Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bob's 80th Birthday

A few weeks ago, we drove up to Owatonna Minnesota to celebrate Michele's dad's 80th birthday:

Happy 80th Bob. I hope I look as good at 80 as you do.

Peeps at Prairieland

Local peep activity has gone up significantly since Alex and Nick returned from college for summer break. I took advantage of a large gathering at Prairieland recently by snapping lots of photos.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Pineapple Whip

When we travel to Springfield to see Alex, we always try to stop at the Pineapple Whip. Michele is a huge fan of their ice cream.

Pictured below is Alex, his future roommate Tanner, and their friends Sara and Molly:

On our last trip we actually made two stops at the Whip, which is unusual. That's Michele and Alex below getting their Whip fix:

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Alex is Going to Ireland

Alex has been accepted into the study abroad program at Missouri State, which means he will be studying in Ireland this coming fall.

Alex worked very hard to make this happen, proving that persistence and dedication can reap amazing rewards.

Congratulations Alex!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

She's Gone

But never forgotten. Rest in peace Samantha Jo! You'll always be our little princess.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

In Search of Deer

Just before dusk yesterday, Michele, Cody and I went in search of deer at our favorite walking spot:

We walked the wide groomed trails, and even ventured into the deep thicket:

All in all we spotted about a dozen or so deer. Some were startled by us, which made them difficult to photograph, but there were others, like the one below, that didn't seem to be bothered in the least by our presence:

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Bye Bye Birdie

Michele and I went to a play at a local high school last evening called Bye Bye Birdie. This was my first exposure to this particular play, and while I wasn't all that impressed by the story, I thought the acting and singing of this particular group was very well done, and this was especially true of our good friend Colin.

Colin's family didn't bring a still camera with them, so I stepped in to capture and immortalize the moment for them:

Their faces alone demonstrate just how proud they all are of their young actor/singer.

I predict that Colin's next performance will be even bigger and better than this one, which is setting the bar very high.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Nature Walk

Michele has been telling me for a month or more that she sees deer almost every time she goes for a run North of town, yet whenever I take Cody out to walk at the same location, we never encounter any deer.

So today, we headed out together to the same location, with Michele insisting all the way there that we were going to see some deer. I made sure to bring along my camera just in case she was right, and it's a good thing I did, because she was right. We did see deer. Lots of deer:

I'll bet we saw a herd of 25 or more deer. It was amazing. The one pictured above stared at us for about a minute or so which gave me plenty of time to get an amazing picture.

I also got some very nice photos of Cody and Michele:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Seen on the Road

While driving back from dropping Nick off at SEMO yesterday, we spotted this burned up vehicle on the South bound lane of interstate 55, about 2 or 3 miles North of Cape Girardeau.

We didn't see the passengers of the van, but we sure hope they made it out of the situation ok.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I Went to a Donald Trump Rally

No, I didn't go to support Donald Trump, I wouldn't support that bigoted, misogynistic jackass for dog catcher. I went because events like this have the potential to be a photographer's gold mine, and I had high hopes of coming away with at least one interesting photograph. I believe I was successful, but you are more than welcome to judge that for yourself.

The rally was held in a plane hangar in Bloomington, Illinois, and based on my own rudimentary method of counting heads, I estimated the crowd size to be somewhere between 3 and 5 thousand. Had the hangar been larger, the crowd too would have been larger, as I learned after the event that some of the hopeful attendees had been turned away due to size constraints.

Accompanying me was my youngest son Nick. We arrived two hours prior to the start time, thinking this would be early enough to get a front row view of The Donald. Boy oh boy were we wrong. When we arrived, the police were already directing heavy traffic, and a hundred or so protesters were lined up along the street. When we finally did make it inside the hangar, it was already at half capacity.

Here's a selfie of the two of us as we waited for the event to begin:

Not being a Trump fan in the least, there was one thing that impressed me about the whole event, and that was Trump's entrance. I found myself giddy with excitement as we watched his private plane taxi up to the hangar. I think I may have even exclaimed out loud, as others did: "look, it's Trump's plane!"

The excitement didn't last, as reality quickly set in when the arrogant clown stepped up to the podium and started to speak:

Here are some notable highlights from Trump's speech:

Trump started with a reference to the "very dishonest media", but failed to elaborate on what it was that made them dishonest. I suspect this comment may have had something to do with the negative press he was getting for inciting violence at his rallies, and making unbelievably stupid comments. Trump regularly denies things which are shown to be true through video evidence, so it seems that Trump may have been projecting his own dishonesty here.

Trump criticized the nuclear deal with Iran, saying "it may be one of the worst deals I've ever seen of any kind", but failed to elaborate on what it was that made the deal bad, or what he could, or would have done to make it better. Here Trump seemed to be relying heavily on the misinformation that Fox News regularly put out regarding the Iran deal, as well as the folk lore that he's the ultimate deal maker.

Trump said he was going to keep businesses from leaving the United States, and bring others back using tariffs. I wondered to myself how many of Trump's supporters actually understood that tariffs translate into higher costs for goods and services, for everybody, which includes those Trump supporters who were cheering this idea on.

Trump claimed that nobody had been injured at any of his rallies, despite the many videos that have surfaced showing people getting sucker punched, spit on, and body slammed at his rallies. Then, not two minutes later, Trump contradicted this claim when he blamed the violence at his rallies on the protesters, adding that his supporters were simply hitting back in self defense. He also claimed that he hadn't personally provoked any violence, despite the existence of videos where Trump can be heard telling rally goers that he'll pay their legal fees if they "beat the crap" out of protesters. These comments were especially ironic, considering Trump's earlier attack on the honesty of the media.

Trump threw out the same petty insults that he has used repeatedly in the televised debates, where he refers to his opponents as "little Marco" and "lying Ted". Classy guy this Donald Trump.

Trump spoke about how "they are chipping away at Christianity", but didn't mention who they are, or what it is exactly that they are chipping away at. Trump added that come Christmas time, "everyone will be saying Merry Christmas". This I believe was a nod to the Fox News inspired war on Christmas, where saying the more inclusive Happy Holidays is tantamount to outlawing the celebration of Christmas.

Trump told the crowd, as he has throughout his campaign, that a wall is going to be built between the US and Mexico, suggesting that it would be similar in stature to the Great Wall of China. This is a goal that falls in line with one of Trump's initial campaign themes, which is that Mexico is sending criminals and rapists over the border, and that we need to build a giant wall to stop them. He also told the crowd that Mexico is going to pay for the wall, although he failed to elaborate on how he is going to get the Mexican government to comply with this rather crazy sounding idea.

Trump claimed that he'll be getting rid of Obama Care, but failed to elaborate on what would replace it for those millions of Americans who would be losing their health insurance.

Trump said that Common Core would be going away, because as he put it "we're bringing our education local". There were no specifics offered to explain why national standards for education are a bad thing, and why local control, which is what Common Core offers, isn't what he considers local.

Trump claimed that nobody is more conservative than him on the second amendment. When he said this, I thought to myself: why weren't rally goers allowed to bring guns into this event? Each and every person that entered this event was searched, and the message was made very clear: no guns allowed. The most vocal conservative supporters of the second amendment have been claiming for years that gun free zones put Americans at risk of mass murder, and are therefore an affront to the second amendment. Here I stood at a rally for Trump, and it was a gun free zone. I had to conclude that Trump isn't as conservative on the second amendment as he claims to be.

Trump bragged a lot during his speech, at one point proclaiming that he is going to be "the greatest jobs producing president that god ever created, believe me", He also bragged about his "big plane" in a weird sort of way where he claimed that not even the elites have a plane as big as his. Not sure what his point was if it wasn't to point out that he's even more elite than the so called elites.

Overall, I saw and heard nothing that would inspire me to support Trump for anything. He sounded exactly like the know nothing jackass I've always believed he was. He's arrogant. He's a bigot. He's a braggart. And by any reasonable standard of evaluation, he's not just a horrible excuse for a human being, he's an ignorant boob.

Something else worth mentioning was the occasional outbursts from protesters who were scattered throughout the crowd, and at various times disrupted Trump's speech. I'm somewhat conflicted regarding those individuals, because on the one hand, their behavior is rude. This was Trump's event, and he has a right to be heard by his supporters. On the other hand, Trump is a bully and a racist who seems to be inspiring a lot of animosity towards various groups of people, and he has a reasonable shot at becoming our country's leader. With that in mind, I suppose it's completely understandable that people are reacting towards him the way they are.

I'm holding out hope that Trump will be recognized as the ignorant jackass he is and not be able to garner enough national support to win the presidency. It just seems unfathomable to me that this country would elect an intellectual like Barack Obama to a second term, then turn around four years later and elect an anti-intellectual like Donald Trump.

Yay! More Peeps!

Spring Break used to represent rest and relaxation, now it represents time with some of my favorite peeps.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Cody in the Great Outdoors

The great outdoors is beautiful, but it sure looks much nicer when used as a backdrop for Cody.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Our Princess is not Well

Over the last few months, we've observed physical changes in our oldest cat Samantha (Sam). She looks thinner, and at times appears to be out of breath after minimal exertion.

Last week we took Sam to the vet to have her checked out. After reviewing her x-rays, the vet told us that fluid is building up in her thoracic cavity, and that she may be in the final stages of life. He also told us that 4 to 6 months may be all she has left.

The news was devastating, but not entirely surprising. Sam is not a young cat, she's 14 years old, and from what we've discovered, that's about the average lifespan for cats like her.

We are holding out hope that the vet is wrong, but since we can't know for sure, we are keeping an especially keen eye on Sam, and trying to make her as comfortable as possible. She is taking a couple of different medications to help reduce the fluid build up, and while she's not as mobile as she used to be, we haven't observed as much labored breathing, so for now, it seems to be working.

Hang in there Sam, we aren't ready to say goodbye just yet.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


After a long dry spell on the peep front, today turned into a peep explosion.

Great group of guys everyone of them.

Alex Surprised Us

Alex decided to surprise us by popping in for the weekend, and even accompanied us on a nature walk with Cody.

Wow, what a photogenic group.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Nature Walk

Michele discovered an awesome nature area North of where we live, and so today we took Cody out there and we let him have the run of the place.

Cody looked like a kid in a candy store. We'll be returning to that nature area again. Often.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Nick Got Stitches

Tonight was Nick's second to last night at work before heading back to college, and while cutting open a bag of pizza sauce, accidentally sliced his finger with a very sharp knife:

After two hours and four stitches, Nick headed back to work to finish his shift. Michele and I are grateful it wasn't much worse.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Flashback to 1979

In the summer of 1979, after a year of careful planning, my good friend Steve and I climbed inside my 1976 Vega hatchback and headed to the West for two weeks of hiking and camping in the Bighorn Mountains.

Though we had planned extensively for this trip, things did not go as originally planned.

Our initial plan was to park our car to the South of Bighorn peak, just off of Hwy 16, then hitchhike about 40 miles to the Northeast. From there, we would hike back to our car using a preplanned route that took us through the Bighorn mountain range. The return trip would last about a week.

Something we hadn't planned for while including hitchhiking as a major component of our trip, was the possibility that we may not reach our destination. It turned out that there were three things we hadn't considered; First, most people don't pick up hitchhikers. Second, there isn't much traffic on Hwy 16, so the odds of getting picked up are that much more remote. And third, even if we did manage to get a ride, there was no guarantee the driver was going as far as we needed to go.

So, while sitting for hours along the road waiting for someone to pick us up, we had lots of time to goof around. One of the products of that goofing around was the picture below where I pretended to hitchhike with the knife I brought along just in case we encountered any grizzly bears:

We finally did get a ride, but that person only took us about 10 or so of the 40 miles we needed to go, and once again, we found ourselves hitchhiking alongside a very quiet and peaceful highway. It was at that location that things took another unplanned turn, which was a torrential downpour that lasted two days.

Once we realized the rain wasn't stopping anytime soon, and that nobody was going to pick up two soaking wet hitchhikers, we pitched our tent in a small clearing alongside the road. There we sat for two days waiting for the rain to subside.

When the rain finally let up, we talked it over, and decided to throw out the original plan, and instead just hitchhike back to the car. From there we could hike up into the mountains, find some midway point, then hike back.

This is a shot of Steve standing alongside the trail shortly after we began our hike towards the mountains that were looming off in the distance:

Steve and I set up our first camp at the Southern end of Lake Helen. We chose the spot because of the incredible view of the mountains off in the distance. It was stunning. The following picture captures a very small taste of what was an unbelievably beautiful view:

After the night at Lake Helen, we packed up and continued North. We couldn't wait to get to the base of those mountains.

We set up our next camp at Mistymoon Lake, which probably gets its name from the fact that it is very round, just like a moon crater. Once our camp was set up, we made a spur of the moment decision to climb one of the smaller mountains nearby. The next photo is a view from the top of that small mountain looking to the South. The lake that is further way is Lake Helen, and our previous night's camping spot was at the far end:

After getting the mountain climbing bug, we decided to take on Bomber Mountain, which is significantly bigger than the one I took the previous picture from. We were unaware of the reason behind the naming of the mountain, but it became obvious when we stumbled across the wreckage of a B-17 Flying Fortress that had hit the mountain in 1943, killing all 10 who were on board. As many had before us, we carved our names into the metal wreckage to leave our mark upon the mountain.

There were other day hikes after Bomber Mountain, but no more mountain climbing hikes. During one of our day trips, we were nearly run over by a deer that was running for cover during a hail storm. I don't know which was more startled, us or the deer.

All in all it was a fantastic trip, one that I'll never forget. Here's one final shot of Steve and I which was taken by some hikers we encountered shortly after a rain storm:

Glad our planning included the possibility of rain storms. I don't know what we would have done without our rain ponchos.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Happy Birthday My Love

Today is the birthday of my lovely wife Michele. I'd tell you which birthday it is, but, then I'd have to kill you. Since neither of us wants that, let's just settle for taking a look back at Michele's life through a handful of pictures, starting with Michele when she was a year old:

The next picture makes it painfully obvious that Michele was a good kid, because, well look for yourself, she was a band kid, and everyone knows that band kids are the best kids:

The next photo was taken on Michele's wedding day. With her are her grand parents, whom Michele loved dearly:

What's obvious from the next photo is that Michele hooked up with a pretty nice looking young man, and hey, cute is an understatement to describe those kids:

A trait that I really admire about Michele is her commitment to healthy living. Here she is running one of her many half marathons:

Here'a a fairly recent shot of Michele, the mother of two college students, and my best friend:

As you can see, Michele just keeps getting more and more beautiful. Here's to many more birthdays my love.