Walk of the Cardinals


I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE. I am proof that there was no evolution, because my DNA would have stayed in the comfort of the primordial soup.

I am the lecturer at the Creatures of Habit Seminar. It is not “guest lecturer” because it is the same lecturer every year.

Since a tornado came-a-callin’ about one year ago, my habits have changed. Some of my daily routines are now a thing of the past. Sometimes I feel like Mr.Square in Roundville.

When my wife rearranges the furniture, which I might add happens as often as a full moon, I descend into the little known tenth circle of Dante’s Hell called Alterus Decorus Frequentous. There are times when I think she has motives that aren’t so interior design-oriented. It’s usually when I hear a faint giggle through the throbbing of another stumped toe.

My wife is one of the one and a half billion Catholics. The most excited I ever saw her was when we saw Pope John Paul II ride by in his motorcade during his visit to San Francisco. It was at that brief moment that I realized the importance of the leader of the Catholic Church and the effect he has on the world.

Once again it is time for the Catholic Church to choose a new leader.

I am not of the Catholic faith, however I am attracted to the traditions of the ceremonies. I love how the Catholic Church chooses a new pope. I do think the Cardinals fulfill God’s Will in these conclaves. I think the Cardinals have free will to vote their conscience and are held accountable for their motives and at the same time what God wants to happen will happen…God’s Providence. I hope and pray that God will guide the next pontiff to be a wonderful leader of the church.

I took this picture to show the path the Cardinals walk as they ascend to the Sistine Chapel to be in conclave to elect a new pope. This walkway is beneath the Sistine Chapel and St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Cardinals have been walking this hallway preceding the papal election for hundreds of years. I love this tradition.

As I stood in St.Peter’s Basilica, my mouth agape with the same sense I had staring out over the Grand Canyon, I could not grasp the enormity of the structure. At the same time I saw the beauty of Bernini’s Dove in stained glass, through his seven-story bronze canopy over the altar and Michelangelo’s Pieta and all of the other magnificent sculptures. I saw the beautiful paintings and treasures in the Vatican museum. I saw the magnificent Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo.

However, the sight that meant the most to me was this quiet, subterranean, lighted hallway. I don’t know why. I think it has something to do with the brevity of the job of the Cardinals in picking a new leader, that these men from all over the world who entered the priesthood and have spent an adulthood in service to God and mankind walk together with a common goal of choosing a new leader.

Oh, I forgot another reason I loved St. Peter’s Basilica…the last time they rearranged the furniture was when Columbus was coming home.

If you like this picture, you can see more of my photos here.


Green Forest


Please pardon me while I pontificate. I wish I could orate. My goal is to educate. After reading this, I hope you don’t want to medicate.

I am getting so tired of division in our society. Whether it’s red state/blue state, pro-choice/pro-life, Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative, Coke/Pepsi, Leno/Letterman, or those with hair/those without hair (sorry, that last one is my own personal battle).

A Michael Franks lyric goes like this,”…locked inside this zoo, your bananas get thrown at me and mine get thrown at you. Every night we fuss and fight like the Arabs and the Jews.” Now this is taken a little out of context for my point because he is talking about a romantic relationship and we all know how volatile they can be at times.

In a sense we are “locked inside this zoo” on our own planet and unless we have the ability to be transported to another planet, galaxy, universe, or astral plane we are stuck with each other. Before we go any further, I want you to know that I have flung so many bananas that my rotator cuff stays inflamed.

I took this photo in the late summer of 2011. This is Broke Leg Creek in Menifee County, KY and is below the falls of the same name. This scene has dramatically changed since a tornado took down most of the trees in this small canyon last year.

We tend to think of creeks and rivers as boundaries that separate us, whether it is private property, counties, states, or countries. If you look at this photo, you will notice that the color of the trees and moss on each side of the creek is green. The plants use the common life-sustaining water for their survival and they don’t care which side of the creek they inhabit. They take what we would consider a natural boundary and use it as a sustaining force in their life.

I am reminded of Revelations 22:1-5. John describes the vision that Jesus has given him of the New Jerusalem and the River of Life that flows from God’s throne. We will be nourished by the loving God who created us, the sustaining force of all creation will nurture us for all eternity from his ever-flowing river.

The next time you want to call a Democrat an immoral, wacko, hedonistic, socialist, or call a Republican a dim-witted, cold-hearted, bigoted, idiot. Try to find the things that make you like them. At least at the most basic level of commonness, we are all created by a God who loves each one of us and wants the best for us. So if God wants that, why shouldn’t we want that also?

So instead of acting like that little negative electron who wants to bolt for any atom that will give it a home whenever it absorbs a little heat, be like the bigger, immovable proton and stay positive and your little corner of the world will always be stable.

This message brought to you by the sweathog section of Sociology 101.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my photography here.

Big Mac Bridge


I was saddened by the recent death of Stan Musial. He was a prolific hitter known affectionately as “Stan the Man” and played for the St.Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963. He was my dad’s favorite baseball player.

The earliest memories I have of going to Cincinnati Reds baseball games as a child were at the end of Stan Musial’s career. My dad would load us up in the early morning hours for the trek up to Cincinnati. This was before I-75 was constructed so we would have to go to Maysville, KY and cross the Ohio River and up Route 52 into Cincinnati where we would find good ol’ Crosley Field. Sometimes, I guess when we weren’t running late, we would use the ferry to forge across the river in Augusta. These trips would probably take about three and a half hours in those days of the early 1960’s.

I know it wasn’t always the case, but it seemed like the only time I saw the Reds play, they played the Cardinals and Stan Musial. I remember being at Crosley Field for Musial’s last game in Cincinnati. I remember Sunday afternoon double-headers and twinite double-headers, both getting to be a thing of the past. I am experiencing a lot of “things of the past” lately.

I took this photo of the Big Mac Bridge that connects Newport, KY and Cincinnati one unusually warm morning in January of this year. The cold water temperature combined with the warmer air temperature created a fog that hung over the river up into the early afternoon hours. I was going to take some pictures in the city but I was drawn to the riverbank.

This wide-angle shot of the river with the fog and bridge was shot on the Cincinnati side and you can see The Montgomery Inn on the right side. Incidentally, the ribs at The Montgomery Inn were rumored to be Bob Hope’s favorite. I processed it in black and white for a dramatic feel.

This photo doesn’t have anything to do with Stan Musial.

Sometimes my mind takes me in round-about ways to get to the same place. I always loved crossing the bridges into Cincinnati and I always loved going to Reds games. Going to watch Stan Musial was the beginning of those feelings for me and somehow this shot reminded me of Stan Musial…go figure.

If you like this photograph, you can see more of my photos here.

Female Cardinal


Don’t you just love when little pleasures suddenly invade your dull, dreary routine.

I am not saying that we all live dull, dreary, mundane lives and I don’t think of my life as that way either. However none of us are exempt from these feelings from time to time. In fact some of us find comfort in routine. After the tornado went through West Liberty and Morgan County about a year ago, most of us prayed for the return of routineness in our lives.

I am talking about that instant, when in the course of our slogging through the day-to-day, something happens that stops us from turning the little wheel or ringing the bell for the pellet. A shifting breeze brings a wonderful scent. You try to identify this heavenly aroma. Is it a blossom, a flower, a scent, a shampoo? It makes you pause for a short time and just breathe it in…then it’s gone and you return to the task at hand. A cloud forms with a shape that causes you to sit and watch for a few minutes and wonder if this is a “sign from above.” A song from a robin or wren or mockingbird, barely audible above the noise of your day, catches your attention and you wonder where she is perched and as you look for her, it makes you concentrate on the beautiful melody and forget, for a moment, the pressure you feel.

This picture represents one of those unexpected vignettes of bliss that occur in our lives. One recent morning, while at my computer and not feeling very inspired or intelligent or remarkable or special, I was just beginning the day before going to work. I saw something in my periphery that was unusual. A female cardinal lit on a beauty berry plant outside my window. I have never seen a bird on this plant that is only a few feet from my desk. I stopped and watched her munch on the berries, transfixed on the beauty and simplicity of this moment.

I slowly reached for my camera, trying not to startle her, and to my amazement she stayed right there. The above photo captures this moment. I must say it made the rest of the day so much more enjoyable.

Of course, there are, for those pessimists, those moments that happen unexpectedly that gives you reason to wonder if anything can go right. Say, for example, like the time you enter the sanctuary before the morning church service. You parade down the aisle, smiling, waving like the Rose Bowl queen, to those on your right and on your left. You shake hands like anyone who has ever run for public office. After this production of your grand entrance, you settle in your seat, so pleased with your performance. You smile at your adoring wife, as she rolls her eyes. You happen to glance down… your fly is wide open.

While your wife is heaving in uncontrolled laughter, you know she has just experienced one of those little pleasures.

If you like this picture, you can see more of my photos here.