Saturday, November 26, 2005


I was planning to spend one of the holidays with Henry's family this year - we've always lived far enough away that getting back to Amarillo was difficult. We had the largest gathering of family in a long time, and it was a sweet day. But also bittersweet, because Henry's dad was too sick to come. We have a wonderful family photo, but we were missing two . . . . Henry and his dad. I've thought about using my photoshop skills to take a photo of Gene at the house and try to work it into the shot. And I had meant to take a photo of Henry after he got over to our niece's house - so the lighting and background would be easy. But it has been a difficult choice - do I really want to take photos of Gene at this final stage of his life? Do I really want photos to remind us of how weak and feeble he has become.

And yet, when some of us gathered at the house with Gene Thanksgiving evening, I took photos. He's had time with these grandchildren- and he's had time recently with all of his children. As photographer, I have helped document the memories of these last times with Gene. I look at him and find myself being grateful for these last minutes in his presence. I have been grateful that I've had opportunity to try to make him physically comfortable.

Today I also got to spend time with Debra and her fiance, Jonathan. After the week in the hospital and the worry over how to best care for Gene, it was a pleasure to share memories of places we shared with my mom. Thankfully, Jonathan was patient. My mom would have been especially pleased at how much he enjoyed the trip to the ranch and some of the strange plants that grow there. Because I drove, Jonathan and Debra sat in the back - leaving the front passenger seat empty. How fanciful of me to think how appropriate that was - as that is where my mom would have been sitting. Surely some part of her joined us today - as Debra relived things we did with her grandmother. Even if only in our memories.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Life Musings

Henry's dad, Gene, is in the hospital right now. At 85 (almost 86), things can happen very quickly. While he had slowed down a lot over the last couple of years - he and Evelyn have been able to stay in their home, drive to church on Sundays, and maintain independent living. Three weeks ago, Gene was in the hospital for gall bladder and pancreas issues. Saturday he was admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit. We have both heart issues and kidney issues at this point. Most of our news has not been good. But as I have encouraged others to do: I want to list the things I am grateful for.

1. We have excellent doctors - we have confidence that they are competent and that they are trying to do everything that they can for Gene.

2. The nursing staff have been helpful, friendly, and are taking very good care of Gene.

3. Debra encouraged me to get started with Curves and work on my weight this year. I have the energy to do the things I need to do here.

4. Our preacher, Roger, sent me an email yesterday - his prayer: the perfect will of God for Gene. What more could I ask of God, but for his perfect, wise divine plan for Gene to unfold?

5. Gene was alert and much like his old self tonight. I even got him to crack a smile and chuckle a couple of times.

Life is uncertain - we will enjoy the time we are getting to spend with the family up here - and we will be grateful for the days that we can talk with Gene and spend time with him.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lost Maples - Day Two

While the morning started out cloudy, I was quite pleased because I have learned that the filtered light provides more even lighting for foliage. You have to frame your shot without the sky, but with the magic of photoshop the colors come out much better without the sun washing them out or creating deep shadows.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting some of my shots from this trip on my website:
Lost Maples Photos

For several reasons, I've been doing a lot of self-portraits lately. For one thing, I am trying to explore the income possibilities of stock photography. I need to improve my skills in photographing people. Things I learn in taking my portraits and the post processing will help me with other projects. For another, I am the one model who is always available (ha! ha!) Since I have lost so much weight, the Curves people have been asking for a photo - and I wanted a good one for them. Getting back to the stock photography - they seem to want "real" people - so since I am a "real" person - some of the shots I am doing will get sent to Alamy Images. We'll see if any of them sell.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lost Maples

Living in the Austin area, I miss some of the brilliant colors that I remember from fall in Amarillo. In the Austin area, the fall colors are muted. There is yellow-brown, red-brown, brown . . . . . . My tallow trees (not native) have a pretty yellow and pink color. And the china-berry trees also are yellow.

While I had visited Lost Maples before, we had never gone in the fall. The color comes and goes quickly. While the kids were in school, there were too many activities going on to take off to see the maples here. But this year was my opportunity. I had been told that around Halloween is the peak time. When I first called to get reservations (November 1st), the park told me that the trees were still green - next week would be better. When I called the state office to make reservations, they said the 7th and 8th was too early - it would be another week (and no there were no available reservations THAT week). So I decided to go ahead and come this week. The reports said there was color in the canyons. I was planning to take the long hikes - so surely I would find some nice locations for fall photographs.

As we drove into the park, the first things I saw were the young maples around the visitor center in full color. Ahhh - fall color. I was able to extend our initial reservation through Thursday - so we were set.

The first afternoon, I took part of the Maple Trail. This trail follows the creek and comes back through the maple grove. I chose to stay along the creek both directions looking for reflective shots in the afternoon sunlight.