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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 305: New Years Eve

There is less than 45 minutes left of 2010 here in Chaumont, NY. Had a busy day. The free lunch I have been providing a loved one for a number of years is about to end. A New Years resolution. Goodbye home, rent free home, in Winter Haven. The writing is on the wall and he doesn't even know it. Much to talk about, too tired. I await the dropping of the ball in Times Square, NY, and then I photograph a wedding tomorrow, Jan 1, 2011, in Syracuse, NY.

The photo here is from a wedding I photographed this Summer.

Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 304: Hey There Delilah

For whatever reason, I have not paid a lot of attention to contemporary pop music. But I really do like this tune by Plain White T's:  Hey There Delilah. You must sit through a short advertisement before the song starts.  I plan to work up a solo guitar arrangement of this piece. Thanks to Brother Bruce.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 303:

Today is Wenesday. It is a gray day and warmer here than in recent weeks. Supposedly it will reach near 50 degrees this weekend. Probably accompanied by rai. That suits me OK for nwo because Saturday, January First, New Years Day, I am photographing a wedding in Syracuse. I would rather make that drive in rain and warmer temps than to be caught up in lake effect snow.

A misty, foggy morning on RT 12E between Chaumont & Limerick, NY, a few weeks ago.

Swedish Proverb:
Those who wish to sing, always find a song.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 301: Another Brick Wall

Day 300: Winter Grilling

I am at left, nephew Tim in middle, and celebrity brother Al at right at my home in Chaumont, NY.

In 65 days it will be one year since I began this blog. What's the point? I do not know. yesterday was windy and cold. Here in the North Country we don't put the grill away for the Winter. Well, at least I don't. In fact, grilling in the cold is a fun adventure. So, the day after Christmas my celebrity brother, his son, and I grilled some jerk chicken wings. They took longer to cook than in the Summer because of the cold and wind. But it was fun hanging out by the grill drinking a few beers. The beers bacame slushy near the end. Then we went inside and ate the wings with potato salad. Later we had some great apple crisp.

Jerked chicken wings on the Brinkman All In One grill

My grill of choice for this particular dish is my Brinkman All-in-One grill. I liked it so much I bought a second one. The wings are marinated for a day or more, (I've let them marinade for 4 days before) and then grilled over charcoal and smoked with whole allspice berries.
The jerk marinade is a Jamaican recipe made with Habanero peppers, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, onions, salt, some vegetable oil, all blended together in a blender.

Here is a video about jerk marinade. Go to youtube to find many more vids. As with all recipes there are hundreds of permutations and varying amounts of ingredients, and ingredient quantities. I hate to share my exact recipe, but it I will say it comes from a published cook book. I tried it and liked it, so never tried another one. 

photos by Gary Walts

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day 299: Sony WSC-350 Test Shots

The panarama mode. Easy to use feature. Pan the camera slowly from left to right & the camera creates the image.

It is 12 degrees, grey, with a light snow falling in Chaumont, NY on this day after Christmas. Santa Clause came and went and we all had a nice day. The photos here were some quick snaps to test the Better Half's new Sony WSC-350 digital camera.

Our Christmas tree made with out the flash.

Here is a detail cropped from the previous photo. There is some motion blur caused by the slow shutter needed for the non-flash exposure.

Otherwise, it is slow to motivate today. Off to visit my son later, and then: Grilling some jerk chicken wings out in the snow! Gotta love living in the North Country. More later.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 298: Merry Christmas

A crispy 12 degrees here in Chaumont, NY on Christmas morning. The Better Half & I exchanged gifts allready, and are preparing for visitors later in the day. I got the BH a Sony DSC-W350 digital point and shoot camera. It is her first non-film camera. It also shoots HD video clips. The battery is in the charger and we hope to test the camera out soon.

It was a few days after Christmas in 2004, late afternoon and I was just getting home from a long day of driving and photographing for the Post-Standard. The house, yard, driveway were blanketed in fresh snow. There was some great afternoon light and my home looked like a Christmas card. Though I was hungry, tired, and discouraged at the prospect of shovelling all that snow, the scene befor me was a delight. The scene was truly a gift, a reward at the end of a long, stressful day. The next year I used it for a Christmas card which I sent to everyone. This year  I dragged it out of my digital archive to present here. I hope you all are having wonderful Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 297: Christmas Eve

Well the Sun came out today here in the North Country. That is always refreshing. It is Christmas Eve. The photo here was taken on a Christmas Eve a number of years ago at Calcium Community Church. It was a colder evening than most that year. I forget exactly how cold, but it was well below zero. Consequently the sky was clear and the sky was simply ablaze with stars. The service was nice in that little church and finished the entire congregation holding candles and singing Silent Night. I remember not wanting to create any distraction, so I quickly got out of my pew and snapped two shots of this youg boy. The first one was blurry, the 2nd one was acceptable.

This past Wednesday we finished the custom cabinet job. That thing took way longer than I anticipated. But, the payment for that sure came in handy. Especially since I have a family member who is also a tenant of mine and for some reason refuses to pay his rent. In eight months I have gotten a total of $500.00 from him. His rent, for a two bedroom house in Florida is a paltry $400.00 a month. If it were anyone else he would have been long gone. The new year will come and I will be addressing this matter once and for all. The cabinet job saved my financial day. Now I face January on the horizon. Fortunately I have a wedding job on the books. That alone should help me meet all of my bills. If my dead beat tenant would pay up , just a months rent, that would for sure allow me to meet all of my obligations.

How about this: Who wants to spend $90.00 bucks on a car battery a week before Christmas? I don't, but I did. That was an unexpected purchase. Now, a couple of years ago that wouldn't have bothered me so much. But, as I have mentioned before, my job hours were cut in half 23 months ago. I did not realize at the time just how slow it would be to hustle up weddings and other side work to make up for that. But I have been managing. The fact is, I don't really have a money problem as much as I have a debt problem. I have been doing well chiselling away at that debt.
For instance, in January of 2009 one debt was $11,000.00. In 23 months I have paid it down to $3,800.00.
Five years ago this February I bought an apartment house. I finaced it for five years. Let me tell you, that made for a LARGE payment. This February it will be paid off. At the time I bought that place I borrowed an additional 12 grand from my 401K. That loan will be paid off in May. So, soon I will be in pretty fine fettle. But man, oh, man, it has been a lot of work.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 293:

It was 23 degrees this morning in Chaumont, NY. Had a Christmas party at my mother's home yesterday. Then watched the finale of Survivor. This evening I have to photograph high school basketball.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 290: Stop Lights

So it has been in the 20+ degrees here in the North Country today. Went to buy a pair of snow tires, P205/75R14 is the size. Nobody has them in stock. Sam's club was out and said they could order them. Sears had none. A third, locally owned tire store, said the size was "An old tire size." What the hell is that supposed to mean?
They are for a 1999 Dodge Caravan. Every where you look you see these vehicles. There must be millions of them on the road. I have owned four Caravans and they all have ( or had) P205/75R14 tires.

The photo here is one that caught my eye as I sat at the red light in downtown Syracuse. I grabbed the just just a moment befor the light turned green. I was struck by the red light contrasted against the muted, greyish colors of the Winter day.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 289:

Trying to wrap up a cabinet building job that my Son & I took on. We thought it would take a couple of days. It's abeen about 14 days. Yikes!
Last Sturday I reported on this project and said we would be finished on Monday, and if not, for sure on Tuesday. Well, today is Thursday. It is one of those jobs that just will not end.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 287: About Sleep

Let me tell you about my relationship with sleep. I hate to go to bed at night. I hate to sleep in in the morning. I cannot stand being tired. So, in my perfect World, I get to bed by 10:00PM and arise at 5:30 - 6:00Am. Somewhere around there. And that has worked wonderfully for me for a few years. Then, a few months ago my routine was upset. I now must work evenings for the Post-Standard at least a couple of nights a week. That means I do not start driving home until 11:00pm. That is past my ideal bed time!!!! Consequently I do not get up at my favored time. So that impacts my guitar time. You see, I like to practice guitar from about 6:00 to 8:00 or 9:00am. Then I take on the day. The night shift throws me off schedule. Then I have a couple of days off and get rested up and back on schedule, only to have it disrupted a couple of days later.

It is because of this that I am writing this blog entry at midnight!. I should be in bed. I am getting tired of this routine.

I love the guitar. It keeps my sanity intact. It is an artistic challenge. I have not conquered music the way I have photography. I do not like things interfering with it. I require a constant challenge in my life. Music, via guitar, provides that challenge.
At the same time I must say that I Love my life and I thank God for it. But, hopefully with God's help, the changes I seek will come to fruition. I say all of this at the conclusion of a truly stressfull day, fueled by a bottle of Rex - Goliath merlot from California.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 286: Snow Bird

6:30am the temperature in Chaumont NY was 30 degrees. Six hours later we are at 18 degrees. There is a lake effect snow warning in the Syracuse area. I have to go there later today and photograph a high school basketball game. Winter has really set in.

The photo here was actually taken a few years ago. I was pulling into a drive through at the McDonald's in Pulaski, NY, during a snowfall and spotted this bird. The fence surrounded the restaurant's garbage dumpster. So, I roll down the passenger side window and shot away.

Today I offer up a quote from the great gutarist Andres Segovia, "I have had three wives and three guitars. I still play the guitars."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 285: Ho, Ho, Ho

It is rainy and 32 degrees here in Chaumont, NY, thirteen days before Christmas. I would rather have snow than rain. Snow accumulates upon things, such as the wood pile. One need only brush the snow away and carry the wood inside. When it's rainy, some of the wood tends to get wet. You see, my wood pile is nicely stacked, but covered with a mish mash of tarps and tar paper. If it gets extremely windy with the rain, then the tarp blows up or off, or part way off, or whatever. The rain gets at it and partially soaks the wood. Then it must dry indoors before it goes into the wood stove. The wood simply stays drier when it snows.

This photo of Santa was made at a volunteer fire dept in Lacona, NY. Lacona is a small town in northern NY probably 40 miles or so from where I live.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 284: Cabinet Job

So I have been absent from here for three days. I must say that we have been having some real Winter weather in out region. Colder than what we have been accustomed to in recent Decembers. The last 3 or 4 days it was only 8 degrees in the morning. However, tis morning started out close to 30 degrees. But this is weather that we associate with the Christmas Season, especially the Christmases of our youth.
I have been absent here mostly because I have been working some extra jobs, trying to keep afloat, as it were. My son is a cabinet maker. He picked up a side job ( in the photo world my side jobs are referred to as freelance jobs), building some cabinets & and counters for a new convenience store. For those who live near here you may know of Murray's Hardware store on US RT11. It is on the Northern edge of the city of Watertown, about three miles from Margaritaville. Margaritaville? More on that another day. Anyhow, Murray went out of business and someone bought his building and is changing it into a convenience store with a cafe or donut shop area and a large walk in cooler that supposedly will also sell kegs of beer. Well, it is this former hardware store that we are working in. Yesterday and today we spent about twelve hours on the project. Today also happens to be our 11th day on the job. Much longer than we initally anticipated. But we are on the down hill stretch and hope to be completed by Monday. For sure on Tuesday

So now it is close to midnight & I must go to bed. This freelance cabinet job I took on because I need the cash. This month has been bleak as far as extra freelance work goes. On thye flip side it robs me of my time. My guitar practice suffers. Chores around the house go undone. The blog gets neglected. Tomorrow though, the Better Half & I are going to get out Christmas Tree. Much later than we normally get it. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Good night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 280: The Conversation (A Test)

Well, you have no choice but to go. To leave. Immediately!

To what avail? For what purpose? Am I to risk my life and limb for ALL of that, in weather like this? I don't think so.

Weather!  ... WEATHER!!  ...  Is that your only concern?  WEATHER?

Now listen here ....

No! YOU listen here! You are going. End of discussion.


No buts. The World is out there, not in here. There is music. There is Love. There is mystery and intrigue.

Well, I'm not driving all over God's creation in the condition this World is in. Not in this weather anyway. Don't you realize men are trapped in mines out there? Deep underground. I don't want any of that.

Don't worry about it. Sometimes they get out. They escape.

Yea? How about the gang wars? The politics? The polar ice caps? I could go on and on.

To hell with it then. Don't go. End of story.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 279: Christmas Tree Art

It was 18 degrees F at my home in Chaumont, NY this morning when I arose at 7:00. Would much rather have gotten upo at 6:00. But I manged close to two hours on the guitar. Just befor the better Half left for work I went out to sweep thye snow off her car. I also swept away the snow on the lawn leading to her car. (Well, it's a minivan). Anyhow, as I tuned to go back into the house I noticed the pattern in the snow created by nthe strokes of the broom. It remined me of a Christmas tree. So, I take the broom and sweep out some snow in the front yard to create an image of a Christmas Tree. The green grass beneath the snow adds to the overall effect. Today's lesson: Inspiration strikes at unlikely moments. Be ready to take advantage of it.

Now I am off to Syracuse to work for the Post-Standard newspaper. I woinder what is in store for me there?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 277: I Play Guitar Video

So today was a pretty good day. Went to the Thousand Islands Arts Center store in Clayton and played guitar for a couple of hours. Today there were village wide events in all of the shops and churches and the like. Cookie sales, a parade this evening. A festive place today. I did some pretty good playing. The video posted here was filmed at my house in Chaumont, NY. It's not too bad I suppose, but first thing I dislike are the string squeaks caused by left hand fingers sliding on the bass strings. The sound much more pronounced to my ear in the video than they did as I recorded it. So that is something I need to work on. All one needs do is to lift the fingers completely off the string during a chord change. Howevre, that is easier said than done. It requires careful, slow practice. Repition. That is the key to guitar playing, and I suppose to all instruments.
The piece is While My Guitar Gently Weeps, writen by George Harrison when the Beatles were still together. The arrangement is by Larry Beekman . Larry has several good books of music for classical guitar. His Beatles book is still in print and his latest is Enya arranged for clssical guitar. Sadly, a couple of other books of his are no longer available, including his neil Diamond songs for classical guitar.
Larry's Beatles book is an excellent book for intermediate players and great for players who are out "there" doing gigs and in need of tasty, yet playable popular pieces for their repertoir.

"Nothing is more beautiful than the sound of the guitar." Frederick Chopin

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 276: Frosty Tree

It was a great morning this morning. At least from a visual stand point. You may recognize this tree because I posted a photo of it here this Fall. I drive by this tree frequently, always meant to photograph it. It seems as though I am always en-route to somewhere when I am passing by, so for years I have not been photographing it. This morning I felt I was behind schedule and drove past the scene. Then I stopped, turned around and photographed it. It Didn't take long. I cannot believe that I almost blew it off. This is a visual gift presented to my eyes from, who else? God? To see it and not take the time to photograph it is, for a person like me, a waste of talent. I heard comedian Red Skelton (July 18, 1913 – September 17, 1997) say that your talent is a gift from God. Using that talent is your gift TO God.
Anyway, I'm happy to have seen this scene because it turns out to be the high point of the day. Hours later I got a couple of traffic tickets. What a bummer. So one end of the day gives you a high, the other end a low, and so it all balances out.
Here is the photo from the Fall, published here 66 days ago: