Friday, August 30, 2013


Tombstone: How The West Was Won
Gallows Near Courthouse
Tombstone, AZ

Several weeks before my Tucson saga drew to a close, I set out to visit the familiar sights of southeast Arizona familiar places such as: Bisbee, Patagonia, Sierra Vista, and Tombstone. The real home of the old west. (Keep in mind that the state of Arizona recently celebrated its first centennial of statehood.)

On one of my treks, decided to explore the town of Tombstone, home of Wyatt Earp and all things the world knows as cowboy. As I ventured into the well preserved old courthouse and peered just outside of the court chambers there was a view I had never witnessed before, a fully functioning gallows. It was how scores were settled and the law enforced and preserved right or wrong.

The west was won by intimidation and fear not by kindness and mercy. To rule the unruly, justice was served swiftly and without thought. Mistakes were made and some innocents I'm sure swung from gallows at the end of knotted ropes like these. The Apache, the Comanche, the Sioux, and the Navajo all had to conform to the greed of the European white man. Native Americans believed that the land was not for the white man to take, it was meant to be shared by all but the greed of gold and the dreams and thirst for land and ownership blinded those hell bent on ownership and the conquest of the west regardless whether its claims were Mexican or of Indigenous people was the most important objective; the outcome was the same. Justice was served either at the end of rope or the end of a gun.

It was unfortunate drama but it was one that unfolded over and over again. This land was not our land, it was their land, and we the sons and daughters of Europeans took it under the guise of God's will. It's been this disdain for the land that has now brought us to  our modern issues of global warming and our constant thirst for fossil fuels. We simply can't subdue our greed or curb our consumption. We choose to resolve all issues with might vs will. We should learn the lessons from the noose and the rope and the copious bloodshed on the terrain we now know as the "West". 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Number

Nancy: Comfortable in Her Own Skin

Met Nancy Bender and her husband Carl owners of the Whistle Stop Depot back in Tucson a nearly two months ago. They both made lasting impressions on me with their zest for living and their youthful attitudes. Although I prefer photographing landscapes vs people, I chose to make an exception. Quite frankly the setting ( a warehouse made from 100% recycled materials) and my super friendly new found friends inspired me to stage a photo shoot.

Nancy is real and its quite obvious she is content with the woman she is and where she is in her life. She worked as an educator nearly all of her life and now she is working with Carl to develop their business, an event room, well suited for wedding receptions and parties. Yes Nancy really is what you see. Baby Boomers please take note, we are not over the hill in our mid sixties. We have lots of adventures ahead of us. People like Nancy and Carl clearly point that out and remind us of our potential if we only allow ourselves the opportunity. We can be young at any age.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Great Grandfather Bobby & Tribe: Carter, Annie, and Brennan
Keller, TX

They say you can't get to the next chapter if you are still reading the last. So over the last few weeks since my return, I've taken care of old business both physical and mental preparing myself for the new and learning to live now. This is not only difficult for me but also necessary. The birth of triplets into our family adds to its importance. You must be happy and you must enjoy the life you have.

Today is Sunday and we are getting ready for  a two hour trip to see our grand babies who now are nearly 8 weeks old. In fact their due date was actually tomorrow. We are happy for the joy that these three have brought into our family. Three more reasons to celebrate life and to keep moving forward.

For three hard years, challenge after challenge surface and there appeared little hope that things would get better. They did and it was in many ways completely for different reasons than I would have imagined. What changed wasn't circumstances but rather my own outlook. The ordeal of fire changed me as a person even as my assets were being depleted I became spiritually stronger to meet tougher challenges. The real me had an opportunity to emerge.

We adapt to change even if we do not embrace it. The nine unanticipated months in Tucson forever changed me. I will never wait or idly wait for things to happen in life. If there's a peak I will climb it simply because I can.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Celebrate Life

Grandbabies: Carter, Annie, & Brennan Allred
Texas Pride and Texas Proud
Melissa Zihlman Photography

Like many other folks my age the lingering recession kept many smiles from my face. Three years have gone by and now it seems that light appears to be at the end of this tunnel. Last November, I found a job, however, it took me far away from both my family and friends. Since nothing materialized in Dallas, I took the only opportunity I could find and that lead me to Tucson, AZ.

That Christmas was very special. For the first time in several years, I was employed and grateful. At the same time we were given a very special gift in the form of an announcement; our daughter announced that she was pregnant with their first child. After many tribulations Justin and Travis would become parents. We were elated for the great news.

At that point, I knew that the prospects of an Arizona full relocation might be further off than I might want. Tucson definitely appealed to me.  It was photographic Mecca for me. Several weeks after the Christmas announcement, we received more news: three babies not one.

Whatever illusions I had of residing in Tucson now seemed further away. If I chose to stay it would have to be without my wife. With no other prospects on the horizon, I knew that we would have to be separated at least two years, at least I resigned myself to that. It would mean very infrequent visits between us since, my wife would be torn between the newborns and Tucson.

They say things happen for a reason. If you know me, you would know how much I've grown to hate that expression these past three years. For me there was no explicable reason for the suffering of my job loss and subsequent financial hardship. In hindsight, however, it was true.

Had I not lost my job my adventures would have ceased. During that time, developed more skills not less. Travelled more not less. Photographed more not less. The journey took me to Caddo Lake, Catskills, China, Death Valley, Puerto Rico, San Miguel de Allende, and Zion National Park. When the dust finally settled late last year, my journey took me to the high desert or Tucson and the grasslands of Southeast Arizona. During that time, I also accomplished what I had always wanted, to have my images in an art gallery; that became a reality in the spring of this year, too.

Just when I had given hope of finding a job in Dallas a week after the birth of triplet grand babies, a job was created for me in Dallas. My journey continues to surprise even me.

My conclusions? Never give up hope. Hope sustains us. If there's a peak, climb it. Do not avoid adversity because you wont fully comprehend the adventure you might have. Things work out for a reason.