What Does a Guy like Me Do on Vacation?

Ah, we’re enjoying the midst of summer here in Virginia. The outside temperature right now is 94; it was 100 in the car before I turned on the A/C. That’s hotter than some days, cooler than others. But at least the sun is shining. What a perfect day to do…to do what?

That question is one I ask whenever my wife, Kathleen, starts talking about planning a vacation. And she understands. She knows that my vacations used to consist solely of visiting distant family members. And she understands that–no matter how much I love my family (I’m counting hers as mine since I have practically none of my own left)–that is NOT a vacation, even if we’re able to do one or two activities apart from family.

She understands something else. I have trouble thinking in terms of “vacation.” I can’t come up with activities that please me. Not vacation-worthy activities, anyhow.

Everything seems to have a drawback. Going on a cruise means endless eating…and having to diet for who knows how long afterwards to lose what I gained on the cruise. Going to a dude ranch would mean hours of horseback riding; a few months ago I learned that even an hour of riding caused enough pain to make that unappealing.

We could go to the beach, as we did recently with our daughters and their families–or by ourselves. But I’m not overly fond of the water. And walking the boardwalk time after time gets old after a while. I’ve avoided skin cancer so far, so I’m not tempted to lie out on the beach. I like certain kinds of seafood, but why go to the ocean just for seafood when I can enjoy it thawed and fixed at home?

Lest you think I’m just being picky and perhaps even a bit difficult–let me assure you you’re correct on both counts–let me point out that I am a better judge of what I dislike (or think I would dislike) than of what I actually like. And because I’m retired and sit around all day writing and/or piddling around, going somewhere just to sit around has no appeal. I can read my Kindle just as comfortably at home. However, I did enjoy a short time here by the pool while nobody else was around.

Going to see interesting and/or beautiful things might sound appealing, but I know me. I would spend my time taking pictures of them and then do hours of editing my photos with Affinity Photo software. I can’t wait till I get home to do that. I have to keep up with it as I go along. Go figure.

What vacation activities have I actually enjoyed? Two or three things really stand out from our recent beach week vacation. Although I hadn’t fished in years, being able to walk out the back door of our rented beach house and fish in the canal for catfish was really nice. I don’t think I could do it for endless hours, though. Especially in the hot Florida sun.

  

And a day trip to the Everglades was actually fun. I loved the wildlife we saw there–alligators galore, black buzzards, deer, a very tame wild racoon, and a good-sized grasshopper. And I’d always wanted to ride in one of those air boats. Nonetheless, I lived behind the camera, except when Kathleen was taking a picture of me holding a baby alligator, and then–not unexpectedly– I spent hours editing my pictures.

            

See? I couldn’t even write this blog post without “inpainting” the picture you see below to cover up the band that kept the alligator’s mouth shut so it couldn’t bite me. Don’t I look bold this way?

Hmm. But looking bold isn’t an exciting vacation activity.

I hasten to point out that I’ve been on numerous mission trips–to Nicaragua, England, Wales, Romania, and Australia. Mission trips are not vacations. If the host pastor has enough vision, he can work his team to death. But each mission trip also has times set aside for enjoying the locale. And I truly love that part. Who wouldn’t want to climb the steps to the Sydney Opera House?

Why can’t choosing a vacation be that simple?

I’m open to suggestions for inexpensive vacations that would suit a fuddy-duddy like me. Please comment.

 

    

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Memories: Australia Wide

Australia Wide During fall of 1993, I went on my first mission trip to Australia, an experience only some of my subsequent trips have been able to match. Among other mementos–I’m still wearing some of the tee-shirts–were several postcards featuring photos by famous Australian photographer Ken Duncan. They were out of this world!

I didn’t know much about Ken, but several months later when I went into a bookstore in a local mall back here in the States, I came across a beautiful coffee table-sized book of photographs by Ken Duncan. I hadn’t realized that any of his work was available in the U.S., so I was thrilled.

The book was called Australia Wide, which is also the name of his gallery. It’s based on the fact that he specializes in wide-angle shots he refers to as panographs.

I bought a copy. In looking through the acknowledgments, I noticed these words italicized in small print, which made them all the more distinctive:

This book is dedicated to a friend who died and rose again that we may have life in Him. His name is Jesus.

I immediately mailed a letter to Ken’s gallery address–I didn’t have an email address for him–commending him for sharing his faith that way. Sometime later I received a nice acknowledgement from Ken’s wife, Pam. We ended up corresponding off and on by fax for several years.

During one of my subsequent trips to Australia, I was staying with my friend and host pastor, George Stubbs. When I mentioned my interest in Ken, he learned that Ken’s main gallery was only an hour or two away. After making sure Ken would be there, he offered to drive me.

Some people would be thrilled at the prospect of meeting their favorite movie star or recording artist, but going to see Ken was just as exciting for me.

When we got there, Pam explained that Ken was in a meeting and wouldn’t be able to come out while we were there. Yes, I was disappointed, but meeting Pam was really nice.

So can you imagine my surprise when Ken’s meeting ended early and he came out to join us! He’s a tall man, but very quiet.

Ken & Pam Duncan
In fact, when he allowed me to take a picture of him and Pam, he looked almost shy. I’m the one who should have been terrified, though. Imagine, amateur photographer me taking a photo of a world-famous photographer like Ken Duncan.

I’d brought several cassette tapes of my music to give them, and they gave me a copy of one of Ken’s books. More than a fair trade!

Pam also gave me one of her business cards, and it’s unreal! It actually features the whole of one of Ken’s most exciting ocean photos. I never fail to marvel that it could be reduced to something that size without losing its effectiveness.

Ken has another gallery in Sydney relatively close to the Opera House. I’ve enjoyed several visits there over the years, reminiscing about meeting Ken and Pam and–of course–buying more of his pictures.

This poor gal didn’t get to tell me no photos were allowed until I’d already snapped this one. I assured her no one would be able to copy and steal any of Ken’s work from that picture.

SydneyGallery

What about you? Have you ever met someone you consider a celebrity, even though he or she might not be considered one by just everyone? How about sharing a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Photography–from Hobby to Ministry

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The pictures above are three of my favorites.

I started developing a real interest in photography–no pun intended with “developing”–around 1966 or 1967, when my church had a friend of my parents for a revival preacher. He was in and out of our home several times, and he became interested in my Zenith Transoceanic shortwave radio, something that had given me hours of pleasure over the years, but which I was no longer using at all then.

And he had a camera he no longer had a need for. An Argus C-3, if I recall correctly. Of course, that was a long time before the advent of digital photography. As a college student, I didn’t have much money for film and processing, so I focused (no pun intended here, either) on black-and-white photography. I didn’t go crazy taking pictures, though. I still couldn’t afford to.

But then–that summer or the next–I was working at a summer job in North Carolina at a Baptist conference center that produced a yearbook of and for summer staff. I don’t recall how the editor of the yearbook came to see some of my photographs, but I was asked to be the yearbook photographer. That meant taking as many candid pictures as I could–not the individual staff pictures–at no cost to me personally.

In fact, they not only borrowed a light meter and a tripod for me, they allowed me to keep all of the prints they couldn’t use. How could things get better than that?

Although I still glance through that yearbook occasionally and take pride in a number of my pictures, I can’t help feeling embarrassed over duds they had to include because no better pictures were available.

Skip ahead a number of years to my first mission trip–Australia. By then I was lugging around a good-sized video camera that used VHS tapes–and not a film camera. It took several more mission trips for me to realize that–although being able to show certain activities “live” was desirable–it was a poor substitute in other ways for good  photographs that people could peruse casusally.

After several years of doing both videos and still photos, I gave up the video recording. I moved slowly through a progression of increasingly nice film cameras until I finally made the move to digital.

I was hooked. I could finally take as many pictures as I wanted to, delete the duds, and print only the ones I needed prints of. I could even doctor them up electronically. How wonderful!

For a number of years I adorned my living room walls with 24×30 inch posters of some of my favorite pictures. (I’ve since downsized to ledger-sized prints in order to include more.) And I’ve posted many of them on my website as well. Check HERE for a page of them. (The pictures OF me are NOT selfies, however.)

Sometimes I’ve felt a little funny about having so much money invested in camera equipment. Not that a professional photographer would look at my gear with more than mild curiosity.  But it’s turned out that God had a purpose in providing me with the interest, the talent, and the equipment .

I may not have an official title like “Church Photographer,” but I’ve become one of several people they always ask to take pictures of special events. Events like the yearly Family Fishing Day. The Shoebox Party. Special choir events. And numerous other occasions. Being useful that way not only makes me feel good, but encourages me to keep sharpening (okay, pun intentional this time) my skills.

I’m thrilled that God has chosen to turn my hobby into a ministry.

What about you? Do you have a hobby that has turned into a ministry to other people? How about sharing a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
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Best regards,
Roger