9000 pots of coffee. If a man’s life were measured in pots of coffee I guess 9000 is about what I would be. When I started drinking coffee they said it was bad for me. It would stunt my growth, make me jittery, keep me from sleeping and cause all manner of health disorder. Now they say coffee is good for you, a great source of anti oxidants that will prevent cancer and give me a long and happy life. This morning as I was making what very well could have been my 9000th pot of coffee it occurred to me that it may well have been the coffee, and a very merciful God, that have kept me going this long.
Coffee has been a constant throughout my life during the good times and the not so good times. It has given me the boost in the morning to get up and go to work. The aromatic hot beverage got me to roll call on time when I was a young man in the Air Force. The life giving caffeine kept me going all those years as a software engineer working in the dark of night to solve the hard problems that could not be worked on during the daytime when others needed the computers. I have had coffee before all the big events in my life. I consumed it early in the mornings before all my running races hoping it would induce the bodily functions to occur before the starting gun, not after.
The heavenly beverage helped me get through those black nights in the terrifying months following the cancer diagnosis. When sleep would not come I would just get up and drink coffee until I was too exhausted to stay awake any longer. Two or three hours of sleep was all I could count on in those early days of this battle when the unknown loomed so large.
There is nothing I like better than to just sit in a coffee shop sipping the beverage and staring out the window. One of my favorite life stories is from the Brew House in Parker where I used to live. I used to stumble in there on cold winter mornings after long tromps through the woods looking for deer to photograph for my stock photo business. There was always a sweet young lady at the counter who would show me a friendly smile and take my order. One day there was new guy at the counter who was grilling me with a million questions about flavors and drinks I had never so much as even heard of. As I was getting ready to order my usual black coffee I heard a familiar voice chime in from the back of the store with “He likes his medicine straight!”. That little phrase was more accurate than she could have ever imagined and I have never forgotten my little friend behind the counter for remembering my preference. I remember her face, but not her name and she has since moved on to a higher paying job with a better future. Unfortunately the Great Recession has claimed many of my favorite haunts, including the Brew House and the Pikes Perk in Manitou. I hope my favorite places in Evergreen, Aspen Park, Georgetown and Leadville are still standing and I will soon be able to visit these beautiful places again.
There is a light at the end of the dark tunnel of cancer in the family and, and I have a new favorite coffee shop at the base of magnificent Pikes Peak. I don’t get there much but when I can get to the Donut Mill I love their black coffee and a couple of their awesome homemade chocolate covered donuts. No matter what, Father Time keeps rolling along and the black coffee keeps flowing.
The rains of last week have given way to heavy snow today. The north slope of the peak is covered with a fresh white mantle of snow and it is obvious that change is on the way.
We were hoping for change on the cancer front as well as we finished our last day of radiation treatment on Friday. However, hopes for significant improvement have begun to fade. Prior to the treatments the radiation doctor assured us that pain would be reduced and tumors would shrink but at this point it doesn’t appear that there is going to be much change in either problem.
Most of what we enjoy together has been taken from us by the cancer. Walking, hiking, shopping and cooking meals together have been reduced to wheelchair walks to the library and the coffee shop. Now with today’s snow I am filled with dread at the thought of being stuck at home with nothing to do but watch movies and look at Facebook.
But I know that God is good and He is merciful. We are told that the affects of he treatment will continue to develop over the next few weeks and there is hope that her God given immune system will take advantage of this time that the cancer has been weakened to provide the cure. And there is always the hope of a direct intervention from the Great Physician Himself.
Day three of radiation therapy. Can’t see any improvement yet, but she needed less pain medication yesterday so that is a good sign. Three down and seven to go. The beauty of autumn is quickly passing as the wind and the hail are taking their toll on the brittle golden leaves. The mountains will be barren until they take on a fresh mantle of white that comes with the cold of winter. Meanwhile I am given some time in the waiting room to reflect and look ahead.
In the ebb and flow of the photography business I’ve had to change focus many times and these times are no different. Many years ago wedding and portrait photography were abandoned for stock photography which more suited my desire for the peace and solitude of the wilderness. Stock photography has had it’s ups and downs as well and adjustments have been made there too. In the early days of digital stock, such simple subjects as solitary trees and isolated fruit sold like hotcakes and life was easy. However it wasn’t long before word got out and cameras got better. The picture world has become flooded with imagery and it has become more and more difficult to stand out and make consistent sales. Agencies have experimented and made improvements and mistakes. By the end of the Y2K decade I was finding nature photography and the Royalty Free model to be on the wane so in 2008 I concentrated almost exclusively on sports photography and the Rights Managed license model, giving up my exclusive crown at iStock and having my most prolific year ever at the Alamy Agency.
Then came the Getty acquisition of iStockPhoto and with it some great benefits for exclusive photographers. Such cool opportunities that I had to backtrack and get the crown back. It has been a great ride since then but I sense the tide beginning to change again. Upload limits at iStock have been removed and the ensuing massive influx of imagery has once again cut deeply into contributor profit.
So in late 2014 I am considering another major change in focus. For me the pendulum has swung back to producing more exclusive editorial imagery and reportage. So to begin my move forward I will be looking back to the beginning of the year at the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series. The rest of my time in the Radiotherapy waiting room will be spent scouring the year’s events for suitable editorial images for my Rights Managed portfolio on the Alamy agency. However I will never tire of the solitude of the woods and the communion with wildlife and nature high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.