I didn’t start this blog to respond to societal ills, but I seem to have a hard time ignoring them. When I heard the news of the Las Vegas shooting, I quickly wrote a blog post on clouds. Following a series of natural disasters last fall, I blogged about the beauty of New Mexico. But the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh has taken me a bit longer.

In my quest to pen the right words, I came across a quote from Etty Hillesum which eloquently sums up my thoughts on what we can do to prevent future hate motivated killings.

Hillesum, all too familiar with anti-semitism herself being a Jewish author who lived in Nazi occupied Holland, wrote this: “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”

There it is.

Often in writing blog posts I am tempted also to quote Scripture. So far I have resisted that urge. But this time, in the aftermath of a senseless anti-Semitic mass shooting,  I think it’s appropriate to share this verse from the Old Testament: “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

The image above is hopeful. The tree of life you see in the image is beautiful, created and strengthened by God, and surrounded by peace. The dawning of each new day brings new possibilities of peace.

Do you remember the song “Let there be peace on earth?” And the next line? “and let it begin with me?” Let’s sing that song, if not with our voices, with our hearts and actions.


Thanks for following my blog.  Shalom.











“Give them their meaning”

There is often a lot of fluff on Facebook but then there are times when you read a post with some depth. Often it’s the announcement of a birth or a death or some other significant event in a friend’s life or family. 

I came across one such post Saturday from a friend named Posie who posted this:

The young dead soldiers do not speak.

Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses: 
who has not heard them?

They have a silence that speaks for them at night 
and when the clock counts.

They say: We were young. We have died. 
Remember us.

They say: We have done what we could 
but until it is finished it is not done.

They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished 
no one can know what our lives gave.

They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours, 
they will mean what you make them.

They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for 
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say, 
it is you who must say this.

We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning. 
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.

Archibald MacLeish

In researching this poem titled The Young Soldiers do not Speak, I found an interesting article on a speech Archibald MacLeish (a three time Pulitzer Prize winning author) gave when asked to address a group in 1966 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes. 

On the topic of what the Pulitzer Prize means to an author, he said, among other things:

What these awards have done for many of us in this indifferent world of ours – this particularly indifferent American world – is somehow to include them [poets].  We need, most of us, a sign of recognition, not recognition of our ultimate worth as poets — only poetry itself can give that — but recognition that we exist. That we are there. Among those who went before and those who will come after.

Hmnn … “recognition that we exist. That we are there.” 

For the past year, many of my camp friends and I have been reading daily Facebook posts from a camp friend with terminal cancer. After we knew her at camp she became a chef and she’s been generously sharing favorite recipes and cooking secrets with us over the past many months. She’s also shared stories from her life, lessons learned through the years, and an intimate glimpse of the special love she holds for her husband Neil. Her posts are honest, thought-provoking, and well-written. 

A few days ago in a post titled “Epitaph” she wrote: “I have been blathering on here for a little over a year and I do want to record a few important things.” She then lists several things important to her and then gets to this: “Someday, I hope in a distant future, one will be able to look back and say ‘She was here.'”

There it is – that quiet plea for us to recognize, to remember … and in this particular case, it came bundled with a treasured recipe for chess pie.

Over fifty years ago a celebrated poet referred to us as “indifferent” Americans. Amidst all of today’s Memorial Day trappings – the picnics, lake outings, and blockbuster Memorial Day sales, can we not stop and give meaning to the lives of the departed service men and women and be grateful? We can and we should and I trust we will. 

But, in doing so, are we the different amidst the indifferent? If so, can we be the difference that one day overcomes the indifference? I think so.

Happy Memorial Day.


Healing Field Flags of Remembrance
Memorial Day Flags of Remembrance in Murfreesboro, Tennessee







To Spring

Well despite the Nor’easter, today is the first day of spring!  In Nashville, we had some snow on March 12th and snow is possible again tonight, but in the interim, we’ve had several nice days, enough to share some images of Nashville’s early spring blooms. Photos were taken at Nashville’s Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.

tulips and hyacinths
tulips and hyacinths
stand-outs from the crowd
the lone daffodil
the lone daffodil
the climb of the ladybug
reflections of a dad taking his family’s photographs

We’re due spring showers for most of the next ten days, but after that? I think more spring flowers.

“We loiter in winter while it is already spring.” — Henry David Thoreau

Happy spring!

418998110_1a1c3a05-9b62-4475-8ca7-b56cabb6c64d copy


RIP 2017

We did something a little different this year for Christmas.  We spent Christmas at Scott’s new home in Tampa and just had a blast. We all needed a little break and the warm weather was a welcome change. 

In looking through the images I took in Tampa, I think there’s enough in the group to pay homage to 2017.

So here we go using Florida’s Christmas photographs to tell the tale of 2017…

Busch Gardens Tampa roller coaster

I’m starting with the roller coaster photograph because that’s generally how I view 2017 – a wild ride. The year was filled with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and some thrills. Enough said.

orangutan at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida

How do I feel about 2017?  Well, despite all the blessings in my life for which I am grateful, when it comes to thinking about many of the major news events of 2017, the country’s current political schism, and all who have been affected by loss or hardship as a result of one of the many 2017 natural disasters or mass killings (and the list goes on), I think I am a kindred spirit with the orangutan pictured above. 

Certainly there were reasons to celebrate during 2017, like the Nashville Predators making it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the very cool total eclipse of the sun this summer. A special highlight for me was a photography trip to Italy.  You just cannot stand in the middle of Florence and not be inspired by Renaissance masters such as Michelangelo. 

So while in Tampa one afternoon during our Christmas break, I ventured to nearby St. Petersburg to tour the Salvador Dali Museum to view the work of another inspiring artist. Dali’s work is, well, surreal. The cool architecture of the building was just icing on the cake. 

spiral staircase in Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

I suggest you visit the Dali Museum if ever in the Tampa/St. Pete area. It contains the largest collection of Dali’s work in the United States and is well worth the visit.  

Before leaving the Museum I stopped in the gift store. Hiding in one of its corners was a colorful Christmas tree which looked a lot like a children’s art project. I picked up my camera and took this in-camera abstract. I’ve always liked abstract photography and experimented with it a lot of it in 2017. 


So what’s a fitting way to bid farewell to 2017? I think a quiet sunset photograph over the Gulf of Mexico, the same Gulf of Mexico that just a few months ago played host to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.


sunset at Honeymoon Beach near Clearwater, Florida

Times do change and it’s time now to put 2017 to rest. 

I hope 2018 brings peace, goodwill, good times, and well-being to all.

Happy New Year!

Happy Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th has never been a particularly unlucky day for me, nor has it been for most people.  Sure, if I burn the lasagna on a Friday the 13th I might laugh and chock it up to the day, but I just don’t attach any real significance to it.

Some people do, however. In fact, it’s estimated that there’s an economic loss of 700-900 million dollars every Friday the 13th due to people staying at home or superstitiously avoiding certain activities, such as airline travel. Just the number 13 bothers some people.  Lots of hotels and other buildings lack a 13 to press in their elevators.

So for the superstitious among you, I offer these photographs.  They were not taken on a Friday the 13th, but I’ve always been intrigued by the somewhat odd, almost Alfred Hitchcock-ish quality they share in common. I took them with my iPhone on a couple of unseasonably warm days in January 2012, so maybe this is what you get when the weather is out of whack.

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So that’s my photo homage to Friday the 13th.

Now, so you know I do take more comforting photographs that are more seasonably friendly, I’ll end with this one.


It was taken several years ago in Babcock State Park in West Virginia.

Happy October.
















when that inner voice might just be a “Godwink”

Let’s be clear.  I am neither a bird watcher nor a bird photographer but …

In December 2015 I went with the American Nature Photography Workshops to Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico to photograph the annual winter migration of sandhill cranes, snow geese, and other water fowl.

I got some nice photographs from the workshop


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yet my general takeaway was that this kind of bird photography, at least with the equipment I brought, is kind of difficult.  Aside from the technical challenges of shooting flying birds very far away in low light, it’s not like you can say, “hey birds, would you mind separating a bit more in your flight so you don’t overlap with one another?”  You just have to take what you get and hope for the best.

I stayed in the area an extra day after the workshop ended and returned to Bosque the next afternoon to photograph a cool tree we had driven by. That tree just happened to be close to a bird viewing platform.

Our workshop leaders had done an excellent job in scouting the birds’ favorite places and behaviors before we arrived.  It’s just that the birds didn’t always cooperate.  I remember standing in the dark one very early morning waiting to capture the epic lift off and landing at sunrise.  We knew exactly when and where the takeoff should occur and we were ready, but I don’t know … we saw a lot of birds flying far in the distance in front of us, but the whole thing just didn’t really materialize, at least not in my camera.

So on my extra day, I photographed the cool tree and then drove to the viewing platform we had never visited and that’s when everything became a little more memorable.

I could hear the birds in the distance and as they got closer and louder I began seeing their approach. It wasn’t long before I realized OMG – this is the lift off and landing our leaders had wanted us to see – and they are landing – swarms of them – directly in front of me.  It was like nothing I’ve ever seen or likely will ever see again.  Think 1,000+ birds  – many of them 5′ tall and with a 4-6′ wingspan in diameter – all swarming down to the water directly in front of you. It was loud, chaotic, and lasted for maybe 15-20 minutes or so.  I didn’t really feel I was in harm’s way as the viewing platform was pretty well protected, but I did feel a little bit like I had crossed the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds into Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.

With the low light and all the flurry of the backlit birds flying in I decided to take some video – that way I also would be able to record the cacophony of loud bird sounds. I also just stood for minutes at a time and marveled.

As the sun began to set and the birds began to settle in for the evening, I started photographing again.  You can maybe get a sense of the serenity that replaced the previous chaos by looking at the top photo above. Really, the quiet beauty and serenity before me then was just as or maybe more powerful than the chaotic, frenzied landings that had preceded it.  The whole thing was just extraordinary.

So in these past two weeks we’ve seen Harvey flood Houston and eastern Texas, an earthquake destroy parts of Mexico, wildfires spread through the Pacific Northwest, and Hurricane Irma level the Florida Keys, flood many other areas, and leave millions without power. Against this backdrop, we learned that Equifax has been hacked leaving millions of Americans a good bit more vulnerable and, on a personal note, the hard drive on my computer crashed.  In a big way. With unrecoverable data.

Not the best of times.

You know what though?  Some inner voice or perhaps a “Godwink” (defined by Squire Rushnell as a “a message of reassurance from God” kept pulling me back last week to the serene sunset photo of the sandhill cranes above.  So I’d see some heart-wrenching pictures from Harvey and then for some reason, maybe later that day, I’d find myself pulling up the sandhill cranes photograph and feeling a little better. It brought anxious me back down a notch or two.

After viewing the photo from time to time for a few days, I think the larger message of the Bosque sandhill cranes experience finally sunk in.  The sunset photo wasn’t just to calm me, it was to help me understand the bigger picture of these past two weeks, that being:

  • there will always be natural forces much bigger than any of us;
  • despite our best efforts, we cannot control them or even accurately predict what will happen;
  • there are patterns of behavior in nature — sandhill crane migrations and hurricane seasons – that will come and go;
  • accept this fact and stop worrying – God is in control;
  • there is typically a beautiful moment that follows chaos and uncertainty — a gorgeous sunset or people coming together to help others in need; and
  • God is always there to guide and comfort us, maybe even sending a “Godwink” along the way.


I’m glad I had the opportunity to go to Bosque Del Apache.  Thanks for letting me share this bit of self-reflection with you.









The Visual Playground aka Chicago


Most people know it as the Windy City. Sports fans walk around the streets in Cubs uniforms still relishing last year’s World Series win. Many in Nashville know Chicago as the closest city to see Hamilton. Politicians and the media seem only to talk about its high crime rate or financial troubles. But for just a few hours on Thursday afternoon, I saw it only as one big and vast visual playground.

Just after lunch my sister (Jody) and I boarded a two hour architectural boat tour. It was very hot — so hot that I remember wishing at the beginning of the tour that the boat could spend more time under the shaded bridges and less time in the bright sunlight. But by 3 pm we were both saying — “wow, that was the best boat tour we’ve ever been on” and “the architecture here really is just amazing.”

We had made dinner plans for 6:30 with a friend from my OGC days in Atlanta, so after a little scurrying around in our hotel room and bits of conversation of what we could squeeze in next, Jody decided she would attend one of the intro sessions of a conference she was attending and I decided to do a quick trip to Millennium Park and the new adjoining Maggie Daley Park.  I had never been to Maggie Daley Park and they certainly weren’t ice skating in July, but there was still quite a lot of eye candy to take in.

Frank Lloyd Wright is credited with saying, “Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.”

I really can’t agree or disagree with Frank Lloyd Wright’s sentiment, but I do think, based on my whirlwind exploration of Maggie Daley Park on Thursday, someone is trying very hard to preserve Chicago’s heritage of beautiful architecture and endless discovery, and I am thankful for that.

Architecture is art, it inspires, and it beckons us to explore, discover and to look up.


Go Cubs.