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.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Notes from visiting mom at hospice: she is very emotional

Last night, December 13,  I was visiting my mother hospice. It was interesting and sad. During the 3 hour visit she went through a string of emotions. At this point she seems out of touch with reality at times.
First thing I put my hand on her head ands barked at me saying "Keep your hands off me! "

"You know why. All you do is lie to me like everybody else."

She proceeded to admonish me for being a conspirator and lying to her about everything. Eventually she focused on other topics. She began talking abut the "farm" and other odd things. She wanted to know who's truck was parked in the driveway. She asked me if the LaBrie's ( a neighboring farm family) where moving into her house. Then she wanted to know where my father was. Why hadn't she seen him for so long.  I carefully reminded her that the passed away a number years ago. She looked at me with disgust and said, "That is just more lies. Want to know where he is and all you people can do is lie to me."

Eventually she became sad. I told her I had to leave and go home but I would be back. Withtears rolling don her cheeks she said I had better return because she didn't want to be alone. "Why don't you go upstairs and get some blankets and sleep on th couch," she asked.  "Or go upstairs, get some blankets and you can stay upstairs and go to bed. Or you can sleep on the couch."

She went on to say she didn't understand what she did to deserve such treatment and that what ever it was she was really sorry for it, all the while weeping. I told her everything was going to be ok. "My heart is breaking," she said, "and I don't know what to do about it. There is know one I can turn to for help, no one I can truly trust."  It was killing me to see her so sad and helpless.

What she really would like is to go home. I think that is what bothers her the most. A week torso earlier the Better Half and I were with her when she went through similar sad spell. In that one she expressed her desire to go home and she didn't seem to understand where she was. To that she said, " I know if I just stay here in one place eventually Ronnie will find me."

To see her feeling helpless is is tough.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My mother is in her final days

The following are some random notes I jotted down a month or so ago after my mother was admitted to the hospital. She is 85 years old.

My mother surrounded by myself and other family members on Mother's Day, 2012.   

So it appears my mother is in her final days. Unlike my father who had a switch ready to flip to end his life my mother lingers, drifting in slow motion down the River Styx toward her demise. If she had the life ending switch to flip she is not, at the moment, ready to flip it.

There is a small creek that runs behind the house I grew up in, the house that's been my mother's home for 64 years. My siblings and I would play along the edged of that creek against our mother's wishes. Though it was only a foot or two deep, depending upon the season, I suppose she feared one of us might accidentally drown, especially when we were very young. Inevitably she would catch us playing there and we would be scolded in some fashion. But where we played along the banks was hidden from view of the house, obscured by trees and brush. We were mystified how she knew we were there. We determined she must have some sort of extra sensory power, one that she obtained by drinking from the dark stream.

I remember once when it was early Winter and there was a sheet of ice over the creek and I went down there to throw rocks on it, shattering the ice like glass. It was great fun. One rock after another. The stream was quite shallow at the time. The larger rocks crash through the ice and sent up great splashes of mud. One of those eruptions sent a large frog into the air along with the mud. The creature was stiff with its legs extended. It was strange and weird. The poor Devil must have been hibernating in the mud.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Target store has the best Birthday cards

 The best birthday card for a beer drinker:

Birthday card for a beer lover, complete with doozie and a fun song. Purchased at Target.
For a few years now I have been buying birthday cards at the Target store in Wateown, NY. Target has the best selection of cards. Today is my brother R's 61st birthday so I went Target to find the perfect card. It didn't take long. R likes his beer and this card was perfect. For $10.99 it came with a musical koozie, you know, those sleeves that go over your beer can or bottle to keep them colder longer.  Press a button and a neat, fun beer song is played.

Play this video to hear the koozie song:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunset photo made with SONY a6000 camera and 500mm Minolta AF lens

Sunset, Chaumont, NY. Sony a6000 camera, Minolta 500mm f8 mirror lens iso3200, 1/250th sec. f8  photo by Gary Walts

I snapped this sunset photo in Chaumont, NY a few days ago. I took it with a SONY a6000 camera and a Minolta 500mm f8 auto focus mirror lens. I have owned the lens for many years. It is one of a number of great AF lenses  I have for my Minolta AF film cameras. Since the digital era arrived I had not used any of those lenses. The company I worked for provided me with digital Nikon cameras & lenses so I never bothered with getting a Minolta or SONY digital body that would accommodate those lenses.

Sony makes 2 lines of cameras. One uses the Minolta lens mount so that all the old Minolta AF ;geneses can be used with them. The there series of cameras utilize Sony's E mount lenses. I have been torn about which camera to buy. I settled on the Sony a6000 E mount camera. I got a terrific buy on it. With it I purchased the LA-EA4 adapter that allows the use of the Minolta lenses on the E mount cameras. That is what I used to attach the 500mm lens to the a6000. I have been having pretty good results with it.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Photos of 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY September 2, 2017

My creation for the 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival at Frink Park in Clayton, NY.   Gary Walts photo
The 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival in Clayton, NY took place yesterday, September 2, 2017. I was invited by organizer Karen Lago to be one of the artists who would be vying for a $100.00 prize. I was going to decline the invite because I really am not that much of an artist and I have never worked with chalk on a sidewalk before. However, I never got around to declining so the day arrived and I went on over. Turns out that I had great fun. I really enjoyed it and the weather was beautiful to. I drew a sunset or sunrise, however you wish to lookout it. Kenny Knapp took home the hundred dollar bill for his depiction of a river sunset.

Te Better Half's grand kids G & A had stayed over night Friday so they here with us Saturday morning, and went to the festival too. The event was open to kids of all ages, also with prizes.

The photos here were all snapped with an iPhone 6s.

About 50+ people, kids of all ages and invited artists, participated in the sidewalk art festival, Clayton, NY.   Gary Walts photo
4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts
Artists Ken Knapp & Will Salisbury at 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017     photo by Gary Walts

Artists Will Salisbury at 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                     photo by Gary Walts

4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts

My work in progress at the 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017           photo by Gary Walts

Me at work at the 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017   

The Better Half's grand kids G & A creating their art at the 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts                                              

4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts

4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts

4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts

4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts

4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts

4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017                                                      photo by Gary Walts

Artist Will Salisbury's creation at the 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017        photo by Gary Walts

Artist Greg Lago's creation at the 4th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, Clayton, NY 2017       photo by Gary Walts

Friday, August 11, 2017

Legendary North Country SCUBA diver Moe Hunt passes away

Moe Hunt was a legendary figure in northern NY. He was a scuba diver, scuba instructor, commercial diver. He grew up with my father on the north side neighborhood of Watertown, NY. From the time I was 18 until my early thirties Moe and I became and remained close friends. He was a profound influence in my life. The following are some quick notes about him that I jotted down a couple days ago. They are notes, not finished, polished memoirs. I also am linking to his obituary that appeared in the Waterown Daily Times.

Moe Hunt, legendary North Country scuba diver. I snapped this photo of him a few years. He was probably 80 or 81 years old. He was a great man. 

So here are some quick notes / thoughts I had about Moe:

 I spent a lot of time with Moe over the years. Moe always encouraged me to go after my dreams, to do what ever I wanted. When Was 18 I didn’t know how to swim and was basically afraid of the water.  I used to tell people I was afraid of the deep end of the bath tub. Moe helped me confront that fear and overcome it. Over the next many years we went scuba diving together a countless number of times. Every spring as the ice started to break up he and I would make a dive, usually in Clayton. I often helped him out with his diving classes. I went with him on many commercial dive jobs. Off the job Moe was a great guy and a lot of fun. On the job though, he was a different person. He was all business. He worked hard and had zero patience with the people working for him. Those were the times when I saw just how rugged and tough he was. Diving for long hours n cold water, lugging heavy equipment to a job site, often through the woods to a remote power dam. 

When a logging truck in Port Leyden area tipped over into the river and wiped out a bridge Moe was called in to salvage it. He worked around the clock with little or no sleep. I mean that. We started in the morning and at 3:00am he was still at it, in and out of the water, cutting metal, attaching cables to the wreckage and on and on. His stamina, drive and endurance put much younger men to shame. He took his work seriously. On such occasions he was often blunt, direct and rude to those working for him. Those of us close to him took it in stride. But one particular day he barked at me when I was not in the mood for it and I flipped him the bird and told him where to go. He was startled by that. Later he he told me what I already knew, that I wasn’t to take it personally. He said that every time he was underwater his life was in danger and he was very aware of it. That’s why he didn’t fool around and wouldn’t tolerate any carelessness. 

Off the job he was a kind and humorous man. He always had a joke ready for any situation. We were at the famers market a couple years ago when Moe stopped to talk to a soldier in uniform. His last name was Smith. After telling the soldier about his military experience in the Korean War and some other small talk Moe asked him, “Do you know why there are so many Smith’s in the phone book?” The soldier shook his head and said ”No.”  Moe replied, “Because they all have telephones.”

Moe liked to eat and he picked up every tab at every eatery we ever attended.  After he “retired” I would often meet Moe somewhere to eat. Like most of us he had some favorite TV shows. One day when I called to ask him if he would like to go out and eat somewhere he said, “ No problem, but I can’t go until after I watch Judge Judy.”  

One of my favorite quotes from Moe was “ You have got to go out and make it happen.”  I heard that first when I  was a young kid fresh out of school and didn’t know how to make anything happen.  No matter what it was I was thinking about he said “You can do it.” You can’t wait for other people, you have to “Go out there and make it happen,”  And that’s what I have done ever since. 

I retire. Gary Walts says farewell to the Post-Standard & Syracuse.com

Well, after almost 32 years I have decide to retire from The Post-Standard newspaper and their web site Syracuse.com.  In recent years the company has changed their business model and in the course of it has been going through a series of changes. Recently the company offered an incentive for employees with 25+ years of service to retire. The offer was custom tailored to my situation, so, I accepted. A month earlier it was the furthest thing from my mind. I am very busy. I love music and the guitar. I teach guitar and like to play gigs. My first love is photography so I will continue to do that, photographing what I choose as opposed to fulfilling assignments. I am also a land lord with a couple of rental properties. I live in an old house and welcome the time to finish up a number of projects and improvements to it. Here is a link to some of the photos I've made over the years for the company. It is a mere fraction of the number of subjects and situations I have covered.

Myself and some fellow Post-Standard photographers. Left to right are Dennis Nett, Ellen Black, Steve Cannerrelli, myself (Gary Walts) ad Mike Greenlar.  Ellen, Stev, and I accepted a buy out offer from the company. Photo was snapped on the roof top of ouroffces at 220 South Warren St., Syracuse, NY

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Red Wing Blackbird song video

The Red Wing Blackbird song is my favorite of the birds in our area.
Red-winged blackbird at Krings Point State Park    photo by Gary Walts
While the arrival of the Robin is a harbinger of spring here in northern NY, the Red Wing's song is the audio equivalent to me.
Actually, the bird is called a Red-winged Blackbird. I made this video at Kring Point State Park in Alexandria Bay. It is the closest I have ever gotten to one of these birds. I made the video with a Nikon D7000 camera. I didn't have a tripod with me so it was hand held, not easy to do with a telephoto lens. The lens was a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8.