All at Once, I’m Outside

Something about the circles of confusion created by my old 50mm f/1.8 give me a certain look I like. I shot these peach blossoms in my orchard at /2.0.
Something about the circles of confusion created by my old 50mm f/1.8 give me a certain look I like. I shot these peach blossoms in my orchard at /2.0.
You haven't witnessed kindness until you watch my wife Abby gently shoo away a ladybug.
You haven’t witnessed kindness until you watch my wife Abby gently shoo away a ladybug.

Seasons don’t normally come as a surprise to me, but just in the last couple of days we’ve transitioned from gloomy to gorgeous weather, and despite working, both commercially and for my newspaper, on both my days off, I made time to be outside for long periods the last couple of evenings.

The house and the back yard take on color at last light a couple of nights ago.
The house and the back yard take on color at last light a couple of nights ago.
This Meade EXT-70 was one of two telescopes given to me in recent months. I got it working, and hope to have some fun with it soon.
This Meade EXT-70 was one of two telescopes given to me in recent months. I got it working, and hope to have some fun with it soon.

Here is an odd one: in both January and February, two different people gave me two different astronomical telescopes. It’s practically raining telescopes. They both work, and with this week being spring break and not as likely to be overly busy at my office, I might get the chance to play with them more.

My Early Elberta peach tree bloomed and froze last month, but the rest of my trees, peach, plum and cherry, waited until now. After walking Hawken and organizing in the garage a bit, I made time to photograph them with my aging 50mm f/1.8. I have a 50mm f/1.4 as well, but the f/1.8 has its own look, and I liked what I got.

From a distance, my plum tree looks like a popcorn tree.
From a distance, my plum tree looks like a popcorn tree.

I also managed to till some of the garden yesterday, despite my tiller not running well. I cleaned its carb, filters, and spark plug, and hopefully can till ’til I’m done.

Wheat grass blows in the evening breeze as I walk Hawken the Irish Wolfhound on Saint Patrick's Day.
Wheat grass blows in the evening breeze as I walk Hawken the Irish Wolfhound on Saint Patrick’s Day.

The Weeks We Remember

I don't cover a lot of funerals, but when called upon to do so, I rise to it.
I don’t cover a lot of funerals, but when called upon to do so, I rise to it.
My media friends and I were cordoned off in two small media areas as we covered a funeral this week. We all appreciated why, and we all did a pretty good job.
My media friends and I were cordoned off in two small media areas as we covered a funeral this week. We all appreciated why, and we all did a pretty good job.

It’s been one of those weeks as a news photographer; one of those weeks we will all remember years from now. It started eight days ago with a brutal fatality crash south of Ada involving a sand truck, which I covered. Later that night in Seminole County, an SUV and a Konawa activities bus collided, killing three people, the two in the SUV, and a 12 year old girl from Konawa School.

As the week went by, my newspaper and I got incredibly busy with not only of our usual sports and news, but also the coverage of the vigil, funeral, and fundraiser for the girl. And though the Oklahoma City television stations and I (there was no other print media present) were restricted to designated media areas (understandably), we were able to do a solid job covering these difficult events.

Then yesterday I covered yet another crash, involving a pickup rolling over, seriously injuring four people, three of whom were taken by air ambulance to Oklahoma City hospitals.

An air ambulance prepares to lift off with one of three patients injured in a rollover accident northwest of Ada yesterday. My car is visible parked in a driveway at the left edge of the frame.
An air ambulance prepares to lift off with one of three patients injured in a rollover accident northwest of Ada yesterday. My car is visible parked in a driveway at the left edge of the frame.

One result of this hectic schedule was that my wife Abby and I didn’t get to see each other as much as we usually do, and we really felt it. When I got home last night from an 11-hour day, she and I couldn’t hold each other close enough or long enough.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound laps up pond water on our walk Thursday. It's always good to come home to my wife and our pets who are always happy to see me.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound laps up pond water on our walk Thursday. It’s always good to come home to my wife and our pets who are always happy to see me.

Nowhere, Oklahoma

I found this image, then followed it by a web search and thought it was a crime that this image wasn’t among the results. Come and get it, search engines! It’s Nowhere, Oklahoma!

Your humble host of mumbles Richard R. Barron poses at the water tower in Nowhere, Oklahoma in 1999.
Your humble host of mumbles Richard R. Barron poses at the water tower in Nowhere, Oklahoma in 1999.

O Wolfhound, Where Art Thou?

A cruel turn of nature is that my peach trees try to get an early start, only to be smited by a few nights well below freezing, which is the next few nights.
A cruel turn of nature is that my peach trees try to get an early start, only to be smited by a few nights well below freezing, which is the next few nights.

Let you had forgotten, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound remains the talk of the town. I still walk him every day, usually on our “winter route,” which includes an extra mile way back in the woods.

A friend of mine called February a “hard month,” and I can’t dispute it. Many around me have struggled with one thing and another, and there is a climate of discouragement about.

Eisenhower High School cheerleaders yell for their Eagles at the game last night. I haven't been and Eagle in 38 years, and feel far more a part of the local schools we cover here in the Ada Area.
Eisenhower High School cheerleaders yell for their Eagles at the game last night. I haven’t been and Eagle in 38 years, and feel far more a part of the local schools we cover here in the Ada Area.
I lit Hawken's propane heater tonight. It's bone cold out, but he'll be warm in his space under the back deck.
I lit Hawken’s propane heater tonight. It’s bone cold out, but he’ll be warm in his space under the back deck.

I’m shooting well, both for news and sports. Last night I covered the Class 5A area consolation basketball game between the Ada Cougars and my alma mater, the Eisenhower Eagles. It was oddly comforting to see the Ike cheerleaders dressed almost exactly the same as they did in 1981. Aside from that, read Lines on a Map to divine my feelings about loyalty to schools and their teams.

The forecast low tonight is 12ºF, so I bought a tank of propane for the heater I place in Hawken’s area under the back deck to keep him warm. I got under there with him, and it is actually decently comfortable. Sleep well, my giant companion.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound braces against the cold. Despite the arrival of very cold temperatures, he seems more comfortable in the cold than in the heat of summer.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound braces against the cold. Despite the arrival of very cold temperatures, he seems more comfortable in the cold than in the heat of summer.

“Constitutional Carry” in Oklahoma

Abby shoots her .380 at our pond recently. We both legally carry firearms, and neither of us care if you are black or white, young or old: if you threaten our lives, we will defend ourselves.
Abby shoots her .380 at our pond recently. We both legally carry firearms, and neither of us care if you are black or white, young or old: if you threaten our lives, we will defend ourselves.

My fellow Oklahomans and I are aware that Governor Kevin Stitt signed the so-called “permitless carry” bill February 28, which allows Oklahoma residents 21 and older to carry open or concealed firearms without a permit, background check or training. The law takes effect November 1.

This was the first item Stitt signed into law.

As a safe and sensible firearms owner with a handgun license, I thought I would weigh in. I will not take sides on this law. The lines are drawn and the law is signed, and opinions about this law are very inflexible. As I hope I often do, I want to offer some sanity outside of the rhetoric.

  • If you want to carry a firearm, get some training. I don’t mean go to the river and empty your grandfather’s .357 into a paint can. I mean you should get some real, vetted training that includes force-on-force encounters, and at least somes elements of how the law regards deadly force encounters.
  • The training my wife and I were required to receive to get our permits wasn’t useful. No one came out of that class more knowledgeable about the real world of self defense, since the class was required to hit certain points, and was left to ignore others

    The .380 ACP vs the 9mm Parabellum vs the .38 Special; all cartridges in 9mm diameter, all capable of ending the life of another human being.
    The .380 ACP vs the 9mm Parabellum vs the .38 Special; all cartridges in 9mm diameter, all capable of ending the life of another human being.
  • The shooting portion of our permit class might have been the weakest part of it all. We were all asked to shoot 50 rounds at paper targets at an indoor range. No, that was not a typo. Shooting 50 rounds at paper is equivalent to backing a car out of the driveway to get your driver’s license.
  • Some of the people in our class had no business handling a firearm because of their inexperience or ineptitude, while others had no business handling a firearm due to their arrogance or violent inclinations, yet all of them passed the class.
  • Carrying a firearm isn’t about being a hero or a vigilante. One person in the back of our classroom would occasionally mutter, “I’m only gonna need one shot,” which is not only demonstrably untrue (watch some videos of trained police in deadly force encounters), it also has an air of desire to kill. If you carry a firearm hoping to one day kill a bad guy, you are carrying for the wrong reason, and you are probably dangerous.
  • The internet cannot train you to shoot or how to defend yourself.
  • Never, ever mix guns and alcohol or drugs. Keep your guns safely away from children.
  • It’s never about caliber: if you can’t defend yourself with a .380, you can’t defend yourself.
  • My wife and I carry when it is safe and legal to do so. Know the law. When you cross a state line, you have to know a whole different set of laws. We carry with utmost respect for what it means to possess a firearm, and we understand clearly that use of it only comes as a very last resort.
  • Your best options for self protection are avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

I expect I will have more thoughts on this as it develops.

My number one carry weapon is the compact, capable Ruger LCP.
My number one carry weapon is the compact, capable Ruger LCP.

 

Insecurities of Maturity, or Preaching to the Tone-Deaf Choir

Am I attending Open Mic Nyte for all the wrong reasons? Am I there just to be the center of attention? If that is the case, has my whole life been one giant egogasm?

When I get up to speak at Open Mic Nyte, do my friends in the crowd perceive me as a pest? As a loser? As a weirdo? Are they politely waiting for the next act?
When I get up to speak at Open Mic Nyte, do my friends in the crowd perceive me as a pest? As a loser? As a weirdo? Are they politely waiting for the next act?

Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine! ~Pink Floyd

We all have some insecurities. Some of us are defined by them, while others bully those insecurities into silence.

I am second from the left in the white Misal of India shirt and black Leica hat. I don't know what became of that hat, but I miss it.
I am second from the left in the white Misal of India shirt and black Leica hat. I don’t know what became of that hat, but I miss it.

Self awareness. At the center of insecurity is self image. We see ourselves differently than anyone else does. In the mirror. In pictures. In the eyes of our parents and spouses and children.

I know a lot of people who are not self-aware. They have no idea how absurd, ridiculous and annoying they are.

When I was a teenager, I was very insecure about talking to people in general, and especially about talking to girls. Most teenagers feel this way, though it’s not always true: the Proud Crowd had it worked out.

For the record, most of those early bloomers ended up fat and bald, with soul-crushing jobs and a few divorces, and when they tell me they “really admired” me or thought I was cool, I know it’s not true.

I’m taller than I realize. Sometimes I can seem like an intimidating goon, particularly when I am talking to smaller women.

I look disinterested and dismissive, with my nose in the air. This is a trick of my posture.
I look disinterested and dismissive, with my nose in the air. This is a trick of my posture.

Once when I was eavesdropping on my next door neighbors, a young, attractive, shallow couple of newlyweds, I overheard them talking about me. “He’s wweeiird!” I heard the girl say, in an accent so hickish it almost parodied itself.

They didn’t stay long in that apartment, and I have no idea what became of them, but I’m willing to bet it was boring.

This f*ck and his vulgar cpw costume is among the douchesacks we got to know all too often.
This f*ck and his vulgar cow costume is among the douchesacks we got to know all too often.

Do I sound a little bitter? If so, why would I care what two strangers thought of me in 1993?

Are they actually afraid of me because I am “weird?” Do they think I don’t wash my hands after I pee, or that I’ll open up with an AK-74U at the mall?

And what, young judgemental neighbors, would you do about it? Do you think weird people should be shunned? Walled off? Locked up? Finished off? Do you think hating weidos and loners will make them better? Make them go away?

A girl I was dating in 1998* knew my next door neighbor. “He thinks you’re an idiot,” she told me.

Scene from Fight Club...
Narrator: When people think you’re dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just …
Marla Singer: … waiting for their turn to speak?

Is that who we are? Are we a race of non-listeners?

Flash back to 1978, when I first started writing in my journal. By many measures, it was brilliant, I was brilliant. Most kids who just turned 15 are still giggling at farts and pretending to be in the NFL. But me? Obsessed with a girl, and writing real, deep thoughts. But by many measures, it was far more idiotic masturbation than brilliance, and if there was a wayback machine and I was there on that first day, I hope I could quote Voltaire and Nietzsche.

Even in our own midst, things fall apart.
Even in our own midst, things fall apart.

For many years, I not only let people read my journal, I sometimes kind of insisted on it. I made at least a few people mad about that, but some, like Frank R. or Melissa B. actually thought it connected us.

What have I been doing this whole time?

Then I think about ex friends. At one point or another in my life, I knew people and got close to them such that we felt like brothers and sisters, that we knew each other inside and out, that we really cared about each other.

Now, we not only make no effort to be in each other’s lives, we probably say terrible things about each other. How many of those terrible things said about me are true? Am I self-involved, egotistical, manipulative? Is my manner so weird and awkward that those neighbors were right?

I Know You by Henry Rollins (excerpt)...
Yeah, I think I know you
You spent a lot of time full of hate
A hate as pure as sunshine
A hate that saw for miles
A hate that kept you up at night
A hate that filled your every waking moment
A hate that carried you for a long time

In conclusion, how many of us have it all together? Who among us preaches the right sermon while believing the right facts, while putting everyone at ease with their smooth handshakes and neatly ironed lapels? Who would my neighbors welcome to dinner, to drinks, to play with their kids in the yard?

And how much of this judgement, this rejection, this hatred is merited? Do I deserve to be cold, to be lonely, to be that target of faraway laughter? Do I deserve to be called “weird.”

And should I hide?  Should I change and fix it? Hang out with the cool kids? Learn to wear the right tie and the creased trousers? Or should I stand up and be weird from the rooftops?If so, who am I? Who should I be?

I said it once, years ago, and I’ll say it again: it’s easy enough to pat yourself on the back. The hard part is to keep everyone else from kicking you in the crotch.

The endless, lonely nights alone were filled with committing words to paper. Did anyone hear my message?
The endless, lonely nights alone were filled with committing words to paper. Did anyone hear my message?
*I had lunch with her not long ago. I was pleased to see she’d gotten her life together and was happy.

Missing My CDs

Abby and I have close to a thousand music CDs hanging on the wall, and only a fraction of these are ripped to MP3. In all fairness, only a fraction of them are worth listening.
Abby and I have close to a thousand music CDs hanging on the wall, and only a fraction of these are ripped to MP3. In all fairness, only a fraction of them are worth listening.

Recently I’ve been grabbing music CDs from our collection when I’m heading out the door. My car has a CD player in addition to its iPod interface, and my thinking is that I have a well of untapped or undertapped music hanging on the wall of our home office. Sure, I’ve ripped a bunch of this music to MP3 and it’s in the player, but music is an oddly inconsistent medium, and does sometimes depend on its delivery system as part of its message.

As I was putting away a few CDs this morning, a k. d. lang album, Invincible Summer, fell open in my hand, and I instantly remembered the experience of buying a CD, opening it up the first time, reading the lyrics and looking at the pictures. Neither my wife nor I have enjoyed doing that for some years, but she recently asked me to pre-order a CD she saw advertised in a magazine, and insisted it be physical media, not a download, so when it arrives on March 1-ish, we should be able to enjoy that again.

I also recently unsubscribed from Sirius/XM satellite radio in my Nissan Juke. In the five years since I first subscribed, I decidedly underused it, and was often disappointed by in both the content and the tech.

I found it very peculiar that a service with 151 channels would devote one of those channels to Jimmy Buffett, for example.

The other problem I had was reception. In the middle of Doctor Radio or 70s on 7 or CNN, I would hear hissing, then nothing, then  after a few seconds the program would return. Calling the service resulted in the inevitable “reset your radio,” followed by me explaining it happened in both of our cars all the time.

Another reason to cancel Sirius/XM is how aggressively they tried to stop me from canceling. Not only does that encourage me to cancel even faster, it means I’ll never return.

I still have several entertainment options in my Juke. The iPod has a gadrillion songs (although I feel like I need to finesse my playlists some), the CD/MP3 player, and, of course, AM/FM radio.

Hmm. Radio? Scanning up and down the FM dial was an urgent reminder of the state of things today… Hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and today. Rock 100 The KATT. Public Radio. Religious radio. AM radio hasn’t changed a bit… Sports Animal, conservative talk radio, hillbilly preachers talking about the end times. Tons of Spanish language programming fill in the rest.

On that last point, I would love to learn conversational Spanish, but I only made one short stab at it on a road trip years ago. I need to borrow someone’s Rosetta Stone and make it happen.

I am on the road enough that entertainment is important to keep me fresh and awake, and I am feeling good about my present situation.

I know commercial radio is in the same boat as newspapers, being replaced by tech like streaming, but they have done as poor a job at reinventing themselves as other media.
I know commercial radio is in the same boat as newspapers, being replaced by tech like streaming, but they have done as poor a job at reinventing themselves as other media.

Chaos in the Hedgerow and Other Incomplete Thoughts

Am I really such a huge egomaniac that I believe that nothing counts if no one saw it? Is my life not the center of it all?

The only truly classy way to enjoy sparkling wine is in teensy red Solo cups.
The only truly classy way to enjoy sparkling wine is in teensy red Solo cups.

Pînch Pøke; Sück Mæ D!ck

I know this is wrong on so many levels.
I know this is wrong on so many levels.

When I asked if she played any instruments, she said, “just the meat flute.”

I then looked at her job application, which said, “I’d like the missionary position, but I’m willing to start at the bottom.”

You aren’t truly in a long-term relationship until you’ve uttered those five magic words: “Can I tie you up?”

The awful, dumbsplittingly obvious drawl of the southern minister on FM radio…

The fist Matrix … okay, it’s super funny that I typed, “The fist Matrix.”

The first Matrix failed because all the porn was clean and legal.

“Obi Wan? I thought you were in prison?”

Where did I hide the bodies?
Where did I hide the bodies?
If I couldn't read Camus pretentiously, I wouldn't read him at all.
If I couldn’t read Camus pretentiously, I wouldn’t read him at all.

Reach around or comb over: the gentleman’s choice.

Would you suck a woman’s dick? For $37? For $15? For $7?

Autocorrect changed regards to rectards.

“I’m sort of seeing someone right now, but you seem like a really sweet guy, though.” ~LPOC*

“Her barnie** smelled like man butt.” ~Judge Clitbag

“I cradled my soul gently and breathed into its mouth, but it died anyway.” ~M7

“No one can hear you scream when you have your head up your ass.” ~M7

Just to keep things on a fifth grade level here, I am posting this audio of The Fart Tape sped up to 300%…

For those of you who don’t know the origins of this masterpiece, you’re probably better off.

  • Pippy Muchfucking
  • Kandi Cigarette
  • Waxy Kochenbauls
  • Porky Allsack
  • Wayne Kenoff
  • Squinch a pookie
  • Run the nozzle
  • Brownhiding
  • 33rd degree masonry
  • Ancestral squat
  • Deodorant control
  • Humidifier fluid

If I had an alpaca, I’d name it “Suitcase.” Alpaca suitcase.

I recently tore some pages out of an old journal because what I wrote was unnecessarily revealing about what a perv I am…

“I _____ed her _____s, then ______ed her. While she protested, I _____ed her. Then as she begged me to stop, I took off her _____s. She begged me to stop again as I _____ed, _____ed and _____ed her _____.”

Need to know basis only: basbysitter porn is the best… Uh, correction: babysitter bondage porn is the best.

Unrelentingly shallow.
Unrelentingly shallow.

*Lying Piece of Crap

**Stink ditch

Ghostly in the Smoke

The largest of my four peach trees produced blossoms this week, but we expect a hard freeze tomorrow night, so it won't be making peaches.
The largest of my four peach trees produced blossoms this week, but we expect a hard freeze tomorrow night, so it won’t be making peaches.

One of my peach trees has responded to a recent warm-up, producing blossoms. Blooming this early means I won’t get any peaches from this tree, since a hard freeze is forecast for tomorrow night. But the blossoms are beautiful, and are my favorite thing about having these trees.

Walking Hawken yesterday afternoon was a different experience. The second I opened the back door, I smelled the strong odor of grass fire smoke. The wind had shifted and was coming from the north, and someone, or probably many people, were burning the pastures in preparation for the spring growing season.

Hawken, our Irish Wolfhound, got to visit his girlfriend Elly on yesterday's walk.
Hawken, our Irish Wolfhound, got to visit his girlfriend Elly on yesterday’s walk.

Childhood Memory: Soft-Boiled Egg on Toast

Mom made soft-boiled egg on buttered toast for us all during our childhood. Periodically since Mom died, almost 10 years ago, my sister Nicole makes it, but I never tried it.

Today my wife Abby and I needed a light meal for lunch, since we plan to have our usual pizza party for dinner as we watch the Super Bowl*, so I decided to give it a try. I called Nicole and she ran down the process: put eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let sit for three minutes, rinse in cold water, peel and spread over buttered toast.

Its flavor did not leave us wanting, and Max the Chihuahua even got a little chunk I dropped on the kitchen floor.

Soft-boiled egg on toast is delicious, and for Nicole and me, brings back something great from our childhoods.

Today's Soft Boiled Egg on Toast
Today’s Soft Boiled Egg on Toast

*I read recently that the Super Bowl is second only to Thanksgiving in terms of one-day food consumption.

A Short Story Every Month?

I have a decent speaking voice, and I know how to use eye contact; I paid attention in speech class. The question, though, is if I really have something to say, or do I just have to say something?
I have a decent speaking voice, and I know how to use eye contact; I paid attention in speech class. The question, though, is if I really have something to say, or do I just have to say something?

“You can bend my ear
We can talk all day
Just make sure that I’m near
When you’ve really got something to say…” ~Toad the Wet Sprocket

I admit to writing a lot. I don’t claim much of it is great. I think this is common to writing, moreso even than photography. How many times, for instance, do major motion picture scripts get rewritten and rewritten, only to end up being not very good?

At Open Mic Nyte Monday, I suggested the idea of writing a short story every month. I know I could do this, but at what point will I start to repeat myself, bore myself, lose my audience, become a word masturbator?

The "KISS" Rule Applied to Writing...
I prefer to write short stories because I believe, as Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” I have neither the patience for reading and writing very long pieces, nor do I feel it is fair to ask someone to devote days or weeks to some story of mine that should have taken 20 minutes to ingest. I know there are zillions of people who like to get lost in novels, including my wife, but what could I possibly have to say that would be worth so much of your time?

As I prepared  to read my newest short story, The Crying Girl, I mentioned that my stories tend to be autobiographical. Does this mean I am a stenographer? Am I uncreative, reliving and copying essentially the same story over and over? Many phony writers talk about living life to provide material for stories, but they are usually just putting off writing and making excuses for not having 50 short stories and 12 novels in the bag. Is that me?

Finally, is it the ultimate form of intellectual self-indulgence to write about writing, which this very entry is?

It's absolutely true that I have written literally millions of words in my lifetime, and I can turn a pretty decent sentence. But do I have the narrative to create fiction?
It’s absolutely true that I have written literally millions of words in my lifetime, and I can turn a pretty decent sentence. But do I have the narrative to create fiction?

Short Story: The Crying Girl

Short Story: The Crying Girl

by Richard R. Barron

“A kitchen light at midnight, all her flatmates are asleep
Before she makes me go, it’s about to go deep
You’re going to miss us when we grow up
I miss your sweetness and your grief
I may be a mystery but you were beyond belief…” ~Third Eye Blind

The gym was crowded, noisy, and hot. The game on the court had engrossed the crowd. Tie score after tie score in the first quarter, and every time another three pointer rolled around the rim and fell in, one side of the crowd would burst into cheers.

I photographed it. That’s what I do. I photograph everything I can and put it in our newspaper. Much of that can be intimate, like a family standing on their curb watching their house burn to the ground. I wondered as my ears rang in that small high school gym if what I was witnessing… the shouts, the clasped hands, the raised arms, the noise… was a form of intimacy, or a chance to escape the intimacies we face every day, intimacies that can both liberate us or burden us.

At the end of the first quarter, I was finished with this game. I travel from venue to venue when we are busy, covering three or four games in a night. I made my way to the doors, through an opening between the plywood stands and the cinder block front wall of the gym, probably built by a shop class in the 1950s, and almost certainly a bottleneck in case of fire. They don’t make them like they used to.

I stepped out into the December evening. Though it wasn’t cold, compared to the tightly packed human throng I just left, it felt suddenly nicely cool.

On the sidewalk in front of me I saw a girl, about high school age, dressed in all black. She sat on the pavement with her knees drawn up to her face, which was hidden in her hands. Her long, deep red pony tail hung spread out on her back. She was quiet and motionless.

Then, a miracle. Just as I walked past, she started crying. It was that crying we’ve all heard and recognize: the break-up cry. It was so beautiful, maybe the most beautiful form of human sorrow, so tender and innocent and heartbreaking. Her tears made me thirsty for youth.

It was so beautiful, maybe the most beautiful form of human sorrow, so tender and innocent and heartbreaking. Her tears made me thirsty for youth.
It was so beautiful, maybe the most beautiful form of human sorrow, so tender and innocent and heartbreaking. Her tears made me thirsty for youth.

That kind of sorrow disappears as we become grown-ups, replaced by uglier, less worthy sorrows like late mortgage payments, asshole bosses, disappointing politics, indifferent children.

But her sorrow, this simple, sweet crying on the sidewalk at the high school in a town of 500 people was the opposite of all that.

Or was it? Was this crying a show? A manipulation? I remember in tenth grade, one of my sisters fringe friends locked herself in my bathroom at a birthday party one night, and cried and cried. It wasn’t the sweet, simple crying like the girl on the sidewalk, but a “pay attention to me and my drama” crying. In some ways, it was like the squall of a hungry week-old baby, completely helpless and demanding so much.

Is this really the intimate moment I want it to be?

When I was 16, a girl I knew wrote to me, “the tears are beginning to sting my face.” When I read that, it seemed like all the honesty in the world, that her tears were real, they were important, they mattered.

I was so tempted to go to her and put my arm around the crying girl, look into her tearful eyes and tell her it’s okay. But I don’t even know her. I’m a grandfather now, old enough to be her grandfather, and the last thing she needs or wants is me. What she really wants in that moment is to cry.

I hope she writes it down. I hope she remembers that moment as vividly as I do right now. It’s a terrible, wonderful, perfect, moment. She mattered. She was alive.

In the Garden of Edens

Your humble host prepares to put a .308 round downrange at the home of Wes Edens recently.
Your humble host prepares to put a .308 round downrange at the home of Wes Edens recently.

I recently enjoyed spending a few hours at the country home of long-time friend Wes Edens, a retired police officer and investigator. In retirement, Wes has enjoyed his affinity for muscle cars, macro photography, shooting firearms, and handloading ammunition.

Wes Edens pings a dualing tree with his tan Cerakote .40 Smith and Wesson.
Wes Edens pings a dualing tree with his tan Cerakote .40 Smith and Wesson.
  • On the left is the ubiquitous 5.56mm NATO round. On the right is a popular derivative of the 5.56, the AAC .300 Blackout.
    On the left is the ubiquitous 5.56mm NATO round. On the right is a popular derivative of the 5.56, the AAC .300 Blackout.

    I asked Wes if I could come out and shoot when he posted a photo on social media of his new Kimber 1911. I don’t own a .45, but I love the way they shoot, and his Kimber didn’t disappoint: it is a sublime and elegant weapon, smooth, accurate, powerful, comfortable to shoot.

  • Wes is facing a wild hog crisis, and says he shot more than 50 in the past year or so, mostly with his AR-15 chambered in AAC .300 Blackout, a rifle cartridge derived from the NATO 5.56mm. I’d never shot this caliber before, and found it to be similar to the 5.56mm. Its biggest advantage is that with larger bullet weights, it is very well suited to the use of silencers.
  • Wes also let me shoot a rifle chambered in .308, a full power battle caliber. Both rifles featured expensive, powerful, well-zeroed scopes that made his 100-yard steel target unmissable.
  • In addition to the rifles and the 1911, we shot pistols in 9mm and .40, his original service .357 Smith and Wesson revolver, and my .22LR M&P rifle.
Front row, left to right: Smith and Wesson .357, Kimber 1911, Glock 22. Back row: two Smith and Wesson M&P pistols, and Wes's father's 1911. All were fun to shoot.
Front row, left to right: Smith and Wesson .357, Kimber 1911, Glock 22. Back row: two Smith and Wesson M&P pistols, and Wes’s father’s 1911. All were fun to shoot.
  • Wes hand-loaded all the ammo we shot except the .22 in my rifle. From the left are 9mm, .40, .300 Blackout, .45, and .308.
    Wes hand-loaded all the ammo we shot except the .22 in my rifle. From the left are 9mm, .40, .300 Blackout, .45, and .308.

    I still don’t care for .40 S&W ammo. For ten years I’ve read about the effectiveness of the round, and about how the recoil is only slightly harder than .45 and slightly softer than 10mm. The problem is that .40 is almost always used in polymer framed automatics, which are lighter and yield an unpleasant sharpness, vs .45, which is mostly shot from steel-framed autos, frequently through the 1911, and recoil is a non-issue.

  • Wes made us both a stainless steel tumbler of coffee. We talked all afternoon, and found we both fall in the middle of lot of issues. It was a beautiful day just to be outside.
Here are four handgun calibers: .380 ACP, 9mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. All are capable and effective, but some are more fun to shoot than others.
Here are four handgun calibers: .380 ACP, 9mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. All are capable and effective, but some are more fun to shoot than others.

Wes tagged me on social media today inviting me out to shoot another pistol he has acquired, and I am eager to take him up on the offer; good times in the garden of Edens.

Wes Edens appears to be meditating in this image made during a lengthy conversation after we were mostly done shooting.
Wes Edens appears to be meditating in this image made during a lengthy conversation after we were mostly done shooting.

Belief Paradox

Let us, for the moment, compare apples and oranges.
Let us, for the moment, compare apples and oranges.

Here is the current paradox that troubles me…

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” This is a foundational tenant of skepticism. At that same time last fall, supposed skeptics and free thinkers were asking me to believe claims of sexual misconduct against various politicians and celebrities.

I am not advocating inappropriate sexual conduct. And of course I agree that the gamut of this behavior, from institutionalized sexual harassment to overt rape, is criminal, and should be punished.

Here’s the problem: these are extraordinary claims.

We demand the Sagan Standard of science and belief. We test and analyze claims to verify their validity.

When is it reasonable to believe claims that are offered without evidence? When should we demand evidence? Is it valid to accept claims without evidence when we are all in agreement? When we all want to believe? When it seems these claims are valid? And how does this differ from believing religious experience?

A big portion of this issue: is it really a form of evidence that many people are making the same claim? “39 women have come forth to say that Celeb Celebrison fondled them or sexually harassed them.” In what circumstance would claims like this be dismissed? When 39 people claim to know that a spaceship is hiding behind a comet and will take them to heaven? When 39 people claim to have witnesses a dead human come back to like? That’s a functional fallacy called Bandwagon. The religious trot this out all the time.

The most significant difference between dismissing religious claims and dismissing personal claims of assault and/or bullying is that religious delusion has always been logically show to be false, but personal claims of assault have often been shown by evidence to be true.

On the other hand, it is extraordinary to claim or believe that something happened without evidence? “It wasn’t seen by anyone else, I didn’t record it, and there is nothing left of the event to reconstruct it. But I want you to believe it.”

Also, “I won’t believe two billion people making an unverified claim, but I will believe 15 people making an unverified claim.”

Thrown into this mix is the inevitable decay of truth in the presence of politics and the internet.

This is a tough one that’s been going through my head off and on for a while now. And I’m not alone. It’s a very real concern I see and hear expressed all the time. I have friends who I trusted who became furious that I wasn’t eager to jump on one bandwagon or another, but that’s passion, not evidence. How dare I doubt unverified claims? How dare I.

I feel I will be set upon again by my liberal friends for casting doubt on something they believe I should accept, my #metoo friends, my #blacklivesmatter friends. They have done it before. It’s the nature of debate to use the ugliest tools at your disposal to justify your beliefs. For those of you: I am not asking you to step off your bandwagon, and I am not claiming that human cruelty is acceptable. I am asking questions about the nature of critical thinking.

I feel like I am getting into a sticky mess here. So be it.
I feel like I am getting into a sticky mess here. So be it.

Why Teladoc Sucks

This is how I feel when lazy professionals sh!t all over my intellect.
This is how I feel when lazy professionals sh!t all over my intellect.

This has got to be the health care laugh of the decade: Teladoc. Why? Here’s my very short story.

Two years ago our corporate office decided to offer this service as part of our compensation. For a $25 co-pay, we could call a doctor on an 800 number, tell him/her what was wrong, and they could presumably phone in a prescription. I had a raging sore throat and a cough at the time, and knew I wouldn’t feel much better any time soon if I didn’t get some treatment.

I described my symptoms.

“Well, you know,” doctor on the phone told me in a rather condescending tone, “nine times out of 10, these things are viral in nature. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses. I recommend you get plenty of fluids and enough rest.”

These are all medications I can buy myself without a prescription.
These are all medications I can buy myself without a prescription.

Wow. Wow. Did I just pay $25 to have someone patronize me with advice from Marcus Welby, M.D.? Fluids and rest? Brilliant. I would never have thought drinking enough fluid and getting enough sleep would have any have any effect on my health. Fun fact: this isn’t medical advice at all: it’s every day advice, and always true.

$25.

The last time I called Teladoc was the last time I will call Teladoc.

As an aside, if you watch the intro to Marcus Welby, you’ll notice he does almost no doctor sh!t, and spends most of his time driving, always without a seat belt. The theme song is virtually tuneless.

Stop It!

While I worked on putting boxes in the rafters in the garage, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound vigorously shredded these newspaper inserts he dug out of the trash. In some ways, this act made more sense than any I have witnessed in years. Good boy, Hawken.
While I worked on putting boxes in the rafters in the garage, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound vigorously shredded these newspaper inserts he dug out of the trash. In some ways, this act made more sense than any I have witnessed in years. Good boy, Hawken.
I kept thinking I would blog about Dr. Bronner's Soap, but this product really speaks for itself.
I kept thinking I would blog about Dr. Bronner’s Soap, but this product really speaks for itself.

Things to stop doing:

  • Stop blaming everyone else for your misfortune. Guilty or not, your resentment has no effect on their lives, and does not enrich your own. “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for someone else to die.”
  • Stop trying to disabuse people of their suffering. They love it more than anything else.
  • Stop watching so much {insert media here}. It bores me to no end to hear people talk about their most recent streaming service show, going on about it like it somehow enriched their lives. It’s one thing to enjoy entertainment; it’s entirely another to live for it.
  • Stop posting so many boring photos. This isn’t about the technical quality of your images, but about their editorial narrative and their originality. Two years ago everyone … e v e r y o n e … was posting a vertical of their kids in front of their house, about to depart for their first day of X grade of the school year. Wow. It would take a scientific device of some sort to measure how little I care about photos like these.
  • BOOP! My sister informed me that the last bullet point was invalid because I wrote it from the perspective of  a disinterested/disgruntled photographer, and I should make allowance for people enjoying their own children. But! As a professional photographer, I can say with great certainty that when you follow the latest hot item or trend, your photographs will mirror those events at the expense of the real, genuine expressions you could have made ……. what I meant to express is that when you copy what you saw on the nearest social media page, you fundamentally dilute and delete real content and replace it with someone else’s idea of that content. You change from photographer to stenographer. “These are my children posing as someone else’s children.”
Like a complete schmoe, I was grabbing a knife or other sharp object to remove the seal on vitamins and other containers. It only occured to me this week that I could just hit it against the corner of the cabinet to break the seal.
Like a complete schmoe, I was grabbing a knife or other sharp object to remove the seal on vitamins and other containers. It only occured to me this week that I could just hit it against the corner of the cabinet to break the seal.
  • This is beans and whole grain bread. If you don't recognize it as food, it may be time to reevaluate your life.
    This is beans and whole grain bread. If you don’t recognize it as food, it may be time to reevaluate your life.

    Stop eating like a four year old. Candy and Pepsi aren’t food.

  • Stop adding sh!t to food to make it taste “better.” It’s already food, and the less you do to it, the better it will be for you.
  • Stop bringing bad food into your house, especially if you pretend it’s for someone else. “Well, the kids love these Doughnettes, but I might have a few too,” is a sentence from a bad parent. A good parent says, “Here are some apples if you want a snack,” and ignores the whininess that follows, often with, “You’ll eat what I bring home or go hungry.”
  • Stop saying that a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is to keep out terrorists or criminals. Since it is inherently indiscriminate, it’s purpose is to keep out brown people. No? There are 1,053,945 Muslims in Canada, but no one is suggesting building a wall there. Why don’t you just admit you hate non-white-people?

I have many more things to list about what not to do, but I thought I’d take a breath. Whew.

I got this new shower curtain with an updated, correct version of the periodic table. I refer to it often.
I got this new shower curtain with an updated, correct version of the periodic table. I refer to it often.

After Christmas

We started this tradition when our grandson, Paul, was just five months old; posing on Chele's back with a boost from Tom. We expect this will get funnier as Paul grows.
We started this tradition when our grandson, Paul, was just five months old; posing on Chele’s back with a boost from Tom. We expect this will get funnier as Paul grows.
Chele and Abby look over Christmas gifts.
Chele and Abby look over Christmas gifts.

I have been off of social media radar for a few days to entertain the family visiting from Baltimore, Abby’s daughter, Chele, her husband Tom, and their son, our grandson, Paul.

I also did my usual work at the annual Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic basketball tournament, for which, for the first time ever, we hosted their web site. One night the crowd was so large we ran out of tickets.

Christmas is always stressful, but by the time it rolled around, I was very glad we were able to have it with the family. This year they arrived on December 26 and departed on New Year’s Day.

Paul and Tom follow me as I walk Hawken through to woods north of our house.
Paul and Tom follow me as I walk Hawken through to woods north of our house.
Paul shares a moment with our older Chihuahua, Max.
Paul shares a moment with our older Chihuahua, Max.
Paul drives his tractor on New Year's Eve.
Paul drives his tractor on New Year’s Eve.

We had a gift exchange as soon as they arrived. We watched movies and played outside. We walked Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, which Paul, who is seven, regarded as an accomplishment, trekking deep into the woods. Paul rode his tractor, which he is likely to have outgrown by the next time they visit.

Chele, Paul, Tom and I built a fire in the orchard. The only casualty was one of Tom's pants legs.
Chele, Paul, Tom and I built a fire in the orchard. The only casualty was one of Tom’s pants legs.
Chele smiles for my camera in beautiful evening sun on New Year's Eve.
Chele smiles for my camera in beautiful evening sun on New Year’s Eve.

We toasted in the new year with the cheapest possible sparkling wine (technically not champagne,) hours before it actually turned midnight, and we all got a good night’s sleep before the kids flew back to Baltimore.

I thought a county new year deserved a country toast, so we had cheap sparkling wine (not technically champagne) and miniature red plastic cups.
I thought a county new year deserved a country toast, so we had cheap sparkling wine (not technically champagne) and miniature red plastic cups.

Finally, mindful of the weather forecast for snow and ice, and that my days off are limited, I de-decorated the entire house yesterday. Tonight I’ll let the wolfhound in the garage and the two of us will put all that stuff in the rafters. Another year ends, and begins.

Christmas lights cling to the fence in our front yard at sunset a few days before Christmas. The lights are now packed away in their plastic bins.
Christmas lights cling to the fence in our front yard at sunset a few days before Christmas. The lights are now packed away in their plastic bins.

This Is Christmas Eve

The fat Santa ornament hangs on our Christmas tree this week. The star effect is from a filter I've owned since about 1977, a cross-screen.
The fat Santa ornament hangs on our Christmas tree this week. The star effect is from a filter I’ve owned since about 1977, a cross-screen.
Christmas lights shine in a box as I test them before I decorated with them.
Christmas lights shine in a box as I test them before I decorated with them.

Abby and I are preparing to host Christmas this week. The kids (Abby’s daughter Chele, husband Tom, and our grandson Paul) are coming on the 26th and staying through New Year’s Day.

I have decorated and shopped and cleaned and prepped. Now, more. No, really. This kind of thing seems perpetual, and is never finished. And you can’t do it a month before: the dogs will chew up a poo where you shampooed the carpet. The bathroom mirrors get splashed. The sink gets full of dishes. You know what it’s like.

Readers familiar with my cadre of work will recall that I don’t love Christmas. Not only is it a bone of religious contention (the pretend “War on Christmas”), it’s also a bitter reminder of how much we trivialize ourselves with commercialism. I talked about this in my column this week.

Summer Time Lane chews her tiny rawhide candy cane.
Summer Time Lane chews her tiny rawhide candy cane.
Hawken Rifle Trail eyes his giant rawhide candy stick.
Hawken Rifle Trail eyes his giant rawhide candy stick.

What do I like about Christmas? I love the photography most of all. I love that my wife loves it so tenderly. I love that we usually get to see the kids.

I will let you know how this Christmas stacks up. In the mean time, have a peaceful one.

My Amazon.com lensball knockoff was a huge hit in class last week, so I photographed our tree with it.
My Amazon.com lensball knockoff was a huge hit in class last week, so I photographed our tree with it.

Litter from Social Media

I don't remember what was so funny, but I love that Abby and I are laughing together in autumn sunshine.
I don’t remember what was so funny, but I love that Abby and I are laughing together in autumn sunshine.

Today is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. Cull what you will from the meaning of that.

I fired up my All Trails app for a recent walk with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, with only one surprise: 95 feet of elevation change. It's a great route, one I hope to take him on it many times this winter.
I fired up my All Trails app for a recent walk with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, with only one surprise: 95 feet of elevation change. It’s a great route, one I hope to take him on it many times this winter.

“All I want is what I… I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.” ~Sally Brown

“Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.” ~Lucy Van Pelt

One thing I happily glossed over about A Charlie Brown Christmas when I was a kid: it consists almost entirely of recycled Peanuts comic strip dailies.

Your humble host poses with Christmas toys made out of metal, unheard of in the 21st century, both because it's much cheaper to make them from plastic, but also because metal toys are potentially razor sharp in spots. This image was made by my grandfather, Richard Batten, in 1965, the very year that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" debuted.
Your humble host poses with Christmas toys made out of metal, unheard of in the 21st century, both because it’s much cheaper to make them from plastic, but also because metal toys are potentially razor sharp in spots. This image was made by my grandfather, Richard Batten, in 1965, the very year that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted.
When my wife looks at me this way, all my troubles seem to melt away.
When my wife looks at me this way, all my troubles seem to melt away.

Recently I’ve been thinking about consumption. I thought of this as I reminisced about lenses I once owned and now miss; all that beautiful 1970s and 80s era Nikkor glass.  What if I magically had a storage unit with all my old gear in it? But then I thought about the police scanners and Sony Trinitrons and flannel shirts and cars. Then, I thought, what if I magically had a warehouse full of everything I ever owned? Every bunch of broccoli. Every quart of motor oil. Every beer. Every loaf of bread. Every magazine and newspaper and paperback and hardback book. Every computer and floppy disk. All the DVDs and CDs and Blu-Ray discs and VHS video cassettes and vinyl records and compact cassettes and all the appliances to play and record them. All the wine and water. Everything. How big would that warehouse be?

Props to Walmart for carrying Gardein Chick'n Strips again. I have missed them, and was dismayed when they stopped stocking this product last year.
Props to Walmart for carrying Gardein Chick’n Strips again. I have missed them, and was dismayed when they stopped stocking this product last year.
Another cooking success happened when Abby wanted baked potatoes recently. I paired them with veggie burgers and sauteed chives, and it was amazing.
Another cooking success happened when Abby wanted baked potatoes recently. I paired them with veggie burgers and sauteed chives, and it was amazing.
"Fiend," a coworker's bulldog, has become the defacto mascot of The Ada News.
“Fiend,” a coworker’s bulldog, has become the defacto mascot of The Ada News.

Abby and I saw some of a M*A*S*H marathon. We’ve both been watching this show all our lives, so I looked it up: of the 11 main actors throughout the series, only five are still alive: Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Gary Burghoff, Mike Farrell, and Jamie Farr.

Abby and I watched The Innocent Man, a Netflix original series, this week. Though I was not interviewed on camera, the show, about two mishandled murders in Ada, is full of my images. I wrote my column this week, which ended up being our lead story Wednesday, about the day two of them were exonerated.

This is an overview of the courtroom April 15, 1999, when Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson were released from prison after DNA evidence exonerate of the 1982 murder of Debra Sue Carter. As Abby and I watched "The Innocent Man," I recognized many people I know very well to this day.
This is an overview of the courtroom April 15, 1999, when Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson were released from prison after DNA evidence exonerate of the 1982 murder of Debra Sue Carter. As Abby and I watched “The Innocent Man,” I recognized many people I know very well to this day.
Despite producers' efforts to make Ada look bleak, secretive and undereducated, I remain enamoured of this place, my home for all these years. Pictured is the December 6, 2018 Parade of Lights, which is beautiful, well-attended, and fun.
Despite producers’ efforts to make Ada look bleak, secretive and undereducated, I remain enamoured of this place, my home for all these years. Pictured is the December 6, 2018 Parade of Lights, which is beautiful, well-attended, and fun.
My close friend, photographer Courtney Morehead, brought this camera-shaped cookie for me yesterday. She got it at Amber's Sweet Shoppe, where Amber has somehow perfected a physics-defying 104% sugar recipe.
My close friend, photographer Courtney Morehead, brought this camera-shaped cookie for me yesterday. She got it at Amber’s Sweet Shoppe, where Amber has somehow perfected a physics-defying 104% sugar recipe.

An unassailable truth: when Abby is up and about, I can sneak through the house like a ninja. But when she’s asleep, I might as well be on roller skates carrying a box of chandeliers.

My intermediate/advanced photography class ended on a high note, with good epiphanies from all my students. We all had fun, and they all seemed to learn a lot.

My column for Saturday will be about the true meaning of Christmas, about which I will likely catch flak because I didn’t mention Christ. But it was a good-natured column, so only the true nut jobs will call. Yay.

I brought this cheap Amazon.com knockoff of a Lensball to class Monday, and it really seemed to open a lot of eyes and stoke a lot of imaginations.
I brought this cheap Amazon.com knockoff of a Lensball to class Monday, and it really seemed to open a lot of eyes and stoke a lot of imaginations.
Of the dozens of cutouts available in my "bokeh kit," my students like the frowny-faced ones the best. Symbolic?
Of the dozens of cutouts available in my “bokeh kit,” my students like the frowny-faced ones the best. Symbolic?

Dream Aggregator

Sometimes trapped
Sometimes trapped

I recently started sharing dreams on social media, but as you know, sites like Facebook aren’t searchable and, except when you download and save your data, are a bad place to store your thoughts, so I decided to aggregate my dream notes here…

Dream: 12-14-18

Dream: I prepare to board a super-giant airliner which holds thousands of people. I get lost because it’s so large. We are very overbooked, so I am given a pillow and told to sit in the bathroom. I decide to take another flight, and watch as the plane breaks up on takeoff, catch fire, and crashes. I find myself in Iraq, clearing houses with Marines. We have no training, and our rifles are solid stainless steel. The work is arduous because no one is aware we are coming and every house we clear is a bathroom with someone shaving in it. I am teamed up with Jake Gyllenhaal, who is impatient with me and keeps telling me to not shoot him. Finally in open combat, we kill freely, until a family comes out of a house and we narrowly avoid shooting them. I board a helicopter and we strafe settlements. Finally, we get the word we are going home, so I sit at the mess table next to a women who doesn’t want me there because, “they always get hard on me.” Gyllenhaal tells me I’ll “never fire another round” in Iraq, and we flash back to the family scene where there is smoke coming from my rifle. Back in Ada, we see that the “back home” scenes were all filmed in downtown alleys. Riding in a limo with Gyllenhaal and several others, I say, “Remember this people. You’ve all stood right here.” We see a treehouse in the alley near 14th and Turner. Tom Hanks is inside. We introduce ourselves, but he runs away, obviously insane.

During a nap in the autumn of 1994:

The headquarters for the New Order of the Third Millennium would be a 2 kilometer tall titanium phallis at the center of the Dead Sea.

Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2011

Dream: Abby and I live in a tethered blimp 1000 feet above Las Vegas. It is surrounded by lavish railing that allows us to watch other blimps float past, thunderstorms roll in, and aircraft crash into power lines.

I am then at Mizza’s, a place that makes pizza from nothing but meat. The booths are made to look like tiny Jeeps. Kathy is dining with us. The meat pizza people seem happy to make something vegetarian for me.

After dinner we decide to walk to the field next door for martial arts training. On the way out, I decided to show everyone my photos from dinner. “Did you guys know about this?” I ask, and tap the glass on the door of the restaurant. “The new phones allow you to display your photos on any piece of glass in the world.” I scroll through my images on the door and enlarge several.

I see David in the field, who will give me martial arts training, which is little more than take-down practice. I am able to defeat him in two out of three falls.

Back home, we discover that Michael has bought my mom (who died in 2009) a nonstick pan. Mom hates it because it burns everything. Michael explains that it has to be specially prepared with an organic rag. Amber is there helping us look for the rag. She dives into one cabinet after another, trying to find it. When she does, it looks just like a regular wash rag, except when we put it on the pan, where it liquifies the aluminum, seasoning it perfectly.

My dream was a combination of tech talk at the office, the stuff I watched on Netflix yesterday with my wife, and cogs in the machinery like this one.
My dream was a combination of tech talk at the office, the stuff I watched on Netflix yesterday with my wife, and cogs in the machinery like this one.

Dream 12-01-18:

Abby and I are walking in downtown Ada when we hear a helicopter. We look up to see it escorting a 747 with engines 1 and 2 on fire, turning final for an emergency landing. I grab Abby and say, “We need to move this way.” We run away as the jet crashes into an empty apartment building. We both run back to the crash site to take photos for the newspaper with our phones.

Dream 11-28-18:

Abby, my brother-in-law Tracey, and I enter a posh hotel room. In the corners are shiny vortex spots. Abby walks over to one and vanishes into it in a flash, only to reappear from one on the other side of the room. We decide to go to the game, where we encounter thousands of armed civilians, and decide we need to be armed as well, so we each steal an AR-15 and a shotgun. A bear pursues Abby, but at the last minute I shoot it. The pellets from my shotgun move in slow motion, but hit the target. We try to enter another hotel room, this one much less posh and in a basement, with a horse we have stolen. We have to stand the horse on end to get it through the door and down the steps. Once inside, we see dirty vortex spots in the corners, and Abby once again walks over to one and disappears into it. Tracey and I decide to spray for spiders, which are falling on our heads. Abby reappears from the vortex on the other side of the room, looking terrified. She tells me she just spent “literally infinity” inside the vortex.

Dream 11-24-18:

Responding to a report of a downtown Ada fire, I discover it is at my own office. I try to enter to see if I can help, only to be stopped by TSA agents and Washington Post journalists. I see flames licking from the top of the stairs where my office is located, but then remember that I moved to the middle of the building two years ago, and was then suddenly relieved that the fire wasn’t my fault.

I see Dan Marsh, who challenges me to a race to his downtown loft apartment. He is much faster than I am, and is wearing an orange jumpsuit, so I am unable to keep up.

When I finally arrive, he is nowhere to be found, but my sister, Nicole Barron Hammill, is at his apartment, hiding her boyfriend, “Wear,” under the covers. “That’ll show Mom and Dad,” she explains.

I return to my office, where I discover a maze of old darkrooms and equipment (about which I dreamed before), and find an oven that was left on for 40 years, which caused the fire.

Dream 11-16-18:

Abby , Denzel Washington and I are redecorating Wal Mart with posters from his movies. Next to this I see a broad selection of VHS porn. Next to that, David Vogt and Debbie Vogt and I are dressed in towels in the shower section, where a bird is trapped. We all lay down as low as possible in a reenactment of “The slaughter of the birds at gethsemane.”

Dream 09-25-18: Abby and I are walking on Main Street in Byng when we top the hill to see a house on fire. My first instinct is to get my gear and cover it for the newspaper, but as we take a few more steps, we see many more houses on fire. We speculate it may be arson. We then turn around to see Byng is on fire as well, and realize it is the apocalypse. I decide to stay with Abby. As we return home, we see many people have gone insane. In our house, there are several insane children whose eyes have become huge red disks. Next door at a convenience store, I see police shoot a woman, and look around to see no fire or evidence of an event, and realize that everyone was dreaming it was the apocalypse.

Partially awake during this part of the dream, I see Abby is holding her hands up, talking to someone, obviously dreaming.

Dream: I was hunting caribou, and I was naked for the first time in my life. I am nakeder than the day I was born by a factor of five. I hunt the caribou with lightning bolts that seem to come from the sky, but also seem to come from me.

Exquisitely vivid dream 09-13-18: Riding a bicycle up and down Broadway in Ada repeatedly visiting Gym 210, where they remodel every 30 seconds. Weightlifters teach me a new leg clinch that they say will make me the strongest man alive. I finally arrive on the south end of town at Mansion of the Apocalypse. Inside I find thousands of toy rifles we are expected to use in the coming zombie attack. I find a grey one in the shape of an M249 Saw. I look over to see Amy Jo Johnson get bitten by a radioactive spider. She tells me she will have to go away to quarantine for two weeks, but says she will rescue me when she returns.

Dream 09-09-18: Carl Lewis, Samantha Spears, Eric Swanson and I are on a trip to an underground zombie apocalypse theme park in Wyoming. We are in Abby Barron’s truck, but are towing an eight-story trailer. While parked at a rest area, a guy backs into us, so Carl shoots at him. At the theme park, the activities turn into a real zombie apocalypse, and we barely escape with our lives. On our way home, we stop at another rest area, where I try to make CB radio contact with a camera that has a built-in CB, with no success. I then see that Jamie Pittman is building a new model of airliner out of clouds. It looks great at first, but I have difficulty switching the camera from radio mode to take pictures. The wind picks up, and I tell Jamie, “it doesn’t look too good.” She yells at all of us, “It’s a human being, it should be treated that way!” The cloud airliner then dissipates in the breeze.

Profound dream during a nap, February 2007: My people and I are walking in green wheat. The wheat gets finer and finer until it becomes green ash. I hear a poem about becoming of the ash. Abby and I lie down in it together.

Ultra-complicated, ultra-vivid dream 05-26-18: I am a 14 year old black kid who has snuck onto a US Air Force base to use their F-16 flight simulator. It flies well and I demonstrate some sophisticated flight maneuvers. I meet the base commander, who is wearing a new rank between captain and major, which looks like captains bars with a bar diagonal across it. He tells me it is complicated new rank called “Prinz Eugen.” The simulator becomes a real F-16, and I fly it beyond it’s capabilities because of my extensive video game experience. I then take Abby to the hospital, where we see a woman in a cocoon who has just flown from New York and has no memory of the trip. Doctors tell Abby she either has a spider bite or has been in a knife fight, based on a macro photo they took of her neck. The clerk keeps asking, “What’s Spanish for ‘Joseph’?” We walk from the ER to the Amityville Horror house, which is huge and covers many acres. One of the children has gone insane. We try to take her back to the house, but she drops her turtle and tells it to “stay.” She enters the house, where there are thousands of insane children. We realize we will have to kill them all in a gun battle. Abby and I crouch into a vent shaft, and I tell her to go left, and I’ll go right. I kick open the door and insane children pour out into the shaft. I realize the magazine in my Ruger LCP only has six rounds in it, so I tell Abby, “Fall back!” As we are doing so, we arrive at a checkpoint meant to keep us from stealing Air Force weapons, but they let me keep my Ruger when I tell them it’s mine. The commanding officer says we’ll have to continue our battle inside a video game, which we enter. We install thousands of Nikon cameras to photograph the battle. It turns out the children have the power to literally suck us back into the real world. We have to burn the house down. The end shot is of us driving away with a huge column of smoke in the distance behind us.

Dream 03-18-17:  I am in the next Star Wars movie, which is being broadcast live. I am not dressed for my first scene, which is about 20 minutes in, but the floating audience kiosk comes by on it’s first orbit, so I hide behind folding boudoir screen. When I try to get dressed, everything goes wrong: I have a skirt instead of pants, and my undergarments are so tight they won’t go on. I walk about 20 miles south of town dressed like a chicken when I come across Harrison Ford working on a scene in which his cat can walk on water. He does this using complicated red and black devices on power poles high above us.

Three dreams 03-15-18: Dream 1. I am walking to work when a guy in a semi pulls a shotgun on me. I am forced to draw my weapon and kill him. The police are very understanding. Dream 2. I am driving to my parents retirement home at Chaco Wash upstream from Chaco Canyon when I take a detour and see an old girlfriend in a real estate jacket. I don’t stop to talk to her. Dream 3. I arrive at a church and am supposed to be part of an inspirational story about a miracle, but the room in the church where it is supposed to take place is missing.

Shock Wave
Shock Wave

Dream 03-04-18: Abby and I look outside to see the sky literally on fire. Huge smoke plumes of multiple colors rise in all directions resembling 1000 thunderstorms, some reaching the edge of space. The disturbance is thickest over Seminole to the north, but we are unable to find out anything on the internet or even via amateur radio. We see a shock wave approaching, resembling the first microseconds of a nuclear detonation. As it races toward us, we decide that it will either assimilate us or incinerate us, neither of which we can stand. We decided on a suicide pact, and even draw our weapons, but a short debate ensues over the proper way to kill yourself with a pistol. The shock wave dissipates as it passes, so I take Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and walk north toward Seminole. By the time we cross the river, we are picked up by a school bus. The children aboard want to play with Hawken. I get out to examine the sky, which looks less threatening but still surreal, like 100 thunderstorms at once. When I look up, the bus and Hawken are gone, but I find him in a nearby storage barn.

Courtney Morehead, 02-24-18: I had the scariest dream last night that I’ve had in a long time and thought I’d share. Lol back when I was a wedding photographer, which seems like a lifetime ago (awesome memories tho!), my biggest fear/nightmare was forgetting that I had a wedding that day. I did weddings so often all thru my 20’s that if I ever had a Saturday off, I would often have a near panic attack sometime during the day thinking that I had forgotten I had a wedding. Lol so last night I dreamed I was photographing a wedding when I realized that I had also told ANOTHER bride I would shoot her wedding that same day! About that time, I’m so glad to see Richard R. Barron show up as a guest, but when I tell him my dilemma, he’s no help (thanks Richard 😂.. he’s usually a huge help btw). Then Jeff Cali shows up and offers to drive me back to my office to get more memory cards so I can shoot 2 weddings at once, and he’s racing me all over town like we’re maniacs. THANK GOD my cat woke me up about then bc I literally didn’t know how in the world I was going to do it all, but thank u Jeff for trying to help. 👍😊 The End.

Dream 02-23-18: My college roommate has a contract to graze his cattle at Monument Basin at Canyonlands to reduce overgrowth. When we look at it from the cliffs above, I see that they have grazed the shape of a beaver in a top hat.

Dream 02-16-18: My family and I are “soap refugees,” meaning that we are fleeing with all the toiletries we are able to carry (based somewhat on an episode of Friends Abby Barron and I watched last night.) We are continually late for the airport, but never make it. I am led by an Army recruiter to a retesting station, where I use a flight simulator to perform basic ground reference maneuvers. I look in a mirror and see that I am Richie Cunningham from Happy Days, and intuitively know I am kin to all red-headed people everywhere. I see Abby Barron, who is creating a fold-out life-size cardboard cutout of me, which folds out slowly, one panel at a time. As she begins to unfold it, music starts, and the event resembles the intro to That Girl.

Dream: We are flying wounded soldiers out of Germany in C47 Dakotas during World War II. The aircraft are dangerously overloaded, and we remove seats, luggage, etc. to be able to carry more wounded. On the final flight, we are much too heavy, and unable to get out of ground effect until I realize the fuel selector is set to cloudy. “Wait,” I exclaim, “I’ll set the mixture to sunshine!” We begin to climb out. I am then near the back of the aircraft when I see three crew members from the starship Enterprise beam aboard. Julia Roberts turns from the pilot’s seat and smiles sheepishly. “It’s an infinity paradox,” she says, and I realize that if infinity is real, everything that can happen has happened and will happen. I am suddenly at the Ada airport where we are looking at a 3-engine race plane named the K-Infinity. I want to race it, but when I fly it, it goes faster than it possibly can. Finally, outside the airport, I chase down children who vandalize the bathroom, then complain because the rotating airport sign has wild trees growing on it.

Dream: The back yard is repeatedly invaded by female Irish Wolfhounds who mate with Hawken, our Wolfhound. Eventually, a naked man shows up to get his dog, who leaps back over the fence to mate with Hawken again.

Dream: I am at The Oklahoman, trying to use an old processing machine. I load it with film, but immediately realize that it is a print processor, and is shredding my film. As it does so, it starts to leak and spray chemicals, so I put on a yellow rain suit. I try to hide the machine so no one will know about my giant mistake, but when I try to plant it in a front yard, the gardener spots me. I am then walking through The Oklahoman, which occupies the entire Crossroads Mall. People say hello to me, but are embarrassed when I approach them in the rain suit. I enter the photography department, where it is shift change. Hundreds of photographers are scrambling to their lockers to change cloths, get their gear, and grab their lunches. I sit down and try to remove the rain suit, but photographers are constantly bumping into me. I see a basketball player with three arms accidentally put on one of my shoes. When I point it out to him, he says it is because his third arm is too cold.

Dream: I am in the advertising department at my office, but I am in bed. All the desks have a bed attached, which I think is a sketchy idea at best, since the boss, Amy, will know if we are napping instead of working.

Amy, LeaAnn and Maurisa all have their first initial in a very large block of amber-colored ice, made from their tears, on their desks. Despite being their initials, they are all the letter S. The ice slowly melts and runs down the block, but the block doesn’t shrink, and water doesn’t accumulate below.

I decide to go to the next room, so I collect my Walkman cassette player and my iPad. As I stand up, I say, “I know why these things are crying. It’s because so many people out there are hillbillies.”

Nap dreamed a new word: atlolule. I didn’t dream a definition, so it’s up for grabs.

Two dreams: 1. At a dog mall, Abby and I spend hours looking for Hawken so we can give him a bath, and 2. My newspaper hires 30 new reporters for its television division, all in cubicles downstairs.

Dream: there is a giant Jade Helm-esque training exercise across the nation, and we have been moved into camps. I look into the sky and see bright red dots (identical to a Christmas decoration I set up last night) which are hundreds of military satellites in low Earth orbit. I then see fighter jets (identical to the ones in a video i watched yesterday about the 1979 Vela incident). In the camps, Abby and I are apparently the most dog friendly family, and all the best dogs want to stay with us, in addition to our own dogs. The camps become busses that take us home, and we are forced to say goodbye to a particularly attractive and affectionate dog (identical to one I photographed last week.)

Dream: I arrive at the office in time to see it has been cleaned out by a moving company. They are moving us to a regional newspaper hub in Holdenville. A big boss arrives to wish us well, and we are all required to pledge allegiance to the Constitution.

Dream recorded in my journal, 1995: In an airport lounge, I watch a man cuddle a wad of gum he calls “Schmooggums.” I see the face of a baby inside it. He misplaces it, but I find it on a bookshelf. Suddenly there is an air show, which I am watching with the Ada High cheerleaders. I peel away the gum to find a balloon. One of the cheerleaders pops the balloon and instead of a baby inside, there is a greeting card shaped like a baby.

Dream: Abby and I are four-wheeling in her truck on “quicksand beach” on the west coast. We can’t find an exit, so we try to climb a set of stairs, which we find are too narrow for her truck. We get out and meet a zookeeper with a goat. I pet the goat, but we are then approached by an escaped lowland gorilla. I try to keep the goat calm while the zookeeper tries to text for help, but her can’t get a signal.

Dream: I am searching for a perfectly black snooze alarm. In my search I am at ECU photographing the band, but when it turns instantly dark, they are all furious. We go inside to find the world’s largest collection of analog camcorders.

Dream: I was in a room with a deep purple-violet chair. I am aware that the chair is full of anxiety.

Dream fragment: “And after all, this song has been sung. Still there ain’t no lifelong metaphor for dung.

Dream fragment: “Her boyhood was vented to worms.”

Dream: at an outdoor opera in England, we are searching for the elusive “Mink,” a 35-foot snake that looks like an earthworm. We break into 12 teams, each represented by a bright color. Kaley Cuoco is our team leader. She uses a garden hose to stir out the Mink, which slithers across the grass and into the audience. Cuoco announces that due to our success, we all receive a pair of blue shoes.

Dream: I open a Coke to find three powdered sugar doughnuts soaked in cola. This means I need to watch a Republican coworker fly his military trainer over the dump to drop practice bombs. He flies too low and strikes a tool box full of dumplings. On the ground he threatens to kill me if I tell his Captain, so I conjure a plan to busy the evidence in my garden.

Dream: At first I am hanging out with an old friend who I never see any more. We are at a creek bed, and her feet are really dirty. Then we are inside a hotel that has been flooded, presumably by Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 Tsunami, and we are playing tag. Water is up to our waists, and there are partially-broken windows through which we climb while we are hiding. I complain to the officials that I don’t have one of the special Frisbees used to tag our opponents (which look like a flying saucer made out of Tupperware.) I get in my car and try to drive out of the parking lot, but discover the bridge to Pauls Valley (Oklahoma) is out. Workers disassemble my car and store it below me, while I sit on a plywood seat and start to ride the makeshift tram that leads across a waterway. As I ride, I realize that I will be thousands of feet in the air, and that I am only secured by hanging on to the plywood seat back in front of me. I can’t see Pauls Valley ahead of me, so I assume it will be hours before we arrive. Suddenly I arrive at the mall, where Joan Rivers says, “Welcome to the Gap!”

Dream: Abby, Nicole, Tracey, Lori, Bill and I are in Las Vegas where we find a tattered satchel and a yellowed envelope in the gutter. We believe they both contain treasures from antiquity, but are never able to find a place away from the crowds to open them and find out. I woke up and went back to sleep in hopes of solving it, but we never did.

Dream: My coworkers and I are dismantling the old “photo shack” darkroom down the block from our office. Aside from dozens of enlargers of various sizes and brands, there are a large number of cheesy religious items like clocks, statues, and lamps, all marked down for quick sale. We can have any of them we want for free, but no one will take any of them. I find a film-drying closet and count 14 exhaust fans capable of creating hurricane-force winds to dry film and prints. I see two large holes in the floor that are open to outer space. Once everyone else has left, I turn the shack over onto the street, revealing a small garage containing a tiny, faded-pink Model T. I turn the key and it starts. I drive it back to the office, glad that we will be able to use it as out mascot in upcoming parades.

Dream: Kathryn Sterbenc and I are in her lavish, multi-story apartment high above downtown San Francisco. We are trying to catch up, but there is a raucous golf tournament in the back yard. Several golfers throw objects at her windows, which embed in them like amber. We see Pamela Hudspeth, who asks Kathy for a psychoanalysis. They sit for hours in Kathy’s Greek Room and talk. When I read the analysis, I find it is is a six-point grocery list. Pam tries to make pizza, but when it doesn’t work out, she puts it in a bag and serves grilled cheese instead.

Dream: I am in high school, in a gifted and talented class with six other students. We use upright desks and use metal tubes to communicate. I have absolutely no clue how to do any of the classwork, and feel like I am about to flunk out. The teacher tells me my behavior is off based on the fact that some of the metal tubes have been turned away from me. I try to log in to my iMac to do my work and find that the system has been replaced with a foreign-language version of Windows 95. Trying to fix it, I see the other students throw away copy after copy of Internet Explorer. I finally mouse to the upper-left corner of the screen and select “leave I/O diagnostic mode 3.2”, which returns the computer to Mac OS. I am then in the cafeteria with Elizabeth Redman and Kaitlyn Redman, who tell me the teacher is a jerk. We go outside to see hundreds of dazed students in yellow t-shirts walking up a hill. When we ask, the tell us, “It’s not a movie. It’s an entrepreneurship.”

Dreams: Randy Mitchell and I are at the edge of the Grand Canyon and decide on a suicide pact. I jump first, but the fall lasts for 15 minutes and I get bored. Then I am in Mexico where space aliens have taken over, with Tom Gilbert and Karen Alexander Gilbert. We pack our bags to make the crossing into human-controlled America, but have to cover our work with a towel when the alien patrols go by. I try on several of Tom’s shirts, but they all make me look exactly like him

Two dreams: Co-worker Randy and I are covering a crash at Latta Road and the Loop. I watch as several cars rear-end each other trying to see the crash, which involves a man who had crashed his camper into a building and they can’t get to him.

“I was going to tell you I was at home,” Randy says, “but now that you’ve seen me, here I am.”

I look out to the south to see the ocean. Randy says, “I know a guy who says the Atlantic is the healthiest thing you can drink. It’s full of diarrhea.”

(Get up to feed the dogs, go back to bed.)

I am then on the new space shuttle on a test flight to work the bugs out of the docking system. We get to the edge of space, then turn around and come back to Detroit. I decide to blog about the experience, but the internet is now an outdoor pigpen, so I hang my pictures of the event on the barbed wire fence.

“This was my second time in space,” I say. “The first was in 2001.”

Dream: I am at a party at my friends Michael and Thea’s house. They live on an empty country road. The other guest is a beautiful blond woman with deep blue eyes who sits in the front drawer of Michael’s desk writing love poetry and being depressed. She says she got this way from “the Kozakis stream.” We cut up lemons, which turn to limes. I cut up some other fruit and she takes out a pad and asks, “Will that be all sir?” I tell her she’s not my waitress. I realize I am having too many yellow and orange fruits for dinner. An angry teenager with a knife approaches Michael, who repeatedly provokes the angry man by tugging at his shirt. The angry man head-butts Michael, who falls to the floor unconscious. I walk down the road, which changes from dirt road to the hallway of a housing project. On the walls, I see numerous maps of cell phone service in the Congo. When I get back to Michael and Thea’s, a crowd has gathered and are very concerned for Michael. We then try to roll out a large rubber mat so we can do an MRI, and a comedy ensues when it is too heavy and too floppy to unroll. The angry man runs through the crowd, trying to escape from police, stopping to threaten us with his knife. The crowd gasps audibly.

Dream: Mackenzee Crosby and I are interns in the photo department at The Enid News and Eagle during the film era. The department is run by an old man We see him leave and I explain, “He said when he turned 65, he was leaving and not coming back.” I look in his camera bag to find his equipment to be from the 1970s and filthy. It is such bad equipment, in fact, that some of the focal lengths are wrong; he has 280mm telephoto for example. We go outside and are surprised to see a freight train speeding down a hill out of control toward us, but when it turns at the last minute, we remember it is “the 3:10.” We turn around to find the main highway into town has been turned into a beautiful reflecting pool, and a body luge tournament is about to begin. I open my own camera bag to find the old man’s stuff inside, including three filthy 280mm lenses. At that point one of the dogs woke me up, so I went to the other bedroom. The next three dreams were about trying to restart the first dream.

Dreams: my right arm got uncovered, so for a while I dreamed I was donating blood. After a while, I dreamed I was playing softball for Latta High School. Our pitcher can’t find her uniform, so she cites a rare regulation that allows her to play in a black bra. As a result, I get to wear her uniform. We take the field, but it is the Brooklyn Bridge, and we are golfing. I then realize she has a huge crush on me. I appreciate that because she has such beautiful hair, but when I turn to look at her again, it’s frizzy like a 1980s haircut. She hits a ball off the bridge. It lands in the water, but floats, and we realize that if it sinks, it’s a foul ball, but if we can get it back before it sinks, it will be a home run. We enter the subway, which is served by canals. We see the ball floating by and form a human chain to pull it out of the water. An angry New Yorker says he will no longer support Latta because of this turn of events.

Dreams
Dreams

Dream: we are playing Photon/laser tag in an indoor/outdoor arena. As we play and our weapons are upgraded, they change in our hands using transporter technology. I then realize we are shooting each other’s phones. At the end of the first round, I don’t have the highest score, but I did earn the “most hate generated” bonus.

Dream: Abby and I were fighting our way out of a huge, dark grey military complex at night under heavy fire. Shoot-and-scoot, cover-and-retreat, emptying mag after mag from our rifles and pistols. Just as we seem to be out of ammo and lost, Max and Sierra scurry off, then return after finding an escape route, leading us to safety.

Dream from May 2004, recorded in my journal: I am rowing down a muddy river beneath an Interstate highway. I find a box of lollypops who are being bullied by their classmates. I escort them to a dry spot, where I install an Oldsmobile 403 engine in a lawn mower.

Dream: I was a dog handler at a wedding, in charge of a giraffe-sized Irish Wolfhound. A one point, he felt faint, so I game him a bowl of elbow macaroni and milk.

Abby and I both either dreamed or heard someone whistling a tune. I got my 9mm and cleared the house and made sure all the dogs were okay, but we didn’t hear any sound like that the rest of the night. None of the dogs reacted to the sound in any way, so my best guess is that one of us was dreaming about whistling and whistled.

Dream recorded in my journal, 1995: In an airport lounge, I watch a man cuddle a wad of gum he calls “Schmooggums.” I see the face of a baby inside it. He misplaces it, but I find it on a bookshelf. Suddenly there is an air show, which I am watching with the Ada High cheerleaders. I peel away the gum to find a balloon. One of the cheerleaders pops the balloon and instead of a baby inside, there is a greeting card shaped like a baby.

Dream fragment from nap: “cemetery-grade popsicle.” I then fell asleep again and dreamed that  Doug Hoke gave me a personal tour of his collection of toy airplanes and Steyr rifles.

Dream: LeAnn Skeen and I lower a huge semi into a lake at a grade school in Shawnee to separate the rabbit half from the non-rabbit half. Then Abby Barron and i accidentally crack a kitchen tile, opening an infinity. We collect the blue infinity goo in a bucket and keep it in a child’s bedroom upstairs, occasionally dropping things into it to watch them disappear into eternity.

Dream: Ashley Williams and I are recruiting for a minor league football team. We get Tom Cruise and Burt Reynolds to join. After a couple of games, we find ourselves being chased by boxes, which were throwing smaller boxes at us. Eventually we realize we are in a race in an obstacle course. Ashley is in the lead, and after crossing several difficult ladder obstacles, gets to the finish line and solves a complex puzzle to open the cabinet housing our first place award.

Dream: I was at an Allen football game when the quarterbacks tried to punch each other out. The teams were so ashamed they threw their pads on the field and went to the locker room, even though the game wasn’t over. The final score was settled by seven year olds playing tetherball.

Dream:  Abby  was killed by a porcupine. :>(

Sometimes a Classic
Sometimes a Classic

 

Sessions

Abby and I smile in amazing autumn sunshine at our house last week. I hope this image expresses the intimacy and love we share every day.
Abby and I smile in amazing autumn sunshine at our house last week. I hope this image expresses the intimacy and love we share every day.
The last time we had a photo session with Robert, my hair was much shorter, and Abby and I were both heavier. Neither of us was ever overweight, but, as they say, you can never be too rich or too thin.
The last time we had a photo session with Robert, my hair was much shorter, and Abby and I were both heavier. Neither of us was ever overweight, but, as they say, you can never be too rich or too thin.

There is an ale house in downtown Ada not far from my workplace, run by some musician friends of mine, called Sessions. I know they have some great sounds, and I would love to go, but their main gigs are always on Monday, when I am either teaching or attending Open Mic Nyte just down the street.

I know it sounds ludicrous to complain about too much culture, but it’s stretching me thin.

Last Monday I attended some sessions of my own, including a over-the-top great portrait session of my wife Abby and me here at home, thanks to a visit from Robert, our very-long-time friend, with whom I have been taking pictures since college. From the day he told us he was coming for a visit, I wanted him to photograph us, particularly since, as a photographer, I don’t get as many chances to be in pictures as other people.

Compare this image with the one from 2016 and the differences are obvious. I really like the way we look, and our relationship, these days, and we are both grateful that Robert was able to capture these moments.
Compare this image with the one from 2016 and the differences are obvious. I really like the way we look, and our relationship, these days, and we are both grateful that Robert was able to capture these moments.
After our photo session, Robert and I took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound for a long walk in the woods.
After our photo session, Robert and I took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound for a long walk in the woods.
Robert chews on a piece of straw on our long walk in the woods far behind our house.
Robert chews on a piece of straw on our long walk in the woods far behind our house.
These are pages from my journal in 1998. As you can see, I was writing a lot then, most of it angsty and chaotic.
These are pages from my journal in 1998. As you can see, I was writing a lot then, most of it angsty and chaotic.

Later that night, I attended Open Mic Nyte, and, at my urging, was joined by long-time friend Jamie. Entire coincidentally, I brought the journal from 1998 when she and I first met, and we had tons of laughs about it.

The night was full of talent, but the biggest hit was when Mackenzee (Mac) Crosby played her guitar and sang. She is a charming musician, and a great soul who has endured too much tragedy in her young life. She’s always looked up to me as a mentor, which is very flattering.

Mackenzee Crosby plays and sings at Open Mic Nyte last week. She told me she's thinking of driving to Oregon soon, which sounds amazing.
Mackenzee Crosby plays and sings at Open Mic Nyte last week. She told me she’s thinking of driving to Oregon soon, which sounds amazing.
Your host waxes poetic at Open Mic Nyte last week about the demise of our wonderful friend Ann Kelley.
Your host waxes poetic at Open Mic Nyte last week about the demise of our wonderful friend Ann Kelley.

At Open Mic, I read at length about the death of one of my best friends, Ann Kelley, on the anniversary of her passing in 2012 at the age of 41. I have been thinking about her a lot the last few days, and I miss her. Jamie does too.

FInally, Christmas is coming, and later today I’ll set up the tree and get some lights on it. Thursday is the Parade of Lights, and the kids, Abby’s daughter Chele and her husband Tom with our grandson Paul, are coming for Christmas. I hope it will be as good a session as I’ve had recently.

We love it when Robert is able to photograph us, and he loves doing it. Compared to our last session in January 2016, my hair is much longer, and Abby and I have both lost some weight. I think we look great.
We love it when Robert is able to photograph us, and he loves doing it. Compared to our last session in January 2016, my hair is much longer, and Abby and I have both lost some weight. I think we look great.

Sore Arms and Unfriending Jerks

This is written on the back cover of the journal of a high school friend of mine. I won't dispute its veracity.
This is written on the back cover of the journal of a high school friend of mine. I won’t dispute its veracity.

I recently “unfriended” someone on one of the popular social media platforms.  I knew him in college from our mutual darkroom use in Copeland Hall at Oklahoma University. I didn’t like him all that much then. Among other things, he suffered from the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

On this occasion I ended our social media relationship because he is one of those people who try to score off of your mistakes in the comments section of your posts, smarting off and trying to make you look foolish in the process. They think it makes them look smart and cool, but it actually just makes them look like insecure assholes.

Unfriending them won’t educate them in any way, but it will end their constant parade of smart-assery. It’s my social media page, after all.

Also of note, I reconnected with a high school acquaintance, a former cheerleader named Stacey, who I like and respect, and who opened up to me. It’s nice to talk to people like her; she is the polar opposite of the people I unfriended.

In other, less annoying news, Abby and I got our flu shots this week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: influenza vaccinations can’t give you the flu, and if you get sick after one, you were either unlucky, or, in most cases, don’t really have flu. What most people don’t seem to understand is that influenza is only one of the constellation of wintertime illnesses you can get, and most of those diseases aren’t flu. The true giveaways for flu are sudden onset, fever of at least 101º, and a dry cough that becomes productive accompanied by back pain. Flu is not “stomach flu,” and it’s not a head cold or a strep infection. Sometimes doctors tell people they have the flu so they can get them out of their offices. Influenza is very dangerous, and if you have it, you will be very sick. Stop saying you have the flu.

I am thinking about this today because this year’s vaccine packs a punch, such that it made my arm very sore at the injection site. I kind of like this, as it reminds me that the vaccine is prompting an immune response.

I posted this photo Tuesday night. My friend Jeanie shot it for me. Lots of people saw it and liked it, but one jerkoff had to make yet another smart-ass comment at my expense, and it was the last strike for him.
I posted this photo Tuesday night. My friend Jeanie shot it for me. Lots of people saw it and liked it, but one jerkoff had to make yet another smart-ass comment at my expense, and it was the last strike for him.

Hawken’s Man Cave, and a Happy Place

Hawken the epic Irish Wolfhound and I walk through the west pasture last night. When it's warm out, this patch of land is full of ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy, but now, after the first freeze, it is our playground.
Hawken the epic Irish Wolfhound and I walk through the west pasture last night. When it’s warm out, this patch of land is full of ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy, but now, after the first freeze, it is our playground.
The summer of peppers is over, as shown in this image of the garden after our hard freeze this week.
The summer of peppers is over, as shown in this image of the garden after our hard freeze this week.

November came early this year. It wasn’t just a first freeze, which we expect around this time, but a hard freeze, and several days of it.

One significant responsibility is to our outdoor dog, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. Though he wears a thick winter coat and is a hearty, robust animal, we hate the idea of him being uncomfortable.

Earlier this week as the cold rolled in, I collected what I could from the shed, mostly unused doors, and enclosed the area under the back deck where he lives. He has a dog house and a chicken pen, but from the day we got him as a puppy, he has made his home under the deck.

Using old doors and shelves, I mostly enclosed the area under the back deck to help shelter Hawken, our backyard wolfhound, from the cold. Also noted: when it warms back up, it's time to repaint that deck.
Using old doors and shelves, I mostly enclosed the area under the back deck to help shelter Hawken, our backyard wolfhound, from the cold. Also noted: when it warms back up, it’s time to repaint that deck.
I placed this propane heater in the space under the back, being careful that it wasn't a fire hazard.
I placed this propane heater in the space under the back, being careful that it wasn’t a fire hazard.

I also lit a propane heater under there, carefully placed so it wouldn’t be a fire hazard. Several times this week, I ducked under there with him to find it tolerably warm. In the mornings, I find him curled up right there, and he feels warm to the touch, so this scheme works well.

I’ve been looking forward to the first freeze. Though it marks the end of the garden, it also marks the beginning of the season during which I can walk Hawken on very long walks far back into the woods, since after the first freeze the ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, and poison ivy are gone. He and I have a great time on those long walks, exploring and escaping, and I look forward to every one of them.

This view looks west from the corner of the west pasture toward the "new" highway. You can see a green metal gate at the end of the easement, which marks how far west we can walk. From there we often turn south and walk the oil well road for half a mile. We have never seen anyone else out there.
This view looks west from the corner of the west pasture toward the “new” highway. You can see a green metal gate at the end of the easement, which marks how far west we can walk. From there we often turn south and walk the oil well road for half a mile. We have never seen anyone else out there.
I photographed these leaves on our walk last night. Though our woods have a Blair Witchiness to them, we have never been stalked by anything supernatural.
I photographed these leaves on our walk last night. Though our woods have a Blair Witchiness to them, we have never been stalked by anything supernatural.

A Dark Result

The sun goes down behind our house after a beautiful day Saturday.
The sun goes down behind our house after a beautiful day Saturday.

“Well don’t you know the sound of anger brings a dark result
And every insult is like a lightning bolt…” ~Third Eye Blind, Dao of St. Paul

Readers in many states across America set their clocks back a hour this weekend to be part of Standard Time. There are a lot of opinions about the nature and necessity of Daylight Saving Time, but I adapt to it pretty well. I just have to dial my brain back an hour for catching last light and having enough time to walk Hawken.

Hawken drinks from the pond a couple of days ago. I know it's not good for him, so I only let him taste, not get his fill.
Hawken drinks from the pond a couple of days ago. I know it’s not good for him, so I only let him taste, not get his fill.
Bell peppers sit in my basket two nights ago. They are good to eat alone, as a salad, or as an ingredient in burritos, soups, beans and more, and they are very nutritious.
Bell peppers sit in my basket two nights ago. They are good to eat alone, as a salad, or as an ingredient in burritos, soups, beans and more, and they are very nutritious.

Tomorrow is a mid-term election day, and I hope to be encouraged and am prepared to be disappointed. In an interesting turn, I have known and photographed the three Oklahoma House District 25 candidates for most of my life. I rented an airplane from one of them for a while in the 1990s. They’re all good guys and they all have our best interests in mind.

I don’t see a freeze in the immediate forecast, but there are some 30s later in the week. I only have green peppers left, but plenty of those. Others who garden agree that 2018 was the year of the green pepper. I’ve never had this many. Just two night ago, I picked another 15. I never get tired of eating them.

With ample rain and mild days, this autumn is really showing off. I hope I am leading the way to it photographically. I have a beginning digital photography class tonight, and we can talk about it.

A photography student named Danielle made this image of me last month. I thought it was fun.
A photography student named Danielle made this image of me last month. I thought it was fun.

Readers might recall that Max the Chihuahua is old and ill lately. He seems to be a little better with daily medication. We still worry when he wheezes, and you can feel his heart murmur in his chest when you pick him up.

Summer and Max the Chihuahuas boop noses on the living room floor recently.
Summer and Max the Chihuahuas boop noses on the living room floor recently.
I try to keep my cooking simple. I throw out the stupid phony ham pouch that comes in the bag with the 15-bean soup, and cook it all night with an onion.
I try to keep my cooking simple. I throw out the stupid phony ham pouch that comes in the bag with the 15-bean soup, and cook it all night with an onion.

The coffee tastes extra good this morning. In addition to teaching tonight, I need to run to town to get a new eyepiece screw for Abby’s glasses, which fell out and disappeared sometime last night.

I got some black beans and some 15-bean soup at the store not long ago, and when I asked Abby which one I should make, she said, “Surprise me.” So it’s 15-bean soup for lunch today.

The maple in our yard is a volunteer of unspecific variety, so it doesn't put on the "Tour of Maine's Lighthouses" show. Still, it's a beautiful tree.
The maple in our yard is a volunteer of unspecific variety, so it doesn’t put on the “Tour of Maine’s Lighthouses” show. Still, it’s a beautiful tree.

As I was writing this, a package arrived from Amazon Prime, a filter for my Shop-Vac ordered just Saturday night. It was much cheaper than retail as well, and very much points to the future of consumerism.

The setting sun shines through fading morning glory vines on the arbor in the front yard. I've been photographing this feature since before we were married.
The setting sun shines through fading morning glory vines on the arbor in the front yard. I’ve been photographing this feature since before we were married.
I trimmed a bunch of limbs and threw them on the brush pile with my expired tomato vines, and burned them. Is is just me, or does this combination smell a little bit like dope smoke?
I trimmed a bunch of limbs and threw them on the brush pile with my expired tomato vines, and burned them. Is is just me, or does this combination smell a little bit like dope smoke?

I’ve been running the string trimmer a bunch the last few days, in an effort to reduce the clutter around the house and along the fences, which will hopefully give less quarter to spiders, snakes, rodents and ants this winter.

At the start of spring, I threw out an old pair of work shoes and started working in my least comfortable pair of Keens. Yesterday was their last day. I had glued the soles back on, and the elastic laces were starting to strip.

I trimmed Abby’s photinia and collected that and threw them on the brush pile with the various collected limbs and brush around the patch, and burned it. It was super-smokey.

Working outdoors, from walking the Wolfhound to running the chain saw, wears out shoes faster than anything else I do.
Working outdoors, from walking the Wolfhound to running the chain saw, wears out shoes faster than anything else I do.

“And I tell myself what we’re living for.
And say, rejoice, evermore.” ~3EB

The sun sets on the west pasture a few nights ago. After the first freeze, I can talk Hawken on much longer walks, which we both love.
The sun sets on the west pasture a few nights ago. After the first freeze, I can talk Hawken on much longer walks, which we both love.

A Little Life Left in You Yet

"Max keeps looking at me with those sad eyes." ~Abby
“Max keeps looking at me with those sad eyes.” ~Abby
Max and Summer sit on our bed yesterday. You can tell from the way he stands that Max is no longer a young dog, but we still love him, and will keep him as long as he isn't suffering.
Max and Summer sit on our bed yesterday. You can tell from the way he stands that Max is no longer a young dog, but we still love him, and will keep him as long as he isn’t suffering.

Abby and I have been feeling a fair amount of mutual anxiety about Maximum Speed Boulevard, our 14-year-old smooth coat Chihuahua. He’s old: he’s not getting around well, he doesn’t see well, he can’t hear at all, he has terrible breath from bad teeth, and he wheezes uncomfortably all the time. We felt it possible we would need to have him euthanized, and it weighed upon us.

I took him to our vet yesterday, fully prepared to do that, but the ride to town alone seemed to cheer him up, and our vet gave him a couple of different meds, including one for his heart murmur.

So, with our oldest beloved pet still above ground, Abby and I settled into a normal Monday, though Abby’s stress manifests very physically, so she needed a nap, so we enjoyed one.

Among other activities this week, I pulled up the garden except for the grape tomato plant and the bell peppers, which are still bearing. It has been the Summer of the Bell Pepper.
Among other activities this week, I pulled up the garden except for the grape tomato plant and the bell peppers, which are still bearing. It has been the Summer of the Bell Pepper.
The weather has been textbook beautiful autumn this month, inspiring more than a few photographic jaunts around the patch.
The weather has been textbook beautiful autumn this month, inspiring more than a few photographic jaunts around the patch.
I brought Hawken the Irish Wolfhound's big food bowl in to wash, and fed him with this normal-sized dog bowl, which he thought was a toy and destroyed. We thought this was super funny.
I brought Hawken the Irish Wolfhound’s big food bowl in to wash, and fed him with this normal-sized dog bowl, which he thought was a toy and destroyed. We thought this was super funny.
I recently added an exemption to my vegetarianism, uneaten fish I buy or make for my wife. I feel that in moderation, occasionally adding low-mercury seafood to my diet isn't bad for me, and prevents such products from going to waste. This is tilapia, which I bought for Abby, but which she didn't like. If I didn't eat it, it would go in the trash.
I recently added an exemption to my vegetarianism, uneaten fish I buy or make for my wife. I feel that in moderation, occasionally adding low-mercury seafood to my diet isn’t bad for me, and prevents such products from going to waste. This is tilapia, which I bought for Abby, but which she didn’t like. If I didn’t eat it, it would go in the trash.
The Grandview Event Center is the new home to Ada's Open Mic Nyte.
The Grandview Event Center is the new home to Ada’s Open Mic Nyte.

Last night I attended Open Mic Nyte at its new location, The Grandview. There’s plenty of room there, but for some reason a lot of the regulars didn’t or couldn’t make it. Still, I love café culture, and will continue to go, and if I can find time, I’ll try to find more of those kinds of events.

Darice Strickland and Sterling Jacobs share a moment Open Mic Nyte October 29, 2018 at The Grandview. Sterling and Darice have been friends for decades.
Darice Strickland and Sterling Jacobs share a moment Open Mic Nyte October 29, 2018 at The Grandview. Sterling and Darice have been friends for decades.

1988

I photographed this Ada football player at ECU's Norris Field not long after I came to Ada. I remember making this image, in the cold, blowing rain, like it was yesterday.
I photographed this Ada football player at ECU’s Norris Field not long after I came to Ada. I remember making this image, in the cold, blowing rain, like it was yesterday.
This is a frame from a video of me in January 1988, made by my girlfriend at the time. She loved that sweater on me.
This is a frame from a video of me in January 1988, made by my girlfriend at the time. She loved that sweater on me.

I came to The Ada Evening News (The Ada News since 2012) 30 years ago today, October 24, 1988. I documented the news photography angle on my teaching site (link), if you want to read it.

From a far more personal perspective, 1988 was a very dark, very lost, very complicated time for me.

I did a very poor job of recording the events of 1988 in my journal. It was an important time in my life, yet I committed very little real information to paper. I mostly couched everything in poetic terms, presuming I would remember the newsy details. I wish I have noted tangible events with bullet points, or even in the margins.

This is an image of me made in July 1988 as I worked a golf tournament for The Daily Times in Ottawa, Illinois. As you can see, I am fairly heavy, but by the time I moved back to Oklahoma, I'd lost about 35 pounds. When I am unhappy or stressed, I can't eat or sleep.
This is an image of me made in July 1988 as I worked a golf tournament for The Daily Times in Ottawa, Illinois. As you can see, I am fairly heavy, but by the time I moved back to Oklahoma, I’d lost about 35 pounds. When I am unhappy or stressed, I can’t eat or sleep.
I made this self portrait in late September 1988. As you can see, I lost about 35 pounds during the period from July to September.
I made this self portrait in late September 1988. As you can see, I lost about 35 pounds during the period from July to September.

Fortunately, I actually did remember a number of details about that time, and have since committed it to paper.

This is my car, loaded and ready to move me and my stuff to Illinois in July 1988. I had no idea I would be moving back so soon.
This is my car, loaded and ready to move me and my stuff to Illinois in July 1988. I had no idea I would be moving back so soon.
This is my apartment in Ottawa, Illinois. I never really moved in and decorated because I hoped at the time to live with my girlfriend, who ended our relationship over the phone, and who I never saw again.
This is my apartment in Ottawa, Illinois. I never really moved in and decorated because I hoped at the time to live with my girlfriend, who ended our relationship over the phone, and who I never saw again.

I moved to Illinois to be with my girlfriend at the time, but within a month, she broke up (over the phone), and I realized I didn’t belong there, so I made an effort to move back to Oklahoma. I got a tip from Ed Blochowiak, the photographer with whom I partnered at the Shawnee News-Star (and who recently died) that Ada was looking for a photographer. I was hired over the phone by then-publisher Ron Vodenichar, and moved back to Oklahoma a week before I started in Ada.

Ron later told me I was one of the best hires he ever made.

1988 was probably the worst year of my life. Despite being grimly lonely, I did a good job as a news photographer from the very start. In some ways, doing the work of photojournalism saved me through giving me a purpose.

I spent most of my days and years alone, dating off and on without much success.

Though I kept it well organized and efficient, my office/darkroom at The Ada Evening News was as stark and bleak as my life was during that period.
Though I kept it well organized and efficient, my office/darkroom at The Ada Evening News was as stark and bleak as my life was during that period.

Amazingly, looking back on the entire 30 years, I realize that slightly more than half of that time was spent with Abby; we started dating in January 2003.

I have never ceased to appreciate everything our relationship gives me: esteem, confidence, companionship, purpose, and, of course, physical gratification. I am so very grateful she is my wife.

At one point, my sister Nicole asked me what my all-time favorite photo is, and though it is no simple task to sift the literally tens of thousands of images I have made during the last 30 years, I have to say it is this one of my wife Abby…

Abby's beautiful smile, willowy hands, and golden hair shine in the golden Colorado sun as she and I make our way from one point to the next on one of those perfect days together. I always smile and love her more when I see this image.
Abby’s beautiful smile, willowy hands, and golden hair shine in the golden Colorado sun as she and I make our way from one point to the next on one of those perfect days together. I always smile and love her more when I see this image.

Global Wetting Is Real

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound stops on the driveway as he and I walk this evening. Later, he helped me solder some connectors for a 2-meter ham radio in the garage.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound stops on the driveway as he and I walk this evening. Later, he helped me solder some connectors for a 2-meter ham radio in the garage.

Funniest porn title ever: My Best Friend’s Wetting.

There is a lot of invalid denial about climate change. Fine. Be a child. Pretend.

It has been a spookily cool and wet fall here in on the patch in southeastern Oklahoma. You could certainly point to climate change as a possible cause.

Our pond is as full, or maybe fuller, than I've ever seen it. 11 months ago, it was so dry I was able to build a bonfire on it.
Our pond is as full, or maybe fuller, than I’ve ever seen it. 11 months ago, it was so dry I was able to build a bonfire on it.
Almost every step Hawken and I took tonight involved a puddle. I've never seen it this wet.
Almost every step Hawken and I took tonight involved a puddle. I’ve never seen it this wet.

My biggest problem with the whole climate change scene is a) the sky has been falling for 30 years, and Venice and New Orleans are still above sea level, and b) not acting on climate change is implied support for big corporations and their profits, which supporters generally never see, while at the same time, no one will ever say, “The Grand Canyon is full of gas wells, but I sure am glad Moneyco had a great third quarter report in 2018.”

Also as I write this, Megamillions just rolled up to “$1.0 Billion.” Yes, I have a ticket, but we all know that I’ve never been struck by lightning, never drowned in a river rescue, never been diagnosed with a brain tumor, all of which are much more likely than winning a billion dollar lottery. Still, the ticket in my billfold changes my odds of winning from zero to non-zero.

Autumn mimosa is less colorful than in the summer, but is really beautiful in the rain.
Autumn mimosa is less colorful than in the summer, but is really beautiful in the rain.

The Next 14 Years

Abby smiles as she talks on the phone with my parents as I make video just minutes after she and I exchanged vows at Utah's iconic Delicate Arch October 12, 2004.
Abby smiles as she talks on the phone with my parents as I make video just minutes after she and I exchanged vows at Utah’s iconic Delicate Arch October 12, 2004.
It's a chilly, rainy day. I don't consider it gloomy, because Abby and I both look great dressed for this weather.
It’s a chilly, rainy day. I don’t consider it gloomy, because Abby and I both look great dressed for this weather.

Today marks the 14th anniversary of my marriage to Abby. To say that we are happily married is accurate. As I told a friend last year, I am well-constituted to marriage.

Abby and I pose under Delicate Arch shortly after exchanging vows. I like this image because it provides a good perspective on the size of the feature.
Abby and I pose under Delicate Arch shortly after exchanging vows. I like this image because it provides a good perspective on the size of the feature.
Fun fact: our marriage license has a picture of the place we got married on it!
Fun fact: our marriage license has a picture of the place we got married on it!

Today is my first day this fall to wear long sleeves, and the first day this fall to put Abby’s handmade sweaters on the Chihuahuas.

We don’t have any special plans for the anniversary, except that today is the start of the next 14 years.

Summer the Chihuahua wears her handmade sweater for the first time this season.
Summer the Chihuahua wears her handmade sweater for the first time this season.