Readers were introduced to this young couple in my blog post on April 15, linked here.  The big day finally arrived on June 7th.  The wedding was held at Sahuaro Ranch Park in Glendale.  The day went off with just a minor hitch.  Mother Nature blessed us with a 112 degree day.  But we live in a desert and are aware of the things we need to do to survive and found as much open shade as we could at 4 in the afternoon to get the early photo session out of the way.

The venue for the wedding was the fruit packing shed at the park.  It was a great little place to have the ceremony and the reception.  The shed and the surrounding area allow for rustic looking photographs using the antique buildings and equipment as props.  We also had access to the vineyards to use as a backdrop for some of the images we took.  And the park is not nicknamed “Peacock Park” for no reason.  The many peacocks that live on the ranch decided to show up and watch the “goings on” of the afternoon.

Because Katie is a former student athlete of mine, there were many guests at the wedding that are also former students and athletes that I haven’t seen in quite awhile.  It was great seeing them and catching up with their lives.  My little Hawklings have all grown up…sniff.  It is great to see how these young men and women have grown out of that “floppy puppy” person they were as Freshmen.

I want to thank Katie and Jason for the opportunity to photograph their wedding and share in that magical time of their lives.  They are a great couple who display a great enthusiasm for each other and for Jason’s son, Andrew.  I wish them the best as they start on this new journey as a family.


KJW-43The beautiful bride

KJW-10The handsome groom

KJW-25The Groom and his Men

KJW-47The Bride and her Lovely Ladies

KJW-49 KJW-23The wedding was soccer themed, as the couple met at a soccer tournament they were both playing in.

KJW-151-EditThe Family Hyatt


KJW-180-Edit2013 version of American Gothic


KJW-80Katie’s grandfather’s Bible

KJW-376Sealed the deal on the Bible

KJW-359-EditIt was a donut that started it all…great things start out as simple things


KJW-252-EditAll wedding portraits should look like this.  Fun was the keyword of the evening.

KJW-302The main event of the reception dance.  Andrew calls his dad out for a dance-off.  As I remember it, Andrew won.


Wedding photography was done by Tim Poole of Poole Photography LLC

Thanks to my second shooter Brianna Yahraus for all her help that night.



About a month ago when I was getting a haircut from Vonn, the young lady responsible for making me look as terrific as I do, she informed me that she was putting together a Client Appreciation Day.  She envisioned her gift to her clients as a time in a park where the client would come and bring the family or significant other and get a 15 minute mini “on location photo shoot” by her friend and professional photographer Jana.  This event was free of charge and each customer participating was to receive for free 2 high quality, high resolution prints of his or her choice.  Vonn asked me if I would be interested and that I had a choice: getting my photograph taken or helping out with the photography.  Since I already know what I look like, I jumped at the chance to come out and help with taking pictures.

As I was not the lead photographer, meaning that my images were not going to be the ones that would be viewed and selected for printing by the clients, I knew I would have more freedom in how and what I shot.  This was a great chance to get some great practice done in a real situation but without the normal pressures of shooting lead.  I would be able to go for the shots I like to do best, the candid shots, the “non-posed” images which capture the emotionality of any given moment.

I also used the day as an opportunity to rent a lens I had been wanting to try, the 85 mm 1.2 by Canon.  It is a prime lens that has a great reputation for excellent portrait results and tack sharp images.

The morning was to be a styled shoot.  Basically that means  instead of just showing up and getting a picture or two taken, there would be a theme to the session complete with props.  The theme for the morning was “picnic”.  Vonn provided a plethora of props for the session as well as encouraging her clients to bring props of their own.  Although I have heard about them and seen images from them, this was my first ever involvement with a styled shoot.  Vonn ran the whole morning like a movie director putting all the pieces together for a film masterpiece.  She helped with the posing, moved the props, moved us to various locations around the park and was pretty much a dynamo of energy and creativity all morning long.

I also enjoyed observing another photographer at work.  One can learn much by watching how other people perform their work.  That is why colleges and universities put students with a mentor teacher so they can observe the professional in a classroom situation.  Thankfully, Jana didn’t charge tuition.  I was able that morning to observe how she posed her subjects, how she interacted with them, made them feel relaxed during the shoot. When we had a break between clients I was able to ask Jana any question that came to my mind during the previous session.

I saw my main purpose of the morning as that of a “behind the scenes” shooter.  I was documenting the documentary, so to speak.  Sort of a B roll shooter in film jargon.  I ended up taking photographs of the props, the scenery, the posing,  the young ladies at work, the unguarded moments of the clients, and the ducks.  No self respecting park is without a duck population.  And no matter what the session, I am always capturing an image or three of the ducks.

Here are images of some of the props used on Vonn’s first ever CLIENT APPRECIATION DAY.


Some of the clients that came that day were couples.  For one of her props of the day, Vonn made this little “love” sign.


Of course what is a  picnic without a picnic basket?  Just ask Yogi and Boo Boo.


If kids are coming, balloons are a MUST!

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Vonn did something special for the last family of the day.  It was the dad’s birthday. Vonn secretly brought party hats, cupcakes and a birthday sign she had made.  She had the dad and mom off by themselves while behind their backs the two daughters and grandma put on the hats and got out the cakes.  Much like a “first look” shot at a wedding, the dad was asked to turn around and as he turned, Jana photographed his reaction to his mini surprise party.  Great fun.


The complete picnic staging area.  The pillows are hand made by Vonn.  Attempting a little humor I asked Vonn “in what demented universe do people bring books to a picnic?”  I was informed by the two young women that bringing books to picnics was quite normal and not “demented”.  At that point I figured out two things: 1. it has been way, way too long since I have been on a picnic, and 2. I am never as funny as I think I am.


All that morning, being in the park on a great day with  a nice little breeze and pleasant, lovely people all around, the song “Saturday Afternoon” by the Jefferson Airplane, with its lyrics about “incense and balloons”, kept replaying itself in my head.  (listening to the song now as I write this little post).  Brought back many pleasant memories.

Now about those ducks…one of my objectives for renting the 85 mm was to see if it truly performed as advertised.  Would it delivery those tack sharp details that turn a good image into a great one. I was not disappointed.  This lens may have jumped passed a new refrigerator and big screen TV on my must purchase list.

Just look at this pre-crop and post-crop result.



If the enlarged duck has any soft detail, it is because of depth of field, not because of the lens.  I am pretty sure that when I saw how sharp these images turned out when I zoomed in, I got up and fist pumped and said “YES!” a few times, frightening cats and wife all at the same time.

I can live with an ice chest and a 19″ TV.


Jana “capturing the moment” with Vonn looking on.

I am very appreciative that Jana gave permission for me to work beside her during this shoot.  It was essentially her gig, and she didn’t have to do that.  I am glad she did. I learned much from talking with her and watching how she interacted with the subjects during the session.

Jana did earn a degree of sympathy from me, however.  On the odd occasion that she asked me a question, I went “full teaching mode” on her, starting from the invention of photography to the current state of Adobe and Photoshop.  Old habits are hard to break.  My motto?  “Why say in 5 words what I can rant on for 4,000.”  Now she knows what my poor students had to sit through.


Vonn doing it all; giving instructions, encouraging her clients and carrying the props.   Thanks you for inviting me to tag along and take pictures on your special client day.

For samples of this shoot and more of Jana’s images go here.

For your hair styling needs, Vonn’s page is here.

Title of this blog is a play on “They Might Be Giants” which can either be the name of a movie or the name of an American alternative rock band.

“Saturday Afternoon” by JA is linked here.


Instead of pigeons, what if they were “Peacocks from Hell”?

It all started last week when in the extreme early morning (that darn golden hour), I was in the parking lot of the Glendale Library awaiting the arrival of a family that I was photographing that morning.  The place sounded like “Wild Kingdom”.  Apparently, a few of the peacocks from neighboring Sahuaro Ranch Park decided to wander over and check out the surroundings at the library, or do whatever peacocks do at 6:15 in the morning.  Whatever it was, it was loud.

Now in the many times I have been to Sahuaro Ranch Park to take photographs, I have never been able to capture a peacock with his feathers out.  But today I got lucky.  This bad boy came out this morning and claimed the parking lot.


He had those feathers spread the entire time I was there, a living version of strutting like a peacock.  Spent most of his time walking around and chasing any and all birds and critters that happen to land in his space.  In the upper right of the picture is one of the birds the peacock was particular vexed with that morning.


Since I didn’t have a long enough lens with me to catch closeup shots of this  bird from the safety of my truck bed, I had to sneak up on this guy,  like Elmer hunting wabbit, in order to get close enough to get a good picture.  As I kept shooting and stepping closer, I started to think in the back of my mind “what if this sucker gets ticked off and attacks me?”  If that bird attacked me and I wasn’t mortally wounded, I knew for a fact I would feel extremely stupid about it.  I concluded it was time to stop shooting the pretty bird and  go shoot pretty flowers instead.


But I apparently was not done with peacocks that day.  As I was going about my shooting, I heard this loud peacock cry from right above me.  I looked up and there on the roof of the two story library was this fellow.


There he was, the king of all peacocks that morning.  And unless there is a secret little peacock ladder, that guy had to fly up to the top of that roof.  Just like I have never seen a baby pigeon (have you?), I have never seen a peacock fly.  I still haven’t, but I bet it is a sight to see.

Of course being it is really, really early in the morning and I am not coffeed up yet, my mind starts wandering off into a little flight of imagination.  Having already escaped a near death situation with the peacock in the parking lot (I am never going to an outdoor shoot again without my Bowie knife). I immediately connected the peacock on the roof with my favorite scary TV episode “Pigeons from Hell”.

What if  they were Peacocks from Hell?

Seriously, if there were about 20 peacocks lined up on that roof looking down at me, I am heading for the truck and locking the doors and leaving, Bowie Knife or not.  I am not going to be the photographer who keeps taking pictures until the only thing they find is my camera and the last shot I took was of the monster’s teeth and gullet.  I am not going to be the Tim that dies in this scary movie.

close crop

As photographers today we are blessed, and sometimes I think cursed, with the ability to manipulate the final image into whatever reality we as artists would like that image to reside.  Reminds me of another moment from a great classic move, “The Three Amigos”, in which the German was telling Ned that all his quick draw ability was just special effects. We have that option as photographers as well, to alter the reality of our photographs. So I decided to play a little with the sliders in Light Room 4 to give the photographs  a bit of a different mood for each image.


This is the image straight out of the camera.  I tend to shoot dark, so later when I edit I don’t have a blown out sky.

So let’s adjust the sliders a little to give the photograph a bit of a golden glow of the morning sun.


I next tried a bit of over saturation and cooler temperature to give the photograph a bit of an other worldly look, or a twilight look.


Of course, if I was continuing in the “Peacocks from Hell”  meme, I would just say one thing: everything is scarier in black and white.


La session de la maternité de Haze

For the majority of my teaching career it was a very rare occurrence  but always a treat, to run into a former student. Facebook has obviously changed that. Vive la révolution des médias sociaux! But before Facebook hit the scene, seeing a former student and catching up with them usually happened by accident. As it did with Hazel. Hazel is a former photography student of mine from 2006. Our reconnecting happened when I walked into my bank one day, which I seldom do, and there was Hazel working at the teller window. As a student, Hazel was always smiling and cheerful and we had many a pleasant conversation during class. She hasn’t  changed at all. We now connect on Facebook, and on those still rare occasions when I go into the bank I can still count on Hazel for a cheerful greeting and a bit of pleasant conversation.

When it comes to remembering a student, there usually is one or two incidents with that student that come to mind.   One story I remember is the day I sent Hazel down to her French teacher to see if the two of them could translate the words to a 15th century French folk song.  Hazel and the teacher did their best, but after all, it WAS 15th century French.  Think reading Medieval English.  Now I can Google the song for the translation.  I can even download the song as a ringtone.  La joie de merveilles modernes.

Hazel is expecting her second child. Hazel graciously allowed me to use her as my model for my first ever maternity session.   I am very grateful to you, Hazel, for giving me this opportunity.

Appréciez les photos tout le monde.

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I really, really wanted to call this post “Downton Aby”, but I kept envisioning a variation of the opening of “The Prisoner”, where ITV and PBS send a copyright agent to gas me and I awake in the Village talking to the New #2 and asking him “who is number 1?”  And in the interest of the truth, up until today, I always thought it was “Downtown Abby” and the Brits were just mispronouncing it.

As the reader may have figured from the title, Apollo Aby is a former photography student of mine at Apollo High School.  Aby was one of the few students who took my class for a second year.  Aby was a good student and it was a pleasure to have her in my class.  We kept in touch after graduation through Facebook.

It was in the fall of 2012 that Aby messaged me and told me she was looking to take some photography classes and would I give her some advice on what camera she should purchase.  I advised her as to what her best options would be for a camera.  After that, I really never heard any more about Aby getting a camera.

That changed in February when I got a message from her which said that she had gotten a camera and she was scheduled to shoot a Quinceanera and would I be able to help her out? Aby had received a Canon T3i for Christmas as well as a couple of lenses.  I was more than happy to give Aby as much help as she needed in photographing the upcoming Quinceanera.  I had to admit to Aby that the last Quinceanera I had attended was over 31 years ago, so I really wasn’t sure about the traditional shots that one took at a Quinceanera.  After much discussion and looking at her Quinceanera photographs, we decided that I would basically act as a second shooter for her and let her take the lead on the shoot.  Having taught Aby, I was extremely confident in her ability to photograph the event successfully.

The setting was in a huge park in downtown Phoenix.  Google map was not quite up to date on how many entrances there were to this park, so I ended up in the wrong parking lot.  Aby called me and asked where I was.  I told  her and then she informed me that she could see my little blue truck.  I asked where they were, and she told me to look across the big lake in front of me.  They were on the other side.  Eventually I made it to the right side of the lake and got to join in the shoot.

By the time I got there, Aby had everything under control like an old pro.  Aby’s mom was also there giving us helpful suggestions and keeping Aby’s little girl entertained when needed.  I soon realized that my main role that day would be to provide moral support for Aby.  I kind of tagged along for the rest of the day taking a few photographs here and there of Sabrina, the star of the Quinceanera, and a few photographs of Aby’s mom and daughter, and the decorations at the banquet venue.

Although I never had any doubt, I felt very happy for Aby when she messaged me telling me how much Sabrina liked all of Aby’s photographs.  It was a pleasure working with Aby and I will say right here that I am very proud of this young woman.


Subtitle:  The Good, the Bad and the Scary.  (Cue the greatest movie western theme song here)

THE GOOD  Back in February I wrote about the Matsuri Festival and the wonderful young artist Airi and her 1,000 origami cranes.  The first week in April, I got an invitation to the opening reception of Airi’s show “Resilience” at the Method Art Gallery in Scottsdale.  The show was a combination of the photographs she took in the city of Ishinomaki, Japan, and the 1,000 origami cranes she made to sell as a fundraiser so she could go to Ishinomaki and help with the town’s rebuilding efforts.  In Airi’s own words:

Resilience” is a collection of photographs taken in the city of Ishinomaki in Japan where on March 11, 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami devastated the area. The reconstruction of the town has been extensive and filled with many obstacles. It is deeply rooted in Japanese culture that if something is worth having it is greatly sought after and requires dedication and perseverance. Rather than just documenting the destruction the tsunami left behind, these photographs symbolize the resilience that the Japanese have embraced.”

It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse.  And if my memory served me right, opening receptions usually meant snacks.  Of course I accepted the invite.

Of course, the cranes were as awesome as I remembered them. But I found myself equally impressed with Airi’s photographs.  Photography is used to capture those moments in time that tell the story in the vision and style of the photographer.  Airi’s photographs did a wonderful job of chronicling the efforts and the resilience of Ishinomaki and its people in her unique way.

I also had a pleasant time talking with Airi.  I met her sister, mother and father, who are Airi’s biggest supporters and fans.  They had been right by Airi’s side helping her put up the show the night before.  Her sister, Riho, had also lent a hand with the making of the origami birds.  In fact, mother and father have raised a couple of young women with a strong sense of community and humanitarianism.  Riho herself had spent 3 months in New  York helping with Hurricane Sandy relief.

The sisters shared an amusing story about making the origami cranes.  As they were mixing the chemicals for the cyanotype process, Airi discovered they were out of one of the ingredients; hydrogen peroxide.  As nothing was open and they didn’t want to wait until the next morning, it was discovered that Airi’s contact solution contained the much needed hydrogen peroxide.  Problem solved.  One has to admire that kind of ingenuity.

As a gift for those of us that she invited, Airi made each person their own origami crane.  According to the tradition, “when someone makes an origami crane, the crane is invested with a gesture of goodwill for the person to whom it will be gifted.”  I like that.  Airi’s gift to me is hanging right beside me as I type.  I can use all the goodwill I can get.

Thank  you, Airi, for your lovely gift.  I wish you the best of luck as you start the next phase of your artistic endeavors.


THE BAD  My first field trip with my brand new digital camera was to the Japanese Gardens in downtown Phoenix.  It is quite a lovely place.  They have ducks.  I like ducks.  According to the hostess, the ducks are not supposed to be there.  All of the ponds and lakes at the Gardens are for the Koi.  I guess nobody told the ducks.  I got a couple of really great action shots of a duck coming in for a landing.  Several months later, when I was putting together my website and my Facebook business page, I used my favorite duck picture of that day as a featured photograph.

Remember as a kid if you showed your mom a piece of paper with a stick man drawn in grape jelly that drawing was a sure sign of of artistic genius and immediately hung up somewhere in the house?  I am happy to say that my wife doesn’t do that.  Don’t get me wrong, she likes the artwork and photography that I do, but she doesn’t think everything I photograph needs to be hung in a gallery.  But she LOVED that duck picture.  Hopefully, I have made it clear. Although she greatly likes the photographs I do, this duck picture was the only one she LOVED. This last Wednesday she came to me and said ” this may sound silly for an anniversary gift, but would you consider getting the duck picture I LOVE printed and framed for me so I can put it my new office at work?”  I didn’t think that sounded silly at all.  In fact, it was a great idea.  I have been wanting to try out some high quality prints for myself.  This would be perfect.

The reader might be wondering at this moment “Where is the bad?  Your wife LOVES your stupid duck picture, Tim, and wants to hang a print of it in her office.”  Good question.  The bad enters this story on the Sunday before she asked for the print.  On that day, I deleted my original file of that print. Not only that, I had deleted the image from my website.  And the topper was, I never posted it on Facebook like I thought I had.

It is never a pleasant feeling  starting a conversation with  “Dear, I am afraid I have some bad news…”

Yes, I could always go back to the Japanese Gardens and take more duck pictures, but it just wouldn’t be the same.  There didn’t seem to be any hydrogen peroxide in MY contact solution.  I was defeated.

But sometimes bad has a happy ending.  Just this very afternoon I was working on my Facebook business page and I started thinking that I remember posting that stupid duck on Facebook.  Just maybe I had posted it to my business albums instead of my personal site albums.  I looked under albums and sure enough, there was an album of 2 pictures titled “Japanese Gardens…Ducks”  I will be getting the framed order in about 14 days.


THE SCARY A little over a month ago I posted a blog about an episode on the TV show Thriller.  The episode was called  “Pigeons from Hell”.  I finally worked up enough nerve to watch the whole episode on YouTube and I did a full analysis of why this episode scared me so much that I can still see the dead guy coming down the stairs with an ax buried in his head.  I came to the following conclusions:

1. It was in black and white.  Everything is scarier in black and white.

2. It had scary music.  Not just scary music, but scary woman music.  Every time the scary woman started singing, it meant someone would go into a trance, go upstairs and get killed.  Whenever you heard that, it was time to shut the eyes.

3.  The main character’s name is Tim.  I was too young to know at the time that in most horror movies the character named Tim usually dies.  But I know my dad and my Uncle Ed.  I can’t prove it, but I am absolutely positive that they spent the entire show saying things like “they are going to get you Tim!”  Not cool.

4.  It had zombies in it.  Not your Zombie Apocalypse type zombies, but the more traditional voodoo zombies.

Viewing it 52 years after the first watching of the show, I felt it held up well.  It was more creepy than scary this time around.  And back then, the censorship pretty much meant that the mind had to imaging all the blood and gore.  The theater of the mind.  For example, in the most famous slasher scene ever, the shower scene in the original “Psycho” we never see the knife penetrate any flesh at any time.  The music and the screaming is what made the illusion seem so real, and the chocolate syrup.

I also was reminded that our minds play tricks on us over the years.  I can still vividly see a man walking down the stairs of this creepy old house with an ax sticking out of his head.  NOT TRUE!  He walked down the stairs with the ax in his hand, with the intent of burying the ax in Timmy’s head.

I am pretty sure that is when I heard my first “he’s coming to get you, Timmy!”  Muahhahahahahaha!!!

Pigeon from hell


Their love story begins at a soccer tournament. Katie was asked at the last minute if she wanted to participate in a weekend soccer tournament. She agreed. On her way to the tournament, Katie picked up a maple iced donut for pre-meet nutrition. During the usual pre-game milling around, Katie was getting ready to eat the afore mentioned donut when a strapping young soccer player walked up to her and struck up a conversation. It was primarily about what motivates all strapping young athletes; food, specifically the donut that Katie was about to eat. The young man introduced himself as Jason and informed Katie that he was a huge fan of maple donuts and asked if she would be willing to share. Katie agreed that he could have half. As she was about to tear the donut in two, Jason was called away to join his team in their pregame warm up. After he left, Katie ate her half and put Jason’s half away for safe keeping. After all, she thought, a deal is a deal.

A couple of hours later, during a break in the action, Jason found his way back to Katie and jokingly asked if she had saved him some of the donut. Much to his surprise Katie pulled out the half of the donut she had kept and gave it to him. Jason told Katie he was kidding around and didn’t really expect that she had saved any for him. Katie explained to him that she had told him she would give him some of the donut and she was just keeping her word.

As the day is drawing to an end, Jason wandered over to where Katie was and suggested to her that they exchange phone numbers, just in case he needs another maple donut sometime. By the time Jason returned to his team’s camp, he realized that he had used one of the dorkiest “let’s exchange phone numbers” lines….ever! When the crush of regret and remorse got a firm grip in Jason’s wheelhouse, he texted a girl he knew telling her that he had just used the dorkiest “let’s exchange numbers” line…ever! The rest of the text pretty much bemoaned the fact that he had blown any chance he might have had to get to know Katie, etc. etc. It just so happens that the girl Jason texted is also a friend of Katie’s and she shared Jason’s text with Katie.

I am happy to say that Jason’s fears were unfounded. Katie and Jason are engaged to be married in June.

Who knew that Cupid’s arrow would come in the shape of a maple donut?

I am pleased to share these images from Katie and Jason’s engagement session.

“Live hand in hand and together we’ll stand…on the threshold of a dream.”

from “The Dream” by the Moody Blues


Cupid’s arrow…with maple frosting


About a month or so ago Sarah, a young lady I met at the Help Portrait event in December, contacted me and asked if I would consider joining her and Frauke, another Help Portrait person, in photographing the activities at the Down Syndrome Network’s picnic on World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st.

It was quite a picnic!  Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, pizza, and vast amounts of salads and desserts were available for consumption. The organizers rented those big, inflatable buildings for the kids to play on. The park was rocking with the great tunes the DJ was playing.  Psy’s “Gangnam Style” got the boys and girls and even a couple of adults up and performing the “Gangnam Style” dance.  A couple of young ladies were doing face painting, and a couple of clowns were creating colorful animal balloons for the kids.  (I did yell at one clown “MAKE ME A CAR, CLOWN!” but apparently he isn’t as big a fan of Wedding Crashers as I am).  As I surveyed the scene and circulated around to take pictures, I saw that the kids had those bright and wonderful faces a child gets when it is their birthday, or it’s Christmas morning.  It was a wonderful time.

As much as I hate the use of cliches, I am going to use one now.  I want my pictures to speak for themselves.  This is just a small sample, but I think the images will speak the story better than I can write it. One more thing: when I was editing the images, the song “Shining Happy People” by REM kept running through my head.  I am linking it here.  Give it a listen while you look at the images.  You’ll leave with a smile in your heart.

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I met Nilza during my last year of teaching at Apollo High School.  She was a sophomore when I met her.  I was hanging out in my friend Dave’s classroom while he was having an Academic Decathlon meeting.  Nilza was a member of the team.  After the meeting she and Dave started to discuss guitars and music.  I found out that Nilza is a huge Beatles fan.  I just love it when the youth of today appreciate the classics.

Nilza is a smart, talented and, as can be seen in these images, a beautiful young lady.  In addition to her participation on the Academic Decathlon team Nilza is also a member of the Apollo Marching Band.  She taught herself to play guitar and has quite the singing voice.  Just a few days after we shot this session,  Nilza sang her way to a first place finish in the Apollo Talent Show.  Quite a finish as Nilza wraps up her senior year.

And of course, she has impeccable taste in music.  Did I mention she is a Beatles fan?

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A Wee Bit of the Irish


I remember my grandmother showing me a photograph of her father, Fred Kelly, taken on a trip to Ireland in his elder years.  So I have known from my days as a child that I have roots in Ireland.  The roots are on my mother’s side, which makes it difficult to convince people with the wonderful, classic Irish surnames that I am one of their Irish brothers .Especially since my last name is about as English as it can get.

So this year, with St. Patrick’s Day coming upon us, I decided to do research on in order to find out my true link with the Emerald Isle.

The farthest the records go back is to James Kelly, born in 1809.  He immigrated to the United States in the early 1840’s.  He had a son in 1844 named Thomas Marion Kelly.  Thomas Kelly had a son named Fred Kelly.  Fred Kelly had a daughter named Edna May, my grandmother, and she had a daughter, my mother, Dorothy Ann Uland.

I wish I could say something such as James’ lineage went back to some great Irish warrior or king or something of the sort.  So far, I have not found a mention of James ever having parents, so no luck there.  I don’t have a real cool story to use on an commercial.  James died a pauper in 1880.  Thomas served in the Civil War for the North in the 38th Indiana Regiment, Indiana Infantry, Company F.  This regiment participated in quite a few notable Civil War battles, but there is no record as to which of those, if any, Thomas Kelly may have fought in.  The only occupation any of the male Kellys listed on the census rolls was that of a farmer.

Other than my mother and grandmother, the person I know the most about is Fred’s wife, my great grandmother Anna L. Kelly. I found her obituary stuck one of my mother’s Bibles.  Great gramma Kelly was a member of the Church of Christ, the Rebekah Lodge and the Order of the Eastern Star.


Finding Anna L. Kelly’s obituary last night opened up a few forgotten memories from my childhood days.  The first St. Patrick’s Day I remember is the one that occurred when I was in the first grade.  Friends kept telling me I had to remember to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, or I would get pinched.  What self respecting 1st grader wants to get pinched?  So I went home and relayed this to my parents.  My grandmother happened to be visiting, and she informed me that WE do not wear green because WE are not Catholics!  Yikes!  So I pleaded my case as there were about 30 first graders who didn’t give a rat’s rear end about my grandmother’s religious convictions.  So I expressed my concerns as well as any 6 year old can about the upcoming trials of St. Patrick’s Day.  Let’s face it, I was coming off a month long high from St. Valentine’s Day.  I didn’t know who this new saint was but I wasn’t liking where this was going.   I did know where I WOULD be going if I wore green…straight to hell!  At this point I may have started to cry because having the choice of getting pinched or going to hell is, quite frankly, extremely stressful to a 6 year old.  But my grandmother, God rest her soul, sent me a life line.  As a Protestant, I could wear orange, which was the same thing as wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day.  Still struggling at school with simple things like seeing Spot run, I had no idea what a Protestant was, but at that moment I didn’t care. They were now my favorite people in the whole world!   With my soul now saved from the fiery lakes of hell, I could now bravely go to school, armed with the wearin’ of the orange, and be pinch free on St. Patrick’s Day!

It didn’t work…


I am, as far as heredity goes, a mongrel.  Go ahead, scratch my ears and make sure my nose is cold.  My great grandfathers and grandmothers hailed from England, Germany, Ireland and Wales.  In fact, I am a torn when I watch the movie “The Molly MaGuires.”  Do I root for the Irish coal miners or the Welsh police?

The saying is that on March 17th, everyone is a little bit Irish.  For me, it is nice to know that it is true.  I can trace my roots back to Ireland, back to one James Kelly, who boarded a ship headed to America to make a new life.  I am also aware that the amount of Irish blood in me is like a thimble full of water poured into the Colorado river.  But on March 17th, I can wear green without fear of hell or pinching, and I can proudly stand with my friends: the Devlins, the Tallys, the McMichaels et al and say, I am one of you!  I am a son of Hibernia!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

hat 2

Reign síochána Bealtaine Dia ar domhan agus i do chroí. Lá Sona Naomh Pádraig ar.


In the movie “The Longest Day”  Sean Connery says, as they are moving inland to the sound  of bagpipes, “Yeah, it takes an Irishman to play the pipes!”  Here is a little Irish wedding song for you.