Tag Archive: Photography

Today we visited the Riverbank Zoo in Columbia, SC. The girls rode ponies and saw a hatchling flamingo.  They also sang with monkeys, fed goats, petted tortoises and heard a tiger MEOW.  (And I even had the opportunity to see several leopard sharks up close and personal).  The zoo is also somewhat self-sustainable with massive gardens full of veggies and herbs.  

This was our first visit in the daytime to the neighboring city to the south and I was impressed with how tropical it felt.  In only an hour and 45-minutes, we went from the mountains to a place that felt much like Florida with its native vegetation unlike anything I had seen before, as varied and bountiful as the tropics (there was a tree with leaves far larger around than the length of my hand).

The all-time cutest exhibits were the koala bear and meerkat habitats.   The koalas were napping and had curled themselves up comfy into the arms of tree-branches.  One meerkat took a fascination with me and I swear behaved as if we were doing a Vogue photo-shoot.  

When asked what the girls enjoyed most, for the older two it was the pony trail-ride (although milking the fake cow was right up there).

Our littlest giggled when the goats literally climbed the fence to eat out of her hand.  They were sweet-natured and beautiful goats with shaggy colorful coats.  And what personality!  

We crossed a bridge over the Saluda River (Columbia marks the convergence of the Broad and Saluda) and saw the old stone foundation of a bridge that was burned during the Civil War.  In the peace and shade on the other side, we rested (and remembered the automatic features of my camera).

Afterward, we visited the elephants, giraffes and the sea-lion a little boy emphatically suggested we see.  I was certain the elephants were Asian elephants for their size, but through the crowds, I read something about Africa on the signs.  We were on some kind of deck above the enclosure, so perhaps the elephants appeared smaller.  Regardless, they were gorgeous creatures caught red from bathing in the Carolina clay.  

And how difficult it must be for a giraffe to eat grass when it feels so inclined!  We saw first-hand how they do it.  

We concluded our day with a visit to Erick’s uncle’s 18th century stagecoach house where the girls enjoyed tractor rides around the property while we sat on the front porch sipping iced-tea.


This afternoon we drove out to Grandfather Mountain and did some exploration in the rain.  It was a **beautiful** trip and I hope to return sometime soon.  At the peak, Grandfather is over one mile high and there’s a suspension bridge leading to the peak that spans a forty-foot gorge one mile deep!  The girls enjoyed the wildlife – cougars, an eagle, bear, an otter, some deer and a muskrat that crossed the road while we were leaving.  Celli accompanied us and seemed to enjoy the mountain as much, if not more than anyone. 

Driving to the peak was exciting.  Our back wheels slid against the sharp inclines, and our truck was far too big for some of the 180-degree turns, but we managed and made it to the top with time to spare before the storm.

The storm hit hard some time after Hickory and seemed to be firing water and lightning at anything that moved.  In the city, the thunder roared and ricocheted between buildings – like War of the Worlds, only really wet. The rivers were swollen to twice their size – I guess this happens quickly down here.  Everyone drove with their hazards because the water was so deep on the roads and you couldn’t make out the other cars very well.  One of the things I love about this region is the rains storms – they last for hours, unlike Michigan where it seemed we would get bursts of a storm, but they would quickly fizzle (except in the winter when the snow seemed never-ending).  

We’ve enjoyed some fireworks in the city – reminds me so much of Harbor Days back home.  What a wonderful end to such an adventurous trip.  Tomorrow we hope to see the ocean!

Happy holiday everyone!  Have a safe, adventurous weekend.

The girls take a break beneath split-rock – One serious bolder.

Okay, they weren’t really wild like I told my mom.  They were as tame as could be and waiting for hand-outs from visitors.  

Popo and I take a break in the rain for one quick photo 5000+feet in the air.  Photo by Wolfy.

The Mile-high “swinging bridge”


The storm was raging by the time we reached Charlotte.  Cars, trucks and motorcyclists especially crowded under overpasses to wait for a clearing.  Visibility was crap and here you can see the hazards on the car ahead of us.  

My favorite stop along 321.  The only truly affordable and fun, hand-made locally shop I’ve found.

I love the drive into the mountains for all of the old farmsteads and homesteads, fruit-stands and the views!

In the heat, Celli cools off by lying on any concrete surface she can find:

For the last few days I’ve noticed my dog has been anxious.  Today, I’ve come to realize why.  She’s been trying to teach me something and I haven’t been a very receptive until now.

Today I learned that life is all about learning to come to terms with the simple fact that we are not at the probable center of the universe; that we are not isolated matter; that we are more than the sole survivor of our own enlightenment.  Today I realized life isn’t about proving yourself to others; it’s about recognizing yourself in them and allowing yourself the freedom to change and grow.  Today I learned anxiousness can be cured.  And today I learned to look past the issues to see the real person – and I forgave myself that I don’t always like what I see.  

Today I learned to listen to those who love me most and to trust my own interpretations of this wild and crazy world.  Thanks Celli, friend.


Our week back in Elk Rapids, MI afforded me some time for reflection on all of the recent changes in our lives. We spent the majority of our time near the water; either on East Bay or Lake Michigan, but I made it a point to visit the chain and made a special visit to the old willow whose boughs sweep the currents of Elk River.  We used to climb out onto limbs as thick as barrels over the water to watch fish make their struggles toward the falls.  Treasures found along the shore were tucked safely beneath the tangled roots born bare by sand.  I climbed Johnny Rock and took photos of each of the girls on the early day’s swimmer’s stone; once a goal for swimmers near the newly erected harbor: The goal, uprooted; now a monument. 

Despite a lingering chill in the air, something in the metered pulse of the waves sliding up against sand only to be swept back again brought me into the moment and gave me time to center.  It was clear all at once I have not felt centered for some time in Charlotte.  It’s also clear I’ll need to find some way of “chilling out” now that I’m back in the city.  

It is strange returning home after a long absence, but I haven’t been away very long.  For me, this trip was about saying goodbye and reveling in the emotion unveiled through the process of letting go.  It was about replacing my grief for losing money on our house with gratitude we weren’t one of the dozen new foreclosures in the paper each day.  And about recognizing my ability to travel cross-country in good time with little worry.  This trip also reminded me that no amount of distance can squelch a good friendship.  And no matter how mature we become, we can still wade ankle-deep in Lake Michigan, jump waves tracing lines in the sand, and climb trees.  

On my way home to Charlotte, I occasionally glanced back in the rearview mirror at the thin horizon and worried about when I would return, but mostly my eyes were trained forward on the adventurous mountains ahead, and on the road immediately before me.  When I was a child, it was the road that moved as our car stood still, but yesterday, I accelerated past those reservations I’ve had about moving forward in this new life.  Despite warnings about dangerous cross-winds and steep grades, I was determined to make this trip work- determined not only to reach the destination, but as the saying goes, to enjoy the journey. 

And now for some theme-appropriate Walt Whitman: 

O living always, always dying!

O the burials of me, past and present!

O me, while I stride ahead, material visible, imperious as ever!

O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not – I am content; )

O to disengage myself from those corpses of me which I turn and look at where I cast them!

To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind!

Please click photos to link to flickr photos of our travels.


There appear to be two kinds of photographers: Those who capture sequence or scene artisitcally and those who capture the same with a sort of obscene randomness. When I first picked up my Pentax K1000 (I think I was 15), I never wanted to waste a print. At the time, it was costly to mess around. People took classes to master aperture setting. Today, they take classes just to turn the camera “On.” However, once in the “on” position, our ingenious digital devices have mastered capturing the world as we see it and making it easily, immediately accessible to our eye for approval or dissection. We no longer waste money printing hundreds of shots we don’t like, but spend it sparingly on those we do or burn the entire set to CD for future prints. (This last part alleviates at least some parental guilt).

So then, as an amateur photographer, watching other adults pick up a camera for the first time, I can bare witness to the delight they feel in capturing a slice of time, no matter how mundane or ridiculous. They may shoot hundreds of frames only to delete half or all of them guilt-free. My own children have spent time photographing the vacuum with my Nikon D50 and at first I was overwhelmed with the wastefulness of it all. And yet, what was there to waste? A minute amount of energy? Time? The soul of our aging vacuum? Was this art? What the hell is art, anyway, if it isn’t something beautiful one person sees in something and wishes to share with another? Something about the form, texture and color of the Kirby attracted the eyes of my children to it, but what? Answer that question and you’ve helped define the art.

The funny thing is, I’ve learned a lot more about photography from my friends and family who shoot randomness than from those who don’t. [My step-father aside, who presented me with my beloved Pentax and then taught me how to use it.] From camera phones, I’ve seen airports, bumper-stickers, a heron, a man crying, graffiti, rotten bananas, dogs being dogs, cats being cats and posters advertising some upcoming production. And though the quality is often lacking, the imagery and intent is not absent. The artist is not lacking for content, but perhaps composition and yet, I am drawn more closely into these photos for those tiny imperfections that make them real to me. Like reality TV, only truly real. Honest photography that doesn’t just trace the black and white textures of a sorrowful human face, but captures the breath mid-sentence; holds it there without edit for the world to see, to recognize, to relate to or to feel nothing of any significance at all. You may stand close or walk away and that’s the beauty in it. There are no expectations, just observation. No critique, just a slow taking in of information. No self-scrutiny, just a hint of irony.

The irony is in our desire to capture perfection in an imperfect world:  To uncover beauty beneath the guise of ugliness.

Why do people get their best shots before and after the shoot?  They get the best shot because they are capturing people in the moment and not in the lens.


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Beginning in February, I think I’ll begin a new Flickr account for serious photographs/compositions.  I just wanted to mention this to the general public.

Also beginning in February, I will take you all on a journey with us as we learn to adapt in a new state, new city, and a new life.  Moving, finding a house, a doctor, new oncologist, healthy food market(s), learning how to travel on the light rail while shedding our dependency on our own car.  It will be a challenge, but a rewarding challenge. 

Each year, as I gently pluck bulbs off the branches of the tree, I send with them wishes for a happy year ahead.  And I try to remember where I am in that moment, so that opening the box one year later, I will clearly see how much things have changed.  Similarly, as I pack the last boxes before our big move, I am thinking ahead to the day they will be reopened and the changes and growth unfolding in between. 

This is the part of being human of which I am most proud:  That we are able to self-reflect, grow and change.  Some of us are reborn into new spiritual awareness, or phsyical form.  And this inspires me to capture in digital snapshots, those moments of reflection, those images that evoke strong emotion, an act of kindness or some mundane act that rekindles a sense of who we are, from where we’ve come or to where we wish the world to take us. 

Flickr site

Our view.

Flickr just made my life easier. I can choose a grouping of photos and just leave my laptop alone while the upload happens. It’s a dream come true. No more 4-6 photos at a time. Yippie!


We’re taking a lunch-break.  This weekend went well, though it was incredibly busy.  Rae’s wedding was amazing.  I finally met my First Connection person with whom I was partnered when first diagnosed with lymphoma.  She is seven years out and we had a lot to catch up on.  It was a fun visit.  I took one of my children to the Blessingway since I hadn’t really seen any of them all weekend.  And I came home Sunday night ready for a day and a half of rest.

We started school again today which gave me time yesterday to rest, edit the images from the wedding and burn them to disc.  Today I’m enjoying school with the girls, rain outside, the warmth of our house, and currently some M&Ms (soul food).

Life has been crazy lately.  We’ve been dealing with debt, and life after cancer, and for a time I felt overwhelmed with all of it.  What I’m recognizing now, is that I am indebted to my friends and family in a good way.  I now have an opportunity to give back, to learn and to inspire.