Old Fort Myers Apartment


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Sometimes you find the pot o’ gold without chasing the rainbow. Sometimes you stumble upon the “X” without possessing the treasure map.

My wife and I recently returned from a visit with my in-laws near Ft. Myers, Florida.  I took this photo of an upstairs apartment in old Fort Myers Beach.  I like the colors and the feel of days gone by in an old beach town.  This however was not the discovery.

My discovery occurred when I stumbled out of the back seat of my in-laws car in a dazed stupor after a less-than relaxing ride over to Matlacha, Florida.  We pulled into another island trinket shop and all of a sudden, the clouds opened up and there was this heavenly aura around a small restaurant called “Island Pho and Grill”.

At this point, I had two choices.  I could go into a store that caters to adolescents, tweens, teens, and middle-aged women with a condition that can’t be explained by anyone with a certain level of testosterone coursing through their body, or I could eat something completely foreign to me.

I made a mad dash across the traffic, my wife made a mad dash into Ye Olde Shoppe of Island Minutiae.  Of course, I can’t explain why she would.

Every culture seems to have their own version of comfort food.  That statement alone seems to sum up my new love for food…it gives me comfort.

The Jews gave us chicken soup. The Germans, who gave me my lovely wife, gave us sausage and sauerkraut.  In eastern Kentucky we seem to gravitate to soup beans, cornbread, and fried potatoes.  The Vietnamese have given us pho. As best as I can figure it is pronounced “fuh”…rhymes with “duh”.

Now bear in mind there is some sort of squiggly accent mark that accompanies the spelling that,  one, I can’t find on my English keyboard and two,  I can’t find anyone who knows what that squiggly line does to the pronunciation of the word.

I ordered a bowl of vegetarian pho, since we were going to eat supper in a few minutes and my mother taught me,”Don’t spoil your appetite.”  I have disregarded this advice since I was about 16, for it seems I always have an appetite now.

The taste of this Vietnamese delicacy led me into a state of palatable bliss that I haven’t experienced in a long time.  Maybe since my first potato chip or first bite of a chocolate doughnut.

I called for my brother-in-law to come and share in my savory fortune.  He looked at me as if I had gone daft.  Then he informed me of my daftness for Vietnamese cuisine wasn’t too high on his bucket list.  But once he imbibed in this dish, he was taken in by the wonderful flavors.

My wife came out of the Island shop and much to her surprise, she saw my brother-in-law and me up to our wrists in pho, looking like piranha feeding on an unsuspecting water buffalo who happened into the Amazon for a leisurely soak.

I don’t know who was happier at that moment, me or the store owner counting his fistful of cash as my wife and her sister were walking out of the store.

I will be pho-ever be grateful for discovering this new-found delicacy.

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





Lighthouse Beach, Eleuthera Island

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I think this should be the official greeting on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas.   But more on that later.

After a thirty year hiatus from The Bahamas, Big Surf Daddy returned with his bride of the same number of years, Mrs. BS (she will probably not like the way this looks in print).   We were on Paradise Island for our honeymoon in 1985.  I remember we ate a lot of lobster.  So much so that the government banished us for thirty years, they said it would take that long for the lobsters to repopulate.   After we left they had to look  for another ocean delicacy for tourists and honeymooners to consume. They found it…. conch.

We ate conch fritters, conch pizza, conch chowder, cracked conch, conch ravioli, and my favorite,  conch salad.  This latter dish was prepared for Big Surf by a lovely Eleutheran chef in a small stand on the sea wall in Tarpum Bay.  As I watched her execute this simple native dish of chopped onions, celery, peppers, and fresh raw conch with the lime juice and orange juice dressing, I couldn’t help take in the scene of this small town located on the bay with one small dock and brightly colored houses.

It was getting late in the day and the sun was glistening off the aquamarine water of the Caribbean.  I asked her if she ever got tired of the view.  She looked at me with that “you really can’t be that daft” look.  Then she smiled as all Bahamians do when confronted with another stupid American tourist query and I knew.  How could anyone get tired of this?

How could anyone get tired of white sandy beaches kissed by water so aqua that it can only be experienced?  Just looking at it is somehow not enough.  How could anyone get tired of beaches that are so private, you feel like an Onassis.

The above photo is from the southern-most tip of Eleuthera Island called Lighthouse Beach.  The Atlantic Ocean is on the right and the Caribbean Ocean is on the left.  There are more oceans in this photo than people, and that includes the photographer.

Big Surf Daddy’s legend was born on Oahu but his heart was left on Eleuthera.

Oh, one bit of advice if you go and order the conch pizza, eat it all.  As my cousin found out, it doesn’t get better the next day and Immodium is not cheap on Eleuthera Island.

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


Ghost of Tybee Island




Winter is coming……sigh.

I feel like that mighty oak that stubbornly refuses to drop its leaves, desperately hanging on to autumn, somehow thinking that if he never drops his leaves, winter won’t exist.

Every year I refuse to admit winter is coming.  I don’t put my outdoor grill up.  I don’t put the garden hose up until it is solidly frozen.  I don’t clean the filter in the furnace.  I keep my short pants and short sleeve shirts where they are readily available. My wife mistakes this as procrastination or worse yet, laziness.  She is probably right, however since I am writing this, I will use my own self-awareness evaluation.

I look out the window and I see the leaves in my yard covering the grass…sigh.  The only tree in my yard that is hanging on to its leaves is a small sapling that has grown to adolescence in my gutter.  You can see the above analysis from my wife as to why it is still there.

Sometimes I battle winter by thinking about the beach, which is why I am using this picture.  I took this timed-exposure of myself dancing on the beach at Tybee Island this summer.  It was our last night on the beach and I wanted to get a shot of the lighthouse at night.  Big Surf Daddy (as some may recall, my beach alter ego) took over.

Big Surf buries himself deep within during the winter months.  Madam Zelda would not be able to channel him to the surface even with the most cooperative séancers at her disposal.  He has never experienced darkness at 5:00 PM or snow on Halloween.  He has no idea what flannel sheets feel like, or what a comforter is.  He thinks snow cream is some sort of cocaine smoothie.

This is a  picture of  Big Surf’s last night of consciousness on Tybee Island.

I am sure he is already sending threatening texts to Punxsutawney Phil about his forecast.

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


Fishing Boat in Bod Me Limbe, Haiti



I recently returned from at trip to Haiti.   I was with a wonderful, caring group.   I met most of them at the airport in Philadelphia as we were boarding to fly to the island of Turks and Caicos.   From there we would fly to Cap-Haitien, Haiti the next day.

It takes some time for me to process what I experience after a week in Haiti.

I took this photo one morning on the shore of a small fishing village called Bod Me Limbe.   It is on the northern coast of Haiti.   I added warm, yellow light in processing to give it an exotic look.   I took this just before I threw up, either from my anti-malaria antibiotic or from lack of sleep or from some voodoo curse…take your pick.

Haiti  is challenging.   I don’t accept challenges very well.   The Haitian people make the challenges worthwhile.   They have the best smiles I have ever seen.   The people of Haiti live difficult lives but you wouldn’t know it by observing them.   They move through their days with ease and grace.   Oh sure, you can see the poverty and unsanitary conditions every where, but that is their lives and they deal with it….every day.  

During the times I have been in Haiti, I try not to view their country through the judging eyes of an American.   I try to use some sort of non-biased vision and try to understand it all a little better.   Even now while writing this, I still can’t put in words how I feel or what this latest experience has taught me about Haiti.   Let’s just say, I am not ready for a position in the State Department.

One thing I do understand, while in Haiti, you will see things and experience things that normally you would not see or experience.

Ironically, one experience came from a group of Americans that weren’t part of our group.

We shared our compound in a very rural part of Haiti, outside of a village called Jacquesyl, with another American team that was doing healthcare work.   They invited us over to their house for some fellowship and camaraderie.  They did mention that there might be some singing.

At one strange moment, someone called out a number from of a sing-a-long book.  The next few moments were quite surreal.   It was a most perplexing experience.  I still am having a hard time dealing with this in my seemingly rational consciousness.

At one moment in time there was a room full of very white Americans sitting in a house in the Haitian wilderness singing “Black Magic Woman”.

I’m sure at the exact time of this occurrence, Carlos Santana was somewhere in the throes of intestinal distress.

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

Tee Shot on the Sound


I instructed him carefully, “Do not leave the car.  I am going to go in and call my friend and I will be right back.”

He was my eight year-old son and we were on our first road trip together, an odyssey to watch the Detroit Tigers play a game in old Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers were in the midst of playing their final season in the glorious old park on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.   This wonderful concrete, steel, wooden, and lush green old lady began her life in 1912 as a twin to Fenway Park in Boston.  They both began life on April 20.

I love old baseball stadiums.

I took my wife on a trek to Cleveland Memorial Stadium to watch the final opening day.  We were dressed like we were scaling the Matterhorn.  Alas, it wasn’t enough.  The breezy, 45 degree day chased us in the seventh inning.  I felt like I had  just given up a three-run double and watching the aged manager emerge from the dugout as my wife looked over at me through misty blue eyes and asked me for the keys. (Now before I go any further, I want to be perfectly clear.  I am not, in any way, comparing my wife to Tommy Lasorda). I had kept her there too long.  Her eyes were misty, but not because of sadness at the thought of leaving the game early.  She had just endured another “I can’t believe you’re still here” blast of arctic wind slapping her in the face.

On another occasion, my brother and I ventured to the south side of Chicago to watch a game in old Comiskey Park in her last summer.  We could see what was to be the new US Cellular Field being constructed just above the first base-line grandstand.  It reminded me of the rich old man parading his young paramour in front of his aging wife.

My wife was reluctant  to let me take our only son to Detroit.  She was afraid he wasn’t mature enough to look out for me.

After I pried him loose from her unusually strong clutches, we were off.  He still had hug indentations on his body and they didn’t disappear until we crossed the Ohio River.

I decided to stop in Moraine, Ohio to call my former college roommate.  This was where I made that fatal mistake.  You see, this was before I recognized how incomplete my life was without a cell phone.  I stopped at a convenient store where I spied a pay phone.   My decision-making was flawless… until I saw there was no phone book.

At this point, my wife’s intuitive feelings began to materialize.  Like Nostradamus on the cover of  The Star, her predictions began to unfold.

I left the car running and told my son, “I am going to lock the doors. So stay in the car and DO NOT GET OUT. ”  My son interpreted these instructions as any male in my family would.  “Get out and lock the doors.”

As I was coming out after looking up the phone number, I met him coming in.  Of course he did not turn off the engine and put the keys in his pocket, but he did manage to lock the door.  My wife was right.  He was not old enough to clean up my poor decisions.  He couldn’t even think to call the police.

I took this picture of my son two years ago while playing golf in Nags Head, NC.  This is a beautiful golf hole bordering the sound.  I have had many memorable days with my son, a lot of them involve a golf course or a baseball stadium.  I have been thinking a lot about days  we have spent together lately, for next month, he is getting married.  His fiancee is a wonderful young woman.  He has chosen wisely.  He will have an entertaining life with her.

I just hope she likes going to baseball games and playing golf with me and my son.  My wife says she is mature enough to take care of us.

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

Sunset in Harbor Town


Big Surf Daddy went home for a week for a much needed break.   He was mentally and emotionally spent from the daily decision making of trying-to-make-people-happy-so-they-will-come-back-to-see-him-again part of his life.

My alter ego started surfacing weeks ago as I watched my watch play tricks on my already-vacationing mind.   It seemed like my watch was moving fast during the nine to five, laughing at me while I was chasing the carrot and trying to stay on schedule so I wouldn’t have to make those with appointments wait more than usual (see above description).   At the same time my watch would then seem to drag to an infinitely slow pace as the days would progress from sunrises to sunsets,  a paradox that would baffle John Cameron Swayze.

There was also a small matter of marrying off my only daughter two weeks previous to this trip to the sea.    During this time I felt like I was part of an emotional lab experiment, going from beaker to beaker and tube to tube while some malcontented, discontented lab assistant interjected another stimuli to see what would happen to the poor sap.    Would this photo of his daughter in pig tails dissolve his current state of stability?    Would a tincture of remembrance of her twirling in her dress cause him to combust into a depressed bawling plume of purple smoke?    Would a smidgeon of recollection of him holding her in his arms and wiping away tears suddenly make him go to goo?

As it turned out, my daughter had a lovely wedding and married a man who will be a wonderful, loving husband.   She was very happy on her wedding day and that kept me from submerging myself in the punch bowl until I saw a bright light.

After the wedding, Big Surf Daddy took over.   There is no memory of the two weeks after the wedding and before the departure to the beach, only a vast chasm filled with ocean breezes that extended from ear to ear.

Big Surf Daddy is at home on the beach.   He and Mrs. Big Surf headed to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.   Big Surf knew this trip to the beach would be special, because it was the first time he and his lovely bride of twenty-eight years would be at the sandy shore alone since before they had children twenty-five years ago.

There was a slight miscalculation in the anticipation of setting records on the bliss-o-meter…

Having the kids at the beach evidently was a big part of the beach experience for Big Surf and his lovely mate.  Big Surf only waded out into the waves on one occasion, to do a seapee.  He still found some shark’s teeth and went for walks with his lovely missus.  He read a book and took some naps.  But it wasn’t the same.

I took this photo of the harbor in Harbor Town on Hilton Head Island at sunset. You can see the light  in the lighthouse.  I thought it made a compelling picture.

There was one benefit to not having the kids with us at the beach…HALF-PRICE SEAFOOD!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Girl with Red Bucket


The Vegas odds were against me.  There was much talk on the street of which I was not aware.

Would I leave a trail of salty tears and blubbering goo, akin to slug slime, down the center aisle of the church,  only to melt down at the altar and leave a crumpled pile of Joseph A. Bank black wool?

My only daughter got married this weekend.  It was a difficult time leading up to this event.  I kept having thoughts and memories of how I held her in the hospital the day she was born and could not let her go, how I had an overwhelming feeling of pride, joy, and happiness.  There was also a twinge of utter terror at the prospect of raising a daughter and being clueless of the responsibility of having another life dependent on me.

I was lucky.  Evidently my wife was a young girl and a teenage girl (a short time ago) and she was able to help me out with some of the girly stuff.  Funny, with a daughter, it seemed like I needed that help all the time.

I found out it is a difficult time for a father as he prepares to give away his daughter, especially his only daughter.  My emotions were so fragile that I felt like a teen age girl.

I thought about her as a child, seeing my wife pull the van in the driveway with her and I could barely see the top of her blond locks.  My wife would have her dressed so neatly to send her off to school and she would come home looking like she had been riding a Brahma bull in a whirlwind.

I remember one day dressing her for the day when my wife was gone.  My wife returned only to find that I had put her dress on backwards.  My daughter didn’t seem to mind.  My daughter was a cross between a tomboy and a Disney princess.  She loved to wear dresses but also liked to play sports and climb trees and roll around in the grass and dirt.  So I would let her wear dresses and then have her put sweat pants on under the dress.  I did not like all of the neighborhood seeing her underwear.  Of course my wife thought that I had departed for Crazy Town.

Fathers do many stupid things when it comes to their relationship with their daughters.  My wife says that is why they make so many comedies about fathers and daughters and the fathers usually are looking so foolish….art imitates life.

I could fill pages on pages with thoughts of my daughter and experiences with her and what each of them have meant to me but none of you would ever understand my relationship with my daughter. This is okay because I would not understand your relationship with your child either.  I just hope it is as special as mine as been with my daughter and son.

I took this picture of my daughter on a family vacation in Panama City Beach when she was about four years old and it has always been one of my favorites.

By the way, I defied the odds and never shed a tear during the wedding.  I was a rock, only because my daughter was so happy.  However, I about lost it when I gave her a kiss good-bye as she left the reception for her honeymoon.  I know my daughter’s husband (those words seem strange to write) will take good care of her and that is all a father could ask of his son-in-law.

After twenty-five years, I finally had to let her go.  Now I am crying, but the betting windows have closed.

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