I have become the curator of over 42,000 images taken by my sister in law, Lisa Towery, who passed away from Cancer in March 2014. She was a wife, mother, photographer, and artist. She introduced me to her best friend from child hood, Debbie, whom I married.
This image is one of her many "selfies." I cannot imagine being able to create a better image than this, in her circumstances. I really have to say it is one of the most beautiful images I have posted here.
Having reviewed tens of thousands of her images, this one speaks to me like no other.
Lovers Flight Canon 6D, 70-200mm F/2.8, f/5.6, 1/1600, iso 320
Today makes five full years of daily blogging here at Dream Tomorrow, Live Today, Cherish Yesterday. And as they say "all good things come to an end."
I do really hope my blog has been a good thing for many people. I know it has for me. (Here is where it all started btw.)
I had planned on today's image to be from the same shoot as my initial post, but last night I was presented with this amazing scene and it spoke to me. I had walked out to take a picture of Mt. Rainier when I heard the eagle cry. I looked over that way and this pair was cavorting in the sky. About the time I got focused on them, they were in this position and I could include the wonderful sunset sky.
My initial goals for becoming a photo blogger were:
Motivate me to shoot more often, improve my skills.
Meet other photographers.
Perhaps become more well known.
I succeeded with the first two. I quickly found out that if you want people to find your blog, you have to comment on other people's blogs. And that led to meeting quite a few people.
One of the most important of these folks is my (now) good friend John Barclay. We became blog buddies, and then I noticed he (and another great guy Dan Sniffin) did photography tours/workshops. I was living in Northern California and they had a workshop in The Palouse (Eastern WA). While I had never considered a workshop before, I signed up.
The trip was great and I had met a whole new set of friends. I did other tours with them (that have been documented here) and made many other friends. Photography is so much more fun when you do it with other people!
Those friendships also led to being invited on the Cuba trip. Which ended up being a life changing event for me because I injured my hip in a fall (I don't recall if I ever talked about that here).
Me with the one and only Tony Sweet, another friend I made through the blogging and the Dan/John friendship. January 2012, before the fall.
Dan, me (having lost 45+ pounds), John. June 2013.
My recovery (through physical therapy, another miracle in my life) from the hip injury prompted me to get serious about losing weight and getting fit. Without that fall in Cuba, I doubt all of this would have happened. Without the people I met through blogging, I would have never travelled to Cuba!
Since I'm still working my day job, I don't really have time to comment on many other blogs. I need time for my fitness routine. My comments have slowed to a crawl. Another issue for me is vacations. If I'm going to be gone for three weeks (which I plan to do often), it might take me an entire weekend to pre-load the blog.
So I think I'm calling it after five years. Here are my blog stats just for fun:
What's next for me? I'm not sure. One thing I want to do is get my own photography website updated, that poor pathetic thing. I always say I can't make time for that because of the blogging.
Maybe I'll post from time to time when I have something unique. I have pretty much lost interest in landscape photography, other than to be out doing it with friends. I have had opportunities to go Iceland, New Zealand, that kind of thing. But in truth I'd rather go back to NYC and do street photography.
I'd also love to get into video. But I know there's a big learning curve and it takes a lot of time. Maybe when I retire?
I'm going to do a couple of blurb books. I'll keep posting images on facebook from time to time.
A lot of people say I should do a food blog because cooking is my #2 hobby and I like creating and shooting dishes. I was looking for a recipe the other day, and found one on a food blog. She had done a wonderful job with the writing, shooting, and the dish itself. I was going to use her recipe and I thought "you know, I'll leave her a comment telling her how nice this page is, etc." I scroll down... She already has 112 comments on this one post!
So I don't think I'll do the food blog, again it is a time thing.
It's a wrap, at least for the daily posting. If you have enjoyed some of my posts and want to leave a parting comment, I'd appreciate that very much.
I'd like to say also that I really appreciate everyone that commented, or sent me an email with an attaboy. Especially super commenter and good friend Stephan D!
Until we meet again, whether virtually or hopefully in person.
[I suggest you hit play above and listen to this while reading...]
If you look at the "tagline" above, of my blog, you see the word "life" in there. When I wrote that I thought that every once in a while I'd have something to say about life. Not that I have anything earth shattering to say, but who knows, might be interesting or of help to someone. Today being Thanksgiving, I want to reflect on some things I'm very grateful for.
But I haven't done much of that. The other night at dinner this song came on. I decided to look her up and see what else she had done. It saddened me to find out she died of melanoma at only age 33. Voice of an angel, wouldn't you say?
This is personal for me, because I had (lentigo maligna) melanoma at age 27. I had a couple of surgeries and that was the end of it. Being 27, I had no thoughts of losing my life. They told me the cure rate was 60%, so I figured I was good to go. (Thank you to my brother, then a surgery resident, for noticing my tumor so early.)
For the first ten years after I went to the dermatologist twice per year, and thereafter just once. I can't tell you how many people I have met that have lost family members to the same cancer I had. Several years ago we had a benefit at our home. I met two doctors there that were new to UC Davis. "Do you two know Jim Goodnight?" I asked? "Sure, why?" He's the doc that operated on me. Both raised their eyebrows, because if Jim Goodnight operates on you, you have something serious going on.
Now mine wasn't that serious, but he was my brother's mentor, so I got lucky and got great care. They were highly interested in my case, because they were both researchers. And it turns out that the survival rate for my cancer isn't 60% like thought then. Turns out it reoccurs for a lot of people. That must have been what happened to Eva.
So, of course I'm thankful I just had it once, and that I seemed to have survived it. I'm not foolish enough to think I can't get The Big C again, but I do kinda think just getting it once is all we should have to endure.
The other important areas of my life are going well. The health of my wife and kids. My kids doing well in college and now grad school. Next month will mark 30 years since I started my company. It has taken a while but things are really going great there and I'm proud of what we have accomplished.
And then the amazing last two and a half years. We somewhat unexpectedly decided to move out of California to Washington State. This "life change" has been just that. So many new places to explore. We have made a lot of great friends here. Many things have happened that are just "so good" it's kind of hard to believe.
The biggest one for me has been a huge change in my health. Being a guy that sat in the office for decades, liking to cook and eat, and not being a natural exerciser, I had gotten pretty heavy. More than 235 lbs.
June 2012 in Scotland
When I went to Cuba in early 2012, I had a fall and within a couple of months I could barely walk. The rehab process coming back from that inspired me and I found I really wanted to get back to walking. I'm so thankful for discovering physical therapy. And as part of that process I totally changed how I eat. Over the course of nine months or so I lost over 45 lbs, and now I'm 189 lbs.
Summer 2013 with my lovely wife
It's just about impossible to put into words how different I feel. Remember how you felt when you were 20 years old? That's exactly how I feel. My PT was able to fix my back pain as well. About a year and a half after the cancer, I ruptured a disk in my back and had to have back surgery. I had been in daily pain ever since. After years of taking one type of OTC med after another, they each caused my problems and I had to give up on that as well.
So looking at those two pictures, and listening to what I have said about how I feel, you can imagine that this whole things is like a personal miracle. So thanks to Dan Sniffin for inviting me to his 70th birthday party in Cuba! Without that fall, I'm not sure any of this would have happened. And certainly not if I hadn't move to Washington and changed my lifestyle.
I'm going to close with saying how much I truly appreciate the Wondeful World that I live in. I hope your world is just as bright today.
[If anyone would like more info on the eating/cooking/lifestyle issues just email me, email@example.com]
Mentioned yesterday that it was my birthday. Turned into an unusual and epic day!
Our number one prospect in my day job had requested a meeting. Normally I wouldn't get excited about a one day trip to California on my birthday, but this was much too important to pass up.
I don't even have to take a super early ferry - 8:45 am. Not bad.
On the ferry, a great guy joins me in "my booth." He's an ex-Californian like me, works in technology, and commutes on his motorcycle, so we have a great chat.
I see this scene developing outside the window, and luckily I have brought my Canon with me. Walk out front of the ferry, in the bracing cold, but the scene captivates all my senses. This is just not something you see every day. A woman comes out with her walker and her point and shoot. I'm so impressed that I help her, against the breeze and cold to get her shot.
At the airport, TSA has a new procedure. Some people are "pre-approved." Like me! I don't have to take off my shoes, belt or coat. Don't have to take anything out of my bag. Just xray and walk through the metal detector. Hallelujah!
Easy flight direct from Seattle to Santa Barbara. You can't do that from Sacramento! That's a 6-8 hour drive, and here I am flying it in two hours. On my tablet I'm reading Graham Nash's book "Wild Tales." I love my rock and roll bands and CSNY is right there at the top of the list. Might be my favorite concert I ever attended as well. At this point in the book David Crosby is at his very low point. Broke, freebasing cocaine, using herion, can't sing for sh*t, just lost. Graham keeps trying to help him and David keeps letting him down.
Meetup with my wonderful COO (other love of my life) for our meeting, which is great. We are going to get this deal done and it will be one of the hugest ever. I have known some of these people for over 20 years and they have watched our company grow and succeed in what we set out to do. Feels great. We have brought a birthday cake and they are surprised and happy to share my birthday with me.
Nice vegetarian dinner with (did I mention this?) my wonderful COO. How did I ever get so lucky to meet her? (Actually I know, but it still marvels me.)
I walk to security (with the Graham Nash song in my head "walking through security..." (from the song "Just a Song Before I Go") and literally I am the only passenger there. Same "pre-approved" drill. Can it get better?
I go to the gate, and am leaning against the wall, giving my wife an update of the day on my cell phone. I'm near the security exit. None other than David Crosby walks through and walks right by me. Just him and his wife. Huh?
After I hang up, I approach David who is sitting by himself engrossed in his iPhone. He has a CSNY hat on! I say "David!" and he looks up at me. I say "Okay for a long time fan to say hello?" He says "absolutely," and reaches out his hand for a shake. How many beautiful songs have been penned, how many gorgeous notes have been played on a guitar, with the hand that is in mine right now?
I mention the irony that I'm reading Graham's book right now. I tell him that I saw the band in Sacramento about ten years ago. He says "I hope we were good?" I assure him they were, and that that show and the Eagles have been my two favorite concerts. He considers me for a moment and says "well, we are both harmony bands, and that must be what you like."
We have a nice chat. He's heading to Seattle to be presented an award. His wife returns and she gives me a pleasant smile.
I know David is sober and has his life back together after being jailed in Texas and his liver transplant. Because of where I'm at in Graham's book I don't know how it turns out, if they patched everything up, so I can't really talk about that.
I board the plane and I'm in 1A. They get on a couple minutes later and she smiles at me again and gives me a nice wave. I see that they are sitting three rows behind me. I think of how interesting life is. Think of the years of their touring, the glory days, the entourages. One of the crowning acts of Woodstock! And now here they are, a couple of senior citizens, just the two of them seated in row 4 on a regular old commercial flight. Interestingly to me, no one else seems to have taken notice of them.
I dive back into Graham's book and there are years more of horror stories with their drug addictions (David and his wife Jan). It's truly amazing that they both lived. I learn when he got his act together, and that they have toured and played gigs often.
It amazes me that I'm reading this, and they are sitting about eight feet behind me. Very happy for David and his wife Jan, and really the entire group. Graham spends all his free time at what sounds like paradise. A beautiful family compound in Hawaii.
On the plane they just happen to be serving a delicous porter, from Kona Brewing Company, flavored with Hawaiian coffee. Gratis. Does it get any better? Did I already say that? Would I like a refill? Absolutely.
We land - wait - a half an hour early! If we had landed on time, there's no way I would make the 10:05 pm ferry. I make it with ease, and am home at 10:55, the exact time the ferry is leaving that I would have otherwise been on.
I'm at my own piece of paradise, a lit up ferry crossing behind my house. I pour myself a glass of Malbec, and I have to say, it has truly been an epic birthday.
[Note this post was supposed to be published on Thursday 11/9 but some glitch delayed it]
I didn't mention it, but yesterday's image was from my wonderful Palouse trip in 2010. As is today's. When I look at these images, one of my main thoughts is how much I have gained from just deciding to go on that trip.
John Barclay and I had become "Internet friends" as mutual bloggers. I had never been on a photography workshop, but had always wanted to go to the Palouse. When I saw that he and his tour partner Dan Sniffin were doing a tour there, I made the decision, plunked down some money, and off I went.
Most likely my Cuba and Ireland trips would not have happened if I didn't "go for it" with the Palouse trip. I made a slew of friends on this trips that have enriched my life. Maybe I'm even a bit better photographer with tips from John, Dan and the other participants.
So whatever your passion, get out there. Give things a try. Move past your comfort zone. Right before I leave on some of these trips I think "what am I doing? Why am I doing this?" But I have thoroughly enjoyed all these experiences. You will too.