Reflections of Summer

Me & my sweet friend

Me & my sweet friend

During the Christmas 2014 break, I told Hub I was missing my friend.  She lives in a town bordering North Dakota and Minnesota.  I told him I was thinking of heading somewhere over my summer break and inviting my friend to join me.  Hub thought it a good idea and so the planning began.  The summer trip morphed into several different scenarios with the final version of the trip being me heading up to the great white north to spend some time with her.

Two days on the road up and two days back meant Lisa had plenty of time to spend alone with God.  It was some amazing time, too!  I got to thinking we “city folk” have it completely wrong. We need to head out to the country, the undeveloped areas of our continent, to breathe the clean air, shut off all the social media, and listen to the silence.

Most important: look up and look out.

Missouri River Valley, Iowa

Missouri River Valley, Iowa


Preacher’s Cove, Itasca State Park, MN

Red River North, East Grand Forks, MN

Red River North, East Grand Forks, MN

Storm clouds over the Minnesota plains

Storm clouds over the Minnesota plains

My friend has a “little man” living with her part of the week.  Little man’s brother stays with his other grandmother most of the time.  “Lisa, if anything happens to me …” I made the same promise to her concerning “little man” and his brother that I made concerning both her (now grown) children … and to my brother concerning the Princess. If anything happens, I’ll be there.  They … ALL of them … will be loved and cared for.  I immediately fell in love with little man.  6 years old and full of 6-year old little boy energy.  Lots of questions, lots of talking … lots of 6-year oldishness.  It broke my heart when he turned to me one morning as he and my friend were heading out the door to Summer School.  He looked at me with those big brown eyes and asked, “Are you going to be here when I get home?” “Yes, I’ll be here,” I replied.

I shared my heart with my friend over dinner that night. And we became quiet.  She adamant that she will ALWAYS, always, be there for this child. Me adamant that if anything happened to her, I’d be right there for him. No hesitation, no questions asked.

*** * *** *

“B” loved the ‘watermelon popsicles’

I posted the following on Facebook:

Question: How do you take “foodie” pics with a 6-year old in the house?

Answer: You don’t

Love that kid!

St. Joseph's Social Care & Thrift Store, Grand Forks, ND

St. Joseph’s Social Care and Thrift Store, Grand Forks, ND

I told my friend I wanted to join God at work in her community during my stay.  I had the honor of helping to pack over 1,000 lunches for children of low-to-no income families.  I cried … bucket loads of tears … as I left the building.  What an incredible work these people do.  Do they even understand how great their work is?

There were so many incredible moments this summer that I truly want to burn into my memory … driving through the Flint Hills of Kansas at sunrise and over the Missouri River into Iowa, soaking my feet in the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, watching the crazy clouds of two storm systems colliding over the plains of Minnesota. In each of those moments, all I could do was praise God for this incredible trip.  And I wondered what these places looked like at the moment He created them.  Did they look like they do today? Was there a freshness, a newness, a cleanness when they were spoken into existence?  What an amazing moment that must have been!

Lake Itasca, Minnesota

Lake Itasca, Minnesota

Where Lake Itasca becomes the headwaters of the Mississippi

Where Lake Itasca becomes the headwaters of the Mississippi

The Mississippi River on its way to the Gulf of Mexico

The Mississippi River at the beginning of its journey to the Gulf of Mexico

In harm’s way

I put Hub and myself in a very unsafe situation last night and I’m still kicking myself for it.

We headed downtown for what was supposed to be a quick trip to my office for Hub to look at some of my materials on Differentiated Instruction and then dinner on the Riverwalk.

Hub was hungry, having just gotten off work, so we opted to head to dinner first.

We had dinner on the River at a restaurant that’s across from the Nix “optical illusion.”  It’s fun to eat there and people-watch as the boat tours float by.  The mild temps and the setting sun added to the relaxed atmosphere.

We decided to take a stroll after dinner and meandered along the River past the restaurants and over to the big canal where the stairs lead up close to San Fernando Cathedral.

We were both a bit disoriented until we realized that if we turned right, we’d be on our way toward the museum.  There’s always a bit of comfort in the realization when you’re not really lost.

We both noticed the cathedral at the same time and whipped out our iPhones to take some photos. This wasn’t a photo excursion, so I didn’t bring either of my other cameras.  Too bad, too, because every. single. photo. I took with my phone was blurry due to the setting sun and decreased light.  I know I could have resolved that if I had been shooting with my DSLR.

It's blurry, but it's the best of the bunch I shot

San Fernando Cathedral at sunset

And this is where I put us in danger:

In my never-ending pursuit of the “perfect” shot, I began to wander closer to a group of, shall we say “less desirable” people.  Hub continued to tell me to hurry up, that we should head back down to the River, and to protect my phone.

I let him know I was being both careful and almost done.   As all of this was going on, we watched as one of the group headed quickly over to us and stood almost in front of me, ready to swipe my phone from my hand if I held it up to take another picture.

I didn’t look directly at him, but saw all of this in my periphery.  As the kid was moving toward me, I began to bring my phone close in to my body while Hub & I talked about my not being sure if my shots were blurry and I’d have to wait to find out after I uploaded to the computer at home. The kid took off at some point, I remember he wasn’t there for long.  Hub & I stood there a few seconds longer as we continued our conversation.

I asked Hub if he thought the kid was going to take my phone.  He did.  I felt horrible.  For taking too long.  For not listening to my husband.  For being plain “stupid.”

I’m not one to intentionally put myself or others in a dangerous situation.  I don’t think many people are.

I told Hub later I wonder what I would have done if the kid had taken my phone.  Mentally, I knew that even though I have a few half marathons under my belt, I don’t run long distances at a time and I wouldn’t be able to chase him more than a couple of blocks.  He looked at me and said simply, “I’d have tripped him.”

My sweet Hub.  Always ready with a logical response.  Love him. ❤


Jumping in with both feet

I am so excited to finally have made up my mind!

Sounds weird, I know.

It took me over a year to finish NYIP Unit 1.  The only one holding up my progress was me.  I started with enthusiasm and as is typical with me, quickly peetered out.  Picked it back up a few months later … put it on the back burner.  Got to the unit test, took it & passed, and was gun-ho and finished the unit.  AND THEN it took me 5 months of shooting thousands of pictures all over San Antonio before I finally narrowed my choices down to the final three.

I’m printing them today and sending them in for critique.


The staff at NYIP had said completing the first unit is typically the hardest because students report the heightened sense of insecurity leading up to their first submission.

Truer words have never been spoken.

I took this pic …


Bus stop at Blue Star

It’s amazing the memories or feelings some pictures evoke.  I took this picture over Christmas Break after the Writer & I had finished 7 miles out on the River.

We were wandering around the parking lot of the Blue Star Brewery trying to find good location shots for her for her blog.

I remember waiting for the light to turn red at the corner so I could jump out into the street and snap a shot without getting hit by an inattentive motorist.  This was actually taken from the safety of the sidewalk.  My photo from the street didn’t turn out at all.  It was a good morning.

We hadn’t spent anytime together in the last couple of years due to circumstances … “life” if you will … and so this morning was time for us to just BE in the moment and enjoy each other’s company.

Hub & His Dad

Hub had a very stressful day yesterday and in the moments leading up to the cause of all his stress, I helped him calm down by flipping through an album of our favorite pictures.  Pictures of places we’ve been during the last year; pictures of our favorite people.  I had forgotten there were pictures of him & his dad in that album and I wasn’t sure how he would react when he saw them.  I watched his face as he gazed on the photo of him & his dad, how his countenance softened.  He told me later that he really misses his dad.  I held him tight & told him I knew.

There’s power in capturing moments in time, preserving memories.  All I can say is …


The Riverwalk runs through it

Charles Barkley once called the San Antonio Riverwalk a “stinky little canal.”  Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban never has anything nice to say about the Riverwalk, either.  I think Charles Barkley, like Mark Cuban, are jealous.

If there is one place in San Antonio that I like to shoot, it’s along the Riverwalk.  There are so many different facets to it’s personality.  From the river taxi turn-around point at the Pearl Brewery to the Espada Aqueduct, the River is an amazing geological and engineering gem.

Tourists don’t typically experience all parts of the Riverwalk and truthfully, I haven’t either.  The difference is I, and other like-minded locals, know there are many parts of the River that don’t get shown on TV in the Visit San Antonio promotional spots.  And honestly, that’s about how we like it.

I was introduced to some of the lesser-known areas of the River earlier this year and since then have become an ambassador for exploring the hidden gems the River has to offer.  I don’t recommend exploring the southern reaches alone.  As beautiful as it is, there is always a possibility of harm.  As my alma mater ingrained into us: “Just 2 It!”

I’ve invited folks to come with me to walk, run, and cycle along the River.  Each one has come away with a new appreciation of what the River, and San Antonio, has to offer.

So, as it is now a typical thing I do, I invited the Writer to head out to Blue Star with me yesterday.  She ran & I rode along side her as we travelled along the newest phase of the Mission Reach.  The phase had just opened in September and we both commented about looking forward to spring on that part of the river once the flora has come out of dormancy.  The developers are creating a natural habitat with native grasses and other vegetation from the area just south of the Blue Star brewery on down to the Mission Espada dam and aqueduct.  Once the final phases are complete, a person will be able to walk/run/cycle continuously from the Pearl Brewery to the Espada aqueduct along the River trails and walks for a round trip of approximately 26 miles.

Because she needed a little more mileage upon returning to the Blue Star complex, we elected to head north along the River past the Guenther House.  I hadn’t traveled along that part of the River and was so blessed with the trip!  We were, at one point, traveling along the River below water level.  I wish I had my camera out at that point because the perspective was very cool!  Definitely heading back over to that part of the River to explore & shoot.

I invite Charles & Mark to come and explore the River with me.

Perhaps they’ll change their minds and see our River for the gem it truly is.