About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cleaned Wood stove today

We have had great, warm weather through out  the month of September here in Chaumont, NY this year. But October first it suddenly got cooler. Yesterday I turned the oil furnace on. Today I cleaned the chimney for the wood stove as well as the indoor flu pipe and this evening started the first wood fire of the season. Things get cozy fast when that gets lit.
My Regency wood stove in my home in Chaumont, NY

Friday, October 2, 2015

kremona ng-1 classical/flamenco acoustic guitar pickup

The Kremona ng-1 classical guitar pick up tied to the bridge of my 1984 Guild Mark V classical guitar

I recently used the kremona ng-1 classical/flamenco acoustic guitar pickup at a gig. It was a couple nights ago.  I played guitar at the Jefferson County Historical Society's Paddock Mansion in Watertown, NY. It was a reception for the organization's new director. The event went well. I used my Guild Mark V guitar with a Kremona pick up that is tied to the guitar bridge by the guitar strings. That was plugged into my Fishman SoloAmp 220 sound system. Oh, I also used an LR Baggs pre-amp. It is a great combination. The pick up is very responsive and with the pre amp one can get tremendous volume. The music went well,

The Kremona ng-1 classical guitar pick up tied to the bridge of my 1984 Guild Mark V classical guitar. This is the 1/8th inch jack input. The other end of the cable is a standard size 1/4 inch input. 
The Kremona ng-1 classical guitar pick up ready to be tied to the bridge of my 1984 Guild Mark V classical guitar

I bought this pick up from Sweetwater music store's online store, sweetwater.com I think I paid $69.00 which included free shipping via the US Post Office. It arrived quickly, within about 3 days. The people at Sweetwater called me up and let me know the item was shipped. When I opened the package there was a bag of candy in there as well as the Kremona! Cool! I give Sweetwater at least a 4 star rating. I encourage anyone out there to visit them online and place your order.
The pick up itself is outstanding. It does not interfere with your guitars tuning or intonation either. I would say it's akin to an under the saddle type of pick up. Th great beauty of it is that you need not drill any holes in your instrument or modify it in any way.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Heavy headed sunflower

I snapped this sunflower in the back yard of my home in Chaumont NY this afternoon. I just finished installing rear shock absorbers on my van and as I was picking up my tools the flower caught my eye. So I snapped it with my iPhone. Maybe that should be EyePhone.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Woke up to a bat in our bedroom

Bat I trapped in our upstairs bathroom of our home in Chaumont, NY.  Gary Walts iPhone photo

A few weeks ago we woke up to a bat flying around in our bedroom. YIKES! I hate that.  I should have posted about it then, but my time and ambition were shot. Anyhow, without going into all the datails, we had been in bed about an hour and a halkf when the Better Half awoke to a soft, muffly sound. In the dim light I saw the  silhouette of a bat swooping around our room. Chaos followed. Was ther only one bat or were there more. I thought it flew out the front door. We stayed up until 2:30 and never saw any more signs of of it. We go upstairs and I see it flying in the bathroom, I slammed tghe bathroom door and new for sure it was trapped in that room. Again, was that the original bat? The only bat? We stayed up with the lights on down stairs. At 4:30 tried to sleep in a chair. Essentially I got no sleep that night. I had a photo job in Syracuse and had to depart early. Was home by 4:00 in afternoon. I now ventured into the bathroom, it was day light so the bat should be dormant. Staying close to the floor I examine every nook and cranny and see no sign of it. A clothes hamper  against the wall was the lats place to look. I cxarefully lean it toward me, away fromn the wall. There he was. Cling upside down to the textured surface. He blinked his eyes. That was it. I took a plastic food container and placed in  over the creature. Then I slid a piece of card board under it and he was trapped. We taped the food container to the card board. The bat was alive. We delivered it to a veterinarian's office for rabies testing. Check out the video. It is short, but the funny part is the Better Half's voice as she drove our van and I held  onto the trapped bat.

2002 Dodge Caravan Brake Job, broken rotors

I did a brake job on my 2002 Dodge Caravan and both front rotors broke during the removal. Not a problem though because they were being replaced.
It all started last Friday while driving to Syracuse Friday afternoon. I had to photograph a high school football game. Any how, I heard a squealing so
und and thought is was the AC blower. Then I heard a tappoing noise. It grew louder and louder into a knoicking, hammering noise, like a hammer beating on metal. Pretty sure it was the engine about to blow. I managed to get to brother D's house in Mattydale and we confirmed the worst. This was my 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan with 3.3 engine. I have had the van for about 10 years and it had over 200,000 miles on it. In the past years I havce dumped more than a $1,500.00 in repairs and parts on it, doing most of the work myself. But the bottom line now was this van is toast. Done. Time to junk it.

Fortunately I had a 2002  sitting at my house. It is not nearly as pretty, rather rusty, but has a strong engine and tranny, 186,000 miles. But it has been sitting for a year or more. When I parked it last the front brake calipers seized up and were were so hot I thought it would burst into flames. At the time I decided not to spend the $$ on any repairs. But now it was time to fix it up for the road.
Drivers side front brake assembly after sitting for over a year. Rusted and seized up.    Gary Walts iPhone photo

The first thing I did was stack a  pile of firewood up that was in the driveway. Sunday morning  I bought parts and began wrenching. I bought new brake pads, calipers and rotors. Also a pair of rea shocks and 2 new front tires. The  brake job went smoothly until I tried to get the rotors of. They normall get rusted on and you hit them with a hammer to brake them free. Well, on the drivers side I beat on the thing for 10 minutes and it wild not budge. I took out a 13  pound sledge hammer and began to wail on it. 15 minutes later it finally broke free but in so doing broke into 2 pieces. The center broke out of it. Wow, I never had that happen before.
I hammered this rotor for 30 minutes, the center broke out of it when it finally came free of the wheel studs.   Gary Walts   iPhone photo

I hammered this rotor for 30 minutes, the center broke out of it when it finally came free of the wheel studs.   Gary Walts   iPhone photo

When I did the other side it broke free in about 5 minutes BUT, broke into 3 pieces. The center broke out and the rotor split down the middle like slicing a doughnut in half. The video is only 15 seconds long and you can see what I mean.


The next thing I needed was a new muffler and resonator tail pipe for the exhaust, then a NY State inspection. I hired the garage that did the inspection to install the exhaust components. That bill totaled $250.00 plus tax.  Late Wednesday it was all done and the van was running great, inspected, and I was all set. Thursday morning, (today) at 11:00 I took my mother to an eye doctor appointment. About a 1/4 mile from her house, on the trip home, the van overheated. RATS! Discovered coolant leaking out out from the lower hose where it clamps on. Turns out the clamp failed. But, I went ahead and changed out the metal coolant pipe the hose attaches to. I all ready had experience with one of those rusting out in my 05 van. It was a simple enough job but still took some time. Had to go to 2 auto parts stores to locate the part. By 4:15 I was done. That repair came in to $50.00.  I since drove to Clayton where I had a guitar gig. Just got home a little while ago and everything appears fine. What a a few days I have had, and there actually is a lot more that's been going on too. That has to do with the Better Half's sister in Ohio who has had complications from hip replacement. 

All told, I have spent $900.00 getting my old van road worthy. Hopefully it will give me a few months to a year or more of service. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Perfect Summer Afternoon

After a nice time at the beach in Cape Vincent I picked a few tomatoes from our garden and enjoyed a Goose Island IPA
It was a perfect Summer afternoon here in Chaumont, NY. The temperature hit 86 degrees F, it was windy, plenty of shade in the back yard. We went swimming at Wilson's Bay in Cape Vincent. Came back home and The Better Half and grand son G splashed around in our pool while I drank a Goose Island IPA beer and played some guitar. Then  Better Halfs grand son went for a bike ride up and down our street and over to the school yard. He just learned to ride a bike this month. That was followed by grilled hamburgers and a cucumber salad for dinner. Then we sat on the front porch and sang songs. Among them were Billy Boy, The Ants Go Marching, She Will be Coming Around the Mountain, and more. Great, wonderful day.

Here is a video clip of the fire in our charcoal grill:


G after his bike ride.

I capture a bat that was flying in our in our bedroom

I captured this bat in our upstairs bathroom of our home in Chaumot, NY

The other other night I went to bed and was asleep by 11:00.  At 12:30 the Better Half says she heard something in our room. I was really out like a light. She roused me. Then I see the form of a bat flying around. That is nothing but freaky. Eventually I get downstairs and open front door. The bat is downstairs too. He sweeps around the living room and comes so close to me I duck down. Then I don't see it anymore. I think it went out the door. Well, I want to stay up for awhile to see if it did indeed get out. At 2:30 we figure it must have left. We go upstairs to bed. I open the upper bathroom door and there it is flying. I slam the door. It is in there.
 So then we wonder what to do. Was it the same bat  that I thought exited the front door, or was it a second bat? We really do not know. Now we stay up until 4:30. We decide to sleep downstairs in the living room. But I never really sleep. I want to know if there are more bats. We have no idea how it got in. It was stressful. I finally fall asleep about 6:00 am. I am awake at 8:30 and must drive to Syracuse at 9:00 for a job.
I do my job. I do a lot of google searching about bats. I get home the next day at 4:00 and start searching the bathroom for the bat. I finally find him clinging to the back side of a clothes hamper. I tilt it back. It is day light. He does not flinch. I slowly lower a plastic food container over it. He seems unaware. Then I slide a piece of card board under the container and now have the creature confined. I tape the cardboard to the container.
Earlier in the day I talked with the Jefferson County Health Dept and they encouraged me to try and capture the bat alive and take it to the veternarian's in Limerick to have it tested for rabies. So, with the Better Half at the wheel and I holding the trapped bat we drove to the vets. While on our way I made a short video of it. The animal is quite frustrated, but after I set it on the floor it calmed down and appeared to be contented. We got it to the vets and now are waiting for the test results.

Check out this video of the trapped bat and listen to the Better Half as we drive the creature to the vets:


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Photos from a North Country Garden

A Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean vine in my garden, Chaumont, NY

It was overcast and grey today, seeming as if it would rain, but that never happened. There are quite a few yellow leaves falling from the Black Walnut tree beside the garage and littering the outdoor work bench. It gives one the impression of Autumn, but that season is still a ways off.

The Better Half went to visit brother D's wife in Syracuse this afternoon. She will return tomorrow afternoon, God willing and the creek doesn't rise.

So I snapped a few shots of my garden with the iPhone 5 today. I present them here:

The garden at my home in Chaumont, NY

Monday, July 6, 2015

Conversations: A photo lesson on fore ground and back ground subject matter

We are on our way home from a visit to the Better Half's family in the Cleveland, Ohio area. While she is driving I decided to poat a photo from our visit. These are members of her family. I like this photo because it shows the interaction between people. Something we can all relate to. I also like how the photo has activity in the fore ground and the back ground. Paying attention to the relationship of the fore ground to the back ground can make your photos more interesting.

In the 2nd version of the photo I cropped out the back ground man. Notice how the "story" has changed by altering the fore ground / back ground relationship.

The photo lesson here is that an every day situation can make an interesting photo and the fore ground back ground relationship can alter what the viewer thinks or perceives about the subject matter in the photo. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The elusive Silver Fox

Silver Fox photographed in Carthage, NY, Nikon D4 with 70-200mm f2.8 lens                  photo by gary walts

Two Summers ago I was in the back yard of my home in Chaumont, NY, near dusk and an animak suddenly appeared from behgind the garage. It looked at me briefly and darted away. I had no idea what it was. After some google searc hing I determined in was a Silver Fox. I had never seen one before. It so happens that they are rare and they do not live long, two or three years. They are also unique in that they climbv trees and can be found sleeping in trees. Anyhow, yesterday I was in Carthage  playing guitar for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Carthage Area Hospital. I was finished and on my way home and decided to stop at the liquor store in Carthage. It was 7:30PM. I was about to get out of the van when a Silver Fox creaped out of the brush. I grabbed my camera and made these photos. What a beautiful, healthy looking creature.

Silver Fox photographed in Carthage, NY, Nikon D4 with 70-200mm f2.8 lens                  photo by gary walts

Saturday, June 6, 2015

NY Army National Guard Military Police training at Fort Drum NY

Military Police train at Fort Drum NY. This is simulation of a mortar attack on their detainee holding facility. 

Yesterday I spent the morning at Fort Drum, NY, home of the US Army's 10th Mountain Division. I was there photographing NY Army National Guard military police training. They were in a mock up of a small Iraq village where they were holding detainees and HVTs. HVTs are High Value Targets. Anyhow, you can see all of the pictures by viewing my photo gallery at syracuse.com

MP's at Fort Drum portray the "bad guys" during training in a mock Iraq village. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

I have problems... but they are not that big a deal

I have problems. But who doesn't? One's life is full of problems. They appear they disappear. Some linger for a long time. For years. Some are solved or resolved quickly. My current problems are not huge. In fact they all revolve around my current state of mind. My psyche. I am not doing things these past few months with the vim, vigor, and enthusiasm as I usually do. For example, I have pretty much been absent on Face Book. My ads for wedding photography and  guitar lessons on Craig's list have been almost non existent. My blog posts have almost stopped. Doing projects around the house have been slow to get off the ground. They are taking me longer to finish. Overall it's the enthusiasm for every day life that has been lacking.

There is a reason for it and I think it goes back to October 2014 to the death of my brother Thomas. When people close to us die it has an effect upon us. I am still riding the storm out in my mind. The passage of time is what helps. Distance. Life continues relentlessly for the living after an event like that occurs. Things happen to push the event backward in your mind.  For instance, my sister C in Arizona had her house vandalized a few weeks ago.  It was a very traumatic experience for her. Back in October Thomas' death was a traumatic event. I have not spoken to her specifically about this, but let us assume that Tom's death has been on her mind for all this time. Slowly taking a back seat, but still there. An event like have her house broken into and vandalized  most certainly gives her a new event to focus on. Pushing Tom further back in her mind. Her memory. Which is where it should go.

For me a good friend of mine, Larry, died on May 12th. His death now occupies my thoughts more than those thoughts of  brother Thomas. But that's not exactly a welcome thing. I would rather  have Larry still around and rather have Thomas still around. In fact, having two people close to me die in a 7 month or so period is a bummer. Add to that the store I was teaching guitar at for the past 5 years closed and with it a most pleasant chapter in my life.

But here is what I know:  Sooner or later my psyche will be back to normal. In fact it's all ready occurring because I am taking time out to write all of this and post it to this blog.

My father's death at age 56 was particularly traumatic. for those who do not know I will tell you straight out that he committed suicide. He shot himself in the head on a hot August afternoon. It took me 10 years to be able to acknowledge that and talk about it. Some 6 months or more after he died I was talking to a friend about some trouble I was having. This person knew my father and how he died. Anyway, the crux of it was this person told me I was still in shock over Dad's death. I thought that was ridiculous. Months had passed. In fact I never thought I was in shock at all. Then one afternoon I was sitting in my car and a feeling passed over me. A feeling of lightness. It suddenly seemed as if the Sun got brighter. A few minutes later another wave seemed to wash over me and I felt lighter. The day seemed brighter. Wave after wave began washing over me. I have done a lot of scuba diving in my life and I can compare it to swimming to the surface of the St. Lawrence River after being to a depth of 100 feet. At that depth it is dark. You can still see, but it's much darker that the surface. But that's what it felt like. I was rising from a great depth that I had no idea I was in. Suddenly I realized my friend was right. I had been in shock for all those many months. (Is it shock or depression?) Doesn't matter. Anyhow, I know this feeling will pass. I have been swimming in some great depths but am slowly rising to the surface.

I love you all out there. I love God. I love my family. Just the act of writing this makes me appreciate my life so much I could almost weep with joy.