A very short four months ago, my life took an abrupt turn. As many of you know, my Mother passed away in January. Since that time, I’ve been with my Dad helping him with his life transition.

Barbara Rudolphia ‘Dolfe’ Brown Van Alyne, circa mid 1960’s, June 1932 – January 2018

In helping Dad, I’ve gotten to know my Mother differently. There are things that I knew: the loving Mother, Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother she was, accomplished author, and musician. Thankfully, she kept fun stuff from her childhood and beyond.

Mom was the 14th of 17 children born to Tandy and Grace Brown. When she was two years old, her family moved into their home just east of Holliday Park in Cheyenne WY (the Brown kids pretty much ruled their side of the park). Mom got her middle name, Rudolphia, from Rudolphia Holliday, who was instrumental in building Holliday Park and a good friend of Grandma Brown. Mom used a variation of her middle name – Dolfe – most of her life, because there were several ‘Barbaras’ and even a couple of other ‘Barbara Browns’ in her schools.

Mom had to walk 8 blocks to Fincher Elementary School, even though Alta Vista was only 2 blocks away, because her Mother didn’t like the principal at Alta Vista. (Of course, uphill both ways – sound familiar?) A common theme in her progress reports (aka report cards) was ‘…Dolfe would do better if she worked harder…’ Hmmmmm! She was selected to Girls’ State in 1949 and was elected Sheriff for their mock government session.

Grandma Brown required all her children to play a musical instrument. Mom chose the French Horn and played it extremely well. (I have the judging sheets and band letters to prove it!) She played the piano and taught piano for many years (she used the money from piano lessons to buy the family cabin in the mountains). She also played in piano competitions and placed very well. I didn’t inherit any of her musical talent, even though she tried in vain to teach me both piano and French Horn.

Mom and Dad married in 1951. My brother, Bobby, was born in 1952 and was joined by my sister, Barbara, in 1953. I was born in 1956, and they bought a house in south Cheyenne in 1957. Rodney, the baby brother, was born in 1962. Mom and Dad bought the cabin when I was a toddler, and we spent most of our summer weekends in the mountains.

Mom was very active in the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) at our schools, and at the state and national level. She traveled Wyoming in the early 1960’s speaking about the health risks associated with smoking. She was a Girl Scout leader for my sister and several cousins. The local rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days, used Girl Scouts as ushers in the 1950’s and ’60’s. I never missed a performance of the rodeo until they quit using Girl Scouts as ushers.

Mom was always a history buff. She loved the history of Cheyenne, the state of Wyoming, and settling the West. When my brother attended the Boy Scouts World Jamboree in Idaho in 1967, our family trip there started by following the Bozeman Trail to Custer’s Battlefield in Montana, to Idaho, then home through Yellowstone National Park and the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody. Mom knew the story of every fort and battlefield.

Her family caused this passion for history, I think. One of her ancestors was a Cherokee maid who married a ‘dirty old German fur trapper.’ They often set traps in a neighboring tribe’s territory, and Mom often told us of the time they were on a bluff in a cold camp while members of the other tribe camped at the base of the bluff when looking for them.

Her Grandmother, Molly Eidam, was quite the free spirit who wanted to be an independent woman at a time when that wasn’t going to happen. Molly had several marital relationships so she could run various businesses, including houses of ill repute in Colorado and Wyoming.

Mom’s mother, Grace, didn’t approve of Grandma Eidam’s lifestyle and didn’t like being an only child, which contributed to her very high moral code and the large family. Grandma Brown baked pies in a wood burning stove to make money for her children’s music lessons. (All Mom’s brothers are tall and strong from chopping wood, and the sisters are short and round from being in the kitchen helping to bake.) Grace was selected as Wyoming’s Mother of the Year in 1954.

Mom’s father, Tandy, was born in Georgia and came west with the Army. He was stationed at Ft. Crook (now Offutt Air Force Base), Nebraska, and Ft. D. A. Russell (now F. E. Warren AFB) near Cheyenne, where he met and married Grace. Tandy served in the Phillippines and chased Pancho Villa with Blackjack Pershing. He and Grace were expecting their 3rd child when he was mustered out of the Army (apparently a Sergeant couldn’t have that many kids). Shortly after, he started working for the Union Pacific Railroad and continued until his 70th birthday. His job allowed him to take Mom to Georgia to visit family when she was a little girl.

Dad was gone quite often for the National Guard and Boy Scouts. Mom stayed home with the kids, but their letters showed that they loved each other very much. They were married more than 66 years!

In 1981, Dad went on active duty at the Pentagon in Washington, D. C. He started with a two year tour of duty that turned into ten years. Mom went with him to our nation’s capitol, living outside Cheyenne for the first time in her life. She planned on being a soldier’s wife and ‘just stay home’ but that lasted about a week, so she became a Kelley girl. Her earnings allowed them to travel the east coast and expand her study of history to include early American history. She also began serious genealogy research which continued until her death.

Mom and Dad lived on Sergeants Major Row on Ft. Myer (now Joint Base Myer-Henderson), Virginia, which is immediately adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery. Mom joined the Ft. Myer Enlisted Wives Club, and was active in the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) Auxiliary where she served as the National Vice President.

Mom was invited to become an Arlington Lady in 1982. The Arlington Ladies attend funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, providing comfort to the families and representing the chiefs of staff of the armed services (Mom represented the Army Chief of Staff). After my brother’s death in 1985, Mom laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. She truly enjoyed her time as an Arlington Lady and spoke of it often.

After Dad’s retirement, they returned to their home in Cheyenne (yes, the one they bought in 1957). Just before Dad’s retirement, they built an addition on the house consisting of a huge family room, master suite, and two car attached garage. At the same time, they remodeled the kitchen. This work included a small office that Mom used extensively. She needed space to store family history information and work on her first book about her family’s involvement in the Civil War. Since her ancestors came from Georgia, they fought for the Confederacy.

Mom and Dad traveled extensively visiting grandchildren and family, and doing genealogy research. They spent lots of time at the cabin, especially during Frontier Days and the hottest part of summer. She became a big fan of the Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team. She was quite tech savvy, using email and texting to keep up with the grandkids and great grandkids, and using computer technology to conduct research and write her books.

After her death, I found that she had two more books in process: the first was a cookbook of recipes used by her mother and other members of the family, and the second was her family tree. The first chapter, Tandy and Grace The Early Years, was written, and the rest of the book was outlined and ready to be written.

Mom and Dad’s health caused them to slow their travel in recent years. The family gathered in the summer of 2016 to celebrate Dad’s 85th birthday and Mom and Dad’s 65th wedding anniversary.

It’s tough to have Mother’s Day without my mother. It’s tougher on Dad, though (his mother passed away in 1952), so my attention is focused on him. In my heart, I know that Mom is in heaven with my brother and her family, and has been enjoying meeting all those people who were names on a family tree or possibly an image from a faded picture in her collection.

We miss you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!

Bonus Day!

Bonus Day is one of my favorite expressions. These two little words, when used in the proper context, can be very powerful. On this day, these two words are appropriate to describe the great shooting day I had.

The weather was gorgeous – 60+ degrees and no wind (a wonderful change from the past couple weeks!). Dad and I loaded up and drove south. We found a few head of Pronghorn and the Bison weren’t too far off the road. We stopped at the Terry Bison Ranch and had a wonderful lunch of Bison burger and sweet potato fries, then proceeded south on the Frontage Road to see if more Bison were close to the road. They weren’t, but we found a Meadowlark and a Finch.

When I first saw this Meadowlark, he was on a fence wire. While I was getting the camera ready, he jumped down on the ground. I pulled forward slowly, and captured him sitting in the grass.

Just a little bit down the road, here was this Finch also sitting on the fence.

And then the real fun began! I’ve posted pictures of Pronghorn recently, but we came on this Buck near the road. I approached cautiously and hadn’t spooked him, but two cars passed us and they scared him off. I had already made this image.

One of my favorite Pronghorn images! How close was he? Well, I didn’t have to crop the image.

We got back on the pavement and turned east towards Carr CO. The road was nice and the country beautiful. We saw lots of Pronghorn, which was not surprising. What was surprising was finding Pronghorn in beautiful settings, and they cooperated…mostly!

This Buck was by himself in front of this beautiful rock formation, and didn’t run as I made my images.

When we stopped here, there were 4 Pronghorn in front of this windmill. This one was alone on the right. The 4 ran (of course) when I got out of the car. This one followed, but I had time to get this shot. I like it, but wish I had caught the 4.

Getting one Wildlife Panorama with Pronghorn would be great, but making two Pronghorn Wildlife Panos in one day is just, well, Bonus Day!


PS Challenge- April 20, 2018

When I looked at my blog to see the last time I posted a PS Challenge, I was surprised that it was way back in September. I’ve been using my Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II since then (the PowerShot was the only camera I carried to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas last fall), but apparently I haven’t made a PS Challenge post in that time. (Recall that the PS Challenge is intended to showcase this wonderful little camera!)

Today’s image is special for me – it represents a big first! This is the first time I’ve captured wildlife up close with this camera. Dad and I were headed to the Base Exchange on Warren Air Force Base this afternoon. Warren is famous for its large Pronghorn herds that roam freely around the base. We drove by several that were close to the road. We weren’t able to stop until we pulled into the BX and found this Buck standing near the road – close enough to shoot with my PowerShot!

Male Pronghorns have distinctive black markings on the face, neck, and below their ears. Their horns are shaped like a lyre when viewed from the front. Females also have horns, but they are smaller and generally straight with a slight curve (or prong shape) at the top.


Cropping, Comments, and Church Window…

Recently, one of my photo buddies used Facebook to discuss cropping – specifically, cropping the crap out of your life. Part of the subsequent discussion with my friend was about why we friend people on FB and whether those friends add value to not only the FB experience but to one’s photography. This discussion gave me a lot to think about, especially in light of the way social media is used these days.

Shortly after I read this, my lovely bride gave me a wonderful book, Zen Camera by David Ulrich. In this book, Ulrich “…draws on the principles of Zen practice as well as forty years of teaching photography to offer six profound lessons for developing your self-expression.” (From the back cover.)

I began reading the book and found the following in the chapter on Basic Principles and Methods. “I am careful about indiscriminately sharing all my photographs on…social media platforms,” Ulrich says. He continues, “I find that too many or not enough social media “likes” can either falsely encourage or discourage my search for clarity and strength of expression…One of the tools we use in the classroom is to avoid responding merely from “like” or “dislike” of an image. Always say why you respond positively or critically by noting the reasons you think a photograph is successful or could be improved. In any learning environment, we owe each other genuine and honest responses.”

Holy cow! Even more to think about! Why am I on FB and what is my purpose in sharing images there? More to follow on that one, but I’ve decided that when I ‘like’ an image on social media, I will always leave a comment. Hopefully, the comment will be encouraging and helpful to the photographer. This may result in fewer ‘likes’ from me, and also in fewer ‘likes’ for me. I’m prepared to accept that.

Well, that covers cropping and comments. Here’s a new church window:

The main Chancel Window, dedicated April 7, 1946. This window is on the south wall which means it’s lit up whenever the sun is shining. The Choir sits underneath this magnificent creation (I sat in the top row, on the left looking at the window. And no, I was never a good singer.). In a future blog, I’ll provide closer images of the window with an explanation of what it represents.


FPC Sanctuary Windows, part 2…

Today’s featured windows are located on the main floor of the Sanctuary, along the north wall. There are 4 small alcoves at the back of the Sanctuary. While I can’t say for certain, they were likely used as small group meeting or Sunday School rooms, but could handle overflow seating for the Sanctuary. These windows were dedicated in May 2003, and tell a story of Presbyterians in Wyoming and Cheyenne.

The panel on the left depicts Dr. and Mrs. Marcus Whitman and the Reverend and Mrs. Henry H. Spalding, Presbyterian missionaries who traveled through Wyoming in 1836 on their way to establish a mission near present-day Walla Walla WA. Mrs. Spalding and Mrs. Whitman are recognized as the first American women to cross the Rocky Mountains and reach Oregon by the overland route. The panel on the right shows Presbyterian missionaries Reverend Sheldon Jackson and Reverence John Gage, who formally organized the First Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne in 1869. Nine men and women signed the organizing petition.


Prior to constructing their first house of worship, the Presbyterian congregation met in a school house and the office of a lumber yard. The first church building (right panel) was built in 1870 on land donated by the Union Pacific Railroad located at 18th Street and Ferguson (now Carey Avenue). The prefabricated building was shipped to Cheyenne via the UPRR. The Rutgers Church of New York City donated $7,000 for this building, Apparently a member of that church had a son living in Cheyenne and wanted him to have a Presbyterian Church to attend.


The third window (left panel) shows the second church building, built in 1884 and located at the 18th and Ferguson site, and was known as the ‘Red Brick Church.’ The clock on the tower of this building was a painted facsimile. The hands always pointed to 11:20, the hour and minute when Abraham Lincoln was shot. The right panel shows the Wyoming State Capitol building, built in 1888. Wyoming became a state in 1890, the 44th state in the union. The Reverend Dr. John Y. Cowhick, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation. Church member and women’s rights activist Theresa Jenkins gave the first speech. (Note that Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote, earning the nickname ‘The Equality State.’) Church member Moses P. Keefe was given the contract for the first set of east and west wing additions on the Capitol Building, completed in April 1890. Church member William R. Dubois designed a second set of wings, completed in 1917.


The 4th window shows the current church building at 22nd and Carey, built in 1924, and designed by church member Frederick H. Porter. The Memorial Chapel was dedicated in 1948 (my favorite room in the church), and the Education Building was dedicated in 1961. Mr. Porter served as Head Usher for many years, and taught the Boy Scouts to usher and collect the offering on Scout Sundays. The right panel shows the official seal of the church denomination, adopted by the General Assembly in 1985.

I hope you have an idea of why I love this building, and are enjoying my photographic exploration of the stained glass windows. All information about the windows comes from the Church’s well written and informative book about these beautiful windows.


FPC Sanctuary Windows…

Continuing my exploration of the stained glass windows in the First Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne WY, today’s featured windows are in the balcony of the Sanctuary. These windows were dedicated in May 23, 2004, Heritage Sunday. There are 4 windows and each has 2 panels. Each panel has the same design and colors, except for the circle near the top of the window holding a specific symbol.

This window features an Anchor, a form of the cross symbolic of Christ, hope and steadfastness on the left, and a Ship, symbolic of the Church of Christ on the right. The Nave is the central part of a church building, intended to accommodate most of the congregation. In traditional Western churches, it is rectangular and is separated from the Chancel by a step or rail. The word Nave comes from the Latin word for ship.

On the left is a Harp, symbolic of music in honor of God. A Vine occupies the right panel, symbolizing the relationship between God and His People.

This is my favorite window. The left panel shows the Insignia of the Boy Scouts of America. The First Presbyterian Church just celebrated 75 years of continuous sponsorship of Troop 116, the longest such relationship in the area. This panel is dedicated to all the Scouts who have gone before and those who will follow. On the right are the Stone Tablets representing the Ten Commandments.

On the left is the Ark, symbolic of the Church, since in the Ark all living creatures found refuge. The Cross of the Rock, right, is a symbol of the Lord.


Happy Easter!

I haven’t posted in a very long time – please accept my apologies. I’ll try to do better.

For my triumphant return, I spent some time in the First Presbyterian Church photographing the stained glass windows. This is my home Church, where I was baptized, attended Sunday School, received the Eagle Scout rank, married, and baptized my children.

I’ve always loved these windows, so I picked up a book about them to be able to share what they represent. While studying for my God and Country Medal, I learned the meanings of the windows but welcomed the book because, well, I earned my God and Country Medal over 45 years ago.

The newest window in the Church is in the Church Parlor, dedicated in 2006. The central theme is taken from Matthew 19:14, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’


This window is in the Foyer. The left panel shows the figure of St. Paul, with several symbols from Ireland. The right panel has the figure of John Knox, with many symbols of Scotland. Across the top (left to right) are the Fish and Anchor (symbol of Christ), the Seal of the Presbyterian Assembly of Ireland, the Seal of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., and the Cross and Orb (symbolic of the world conquest by his gospel). This window was dedicated in 1957.


The Chapel has always been my favorite room in the Church. This is the North Window, in Loving Memory of Lt. Col. Archer S. Freund, killed in Germany in 1946, and was presented by his Mother, Mrs. Edwin P. Taylor. This window is behind the alter table in the Chapel, and is the main focal point of the room.

These images are just the tip of my efforts today. Stay tuned for more and…


Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce 2018 Calendar

I am very excited to have four of my pictures featured in the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce 2018 Calendar. This is the fourth year the Chamber has featured my images in their calendar.

Contact the Chamber at http://www.carsonvalleynv.org/ or by calling 775-782-9490 if you want to purchase a copy.

I submitted 12 images this year.

This view of Jobs Peak was taken just south of Mottsville Lane.

I was out one snowy morning and made this image of the historic buildings in Genoa. This image is featured on our Christmas cards this year.

These horses on Waterloo Lane have become a favorite subject. When I arrived the day I made the image, the horses were scattered about their pasture, but these two walked up to each other as if to say, ‘Do you think he has something for us to eat?’

Spring was still young when I made this image along the Carson River Trail.

The main building in Mormon Station State Park on a snowy day.

I shot from a low angle for this view of Jake’s Wetlands in Minden.

A storm was approaching over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in this image made from Foothill Road.

Jobs Peak as seen from the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park on a summer day.

And the winners are:

JUNE: The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park at the end of the rainbow. I checked – no gold!

JULY: the Waterloo Lane horses on a nicer day.

AUGUST: The Carson River as seen from the Carson River Trail.

DECEMBER: I found these four deer along Foothill Road near Jacks Valley and made this wildlife panorama.


The Texas Adventure…Texas State Aquarium!

In my post last week, I showed pictures from the two weeks I spent in Maryland training for my assignment with FEMA. I was assigned to the Corpus Christi Branch Field Office. Corpus Christi suffered wind damage, but nothing like Padre and Mustang Islands and the coastal areas to the north and inland areas to the northwest.

On my first weekend (and day off) in Corpus Christi, I visited the Texas State Aquarium. This is a beautiful facility and well worth the entry fee.

The walk from the parking lot. The former engineer in me loves that bridge on the right!

As is my habit, I started my tour on high ground. This atrium houses the tropical birds and other fun stuff!

Lots of Flamingos. You’d think they would be easy to photograph because they move so slow, but they move enough to screw up any bracketed exposures.

This guy was coy, but enjoyed having his picture taken.

And then there was this guy. I caught him still sleeping, but shooting up and into the light was a bit challenging. I’m told that Sloths have a green tint because they move so slowly that algae can grow in their fur. I haven’t confirmed it, however.

The displays are great, but pictures of fish in tanks have always been a stretch for me.

I tried anyway and made this image.

I enjoyed the Dolphin Show! They were very entertaining, but it was a very hot day and it got a little uncomfortable sitting in the stands.

When I made the decision to take the PowerShot camera, I knew I would be limited in my compositions. With that in mind, I wanted to work on my ‘eye’ to see landscapes. This is a view of the Gulf of Mexico from one of the observation platforms.

The USS Lexington is on display as a floating museum. Here she is, as seen from the Aquarium.

I also enjoyed the 4D Shark Show and picked up a nice t-shirt while I was there. All in all, the Texas State Aquarium gets a big thumbs up as a place to visit!


Thanksgiving Fun!

I fired up the PhotoRanger on a chilly Thanksgiving morning and took a drive to the west side of the Carson Valley.

I found this guy on Foothill Road just south of Centerville Lane. He was in the middle of the road when I first saw him. I waited for him to get out of the road and I pulled off the road for this shot. The 3 cars behind me didn’t see him at first, but they seemed more understanding when they realized why I slowed suddenly.

This Kestrel was on the trail sign on the Carson River Trail, just off Muller Lane. I grabbed this shot and moved for a different angle, but he wasn’t very patient.

There were 2 Great Horned Owls in this pole barn, but only one was accommodating.

I’m not sure what this Hawk was thinking, but it was probably something about an annoying photographer lurking about.

I’m getting back into wildlife mode, as you can see. More to follow!