Tag Archives: sunset

A Glorious End


Some days great things happen, and on other days, not-so-great of things happen. But when you have a GOOD day that has a GLORIOUS ending, it’s like icing on the cake. (And who likes cake without icing?  It’s not nearly as good!)

So, I shot today’s photo the same day as the photo from yesterday, but this one was shot earlier than yesterdays’, and I included the reflection of the sky in the lake in this one. It was one of those kind of scenes that just makes you feel warm and excited inside – leaving you wondering if you’ll ever see another sunset like it. Fortunately, we have numerous evenings here like this, so I’m not too worried about it.

I hope you enjoy this and that it helps bring you a bit of peace during this hectic season.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1986, Richard Kuklinski, a suspect in several murders, was arrested by undercover agents at a truck stop off the New Jersey Turnpike, marking the culmination of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ “Operation Iceman.” Kuklinski had sealed his fate when he showed operative Dominick Polifrone how to poison a person with cyanide.

The first murder authorities were able to link Kuklinski to was that of George Mallibrand, whom he shot over a debt in 1980. He then stuffed Mallibrand’s body into a 55-gallon drum in Jersey City. In July 1981, Kuklinski’s partner, Louis Masgay, mysteriously disappeared on the eve of an illegal business transaction, but there was no evidence linking Kuklinski to the incident. When his body turned up in September 1983, authorities determined that Masgay had been shot in the head and kept frozen since the day of the disappearance; his body was then dumped two years later.

In 1982, Kuklinski joined Dan Deppner and Gary Smith in a scam to steal cars. But because he apparently believed Deppner and Smith to be inept crooks, Kuklinski decided to kill them in order to protect himself. In a northern New Jersey hotel, Kuklinski poisoned Smith’s hamburger and then stuffed the dead body under the bed. Despite the fact that other guests had rented the room in the meantime, Smith was not discovered for four days.

In May 1983, a plastic bag containing Dan Deppner’s body was discovered near a tree in northern New Jersey. Because he was believed to have died from cyanide poisoning, police were convinced that Kuklinski was behind the series of murders, and they decided to institute a sting operation. Kuklinski was later taped discussing cyanide’s efficacy as a murder weapon, saying “It’s quiet, it’s not messy, it’s not noisy… You can spray it in someone’s face and they go to sleep.”

At his trial in 1987, Kuklinski argued that Smith and Deppner had not been killed with poison. Indeed, it is difficult to prove murder by cyanide since the poison leaves few traces behind. Nonetheless, the prosecution managed to prove Kuklinski’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He later confessed to killing Louis Masgay.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The most decorated unit ever in U.S. history is the 442nd regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke.” It consisted of Japanese-American volunteers. Together they won 4,667 major medals, awards, and citations, including 560 Silver Stars (28 of which had oak-leaf clusters), 4,000 Bronze Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and one Medal of Honor, plus 54 other decorations. It also held the distinction of never having a case of desertion.

Burning Sky


Every once in a while the sunset takes your breath away. We had a night like that not too long ago (maybe 2 weeks). As we went out the door to take the dog on her nightly rounds, the sun was nearly gone and the sky was aflame. It helps that we live by a small lake and the reflection on the lake was also breath-taking, but you won’t see that in today’s photo. (I’ll share some more of those pictures in the next couple of days.)

As the sun and color continued to drain and fade from the sky, the lighting changed rapidly and dramatically. Depending on where you focused and metered the exposure, quite different results were obtained.

I shot quite a few photos and then thought I was done, so I hurried to catch up with my wife and dog. As I did, I took one more glance toward the fading glory and saw what you see in today’s photo. I whipped the lens cover off, composed the shot, and fired. Sometimes the best shots are not contemplated, but come about as pleasant surprises. I guess this just goes to prove that you don’t always have to walk for miles in the pre-dawn darkness to get an image you like. I liked the contrast between the darkening sky and the silhouettes of the trees along the  edge of the lake – but most of all I liked that this image will remind me of that magical sunset for a long time!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, with the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets approaching from the east, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered a massive attack against the western Allies by three German armies.

The German counterattack out of the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium took the Allies entirely by surprise, and the experienced German troops wrought havoc on the American line, creating a triangular “bulge” 60 miles deep and 50 miles wide along the Allied front. Conditions of fog and mist prevented the unleashing of Allied air superiority, and for several days Hitler’s desperate gamble seemed to be paying off. However, unlike the French in 1940, the embattled Americans kept up a fierce resistance even after their lines of communication had been broken, buying time for a three-point counteroffensive led by British General Bernard Montgomery and American generals Omar Bradley and George Patton.

Fighting was particularly fierce at the town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division and part of the 10th Armored Division were encircled by German forces within the bulge. On December 22, the German commander besieging the town demanded that the Americans surrender or face annihilation. U.S. Major General Anthony McAuliffe prepared a typed reply that read simply:

To the German Commander:


From the American Commander

The Americans who delivered the message explained to the perplexed Germans that the one-word reply was translatable as “Go to hell!” Heavy fighting continued at Bastogne, but the 101st held on.

On December 23, the skies finally cleared over the battle areas, and the Allied air forces inflicted heavy damage on German tanks and transport, which were jammed solidly along the main roads. On December 26, Bastogne was relieved by elements of General Patton’s 3rd Army. A major Allied counteroffensive began at the end of December, and by January 21 the Germans had been pushed back to their original line.

Germany’s last major offensive of the war had cost them 120,000 men, 1,600 planes, and 700 tanks. The Allies suffered some 80,000 killed, wounded, or missing in action, with all but 5,000 of these casualties being American. It was the heaviest single battle toll in U.S. history.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: During its construction, the Great Wall was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many people died building it. Reportedly, it cost the lives of more than one million people.

Hanalei Bay Sunset

Double click for a larger version of the image...
Double click for a larger version of the image…

This is a picture I took a few years back of a sunset, looking westward, at Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Why am I sharing this picture now?  Not because I’m going back there any time soon, but just because this photo whispers peace to me. It was a very gentle evening, warm, but not overly hot, a soft breeze caressed everyone delightfully.

I believe I shared this photo back in the days shortly after I shot it, but I share it again now because perhaps you need some peace in your life. Get lost in the palms, the colors of the sky and sea, and relax. Shaka, bro! Aloha!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia, in 1923, was a combat fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13 German planes and was himself shot down over France, but he escaped capture with the assistance of the French Underground. After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight.

For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, theorizing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart. All that changed on October 14, 1947, when Yeager flew the X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet and exceeding 662 miles per hour (the sound barrier at that altitude). The rocket plane, nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis,” was designed with thin, unswept wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet.

Because of the secrecy of the project, Bell and Yeager’s achievement was not announced until June 1948. Yeager continued to serve as a test pilot, and in 1953 he flew 1,650 miles per hour in an X-1A rocket plane. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: When McDonald’s opened in 1986 in Rome, food purists outside the restaurant gave away free spaghetti to remind people of their culinary heritage. (If you ever invite me over for dinner, Italian is my favorite cuisine, hands down!)

…a New Year

Double click the image to see a larger size
Double click the image to see a larger size

Hopefully, if you overdid it last night, your headache has worn off!  What did we do?  Stayed home, watched movies, read.  But, from about 11:30 on until I supposed 12:30, it sounded like a war zone outside.  I guess that Georgia rednecks love their fireworks!  Just yesterday evening we had gone to Costco for some stuff and they had huge packs of fireworks on sale (probably 4-5 feel tall and 2-1/2 feet wide)!

There is a verse in the Bible that encourages us not to let the sun go down on our anger – in other words, if you’re angry, work it out before the day is over.  Pretty good advice, if you ask me (I know you didn’t, but I’m throwing it out there anyway!)

Today’s photo was shot from the pier at Pismo Beach in California a couple of weeks ago as the sun was getting really low over the Pacific.  I thought that, in light of the end of one year and the start of another, it might be a good idea to take that verse and ask ourselves a few questions: 1) Am I still really bitter and angry with someone about something that they did or said this last year?  2) Is there someone who might be really angry with me from this past year?  3) How can I make either situation better heading into 2015?

Someone once said that unforgiveness is like mixing up a poison for your adversary to drink, but then drinking it yourself.  Think how much better of a place the world would be in 2015 if we would learn to forgive one another, if we sought out those we’ve hurt and asked them to forgive us (whether they deserve it or not).  Wouldn’t it be great if this year was the year to end wars?  Wouldn’t it be great if no one hurt you this year?  Well, that’s not going to happen…but we can choose how we will respond in return.  I hope this year we will all resolve to not be so petty, so small…and to rise above the hurts and angry each day so the world can be a better place.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  “Folsom Prison Blues” gave Johnny Cash his first top-10 country hit in 1956 (but that’s not what happened on this day in history), and his live concert performance at Folsom—dramatized memorably in the film Walk The Line—gave his flagging career a critical jump-start in 1968. But the prison with which Johnny Cash was most closely associated wasn’t Folsom, it was San Quentin, a maximum-security penitentiary just outside of San Francisco. San Quentin is where Cash played his first-ever prison concert on this day in 1958—a concert that helped set Merle Haggard, then a 20-year-old San Quentin inmate, on the path toward becoming a country music legend.

Haggard was a product of Bakersfield, California, a hard-bitten Central Valley town that was the final stop for tens of thousands of poor, white farmers and laborers who migrated west during the 1930s, 40s and 50s seeking work in the factories, farm fields and oilfields of California. These Oklahomans, Texans and others referred to by the blanket term “Okies” brought with them a love of country music, and not just any country music, but “Loud music that plays until all hours,” as Wynn Stewart sang in his 1962 country hit “How the Other Half Lives.” Merle Haggard would eventually become an architect of the hard-driving, no-frills Bakersfield Sound, which shook the Nashville establishment in the 1960s. But not before he ran afoul of the legal establishment in ways that most country singers only sing about.

Haggard did his first stint in jail at age 11, when his mother turned him over to the juvenile authorities as “incorrigible.” As a teenager, Haggard went into jail at least three more times, and went out via escape at least once. In 1957, at the age of 18, Haggard was arrested on a burglary charge and sentenced to 15 years in San Quentin. He ended up serving only two years of that sentence, though, and he credits Cash with giving him the inspiration to launch a career after prison that included 38 #1 hits on the country charts, including “Sing Me Back Home,” “Okie From Muskogee” and “Today I Started Loving You Again.” Of Johnny Cash’s prison debut, Haggard said this: “He had the right attitude. He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards—he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  for all you red-heads out there: Mark Twain once quipped that “while the rest of the human race are descended from monkeys, redheads derive from cats.”

Of a Perfect Day

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Sometimes sunsets just spell-bind me!  The last few nights as we took the dog down to the lake to let her take care of her business, I’ve noticed the setting sun and the reflections on the lake and thought to myself, “I should get a picture of that!”  Well, tonight before we went out the door I grabbed my camera and came up with today’s photo.

I sorta think it is the perfect end to the day.  I like how the fire of the sun burns on the surface of the water even as it dies in the western sky.  Ah, serenity!

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY:  Did you know that during WW2 the Japanese bombed the US mainland (not just Hawaii, but the mainland?)  On this day in 1942, a Japanese float plane drops incendiary bombs on an Oregon state forest-the first and only air attack on the U.S. mainland in the war.

Launching from the Japanese sub I-25, Nobuo Fujita piloted his light aircraft over the state of Oregon and firebombed Mount Emily, alighting a state forest–and ensuring his place in the history books as the only man to ever bomb the continental United States. The president immediately called for a news blackout for the sake of morale. No long-term damage was done, and Fujita eventually went home to train navy pilots for the rest of the war.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Google uses approximately 20 petabytes of user-generated data every day. (Petabytes are estimated at 10 to the 15th power. So 1 petabyte is approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.) It uses massive amounts of computation to index the Web, process search results, serve up ads, and more.

…a Galaxy Far, Far Away


Today’s photo is from the RV park where we lived in Georgia from December through mid-May of this year.  It was sunset when I shot this picture and I just thought it was so beautiful!

There are places that we will remember all our lives (not to steal a lyric from the Beatles) because they hold special meaning to us.  They are beautiful either because of what happened there or for their own sake…it matters not which it is, those places will stick with us.

More often than not, it’s because of the people who were with us when we were in those places, and when those people are no longer with us, those memories and those places become even more special to us.

This scene seems so far away…and so long ago.  We are living just into the central valley of California for a while.  I must say, it is not a very picturesque place…ever.  Sure, there have been moments when I was on the water, fishing with my best friend, that will stick in my mind forever as the setting sun fired up the water, or as the morning fog hid the shore entirely from our sight.  But this place in Georgia was so peaceful, so restful.  And, quite lovely.  We look forward to returning when the time is right.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Clay Allison, eccentric gunfighter and rancher, died in a freak wagon accident in Texas in 1887.

Born around 1840 in Waynesboro, Tennessee, Allison seemed to display odd tendencies from a young age. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Confederate Army but received a rare medical discharge for a condition that doctors called “partly epileptic and partly maniacal,” resulting perhaps from an early childhood head injury.

After spending some time as a cowhand for the famous Texas ranchers Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight, Allison started his own ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico. For a time, he got along well with the local residents, but his tendencies toward violent rages soon became apparent. In October 1870, Allison led an angry mob that seized an accused murderer named Charles Kennedy from the local jail and hanged him. Such vigilante justice was not unusual, but many townspeople were shocked when a wild-eyed Allison decapitated Kennedy and displayed his head on a pole in a local saloon.

In 1874, Allison’s dangerous reputation grew when he beat a famed gunfighter to the draw, coolly shooting his opponent squarely above the right eye. A year later, Allison joined another lynch mob and helped hang suspected murderer Cruz Vega from a telegraph pole. Again, merely killing the man did not satisfy Allison’s blood lust. He shot Vega’s corpse in the back and then dragged it over rocks and bushes until it was a mangled pulp.

In 1881, Allison married and moved his ranch to the Texas Panhandle. His wife eventually bore him two daughters, and perhaps family life mellowed him. His behavior, however, remained extremely eccentric, and he occasionally lapsed into violent rages. Once he rode nude through the streets of Mobeetie, Texas. On another occasion, he visited a dentist in Cheyenne, Wyoming, who began drilling on the wrong tooth. After having his bad tooth repaired by a different doctor, Allison returned to the offending dentist, pinned him down, and extracted a tooth with a pair of pliers.

On this day in 1887, Allison died while driving a freight wagon to his ranch north of Pecos, Texas. A sudden jolt threw Allison from the wagon and a wheel rolled over his head, crushing his skull and neck. In 1975, Allison’s remains were moved to a grave in downtown Pecos where a granite headstone made the questionable assertion that he was a “Gentleman and Gunfighter” who “never killed a man that did not need killing.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Hurricane Andrew (1992) ripped an 80-foot steel beam weighing several tons off a building and flung it more than a block away.


There are moments that we wish we could capture forever, aren’t there?  Sometimes we have a camera (a lot more common now with smartphones!) to capture it and that allows us to relive it over and over.  But there’s a problem with just a picture: it can’t bring back the feel of the breeze on the skin, the scents in the air, the sounds drifting and washing all around you.  Those things are left for memory – and as with most things having to do with memory, it fades and dims over time.

Still, the picture is better than nothing.  It can help to evoke the other sensations that one was feeling at the time.

I didn’t take today’s photo.  I was in it!  That’s me on the right – and my 4 year old granddaughter on the left.  This was taken along the beach in Laguna Nigel as the sun was setting in the background.  It was a glorious evening – beautiful, gentle breezes, a steady but soft surf, the sound of gulls wheeling overhead and of the water gurgling over the sand.  I don’t really care that much about those things though, at least not when I think of this picture.  My thoughts are captivated by my granddaughter and how much fun she was having.  That’s what I want to remember!

It was a great silhouette shot, one that I will treasure forever.  I had purposely gone down to the beach that evening in order to get some silhouettes of my son and granddaughter (and I did!), never expecting that I’d wind up in some of them.  I’m so glad I did!

_MG_3501ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1885, just after completing his memoirs, Civil War hero and former President Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when  knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.


Golden Sunset

I hope that you’ve had a wonderful Fourth of July!!!!

We often think of sunrises and sunsets as being beautiful when you are in the mountains, at a lake or the ocean beach.  Truly, they can be spectacular.  One of my favorite visual memories ever is of a sunset in the California delta.  But, then I can’t rule out the sunsets at Hanalei Bay on K’auai, Hawaii, either!

You don’t have to be at some exotic location, though, to be moved by a sunset.  This is a photo of the sun setting at my cousin’s farm outside of Jamaica, Iowa (I guess I could have just said I shot this in Jamaica and you might have thought it was an exotic destination, eh?)

Anyway, it was a glorious day, cool, the shadows were getting long and the golden colors of the sunset were painting everything with beauty.  So, as is my wont, I shot it.

_MG_2873_4_5_fusedON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1832 – at Boston’s Park Street Church, the song, “America,” was publicly sung for the first time. The words were written by Dr. Samuel Francis Smith who borrowed the tune from a German songbook. Unknown to Dr. Smith, the melody was the same as the British national anthem.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: gold is the only metal that does not rust, even if it’s buried in the ground for thousands of years.

It’s a Halo!

I have always enjoyed sunsets.  I don’t understand all the physics of light and how you can get so many different colors of sunset from the same old sun and same old atmosphere.  I understand that dirt in the air can affect the color by causing different refractory properties.  But that’s about as far as I go with my understanding.

The good news is that one doesn’t need to understand the physics of light in order to enjoy sunsets!  If you can’t enjoy the colors, sometimes you can enjoy the clouds.

In Africa, I saw numerous gorgeous sunsets.  I’m sharing one photo I took one evening soon after I arrived in Africa.  It was about six in the evening (the sun goes down early there nearly every day, around 6-6:30 p.m. as they are located on the equator and the tilting of the earth on its axis doesn’t affect the length of their day much) when I was walking to the tent to get some food for dinner.  I was afraid that I’d not be able to get my camera in time to capture this image and I didn’t have much time to play around with different compositions of the shot, but the scene was wondrous.  It was almost as if God opened a special hole in the clouds and sent some rays of sun down just to close out the day in good fashion!  I loved it!!

AfrcanHaloON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1939 – the King and Queen of England came to America to visit with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife. Befitting such an event, the King and Queen were fed some of the United States’ gourmet foods. As a result, it was the first time that both the King and Queen had tasted hot dogs.  (Interestingly enough, my friends in Africa for the most part have never tasted them yet, either!)

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Per 1999 medical data, an alarming 2 million people are hospitalized and as many as 140,000 die each year from side effects or reactions to prescription drugs.


Many Glacier…Much Beauty

I know that we’re new to the east coast and so I’m not qualified to make comparisons between the eastern scenery and western scenery, but I’m going to do it anyway.

So far, I’ve not found anything on the east coast that can really compare to the Rockies or Sierras, and I doubt that I shall because the “mountains” in the east would be considered foothills in the west.  Yellowstone, Yosemite, Olympic, Grand Canyon, King’s Canyon, Cascades, Zion, Arches, the Tetons, Rocky  Mountain National Park – all these are truly spectacular.  My favorite of all, as I’ve said before, is Glacier National Park.  Sweeping mountain vistas, towering, jagged, snow-covered peaks well into or through the summer – there’s just nothing to match it in the east (at least not that I’ve seen yet).  I miss the western scenery, and now we live so far from it that we can’t just hop in the car for a road trip to see it.

Today’s photo was taken a number of years ago on the eastern side of Glacier National Park, looking westward.  It is at a place called Many Glacier and it was nearing sunset, but there was a violent electrical storm going on to our left from the picture.  Still, the setting sun behind the ridges to the west was spectacular and reflected beautifully in the lake.  I don’t think that I’ll ever forget the feeling in the air, the smell of the ozone from the lightning that was hammering away on the peaks out of the picture to the left.  It was glorious.  I wonder if I will ever see it again.  One can hope…

Sunset and storm at Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: the quirky movie, Bennie and Joon, opened across the country.  Starring Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn and Juliette Moore, the movie earned Depp a Golden Globe for his performance.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: most llamas instinctively make good guardians for livestock.