From the Past

Wife, circa 2004, doing what she loved best… interacting with her family. Shot with my Nikon D100 and a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8, probably wide open.

As I woke yesterday morning, the thought passed through my mind that “it was a bad week.” That made me pause for a moment and consider my inner dialogue.

“No,” I rethought, “it was a hard week.” I then nodded to myself, slipped on my moccasins, and rose to go make a coffee and run through my morning regimen.

Wife would have turned 71-years old this week. I always take a few moments on her birthday to remember her. In the evening, I lift a glass to the east (which I often do anyway) to salute her and remember our communal life. The day is always a mix of happy and sad (maybe the definition of “nostalgia”), but I am OK with that.

In addition, my maternal grandmother, “Nana,” would have been 108-years old this week. She lived to be 100-years old before she wore out and died. She was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet and complemented my grandfather well. They were good people, God-fearing, and unselfish.

It was my grandmother who took me to buy my first book. I was about five-years old. The book was a 7th grade science textbook.

Work has been challenging the last few months; Hell, the last couple of years. There were many deadlines (still a few out there), lots of pressure, and requirements to do things I have not done or not done in a long time.

Pressure and deadlines are the life of a consultant. I accept that. But there has been little room to eddy out between and it is wearing on me. In fact, I am pretty worn down at the moment — to the point of considering to chuck it all, sell everything that I cannot carry in my rig/camper, and drive off.

So, after my thought on a bad week passed and was corrected, I made my coffee and returned to find The Girl had been licking her wounded toe. I hate to leave the collar on her all the time, but she knows when I am distracted and cannot help herself but to lick the wound, stripping the scab from it and delaying the healing action that goes on under the cover of the scab.

So, the collar went back on. With the collar on, she exudes misery and is very careful to tell me just how f*($*#g miserable she really is. Yes, she works it.

So, she added a little fuel to my internal fire.

I sat at the computer and took care of those things that demanded my attention. I then dressed, removed her collar, but her tracking and control collars on, repaired the control module for her control collar (broken knob), made sure I had water and a snack, and we headed to Silver Saddle Ranch to walk.

We took an alternate route to keep her off of the access road. It is hard and rocky and hurts her foot. We took the trail to the powerline trail, walked up the hill through the mass of sand burrs, and back through the Ranch compound. It was almost a three-mile walk. The sun was good for my soul and the exercise good to wear her down.

As we approached the rig and the end of our walk, I thought “I’d like a chili dog… I’m hungry.” So, we loaded up and headed north to the Sonic where I satisfied my craving. I shared the list bite of chili dog and half of the tater tots and the last bit of my strawberry shake with her. Then we headed home — for her to rest and me to finish my work for the day.

I also had a short nap with The Girl and then loaded her back in to the rig for a grocery run. She might as well go with me as stay at home. It was an expensive run at about $300, but it had been awhile since I last went. So, it was no surprise.

I ended my day with a bowl of chicken chili (from the crockpot) and a gin and tonic. I also fed The Girl and she got a bit of meatball left over from my last Olive Garden run.

At the end of the day I was tired and having The Girl snuggling next to me was good. The day ended with me in a better headspace and grateful for the day, grateful for The Girl, and grateful that I had Wife in my life for so many years.

The capture was made almost 20-years ago with my Nikon D100 (my first dSLR), a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 zoom, most likely at 200mm and f/2.8. She was doing what she loved best — taking care of her family.

She is most definitely missed. But, still, I am grateful. Life is good.

Happy Birthday Old Girl 2023

Family snapshot from the 1980s, probably 1987.

Wife would be 71-years old today. I would be planning to take her out to supper. Her family would call and wish her well. Her friends would call from all over the country to wish her a happy day. She would have been on the phone all day long.

She would be late to leave with me for supper. Even if I was a little frustrated, it would be OK. It was her way. We would have a good evening out and then return home to spend some time together.

I miss those days, this one in particular, but also the holidays that she so loved. This is my lot now that she is gone. It is not that I feel that awful tearing pain of grief anymore; I do not. That work is done.

But there lingers the missing of that communal life. This will never go away. Even if I could make the hole go away, I am not sure I would. It is a reflection of that part of my life and is valuable in and of itself.

I am reminded of a phrase from a song, I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all… This is a small pain and tolerable. It is a good reminder of Wife. I miss her.

I think I will open a new bottle of wine this evening and raise my glass to the east, where her ashes rest. I will say “Thank you!” and “Miss you!” as I do, then turn to sit on the sofa with The Girl, who will snuggle up against me or put her heavy head in my lap. I expect a tear will be shed before the end of the day.

Still, I remain grateful for that communal life. We had a good life together. Life is still good.

My Sick Girl

My poor girl is quite sick. She has a urinary tract infection and is being a little slow to respond to antibiotics. This on top of a rattlesnake bite a little over a week ago is a lot for her system to handle. Shot with the Sony A7Sii and a 50mm f/1.7 Zenit-M lens at f/1.7. Post-processed with Iridient Developer.

The Girl has had a tough run of luck lately. Last week she was bitten by a rattlesnake. That caused a trip to the clinic and an overnight stay. The treatment mitigated the worst of the bite. After a couple of days of recovery, she was pretty much her usual self.

Still, I limited her crazy activity for a few days. Tuesday and Wednesday we were out in the field where I directed collection of some additional topographic data for one of our projects. She seemed her normal self, and had a blast chasing the multitude of chipmunks that inhabit the area.

Thursday evening I noticed some swelling of her muzzle. I called the vet and we traveled back to Gardnerville for another check. Her blood work was good, but the vet identified a urinary tract infection. I asked that she give an injection of antibiotic to jumpstart the process and then I would administer the remainder of the round orally.

She was not a bit good yesterday. I was able to coax her to eat a couple of scrambled eggs I made for her. That got the antibiotic in. Last night I had some leftover hamburger steak and mashed potatoes, so I was able to get the next does of antibiotic in her.

She did drink some water and ask to go out to eliminate a couple of times. So we are making progress.

This morning as I readied myself to go out, she looked at me but did not leave her spot on the sofa. I drove down to Red Hut and had some food. I brought her French toast (my leftovers) and that got another dose of antibiotic in her. She also drank some water, which is good.

Then she laid her head back down to rest. She is showing little interest when I start moving around. Normally she would be a pesty-bitch and follow me everywhere in the house, underfoot, asking to go with.

Not today… she is firmly established on the sofa.

I will leave her there and pray she is better this evening. I always hated it when my kids were sick, especially when they were small and did not understand. I feel the same for my fur-children. They know they are sick and do what comes natural to them to recover. They do not understand medical treatment, but permit us to treat them. They know we love them and are caring for them.

So, I will hope for better this evening. In the meantime, I have other things to keep me busy.

1Yes, I know that my term of endearment, fur-child, is completely inaccurate. She is not human. However, we share a bond and relationship that is as strong as I have with most humans. Do not try to tell me she does not love me — I know that she does. So, leave me alone!

Home and Mending

The Girl is home from hospital after her nope-rope encounter. It’s good to have her home. Shot with a Fuji X-E4 and the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 at f/4, with the Acros film simulation.

The vet called yesterday morning about 0745h. The Girl was doing well, her numbers were fine, and she was ready to be released. I was expecting a must-sign-for delivery via FeDeX, so I had to stick around the house. I knew that as soon as I left, the delivery person would show up and I would have to go find the parcel.

So I continued to work while waiting. I heard the truck about 1330h and walked to the front door then stepped out. I signed and took delivery, dropped the carton on the kitchen table, and headed for Gardnerville. It took a half hour to get there and only a few minutes of waiting (after I paid my bill, of course). The Girl was quite happy to see me and ready to head out the door.

I received her recovery directions and pain medication and we left.

I stopped at McDonald’s because I know she like fries and I was a little hungry. She ate part of my hamburger, too.

She settled onto the bed in her normal place. Later she moved to the sofa where I sat watching videos about the Fuji X-E4, their smallest interchangeable lens camera. I have a rented unit because I want to know what all the fuss is about it.

I already have the perfect set of lenses for it, Fujinon’s wonderful compact lens series. It would make an excellent travel camera for those times I want more than a point-and-shoot1. It is inexpensive to rent, so I am doing to testing over the next week and change.

But, the focus is on The Girl. She will need a few days of rest to recover from her close encounter of the Jacob-No-Shoulders’ kind. She will get rest and lots of love. I will also be very careful with her when we are out where there can be snakes. I do not want a repeat action.

1Ha! The Fuji X100V is not just a point-and-shoot camera. It is a very competent fixed lens camera that can do a lot if the focal length is right.

Daily Image — Industar 55mm f/2.8 Zeiss Copy

After her breakfast, she kindly posed for me on the sofa while I played around with a new lens. This is the Sony A7S camera with the Russian Industar 55mm f/2.8 Zeiss copy at f/5.6 and an ISO of 1600.

A few weeks ago I bought two lenses, both are Russian copies of Zeiss optical formulas. They came from Ukraine (lots of them there) from a reputable seller. I had to order a pair of Leica mount (39mm) to Sony FE and Fuji FX mounts so I can mount these on my cameras.

This first image is of my Girl after I fed her this morning. She patiently posed for me on the sofa while I played around with the Sony A7S (Mark I) and an Industar 55mm f/2.8. I finally settled on an f-stop of f/5.6 and bumped the ISO up to 6,400 to get the shutter speed up.

I downloaded the images to my iMac and used Iridient Developer to convert the out of camera JPEG to black and white. I made a small contrast adjustment and added a bit of sharpening to the result as well.

I like the image… and not just because of the subject matter. The lens is quite sharp at f/5.6 and has good contrast. I think this lens is a keeper.

Christmas Reflections 2021

I made this capture in 2006 at the Lubbock Barnes & Noble.

On January 22, 2006, Wife and I drove over to the Lubbock Barnes & Noble for an outing. She was looking for a browse, perhaps to find a new book. I bought a cup of coffee and sat down at a table near the front of the store.

This was the old B&N on the east side of Slide Road in the strip center, before they moved to a new location. It was a store we visited often, before B&N became more of a toy store and less of a bookstore.

I sat there, enjoying my coffee and looking at a book or magazine — I do not recall which. But I had a camera with me and was always looking for a good capture.

Since my 20s (a long time ago) I have almost always had a camera at hand. In the beginning, it was a film camera. All I had at first was a 35mm film camera, so that is what I carried. It usually had black and white film in it, either Tri-X or Plus-X.

Later, the cameras became digital and smaller. On this particular day I am unsure what I was carrying. It might have been an Olympus Camedia, as they were the best prosumer camera at the time.

It doesn’t matter. What mattered was the light coming from behind me and shining on Wife’s face. I saw that light and knew it made for a good image. I grabbed up the camera, turned it on, then quickly pointed, composed, and got the shot.

Wife began her protest about having her photograph made and I just about caught the peak of the action with my informal portrait. Her expression captured (pun intended) her usual reaction to my pointing of a camera at her. (Aside: She had several other reactions as well… some not appropriate for mixed company.)

This image remains another of my favorite captures of Wife. A bit of her personality is caught in the frame and that playful protest was fun. I had a good laugh about it as did she.

I spent a bit of time this morning reflecting on the year. At the end of each year, I like to look back at the year and assess what I did well and what I did not do so well. I want to learn from the experience and make choices about how to spend my time the coming year.

I do not make resolutions. Resolutions fade away without structure to see they are implemented. Instead, I set goals and make plans to achieve those goals. I decided what habits I want to cultivate and those that I want to reduce. I decide how to structure my time so that I can make the changes that will be good for me.

And then I set out to execute those plans. I am not always successful. But I remain mindful of the goals I want to achieve.

With that, I will close this entry with a hearty Merry Christmas. I remember that we celebrate today the birth of the Christ child. It does not matter when Jesus was born; only that he was. And it only matters that what God said about him is true. I am grateful for that gift, the best of all.

Happy 69th Birthday, Old Girl

I took a few minutes Sunday afternoon to set up a radio and play a little. It was a gorgeous day.

I will say a bit more about the image a bit farther down the page. My main thought for the day is that it is Wife’s 69th birthday. Had she lived, I would be teasing her about being a cradle-robber or a cougar now that she is older than me again.

It was a fun exchange we shared over many years, even before we were married.

And we are approaching the holiday season. There are many things I love about the holidays and shared that love with Wife. I never cared for the outward appurtenances, but for the deeper meaning of gratefulness for God’s provision to our forbears and to us. The former is in terms of the Thanksgiving Day celebration and the latter the time we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child.

I still feel deeply about these celebrations and their true significance. But I also remember that Wife loved these holidays and the time spent together, with family, and with friends. I also remember that it was during this season that she suffered so much before she died.

So there is the knife-edge balance of joy and melancholy in this season. It requires some mental discipline to avoid too much of the latter and focus on the joy and thankfulness of the season. I work on this every year and so I will again this year.

What about the image? Well, on Sunday afternoon after The Girl and I finished a very nice walk, I decided to play a little radio. I stopped at the north end of the Prison Hill Complex, a network of trails and parks here in Carson City and pulled into the staging area. I setup a telescoping mast, a wire antenna, and the Elecraft KX2. I was able to check in to the 40m Noontime Net (7.2835MHz) and also heard a SOTA (Summits On The Air) activator calling, so I worked him too.

It was a good day, spending part of it with The Girl and our usual outing, loving the sun and warmth of a fall afternoon, and then returning home for food and rest. The radio part was an bit of lagniappe and an opportunity to practice a little code.

The Ghost

This old farmhouse was a place of life and love. Now it’s just a ghost.

This old farm house, now abandoned, falling apart from the mistreatment of the previous occupants, is a ghost. I recall there was so much life in this house. It was the home of a family — a father, mother, and three girls. Now it is only an empty shell.

As far as I know, the Deans built it in the first half of the 20th Century. I seem to remember a mark somewhere on the concrete with a name and a date. But that memory has long departed. The father and mother bought the house and surrounding farm sometime in the 1950’s.

There they raised three girls, one of whom became my wife. I had no idea when I first met them. Neither did they… I was just a boy from California.

One morning, not long after we moved to the place just west from them, the two younger girls walked up past our place. Dad and I were headed out to work on fence on the tractor. At 15-years old, I was not (yet) much interested in girls, so I paid little mind.

But Dad would not let it go. He nudged me with his elbow, “What do you think, son?” he asked with a nod towards the two girls, a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye.

“They sure grow them big back here,” was my terse response. Dad laughed and laughed as we rolled down the road on that old Case tractor.

I do not recall exactly how my relationship with that family first developed. I know I eventually met them and the oldest became the object of my affection. I started helping Wife’s dad in the hayfield the best I could, given I was not a big boy. But I could help load the bottom tier of hay and I could drive a tractor. I could help pitch bales off the wagons and trailer. And I did.

I spent a lot of time in that house. Moreso as I became part of the family.

After Wife and I married, we spent a lot of time in that house. She loved her family, as did I. When I was at university in Rolla, during hay season I would head out to the farm after my university obligations were finished and start in the hayfield. I learned to rake hay into windrows so Dad could run the bailer. Once he started bailing, I would get the other tractor and a wagon or trailer and start picking up the bails. We left the outer row for after Dad finished bailing because those bails were always extra heavy and took two men to lift them to the trailer.

The youngest of the three sisters sometimes drove the tractor. It was better if Wife did not.

This path is cut through the garden plot of the old farmhouse. In it my family grew vegetables for the table. There was even a small strawberry patch that yielded a few berries every year. Now it is only a mess of weeds.
I sure enjoyed the meals and fellowship of that time. Mom was such a great cook and Dad and I shared a lot of laughs while we ate supper and rested for a few minutes before heading back to the field to finish the job.

I recall watching the women cleaning up after supper one evening, all with the backs turned to us. “I can sure see the family resemblence,” I mentioned to Dad. He said nothing, but howled with laughter, slapping his knee as he sometimes did.

Somehow I survived. Perhaps they did not hear me.

After our first child was born, we spent a week or two with Mom and Dad so Mom could help with Daughter. Wife was recovering from her C-section and we had no idea of what we were doing.

I was convinced that I would never sleep again. We were up every couple of hours dealing with a colicky baby.

One night Wife checked Daughter and then headed for the lavatory. Of course, Daughter began screaming as soon as Wife departed. I sat on the edge of the bed, doing my best to comfort Daughter, knowing she wanted to be fed.

Mom stepped to the door and exclaimed “Oh, David!” noticing me sitting there in the tighty-whities. Exhausted and never having been very modest, I turned to her and said “I’m covered and I don’t care. I’m just not sure what Daughter needs…” The thought occurred to me that it was not like Mom had never seen a man before. She came over and retrieved Daughter to check her, comfort her, and walk the floor a bit. I think I fell back asleep.

After our initial foray into parenthood, we returned to our apartment. When Wife had to return to work, Mom spent part of her days at our apartment and we took Daughter out to the farm on other days. Daughter spent a lot of time with her grandma and grandpa and I still think that was a good thing.

Soon came graduate school and Older Son. My mom and dad moved from the farmhouse up the road to Kansas City where Dad worked. So we moved into the farmhouse while I worked on a Master’s degree.

We spent a lot of time with Mom and Dad. Dad and I worked the hayfields in the summer and cut heating wood in the fall and winter. We hunted and fished whenever possible.

My in-laws were the most supportive people I have ever known. They were, and are, just as much family as my blood.

Soon university ended and it came time to work, so we moved to where the work was. But we were always drawn back to that old farmhouse where the family lived. Holidays were almost always spent there. I made sure that Wife and kids got plenty of time there with the family every summer. I would take a couple of days, drive them all there, visit as long as I could, then return home to work.

I have always loved the view of this hayfield across from the old farmhouse. I cannot recall how many times I saw white-tail deer at the far treeline. I also cannot recall the number of bumblebee nests we found in the field while making hay.
There was so much life and love in that old house.

Later, Mom and Dad decided to put a manufactured house on a basement just up the road from the old farmhouse. They wanted a little more modern place and they loved the spot next to the pond. So they rented out the old farmhouse. The new place became the gathering point for family and friends and served just as well.

But I still loved that old farmhouse. I loved the view of the field across the county road.

As Mom and Dad grew older, it came time to move to town where there was not so much work. Eventually, they needed more care and that involved another move.

Now Mom is gone. She lived her life on her terms and we all love her and miss her. I expect Dad will follow soon enough, missing his beloved as much as he does. When he goes, a great hole will be left in the world as the two of them lived their faith; they did not talk about it.

As I stood at gate to the yard of that old farmhouse, I saw the derelict it is and the vital home it was superposed in my mind. I made the image as a testament to the family that lived and grew there. But the old house is no longer that vital place; it is only a ghost that contains all those memories.

Dry Fork Creek

This shot is from a reach where Dad and I used to fish regularly.

While in Missouri last month, SiL took us out to the old family place. Dean’s Ford is now abandoned and the right-of-way for the ford and the county road returned to the landowners. Access to the ford is blocked with a berm and it and the old county road are gated to prevent trespassing.

However, the family still has access by the kindness of the current landowner. So, SiL took us out to the old family place to look around and reminisce.

I made a few images while there and will probably post a few of them along with a few words. This capture is a view downstream from the old ford. I took the kids down here to play on the sandbar many times when we lived up the road or, later, when we were visiting. They loved chasing tadpoles and splashing in water to cool off from the summer heat.

Dad and I spent a lot of time fishing just downstream from this location. There was a long pool deep enough to have catfish as well as bass and perch. We often fished with rod and reel, but sometimes would set out limblines to leave out overnight in hopes of catching a large catfish.

I sure miss those times hunting and fishing with Dad. We had a lot fun together and told lots of stories and tall tales.

Roadtrip 2021

I needed a cup of coffee before we headed south to Durant. While stopped to get said coffee, I made a capture of our little caravan.

Greetings from Lubbock, Texas. I am at the KOA here in Lubbock for a couple more days. I stopped here to visit some friends and to pause before the trip back home.

It was a great trip in many ways and sad in a couple more. I might elaborate later on some parts of the trip. I certainly have a few more images to share.

But for this morning, this is it. I’ll share an image I made as the kids and I left Ozark, Missouri on our way to Durant, Oklahoma and then on to Lubbock. The kids came to visit my DiL’s folks and I was headed this way anyway, so we shared the road together.

We stopped over at Durant to visit Young Son and DiL-to-be. I enjoyed the night at Lake Texoma, where I camped before.

Older Son has his Technician license, so we were able to chat 2-meter simplex all the way. It was a reason why I think an amateur radio operator’s license is a good investment of time and energy. The Technician license is not difficult to acquire and provides privileges at 50MHz and above.

Now I need a late breakfast. The Girl needs an outing.