Abraham Maslow tells us that self actualization occurs in peak experiences. Perhaps this can help us see that happiness is not a state to be achieved, but a momentary experience. Try to live in a way that increases the frequency of those moments rather than reaching for some elusive perpetual state.

RyLanna Wedding

This gallery contains 40 photos.

Thanks to Ryan and Alanna, for a few magical days in October we all lived on the Queen Mary. Their wedding was nothing short of magnificent. I didn’t shoot a lot at the ceremony and reception. I was just into being a part of the wonder of it all. I’m sure their photographer will have […]

A Meditation on Terrorism

Drastic over-reaction is exactly what they want . . .

The Weekly Sift

Imagine you’re at one of those old-fashioned, bury-the-hatchet arranged weddings, where the son of your house is marrying the daughter of the enemy house. Picture it in as much detail as you can. The event has all the trappings of joy: A feast is cooking, a band is tuning up. And there’s some real joy in the air too: The long struggle might be over, and everybody present might be a survivor.

But there’s also tension. A few weeks ago, you were trying to kill these people, and they were trying to kill you. Some of them would still like to.

In particular, there’s one guy in the enemy camp who isn’t happy. He doesn’t like the peace, he didn’t like the terms of the treaty, and the war gave his life a sense of meaning that he doesn’t know how to replace.

As the reception starts, with the music…

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Happy Father’s Day

A year ago I wrote a blog post about Fathers’ Day. This year I was rendered speechless by my son’s post. Thanks, Ry . . . I Love You.

Ryan C.

Everyone has a father. But not everyone has a dad. I am lucky enough to have a dad. More than that, I am lucky to have a great one. We’ve had disagreements. We’ve argued. But through it all, he’s taught me a lot… So, in the spirit of Father’s Day, here are a few of the lessons that I’ve picked up from my old man.

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The “R” Word

In April 2014 L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million by the league after private recordings of him making racist comments were made public. Yet after repeated complaints, the NFL continues to support a franchise with an overtly racist name and logo. It’s a disgace.

This video needs to go viral . . . Please share.


During basic training every sailor, soldier, and airman learns about the Uniform Code of Military Justice (U.C.M.J.). They also learn that should they be taken prisoner, their country will NEVER stop trying to gain their release. These are 2 separate things, and both apply to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

Regardless of the circumstances of his capture, Sgt. Bergdahl was a prisoner of war. Our duty as a nation was to get him back. Prisoner exchange has always been standard operating procedure in every war going back to 1775. This is nothing new. Whenever we send troops into combat they need to know we are committed to getting them back . . . no matter what.

Sgt. Bergdahl’s release has been obtained, but he is still an American soldier who is subject to the articles of the UCMJ. People need to calm down and understand that. The U.C.M.J. will determine whether or not he was a deserter/traitor.

Little Christmas

When we were growing up Mom insisted that the tree and decorations stay up until “Little Christmas”. “The twelve days of Christmas don’t end on December 25th . . . They BEGIN on December 25th”, she always said.

Irish Christmas traditions draw to a close on January 6. The 12 days of the Irish Christmas season mark the twelve days between the birth of Christ and the arrival of the “Three Wise Men”, the Magi. January 6 is the day of the feast of the Epiphany. It is called “Little Christmas” in Ireland, Nollaig Bheag in Gaelic.



A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. What words come to mind when you view this photograph? Maybe . . . sweet, cuddly, fluffy, attentive and well-behaved . . . cute, obedient, well-trained?


I thought it would be “nice” (another one of those words) to take a picture of our schnauzer girls in front of the tree. It’s been raining and the snow is melting into a mud bog in their yard. They would have to be bathed. I captured Toto after a short pursuit, carried her into the bathroom and set her in the tub. As I was adjusting the water temperature out she jumped and, of course, shook muddy water all over the tub, the vanity, the previously clean towels . . . and me. She was unable to out maneuver me in the small confines of the bathroom and I returned her to tub. I stoked my motivation with a pep-talk, reminding myself how much better this was than the recent skunk episode. Now it was time to lather . . . rinse . . . and repeat. She was really slippery after the lathering and escaped before the rinse. After a sudsy shake I manged to get her back in the tub for the rinse, and said to hell with the repeat. I wrapped her in a wet towel and tried to begin the drying process. She thought this was a wonderful wrestling game wiggling, jumping and barking the whole time. Finally, it was time to open the door and let her out. Without hesitation, she dashed from one end of the house to the other rubbing up against any and every soft surface she could find . . . such fun!!!

I allowed myself only a brief moment of self-congratulations. I was only halfway home. Izzy (the smart one) had quickly sized up the situation and established a defensive position behind Lynne’s recliner in the livingroom. I went left . . . she went right. I stopped . . . she stopped. Then, in a flash of brilliance, I remembered the “chase instinct”. I did a 180 and ran toward the kitchen. Sure enough, Izzy was right on my heels. I did a quick pivot and drop, and she skidded on the kitchen floor right into my arms. I scooped her up and carried her, snarling in protest, to the tub. She seemed more resigned to her fate than Toto, and allowed the lather, rinse repeat without incident. The toweling dry was another writhing wrestling contest . . . the drier she got . . . the wetter I got. She escaped and did her own rub-a-dub-dub all over the house with Toto joining the fun. Terrier owners are familiar with the term “FRAP” . . . Frantic Random Activity Period. We now had two schnauzers frapping from one end of the house to the other. Thank goodness my job was done . . . oh wait . . . this was all part of a plan to take a Christmas photo.

I called for back-up, and Lynne joined me as my assistant for the shoot. First we had to lure them to the tree in the living room, but after the bath experience they weren’t having any part of it. I had a flashback to puppy kindergarten and canine good citizen classes (which are all about training humans). We needed a bait pouch. I loaded my pockets with treats and set up the camera.  Lynne was doing a great sheltie routine herding them down the hall into the photo studio living room. “SIT” I barked in my best command voice. They immediately stopped and looked at me. Lynne responded to my command and collapsed in the recliner.

The girls knew that a firm command was often followed by a tasty reward . . . so after some hesitation they reluctantly sat on their haunches to see what would happen. I rewarded them with glowing praise . . . and a tasty treat. They allowed me to position them in front of the tree, and I again ordered them to sit. Again I rewarded them and moved to the camera . . . and they followed me.  Reposition . . .”SIT” . . . reward . . . camera . . . follow . . .  Reposition . . .”SIT” . . . reward . . . camera . . . follow . . . This was not working. I decided to set up the camera and give Lynne a quick tutorial. I set shutter speed, aperture, automatic exposure bracketing and handed her the camera. “Don’t worry if you get me in the shot”, I said, “I’ll crop it out after.”

I had envisioned them looking directly into the camera lens, but 42 shots later this was the best of the batch. When I suggested we reshoot, Lynne gave me a look that was worth a thousand words (none of them terms of endearment). “Okay”, I said, “We’ll go with this one.”

“And now you know”, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

Merry Christmas Everybody.

The Beaches of Congamond

July 31st . . . “High Summer” on the Congamond Lakes in Southwick as I recall. Today I decided to take my camera and revisit the beaches of my youth. I was born in Westfield but moved to Southwick with my family in 1950. The house on Granville Road wasn’t finished so my folks rented a cottage on Bungalow Street for the summer. We would walk to the beach on the point off Point Grove Road (by The Anchor). Mom would watch as we cooled off in the shallows. The State Boat Ramp now occupies the point with a nice gazebo and fishing pier . . . but no beach.


After we moved into the new house Dad would drive the family to King’s Beach on North Pond. It was a wonderful place for a family with young children on a hot summer day. Today it’s a little bit of a hike through a wildlife management area to get there. The remnants of the blacktop access road can still be seen . . . but no beach.


As we grew, Mom and Dad decided it was time for swimming lessons. Now we headed to Gino’s Beach behind the Brass Rail (The Cove). We took swimming lessons from Huck Lamb at Gino’s. I also remember going to clambakes with my parents at the pavilion there. Today the pavilion still stands boarded up . . . but no beach.


Babb’s Beach was the happening place when we were teenagers. I remember the green clapboard concession stand and bright lights of the arcade, the steps down to the beach where there was a huge black rubber float and a slide. It was pretty quiet today. The restoration of the skating rink/dance hall is showing signs of progress . . . but no beach.


The lights and arcade music were dancing around in my head as I pulled out and headed south. Smith’s Beach on South Pond . . . surely there would be some action there! We were older when the family started going to Smith’s. We could swim out to “the raft” that had a raised platform for diving and jumping. Upon entering we would get a little piece of colored cloth tied around our wrist to show we had paid our 50 cents admission. Today, Smith’s Beach is the Southwick Town Beach. The white concrete wall is still there . . . and . . . a beach . . . but it was closed. Bacteria levels were too high.


July 31st . . . “High Summer” on the Congamond Lakes.

Fathers’ Day 2013

The third Sunday in June . . . it’s not men’s day, masculinity day, or “man up” day.

It’s Fathers’ Day. All it takes to be a man is a Y chromosome. It takes a lot more to be a Father. It takes more than just having children. There’s no shortage of men who are little more than sperm donors. That’s not being a Father. Fathers’ Day is the day we set aside to honor those men who “Dad Up”.

“Dad Up” . . . I like that better than man up, an all too familiar phrase in today’s world. What does it mean to Dad Up?  Some might say it requires sacrifice . . . I think a better term would be investment. A Father invests in his children . . . he invests his time . . . he invests his experience . . . he invests his financial resources . . . he invests his Self. It’s not really a sacrifice because the payoff far exceeds the investment. The greatest joy in a Father’s Life is seeing his children develop into caring, competent, loving Human Beings. There’s nothing better.

So a big “Thank You” goes out to all my fellow men, past and present, who have displayed the courage and commitment to “Dad Up”.

This day is for all of you.