Monday, October 10, 2016


I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  I suddenly could relive my Precious Years of Memories anytime, any place.  

Let me explain.

It started with the Days of Yore, 1981 and before. 
Then I went to Precious Years of Memories, 1982-84.  

I added Precious Years of Memories, 1985-90.

This was my life in pictures from the time i was about 10 until I was 35.  


I may not be particular about a lot of things.  Those who know me know that I am fairly flexible and bend in a lot of different directions on just about everything.

But when it comes to family history in photographs… I do not yield.

I was recently introduced to a company called FOREVER.  They venture to live up to their name.  They keep your family’s important photographic history safe forever.  Come what may, they say.  They will keep it safe. 

Initially I was not impressed.   So what?  I am pretty technically savvy.  I back up my photos on three sources.  I recently have had all my old VHS tapes, cassette tapes, slides, negatives and photos digitized.  (I spent a small fortune doing it.)  And it was important to me.  And I would guess that it is important to you, too!?

So I wasn’t impressed.  But then I learned that the company has a trust to tuck away funds to always be able to convert and return your important family stories back to you!  Read all about it RIGHT HERE.    Scroll down past the cost  to the important stuff.

I was all in.  Now, let me tell you my FOREVER story, since now I am an AMBASSADOR.

I decided to have my traditional albums digitized because when I signed on as an Ambassador to FOREVER, I received a $50 gift coupon to have digitizing done… who can pass that up?

I purchased an album box for $150 (and had another $25 off coupon for Ambassadors to use toward the scrapbooking software and content) so I really got the box for $125.  Oh and I must not forget to mention that I will be paid commission on that “sale”!  

Well, this album box I placed the pages from three albums, minus their page covers.  I sealed it up and used the prepaid Federal Express label that came with the box.  I marched it down the block to my Fed-Ex drop off point.  

Three weeks later I had the most wonderful e-mail stating that my project was in my LIBRARY.  We were traveling at the time and I was able to see my wonderful pages on my FOREVER APP.  

As I looked through my pages, zooming in on the photos and journaling…  I cannot tell you how it made me feel.

“My goodness, that granddude looks just like his Daddy did at 14 months!”  (I had forgotten.)

“It was a cold Christmas in South Georgia that year!”  (We had to wear our coats in the house!)

“It must have been a Friday.  I could tell by what I’d made for breakfast.”  (Reliving my daily routine that I thought would never end, until it finally did…. FOREVER.)


These few memories would always be there for my future generations.  No matter if there was flood or fire, they’d be there.  I can now rest easy.  


Friday, September 23, 2016

Land of a Thousand [Dances] [Lakes] Islands

We are visiting a place we never knew existed.  You see, we grew up in the South and in the South you don’t know (or care) about any places up North.  

However, there is such a place, in New York, no less, called Thousand Islands.  It's a Region.  

When I was a teenager, we talked on the phone.  That’s what teenagers did in the 60’s and 70’s.  (And the 80’s).  There was no e-mail, i-message or text messaging.  We actually communicated via the telephone.  And to miss a call… well that could be crucial to your social development.    

While sometimes away from that land line (or home), I would always assume my Daddy would be taking messages for me.

“Did anyone call me, Daddy?”

“Yep.”   (My dad was a man of few words.)

“So.  Who was it?”

“Somebody.  Told them you was at Thousand Islands and was gonna spend a week on each Island.”

“Really, Daddy?  Who was it?”

“I just told you.”  And that was that.

So, of course, I never knew who called.  In addition, I thought Thousand Island was a place my Daddy made up.  Right?

I‘ve learned that my Daddy was so much smarter than I ever imagined.  He knew there was such a place.  Thousand Islands.

Now, being here,  I only wish I had really been there when he told that person I was there when they called!

This part of the country is beautiful this time of year (September).  Though it may be the shoulder tourist season, and lots of things are closed (or diminished) already for winter, we are enjoying the weather.  We also are loving these little tiny communities that we are stumbling across.  Houses of all sizes line the St. Lawrence River.  I don't believe there are strict covenants and restrictions here.  Everyone seems to take care of their places and the ones we have seen are all well groomed and manicured.  We saw mansions from yonder years, once glorious but now struggling to “stay alive”.  These mansions are housed their own little island.  We even visited Bondt Castle, the biggest tourist trap you’d ever see, but even THAT house has much class and has been well-loved. 

On the banks of the St. Lawrence River
near Rockport, Ontario, the statues is seen
only from the water.  St. Lawrence holds
the Bible in one hand and a gridiron over
which he is said to have been roasted.
Bondt Castle Welcome

The line is drawn.  Left island is Canadian
and Right Island is American.
The SLR is our first taste of the Thousand islands.  (But they tell us that there are over 1.800 islands in this place called Thousand Islands).  

We crossed over the Thousand Islands Bridge and got a taste — eh? — of Canada. There’s a tower there…(of course) the Thousand Islands Tower.  If you climb up the spiral staircase, you can see all the islands, we were told.  (There is also an elevator).  Only it was raining the day we were there so we didn’t bother because you really need a clear day.  
They tell us the area is in drought.  The River is way down.  But it is so clear and pristine!  We are betting it is cold, though we are told it is pretty warm for this time of year… 75 degrees.  The sky is crystal clear and sun is perfectly warm.  A great time to visit.  Except when it is rainy.  Then the temp drops 20 degrees and you can only imagine what winter must be like here.

Ever wonder where Thousand Island Dressing originated?  Yep.  You guessed it.  Right here in the Thousand Islands region.  And you didn't even have to GOOGLE it.

This place has been the summer homes for so many people for so many years.  We’ve seen overnight trailer parks, permanent trailer parks, small little batches on the edge of the water, regular sized homes and million-dollar mansions.  We, from the south, can liken all this to the FLORIDA that we know.  The only difference is... People are nice to you here.  

It’s a great place to visit.  

But I wouldn’t wanna live here. 

Friday, September 16, 2016


I really must be getting old.  I never thought I’d ever be saying this… but it is too hot for the beach in the summertime.  It is nice to be 20 degrees cooler when the City is about 100 degrees... so we head for the hills!

I remember visiting mountain destinations as a child.  Maggie Valley (Ghost Town in the Sky) and Cherokee, N.C. were two destinations my parents enjoyed with friends of the family.  As I recall, we would drive straight through to get to cooler climates. 

Hubs really likes to do the hiking.  The hikes are more and more challenging each year for me.  This year’s mountain visit holds the records for NO Hikes taken.   By me.   I had all sorts of excuses.  “Looks like rain!”  “The trails are really slippery.”  “Ah, Man!  That trail that I wanted to do last time washed away in the heavy rainfall they had last year and they have closed it off!”  This year the Hubs ventured out on a short hike on his own, claims he got lost and I was frantic!  (I think he just wanted to be away from me.  He always did like to commune with nature.)

We do spend some time in the car driving to scenic viewpoints that will take your breath away. We love to get the breezes that go along with that scenery even if you can’t (won’t) do the hiking anymore.

Retro Signs excite me!
The Blue Ridge Parkway is our favorite destination and is a great source of scenery.  We discovered it a few years back, tasting a little bit during a jaunt with our friends who have a second home in smalltown, Virginia.  We both agreed we’d like to see more of it.  We first planned a trip in April and May, thinking we’d get to see lots of spring flowers.  

It was too early for spring.  Spring happens more like May and June.  We started in Cherokee, N.C. and journeyed all the way to the Shenandoah Parkway in Virginia to extend our scenic views.  On the Shenandoah Parkway we got to experience snowfall; or I should say “snowfell.”  There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground but the roads were clear.  It had snowed a few days prior to our arrival.  But the skies were crystal clear and blue.  I understand why Mountain Men will never give up Mountain Women.

A few years following, and every now and again, we long to taste the mountain air and so we plan a couple of weeks on the parkway, exploring sections we’ve not yet seen.  One of our favorite places to go is Mt. Pisgah Inn in North Carolina.  It is the only inn actually on the parkway in North Carolina.
Mt. Pisgah - The Peak of the Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an untouched gem in the south that I hope (and pray) will be preserved by the National Park Service for many generations to follow.  And I just pray my grandchildren will be able to enjoy the views and the cool air away from the Cities (from wherever they hail) that their Granddad and I have enjoyed so, so much!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monkeys in the Far East

Singing a song in Thailand
I got an opportunity to shoot some monkeys last Christmas holidays.  We traveled from Sydney, Australia to Singapore.  After that it was up and around some of the amazing Far Eastern destinations I had only dreamed of.  Indonesia and Thailand offered many “monkey shows”.  These monkeys were trained to do various tasks:  retrieve coconuts, sword fight, eat with a spoon, count (well, not so well) and even [appear to] sing with a microphone.  These poor little monkeys were so unpredictable the trainers had them tied to their feet. 

I was looking for more interaction with the monkeys.  

I really considered being a volunteer when they called for volunteers to have their wrists tied together with a rope and allow the “Baby Monkey, 2 years old” to untie the knot.  I was glad I did not volunteer.  Seems the Baby Monkey’s attention span was short; he climbed all over your head and neck and around your shoulder and back.

The main reason I decided not to volunteer was because they brought the antibacterial gel with them into the audience.  A dead giveaway.

Upon the conclusion of the show and for only $200 US (and a small tip for the monkey) you could have your picture made with Baby Monkey and receive a souvenir-Thailand-wood-framed rendition of your monkey experience.  The Hubs looked at me and said, “No.”  (I didn’t even ask!)

I did get to shoot these monkeys.  Best of all, these weren’t the only monkeys I got to shoot.

My favorite shots on this trip was from a random spotting.  Upon second thought, maybe they weren’t so random in the spotting; I am positive the driver knew they were there.  While touring the island of Sihanoukville, Cambodia by tuk-tuk we spotted a small troop of gray spider monkeys by the road.   And, conveniently located across that road was a fruit stand selling — get this — BANANAS.  (That was my first clue that this might not have been a random spotting.)
A Grandpa in Snookyville, Cambodia

This monkey troop had all the characters:  old gray Grandpa sitting on a fence watching the action; the Mothers; the Babies that were holding on for dear life; and, best of all, the mischievous teenagers who were trying to stir up trouble!  

As we “shot” these guys, I was prompted to tell my story of my pet monkey to anyone who would listen.  My pet Wilbur was a spider monkey and he looked like the ones I photographed on the fence.

Hubs just sat in the tuk-tuk, shaking his head and trying to get a cell signal on his phone.  (I think he was afraid of being bitten.)  He’s not a real monkey fan, I guess.

As we left we saw a lot more monkeys high up in the trees, swinging from limb to limb and tree to tree.  I could have watched them for a longer time (but the majority decided to move on).  

All gone
Do they really bite!?
We also looked for monkeys at the Big Buddha site outside Old Town Pantong, Thailand (where the big tsunami was in 2004).  All we found were signs.  And no sign of a monkey.  Our guide told us they had all been rounded up to perform in the monkey show up the road.  How very sad for those monkeys and for us.

Our greatest loss, however, was to spot nary a Proboscis monkey in Brunei.  They are only found in Brunei!  We even endured the river “cruise” with the hope of seeing and shooting one.  
Must have been too hot!

The Proboscis monkey-- what we SHOULD HAVE SEEN

It was the wrong time of day and we missed them.

 Monkeys, monkeys everywhere… but, that day, not a baby or a mama OR EVEN A GRANDPA to shoot.