Saturday, September 26, 2009


What is an opinion? The dictionary defines and opinion thus "a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty." Opinions are not arguments. Although, people forever want to argue about them.

The antonyms for opinion are "reality or truth". For the language challenged antonym means the opposite of the word in question.

What I write here on this blog are my opinions. For some reason people are constantly wanting one to defend or justify ones opinion. It simply isn't possible, by definition.

If one has a differing opinion fine and dandy and they certainly do not need to justify or defend it to me. When I read an opinion that is contrary to my own on a subject I try to take an objective look at it and see if there is anything of substance in it for me. If not I move happily along.

My purpose in writing my opinions here is not to force my ideas on others but simply to put them out there in case I might say something that resonates with one or two people. Writing thoughts down also helps to clarify things in ones own mind. If I should express an opinion that actually influences another human being to think about a subject in another light or see another side, I would find that a very satisfactory thing indeed.

Emerson wrote that to change ones opinion regularly is a very healthy thing. I think Emerson is quite correct in this. So, the opinion I write today may not be the opinion I have tomorrow. To remain pedantically married to an opinion expressed is the sign of a small and unyielding mind. I do not wish to be such a person.

The title of this blog is Musings and Memories. Musings are just thoughts that form, things that I am cogitating on at the moment. They are my feelings. I may love you today and be madder than hell at you tomorrow. Opinions are personal things. There is no right nor wrong to them and they are subject to change without notice.

If you are inclined to try and change someone's opinion I suggest you use honey instead of vinegar. Attacking people for their opinions, or trying to put them down in some way, says more about you than the person you are attacking. Now, there's an opinion that is not likely to change any time soon.

That is what I was pondering today and how I felt about it.

©Kinsey Barnard

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Starting September first wolf hunting will be open in Idaho and on the fifteenth it will begin in Montana. As one might expect, there is a great controversy as to the wisdom of removing the grey wolf from the endangered species list. I’m afraid I must come down on the side of the environmental groups that wish to stop the hunt. I doubt they will prevail but I’m with them in spirit.

I am a nature and wildlife photographer. I hunt exclusively with a camera. It wasn’t always that way. I was raised on a ranch in California and got my first rifle, a Daisy BB gun when I was about seven years old an I thought hunting was the coolest thing in the world. I shot little critters with gusto and was pleased as punch with myself. As I grew up so did my hit list, ultimately shooting big game in Kenya. I think a lot of it had to do with attempting to garner my father’s approval. In any event, I did a lot of hunting and observing of hunters so I know of what I speak.

What eventually finished me on hunting was the fact that I no longer had blood lust. Most hunting has no heart. It has no decency. It is all about ego and making hunters feel somehow superior that they were able to spill the blood of some poor creature that happened into their scope. Hunting season, in my opinion, brings out the worst in people. It sickened me to the point that I said no more. I cannot be a part of this barbaric ritual.

Yes, some people really do need to hunt for food, especially here in Montana. But, I don’t know of anyone who eats wolf. No, the wolves will die so some hunter can belly up to the bar and brag of his prowess. He’ll have it mounted in some way so that he can marvel at his own wonderfulness.

Native Americans had it right. They did need to kill to survive but they understood that the taking of animals came with a responsibility and reverence. They paid homage to what they killed and they only took what they needed. Then the white man came and nearly wiped out every living thing on the continent including the Indians.

But, like everything else, it is all about the money. Last week our governor Schweitzer was photographed at his local gun store buying his licenses. The story pointing out that hunting season puts over three hundred million dollars in the state coffer, the governor imploring people to get out there and hunt. I happen to like Schweitzer very much and think he has been an excellent governor even though I am not of his party. I simply use this incident to illustrate my point.

Wildlife management is a necessary evil. It is a very delicate balancing act. But, it’s also very political and politics sully everything no matter how well intentioned. Unfortunately, environmental groups are not much different when it comes to politics, which is why I do not affiliate myself with any of them and believe me I have tried.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the right to bear arms. I carry a .357 on my belt when I go into the wilderness and I would use it if it were a matter of life or death. But, to kill these wonderful, spiritual creatures for fun, it just proves we haven’t evolved nearly as far as we think we have.

My heart is heavy and I will shed a tear for those wolves that will die for no other purpose than to serve human egos, needs and wants.

©Kinsey Barnard

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My First Car

All the talk about the cash for clunkers program got me to thinking about my first car. Boy things have certainly changed and not just with respect to buying cars.

My father made a deal with me that he would match whatever I could come up with to buy my first car. From the time I earned my first nickel I was a saver. My allowance, back in those days, was two bits (twenty five cents) a week.

I grew up on a ranch near a small no more town called Ventura. Ventura is about thirty miles south of Santa Barbara and sixty miles north of Los Angles on the California coast. In those days the area was mostly agricultural. Today all that beautiful, rich soil has been paved over to sprout houses. The climate was and still is as close to perfect as you could get and it seems people prefer melanomas to melons.

I earned some of my money picking one crop or another. The crop picking memory that sticks in my head involved walnuts. When I was about ten a school chum offered me a “get rich quick” scheme, or so I thought. Her family owned walnut orchards and it was harvest time. She told me we could earn five dollars for every bag of walnuts we picked. In the early sixties five bucks was big money. I figured I ought to be able to get at least a couple of bags in a day. Ten or fifteen dollars for a day’s wages, that was just too good to be true. Of course I knew nothing about picking walnuts, my family was in citrus and avocadoes.

I certainly learned about picking walnuts that day. The walnuts were shaken out of the tree onto the ground so they had to be picked up. A good number of the nuts hadn’t shed their outer shell so those had to be shucked. There is something in those outer skins that stains your hands a ghastly yellow. And, those bags were really big. By the end of our backbreaking day my friend and I had managed to fill one bag between us. Our fingers looked like we had been smokers for at least a hundred years! Not surprisingly, that was my first and last stint as a walnut picker.

In 1960 my grandmother passed away. She left me 100 shares of AT&T. Unlike today, in those days companies paid dividends and management answered to them. Nowadays shareholders take all the risk and the executives pay themselves lavish salaries instead of dividends. One hundred shares of stock don’t seem like much today but back then those shares paid me $240 per year in dividends. That was huge for a kid my age. Unlike today, back then, savers were rewarded. I had never heard the word compounding” but compound I did. It just seemed like the smart thing to do.

By the time I was seventeen I had saved up $1,300 dollars and I knew exactly what I wanted. From the time I was a very little girl I loved horses and was riding one as soon as I was allowed. Originally, I thought I needed a pickup to haul my tack in. But then I discovered the Chevrolet El Camino. It was love at first sight. The best of both worlds, it was a car with a bed. Perfect! Now that was a bed for hauling equipment lest you get the wrong idea.

I think my father was somewhat dismayed when I announced I had saved up $1,300 and was ready to buy my new car. Now, he had to cough up his share. You probably think $1,300 is no big deal but you would be wrong. In today’s dollars it’s probably more like $10,000.

I’ll never forget the evening my father said, “Let’s go see about that car”. I was so excited. We headed off down Telegraph Road to Fillmore and William L. “Chappy” Morris Chevrolet. The dealership still exists today but Chappy is no longer with us.

Walking into the lit up showroom was exciting in itself. But, to be there to pick out my new car, well that was beyond the beyond. When I say, “pick out” I don’t mean wander around a huge lot looking for a needle in a haystack. I mean looking at a catalog and choosing the paint, the seat covers, the carpet, the engine, the transmission and other options. General Motors took that order and made that car just for me, just the way I wanted it and it cost just $2,600.

When you hear people talking about how our standard of living has gone down so much in the last forty years I think this story really illustrates what they are talking about. For $2,600 GM promised me the moon and they delivered. I don’t think there is an equivalent on the market today. But if there were a similar car/truck you’d most likely pay ten times as much and have to take what was on the lot.

My father could have easily just given me the car but he always insisted that his children work for what they got. This was not a bad thing. I learned self-reliance. Self-reliance is equivalent to freedom. I never thought I had to depend on a man for my survival as most women of my era did. It simply never occurred to me I couldn’t provide for myself. Most women were trained to believe they had to have a provider. Now that I think about it I need to be thanking my father for being such a “jerk”.

Back in the sixties people saved to buy what they wanted. We didn’t take things for granted and we really appreciated what we got. It seems, thanks to Madison Avenue, in the last twenty years people have gone berserk with credit. They have bought everything they wanted when they wanted it without having earned it. Now General Motors is bankrupt and people have become enslaved to their creditors. It truly is difficult to believe this has happened. A truly wonderful time in America has slipped away only to be remembered by old fogies like me.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

Friday, August 7, 2009



Lady Jane died seven years ago today. She was my mother and I miss her.

My mother was the epitome of grace and elegance. Hence the nickname Lady Jane. She was the kind of woman who turned heads when she entered a room. In her nearly eighty-nine years I don’t believe I ever heard her use a curse word except in private as a joke.

When Lady Jane found out she was pregnant with her last child she announced to the world "This is my last baby and I am going to spoil it to death." As luck would have it, that child was me. I was spoiled pretty good as I recall.

I don't know exactly what it is but there seems to be an extra special bond between a mother and her youngest. I didn't really become aware of our bond until I was a young woman. It was whilst on safari in Kenya East Africa that we forged a relationship that was more than mother daughter. It was that and much more. We truly became life long friends. Although it was sometimes tough for her there was nothing that I could not tell her.

The thing I regret the most is that I was always so full of myself and did all the talking. My mother had an appetite for listening to my tales that knew no end. I think she lived a little vicariously through me. At the time that was wonderful but now I wish I had spent more time asking her about her. There is so much I will never know because I never thought to ask.

In the end my mother had Alzheimer's. I took care of her for nearly seven years. Through it all she remained the epitome of elegance and grace. People have a tendency to underestimate persons with dementia and it used to really make me angry. They would talk in front of mother as though she weren't even there. But, she was there.

There are so many wonderful memories I hold in my heart. But, the memory that will grip my heart until the day that I die is of her, hardly able to remember or do anything, shuffling up to me, taking my face in her hands, looking up into my eyes with more love than can be imagined and saying, "You are my baby."

I miss you Mama and I'm still your baby!

©Kinsey Barnard

Friday, July 24, 2009


Last night, for the first time, a mama moose and her baby came to call. It was a gloomy, stormy, summer evening. The great dark hulk of a mother moose simply appeared outside my window like an apparition, a tiny baby at her side. I quietly went out on my deck. I made no effort to get my camera. I didn’t want anything coming between this incredible moment and myself. I didn’t want to be distracted from the experience in any way.

The pair was not more than twenty feet from where I stood, the mother quietly watching me as she munched the clover in my lawn. I have never been this close to a moose, nor would one want to be under normal circumstances. There is nothing more dangerous than a mother moose. But, these were special circumstances. The moose had come in peace and I was somewhat protected by my deck rail. I was greatly impressed by her size. We all know moose are big but until you see one so close you don’t really appreciate just how big. No other word but majestic would serve to describe her.

I spoke softly to them, welcoming them to my sanctuary. I always do this when I encounter wild visitors. Seldom do they run away as one might expect. The moose were no different. The mother just lifted her great head for a moment and then went back to munching. The baby looked at me with curiosity and snuggled closer to its mother.

Eventually, they wandered down the hill to the fruit trees. The mama stopped at a cherry tree and rose up to snatch a few. I called out “Not my cherries mama!” She immediately dropped down and the two slowly walked into the forest and disappeared.

Although, this was a first as far as moose are concerned such precious moments are not uncommon at my sanctuary. But, each time they do I am overwhelmed by my good fortune to the point of tears. This time was no different. Seven years later and I still cannot believe anyone gets to live like this. I think Eden was not destroyed. It still exists and I am living in it.

I followed the ravens and they led me to this place. I give thanks every day that I chose to listen. I have truly found my home.

©Kinsey Barnard

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


It has been quite some time since I have posted to this blog. In my last epistle I spoke of plans changing. They surely did for me. I had planned to go to the Gulf Coast but hurricane Ike came along and cut a nasty swath right through my planned path. I aborted that arrangement and went to Arizona instead.

My odyssey to the southwest lasted six months. The first two months of my journey were spent in southern Arizona. I worked like a dog. Out every morning and evening hunting for that special moment. But, the Sonoran Desert was loath to give anything up to me. I mentioned to someone that I was having a very difficult time photographing the desert. This person could not understand why. She told me to look at Arizona Highway. The magazine “was loaded with pretty pictures”.

What was I to say? The truth was, I had taken a number of “pretty pictures” but pretty pictures are not my aim. My mission is to take photographs that capture special moments at their peak of perfection, images that more resemble paintings than digital images.

After all was said and done I was able to capture perhaps three such images in six months. I suppose by some peoples definition that makes me a pretty lousy photographer and perhaps they are right. I’m not the judge. I don’t do what I do for approval. I do it for love of it.

As mentioned, I took many pretty pictures and some of them can be viewed at my stock site I confess I am way behind in my processing, partly because, at home, I use an Apple G5 which has such high quality graphics I am loath to go back to the laptop where all the trip images are currently stored. The other reason is; I am simply basking in the natural beauty that surrounds me. I have never taken psychedelic drugs but I am imagining it must be something like what happens to me when I’m at my ranch. I feel as though I am in a waking dream.

Although, not Catholics, my parents sent me to Catholic school. They felt the education was superior. I always felt like an outsider and was very lonely there. But, I did come away with great penmanship. I also came away with the wish I could be like St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Here at my ranch I almost am. The deer follow me as I walk through the forest, bird’s flit from branch to branch overhead and squirrels chatter at me as I wander. It’s very hard to do anything but be when just being is so beautiful.

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men."

-St. Francis of Assisi

I am beginning to feel refreshed and my Muse returning. I have always had the feeling that I am led to places where I can find those special moments otherwise how do I find them? I certainly don’t know on a conscious level why I go where I go. I just get an idea in my mind to go to a place and voila there it is.

No doubt living in the forest with just my Koty Bear makes me a bit of daffy dame but I swear I can hear my two mothers whisper to me. Who are my two mothers? They are Mother Nature and my birth mother. I reckon they are one now as my birth mother has long since departed this mortal plane. I love them both with heart and soul. Whilst I was away I didn’t seem to feel their presence. Now that I am home in Montana I seem to hear their whispers once more. I must find the fortitude to tear myself away from this place knowing there are wonders awaiting me out there.

If you would like to view some of my past moments visit Kinsey Barnard.Com and see if you don’t agree I have THE most awesome chaperons guiding me to experience earthly splendor.

©Kinsey Barnard