Fabulous France

We just had the opportunity to tour Paris, Bourges, the Loire Valley, Amboise, Brittany and Normandy on an 11 day Rick Steves Tour.  I'm surprised when I tell folks about this kind of tour and they haven't heard of Rick Steves. Nonetheless, there are still an abundance of "Rick-Niks" out there who know that he is a respected authority on European travel who's provided valuable information via his books, radio and dvd's since 1976.Rick's mission is "to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening.''

My daughter went to Italy on her honeymoon armed with Rick's book and was thrilled to have chosen good hotels and managed to get around using public transportation.  I took a look at the book and felt overwhelmed when it was our turn to tour Italy, so I googled Rick's name and was thrilled to discover his "successful small-group tour program taking 30,000 travelers to Europe annually."…

Always Something to Learn

I went on a Spring Camping Extravaganza hosted by Precision Camera and Mandy Lea Photo last weekend in Garner State Park. Despite the overcast weather, disappointing sunset and rained out sunrise, I came away with a few worthwhile images and good vibes from a fun photographic get together. My friend, Tricia, made her maiden voyage in her new-to-her Tab Camper, Towanda. I always enjoy an adventure with Tricia.  

It was fun meeting the other photographers at a delicious pot luck dinner.  Saturday morning was overcast but we all had a good time seeking out worthwhile photos utilizing the reflections in the water and the fun trunks of the Cyprus Trees.  

It was nice and serene in this beautiful spot and I was grateful for the time Mandy spent with me.  She helped me figure out a peculiar setting on my camera and explained why auto bracketing is preferable to manual bracketing. It was nice to catch up with someone who inspires me (her journeys and photography are very definitely worth follow…

Meet Miss Margaret Cox

I took on this personal project of photographing what I see as "Beautiful Old Folks" because I wanted practice with my portrait photography and I believed these senior citizens were more approachable than high paid models.  What I've gotten in return is meeting some really cool people! Margaret Cox is a wealth of information on so many subjects.  Having worked as a librarian at UT for 35 years, she knows a lot about Austin and its history and its theatrical scene and so much more.

She was there in '66 when Charles Whitman climbed the UT tower and shot 43 people, thirteen who died.  She was getting ready to go to lunch when the excitement began. "There were about 15 of us on the patio of the Academic Center when we heard shots.  Somebody said 'Hey y'all. We better go inside." The siege went on for 90 minutes and she could see people hiding in the bushes as she waited it out.  "35 years there and I was always looking over my shoulder for trouble.…

Clara Newby - An Inspiring Artist with an Abundance of Energy

With her sparkling blue eyes, Clara Newby, showed me the "new" art she is selling at The Old Bakery and Emporium.  Clara, who has been an artist for many years, mostly painting flowers, is one woman who is willing to learn new things.  Just recently she has been experimenting with an acrylic art form (see the image on the bottom left) that "works a bit like watercolor" but the paints kind of swirl and take off on their own.  She has an eye for color and which ones work well together.

Clara, a longtime volunteer at the Old Bakery, told me proudly that she is turning 94 in the end of March.  Hard to believe as you watch her move and hear her speak.  "I used to drive from Victoria to Rockport for art lessons," she explained to me. She didn't have a clue what she was going to paint until she got there but they always came out rather nice.  She showed me some of the notecards that she sells and I recognized them as ones I had already been attracted to and…

Meeting Some Cool Folks

In my attempt to photograph some beautiful older people every week, it was my honor to meet Maida and Jody Meredith who just happened to be celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary.  A friend introduced me because not only are they kind, generous, compassionate people, but their roots in Austin's music history goes fairly deep.

Jody "Slick" Meredith and the Round-Up Boys were regular performers at the Skyline Club which opened in 1946 and was popular until 1977.  According to Maida, it was the original, and for awhile, only music venue in Austin. A country-western dance hall in North Austin, Jody played there 4 nights a week, from Wed- Sat for 12 years. His band was the backup for Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Horton, Ray Price and Marty Robbins.

"It was a family place," said Maida who showed me a box of memorabilia, filled with images of a younger Jody performing with a slew of stars. She taught her boys how to dance there and the honky tonk was alwa…

Golden Years - Continuing With My Personal Project

So I'm intrigued with beautiful older people. They represent wisdom, experience, survival, knowledge...and I, for one, would like to learn more about them.  I was doing a portrait of my neighbor last week and remembered that she has a beautiful mother who is 95 and full of vim and vigor. So I asked if we could go visit Mom and photographer her. Dorothy loved the idea, because she knows what a treasure her mother is, so we headed over to Anna Scrugg's home where I was greeted warmly and shown some of her lovely treasures.

She has the most amazing kitchen - large enough to cook for many and she told me about some of the large parties she hosted from that kitchen. She's been living in her current house for 40 years - at one time you could see Austin's Capitol from her porch - hard to believe with all of the development that has occurred over the years. She was a teacher in the Austin schools and her husband was a principal.  Her memories and her family are the most impor…

Beautiful Old Folks - Continuing My Personal Project

So, I'm not sure exactly why, but I see so much beauty in elderly faces. Perhaps it is because I have entered the Senior Years myself, but I look around me and am just struck by the wisdom, joy and life-stories that I want to hear and preserve from the cool old dudes around me.  I was blessed to do portraits at a Senior Center in 2015.  That was meant to give me lighting practice and provide the Seniors with an 8x10 image - something that they or their families could treasure. 

I got so much more from those beautiful people than I gave. One woman dressed to the nines for the event, bringing along matching high heeled shoes despite the fact that she was 89.  Another woman was turning 104 the very next day. It was a diverse group - one couple from Japan, an elderly German gentleman and a Vietnamese soldier who had helped the US during the Viet Nam War and he brought his medals to show me.

One guy wore a gold suit that was huge on him but he was so proud of it because his mother had…