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Monday, October 9, 2017


“They didn't let just anybody in that club
Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood
to get to wear those game-day jerseys down the hall
The kings of the school, man, we're the boys of fall”

If you had told me 37 years ago, I would be writing about 30 fraternity brothers getting together to spend a long weekend together, I would have gone to Vegas to bet against it happening. 

I would have lost.

This past week(end) magic happened when members of AE PI fraternity, who graduated from the University of Missouri decades earlier, came together for the same reasons—to reconnect, laugh, and prove that even after all these years, we can continue the same conversations from long ago. We laughed, cried, and hugged—even though for many of us we had struggle to get off the couch to do so—but we really did hug. Okay, it was a “bro-hug,” but you can be sure back in the late 70s, hugging would rank very high on the list of things that guys did NOT do! Wow, how far we have come!

This is not the first reunion we have had since graduating, it was however the most attended. We all met up in Vail, CO and stayed at the home, and surrounding rented homes, of one of our “brothers” who lives there—I know, I wouldn’t  trust us either, but that’s not Steve Lasky, he is much nicer than all of us and truly loves us. 

In fact, Steve is probably the kindest, most loving, human being, you will ever meet; when he was in college he was known as “Muhammad”—due to his love of Muhammad Ali—and whereas I am sure he was just as nice, I am not sure I would have given him a bro-hug out of fear of getting decked.

Move forward to last Wednesday…

There I was on my way to Denver, “traveling back” all those years to think about who I was about to see, what I remembered about them, and what the heck do you say to someone after all those years? Turns out it was easy, we were all “frat brothers” and we had life experiences to catch up on—darn it!

Everyone looked good—sure there were a few extra pounds, glasses/contacts on most, and for some, the expression of letting your hair down took on a different meaning, however, for these 92+ hours together, we all wished it would last much longer. I can say with absolute certainty, the emails flying back and forth today were at warp speed and were all about how we need to stay in contact and get together much sooner than (gulp) 37 years!

The photo above was taken in Vail Village; although these are just a few of the guys at the reunion, it reminded me that when you’re an 18-year old kid, moving into a house that would should be condemned, these are not just guys…they’re your trusted confidants, back-watchers, and most important—life-long brothers. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Somethings are best said.

“Someday when we're dreaming, 
Deep in love, not a lot to say. 
Then we will try to remember 
The things we said today.”

Guys supposedly don’t listen. Okay, sometimes we don’t. Sue us.

But when we do, and when we think about what has been said between two people, we can be a lot deeper than most would suspect. I am not sure if it’s because it’s summer, or that it’s no longer winter up here in the Midwest, for some reason it does bring out long lost deep memories. I love going back in time; I am not sure if it’s because I know the outcome, wish I could change it, or just want to re-live it, but it brings about feelings that really make me feel whole again.

Whoa, and you thought we couldn’t go beyond the surface.

This coming weekend I will be getting together with my oldest friend; he’s actually slightly younger than I am, but he’s a person I have known (and kept in contact with) for the vast majority of my life. He gets me and vice-versa. He knows me because he has been there during the good times, rough times, and in between. 

It doesn’t take long for us to remember all the mischievous things we did together. Many of them were trivial, however many of them were just downright wrong. As a homeowner, I would be furious if I encountered what we did to friends and non-friend’s homes. (Eggs and toilet paper were a lot cheaper back then—-we knew it and took advantage of it.) 

But this coming weekend, we will likely be talking about his upcoming change in life. He is recently engaged; I was one of the early people to find out—-and I suspect we will talk about what life has in store for him including, taking on the role of a step-father, being married again,  and how the hell we both decided to do it all again after our first marriages went kaput?

What I am looking forward to the most is laughing and looking back on how far we have come (or have we?) and what we said, and experienced, all those years ago. We know the phrases, lines and meanings behind all these “ridiculous memories”—only we do, no one else would understand nor do we want them to. That’s what makes this friendship special—-by the way, my kids call him my “immature” friend and say the same about me! (Wise kids.)

I love this time of the year. With many summers behind me, I have a lot of thoughts to reflect on as I lie in bed, walk to work, or drive around town—I do not, however, recommend going to deep in thought when you are in traffic. It’s much better for lone highway trips when you can leave the world behind and  come back suddenly should a deer cross your path. Yes, it’s happened.

The photo above was taken a few months ago. I don’t remember how long its been, but many years ago I read the book, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” What I remember most from this book, and others that were written by the same author, were the words that told me it was perfectly fine to soar and reflect. Something I am sure we all want to do at times…it’s when we come to Earth, and feel the warmth of these memories when you realize you need to keep them as close to your heart as possible.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

All those years ago.

"Fat man sitting on a little stool,
Takes the money from my hand while his eyes take a walk all over you.
Hands me the ticket, smiles and whispers good luck,
Cuddle up angel, cuddle up my little dove
We'll ride down, baby, into this tunnel of love."

Something happened yesterday that made me think about when I went to 6-Flags outside of St. Louis, Missouri many, many years ago. It was probably when I hit the ripe age of 15, when my friends and I went there for a few reasons in no particular order; we went to spend a summer day amongst thousands of people, enjoy the rides, joke around, do pranks on one another, and meet girls. (This was long before smart phones or any of the new ways to connect with "anyone" from nearby or cross country were available.)

By the way, I was joking about it being in no particular order. I am sure you can figure out our reason for going and it was not to spend a day in the blistering heat of a St. Louis summer.

Fifteen was kind of a magical age for me. It was a time when I had lost weight, grew, and learned more about the opposite sex; I didn't know much, but thanks to my friends I learned more about it through their personal "supposed adventures." (I believe their knowledge came through older siblings who learned it through older siblings--in other words, we were all pretty naive and trusting  information we had no idea was true or not.)

As I prepared for writing this blog, I had to go far back and think about those days; I mean "very far back." It was fun to do, but also a bit scary as I still really don't understand a lot about the opposite sex. I should by now, but everyday I am reminded that if I believe I have an inkling of what's going on in their heads, I am wrong.

So there we were, and again this was a time when I had gone from a "husky" kid to a developing juvenile who had grown 5 inches in one year. With my confidence not at the level of my rising height, one of my friends started a conversation with a small group of girls. There were probably 5 of us, and 4 of them---in other words, if anything was going to move forward, one of us was going to feel left out. Back then it was a lot different than today when kids go out in groups, back then we would hold hands and with no phones to check, we actually paid attention to one another. I know, it's really hard to believe.

I don't remember the exact details, but I was number 4 and not the one left out; I'm sure it was a close call. I went on a ride with this new found friend by my side and I actually put my arm around her.! Whoa. It was when we got off the ride it was reconfirmed how little I knew about the other side---my friends had much better stories to tell.

So, here we are, all these years later, and my daughter who was pretty much my age when I went with friends to 6-Flags outside Chicago, did the same. I started to think (a very bad idea by the way) about why I went to with my friends. Thankfully, and I know this is true because our older daughter went with them, that any concerns were completely unwarranted. Whew.

The photo above was taken at our local carnival--there was no "fat man sitting on a little stool" but you can bet for sure, the next time she goes to 6-Flags, someone is coming along. The fat man known as "Dad."

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Life as we experience it.

“Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I've not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I've grown
But I can't wait to go home.”

Going home is not what it once was; there used to be a time, not that long ago, where I could travel approximately 300 miles, drive down the drive way and walk in the back door. Those days are past me now as the home is no longer in our family and my parents now live in a cemetery 4 miles away. 

But I have found new ways to go back. 

As I approach 60 years of age, I still have to wonder how I got here? Where did the days of summer go? What days lie ahead? I don't think I will know until I get there, but I am getting caught up on some people’s lives.

This summer we are having a reunion of sorts in Colorado with a number of fraternity brothers; we have done this in the past, the last time was 2 years ago, this year more people will be showing up. Fortunately we have not lost anyone, but there have been spouses who have passed away. In other words, we are getting down to “it’s now or never.” Before this event however, I am going to visit with my best friend from high school. We have known each other obviously a long time and whereas I would like to say we have changed when we see one another, I can’t. We refuse to grow up. At least for the 72 or so hours when we see each other. 

Sure our lives have changed; we have both been married and seen them dissolve, we have experienced the pain of losing our mother’s to the same disgusting disease and have both have had many people come into our lives—-but we still can continue our conversation right where it left off. Might be years, months or weeks—but we remain connected.

Recently I have reconnected with others of who have not been in my life (or thoughts) for decades. That’s not meant to be a mean statement, it’s reality of what happens when life moves forward. Looking back is always interesting, it’s also a time to wonder about how much we have changed. Whether it’s looking back at photos from long ago, recalling our dreams and where we have landed or just saying, “to hell with it” I am who I am and I am going to deal with it!

The photo above was taken at our local carnival last month; it’s a yearly tradition I attend with my kids and always have my camera in hand. I love the lights, action and experience of being there. This year they had a ride that had captured my attention last year—but I never realized its name until this year. Just like life’s journey, this ride has two directions you can take…you can either deal with it, or…

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, February 13, 2017


"Remember what you told me
Shut up and put your money where your mouth is
That's what you get for waking up in Vegas
Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes, now
That's what you get for waking up in Vegas."

f you have ever been to Nevada, and flown there, you know the moment you get off the plane there's a welcome mat for you. It comes in the form of a slot machine. It's completely legal of course, but there is something sort of jarring when this is your first encounter.

I have been to Nevada several times and have walked up and sat down at machines pretty much every time I have been there. This most recent time was no different. Except this time I had a budget. How much? It was $1.00. Yes, you read the correctly, it was 4 quarters, 100 pennies, or however you want to divide it. In addition, I spent this massive fortune moments before I boarded my plane back to Illinois—I wanted to make sure I was there to carry home any winnings.

With so little experience, I slipped the dollar into the machine without realizing I had bet all of the money on one pull. It was a 25-cent machine and I thought I was going to have four tries. Oops. The machine did what it does best…it took my money with "no regrets, a better luck next time, or thanks for coming"…nothing. All I could do was laugh and walk away. Yes, I had more money in my wallet, but this was the fix I needed, I didn't win, and headed toward the gate.

I am really not much of a gambler; in fact, every time I have been to Nevada I have spent much more time taking pictures than having my money taken. Plus, the people are really interesting to watch and although you can't take pictures in casinos, there are plenty of opportunities once you venture outside. Over the years I have seen brides, Gene Simmons (look-a-likes—-with tongue and all) and so many interesting people it would not be possible to write about them in this small space.

But with the funny images, I have shot plenty of hurtful ones. It seems the land of dreams often ends with a sour note when there is gambling involved. Once I encountered a 20-something guy who was seriously down on his luck. The sign he held was tough to read as he put his life out there;  when I asked if I could take his picture, and pay him for it, you could see the shame he felt. He turned away, I took the photo and left quickly; I have no idea how the money was spent, but I am thinking it was not on food.

It might seem these are the only scenes you see in Nevada, however there's much more. If you go north you will find open ranges and beautiful scenery—check that, very beautiful scenery. This past trip I saw snow-capped mountains where five months earlier, I saw rock. Both were beautiful, but the snow added a completely different perspective of what this state has to offer. 

The photo above is of the slot machine that took my dollar. I am okay with it—-had I won I would have walked back and put it all back in anyway. I am fortunate to not have that urge, I know many people who do; for me, my urge comes in the form of pushing a button instead of pulling a handle. Both can be very expensive, but mine seems to pay a bigger reward in my opinion.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, February 6, 2017

What's that day?

"They say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you."

Unless I am mistaken, except for "Leap Year," there are 365 days in a year—on Earth. With all of the options out there to have a birthday, you would think the odds are pretty good not to see some overlap within a family. One would think at least.

Well, I believe our family defies the odds a bit.

When I decided to make my grand entrance into this world, I picked a date that would stick with me forever. My birthday, April 4, should not be that common. But ask my first cousin and he will say, "it's common with's my birthday as well." Okay, so it's a fluke. Big deal.

Same two families again, and sure enough my sister and my late uncle share the same birthday. Of course, they're many years apart, but with all of the days (including leap years) here we are once more.

But wait, there's even more….

Same two families once again, and my brother and first cousin are born two days apart from one another. Again, there are a few years separating them, but it's getting kind of weird here. 

Want more? Sure you do.

It was only believed and not confirmed, but my grandfather's both had the same birthday. The reason they were not sure was they came from Europe and they never had a confirmed date of birth but when they arrived to the U.S. both had listed birthdays as the same. True story.

Could there be even more?

Actually, yes. My daughter and my wife almost had the same birthday but we induced labor to avoid this happening. It would have been too awkward and my wife was ready to call this one done and have her already. Hold it, there can't be more, can there? Well, maybe. My youngest daughter and my sister and uncle came within an eyelash of all three sharing the same day, but we induced again. 

Almost done; although not as joyous, my mother was born and buried on the same date. 

Whew…that's it. But if you don't see a coincidence, you would have to agree there's something crazy going on here. 

Lastly, I remember a long time ago I was always surprised when I heard so and so had their birthday on October 2. I knew several people with that date. I never understood until I did the math; I travelled nine months back and there was New Year's staring me in the face. (It turns out, the most popular birthdate in the world is actually October 5th, but still close enough.)

The photo above was take this past weekend. It seemed only fitting that on this date, I would be wishing a Happy Birthday to my daughter and grandson. With all of the available dates on the calendar, Hallmark is ready for when we walk in to buy multiple cards.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Boys of Fall.

"When I feel that chill, smell that fresh cut grass
I'm back in my helmet, cleats, and shoulder pads
Standing in the huddle, listening to the call
Fans going crazy for the boys of fall

With so much happening in the world, you may have forgotten this weekend is the "Big Game." I can't say the real name as it is trademarked and I guess I could get in trouble. 

Today's "Snap.Shot." is not about the game, it's about what it takes to get to the game. Not by car or plane, let's go way back…how about local football. In the area where I live, football is a big deal. Check that, a really big deal. Families come together in what would be best described as a "clan" to watch players of all sizes play their hearts out. What's most amazing about these games is viewing the development of these young boys (and sometimes girls) on the gridiron. 

It usually starts around age 8 or 9 when you see the speed develop. The blocking is not as big of a deal in comparison with some of these players who zip past opposing players. This is also the time when predictions start to be brought into discussions. The predictions are…how far this or that player go with the game? As a photographer, I have heard some pretty wild ones, but I have also agreed with many of them—as long as an injury doesn't play a factor in their future. (That's something that never creeps into conversations.)

In our town, the coaches from high school are starting to scout the players as well. I guess you could say this is a little NFL, and they want to be familiar with "Who to watch? Who is committed? Who is moldable into the mix?" This is serious stuff; not just for the coaches but for the community and school. 

What's always interesting is to see how much changes from the start of the season (when it's really hot outside) through November (when it is really cold outside). The stands are usually  full in the beginning and bursting when the season ends. I never have to worry about being squished, I am on the sidelines and honestly that's as close as I want to get to the game. I was not born to play football, or really any sport, but my Nikon was!  

What's been the most pleasure is watching the 8-9 year olds progress and then suddenly they're on the Varsity team. Even more surprising, they have matured to sizes that are unimaginable. Reality does come back into play when they take off their helmets…they are still  young men. 

Although I am not sure how many, but several players have gone on to play Division 1 football; I know of at least a couple who have signed with NFL teams. Pretty cool that it all started with a small field in our town.

So let's move back to the Big Game. 

The photo above was taken at our local high school. If you think about where every one of these players started their love for the game, it usually travels back to that small field in the middle of a town and/or a city that's just crazy about the game--all  in hopes one of these players takes it to the professional level.

Thanks for stopping by.