Category Archives: Family

All the news that’s fit to read about the family.

Project 365 : Mighty Stripe

Prior to 2002, I’d never had a Red Stripe. I’m not even sure I can remember ever hearing of the beer. Now it’s my favorite, and in a funny sort of way, brings back memories.

My father was a Falstaff man. When I was a kid, I remember him having a Falstaff, in a glass, with a pretty good dose of salt added. I don’t know why he added the salt, but I remember the grains flowing out of our tall white Tupperware salt shaker to the bottom of the glass once the ‘Staff was poured. If Dad had a favorite beer, that had to be it.

When he died in ’02, my manager told me that I needed to get out of the office for a while and clear my head, so Becky kidnapped me to Jamaica for a week. It was the first time I’d been to the Caribbean, and I fell in love with Negril, the town that we called home for that week. The hotel (one of the Riu chain) had a stocked fridge, and inside was Red Stripe beer. I had one, and fell in love with it.

Now, every time I have one, I can’t help but think of dad. I’m pretty sure he’d never had a Red Stripe, but the two are irrevocably connected for me. When I went away to try to come to peace with his passing, I discovered a new flavor, and the two are forever joined at the hip for me.

So what’s this got to do with tonight’s image? Well, after a rough couple of weeks, I decided I needed some down-to-earth time. I pulled my last Stripe from the fridge here at home, and with my iPod cranking out some of my favorite country music, I realized I’d found my muse for tonight’s image. My slightly lighter Stripe sat upon the light table, but it just wasn’t enough for the image, so I decided to put one of the little lead English toy figures next to it, appearing to gaze up at this gargantuan bottle.

I think dad would’ve chuckled at this one.

Project 365 : Watching

Emma loves to look out the window at the birds and squirrels. With the afternoon sun shining through the curtains, I photographed her staring at something off in the distance. I love the look of her staring off at… something. She’s a great model, and she works for dog food. 🙂

I took this image with my Canon 7D and Canon 24-105/4L lens. I brought it into Photoshop CS4E, massaged the hot spots with Nik Viveza and applied my new favorite filter, Glamour Glow, from Nik Color Efex Pro.

Project 365 : Chess Pieces

I started setting up some of my father’s chess sets this weekend. He collected ’em from all over the world and I brought some of them home with me after his death. They’re all great, but this one is special.

My grandmother was an industrial glass blower in Oak Ridge in the 1960s and made a whole bunch of fun glass pieces for my family when I was a kid. She made this set for my father, and I’m thrilled to share it with whomever is reading this blog.

One of these days, I’ll work on some individual photos of some of the pieces. They’re really quite remarkable.

Project 365 : Guilty as Charged

Today’s photo is of our cute little puppy, Bailey, this morning as she lounged in Becky’s lap. With that photo, I share this story from Becky from this Christmas:

Sitting with Santa

Two weeks before Christmas I found myself in a local pet store and had the puppy, Bailey –- 4 months old — in the car. Discovered that Santa was in the store, no line.

So I popped out and got the puppy so she could meet Santa.

The process: stand in line at the cashier, pay the man, take the receipt to Santa and smile for your photo.

We stood in line, got the receipt, and went to see The Man.

Bailey was behind an eight-month old Great Dane/Irish Wolfhound puppy girl –- needless to say our 35+ pound puppy shrunk next to this girl. We waited and when it was our turn she was not very excited to meet this man in a beard on a platform. She was untypically shy and I heard a very low quiet grrrowl. Wow, don’t growl at Santa girl, you’ll get coal.

After a few kibbles and coaxing I finally picked her up, told Santa to put out his arms, and plopped her in them. Transformation. She started licking him and chewing on the beard. The Jolly (old?) Elf was OK!

We snapped a couple of shots and after talking with Mrs. Claus, I was quickly convinced to bring in the Wright Canine Trio for the ultimate dog photo.

What a nice surprise for Colin!

I went home and waited for Colin and Siobhan to leave for the afternoon. Quickly, I loaded the trio of dogs up for their first outing together: Emma, 10 years old, 40 pounds, 85% deaf; Molly, 8 years old, 85 pounds, stiff w/ arthritis; and Bailey – all puppy!

I piled them all in the car, Bailey in her crate and Emma and Molly contortioned on the back deck of the Pacifica. Everything is great. What wonderful dogs we have!

As I drove I plotted my approach -– just walk in with determination and go see Santa. After the photos stand in line and pay. It might be pushing the envelope to stand in line with them all prior to the photos. Sound plan.

Pulled into the parking lot and who could believe it, the very first parking space two Saturdays before Christmas. Man this is awesome!

I pile them out of the car and the elder dogs are walking nicely on the left (they do this well) and Bailey is on the right, with all her strength and excitement to be out with the Girls… on my left, behind me, in front of me, under me, jumps over Emma to see Molly, leap, jump, flip, sniff, stop, oh there’s the door.

Whew! Chanting my new mantra, being Calm and in Determined:

Go in, straight to Santa, photos; stand in line, pay, and leave.
Go in, straight to Santa, photos; stand in line, pay, and leave.

Now it is not uncommon for our puppy and Molly to stop people in their tracks and have them look. They are quite striking, really. And sweet Emma is so engaging with her seal-like eyes and her loving approach — sweet as can be. So, although it is not too modest, I’m expecting some remarks with TWO Bernese, a puppy and such a beauty as Molly, and a sweetie like Emma. And that is what we were met with. Total attention. People just stopped, no breathing, words, only Muzak in the background and my determination.

Go in, straight to Santa, photos; stand in line, pay, and leave.

The stunning silence of the patrons -– gosh our dogs must be beautiful!

My head quickly came out of the clouds when I looked around and was met with a glare from a Grandmother. I snapped out of it and realized I was not met with the stares of adoration for our dogs, but a stunned response. Good lord, I was standing in Toys-R-Us two Saturdays before Christmas.

Followed by the vacuum sound of the automated doors closing behind us….. woosh.

Then there was a glare from the mother with the child who’s faced contorted and started to screech, “I want a ppuuuuuppppppyyyyy” and was running to us, at which the puppy jumped, the eight-year old startled back, and the deaf one just waggled and sniffed the ground. Grandmother just shook her head in disapproval.

Quick turn around, leave.

ENTRANCE ONLY read the sign on the door.

The associate in the Customer Service desk ten steps ahead pointed to the right …. we had to go AROUND all of the security and out the other door. Oh good night.
Jump, wiggle, lunge, sniff, snort, startled….hurry hurry. PUPPPPPYYYYY!!!!!!

Standing outside I quickly gather myself and check to see if the daggers I felt in my back for the icy glares of Mothers and Grandparents left a mark. No, good, head to the correct store, one parking lot down the complex.

Shake it off, determined; they’ll never know in this store what just happened.

Go in, straight to Santa, photos; stand in line, pay, and leave.

Looked up – pet store, yes? Pet Store, yes, go in, Santa’s waiting …wiggle, jump, yank, snap.

We go in and walked in to the right with determination and purpose, right by some families murmuring “ooohhh look, how pretty” (right response, right store!).

…straight to Santa

Decided they needed a little outfitting as I went by the Holiday Costumes. Had them all sit down and tried on hats, collars, and settled on pretty velvet collars with jingle bells. How precious they all looked. And they jingled to Santa -– how perfect.

Santa and Mrs. Clause were glad (?) to see we were back – and there was no waiting. Right on!

He decided to sit on the platform – the photo would be Santa on the ground, Bailey in his arms now that they are pals, Molly next to him, the Tree next to her, cascading to gifts and decorations on the floor and sweet Emma sitting in front.

Good plan. Things are looking up.

Santa moves his chair and sits down, calls Molly to him. Now the platform he is on is the end cap to a retail aisle in a pet sore – so it is a platform of very malleable aluminum – when one sits on it or a 85 pound dog stands on it, it makes the “whomp whomp” noise.

Santa sitting, Bailey in his arms, Emma in front, Molly …whomp whomp, gets very nervous and starts waggling and wiggling – and knocks the tree over. Thump…down to the presents…splat…hitting the nutcracker, when he hits the ground … crack … off comes his head and it goes rolling in front of Emma.

Now being a self-respecting English Springer Spaniel, Emma sees the ‘squirrel’ and decided she needs to retrieve it. Within two seconds: tree over; Molly waggling; Emma proudly prancing and vocalizing her catch Nutcracker Head; Bailey wiggling in his arms; me, in flight to get the tree back up and gifts alighted. I grab the decapitated nutcracker and shove it behind the props.

Now it is not uncommon for our dear 10 year old to get excited in public, and when she does, (parental advisory: alert for ickynesss) she does a crab crawl style and makes a line of doggie poop. I knew it the second she started to assume “the” position —

One, ummmmm, two, lady, three drops. LADY

I find something to clean it up with – my back is turned when Bailey, thinking Emma is making “Christmas Cookies” decides to jump out of Santa’s arms and swoop down and pick up a treat of doggie poop…and she realizes she’s free…and she starts running.

Chomp chomp.

Jingle jingle jingle.

Oh good – right into the Pet Adoption area.

Kittens in a crate totem pole on each other, hissing and scratching – Bailey has never seen kittens, and does this animated cartoon stop and back up…jingle jingle….and I can’t get her attention.

I grab some treats form the ‘scoop it yourself treat bar’ and Bailey smells the aroma of real Christmas Cookies and runs to me…jingle jin….a bell flies off and Bailey swoops down to grab in, in her mouth it goes.

Up until now I was going with the flow, now she is in danger and we are not messing around.

I grab the puppy in mid flight, and swift like a lion tamer I open her mouth and stick my hand completely down into her throat and pull out the bell. I hold my victory to the light, relief that she is safe, and look past me ….there was a kid, eyes bugged out completely pressed against her Mom, watching me shove my arm to my elbow into this wild beast. What a sight! Mom understands, and from one lion tamer to another, we exchange knowing glances, I smile and walk away.

Santa, now not all that excited to get a poop-eating puppy in his arms, somehow has the tree, gifts, and dogs set up ready to go. Put the pup in his arms, click click click click.

Mrs. Claus: “Which photo would you like?”

I’ll take them ALL I say, completely winded.

• Go in
• Wrong store
• Go In – again
• Straight to Santa
• Stop and try on costumes
• Knock over tree, packages, nutcracker
• Poop
• Swoop, eat poop, run
• Swoop, eat jingle bell
• Remove jingle bell
• Terrorize kid
• Photos
• Stand in line and pay

I tuck my wallet under my chin; shove the jingle bells in my back pocket, dogs loaded in each hand, car keys accessible, and pictures in my mouth, partial bag of dog poop in my hand.

…stand in line and pay

New plan – get them in the car, at all cost.

I walk right out with determination and fire in my eyes. Put the dogs in car, sit down, and breathe.

Back in the store, I give the jingle bell velvet collars back, dropping them on the counter. With a trickle of perspiration coming down my forehead, I ask, “What do I own you?”

Clerk says “Well, let’s see, photos, a scoop of dog treats, and collars”. No verbal recognition of the decapitated nut cracker, either gracious or didn’t see it. Let’s just say you owe us for the photos and chock the rest up to Entertainment.”

“Deal,” I say.

I left the bell-less collars on the counter, took my photos, and realized that was the longest 10 minutes of my life.

Merry Christmas to all!

Project 365 : Footprints

The snow is beginning to melt in earnest with our daytime temps above 40° now, and I’m reminded of something my darling daughter said this weekend.

As we pulled into the driveway, she exclaimed that a deer had obviously walked through the snow in the front yard. I strained to look out her window, and asked her to point out what she’d seen. She pointed confidently to the tracks you see in this photo. What she hadn’t noticed was that the tracks ended at the base of the tree.

Deer, of course, can’t climb trees. 🙂

I love you, Sio!

Yo Mama and Kareem

It sounds like the opening line of a bad joke… So what does my mother and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have in common? In reality, it’s not a joke, and just a decade ago was a life or death topic.

Yesterday, I saw on the news that Kareem has been diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), a cancer of the white blood cells. Mom was diagnosed with CML just a bit over ten years ago. At that time, it was grim news, with the only real hope being a bone marrow transplant. Nowadays, you can take a pill every day, and go about your business in a relatively normal way with a terrific prognosis, but it wasn’t always like that. Mom was fortunate enough to get into some early studies that allowed her to persevere until the better medicines came along.

Obviously, I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone, but getting a famous face talking about CML can’t hurt.

Elks and Buffalo

This weekend, we’ve had great weather — 75° in early November. I’ll take that! With the great weather, Becky decided we all needed to get out and enjoy the surprisingly mild weather. She was right.

With the doors off the Jeep, and the roof down, we all piled into the Jeep and started driving. We took a quick spin through Route 66 State Park, visiting the museum and letting Sio learn about Times Beach from the museum caretaker and Becky. We learned that the bridge connecting the park to the museum is about to be torn down, rather than be repaired. That’s a shame really. It’d be a great path across the river to link cyclists and pedestrians to the gift shop on the other side. Without the bridge, the two halves of the park will be completely separated, with only two separate exits from the interstate connecting them. Bummer.

One we were through with Route 66, we drove to Lone Elk State Park. We’ve had great luck there in the past seeing both elk and bison. This was the first time we’d been to the park so late in the day — about two hours before sunset. As it ends up, we had terrific views of the bison munching away, and elk both lounging and wandering around.

When I bought the Jeep last year, I wanted to be able to have nature really close to me by being able to take the doors and roof off. Today was the first time I’d really gotten that chance… and it was glorious. I felt like I was walking right alongside the elk and bison — they were so close you could touch them, and so near you could smell them. It was such a great experience, and I believe I’ll try to hit up the park late in the day again.

Of course, once the warm weather wears off in a few days, I imagine the behavior of the critters may be different. But that’s fine — I can run without the doors or roof down to at least 40°!

New Addition!

Our trip has paid off, and we have a bouncing Berner baby girl — Bailey!

We showed up at Trulli Kennels, with three little ones to choose from. They were all cute, and it would’ve been great to scoop ’em all up, but we were there for one.

So why’d we pick Bailey?

She was the biggest. She’s a little chunk — 17 pounds at 8 weeks — and seems like she’s destined for bigness. We were told her pop was 120-130, and her mom was about 105. She’s gonna be big.

She was the fastest. Every time I ran around the yard, she was the first one to catch up to me. It was cool to have all three of them chasing me around, but you can’t compete with speed and girth. 🙂

And then there’s the markings. She’s beautifully marked with cute little freckles on the end of her nose — she’s easy to pick out in a lineup.

She’s wormed her way into our lives, and we’re thrilled about her!