Tag Archives: Photos

Mom’s Valentine’s Day Present

We are blessed that the progression of my mother’s Alzheimer’s has been slowed by meds. We’re thankful for each day we’re able to continue to enjoy together. I’ve read that music and images are positive stimuli for those suffering with Alzheimer’s, triggering memories and hopefully lubricating the brain to continue remembering.

With that in mind, I put together a little video for mom (and dad) for Valentine’s Day this year. Some old family photos and music that hopefully gets the synapses firing in a positive way. The Dixieland jazz that accompanies photos of her as a little girl is from Bix Beiderbecke, an Iowa native. My mom’s dad loved Dixieland and attended the Bix festival in Davenport. My mom told me that when she was a teenager, the Crew-Cuts’ Sh-Boom was her favorite song. She repeatedly played it so much that it drove her father crazy (I remember having similar thoughts about N’Sync), so that’s what I chose for pictures of her as a teen. The Lord’s Prayer was sung at their wedding, and I can remember my mom listening to Whitney Huston’s CD a lot, especially after watching The Preacher’s Wife.

Our plan to take the folks out for Valentine’s dinner was scuttled by weather, but I had a chance to swing by their apartment this week and play them this video. It was fun to hear their memories, laughter, and to witness her tears as she watched. At the end of the video she wiped her tears and said, “God has been so good to us. We have been so blessed.

I hope she will enjoy watching this video over and over again. And, I hope it will continue to remind her of God’s faithfulness and blessings through the home stretch of her life journey.

My Photos: 2015

Last year I put together a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from 2014. I thought I would continue the tradition again this year. So, for Photo Friday, here is a compilation of some of my favorite photos from the year 2015. Some of them are favorites because I liked the shot from a photographic point-of-view, and others are favorites simply because of the moment and the memory.

Enjoy!

Top Five Tuesday: Distractions

 

Speaking of distractions, here are the top five outlets feeding my appetite for distraction:

  1. Facebook: Who’s doing what, where, with whom right now?
  2. Twitter: #losingmyselfin140characters
  3. MLB At Bat: All things baseball and the Cubs at any moment.
  4. Photos: So many photos, so little time.
  5. PSVita: Inside the man is a boy who loves his games.

The Groom

Sam Keithley triptychWe were at our nephew’s wedding last weekend. I had my camera out and was snapping away. When the the processional music swelled I rose with the crowd and turned to see Sam’s bride, Lydia, walking the aisle with her father.

“Sam!” Wendy urgently whispered in my ear. “Take a picture of Sam!”

I turned and snapped a series of pictures of Sam as he watched his bride walking down the aisle toward him.

So glad Wendy prompted me.

Priceless.

 

TBT: Grandpa V and the Grill

Grandpa V and the Grill

I like going through old family photos. There’s a lot to wade through and a whole host of faces and events that have little relevance to me. Every once in a while, however, you come across a random photograph that strikes your fancy. For Throwback Thursday I’d like to share with you this little gem.

I have always loved this picture of my Grandpa Vander Well which was taken when he and my grandma drove my mother from Iowa out to Idaho where my folks were moving shortly after they got married. There was a whole series of photos that chronicle their multi-day journey including the retro travel motels where they stayed.

I laugh every time I see this photo. I have no idea why Grandpa wanted a photo of the grill in the park. He certainly does not look particularly excited about it. He’s not cooking lunch. With his pens clipped in his shirt pocket he looks like he could be the state grill inspector documenting that the camp stove meets the Iowa Code for proper grill standards and maintenance.

I imagine my Grandma V sharing their photos with friends: “Oh, and here’s a picture of Herman with a grill!

In a time when taking photos and having them developed cost money, why would you invest in a photograph of you with a charred park grill? Whatever the reason, I’m glad they took it. A half century later it continues to regularly make me smile.

Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 6

I am publishing my travel journal from our trip to Edinburgh which  took place June 1-8, 2015. I am posting my journal entry and pictures from each day in chronological order.

It’s ART DAY! Wherever we go, Wendy and I love to take in a little art and culture. Taylor is studying Arts and Event Management, so its only natural that we devote at least a little time to see what artistic treasures Edinburgh had for us.

It was Saturday morning and Wendy and I grabbed the bus to Taylor’s flat. It was about a 20 minute bus ride from the top of Victoria Street to her stop on Pilton and she was there to meet us. Taylor has a hike of several blocks from the bus stop to her apartment building on Pilton Farm Crescent. She lived in the student residences of Queen Margaret University during the school year but moved to this three bedroom flat at the end of the semester where she lives with some lovely young ladies. We had a chance to see the place and meet one of her flat mates. It was a nice flat on the fourth floor with lots of light and Taylor has a gorgeous view of the area and the North Sea out her bedroom window.

We hiked another mile or so to a bus stop and grabbed a bus towards the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. There are actually two museums across the street from one another. We started at Two but there was only one gallery open with a collection of surrealist art. We enjoyed the exhibit but it didn’t take long to get through it. We then walked across the street to museum One which had an exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein along with their permanent collection, largely of contemporary Scottish artists. We enjoyed the museum and, afterwards, we grabbed a taxi to the City Art Centre which offered four more floors of Scottish artists, though the gallery on each floor was rather small and it didn’t take too long to get through it.

Our souls refreshed and our minds inspired, we began the short hike back to the hotel. All week long we had been passing a unique little eatery on Victoria Street called Oink. They roast an entire hog each day, stick it in the window for passers by to see, and then serve pork sandwiches until it’s all gone. The shop could close early or late depending on the hunger of Edinburgh. It looked and smelled so good all week that I was determined to try it before we left. So, I grabbed a pork sandwich (absolutely delicious!) and Taylor stopped at Hula for a snack bar before we journeyed on to our hotel room for a bite and a bit of rest.

We walked to The Jazz Bar after our rest. It’s a small, basement bar where Taylor spent many evenings this past year. When I asked Taylor how often she’d been to the Jazz Bar she laughed and dismissively admitted, “Oh, more times than I can count.” I was shocked to find the venue packed at 3:00 in the afternoon, and the average age of the crowd was older than I expected, but then again the talented trio playing was of a similar age. We eventually got a table and spent over three hours talking and drinking as we listened to the music. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

The jazz trio gave way to a solo pianist and the crowd remained large though there was a constant coming and going. There were a lot of people avidly listening to the jazz, and I was surprised to see a number of people there by themselves sitting transfixed by the music. At one point, Taylor, Wendy and I were in a wonderful  and intense conversation that clearly annoyed an elderly old Scot sitting and a nearby table (I tend to be a loud talker, sorry). He turned while I was talking and chewed me out in his thick Scottish accent basically telling me to shut up and listen to the music. We all kind of laughed and chose to speak in quieter tones, but we were all a bit taken aback. “It’s a bar, not a concert hall,” Wendy grumbled.

It was about 6:30 by the time we left and we walked to Pizza Express. We had eaten there a couple of nights before and both Wendy and I loved it. Earlier in the week Taylor told us that two of her friends from high school were flying into Edinburgh for a week of sightseeing in Scotland, and wanted to see her. We were excited at the opportunity to visit with both Jon De Haan and Gabe Spencer. Jon had been a regular visitor to our home back when they were in high school and Taylor had gone to prom with Gabe one year. The lads had flown in earlier that day and agreed to meet us at Pizza Express for dinner. They were a bit jet lagged but arrived on time and we had a wonderful meal together, catching up on their lives since leaving Pella.

One of the items on my Scottish bucket list was a whiskey tasting, but I had to admit that I’d not looked forward to experiencing it on my own. I knew that neither Wendy nor Taylor would want to join me. Taylor had scheduled an appointment with Wendy for British high tea on Sunday afternoon and so I thought it fortuitous that Jon and Gabe had arrived just in time to save me from a lonely afternoon of Scotch sampling. I had simply uttered, “So, I was thinking about doing a whiskey tasting tomorrow…” when the lads cut in with an enthusiastic “Yes!” in unison. The date was set.

We figured the kids would want some time to themselves after dinner. Taylor cajoled a passer-by to take a group photo outside the restaurant and then they headed for The Queen’s Arms Pub. Wendy and I headed back to the hotel where we relaxed with a movie, did a little reading, and drifted off to sleep.

Edinburgh Travel Journal: Days 1-2
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 3
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 4
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 5
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 6
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 7

Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 5

I am publishing my travel journal from our trip to Edinburgh which  took place June 1-8, 2015. I am posting my journal entry and pictures from each day in chronological order.

The weather on this Friday morning was predicted to be better than usual, so we chose it to hike up Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is a prominent hill in Holyrood (translated “Holy Cross” park that was a fortress in ancient times. The summit provides a breathtaking 360 degree view of Edinburgh, the North Sea and the surrounding region.

Taylor arrived at our hotel about 8:30. We hiked a few blocks to Elephant House, a coffee shop now famous for being the place J.K. Rowling sat and wrote Harry Potter. Taylor told us we had to visit the loo while we were there. The bathrooms were scrawled with Harry Potter graffiti (I regret now that I did not take a picture).  We grabbed the bus to Holyrood park. When Wendy saw what we were climbing she had a small heart attack. From the east there is a   smooth incline to the summit, but on the west, the direction from which we approached, there is a long, winding stone stair. It took us about 30-35 minutes to make the climb with a few brief stops to catch breath and look around. The summit was very windy and a bit chilly, but the view was incredible and we took plenty of time for photos and to enjoy the view.

We descended along the eastern slope and found ourselves in the picturesque, ancient village of Dudingston with a gorgeous little church that has been there since the 1200s. There is a pub here, the Sheep’s Heid that claims to be the oldest establishment in Scotland, dating from the 1300s. We had intended to pop in for a pint but they didn’t open until 11:30 and we didn’t feel like sitting around for an hour.

Taylor checked the bus schedule and figured in the 20 minutes we would wait for the next bus we could hike most of the way back. We trekked back towards the city on a road that wound around the bottom of Arthur’s Seat. It was a good couple of miles before we got to the buss top back to the hotel. Wendy’s Up Band said that we walked 9.2 miles that day!

At the hotel we freshened up and headed back out for a bite of lunch. Along the way we learned about the small triangle shopped city block that houses strip clubs known to locals as the “pubic triangle.” Taylor also took us into one of her favorite little used book stores. It was a hole in the wall labyrinth with books shelved from floor to tall ceiling. We really enjoyed looking around and could have spent a lot more time there if we weren’t so hungry. Taylor took us to the Red Squirrel, a nice little pub a mile or so from the hotel. We had traditional pub fare served on thick, cutting board type planks, and enjoyed our on-going conversation.

After lunch we walked to St. John’s Church, an old Scottish Episcopal church that felt more like a Catholic cathedral. Taylor said that she would often come to this church for quiet, prayer and meditation. There is a cafe in the lower level that emptied out into a beautiful garden and cemetery. She said that she was at the cafe this past year when she got my message that Grandpa Dean was diagnosed with cancer and she immediately walked up to the sanctuary to light a candle for him and to pray. I’m glad she was there when she heard the news. We walked around the gorgeous sanctuary and enjoyed a nice chat with an older woman who was one of the volunteer guides. We then took a stroll through the ancient cemetery.

Taylor had an appointment with her advisor that afternoon, so we gave Taylor a hug and she headed back to her flat. Wendy and I strolled back to Grassmarket via King’s Stable Row which winds around the base of Edinburgh Castle. We spent a few quiet hours in the hotel watching the French Open and relaxing.

We headed to the Royal Mile in the late afternoon to do souvenier shopping. The sun came out while we were doing so and it became a lovely afternoon. It took a while to gather everything and then we headed back to Grassmarket, strolling down the long row of pubs and restaurants to get a feel for where we’d like to eat that evening. Taylor was having dinner with her flatmates so Wendy and I were on our own. We went to Maggie Dickinson’s Pub, named for a famous (or infamous) survivor of public execution,  and got a table in the back where we could eat and watch Andy Murray and Novak Djokovich in the French Open semi-final. Wendy ordered fish n chips and got an absolutely huge filet. I had a burger and, of course, a pint.

It was Friday evening and you could tell that the weekend crowd had begun. The pubs were brimming with people from all over. There were a number of large groups of very loud young men who had already had too much to drink. Taylor told us that Edinburgh is a favorite destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties and we saw a number of these. The bride or groom to be are generally dressed up in silly costumes so they are easy to spot.

We wandered down to the White Hart Inn Pub after dinner to have another pint and watch what was left of the tennis match, which got called for rain. We then headed back to the hotel and got to bed early.

Edinburgh Travel Journal: Days 1-2
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 3
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 4
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 5
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 6
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 7