Just cat in a box

Once a pair of new shoes come into the house, Emmy, gets the box for her new bed.

Only seems right as this cat has crises-crossed the country several times by plane and car.

Home is where the box is.emmybox


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The project was initially just to be simple mugs of those individuals who had memories of the Colonial Theater in downtown Idaho Falls….but then if you know theater people either on stage or back stage, they have a presence that demands more than a mug shot.

The stories are rich with history and emotion.  

From meeting a future husband at the ticket booth.  

The first bow on stage; to understanding a trip to the theater was an event you looked forward to each week.

Before Instagram and Facebook this was how we entertained ourselves. This is how we socialized and connected.

The Colonial will celebrate its 100 years in the river community next fall,

Opened in 1919 as a vaudeville theater it has gone through many changes over its centennial life.  It was known as the Paramount Movie Theater in 1929 playing the top films of the era until the early 1990’s.

The Colonial which also holds the Willard Arts Center is under the umbrella of the Idaho Falls Arts Council and without question the jewel of downtown.

BLINK: -30- Thank you for taking the time to listen to the ramblings of an old photographer for the good part of March



We do this to stop time.

We do this for the love of family and friends.

We do this to enlighten and smile.

We do this to change injustice.

We do this without a BLINK!

_Gary B. Miller_

BLINK: PAGE TWENTY also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Madison County, Iowa

Cedar Bridge spans Cedar Creek and has been the victim of arson in 2002 and again in 2017.

Earlier in the book we talked about nine degrees of separation and this is my story,

These are my daughter’s Alayna and Ashley. They are the air that Anne and I breath.

The image was taken during a visit at Cedar Bridge near Winterset, Iowa sometime in 1990.

W. Eugene Smith was an iconic photographer…an amazing journalist.

A lousy husband and maybe worse father. I’ve read everything written about him and reviewed pretty much every image he has taken. “ A walk to Paradise Garden” was an image he took of his daughter and son at a time he was most vulnerable.

An image that always was the reflection of “family” for me.


The Book: Bridges of Madison County a wonderful love story written by Robert James Waller who I had the pleasure of photographing twice.

The Movie: Star and Produced by Clint Eastwood who as a teen I hunted and fished on the same waters as his Rising River Ranch which he purchased from Bing Crosby. Not really the same waters as his caretaker kept running us off if we went past the boundary .

His character in the film was a photographer.Something I still aspire to be.

Producer: Kathleen Kennedy who I went to school with her sister and photographed her father, Judge Kennedy many times in Redding Ca.

Meryl Streep, no connection just lust over her many movies.

The movie can be found on Netflix.  I have Netflix (well thanks to my daughter) might be a reach.

This was my “Walk in Paradise”…..I did not BLINK!

BLINK: PAGE NINETEEN also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.

Brandy Creek, Whiskeytown Lake, CA
(top right)
Redding, CA
(bottom right)
Redlands, CA

BLINK: PAGE EIGHTEEN also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Whitmore Road, CA

One store and one gas station and a fair amount of cowboys during the calving season.

After the series ran the owners of the ranch hired me to do some photographs of their prized bull in front of an antique car they owned for a publication called Bull-O-Rama.

I laughed at first also until I saw what they were getting for stud fees.

Cowman’s Prayer

Now, O Lord, please lend me thine ear,
The prayer of a cattleman to hear,
No doubt the prayers may seem strange,
But I want you to bless our cattle range.

Bless the round-ups year by year,
And don’t forget the growing steer;
Water the lands with brooks and rills
For my cattle that roam on a thousand hills.

Prairie fires, won’t you please stop?
Let thunder roll and water drop.
It frightens me to see the smoke;
Unless it’s stopped, I’ll go dead broke.

As you, O Lord, my herd behold,
It represents a sack of gold;
I think at least five cents a pound
Will be the price of beef the year around.

One thing more and then I’m through,—
Instead of one calf, give my cows two.
I may pray different from other men
But I’ve had my say, and now, Amen.

_ Author Unknown, circa 1890 _

BLINK: PAGE SEVENTEEN also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Cold Springs, NY

Vintage, Flying A gas pumps still stood guard in front of the old gas station along one of the towns back streets. Over the years they had become a bit of a landmark.

They were a wonderful lime green and went missing a few months after I took this

Another perfect example of history passing in a BLINK.

BLINK: PAGE SIXTEEN also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.

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Old Shasta, CA

Pretty much anything you do in life comes from your training and past life experiences.

These are really what make up your “tool box”.

Some of us collect a ton of tools; many we use very little.

Some of us keep tools to a minimum and use them daily.

I’m certainly a minimum type of guy who tends to use very few tools but hopefully

in his chosen fields.  Most of my tools are old and some would say worn but have been used equally across my chosen fields as a photojournalist, martial arts student and teacher and a firearms trainer.

The common theme for my tools are “teaching tools” and tools used to strengthen “work ethic”.

I find that these are simple tools that helped me navigate coverage of the Atlanta Olympic Bombing to understanding how to help those protect themselves. 

To help students no longer be victims.

Funny about tools you can loose them in a BLINK if you don’t use them.

BLINK: PAGE FIFTEEN also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.



Blue Cloud Bar, Des Moines IA

The Blue Cloud was a gem of a bar in north Des Moines that offered 

Chicago blues and simple spirits.

Not much to look at from the exterior, worn brick and a window with a beer sign glowing in the cold night air.

Pushing open the wood and glass door the interior was long with no width.  The wood bar ran down the right side and booths to the left.

It was a cave, more shadows and reflections of light than true light.

The floor reminded me of going to the “Fun House” at the carnival you know the one with the crazy mirrors and the floor that moved under your feet like and over blown accordion wheezing for more air.

Just enough room between the end of the bar and the window to shoehorn  a band into and still let the door open.

This was a joint where the music came from the soul. The sound of Muddy Waters ; John Lee Hooker and Little Willie Anderson; the roots come from the Delta.

These are the names that “electrified” the blues. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” sang Hooker but don’t you BLINK!

BLINK: PAGE FOURTEEN also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.

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“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland-

(left) St. Mary’s Lake, Redding, CA.
(right) Shelley, Idaho

BLINK: PAGE THIRTEEN, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Lily Pond Trail, Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

I remember that there was a pretty good rain the night before adding some interesting droplets not only on the lily pads but creating some wonderful hanging gems from pine needles and tree branches. Only to be knocked off by large jays moving from branch to branch.

The trail itself is very short and popular to park visitors and just a quick stop before heading up to the 7000 foot level Summit Lake.

Summit was always my starting point several times a year as from here you can take a variety of trails throughout the park.  Taking some of the best loops you can get to as many as twelve mountain lakes in a couple days of easy hiking.

This was one of those rare end-of-summer treks where the park was near empty and I found myself on the return near Little Bear Lake and not seeing another hiker for a day.

I made camp before heading back to Summit the on the final day and still very warm  stripped down jumped into the lake before the sun began to set.

I can still remember the water being cold enough to remind you were in a mountain lake.  Looking back toward my pack and ground cover a huge doe just standing looking in my direction. 

Calm and comfortable she seemed very settled in with peaceful huge eyes locked to mine.  

Just a rare moment that reminds you of the simplicity of life that can be missed in a BLINK.

BLINK: PAGE TWELVE, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Stan the Iron Man, Redding, CA.

Before Stan Lee and Robert Downey Jr. I did  a photo page introducing “Stan the Iron Man” to Record Searchlight subscribers.

Stan was a fixture in the community that no one seem to know anything about.

I would see Stan driving one of his two 1960 Jaguar E type sedan automobiles around town with his floppy-eared old hound riding shotgun. This was the one that looks like a cigar with wheels…the car not the dog.


Following Stan one afternoon brought me to a rundown old rusted steel quonset hut not far from the town dump.  A location I passed several times a day and always kind of wondered what was on the other side of the cyclone fence.

I walked to the double garage door just as Stan and the mangy mutt got out of the car.

Stan was thin as a steel cable probably went six-three but after years of cutting and lifting iron it was all bent to ninety degrees so he was staring at the ground most of the time.

Stopping in for a few hours at a time I would find Stan moving heavy iron around with either and old pick-up with a crane he had built on the back or loader of some type.

He was a smart and amazing guy to talk to and knew the value in huge gears; pieces of grate; what looked like chunks of useless iron that restaurants and office buildings were paying a premium price for and calling it art.

His hands showed the years of his labor and easily could have been missed in a BLINK.

BLINK: PAGE ELEVEN, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Millville Plains Road, CA

Just reminds me that there is an awful lot to see and experience in life.

You just have to hit the road and be open to things changing in a BLINK.

BLINK: PAGE TEN, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Pondosa Fire, Siskiyou County, CA

At the time this was one of the largest fires in Northern California.

Nothing ever really changes as the fuel was abundant and this particular blaze was started by a lightening strike in old growth.

It was very rare that a small paper like mine would allow multi-day coverage of an event.  This fire set the bar that I would remember for the rest of my career and in many ways gave me a good understanding of what it took to keep a photography staff safe when covering large dangerous events over the coming years.

The plan was to base out of Yreka, CA so I made calls found one of the few rooms left in the town; tossed together film cans, chemicals, everything you might need for a portable darkroom that could be done in a bathroom tub.; grabbed some clothes on the way out and headed north about 100 miles which was going to take about two hours with my car at the time.

This was before communication in newsrooms.  No cell, no pager just landlines when you could find them. Ohhh yeah that huge black chimney of smoke in the distance was your GPS.

As I got closer to the motel you could tell this was huge.  I dropped my darkroom off and checked the phone line in the room. I wold be making prints and then scanning them on a drum scanner.  Poor phone lines cause what we call “hits” in the scan and it has to be started over again. Long before negative scanners and the wonders of a cell phone.

I then headed to the Forest Service HQ.  I’d been there many times in the past so no problem. From here it was get the location of the incident commander and where all the resources were going to start staging.  Hotshot crews from Redding, Klamath Falls; Medford and Modoc were on the way. Access was not difficult for trucks to get close. 

I arrived at the incident command post just in time to meet with a young PIO (Public Information Officer) at the time I had no idea how green he was but he had a government vehicle to get me through the lines and that’s all I really needed.

Ground crews and dozers were already starting to work the flanks and tail of the fire.  These trees ran anywhere from 80 to 110 feet tall and were spotting.

We followed the left flank and before we knew it the he had placed us beyond the any lines of control and at the head of the fire. Normally this pure happiness for any photographer but it took no time at all to understand that our escape route was threatened.  It appeared we had found ourselves right under the plume and I remember the heat against the windows to hot to touch as I turned to photograph the exploding trees as the PIO had reversed direction of the truck.  

No words can describe trees that are 7-8 stories high creating their own weather around you and rendering them charred sticks.

In those days you did your best to scrounge a nomex shirt from one of the units when they  got new gear.

These days it cost about $2,200.00  to outfit a photographer with everything they need to remain safe while covering a wildland fire including fire shelter.  Everyone I worked with went through training learning the equipment and fire anatomy.

I have no doubt that over the years this helped to save a few lives when you have teams covering some to the biggest fires in the country.

As we have seen once again in northern California it can all be over in a BLINK.

BLINK: PAGE NINE, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I’m fairly certain that during the early 1970’s and well into the end of the 1980’s few spent as much time in the park hiking; cross-country skiing; and photographing its natural  beauty.  Lassen was my drug and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I spent two summers working for the park concession company.

Starting at the bottom I cleaned cabins for the first summer and loved almost every bit it. If you have to clean up after drunks and sex starved visitors this was the perfect place to find that natural zen moment after the work is done. 

I got to drive an awesome 1940’s Chevy pickup filled with bedding and towels and managed not to run it into the lake like my predecessor.

To this day I can manage a hospital corner on a sheet that would make a drill sergeant weak in his knees.

Year two I was the assistant manager of the small grocery store; worked volunteer fire and climbing rescue which we did very little of other than hauling folks off the chaos crags that were not in shape for the trail.

As a local kid I was the first one in for the season and the last one out helping to open and close the park concessions.

We lived in a two story dorm with the boys on the bottom level and girls on the second floor….sure it stayed that way.

It was an awesome group that came from all over the country.

Many were hard core climbers; skiers; teachers; vets just coming out of the Vietnam war.  It was a place to feel safe and not feel the rest of the world was closing in on you.

I was the youngest which was not a bad place to be when those with more experience were there to help guide  and many times protect you from doing stupid stuff.


.Winning at pool on a regular basis.

.Watching shooting stars on the bank of Manzanita Lake. It was as if you could touch them.

.Technical climbing (later fueled my desire to climb Mt Shasta)

.Sleeping in a mummy bag

.Sip of Everclear liquor 

.Searching for my glasses in the dirt after too many sips of Everclear.

.Crush on Susan Dey of the Partridge Family TV show who was visiting the park and was awesome in a babushka.

.Broken Heart

. Celebrating a summer Christmas

. Building and sleeping in a snow cave.

. Being able to understand Jimmy the Filipino cook.  Jimmy didn’t curse but sometimes from the kitchen you would hear “SACRAMENTO” his version of it learning from reading cans like Sacramento brand cling peaches. 

Lassen was my soul and in many ways still is.

It was one of the first places I took Anne for a date hiking and checking out waterfalls that few get to see. She looks absolutely wonderful in a babushka.

We would ski miles throughout the winter making our own trails.

My daughters when  old enough to carry a bota bag played near many of the creeks and camped in the higher elevation campgrounds.  They were wonderful outdoor kids and now outdoor moms.

Watching my first park ranger almost faint after cutting open my thumb while chopping wood for the camp fire.  I later had to drive the 1 1/2 hours to the Redding hospital for stitches and return for the weekend.  Moral, never take your eyes off the axe.

My hope is to rest near the lake when the time comes, but you gotta spread those ashes in a ….BLINK. 

BLINK: PAGE EIGHT, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Shingletown, CA

Winter on a small ice covered pond in Shingletown, CA.

I’ve traveled this road hundreds and hundreds of times having worked at Lassen National Park and spending years enjoying treks through the landscape.

This time around I finally stopped and looked over the berm to find a wonderful winter scene.

Truly for years I’ve missed it with just a BLINK.

BLINK: PAGE SEVEN, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Muleskinner, Millville, CA

I met him at the Millville General Store he was just mounting his horse and had the rifle in his hand.

A face like this does not come around often so I started to strike up a bit of conversation.  A bit was all there was too it but many times it’s best to leave it at that.

I asked him for his name and if he minded me taking a picture of he and his horse which he obliged.

“May I ask your name?”

“Muleskinner was the reply.”

“Do you have a given name?”

“They just call me Muleskinner.”

The Millville Plains are the last of the flat lands before you start heading into the mountains towards Shingletown and Lassen National Park.  It’s a beautiful area of rolling grassland with giant oak tree scattered around.

Boarding the growing community of Palo Cedro back in the 70s and 80s new homes were being built because you have a bit of space around you and just be eight miles east of Redding.

It was the northern reach of the Sacramento Valley where trappers allied their trade when trappers did what trappers do.

You won’t find a Muleskinner at every General Store but you could miss one in a BLINK.

BLINK: PAGE SIX, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.



Redding, CA

At the time of our meeting Martha Charles was one of the oldest living members of the McCloud Wintun Indians.  Just a wonderful woman who reminded me of my Nonni.

She pushed open the tattered wood screen door.  The holes in the screen would not have kept a sparrow out much less flies.

It was hard to say if she reached five feet tall as she was pretty hunched over from the years.

Her eyes were beautiful and her hands wrinkled, tough, with the appearance of being old…but not frail.

Most things harden with age showing the ties to the past.

Martha spoke softly but went deep in her thoughts when remembering her youth and early life along the McCloud River.

A small kitten had crept along the kitchen table, making it creak under its weight.

She beamed as she pulled the kitten into her thick cotton sweater for a snuggle.

She was born in 1888 on the McCloud River where it carved a very deep canyon flowing south before the lake and Shasta Dam were constructed.

The Wintun tribe lived along the river catching salmon and collecting acorns. At one time it was recorded as many as 49 Wintun villages had been found along the McCloud arm.

Historians note that they may have traded with the Modoc Tribe to the north for obsidian to make spears for fishing. Catches that may have reached into the thousands, caught and dried in a day.

She spoke of the beauty of the canyon and the winds flowing through the pines and oaks. It was land we both loved. My mother, Inez was born a few miles north in Weed. Both women lived in the shadow of Mt. Shasta.

All too soon it was time to leave and Martha picked up her cane and pushed open that flimsy door. She walked slow, taking the small steps and holding the chipped white wood rail as it swayed until she pushed the tip of her cane into the soft dirt driveway.

When I looked back she was staring into the oaks near the house and the blue sky behind. I found myself not wanting to leave, knowing that it would be the last time I would see Martha…lost to time.

I never wanted to BLINK. I didn’t want to loose this moment.

BLINK: PAGE FIVE, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Mojave, CA

This image was taken as you just start the grade from Mojave over the Tehachapi Mountains filled with wind generators and not much else on your way to Bakersfield and the I-5 north.

I love old trucks. Old trucks that say stuff are even cooler. Just over the next pass there is an old boat that someone thought might look like USS Minnow
from Gilligan’s Island….not so much.

The truck reminded me of my mom in a good way. She was tough; she had a certain style; she had a ton of love but the weight of a lifetime of struggling with mental health challenges will eventually take it’s toll where you just can’t haul the rocks any longer.
You just want to find a place and rest.

As my mother’s health was on a slow decline either Anne and I or I would make the trip from Redlands up through the high desert along the north edge of Edwards Air Force Base to Mojave.

Some how it all seemed very relevant about things and people disappearing .

I wanted to photograph everything that no longer would hold up to time and the challenges that come with time.

The community of Boron had an old gas station; the faded American flag mural on the VFW and a bunch of broken and decomposing built in America stuff.
North Edwards was the same. Seems the first thing to go are the gas stations that leave their mark on the landscape.

My absolute favorite was an old cafe arrow pointing to the now empty desert.

Truly like those you love they can be gone in a BLINK.



BLINK: PAGE FOUR, also the ramblings of an old photographer for the next good part of March.


Patterson, Iowa

A place to hang your shingle.
For whatever reason this reminds me of some of the people I’ve met over the years. A perfect time to name drop.

Photographers/ Editors that changed my life.


Gary Engell owner of Crown Camera in Redding CA.
He taught me how to deal with people and multi-task at the age of 15, I used one of his quotes today almost 50 years later.

Tom Dunlap, Chuck Miller and Tim Dunn, Gary Eagan early photographers in my life that shaped my work.

Jim Vestal Picture Editor of the Sacramento Union who took time with a young kid. “You gotta get closer!”

Greg Robinson of the San Francisco Examiner who died on the tarmac at the hands of Jim Jones. Showing his appreciation with a steak dinner and spending time critiquing photographs for the same kid. I look at your business card daily.

David Hume Kennerly your book “shooter” was my bible and inspiration. Being a kid from Roseburg Oregon made it seem doable. Two kids of the 1959 Roseburg Blast.

Joe DeVera your friendship and talent was taken too soon. I miss our talks.

Charlie Moore who spent time with a young Director of Photographer who might have been way over his head in Des Moines, Iowa. You shared your time and thoughts. You historically changed the way the world looked at Civil Rights in this country.

Dr. Reverend C.T. Vivian it was truly karma that I met you at the same time.
I learned what it was like to look in the mirror and not see a face of color. Blessed by your intelligence and whit for a short period of time.

The photo department and journalists at the Des Moines Register the best you could hope to surround yourself with.

Mark Zaleski, no one matched your heart and drive for an image.

Robert Hanashiro USATODAY an amazing body of work over your career. I still appreciate the bump to business class.

Nick Ut, Eddie Adams I followed your work for years; very rare you get a chance to hang out with two Pulitzer Prize winners at the same time.

Howard Bingham without you I would never had been able to shake the hand of “The Greatest” in Atlanta. Kicking emails around and coffee chats in Redlands.

Paul Whyte and Richard Curtis photo and visual editors USATODAY years of support and opportunities

Adam Wright, Roberto Fumagalli young photographers when I met you and learned more from you than you’ll know. and continue to do so.

Patricia Mays ESPN Senior Director, Storytelling Units for believing when things were bleak.

So much talent, I was enriched over the years in a BLINK.