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10 Years ago I flew into Baton Rouge Louisiana as a Red Cross Volunteer to aid in the Hurricane Relief effort. From there I was dispatched to help run the shelter at Nicholls University in Thibodaux. I had know thought of how it would impact my life, I was a big tuff guy and could take what ever came. When I arrived I busied myself going about what I was trained to do, checking people into the shelter. Seeing to it that the proper amount of meals arrived daily to feed the over four thousand people who had sought refuge with us there. Basicly the Shelter manager the staff and I were to act as the heads of a family of four thousand, seeing to they were safe, healthy and as comfortable as we could make them. Most had come from the flooding in the ninth ward of New Orleans, with very little in the way of personal possessions. One day when I was feeling more then a little overwhelmed by the scope of it all. This little angel appeared by my side clutching in her hand the book Good Night Moon. I was busy as usual doing paper work of some sort to do with the shelter, but with this sweet little almost pleading voice. She ask me could I please read her the book cause I can't read, my mommy always reads me this book and I don't know where she is. One of the ladies I was working with, said take a break and read the kid the book this can wait. I Picked her up on my lap and we read Good Night Moon every morning for the next two weeks. I found out later the first day, she was one of the orphaned or lost children we had in the shelter. You see a lot of families ended up seperated. Finally word came that her Grandmother and Aunt had been found in the Red Cross shelter in Houston TX. this was when I also found out her mother had died in the flooding. We were to get her ready to be turned over to the officials who would then see to it she would be reunited with her Aunt and Grandmother. It took two days for that to happen, I held up pretty good until the day came. We read Good Night Moon that morning as usual, I took her to the bus and assured her everything would be okay and Grandma and her Aunt where waiting for her. She wrapped her little arms around my neck and said I love you, I gave her a big hug told her I loved her too and handed her over. That's when I retreated across the parking lot in front of the stadiums and broke down and cried. I think of her often and hope her life since has gone well. I still volunteer with the Red Cross and probably will for life, there are moments in time when we need to reach out and help those who's lives have been torn apart by disaster sometimes it rips at our hearts, but it's the right thing to do.

Shelter Angel by olearysfunphotos
I have been ask, to take photos for my niece's wedding this weekend. Wedding photography is not my best I'm sure the most nervous person in the Church this Saturday is going to be me! The cost of an actual professional wedding photographer, I'm sure is the main reason I was ask. But I hope my skills are up to the task of doing a good job of capturing the event and wont disappoint. Any quick last minute tips would be greatly appreciated. It's a Church wedding and at best I have a canon 580 flash to light it up, which I am comfortable using and know it's functions, I have a Tommy Fong Difuser and a Canon 7D as my main equipment. So far I have been advised to pump the ISO to 400 or 500 in the church and to boost the flash power as needed. Yeah I know short notice, but this will be the first time I have shot a wedding in an old high cieling chruch of this size (it has got to be 40 feet to the top of that vaulted cieling) and the last minute nerves are setting in!
Got back from the Rocky Mountains Sunday evening. Spent all day Monday catching up around the house some and editing photos I took. Posted some tonight, it was a great trip overall. I couldn't believe how the wildlife has seemed to have gotten use to the tourest in the park, for the most part they seem to pay you no mind at all.
My wife and I are taking a needed vacation to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I've been in and out with the Red Cross for six weeks now, due to flooding storms and tornadoes. Out of the last twenty some days, I've only spent five in my own bed. I have turned over any of my duties to others in the Red Cross and tomorrow morning we are going to unplug ourselves from technology for the next eight days and wander the mountains with my camera and see what we can see. :)
I was home for the night last night. But back off on the road this morning yet, my wife is coming with me this time. Heading to St Louis this time for training Saturday, in Restoring Family Links at the Red Cross Chapter there. Tonight and tomorrow night just a little R&R will be going on :)
Heading down to Peoria for a few days. Going to be doing some Disaster assessment for flooding on the Illinois River. Then off to St Louis for Restoring Family Links training in the St Louis office.
Been sticking close to home as of late. I've been spending a lot of time at the Red Cross locally, we've been plagued with minor flooding and sporadic small tornados along with all the rain we have been getting. Hope to get back to wandering and taking photos for fun soon.
But if all people treated everyone as they wish to be treated. Wouldn't the world be a much better place
My wife and I are back from our trip to Arizona. Had a great time visiting family and friends who have fled our midwest winters for the warmer climate there. The desert and high country were both in bloom. It's going to take me a while to get things back to normal, as it seems Mother Nature wasn't very nice while I was gone. So I am going to be busy with work at the school and helping with paper work at the Red Cross.
The itch to travel has hit us again. My wife and I will be leaving later this evening for Arizona for two weeks. Plan on doing some hiking and maybe a bit of drinking with friends and family :)
As spring looms on the horrizon with the promise of new life in nature. My family once again is hit with the harsh reality of life. My cousin Danny left the bounds of this earth today, to join again with his parents and mine and all the family who have gone before us. Leaving behind a wife, two daughters, several grandchildren, one brother and four sisters left to grieve now the loss of their two older brothers. For me the realization that I am part of the older generation of our family has hit home again with the harsh reality that life is limited the Grim Reaper and will come for us as he sees fit! Danny was a good man, loving husband, father and grandfather he will be missed by all of his family. In my mind that is the best one can say about any man.
The Bald eagles are here in groves again this year. I've been trying to get out and get some shots of them, it just seems the sun is playing a game of hide and seek. When I'm off and it is shinning, it's been a race between me and the clouds to get to the birds before they roll in heavy and thick. On the days we have bright clear skies, I seem to be working or have other matters to attend to. So it goes I guess, we'll see what this weekend brings. We are supposed to have milder temperatures through the next week or so. Keep posting all your great shots and enjoy :)
Lucky us, just in time for the sub zero weather to hit Iowa like a freight train. Punta Cana was great I'll be uploading a few pictures when I get time.
Once wasn't enough! My wife and I are heading back to Punta Cana for a week of R&R again this year. Hope to be spending New Years Eve sipping rum on the beach in shorts :)
Be back in a week, you know we wouldn't want to miss to much of the cold weather
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to All!
As Christmas nears, children are going to bed, dreaming and hoping for the arrival of that jolly old elf Santa Claus himself. But as to often happens for some children it is only a dream, and this saddens me more then anything. You see I'm a believer and I know we can do better for the children who can only dream, that Santa will come. Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army's Red kettle or your local Angel Tree campaign, please contribute. Together we can bring a smile to every childs face this Christmas and the last I heard Christmas was all about a child!
By that I mean live your life to it's fullest, take time to enjoy what is really important in life you never know when your time will be up. Enjoy the simple things in life, laugh often and love completely with no strings attached. In the past six months we have lost two family members, and just recently we have learned two more have been diagnosed with cancer. One with prostate cancer, I feel optimistic about a cure for this. But the other is of an unknown origin at this point, and they fear it may have already spread to several vital organs. Some of you may have noticed I have drifted more from nature photos to family photos. This would because as a family we have have gathered around each other more for strength during this time. I hope we are also learning how important family is and learning, we are truely one and not just random individuals attached by genitics. As for myself I know I hug those I have always loved a little tighter and never leave them with out assuring them I love them unconditionally now and forever. 
Some of you may have noticed, or maybe not. But yes the digit under my name has changed today once again, it now states 63. Myself I perfer to think of it as having reached my 21st year for the third time. I know I probably look it, but I don't feel it and those who know me well will tell you I surely don't act it. I was asked tonight how some one my age can seem so young, I guess I never realized I did. Sitting here tonight thinking about it, I think the answer would be to never lose your thirst for life, learning and above all fun! You see I've never been an overly competitive kind of guy, I like playing sports. But could care less whether I win or loose, and to be honest I dont care much for people with a must win attitude. But break out the squirt guns or water balloons and I'm there ready to soak or get soaked. I love splashing in the water with my grandsons, grandnephews and nieces, searching the beaches on the river for shells etc. All the while explaining to them what I know about nature and how to survive with it and in it. I have always been told I am a hard worker and a reliable person, that I learned from my father. But I also own a shirt with my favorite saying " Growing older is mandatory, Growing up is optional!" I guess that would describe me to a tee. With any amount of luck I'll never grow up surrounded by my family, friends and their children laughing and enjoying the beauty of life. That's just the way I want it to be! :)
Most of our area rivers have been above flood stage since spring. Now that they are all back in their banks the levels are falling fast, almost to the low end of the stage for them. It's August and the Mississippi should be running around 8 or 9 feet instead in a matter of just three weeks we have dropped to 6 feet. Not by any means desperately low, but I find it strange so soon after the flood.