Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nov. 25


Left - Emily : Pies for my second Thanksgiving spent away from my family. Though we may live in Armenia, no trimmings were spared, stuffing, twice-baked potatoes, carrot souffle and many more.

Right - Me: Sitting in a hot tub with my sister, at the golf course my parent's live on. There was also a group of Muslim girls on a break from school taking advantage of the same warm, bubbly water.

Nov. 24


Left - Emily : This year I will be spending my second Thanksgiving away from home with some good friends in Shaghat, a village in Syunik marz. We went for a nice walk in the mountains yesterday around sunset. After heading back our little gaggle of Americans drew a lot of attention in a village of only a few hundred people.

Right - Me : Driving to my parent's house for Thanksgiving. Dark Texas roads, solitude at last.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nov. 23

Left - Emily : Inside "Gitelik Hamalsaran" or "The University of Knowledge" in Yeghegnadzor.

Right - Me : You are always being watched by "Juan in the Water" (the name I have given this painting) when you eat at Taqueria Jaliscos #2 on Cesar Chavez Street in Austin, TX. I didn't mind the first time, I actually drove back there just to take his picture.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nov. 22

Left - Emily : This time of year the sun sets right as people are getting off work and picking up groceries before heading home. I was caught today by the nice fading light the movement of people and cars around the city and the chance encounters with friends in the street.

Right - Me : Dogs are so prevalent in the world, some places as animals that roam around practically unnoticed by people and other places like members of the family. Their characters are easily personified, which is why I like reading 'The Adventures of Hank the Cowdog' books which are made for kids, but driven to make us all laugh. I was watching my friend Nadia's dog tonight while they were cooking dinner; watching him wait, watch, wait, hope, watch.

Nov. 21


Left - Emily : For the last year I have been working with a few other PCVs making a movie for the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps. This weekend Zoe came up from Goris and with the help of Meag we busted out a 3.5 minute clip to show the other volunteers at the upcoming All-Vol conference. We spent three nights awake until 3 a.m. slamming coffee munching on popcorn and chocolate and joking about our volunteer experience.

Right - Me : This little monkey was only 25 cents at a thrift store sale today. He was just sitting there on the ground waiting for the right kid to take him. My childhood doll was "Kimmie", and I cut her hair so many times that she was bald when I stopped carrying her around. Bald, sporting ratty oversized t-shirts but well loved.

Nov. 20


Left - Emily : Lately I have busy working with some ladies in Vayots Dzor trying to help them market and sell their beautiful crafts. I became associated with Tim Straight of Homeland Handicrafts, who has been helping these women get started by supplying them with material and thread for embroidery and a network in which to sell their goods. Meag and I have been working on designs and finally I was able to pay them for their first completed piece and give them more projects to work on. It has been an exciting and very rewarding experience.

Right - Me : I met Gayane at the Armenian Dance Party/Fundraising Dinner tonight at a church here in Austin. She talked my head off. She grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia, and speaks Georgian as well as Armenian (which is extremely rare). She feels a big part of herself is actually Georgian although she is Armenian, and we had a really interesting conversation about her life here, her feelings about her identity through her ethnic upbringing, and her bleach blonde hair. When she left she wanted a picture of the two of us as well as my phone number. I'm sure I'll hear from her soon, at least I hope so. It felt great to be there.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nov. 19



Left - Emily : Construction continues on the three houses just above mine, even late into the evening.

Right - Me: Chores. Changing the sheets, cleaning the bathroom. Weekend work in America.

Nov. 18


Left - Emily : The stairways in the old soviet apartment buildings here are always a sight to see. The exposed and incredibly complicated electrical system, the usually constant smell of natural gas coming from some mystery pipe and the lack of lights in the evening are all things normal to this set of stairs.

Right - Me : Its always is late in Texas, and sometimes just a few weeks long, but winter is almost here if you ask the trees.

Nov. 17


Left - Emily : Shady whispered dealings in an old dusty office. This woman has been doing the same job for 40 years, no wonder she knows how to work the system.

Right - Me: A downtown church in Austin.

Nov. 16

Left - Emily : Downtown big city Yeghegnadzor.

Right - Me: I love lamp.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nov. 15

Right - Emily : Zoya works in a small room just off the shortcut I take into town every day. She says she learned how to sew when she was 17 at classes she the cultural house in Yeghegnadzor over 30 years ago. She along with her soviet era sewing machine patch up dozens of articles of clothing a day.

Left - Me : I need to read Ulysses. There's only so many hours in a day though.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nov. 13

Right - Emily : Artush is my landlord Samvel's son. Trying to be just like his handyman dad, Artush is always following Samvel around hammering nails, washing the car and shoveling piles of dirt.

Left - Me : I never really liked palm trees. I thought they looked cheap, too much 80's nostalgia or somethting. But all it took was my friend Jon's love of them and his way of describing them as "silhouetted explosions in the sky" for me to think about it another way. I also saw some new Bruce Davidson work, he's specifically photographing these trees in black and white - and of course they are beautiful. I was walking around this evening and I thought I would try my own hand at foliage photography.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nov. 11

Left - Emily : My counterpart's mother, Gaya, always cracks me up when I go to visit them. I brought my camera along with me the other day, as I am working on this project, and started to take her picture. She obliged, then left the room for a few minutes and came back dressed in her finest clothes and asked me to take her "death picture." That is, when a person in the family dies, they place a photo in a black frame on the wall in remembrance. I couldn't get her to break out of a pose, nor to laugh so I kept telling her smile, don't stand so still don't stare at the camera but she wouldn't break, she would just give me a little slap on the face and smirk.

Right - Me : Everyone brings their dog everywhere in Austin. Maybe if I still had a dog I'd do the same, but for now I just observe. I've been thinking about getting a puppy, but it just isn't the same. Old dogs, while stinky and blind, are still the best.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nov. 10

Left - Emily: Serian, the guard at the university, is one face I see almost every day. He sits in a small room with just a table, phone, chair and a small bed at the bottom of the stairs of Gitelik University, also the building that houses the NGO I am working for. Every morning before I head up the stairs we exchange a greeting and a wide smile with each other.

Right - Me: The Broken Spoke, Ladies Night! There's always a good crowd at the Spoke on Wednesday nights, and it doesn't matter if you didn't bring anyone to dance with or if you don't know what you're doing on the dance floor. The circulation of people asking each other to dance is enough to make up for it. I always feel a slight return to my childhood when I am at a country western dance hall. Good honest people, good enough music.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nov. 9


Left - Emily : My neighbors operate a lavash bakery and I often go there in the winter time to hang out because the ladies are always good for a fun conversation and it is nice and warm in there. The process is fascinating to watch, obviously these women have had a lot of practice. They can roll out hundreds of perfectly sized, perfectly baked and perfectly delicious pieces in just a few hours. My favorite bread they make is called "bocon" they use the same dough as lavash but instead of rolling it out, they stretch it with their hands into a round and bake it a little longer. I always head home from here with a smile, a belly full of fresh bread and a few more pieces to eat later.

Right - Me : I read a review of Dan's Hamburgers, "Dan's is like a second home to me. ... You can taste the history in the grease, and it tastes delicious." The history in the grease might be something worth trying to take a picture of? This is the best I think I'll do.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nov. 8



Left - Emily : This "golf ball" and abandoned hotel are at a high vantage point over Yeghgnadzor and can also be seen from the village Malishka. From this point you can also see all the abandoned Soviet factories that litter the south end of town. I've heard the golf ball was a weather station, but I also heard someone say it used to be a satellite monitoring device. Now on this lonely ridge all you can find are some broken beer bottles and evidence of once well maintained roads all while being harassed by a flock of crows.

Right - Me : Laundry has become as easy as 123 again. My hand-washing days are over.I have no problem going to a laundry mat and plugging it with quarters and letting it do the work. Instead of half a day, it takes an hour and a half. These girls told me they were playing "bus" underneath the table while their Mom folded their clothes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nov 7


Left - Me : My friend Kristi's adorable son, Cypress. I went to visit them this evening in Burnet, TX. Cypress loved playing hide and seek in his playhouse, and so did I. Days like this, I wish lasted a little longer.

Right - Emily : One thing I love about walking around in the streets here is that around any corner you can find a small group of men sitting around, smoking cigarettes, playing nardi and joking with each other.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nov. 6

Left - Emily : My house sits right in the part of town that the sun hits just before it tucks itself under the mountain for the evening. This time of year, as the light spills across my once abundant garden, over the yellow crunchy leaves and right through my front door, is my favorite.

Right - Me : My mailbox, at 1102 Mahan. The sun was setting quick as I was taking the picture, and it reminded me of watching sunsets while my Mother counted down from 10 until they were gone. I bought a new CD today, it's so good. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. "Home" is the best track on the record, and rightly so. As it goes..."Home is wherever I'm alone with you."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nov. 5


Left - Emily : For the past month I have been helping Meag, my site mate, brew beer and finally tonight we bottled them. Sadly, in Armenia the only beer you can get tastes something like a wet dog that just got sprayed by a skunk. Needless to say, I am pretty excited to taste this beer in just 2 weeks!

Right - Me : It is still a little dizzying for me to walk into a grocery store here in America. The pace is fast and there is an unspoken shouting of messages trying to get your attention. I wanted to capture that feeling with this picture. There is also a huge population of Latinos here, and "Gracias! " is just an example of how embedded the Spanish language is within our frame of normal everyday interactions.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nov. 4

Left - Me : I haven't been bowling in a long time, but I have seen The Big Lebowski recently so it kind of felt like it hadn't been that long since I ran one in the gutter. My game has improved though, a double strike was witnessed and revered from my fellow bowlers tonight.

Right - Emily : This hand gesture, accompanied with the sound "eeeeyaah," is one of the many things I have picked up in Armenia. I even find myself doing it to the ATM when it refuses to give me cash. I'm sure when I come back to America, this, along with many other odd things will, at least for a while, single me out as someone that spent the last 2+ years in a foreign culture.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nov.3

Left - Emily : Armen owns the store we foreigners like to call "Bah Vonts." Bah vonts in Armenian means "of course," and we call his store as such because anytime you ask if he has something in stock, he says "bah vonts," or something like "of course we have what you're asking for, what kind of store do you think I run?!" Armen also makes the best homemade wine you can buy. Every time I walk in the door he greets me with an ear to ear smile, throws in a reference to how we are "barekam" or relatives and asks if I want four liters of wine today or ten.

Right - Me : A friendly reminder.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nov. 2

Emily: Everyday on the walk into town I pass these tatiks sitting on their bench outside their homes. Satik, left, lives alone and after a year of saying hello to her every day she has just now started saying hello back. Emma, right, is notorious for cornering me on the street or in the store while munching on walnuts and telling me stories about her relatives that live all over the world. The two are always very curious about me, my activities and the numerous foreign guests I bring by their bench. This is the first time I've taken their portraits.

Me: I've known Glen since I was 8 years old when he worked for my Dad's construction business as a framer. He still frames houses, and he still calls me Paigey Waigey or most of the time just P-Wage. I go to his house in Austin about once a month and we'll cook dinner (and if it's not chicken then it's sausage), drink beer, and I'll listen to him tell me about something I should know that I don't know. He perpetually jokes with me that knowing Armenian is going to give me a leg up in the world. It's always a good conversation, despite his misunderstandings of my linguistic wealth and power.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nov. 1

Emily: Catching a cold in Armenia, according to Armenians can happen a lot of ways. As a result, most Armenians are very weary about getting cold themselves. Slippers and socks must be worn at all times, when sitting on cement you must put something under you for fear of becoming sterile and an open window in a house causing a draft could be one of the biggest contributing factors to colds in Armenia.

Me: It has been a really a busy Monday and time moves fast, especially in America. The light this man was working under with the dust and the leaves was the prettiest thing I saw all day while on my way to get groceries this evening.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31st

Emily and I have decided it would be fun to take daily pictures of our lives and post them on both our blogs.We will be swapping photos about twice a week (due to the long time difference and unpredictable lines of communication between Armenia and America) and posting them with some short words about what was/is significant about the picture. We're going to keep this up for the month of November.

Me: This is my sister, taken at night at my Grandmother's house. We used to share a bed when we were little and always at least a room after sharing a bed. We are night and day in personality, but when we are both together like this, alone, we end up talking until the both of us eventually don't have to say anything about being too tired and then we turn over and fall asleep. It's also about the moment that we get before we turn off the lights, the half hour or so that magazines and books soothe us into a slumber and we think about all that is possible


Emily: The first snow of the year on the mountains above Yeghegnadzor.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

wednesday night

I took this picture this past Spring in Armenia, and now that the weather is beginning to turn and the winds are picking up I start to think about how cold I was there and how many nights I spent in my clothes and how many mornings I huddled around my gas oven staring at the wall hoping for the clouds to break. I always liked this picture, but I never got around to using it. It's incredibly weird how distant my past existence there seems now. Anyway my friend Emily (who is still in Armenia) and I have a project we are going to announce in a week, it will be pretty cool so I hope you come back to see. Till then.....drink good coffee and smile more often.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

seeing

I came across this quote from a photographer's blog site that I like, Matt Eich. His blog is much much cooler than mine and he gushes his soul in it as well as puts up beautiful photos. I have been busy, and while I know I want to get out and take pictures I just haven't lately. It's not to this blog that I feel loyalty, but to myself - I just choose to say that here and maybe that's a contradiction but I hope to do something about this soon. Anyways, read this because it's
Great. And if you feel like it, you can go to Matt's blog too.


“At first, it appears that nothing could be easier than seeing. We just point our eyes where we want to go, and gather in whatever there is to see. Nothing could be less in need of explanation. The world is flooded with light, and everything is available to be seen. We can see people, pictures, landscapes, and whatever else we need to see, and with the help of science we can see galaxies, viruses, and the insides of our own bodies. Seeing does not interfere with the world or take anything from it, and it does not hurt or damage anything. Seeing is detached and efficient and rational. Unlike the stomach or the heart, eyes are our own to command: they obey every desire and thought.

Each one of those ideas is completely wrong. The truth is more difficult: seeing is irrational, inconsistent, and undependable. It is immensely troubled, cousin to blindness and sexuality, and caught up in the threads of the unconscious. Our eyes are not ours to command; they roam where they will and then tell us they have only been where we have sent them. No matter how hard we look, we see very little of what we look at. If we imagine the eyes as navigational devices, we do so in order not to come to terms with what seeing really is. Seeing is like hunting and like dreaming, and even like falling in love. It is entangled in passions–jealousy, violence, possessiveness; and it is soaked in an affect–in pleasure and displeasure, and in pain. Ultimately, seeing alters the thing that is seen and transforms the seer. Seeing is metamorphosis not mechanism.” - James Elkins, The Object Stares Back

Friday, September 17, 2010

yellow plastic chairs

My previous backyard mountain view I had in Armenia has dwindled in scale and impressiveness from just that - mountains, to an urban lawn with a shed and a tree. A big change I am still waking up to every morning. But today while sitting outside listening to the rain come down these two yellow chairs hit me with something. They looked pretty all of a sudden. I like chairs sitting next to each other, I think they are personally animated in a way. Two chairs hold two people and when they leave, the chairs hold their past - the story. Easy enough. I hope you, as well as me, get a chance to sit with someone this weekend, tell a story or just listen to one.

Monday, September 6, 2010

rodeo


I am not necessarily on a Texan cowboy theme, but it just has happened that the most interesting people and places I have been around since I've been home have been outside the city where life slows down, and consequently, to me, becomes more appealing. It might be because the rodeo represents a subculture of people, not the everyday worker but people who rally around something and live a little differently. Maybe I'm just more comfortable around a group of people like this, I certainly am curious about it.

So it was a small town rodeo and fair, and it was a moving place - full of teenagers out on the prowl, cowboys standing in line for another can of beer, horses wide eyed in prancing nervousness, kids of all ages just running around. A nice place to be with a camera.

I grew up this way. My Mother was more than encouraging for my siblings and I to get into riding horses, we had at least 4 around at all times to "help us also love them" as much as she did. I am still a little frightened by a horse, but at the same time in awe of their power, gentleness and constant smell.

Of course the workers at the fair are just as novel, perhaps, for their lifestyle choice and pleading with kids to keep taking whacks at a some balloon that will never result in them winning a giant stuffed animal.

I watched this girl's face as she watched her friends ride the Zipper. You should know this ride, it's loopy and sickening to look at - her face lit up by the glow of thrill was too much to pass up.

A great place to be for a night, the rodeo. And no better destination than your own small town in Texas.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

barn hand luke

Luke is the barn hand at the boarding ranch my mother uses for her horse. I've only "known" him for about 2 years, and have been interested in photographing him for about as long. Single, he lives alone on this ranch tending to the horses 7 days a week.

He wakes up at 5, begins feeding and turning the horses out from their stalls, goes back home for breakfast and a shave, and returns to begin cleaning up after them and all the duties in between. He says the worst part of his job is when he has to help put a horse down.

Originally from a small town in North Carolina, Luke left his family farm at age 20 after his father died and hasn't returned. His sense of humor rivals the day in day out work of caring for horses as he jokes about being kidnapped by a pretty woman and never returning.


He doesn't leave the ranch very often, in fact he says he would like to drive in to San Antonio (45 minutes down the highway) to see his old friends but that that would cost him too much in gas, and he just "don't" have the time or money for that. With a heavy draw of a southern accent, he fits right in this scene and for the last 25 years says he is happy to be doing what he does with the horses - making sure they're alright.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

summer celebs

There are no limits of personal boundary or curiousity with this girl. A young girl, 7 years old, although she will tell you she is in her late twenties and is the so called pop celebrity star Hannah Montana. I have had a blast talking to her, answering her questions like, "you're so skinny, are you this skinny in real life?" and asking a few of my own. I'm glad I could jump in on the tail end of summer in Texas, to dive in a body of water that is clean, to teach a kid how to swim and be privy to summer celebrities in my own backyard.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

readjustment


It has only been 2 or 3 weeks since I left Armenia, and I find myself perplexed at how fast it has become a memory. While I am happy to be home, to be with my family and good friends, to sleep in air conditioning, to eat anything I want anytime - I miss the landscape of Armenia, the spoken language and just being there. After compiling about 30 of my favorite images from my 2 years there (I should have way more, but inch anem?) I am thinking about ways to exhibit them and introduce Americans to the social and cultural world of Armenia. But mostly I just wanted to post another photo, to create something, maybe to hold on to something, to find a tiny escape from the tumbling change that my life is going through. These pictures come from a small village near the Georgian border, Bagratashen.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

and just like that, it's over.

There is so much of this experience that cannot be translated into the language of someone who hasn't been through it - but it has certainly been the best thing I have done so far. It's an interesting process, living outside your country for a few years and noticing the kinds of changes that brings about in you. The kind of duality you can feel for two very different places, both familiar to you like the home you were brought up in, has amazed me and taught me good things about how much a person can adapt to. I wanted to take a photo of something for you, something that would be more cornerstone-ish to the way I feel right now. But my computer has been sold, and is going through a Russian makeover tomorrow and I will not have anymore time or access to post to this blog. So I decided this image would do. The Armenian writing on the mustache says "Congratulations every day", but translated further into an understandable English phrase would say "Every day is a day to celebrate."And from what I have learned here, it is. A Tuesday afternoon is just as good as a Friday night and there are a million reasons to be thankful as well as to slow down. I don't know how much longer I will keep this blog, it's a nice place to breathe, but I don't know. In any case, thank you for taking the time to read it and look at my photos. I hope to take photography more seriously when I return. I have had the time to read many books - like everyone in PC - and the last paragraph I read in "Interpreter of Maladies" really struck an obvious yet ineffably important chord with me and what I can't say I think Jhumpa Lahiri says perfectly.

"I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only person to seek their fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."

De Hajo bolorine...
Paige

Friday, July 16, 2010

e. rabbit haas

I was really glad Emily came around for my second year in Peace Corps - it turned out we had a lot in common and we both share a love for the camera. It has been fortuitous that I have had the luck I have had with site mates- and I am very grateful for these friendships . A goofball extraordinaire - I'll miss her company and silly laugh.
video

Thursday, July 8, 2010

arman the barber

When my hair was longer in the beginning, I'd sometimes go see Arman the Barber and have him straighten it out. He's a marine looking hair stylist that likes to drink homeade vodka while working. I never let him cut my hair, in fear that it would end up like that haircut I got when I was 7 - sad and embarrassing. But I liked sitting in his chair sipping some of the stuff myself and talking to him about things in Vayk, and now that my hair has grown out again I decided to go pay him a visit. He gave me an Armenian music disc and I told him I'd bring him this Michael Jackson cd I have in exchange. Should have seen the grin on his face...
video

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

jon m.

I can easily say that if it weren't for Jon, I don't think I would or could have stayed here for 2 years. It's hard enough to work and live here, it's so much harder without good friends close by . We've spent a lot of time together, talking our way through this experience. It's difficult to explain the friend I've found in Jon - but my soul is lighter because of it.
video

faces & voices

I'm going to try to post as many of these as I can, don't expect too much, but I thought it would be fun to put together some audio recordings along with the faces that I will miss when I leave. This is Rubik and Aygestan, my second host family. I lived with them for 7 months. I asked her what she would remember about that time, and she said she'd remember the time she knocked on my door in the middle of a winter day and found me sleeping in all my clothes, jacket, and hat on under all the blankets. I'd forgotten about that, but she recalls well as told in the audio. Mostly I remember how many things I said wrong around the dinner table that caused everyone to nearly spew drinks from their mouth in laughter, and the times I had to wake them up at 3 or 4 in the morning because a water pipe bust in the bathroom or when I was locked out of the house in the snow from wanting to see how cold it was outside. It was, as I recall, cold enough.

video

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

lav k'lini

I have about 2 weeks left in Armenia, the end has come. I am photographing the little things that I have found oddly charming but never thought they could really tell anyone much about Armenia. Like this bed, that struck me as a possible metaphor for what I've come to know about this country, which carries a simple austere beauty that reflects the waiting I feel like people are doing here. Waiting for the day to pass, the seeds to grow, a job to materialize, a child to be born, the next pension paycheck to arrive. It's a post Soviet country that has been torn apart by Communism and is still struggling to recover from the abandonment. Slowly things are getting better, but not for everyone. Outside of Yerevan, the people of this country sit waiting.....for something to happen.

I finally finished reading Robert Kaplan's "Eastward to Tartary" which is a great geo-political travel book about this part of the world. In it he says this, which I think echoes the status quo regardless of the fact the book was published 10 years ago, "Americans are triumphant about the collapse of the Soviet Union. But throughout the Caucasus and beyond, I experienced firsthand how the Soviet collapse, while a blessing in the long run, has meanwhile ruined millions of real lives. Communism, however disastrous, was still a system that provided pensions, schooling, social peace, and physical security for a multitude of people who often had no recollection of anything better. The collapse of that system has left a chaotic void that, so far, has made life here much worse."
There is still a wonderful spirit here - an identity that is very strong and persistent. And with this, I hope, there will be more on the coming horizon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

all grown up




14 going on 15. An age that drives most parents crazy, I think I was guilty of the same. I talked my parents into letting me date a boy they said I couldn't - and these girls are just coming in to the realm of all that. My neighbor's daughter, Narine, feels more comfortable behind a pair of sunglasses or her own hand, but at the same time is really interested in her own image. I took these today to illustrate that time in a girls life of becoming a woman, and also just to take some for them to have. I know these girls well, they are always gossiping in the street texting on their cell phones and knocking on my door - so it wasn't particularly hard to get them in the frame. They're so grown up.

Monday, June 28, 2010

camera broken

Kids are fun to photograph, they love the camera. But they desperately want to try to take a photo with it, all by themselves, like little adults. I learned a good lesson today - don't let them. My lens already a little broken from my own mistake is now hardly hanging on the body of my camera as it was dropped out of the hands of a little girl today. Ay kez ban, at least I have a trip to the States coming up soon. Repair? I wonder how much $$ I am looking at.