Monday, July 31, 2006

Another Chance

I had another chance to try out my [possibly] defective lens last evening. We had a pretty good sunset.

I cleaned my lens contacts before going out, since the aperture was stuck shut when I last used it that morning. Well, as shut as it could get anyhow. I took a common, red pencil eraser and rubbed it over the contacts on both the camera body and lens itself. This is one of the best ways to clean gold or gold-plated contacts. One just has to be very careful not to get any of the eraser bits in the camera. I had a can of air duster with me to blow out any particles that might have stayed behind. Anyhow, things seemed to go well, and I had no more malfunctions while shooting the sunset. Here is one of the shots I got.

Hopefully, cleaning the contacts will take care of that little malfunction.


I am 52 today. Many consider aging a curse of sorts, see it as something negative. I consider it a blessing, a blessing to have been given such a long life - a blessing that younger people have not received. To be given 52 years to live with the beauty that God has created is a blessing. To be given all this time to see the simple wonders of this world is a blessing.

My Grandmother Lewis went Home the day before her 99th birthday - in 2002. She led a simple life, with emphasis on the most valuable things. She was never rich, yet she was richer than the richest man that ever walked the Earth. As she neared her journey Home, she spent her last years/months/days in a nursing home. She was always grateful to have a place to call home, no matter that it was one of "those places". Her attitude was always positive - never complaining, always thankful. When she passed away, she just kinda slowly slipped away. She never feared what lied ahead. She was ready. I remember when she told me that she didn't want to live to be 100, and she said it without reservation, just matter-of-factly. That told me she was ready to go Home whenever she was called. She had no regrets. She led a full life. This is the most recent picture I have of her.

I want to be like my Grandmother. I want to live a full, rich life. No regrets. No reservations. I have never feared aging, nor do I fear it now. I have no regrets of the past, nor do I have reservations about the future. As my Grandmother showed us, every day and every year we are given is a blessing. I have been blessed well.

Today, 52 years will be celebrated in my heart and mind. :)

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Tonight I spent about 40-45 minutes talking with my Mom via the computer. (Skype allows me to make regular phone calls from my keyboard using a headphone/mic.) We mostly engaged in small talk - the weather, siblings, etc. Some serious stuff like the divorce, my credit damage, and my job and stuff.

It was a good conversation. It felt good. Many more will come, I'm sure. I'm glad I can freely communicate with my family again.

Yes, I told my Mom I love her. That's something that hasn't been done over the years. It's long over-due.

Grille Mishap

Today, I was seasoning a new cast iron griddle we got for our gas grille. After oiling it down, it was put in the grille to bake for an hour or so. Yep, grilled a griddle. Too hot to do it in the oven. Turning it every 10 or 15 minutes, it appeared to be progressing quite well. About half an hour into it, I put another coat of oil on it, and spread it around appropriately with a basting brush. Dummy me! The brush was the plastic/nylon kind....the kind that melts when it gets against something hot. When I pulled the brush back, the bristles were a little shorter and rounder than they were. Needless to say, we had to get another one. We need longer bristles than what it had. Enter the natural boar bristles.

A Photographer's Fear

A photographer needs his equipment to work right. There is nothing worse than getting to a beautiful sunrise and having an equipment malfunction.

This morning we had the best sunrise we've been able to photograph in a long time. I always take both my main 35mm camera and a pocket digital I carry regularly. The sunrise had a beautifully golden orange light flooding the scenery. As shutters were snapping and lenses auto-focusing, a strange sight and sound infected my Canon. The optical viewfinder got darker than normal. The auto-focus would not lock in on target. I manually-focused on several shots before I realized what was wrong. My main lens's aperture was locked all the way down to its smallest opening! I tried to jar it, power cycle it, anything to get it to free up and open as it should. Changing it manually did no good. It released itself when it wanted to and froze up as it wanted to.

I changed to my telephoto/zoom lens, and all worked as it should. Unfortunately, however, the 75-300mm lens is not the best for wide-open scenery. The camera itself is not the culprit. My 28-80mm lens is flaky. I will have to see about getting it repaired or replaced. Fortunately, it is not a high-priced lens.

The accompanying photo is one I took with my digital this morning. I'll have to wait to see how my 35mm shots come out when I get them developed.

God and Country

Many of you know that I visited WV for almost 30 years before I moved to Texas two years ago.

I have seen many differences in people and their attitudes between the two parts of the country. While out East, they appear to be friendly and looking out for their fellow man, the reality is often the opposite. While they say they love their country and state, they rarely show any signs of it.

Here in the Lone Star State, the people are truly concerned about their neighbors. They are not selfish and uncaring. They are not ashamed of, or afraid to, display their love of their Country, State, or God. Out east, nobody will tell you "God bless you" to your face - unless it's someone with a Bible in their hands, knocking at your door. They do here, without reservation. When one sneezes, as least one person says "Bless you!". You will not hear "gezundheit" here. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Out East, you will rarely hear (or be able to say) the Pledge Of Allegiance. The only time you'll hear the National Anthem is at the beginning of football or baseball games. Here, every morning you'll hear both on the radio to start your day off right. Guess what? The words "....under God...." will come out proudly. Out East, you might see an American Flag flying if you look close during holidays. Yes, gov't. buildings fly them, but they "have to", I guess. Here in Texas, you will see the American flag flown regularly. A great many fly the Texas State flag alongside it. During holidays, if you don't see one in any direction you look - you are literally blind. There is no place you can't look and see Old Glory flying proudly. When she passes by during a parade out East, not a hat comes off. Here, they all come off - with very few exceptions. Hats and hands cover the heart. Not out East.

What has become of Americans in some parts of the country? Do they see only the relatively minor negative things that are associated with our Country, and not see the "forest"? It is sad that more people do not show the love of God and Country that they claim to possess.

Texans freely acknowlege God and are proud to be Americans and Texans. I am one of them. Neither God nor Patriotism are taboo here. It's a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Reconnection Begins

I spoke with my Dad yesterday evening - for the first time in months. It must have been longer than I realized. He sounded so "old". His voice has softened and come to have an almost slurred quality. You know how words kinda tend to run together in older people. He was always kind of a soft-spoken man, but his diction used to be much crisper it seems. Or, so I remember. We had a chat of over 45 minutes, "just talking". Small talk, and a little bit of more serious stuff. It became clear that a bit of demensia had set in, as was confirmed by my sister in Emails.

I have come to realize that I've been emotionally and communicatively(?) displaced from my family for far too long. I should never have allowed myself to be that way. But, alas, that is in the past. I can do nothing about that. I can only mend it in the future. That future has already begun.

Friday, July 28, 2006


What lies ahead for me, now that my divorce is final? Will I pursue another life, one that has slipped by me in past years? Will I regain what I had lost out on in a different place and time?
It's normal for reactions to surface that would have fears materialize that I would abandon my new life, my sanctuary, the place I have called "home" for over two years. But will I not throw away everything I've come to know and love with my new life.

I will stay here at home - my state, my city, my residence. Yes I will regain ties with my family, long since neglected. I will continue rebuilding my life, with all that goes with it. I will do so from the safety and sanctity of my Home. I will not push my friends aside. I will not abandon them. This is my Home, in every sense of the word. Home is where people accept you like no other place. Home is where one feels safe, secure, and where he belongs. That place is right here.

Yes, my son and his family have a special place in my heart - even though they are so far away. It is our reason for being, to raise our kids to be good, responsible adults - able to lead their own lives as we would have them do. My son has become exactly what I have envisioned. He has his own life, his own family, his own business. Our communication will improve, and lives will be intermingled again, but from a distance. There will be times we will meet and be able to look each other in the eyes again.

My priority is to expand on a full life, a happy life. I am happy right here, like never before - in my new Home. I was given a gift of a new life. I will cultivate it. It will grow and become even better. I will do it from Home - from Amarillo, Texas. Some things are priceless.

I am Home!

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Yesterday marks the day my divorce was finalized with a judge's signature. It has been nearly a year and a half since I filed. Today marks the first day of the rest of my life. To mark it, I went to a local park with a friend, and took some photos. Unfortunately, the sunrise was obscurred with heavy cloud cover. This photo will stand to mark this day in my life.