I took his picture, as usual, Vesta asked him why he was out so early and he said cuz he had to go to court.

It turns out, our Reno cops, who I like so well, like to cruse by the college after dark, stop students, who are out and about and bothering no one, and check if they’ve been drinking.

El had a beer and he’s not twenty-one, so I guess his crime was WAI (walking almost Influenced) or something like that. He was walking. He had a beer. And yes, he wasn’t twenty-one, so let’s crucify him, or at the very least, let’s fine him three hundred dollars.

El didn’t have three hundred dollars, so he’s gotta do community service.

Is this really the best use of our cops? We just moved out of a neighborhood full of drug dealers, hookers and crooks, but the cops are hassling kids at the university. I don’t know, I love our cops. Vesta and I have lived all over the world and we got the best cops there is and I know this first hand. But they should lay off the kids if they’re walking back to their dorm and they’re not drunk.

And yeah, I’ll admit it, right here, right now. I mighta had a beer or two or three when I was under twenty-one and I don’t feel like a criminal. I don’t think I should have to do retroactive community service.

Ah well, here’s to El. I’m sorry the cops got you. Sometimes life just sucks.

PS. And once again, I’m late. My computer’s up and running now. We’re moved and tomorrow our life should be more normal.

Day 177, Dameon.

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This is Dameon (spelled the French way) in Downtown Reno at 7:05 this morning. He was pleased to have us take his photo and after I took it, as usual, Vesta asked him why he was out and about so early.

He said that he just was. Then he went on to say that he’d been looking for a long time for a place where he’d fit in and Reno was it. He lives in a high rise downtown and has a view of the river and loves it.

He’s also starting a podcast featuring smooth jazz next week. So if you’re into jazz, look for it.

And, once again, I’m late getting my face of the day up and again I’m sorry. Vesta and I live very physical lives, we always have. And we’ve been in situations where we couldn’t sleep for three or four days straight.

And we’re used to being colder than any human being outta be all night long.

But this moving, heck, the three days that we battled Hurricane Lenny was nothing compared to this. The week we spent freezing and sleeping in the dirt in the Australian Outback, not even close. Burning Man in a storm, a walk in the park.

We move a lot and we don’t got much stuff, but some of it’s heavy and Vesta said that if I ever, ever asked her to move again without hiring professionals, that she’d shoot me.

So the next time we move, we’ll be watching the people we’ll be paying.

Day 176, Richard.

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This is Richard, who Vesta and I ran into on the Sierra Street Bridge at exactly 7:00 this morning. He got there the same time we did and Vesta asked straight away, could we take his picture.

“I don’t have time. I’m in a hurry,” he said.” And that wasn’t a “No.” Not really.

“Bummer,” Vesta said.

“Why would you want to?” He stopped.

And I told him about our project.

“Okay,” he said, “that’s different.”

And I took made his photograph. Then Vesta asked him why he was out and about so early.

“Looking for work.” He was dressed nicely and he had a briefcase.

“I hope you find it,” Vesta said. Then we shook hands and he started south on Sierra, toward the courthouse.

“Hey, Hippy People!.” It was Pappy, the guy who’s fished the Truckee River everyday for forty years. We photographed him about a hundred people ago. We talked to him for about ten minutes and he told us this story about a beaver family that had moved into his part of the river. A mom, a dad and a pup. Pappy knows the river like nobody else.

We said goodbye to Pappy and started home. The light was red at the Court Street. So we stopped.

“Look, there’s Richard,” Vesta said.

So I rolled down my window and shouted, “Hey.”

“Hey, back at you,” Richard said. Then he shouted, “I’ve only been in Reno for six days and today’s gonna be the day I get a job.”

“Good luck,” We both shouted back. Then the light changed. We waved and then we were gone.

Richard reminds me of my brother-in-law Tom. When he moved his family to Texas, I asked him what he was gonna do for work, cuz he didn’t have a job lined up and he had a good one in California.

“It shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

“A lotta people can’t find work these days,” I said.

“I think maybe they don’t look as hard as I do.”

And I swear, he wasn’t in Texas very long, when he was working. And you know, there’s something to his attitude. Tom got a job, cuz he pounded the streets till he got one, just like Richard’s doing. If you stay at home and bitch and moan, you’re gonna stay unemployed. I think so anyway.

PS. I know I’me very late today. I’ll probably be late tomorrow as well. But by tomorrow evening, we’ll be totally moved and our computers will be up and running. -- But we’re really sore, tired and hurting right now. Ah, well, you can’t have everything.

Day 175, Brett.

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Here is Brett, out keeping the bridge workers safe, by not letting cars run ‘em down or crash into their equipment.

Vesta and I have seen Brett almost daily as we check up on the new Virginia Street Bridge construction in the afternoon. He knows everything that’s going on and lots of people have questions for him, cuz they wanna know too.

And I know I’m very late with my face today. I took this photo at 7:00 this morning and it’s 5:00 in the evening now. I’m late cuz Vesta and I are moving. We’ve been painting all day and we’ve moved some of our stuff.

Moving, it’s never fun. But the Haunted Studio didn’t work out for us, so we’re moving into Casa Fotographia and we’ve got a very good feeling about it.

However, we’re both dead tired, everything hurts, even our teeth and fingernails. But we’re not done yet. We’re gonna be painting till midnight. Then it’s lights out and first thing in the morning, we’re gonna rent a truck.

And by tomorrow night, we should be settled in to Casa Fotographia and all ready to go to work.

Day 174, Cassie.

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This is Cassie, who works at the Best Western on Barnett in a place called Medford, which is in Oregon. Yep, Vesta and I are on the road, in Oregon, visiting Devon and I’ll have some photos up of that in a few days.

And can you guess where we’re staying?

If you said the Best Western on Barnett, you’d be right, cuz that’s where we are.

Right after we had breakfast, we asked Cassie, who works at the front desk, if we could make her photograph and when she said yes, we asked her if she’d come outside, cuz this series is about photos taken in the Dawn’s Early Light, not the Dawn’s Early Inside.

As for what we’re doing here, Yesterday we took a lot of photos with Vesta levitating by a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree that we discovered. Vesta’s off the ground with Devon and I flanking her in matching tee shirts.

Today, we’re gonna make zombie photos of the three of us and maybe one, two or all of us will be off the ground in some of ‘em.

Anyway, we’ll be back in Nevada tomorrow and we’ll be moving for the next three days. Moving, it’s always exciting. We do it a lot and every time we do it we get rid of stuff and that’s good, cuz someday we hope to be leading stuff free lives.

Day 173, Ron.

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This is Ron. Vesta and I found him on Virginia Street in Downtown Reno, heading South, toward the river. He had his head down, like he was in a hurry.

“He’s not a candidate,” I said.

“Can’t hurt to ask,” Vesta asked could we make his photograph and that was a new and different way of asking.

He stopped in his tracks. “Why would you want to take my picture.”

“Photograph,” Vesta said. “We make photographs. We don’t take pictures. People with cellphones take pictures. People who don’t know what they’re doing take pictures. We’re a couple of the best photographers in America and we make photographs. We stop time. We record history.

“So how about it? Would you like us to stop time for you?”

“Well, put it like that, yeah.” And that’s how she turned a guaranteed no into a yes.

“Make his photograph, Ken,” she said and I did and here it is.

Day 172, Claurise.

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This is Claurise, very early in the morning by the Reno Sign. Vesta and I caught her as she was on her way to school.

I thought she was going to UNR, but she told me she was in high school.

Is it just me, or do kids today seem a whole lot more grown up than they used to? I know this for a fact, they’re a lot smarter than I was, when I was their age. But heck, if id’a brought home all C’s, my mom woulda had a party and my dad probably woulda bought me a car.

So a kid today, doesn’t have to be very bright to be brighter than I was back then. But they’re a lot smarter and sharper than the smartest I knew when I was in school.

I know a lot of you won’t agree with me. Some will say, they don’t teach cursive writing anymore or that some schools issue calculators rather than teach math and some of that may be true.

But the kids I meet, know who the Vice President of the United States is, and I know a lot of adults who don’t know who Joe Biden is. When I was in high school, nobody cared about that kinda stuff. Kids today understand global warming. They know who the pope is and what he’s about. They think people should be judged on their merits, not by the color of their skin or who they love.

Kids in high school today, at least the ones I meet and talk to, and I meet and talk to a lot of ‘em, understand war and poverty, politics and religion, life and death and a whole host of other things I and my peers never thought of when we were their age.

There was no way I, or anybody in high school with me, was qualified to vote. But today, I’d trust these kids with the ballot without a blink.

We’ve come a long way.

Previous Next List Day 171, Marco and Cass.

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Here are Marco and Cass by the Reno Sign at 7:00 this morning and Vesta and I were very pleased that they allowed us to take their photo when we asked, cuz it was cold outside and we wanted to get home.

After taking the photograph, I asked them if they were tourists and Marko said no. He was from California, but he was in Reno because if his job.

“Who do you work for?” Vesta said.

“Tesla,” he said and right away we were interested, cuz we’d been hearing how all the rents in Downtown and Midtown were gonna go up when the plant was finished and all the workers got here.

He didn’t think so and you know, I don’t either. I think the Tesla employees are gonna live in the affluent areas of Reno. They’re not gonna be wanting to crowd out the homeless downtown or the students or the folks in Midtown, especially the drug dealers who live in the weekly behind us.

Don’t get me wrong, Midtown isn’t chucky jammed full of druggies, but there are a lot and that’s one of the major reasons we’re moving out next week.

Anyway, that being said, it was good to finally meet someone from Tesla. Like everybody else in the Biggest Little City in the World, we wanna welcome them here.

Day 170, Tom.

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This is Tom. He came upon Vesta and me like a hurricane on his bike as we were walking on Virginia.

“Are you photographers?” he said.

“We are,” I said.

“I’m looking for homeless people sleeping on the streets. Seen any?”

“Right there.” I pointed to a woman sleeping in a heap in a doorway.

Tom kicked his kickstand down, got off his bike and photographed the woman, who was dead to the world.

“Why’d you do that?” Vesta said.

“I’m working on a book about the hurt the homeless suffer and how when they dream, it’s always of a better place.”

I told him about my project and asked could I take his picture. He said yes and I took his photograph.

Then we shook hands and I gave him my card and he gave me his and his reads, “Thomas L. Kuciemba, an American Cowboy.” And that’s just what he is.

And in my opinion we need more people like him on this planet, people who care more about others than themselves.

Day 169, Jerry.

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This is my Facebook friend Jerry, who was driving around Downtown this morning, looking for us. And he found us, walking north on Virginia. We spent five cold minutes on our bridge, then headed to the Reno Sign.

But Jerry headed us off before we got there and I’m sure glad he did, cuz I wasn’t wearing a jacket and it was really cold.

And there is nothing, except maybe liver and onions, that I hate more than being cold.

So when he drove by and honked, Vesta waved, cuz she always waves at a honking horn, and he pulled over and got out and we recognized him straightway from his pictures on Facebook.

“You are our face for today,” I said as I shook his hand.

“You have Bob Dylan eyes,” Vesta said as I took his picture.

“And today is my birthday,” Jerry said.

“Happy birthday,” Vesta said and I did too, cuz it just seemed appropriate.

Jerry’s a photographer, who is in town shooting cowboys and horses and cowgirls at the Event Center. He’s good at what he does and actually what he’s shooting is called ACTRA, which stands for the American Cowboy Team Roping Association.

Vesta and I went to a rodeo once. We were driving to beat the band, somewhere north of Queensland, when we saw this sign. “Rodeo,” is what it said, with an arrow saying we should turn.

So we did. And the road curved here and there, then turned into a bumpy dirt road, but we kept going, because we’ve always viewed rental cars as all terrain vehicles, and the road ended at a rodeo and by looking at all the people there, you’d swear you were in Texas and not Australia.

All the seats were taken, but there were some hay bales with some kids sitting on ‘em right up front by the fence that surround the rodeo arena or field. I don’t know for sure what it’s called. But the fence was a hasty, makeshift, week looking, pipe like affair, which we put right out of our minds, cuz there was room for us with those kids and we were right up front, with all those Aussies sitting way back in the bleachers.

And we DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY, cuz the ticket seller wasn’t at the ticket seller booth, cuz he or she left it to watch the rodeo and we got there after it started, so we were pretty lucky.

We were also part of the entertainment.

Like in the rodeos I’ve seen on TV in America, they had bronc riding and calf roping and bull riding and clowns. It was cool. Till the bull riding.

The very first bull threw off his rider straightaway, then charged straight for us. The kids squealed and jumped off those bales and we jumped too, with Vesta screaming like she’d just seen Great Cesar’s Ghost. It was scary as all get out and those Aussies where clapping and laughing and I knew deep down they didn’t think we had the balls to get back up on our bale of hay.

Yeah, they thought we were gonna high tale it outta there with our tails between our legs. But we got back up on that hay and those kids did too and bull after bull charged us with the clowns chasing em, but they never broke through that fence and we never chickened out. We were just like those kids and after awhile you get used to being charged by mad crazy bulls. You really do.

Day 168, Sergio.

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Saved by Sergio. That’s who this is, Sergio at 7:30 on an overcast day in Downtown Reno.

This was a hard morning for me and Vesta. We spent yesterday working a wedding show. For those of you who don’t know what that is, well it’s like Comicon or a Star Trek convention, only it’s for future brides.

And instead of going from booth to booth meeting your favorite comic book character or aging actors who flew on the Star Ship Enterprise, you meet wedding cake makers, wedding singers, wedding DJs and yes, wedding photographers.

Vesta and I enjoy doing the show, but we’re on our feet all day and we’re dead on ‘em when we get home. So we were stiff and tired when we trudged out into the cold, earlier than usual this morning, cuz we got up earlier than usual, cuz we went to sleep earlier than usual, cuz we were dead tired cuz we worked all day yesterday at the wedding show.

And then, when it started to get light, everybody said no. Eleven people didn’t want to have their photo taken when we asked. That’s never happened before. Sometimes we get a no, but mostly people are happy to have us do it, but not this morning, I don’t know why.

Maybe, because we looked bruised and battered and beat up cuz we worked so hard yesterday. Or maybe the stars weren’t lined up just right. I don’t know.

Then we spied three kids, leaving a hotel, and I asked ‘em and they just stood there, not talking, shy like. I told them about my project. Still no words. I told ’em where I wanted ‘em to stand and they stood and I took the photo.

Then I asked their names and they told me, each one speaking barely above a whisper. I to ask them each a couple three times, putting an ear close to their mouths. And those were the only words they spoke, their names. Not any other words.

They were beautiful children. Two young men, sixteen or seventeen, and a girl the same age. They were trailing suitcases, the kind stewardess trail.

We said goodbye and left, they didn’t say it back.

“I don’t think you should use the photo,” Vesta said.

“Yeah,” I said.

And we speculated what the deal was. They were well dressed and looking back, they seemed afraid. Maybe they were on the run, but they had the cash to stay in a hotel. Whatever their deal was, it wasn’t any of our business and we sure didn’t wanna get ‘em in any trouble, so we decided to keep looking for a face and to respect these children.

“There should be people over by the courthouse now,” Vesta said. “Waiting for them to open.”

So we went over there and we saw a plainclothes cop getting out of an unmarked cop car, so we asked him and he said no. Cops always yes, at least the ones in uniform do. And then we saw Sergio.

I asked could we take his picture. He said yes and I did.

Vesta asked him why he was going to court and he said to pay a traffic ticket.

We both said sorry, then goodbye and we finally got to go home.

Day 167, Russ and Kat.

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Here are Russ and Kat from San Francisco, Vesta and I had not seen Russ in years and years and he was he was in Reno for  our little Geekcon. Below is my little story about how we got from our bridge to where they were.

It’s 6:07 and Reno is waking up. The city’s put out a “Slow Down” sign in the middle of Virginia, cuz there’s an Amway convention in town. Eleven Thousand soap sellers have converged in the Biggest Little City in the World to pump themselves up, so they can go back home and hype their product.

There’s a guy spraying the sidewalks with a high pressure hose, deleting the gum and grim from the concrete. The sky is overcast, the sign is still lit up, hardly anybody is about.

This is the best time of day and in a half hour or so, Vesta and I will start looking for our face of the day. But for now, we’re out soaking up the air and the mist and everything we can. And we’re wondering and talking about who we’re gonna meet this morning, out in the Dawn’s Early Light.

“You know what?” Vesta said. “Russ and Kat should be our people for today. So why don’t we go to Cal Neva, have breakfast, then drive to the Town and photograph them?”

“That’s got my vote.” I love Cal Neva. You order ham and eggs there and get full. Really full and and for only $4.99.

So that’s what we did.

Russ and Kat are in town for the Geekcon at Reno’s Town Mall and Vesta and I had an eye opening experience there. Kat had a booth and she sells ears and, as you can see, she’s wearing a pair.

Vesta and I will be working our booth at the wedding show at the Convention Center tomorrow and right across the street, Kat and Russ will working their booth. We’ll be seeing young couples and there’ll be wedding dresses galore on display. Russ and Kat will be seeing comic book people, geeks and nerds galore.

Reno, you gotta love it.

Amway in the morning, geeks in the evening.

Oh yeah, while we were at geekcon, I went outside to sneak a smoke with Russ, cuz I don’t buy em’ cuz I don’t wanna get addicted, and we ran into Amber and Alan, whose wedding we’re photographing next year. Brides and geeks, grooms and nerds, mingling freely, how about that, we can all get along. We don’t even have to try that hard. We just gotta wanna.

Day 166, Helen and Cindy.

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Here are Helen and Cindy, out by the Reno Sign at 7:05 this morning. Vesta and I got to our bridge at exactly 7:00, which is our new time and since there was no one there, we headed straight for the sign.

But when we got to Virginia, we saw more people out and about then we’d ever seen this early. The men were all wearing suits and ties. The women were all dressed to the nines. And they were all headed North.

“Scary,” Vesta said. “Like Salt Lake City.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” I said.

When we were younger, Vesta and I took off on a road trip, to finish what my brother-in-law Butch and I had started in Long Beach, California and that was to find the perfect fajita. It was a worthy pursuit, which took us to many great Mexican restaurants, both the large family kind and the tiny hole in the wall kind. And it ultimately led us to Houston and Mama Ninfa’s.

Mama Ninfa claims to be the fajita inventor and I believe her, even though there is another pretender to the throne, but that’s for a different story.

This is a story about Mormons and Morlocks and Amway.

A friend of my named Mark used to have a bumper sticker on his car which said, “The Dead Goat Lives.” And I wanted one too. He got it at the Dead Goat bar in Salt Lake City. So, even though we didn’t expect to find fajitas extraordinaire there, we went anyway, so I could get my bumper sticker.

We got in late on Saturday, found the bar, but they hadn’t had that bumper sticker in like five or six years. I guess I shoulda called first and saved us about six hundred miles worth of gas, which we were almost out of. But I didn’t and since it was late and our chances of finding fajitas were almost nil and since we were dead tired, we decided to get a hotel room, order room service and head down south, back into fajita land in the morning.

When we got up, we decided to take a walk and check out the town before leaving. Outside our hotel, we walked right into that scene in the Time Machine where the human Eloi are all walking trance-like to the caves to go down under the ground to be eaten by the green, not so human Morlocks.

Only these humans weren’t in a trance and they were all dressed up to beat the band.

“Were do you think they’re all going? Vesta said.

“Don’t know, but there sure are a lot of ‘em.

“Kinda like in that movie,” she said.

“But I don’t think they’re all gonna be breakfast somewhere.”

“Let’s find out.” And she started off in the direction everybody was going and not wanting to be left alone like a big dummy in Salt Lake City on a Sunday, I went too.

And they led us to a place called the Mormon Tabernacle.

“Think they’ll let us in?” Vesta said, cuz we were wearing Levi’s and tee shirts.

“Dressed like this?” I doubt it.

But I was wrong.

“Did you want to see the choir?” this well dressed young man said.

I didn’t have a clue what the choir was, but I said, “Yeah.”

And he led us in and showed us to seats right up front. And holy cow did we have a good time, the music was great and everybody was very friendly. And it was on television. But the show didn’t stop during commercials. They had this guy come out and tell jokes to keep you laughing and clapping when they weren’t on air. They were clean jokes, but considering where we were, that was to be expected.

After it was over, we saw the guy who seated us outside. “Did you enjoy yourselves?” he asked.

“Yeah, we did,” I said.

“And we didn’t get eaten,” Vesta said.

The guy laughed, even though he didn’t get it.

And this morning, Downtown Reno was full of suits and ties and dresses and heals all going in the same direction. Just like in SLC

Then we spied Helen and Cindy, sisters on vacation from Sacramento. Vesta asked if I could take there picture and they said yes. And after I took it, Helen asked me why them and not one of the eleven thousand Amway people who were here for the convention,

“Ah,” Vesta said. “Amway.” We flirted with Amway once. We didn’t sell much, but we wound up with a whole heck of a lotta soap.

We said goodbye to the nice ladies and on the way home, I said. “Maybe the Mormons weren’t Eloi, but these Amway people sure are.”

“No really,” Vesta said. “These are the cream of the Amway crop. They’re the eaters, not the eaten.”

Day 165, Montana.

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This is Montana out by the Virginia Street Bridge construction site in Downtown Reno at exactly 7:00, which is our new time for these By the Dawn’s Early Light photos.

It’s hard to believe how many more hours there are in the summertime than in winter here. Vesta and I got so used to eleven and a half hour days and nights, with thirty minutes between ‘em, that winter just depresses us. We’ve been away from the Caribbean for thirteen years, but it’s never been away from us.

Montana is an iron worker, a proud member of his union, Iron Workers Local 118 and he wanted me to know it and I get it.

Years ago, when Vesta and I were a little younger, we worked at different airplane plants. Hers built DC8s, 9s and 10s and mine built the X-15 and the Saturn Apollo spacecraft. She worked in a union shop, I did not.

However, North American, where I worked, was very cognizant of the wages Douglas, where Vesta worked, paid and they made sure we got just a little more an hour, so that we wouldn’t listen to the union guys who came around the bars where we drank after work.

But some of our supervisors and leadmen treated some of us pretty gosh darned awful and they could fire you whenever they wanted and if they didn’t like someone they could make their life so miserable, they’d quit, so it didn’t look like they were firing them for no good reason.

Oh, they weren’t all that way. This guy George Allison promoted me over others, cuz I was always on time and I was the youngest member in his department. And Vesta and I used to go waterskiing with Don Bierly, my other supervisor, every weekend and we played poker at Mike Ward’s, who was my leadman, every Friday.

So I really had no bitch, we got better than union wages and we got the medical benefits the union guys got and I was on the fast track to, well I don’t know were, they weren’t gonna make me an astronaut or let me pilot the X-15, but they gave me the easiest and cushiest and highest paying job in the department and I was the youngest guy there.

And it was unfair, but I didn’t care, till I started to see how some of the guys who had families with kids were treated and I guess somewhere, deep down, I knew that could be me someday, so when Tom Sturgeon asked me to go to a union meeting, I did. And when they wanted me to help organize, I said sure and guess whose life they started to make miserable next.

Fortunately, I got a job working at the airplane plant where Vesta worked before the hammer came down.

So Montana needn't have worried about how I feel about unions. But I suppose, if you’ve never worked at an auto plant or an airplane plant or made steel, you might have a different opinion.

Day 164, Clayton.

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This is Clayton, in front of the Virginia Street Bridge Construction Project in Downtown Reno at 7:00 AM and he’s one of the guys who is gonna make sure we get the bridge done on time and that it won’t fall down.

We talked to him for a few minutes after we took this photo, then I gave him our card and told him that I’d have him up on my Facebook page in an hour or so.

He looked at the card. “You’re wedding photographers?”

“We are,” Vesta said.

“My daughter just got engaged.”

“Well, you want us,” I said as I went into full used car, Richard Nixon like salesman mode. “Cuz we’re the best wedding photographers west of the Mississippi.”

“Really,” Vesta said. “He wouldn’t lie.”

And we talked weddings and wedding photography and venues in Reno for about five minutes. Then we shook hands and he went to work and we started for Starbucks, where we met a young couple who were making wedding plans at the table next to us.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you guys have a wedding photographer?”

“We do not,” the girl said.

“Well let me give you my card.”

Day 163, Deborah.

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This is Deborah on the Sierra Street Bridge just after sunrise.

“She’s got a camera,” Vesta said as we approached.

“Then she’s the gal for us.”

We walked right up to her as she was taking a picture of the new arches, which are going to hold up the new bridge.

They’re using these pistons, to move the arches, which weigh about a bazillion tons. And the pistons, they don’t look anywhere near big enough to move bazillion ton arches, but they’re doing it.

They tied the two arches together with girders and thick rigging, then bolted the pistons to the ground, one behind each arch. Those pistons can move the arches about six feet in an hour, then they gotta unbolt ‘em, move ’em, then re-bolt ‘em down and do it all over again. They started on Monday and they expect to have the arches across the river by day’s end today.

And that’s what Deborah was taking photos of, the excruciating slow movement of those arches.

“Why?”

“Why would I want to take your picture?”

“Yeah.” I told her.

“What’s you name? She said as she produced an iPhone, from I know not from where.

I told her and she plugged it into Facebook. Then she showed me the phone.

“Which one is you?” She showed me the display.

“The one on top.”

She tapped the image, scrolled through my page, then said, “We have six mutual friends.” And we talked about them for a few minutes. And we talked about her work, she’s in insurance. And we talked about our wedding photography and then she said, “Okay, you can take my picture.”

And I did.

Then we said goodbye and headed home.

“She checked you out right on the spot,” Vesta said. “That was pretty cool. Smart too.”

“Smart?” I said.

“Well, yeah, you coulda been a serial killer or camera thief or something. But after she found you're on Facebook, she knew you were okay.”

“She knew I was okay.”

“How do you know?”

“Cuz serial killer, camera stealers don’t have sidekicks.”

“You don’t have a sidekick.”

“Sure I do. You’re my sidekick.”

“If anybody’s the sidekick in this deal, it’s you.”

“No, no, not so,” I said, ‘I’m the guy taking these pictures, so that makes you the sidekick.”

“What did you say you wanted for breakfast?”

“You know, now that I think about it, being a sidekick isn’t so bad.”


Day 162, Charles and Gayle.

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Here are Charles and Gayle. We ran into them in front of the Federal Building on Virginia as we were on our way to our bridge. They were going south, we were going north.

“Hey,” Vesta said. “You guys are people.” They stopped.

“Yes, we are,” Charles said and I told him about our project and they were glad to let me take their picture. The only problem is that Charles is a very tall man and Gayle, she’s short, so I couldn’t get close and get ‘em both in my view finder.

“Why don’t we sit on that rock?” Gayle pointed to one of the giant rocks they got surrounding the Federal Building. They’re like boulders and I’m guessing they’re there to keep you from loading your car up with dynamite and ramming the building and blowing yourself and the feds up to kingdom come at the same time.

I didn’t know we had suicide bombers in Reno, but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Vesta asked why they were out and about in Reno and Gayle said they were on vacation and that they were from Tampa Bay. That was a head scratcher for me, cuz Reno’s great and all, but Tampa Bay is one of the prettiest places in the world and they got beaches to die for. True they got mosquitoes bigger than crows, but other than that it’s a fun place.

Ah, well. Maybe they want some time away from the tropical giant bugs. They got roaches there that chase cats and small dogs down the street. But, like I said, if you can take the big bugs, you’d love Florida.

“I love that area,” I told ‘em.” Then I went on to tell ’em about the time my friend Trevor called me up from London.

“Heather and I are coming to America in a couple weeks,” he said, “can you pick us up at the airport.”

“Which airport,” I wanted to know, cuz we lived in Long Beach in California and we had LAX in L.A. and John Wayne in Orange County.

“Sarasota,” he said.

“Hell, Trevor. That’s like three thousand miles away, but we’ll pick you up." And we did. And he and his charming Heather treated us to a glorious vacation in super Sarasota, just a hop and a skip from Tampa Bay, where Charles and Gayle are from.

So there you go, nice people, coming from fabulous Florida to Reno for a vacation and they’re having fun. So, if you’re reading this and not from here. Come on down, check out door number three, you’ll be glad you did.


Day 161, Landon and Luis.

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Here are Landon and Luis, out by the construction site for the new Virginia Street Bridge in Downtown Reno. Landon is a TV guy. I didn’t know that at first, cuz Vesta and I don’t have a TV.

Some of you know that Vesta and I lived away from America for a very long time and except for the year we spent in New Zealand, we didn’t have a tele. Well, we had one for a little while during the first Iraqi War, when we lived in Spain, cuz everybody in the country was glued to it and our landlord let us use one of her TVs and she plugged us into her satellite dish.

And we had one when we lived in New Zealand, cuz we lived in a small town that only had three stations and two of ‘em weren’t any good, which meant everybody in town watched the same thing every night. And if you didn’t watch, you couldn’t answer the next day, when somebody asked you what you thought about something on tele, if you didn’t have a TV, so we got one, cuz we wanted to fit in.

So, when we moved back to America, we’d not seen any of the programs or the movies that had been out in like a quarter century, which most people were familiar with. And at first we didn’t care.

Then one day, we walked into a place called Best Buy in Long Beach, California and we saw our first big screen TV with a Bose sound system in action and we were flabbergasted. We sat on a sofa in front of that TV and watched it for about an hour.

Then we bought it. The Bose sound system too. And a Blu-ray player.

Then we bought a couple recliners.

Then we found out about Blockbuster.

And for two years we sat in those recliners and watched TV in a place called Medford, which is in Oregon.

Then one evening we woke up. It’s like we’d been living in a TV dream haze and not living our real lives anymore. It was scary, that revelation. And the next morning, the TV, the Blu-ray and the recliners all went on Craigslist and in a day, they were gone.

So we can’t be blamed if we don’t know who or what’s on TV in Reno, cuz we’d rather live than watch others doing it from our couch.

And that brings me to this morning, we had a long weekend and we didn’t get to bed till after midnight on Sunday, so we got up a little late and we were dragging by the time we got to the bridge site.

“Hey,” Vesta said as we approached the construction, “let’s shoot a bridge guy, then we can go back home and go back to bed.”

“Good idea.” We’ve done five or six of the bridge workers. They’ve always been friendly and always glad to have their photo taken. But not this morning.

There were four of them in hard hats and we walked right up to ‘em and Vesta asked ’em and they said no and not in the most polite way one can get that said to ‘em. Then we saw that they were not really bridge workers. They were like suits in hardhats. The big cheeses, I guess.

“Let’s get him.” Vesta pointed to this guy sitting by a news van.

“Can I take your picture?” I said and the guy looked up. I figured he was like the van driver or cameraman and Rebecca Kitchen was in the van. She’s a TV person whowe  photographed on the bridge, back whenwe  started this project. I didn’t know who she was then, like I didn’t know who Landon was now, cuz, like I said above, we don’t have a TV.

“Yeah, you can.” Landon got up and jeez, he’s tall. But there were some steps for the Pioneer Theater there, so I went up a couple to take the photo and Luis gets outta the van and my first thought was that Rebecca used to be a lot prettier. I took their photo and after a few minutes of conversation, I learned that Rebecca worked for a different station and by talking to them, I figured out that Landon was an on air guy.

And when I got home, I saw that he’d friended me on Facebook, so Landon, if you’re reading this, that’s really cool. And Luis, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I think Rebecca from another station is prettier than you, but sometimes you just gotta call ‘em the way you see ’em.


Day 160, Gary and Michele.

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Here are Gary and Michele. Vesta and I caught them on the corner of Second and West Streets in Downtown Reno as they were walking to church.

We left the house this morning at 6:15, which was early for this time of year as it doesn’t get light till about 7:00. So we decided to walk by the Riverwalk Towers on West Street, where we lived for a couple a years in out Deluxe Apartment in the Sky.

And it was just getting light when we say Gary and Michele. They were on their way to the St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, which has first mass at 7:00. We used to see that gorgeous church everyday, from below and above, as we could see it from the twelfth floor while we were waiting for the elevator.

It’s a nice church.

After I took their photo, I gave them a card and Vesta and I headed home. We’re both pretty tired as we didn’t get to bed till late, cuz we photographed a wedding yesterday and we got up early and we’ve got a full day today.

I’m betting we’ll be dragging by tonight.

Ah well, we can sleep when we’re dead.


Day 158, Haywood.

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This is Haywood in front of the Reno sign. You can’t see it, but it’s there, above his head. Vesta and I came across him as he was headed into the Whitney Peak Hotel and he was in a hurry, but he let us take his picture.

He’s an electrical engineer and he was on his way to fix something and I know it wasn’t slot machines, cuz there’s no gaming at the Peak. It’s a classy place, the Whitney Peak is, and I guess they gotta be, otherwise folks would just stay in the casino hotels and we got a lot of ‘em.

At first, when they were building the Peak, I didn’t think it would go over, but it seems to always be full and they have a great restaurant, so it just goes to show you, there are a lot of people who come to our Biggest Little City in the world, for reasons other than giving the casinos their money.

If you have a gamboling problem, Reno or Vegas or anyplace in Nevada would probably not be a good place for you to live. Their’s this guy named Jack who lives down the street from us and he gets both Social Security and a pension of some sort, cuz he’s a retired police officer.

And ten minutes after he gets a check, he’s at GSR and he never leaves with any money. He stops us when he’s out and he sees us walking and regales us with stories about how he was up seven or ten thousand, only to loose it all.

It seems like when he’s ahead, he just bets more.

So he’s always broke, bumming money for cigarettes. Not from me, I’ve developed a hard heart when it comes to him. But somebody else who lives in my house, has been know to give him money on occasion. I’m not mentioning any names, but again, it’s not me.

Anyway, Jack’s girlfriend left in the middle of the night, cuz he kept gamboling away the rent money. Then he got evicted, cuz he kept gamboling away the rent money. Then he shows up at our door, wanting to sell me three dollars worth of cheese for thirty bucks, cuz he had no money.

But I pretended I didn’t understand, took the cheese and said goodbye. Vesta said I was cruel, but if I would paid for the cheese I got for free, he’d’a just gamboled it away, so he’s not in any worse shape than if I’d’ve given him the money. N

ow, Jack’s staying with a friend, who also lives on our street and he’s promised to pay him rent as soon as his pension comes. But it came and Jack disappeared. His friend came over and asked if we’d seen him, cuz he wanted his money and I told him we hadn’t and he said he thought Jack was probably out gamboling.

He was and he came back broke and now his new friend is stuck with him.

Jeez, you know, there’s a possibility that if it wasn’t for my hard heart we coulda been stuck with him. But it’s not gonna happen, cuz Vesta isn’t allowed to answer the door anymore.


Day 157, Phil.

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This is Phil. He’s old and he’s pissed off. Can you tell?

Vesta and I came across him at the AmTrack Station at a quarter to seven, fifteen minutes before they opened. Phil had a bone to pick with the ticket seller and he didn’t mind waiting.

“Hey,” Vesta said when we saw him. “Can we take your picture?”

“Why?” She told him about our project.

“Okay.” I took the picture before he could changes his mind.

Then, like always, Vesta asked him what he was doing out in the Dawn’s Early Light.

“The stupid ticket seller— Look, there he is.” A guy showed up out of seemingly nowhere and he was keying the door to the station. And, I suppose, cuz he was occupied with us, Phil didn’t have a chance to immediately confront him.

“You were saying?” Vesta said.

“My wife and I are going on vacation and we wanted to take the bus going and the train coming back. So yesterday I came to buy the coming back ticket and that stupid ticket seller sold me a going ticket.”

“So, I guess you only wanna go one time?” I said, and Phil gave me a look. “Well, look at it this way, once you get there, you don’t have to come back.”

“Or I could just trade in the ticket and get a return, like I originally wanted.”

“Or you could do that,” I said. Then, “Are you on Facebook?”

“Do I look like I’m on Facebook?”

“Good point.” I wondered what people on Facebook were supposed to look like in his opinion, but I didn’t ask. Instead, we shook hands and said goodbye.

“How come you didn’t ask him about that thing on his nose?” Vesta said. “How come you didn’t?”

“I was afraid to, you?”

“Who wouldn’t be?”


Day 156, SinJin.

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This is SinJin, who was very happy to have his photo taken. That’s right, happy. When I asked him, his face lit up brighter than a full moon. Way brighter, it coulda rivaled the sun if it had been up, so it’s a good thing it wasn’t.

Vesta asked him where he was going out in the Dawn’s Early Light.

“Work,” he said.

“Where do you work?”

“The Court House Cafe.”

“How’s the food there?” I said.

“Best in Reno.” His smile got even brighter, something I didn’t think was possible. “It’s on Sierra, near the court house.”

“That makes sense,” I said.

“I know the place,” Vesta said.

“There’s a guy across the street from it with a sign. He dances all day, pointing his sign at the restaurant.”

“That’s me.” SinJin beamed. “I’m the sign guy.”

“Sounds like you like your job,” Vesta said.

“I love it,” he said and we shook hands and let him be on his way.”

“What a nice guy,” I said.

“If everybody had his attitude,” Vesta said, “this world would be a much better place.”

And there you have it, our quick encounter with a very nice guy, a happy person. Just meeting him made our day.


Day 155, Brook.

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This is Brook at 7:00 this morning.Vesta and I met him in front of Harrah’s Casino on Virginia. It’s getting on toward winter and the days are getting shorter and colder. But the cold doesn’t keep everyone inside.

Yep, there are still people out, however a lot of them are fast walking to wherever it is they gotta get to, work mostly, I think. On our bridge, we asked a couple people, but they both shook their heads and hurried on, so we moved on to Downtown.

Our first stop was out by the Reno sign, where we drew the attention of a couple cops, who were in their cars, parked opposite each other and chatting away thru their windows. We could see ‘em watching us and I kinda hoped they’d come on over and it looked like they were gonna, cuz they fired up their cruisers and headed our way, but they both just waved at us and took off South on Virginia.

“Must’ve gotten a call,” Vesta said.

“To bad, we coulda got ‘em with their cars.”

Then we saw Brook coming up the street.

“Now there’s a face,” I said.

“Let’s go get him,” Vesta said.

So we did.


Day 154, Melody and Dan.

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Here are Melody and Dan in Downtown Reno at 7:05 this morning.

They were our third try this morning.

Our first was an eighty-four year old guy from England. He had a great face, but he didn’t want his photo taken. Something about we’d capture his spirt in our camera.

Then this hot looking, uppity, snotty girl came flouncy out of the Eldorado. “Can I take you’re picture?” I said.

“Fat chance.”

“Okay, she was a hooker and looked every bit the part. But we’ve photographed hookers before and they’ve always been nice. Not this one though.

Then we came across Melody and Dan and, as usual, after I took their picture Vesta asked ‘em what they were doing out and about so early.

They said they were from Phoenix and were headed back today. And I wondered why they’d want to do that, go back to Phoenix.

Vesta and I have been to a lot of places and the only place we’ve been I can think of that rivals Phoenix as a place I wouldn’t wanna live is Tucson. They just don’t seem like very fun places. Tucson used to be, but last year when we went there it really sucked. When the economy went south all the cool people went north.

We went to the mall and in all my born days, I’ve never seen a deader place.

Phoenix, maybe it’s not dead on the vine yet, but it’s sure as heck not fun and it’s hot. Actually, I heard that Lucifer calls it home, you know, when he’s not rounding up soles for Hades. And I bet he’s a sad little devil, cuz hot as Hell is, it can’t light a candle to Phoenix.

Of course, I didn’t tell Melody and Dan this. When Melody asked had we ever been, both Vesta and a told a little white lie by shaking our heads no, cuz we didn’t wanna offend them in case they asked if we liked it.

On another note: All I wanna do today, is wander down to a lagoon somewhere in the Caribbean or the South Pacific or the Med, lay by the beach and drink a Margarita, but instead Vesta and I gotta work. Life is so unfair.


Day 153, Joe.

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This is Joe at exactly 6:30 on our bridge in the Dawn’s Early Light. Vesta and I ran into him about fifteen minutes earlier, when we were checking out the construction on the new Virginia Street Bridge.

We talked for a few minutes and I couldn’t help but notice his German accent and we thought he was a tourist. He was congenial and curious about the bridge and we told him what little we knew, but the clock got closer to our appointed hour on the Sierra Street bridge, so we said goodbye.

We got where we were supposed to be at 6:30 and right away, along came Joe.

“It’s fate,” Vesta said.

“Guess so,” I said, then I asked Joe if I could take his picture and he said yes straightaway.

Then Vesta asked him what he was doing out so early, like she always does and he said he wanted to see how the bridge construction was coming, because the friends he has coffee with every morning at McDonald’s had all checked it out, so he thought he should too.

“So,” I said, “I’m guessing you’re not a tourist then.”

“You’re pretty observant,” he said. Then, “Yes, I live in Reno.”

“Where are you from?”

“Why do I have to be from somewhere?”

“Cuz you have a German accent.”

“No I don’t. I’m Austrian, from Salzburg.”

“My mistake.”

“You’re not the first.” He smiled, then said. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.” “Imagine you have a log flowing down this river.” He pointed to the river below. “And there are five frogs on the log and one decides to jump in.” He paused. “Now, how many frogs are left on the log?”

“I wanna say four,” I said, “but somehow I think that’s the wrong answer.”

“You’d be right, four is wrong.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. How many frogs are left on the log?”

“Five.” He smiled.

“Why?”

“Because, like so many, he didn’t do what he decided.”

“I don’t get it.”

“He decided to jump, but he didn’t.” He laughed. “You know, like you might decide to go on a diet, but don’t. Or you might decide to work harder, but you spend your time watching television.”

“Ah.” So, it was more than a riddle, it was like a little life lesson and he had several more. But eventually he looked at his watch and said he had to go, because his Mickey D pals were waiting.

“Don’t you decide to go on a diet about once a week or so?” Vesta said to me.

“Don’t start.”


Day 152, Jason, Sara and Sara.

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Here are Jason, Sara and Sara. That’s right, two Saras. Vesta and I caught them coming out of Harrah’s at 6:50.

That’s the Whitney Peak Hotel behind them and just before we came across Jason and the Two Saras, we saw a couple girls loading guitars into a car. We assumed they were musicians and we went right on over as asked could we take their picture and they just giggled and shook their heads.

They were like in their early twenties and kinda shy, so maybe they weren’t the band. Maybe they were roadies or groupies. Wait, do they still have groupies? Anyway, we didn’t take their picture, even though I got the impression that if we pushed it, we coulda.

But we don’t push it. No means no and when we get a “No,” we move on, cuz there’s always a “Yes,” right around the corner. Or in this case, right across the street.

Jason and the Two Saras were pleased to have their photo taken and Vesta gave ‘em each a card, then asked them what they were doing out so early.

“Drinking coffee and meditating, “one of the Saras said.

“That’s a new one,” Vesta said. “We haven’t gotten that before.” Then we said goodbye and headed home.

“Where do you go to meditate around here?” I said.

“What are you taking about?” Vesta said.

“Meditate, they said they were meditating.”

“They weren’t meditating.”

“But she said—”

“Stop it.”

“But—”

“They were having fun. She was kidding.”

“Ah,” I said. Then, “Why.”

“Oh, Lord, please give me strength.”


Day 151, Megan.

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This is Megan, out in the Dawn’s Early Light. She appeared to be in an awful hurry, rushing past us as we were by the Reno sign.

“Can I take your picture?” I said.

“What?” She stopped cold.

Vesta told her about our project.

“Okay, but I’m late for work, so I’m in a hurry.”

I took her picture.

“Where do you work?” Vesta said.

“Right there, at the hotel.” She pointed to the Whitney Peak, then she went in.

As for Megan, I’m glad she was so pretty, cuz she had to make up for the two faces I didn’t get. On our way to the bridge, I came to a screeching hault when I saw B.B. King in his shades, sitting on a bus bench. Okay, B.B. King’s passed on, so it wasn’t him. His ghost maybe. Or more likely, someone who looked an awful lot like him.

I walked right up. “Can I take your picture?” I was pretty jazzed.

He held his hand up in a fist, thumb out, pointed north, the direction we’d been headed.

“You want me to go?” He started jerking his hand back an forth, thumb still pointing north.

“But I’ve got this project.” And I proceeded to tell him about it. He didn’t say a word, just jerked his hand faster.

So we left.

And once on our bridge, who should come by, but Buffalo Bill Cody. Now Buffalo Bill’s been dead for a long, long time, but this guy looked just like him and sure as you’re reading this, I asked could I take his picture.

“No!” he didn’t even slow down. But the glare he gave me coulda killed a wolverine. I’m tougher than a wolverine, so I survived, but barely.

So when we got to the Reno sign and this pretty girl came hustling by on her way to work, I was expecting another no, cuz B.B. King and Buffalo Bill had me conditioned.

But Megan said yes and so, Megan, if you’re reading this, thank you.


Day 150, Neil.

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This is Neil out in the Early Morning Rain. It was pouring when Vesta and I got ready to walk downtown. For a bit we thought about driving, but after fifteen minutes or so, it turned to a sprinkle, so we put on our jackets, grabbed our cameras and set out.

We got to our bridge on time and on the way we noticed that the street people had sought shelter, you know, places where they could sleep and stay dry. We’d become so used to seeing them sleeping by the river that this morning we missed them.

Nobody came by our bridge, which wasn’t surprising, considering the rain, so because Vesta wanted to check out the construction on the new bridge, we headed there, where nobody was working today. Apparently, they don’t work in the rain and I guess I can see why. A lot of it is dangerous work and rain would only make it more hazardous.

After admiring how far they’d come and speculating how long it would take to finish, we turned to head downtown and were surprised to see Neil behind us.

“I’m Vesta.” She held her hand out to him.

“I’m Neil.” He shook it.

“Your hand is warm.”

“Really.” He blushed.

“I’m Ken.” I held out my hand and Neil Shook it too. He’s Hoss Cartwright big, but has a soft handshake. He’s a Gentle Giant, Neil is.

We’ve seen him around. Actually, we see him almost every morning. He’s young, not yet thirty, I think. And like our friends Lou and Gary, he’s got a place to sleep. A place where he can be until about 6:00, when he has to leave, by either the rules or his own accord.

Also, like our friends Lou and Gary, Neil doesn’t have a substance abuse problem, he’s not mentally challenged in any way and he’s more than happy to talk to anybody who’ll take the time.

I believe, but I don’t know for sure, that like Lou and Gary, Neil is homeless because he wants to be. Unlike Lou and Gary, when you first see him, you might be intimidated, because he’s so big. And that just goes to show you, appearances really can deceive.

Vesta asked him what he did all day and he said he spends the first part of it walking the streets and enjoying himself and the day, then he goes to the library and does research.

After talking to him, I believe Neil is a bright young man who just doesn’t wanna live by any rules. He’s got everything he wants inside of himself. He’s certainly more together and happier than any of the street people we’ve met. Happier actually, than most of the people we know who live in houses.

We gotta get to know Neil better. When we do, I’ll photograph him again and report back.


Day 149, Dana.

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Here is Dana on Virginia Street in Downtown Reno. Vesta and I caught her on her way to work and she seemed flattered that we wanted to take her picture. She didn’t even ask why, but I told her anyway.

When Vesta asked her why she was out so early, she said she was on her way to work and Vesta asker her where she worked.

“I work in accounting at Cal Neva.”

“Really,” Vesta said, “Do you know Betty?”

“Very well, we work together.”

“We took her picture right on this spot about two months ago.”

“It really is the Biggest Little City in the World.”

And that’s why we love Reno. We came for a year and every year, when the year is up, we ask ourselves if we’re going to move on or stay for another three-hundred and sixty-five days. And six times now, we’ve decided to stay.

But this year, since they’re going to demo the place we’re living in and turn it into several units, the place we were going to turn into a live in studio, we decided to change our local to San Francisco. We got our stuff in boxes and we were ready to say goodbye, but about a month ago we found, without even looking, a place near the university that we like very much and we just made a commitment for another year.

We love San Francisco, but we love Reno more and one of the reasons why we do is because of people like Dana, who is another person Vesta and I will greet every morning as we wander the streets in the Dawn's Early Light.


Day 148, Muli.

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This is Muli, out on our bridge this morning. Vesta and I got there at 6:30 and saw nobody for five minutes, so we headed downtown, but before we got there, we stopped at the north side of the Virginia Street Bridge construction to check it out.

And on the other side of the street, this cop car pulls up and stops.

“Oh good, I’ll shoot him.” I started across the street.

“Where are you going?” Vesta said.

“To take his picture.”

“You should wait till he gets outta the car.”

But after five minutes or so, with us looking at him and him stealing glances over at us, he didn’t get outta the car.

“I’m gonna go knock on his window.”

“Not a good idea. He’s probably in there doing police stuff on his radio.”

“He’s watching us.”

“Maybe he doesn’t want his picture taken.”

“I’m gonna go find out.” “

Okay, but if he arrests you for interfering with a stakeout or something, I’m not gonna bail you out.”

“Not gonna happen.”

“How do you know?”

“Cuz we’re going back to the bridge.” And we turned our backs on the shy cop and headed back to our bridge, where we came upon Muli, gazing into the river.

I asked could I take her picture and she wanted to know why and I told her.

Vesta asked her why she was out so early, like she asks everybody.

“I’m an artist.” She turned to the artist loft and pointed. “I live there.”

“What kind of artist?” Vesta said.

“I’m a sculptor.”

“What kind of sculptor?” Vesta asked. I didn’t even know there were different kinds.

“I work with clay and bronze, but they won’t let me work there.”

“What, you can’t have a kiln on the seventh floor, because they’re afraid you might burn the place down?”

“Yes, how’d you know?”

“Just guessed,” Vesta said.

“Go figure,” I said.

Then we changed the conversation to what a beautiful day it was and I took a couple more pictures, then we said goodbye.

“You think a kiln could cause a fire and burn that brick building down?” I said as we were on the way home.

“Maybe not the bricks, but everything inside, including the people, they could all be toast.”

“Ah,” I said. “Then I guess that wolf wasn’t very smart.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know, he huffed and he puffed, but he couldn’t blow the house down. He coulda just burnt it up and had three roasted piggies for dinner.”

“Oh stop.”


Day 147, Drew.

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This is Drew. Vesta and I came across him as he was talking to our friends Lou and Gary. We said, hello, talked for a few minutes then headed out to our bridge. We coulda taken his picture then and gone to our 6:30 spot for five minutes or so, then gone home, but we’ve already done a lotta street people and besides, he didn’t look like he wanted to be photographed.

So we went to the bridge, then headed downtown, but there were slim pickings by the Reno sign, so we decided to go to the AmTrack Station and we came across Drew on the way, so this time we took his picture.

Living on the streets can’t be easy. Living on the streets and staying out of trouble with the law has to be harder. Winter’s coming and that’s gotta be harder still.

You know, the street people have been nothing but kind to me and Vesta by the Dawn’s Early Light. Never wanting anything from us but a smile and maybe some intelligent conversation and I like to think we’re intelligent and I like to talk, so I’m always happy to oblige.

Anyway, after leaving Drew, like I do every time we say goodbye to a street person, I couldn't help thinking about Phil Ochs’ song, “There but for Fortune.” Had things gone just a little differently in our past, Vesta and I could’ve been seeing the world from Drew’s shoes.

Truly in our case, and maybe in yours too, there but for fortune may go you or me.


Day 146, Joe and Michele.

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Here are Joe and Michele in front of Harrah’s Casino, where they are spending a two day vacation in gorgeous downtown Reno. They were pleased when Vesta asked if we could take their photo and I was pleased to take it.

“Where are you from?” Vesta wanted to know.

“Fernley,” Michele said.

“So you’ve been to Reno before?”

“Oh yes.”

If you’re not from here, Fernley and Fallon are cities to the east of Reno, like about and hour away for Fernley and an hour and a half for Fallon. They’re small and for the love of whatever, I don’t know why anybody would want to live there, but those who do, seem to like it lot.

We’ve done several weddings in Fernley and one in Fallon and they’ve all been fun, good time affairs, with great people and great guests, but hey, it’s an hour to Costco.

Yeah, they got Walmart, but they’re surrounded by the desert and I’m sure you can’t go out late at night, because as sure as the sun is gonna come up in the morning, something bad’s gonna catch you and eat you. And I don’t care how big your gun is or how many you got.

The desert night creature doesn’t care. It’s T-Rex Hungry, coyote quick, wolf smart and nobody see’s it and gets out alive.


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