Dust in the Wind

Tremendous wind howling up from the Arkansas River Valley last night. Big Dog was startled out of a sound sleep at 5:00 a.m., leaping to his feet and letting out a massive woof that woke up the entire town I think. I looked around with the flashlight and didn’t see anything so I was going to just go back to sleep, but instead got to thinking I would like to see the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo. Sunrise would not be until 6:30 though, so there was time for one of my favorite activities… morning coffee 🙂

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

The wind overnight had created a dust bowl out of the valley making the mountains barely visible, but it was still an inspiring sight when the alpenglow band settled down over the peaks. The effect was only good for a few minutes and we were headed back home for some more coffee.

The old 1970’s song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” was going through my mind as the wind whipped the dirt up into a veritable cloud around us. Got me to thinking about the truth of the song, “Everything is dust in the wind”. Everything in this life is truly temporary, jobs, houses, relationships… I was thinking back on my computer career realizing that all the software I had been paid to write is now gone, along with the very computers that it was meant to operate. Even the company I worked for is gone, like it was never there. The job seemed so important at the time, deadlines, overtime, status meetings to explain how it was all going to get done on time, weekends misspent at the office, and now that it is all gone it seems so silly to have been so stressed out, so stupid to have spent so much time away from family, to have lost so much sleep.

Even life itself is temporary. For some people, life is long and fulfilling. For others like my wife, life itself can be unexpectedly swept away far too soon. We never know when we are going to be struck down by illness, accidents or natural disaster. Cancer took my wife along with all the things she dreamed of, collected and worked so hard for. Everything we had together is now like the song, just dust in the wind. Her life itself is a faded memory in the minds of few, the fruit she and I measured our lives with now remembered by no one.

In the end it all comes down to the words spoken at the final judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we have lived our lives in friendship with Him we will never have to hear the bitter words, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”, our legacy will live on in the afterlife and all we have done in this life will not be blown away forever, like dust in the wind.

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Morning Reflection

Slept a bit later than I anticipated this morning… although I do like the rest I am always a little disappointed if it is already light when my eyes first open because it means I have missed a potentially amazing sunrise, oh well. Sat up and checked the weather on my phone and discovered that it was already a balmy 38 degrees with no wind. Turned on the coffee pot and took Big Dog out for his morning duties. As I wandered around with him looking for just the right spot, I looked down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo. It was a beautiful morning and there was a layer of clouds behind the rugged mountain range that helped paint an amazing pastel colored picture that I knew I was going to have to capture.

One cup of coffee later my four legged buddy figured out that today is not a work day and began his victory dance at the front door, which is a bit difficult to ignore! Grabbed the camera and filters and loaded up the pockets of my military field jacket with all the things I might need and we hit the road. It was such a pretty morning I really didn’t care if I got any pictures or not. We just strolled down the trail casually looking for any critters that might be out doing the same.

Turning 60 last month has changed my entire perspective… I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not but the two year countdown to early retirement has really brought the finish line into focus. I just read an article that people who retire too soon don’t live as long as people who work longer, probably because of the loss of sense of purpose and connection with society. Don’t think that will be a big deal for me as I have tried my best for most of my life to avoid connection with society anyway 🙂 For me it just means I will have more time to spend out in the mountain landscape doing what I love. Although the money that a regular job provides is nice, I have always been resentful of being cooped up inside a building I don’t necessarily want to be cooped up in.

As I was strolling down the trail thinking about the finish line my mind reflected back upon the starting line. I still remember opening the box and exploring my first real camera, my Minolta X-700. Up until that point I had been using one of those ridiculous c-110 cameras which left me perpetually disappointed in the results. I remember the amazing little red LED lights informing me of my shutter speed and aperture settings, important things I had never been able to control before. This of course was pre auto focus and I was fascinated with the little prism that would even out when focus had been achieved, and with the little digits on the lens that would inform me what was in focus and what was not. It was 1984 and I had no idea of the life long journey I was beginning with the love affair between man and gadget.

My mind drifted further back as I realized how long I had been fascinated with cameras, and upon my regret that I had not participated in the photography class in high school. I remember feeling the urging to check the box on the classes list, but something held me back… don’t remember what, perhaps the fear of the unknown. I had never used a real camera before, only the 110 with the flash stick. Perhaps the dial and button laden 35mm cameras of that era looked intimidating. But I can’t help but wonder if my life would have taken an entirely different road had I taken that course? I would have discovered that a my love for the gadget and it would not have seemed like something so out of reach that it was not worth pursuing. I wonder if I could have avoided thirty years in a cubicle inside a windowless building, glued to a computer screen and strangled with a tie around my neck? Plus I have always regretted not having a good camera during my four year stint working in northern California after the Air Force. I saw so many magnificent landscapes from the Pacific to the Sierra, and my pictures from then simply do not do the beauty of that place justice 😦

Waterfall in the Black Hills

It was then I realized that was not the beginning… my fascination with cameras began further back in time to when I was about 12 years old with an old Brownie box camera. I didn’t get a lot of practice in those days, I was on a tight film budget… one roll of black and white film per year! Well I tried to get the most bang for my parents buck, shooting my one roll of film on our yearly camping trip in some amazing mountain location. So this is one of my very first pictures, a shot of a waterfall somewhere, maybe in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

By now me and Big Dog were nearing our wilderness destination and the Sangre came into view. A bit hazy today but the beautiful pastel colors had persisted through the long walk to the vista point and I brought my Canon up to my eye for a look see. I usually zoom all the way in with my 70-200 to get in close to the mountains but today I could see I needed to get some sky in the image. I wanted to get all the beautiful pastel clouds in the picture, all the way to the brilliant blue Colorado sky above the layer of cloud cover. Big Dog was passing the time trying to dig to China, or maybe just unearth some subterranean critter that his extraordinary senses were detecting.

Sangre de Cristo Spring Morning

I worked the scene for awhile, trying various focal lengths in an attempt to fully explore the beautiful vista before me. Finally the rising sun was lighting the haze so much that the mountains were beginning to fade and my job for today was done. We began the long trek back home, looking in vain for some elk or deer along the way.

These pictures and more will be available on my website as usual in the form of wall art and many nifty household and gift items, including apparel, coffee mugs, pillows and blankets and more. If you like my articles, please be sure to click the follow button and you will receive an email notification each time I publish.

New Chapter in Life

Been house hunting for almost a year now and finally have one under contract. Financing is iffy though and I have been forced to document my sparse regular employment record. Apparently being a business owner does not count one iota when buying a house. th, 2015 when she passed… So there is a gap in my recent employment record which the loan guy is trying to explain to the underwriters who want some kind of proof of “my story”.

So as I fight to put turn the page on this terrible chapter of my life in this town, I am being forced to dredge up old records and remember the time when I had to downsize 25 years of marriage accumulation to a 21 foot camper in three weeks. Pretty much all the records along with everything else we owned had to be disposed of and I left our cabin with the shirt on my back, the pets, my laptop, the camera and some pictures and DVDs. I really wasn’t wanting to remember that right now. The pets were old by then, so in the last two years they have mostly passed as well. Only Maggie and Fonzy my two black and white cats, remain of the original seven critters who made the journey to the mountains with me.

Fonzy

Fonzy

But as a reminder that life moves on I noticed that some beautiful wildflowers have bloomed in the little cemetery out back where four of my four legged friends are memorialized with pretty quartz stones I found on the hillsides here through the years.

Dot & Puppies

Dottie all grown up with her new pups

 

Also, little Dot that I met last year has had a litter of puppies that I went over to visit yesterday. They are only a week old, eyes not even open and so tiny they almost don’t even look like little doggies! Well, the cutest thing… When I knocked on the door and Dottie saw me she started jumping up and down and screaming with excitement as usual, but when I stepped inside instead of jumping on me she turned aside and stopped and looked at me. So I went closer and she went a few more steps… obviously wanting me to follow. And she had a look on her face like, “come and see what I got!”. She took me right in to show me her new puppies 🙂 Cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

In the meantime I have had to go to work full time to qualify for the home loan and even though I’m fighting it there is an interesting phenomenon that I don’t have a name for yet. When people ask me what “I do”, of course I always say photographer. But when you work full time, the job consumes you, a person becomes what “they do”. You are either working, resting from working or getting ready to go back to work. So I’ve noticed that I don’t even feel like a photographer anymore and I’m taking fewer and fewer pictures. I still bring the camera along but I see things to shoot and I’m like… naaa, I already have one like that.  I also am having fewer and fewer ideas along with less and less motivation to continue. I am fighting hard against it but now I feel like an “unloader”, which is just a job, not even a profession and I don’t want to lose sight of my dreams.

Dot

Dot when she was a puppy

Well anyway, back to the point… I so badly want to start a new life chapter in a new town in a new home with new fur babies and new friends. A place where everything I see doesn’t remind me of some hardship. Perhaps then my inspiration will return, maybe this brief foray into the past will quickly be over and just a necessary step in putting a bookend on a lost decade with a whole new life in front of me 🙂 Lol… or maybe it is like the song says, I have a “Gypsy soul to blame and you were born for leavin’.”.

As everything from thirty years of marriage and my life as a software engineer was passing away, this verse from the book of Ezekiel often kept me going, and continues to as I prepare to start over again … Ezekiel 36:11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”. The verse along with Dot’s new puppies seem particularly appropriate 🙂

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items


Bucket List Deckers

As usual the day began with no clear plan. Saturday is my big day for picture taking so I had in mind a couple of ideas, one of which was driving to the peak to hide from the heat… I really didn’t want to pay the $15 toll though so I just headed out, reminding me of when I was a teenager. My mom would ask me where I was going, I never really knew so my reply was always just “Out.”.

Yellow Wildflowers on Bald Mountain with Pikes Peak in the backgroundOut now days usually starts at the gym where I can clear my head and figure things out. Sure enough while I was working out it occurred to me that the middle of June might be a good time for a journey to Bald Mountain. There are a lot of pretty wildflowers up there including some that look like yellow daisies, some mountain bluebell and even the Colorado state flower, the columbine. And with Pikes Peak in the background it is always a winning combination. I usually just hike up  the rugged trail that leads there but I don’t think 14 year old Kitsu is up for a hike of that magnitude, 2000 feet in a little over two miles. But luckily, Rampart Range Road goes right past there, a bit rough but not too bad in my old Dodge pickup. The lighting was pretty good and I noticed that even at ISO 100 on the speed setting I was getting shutter speeds of over 1,000th. Decided I wanted some good depth of field for close up flowers so I switched to aperture priority and selected f11 for my lens opening.

So up we went, me and the doggies. Well it turns out I may be a week early on that shoot, but it is a pretty day and the yellow flowers are in full bloom so it was worth a stop and a mini photo shoot and at 10,000 feet we were still successful in avoiding the heat for awhile.

I was also thinking about Deckers Corner, a place on my bucket list to stop in and have a couple of beers. Always was envious of the bikes outside and wanted to stop in and chill for awhile but a nagging wife who didn’t like mountains, streams, relaxing or me doing anything that wasn’t on her honey do list made that a battle not worth fighting. I was thinking, some pictures of fly fishermen, a dip in the cool headwaters of the Platte River for the doggies and a cold beer on a beautiful day at a place on my Bucket List! Too much to turn down. So on our way down the mountain we drove through town to Highway 67 and turned towards Deckers.

Fly Fishing on the PlatteOn the way I noticed some great views of Devils Head which was worth stopping for and soon we arrived in Deckers. Turned left onto the dirt road and drove back along the river. Such a beautiful day there were quite a number of fishermen, men and women so I guess fisherpeople  must be the correct terminology. The lighting was good and I was satisfied with the exposures the camera was picking on Program Mode. Quarters were a bit tight in the river valley so I decided to use my 18-55 wide angle to drink it all in. Looks like I have some nice ones, so I believe that was a good choice!

We cooled off for a while and then it was over to the bar. Was a bit surprised that on such a beautiful summer day there was not really much of a crowd. No one on the beautiful front deck… with some difficulty I located the front door which looks like the door to an ice cream shop instead of the bar. Upon entry I was surprised to discover the reason for that, it is an ice cream shop now. There is still a bar though and they do serve beer so I thought, what the heck, at least I can check off a bucket list item. Sat down and waited, but the staff was not overly interested in customers so after about five wasted minutes I gave up and left. No wonder nobody goes there anymore! In any case, that idea is off my Bucket List.

A quick drive back to Woodland only to discover that the traffic and crowds are terrible this weekend… Decided to brave Walmart for some supplies and wait out the crowds in the air conditioning at home. And to work on the pictures and a blog post 🙂

 

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Broken Memories

Finally resolved an issue that has been dogging me for years… The question, is highway 67 paved all the way from Woodland Park to highway 285. I know I was on that segment, probably 30 years ago… fishing with friends near Deckers, way too long ago to remember details, other than 285 from Littleton and then some dirt roads down to the Platte. I also have another vague memory of driving down past Sedalia, through the mountains to the river and then on to highway 285 and back. I’ve been looking at maps for a few years now, asking people who live here if they have driven it, just wondering…

Western Bride.jpgNow I have the answer… well, the short answer is no, it doesn’t. Highway 67 makes a sharp turn at Deckers into the mountains and up to Sedalia. If you keep going straight the road turns into highway 96 and is paved all the way to 285.  On my way up the pavement to 285 I realized I had memories of that stretch of road… I remembered that we had photographed a wedding at a pavilion in the open space park along that road. Must have been 20 years ago.

Which brings me to my title… broken links. I don’t know if the same situation applies when you are old and lose your partner, or if it applies to anyone but me, but it seems like it would. When you are middle aged and your partner dies, the trauma of having everything you were planning, all your hopes, all your visions for the future and your entire way of looking at life taken away, it causes a terrible rip in time. For a while you can’t think about the past… the pain is too great, so you just refuse to think about it. Finally you are left with a distant past, the present and a gap that you haven’t  acknowledged for a couple or maybe even a few years… Eventually you have to link it all back together though, or you are left with a very confusing mess in your mind.

Well anyway, as I was driving past the open space I remembered the wedding… Bobbie & Susie, a beautiful country wedding. I wasn’t even photographing weddings anymore, Tricia had gotten in a bad car accident on the way to the lab to process wedding film and ended up blaming photography for years of therapy, both physical and emotional, and had quit helping me. I had to work full time and was not able to keep up with all the marketing and phone calls and I was tired of the bitchy brides anyway, so I just quit the wedding business all together.

But one day there was a call and I happened to answer it… The sweetest voice I had ever heard on the other end, slight southern drawl, maybe Texas. Said she had been referred and wanted me to photograph her wedding. I said I really didn’t do weddings anymore, but she persisted and the voice was so sweet… It was going to be fun, and there was going to be beer and a barbecue… The BBQ sounded pretty good and beer is always hard to turn down and I found myself agreeing to do the wedding and even quoting a very low fee.

Now mind you this was during Tricia’s recovery from the accident and there were no kind words coming from her towards me…. just constant hatred, she blamed photography for her pain and associated me with the photography. Naturally I became distant and not too receptive to her constant nagging, about what I can’t even remember. So I told her I was doing the wedding and she was welcome to come along and be my assistant like before and a meeting was scheduled. I don’t remember all that was discussed at the meeting, just that Susie was so sweet I couldn’t say no about anything! Lol… afterwards Tricia said, “Damn… she has you wrapped around her little finger doesn’t she! I’ve never seen you act that way around a woman!”. She was so sweet and so pretty, and of course Tricia was furious with me but maybe should have taken the lesson in the art of persuasion! Later at the wedding Tricia met Susie’s father and told me that if she had a father like that she might have turned out sweet too…  so my brief foray into marriage counseling and advice to men, if you want a sweet wife, find a woman who had a loving daddy 🙂

It turned out to be a wonderful fun wedding, even Tricia had a good time. And we remained friends with them for a while… Susie even came to my 40th birthday party. And now I have a few more pieces of that period of my life linked back together, by a stretch of mystery highway in the Pike National Forest 🙂

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Chapter Complete

I wasn’t going to go to Denver today. Only had three boxes and it wouldn’t be worth the trip, but they were bugging me. Three boxes standing between me and being finished with that chapter of my life. I can’t stand something like that hanging over me so I loaded them up in the Miata and headed down the pass. It seemed like a much longer trip than it does in the pickup but I made it before the loading dock closed.

Tricia

Tricia

So it is done. Twenty seven years of memories, business ventures, projects, household goods and memories left on a loading dock on Santa Fe Blvd. I have looked in each and every box that was packed to determine what should be done with it and where it should go and it is all done. Just a few scraps in my storage unit to bag up and take to the dumpster. I did keep a few momentos to remember her by, including the sea shells she worked so hard to collect on the beach in Hawaii and a few German Steins she found for me. And of course I still have my photography studio stuff that I’m not sure what to do with just yet. Don’t think I’ll ever have a studio again but I have a lot of nice stuff including some cool shiny metallic backdrops in every color. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them, Tricia worked so hard making them for me.

It didn’t take long to unload the three boxes and I was soon on my way. But there was one more thing I’ve been wanting to do so I decided that today was the right day for it. I’ve been wanting to have lunch at Romano’s ever since this heartbreaking journey began last March. Romano’s on Littleton Blvd is where we had our first date all those years ago and it is also the place I wanted to say goodbye. The place still looks the same as it did when we first met. Prices must be the same too because after I did all the calculating, the tip was the same as what I used to leave as well. I didn’t remember getting so stuffed, but then I guess we used to split the small calzone.

The journey is complete. She never was much of a mountain person so I think it would have been better for her if we hadn’t come here. She loved Littleton with all its quaint amenities, South Glen Mall, the pretty houses and lawns, Highline Canal and some kitchen place on University that I don’t remember the name of, the Christmas store on Santa Fe, and the antique stores and thrift shops on Broadway. Littleton was the place we fell in love and that will be the setting in which I would like to remember her I think. Rest in Peace my Love.

Therapeutic

Today is a cold dreary rainy snowy day and sitting at home was just too depressing so I thought the coffee shop in downtown Woodland Park would be nice. There is a table there that I consider mine, the one right by the south window where I can sit and look at Pikes Peak. Today my table was available and as I sat there looking out at the snow I was reminded of the very first time I went there. We were still moving to the mountains and there was one day when the weather was bad and we decided to just take a break from moving and stop in there for breakfast.

I also remembered a time when I had stopped in there when Tricia had gone to Kansas to visit her family and we were kind of thinking it was going to be to say goodbye. I didn’t actually expect her to come back. I remember sitting there talking to God and trying to come up with some sort of plan for my life without her. As I sat there today I realized I couldn’t remember what year that was, or what came before it or after it. My memory of the course of events has already begun to fade and it was bugging me because I’m not ready to let it go yet.

So I resolved to come home and write down the chronology of our years together so that I would not lose it. As I wrote, I remembered the fuzzy time period around then as well as many other important times from our 26 years together. Turns out that I had forgotten that we had signed a second year lease on our first place in Woodland Park that I forgot about and it made me feel like I was missing a year. I was also starting to forget some names of people that have played an important part in our lives over the years. Now it is all on paper, so to speak, and I find that I have suddenly been able to quit thinking about it. It’s like it can be sealed and put away. I know it won’t be forgotten because if I want to I can get it out and look at it to refresh my mind. But for now it is behind me and that is a good thing.