Obstacles and Openings – Caring for Our Veterans

Stockholm Castle entryRecently, as I do on most Monday’s, I had an opportunity to visit with “Hank”, a member of the “Greatest Generation” as chronicled in Tom Brokaw’s New York Times bestselling book “The Greatest Generation”.  As I and this 89 year old true American Hero made our way to his daughter & son-in-Law’s home located outside Albany NY we left behind the congested streets of New York’s Capital City and traveled through suburban neighborhoods to the rural countryside.  As is often the case Hank and I would pass the time discussing a variety of topics ranging from current events, to Hank’s most recent visit with his great grandchildren, or the latest news from my own son & daughters and their families.

On this particular trip, when I asked how his visit to the Stratton VA had gone, Hank asked me to repeat my question and stated that the batteries in his hearing aid had run out several hours earlier in the day.  After briefly discussing plans to have a set of spare batteries on hand “just in case” for next time Hank went on to confess that he had lost his hearing “…in ’45 due to a Bazooka blast”.  In the year or so since Hank and I had been making our weekly visit to the Stratton VA Hospital we had never once discussed his service during World War II.  Somewhat taken aback by Hank’s reference to the war, but nevertheless curious about his service I asked if he had served in the Pacific or European theater.  Hank responded “I was at Cologne, in Germany and was too close to a Bazooka when it went off… Knocked me out cold… when I came to I could hardly hear anything at all!” After a short pause, and as we turned into the driveway of his daughters home he said “I don’t like to think about it and the things we had to do there much.”  Turning the  key in the ignition, and loosening my seat belt, I shifted to my right and looked at my friend now lost in his memories of that time, staring blankly out the window of the van. In what upon reflection seems like little more than a cliche remark I said “Hank, you all did what had to be done, and I want you to know that I appreciate all you did!”  “I know Sam, I know… and thank you.” came the response.

After helping Hank into the house, and exchanging our usual farewell, I returned to the van for the short drive back to Albany.  As I made my way, in silence, back to the VA hospital where countless other Veterans seek healing and relief from all manner of physical and emotional trauma, I could not help but wonder what sort of horrors remain after more than seven decades. And, more importantly how can those of us who did not serve best assist these men and women to find openings with which to pass through the physical and emotional obstacles they face each and every day?

 

Handwriting

_DSC5014“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – R. W. Emerson

May His “handwriting” be abundant and obvious in your life on this most holy of days!

Call Me Maybe

Sweden-20110906-075Something a little different, and hopefully some fun on a late Friday evening!  Looking through my inventory of images I recently came across this one captured in Stockholm, Sweden’s Gamla Stan (Old Town) district.  Not sure why exactly, perhaps it’s the woman looking out the window with a phone to her ear, but this image reminded me of Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop hit “Call Me Maybe. In the summer of 2012 this single scorched the pop charts and set off an almost instantaneous, and seemingly unending, lip-sync craze that included the likes of Katy Perry, Colin Powell (seriously… Colin Powell), assorted sports teams, President Obama, and Jimmy Fallon to name just a few.  But the best of all of these hands down has to be the parody “Share it Maybe” by none other than Sesame Streets very own Cookie Monster!

Have a listen… bet you can’t help tapping your foot to this one, and you’re guarantee to have a smile on your face when it’s all over. Enjoy!

“Fat, Drunk & Stupid… No Way to Go Through Life”

IMG_20160311_164042003 (Web)Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I’m a bit of a cycling nut.  As evidence of my “cycling addiction” I offer the following; In conjunction with the American Diabetes Association’s Tour De Cure, I’ve ridden a half dozen or so “Centuries” in as many years (that’s 100 or more miles in a single day); rode the Adirondack Mountain Club’s “Ididaride”… twice! (a 75  mile ride in the heart of New York State’s Adirondack Park); solo rode the Whiteface mountain Veterans Memorial Highway “just because” (that’s a climb of approximately 3700 ft over a distance of 8.5 miles which is comparable to Alpe d’Huez of Tour de France fame.); rode from the Western NY Veteran’s Medical Center located in Buffalo NY to the Samuel Stratton VA Hospital in Albany and in the process visited four other veterans hospitals in between located at Batavia, Bath, Cananadaigua, and Syracuse NY. (At least this was for a good cause… namely to raise funds for the Honor Flight Network!).  Finally, and if I’m lucky, I’ll typically ride between 1,800 and 2,000 miles on my carbon fiber “go fast” road bike… my beloved 2012 Trek Madone!

Now, please don’t misunderstand my intent in relating the above.  My goal is not to “sing my own praises” or to tout my proficiency as a cyclist (Truth be told and generally speaking, for your typical avid cyclists, my exploits, such as they are, are decidedly unremarkable!  However, that being said for me… a 59 plus year old guy desperately trying to maintain a respectable level of fitness I think I’m doing OK!  So, earlier today I dusted off my bike, donned my early spring cycling kit (that’s “cycle-ese” for spandex leggins, windstopper shell jacket, booties, and full fingered gloves!) and headed out for my first outdoor ride of 2016!

Full of enthusiasm I set out in the cool air and abundant sunshine to ride one of my “standard” mid-distance routes through rural Rensselaer County.  One of the things I really enjoy about living in New York State’s Capital District is that within literally ten minutes ride I can be rolling over lightly traveled, quiet country roads surrounded by fertile farmland and meandering streams.  All this, set against the stunning backdrop of the Rensselaer escarpment… Life is Good!

About 12 or so miles into my planned 17 mile route, and with my legs and “backside” beginning to feel the “BERN” ( just kidding!)… I mean “Burn”, I turn onto Menemsha Lane heading for home!  Now this end of Menemsha is quite exposed as it is situated more or less along the top of a ridge lying between an extended meander in the Poestenkill Creek.  Beginning the gentle climb up to the height of Menemsha Lane a sustained head wind starts to blow!  As I struggle on uphill and into what seems like an ever strengthening gale, the scene from that 1978 classic movie, National Lampoon’s “Animal House” wherein Dean Vernon Wormer “dresses down” the Delta house boys over their mid-term grades comes to mind.   Channeling Dean Wormer’s admonishment to “Mr. Dorfman” (Flounder), I hear “…riding uphill into a headwind while 15 pounds overweight is no way to start a cycling season son!”

Guess I had better start skipping desert!

Gravity… Its Everywhere!

SCPS-150928-026Photography is such an awesome and exciting medium to work in! Regardless of the setting, I find the visual environment to be rich, diverse, and full of amazing and exciting things.  Sometimes subtle things; such as a shadow slowly moving over a landscape or ethereal reflections on a body of water… sometimes brash and loud; screaming out for attention like the funky red leather shoes in this shop window located somewhere in London, UK!

No matter their nature… one thing I have found to be true is that compelling images, like gravity, are everywhere!  All we need do is look for them… and of course take time to enjoy!

Saratoga On My Mind!

DSC_4372This weeks post…, Ok, so technically it’s last weeks post (I’ve been playing “catch-up” since my recent trip to Lake Placid, NY!), features an image captured on a fine late summer afternoon in Saratoga Springs, NY. (The City of Saratoga Springs, is home to a wide variety of interesting, educational, and entertaining venues including; Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Spa State Park, The Canfield Casino, The National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, and the Saratoga Auto Museum to name just a few!)  Even a leisurely walk through the central business district, popping in and out of the many shops, storefronts and eateries lining both sides of Broadway (the main N-S spine through the City) proves to be a pleasant, and I think productive, way to spend a late Summer afternoon! The classic architecture of historic structures such as the Canfield Casino in Congress Park (Originally opened in 1870 as the Saratoga Club House, now the home of the Saratoga Springs History Museum!), and tastefully executed multi-use modern buildings such as 262 Broadway (where today’s featured  image was captured) combined with the walk-able, “human scale” and relaxed pace of Saratoga Springs produces a very pleasant, visually stimulating and generally inviting environment which I would highly recommend!

Solitude

SCPS-160218-015Solitude, silence, being in the woods, alone with ones thoughts.  Long shadows signal the end of another day well spent resting the body and recharging the spirit.

Life is Good!

From Forging Horseshoes to Cultivating History Education

Burden Iron Works fnlThe former office of the Burden Iron Works, located in Troy NY’s south end is all that remains of the once sprawling Burden Iron Company’s “Lower Works” complex where more than one million horseshoes per week were manufactured. In this image the distinguished brick Romanesque Revival building which served as Burden’s main office is juxtaposed against a “ladle car” used to transport and pour molten iron during the facilities heyday. The office building, originally constructed 1881-2 is presently the home of the Burden Iron Works Museum operated by The Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway.  This magnificent structure, which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places now houses a cultural center and an industrial history museum celebrating Troy’s rich manufacturing and engineering heritage and its pivotal role in the American Industrial Revolution.

(Note: The Burden Iron Works Museum is open to the public most weekdays from 10 to 6, and other times by appointment. For more information on the museum contact the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, Burden Iron Works Museum, 1 East Industrial Parkway, Troy, New York 12180-5942, (518) 274-5267.)

The Art of Seeing

_DSC5124Textures accentuated by soft, non-directional light, repetitive forms, patterns (organic and orthogonal) combine to create movement and drama in even the most obscure corners of remarkable places.  All we need do is take the time to see!

This image created on one of several trips to Stockholm, Sweden was captured at Drottningholms slotts (Drottingholm Palace) the private residence of the Swedish royal family.  A UNESCO Word Heritage Site, the palace was constructed in the 17th Century according to a French prototype by the architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder.  The palace featuring elaborate salons from the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries is surrounded by a magnificent English Park and an imposing Baroque Garden.

Perhaps the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats said it best when he said, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

 

 

From Shirt Collars to Software Development

FCDC-140919-028This weeks post showcases one of my commissioned images from a recent architectural interiors shoot at the offices of Apprenda.com.  This adaptive reuse project by First Columbia real estate/development company converted an entire floor, approximately 30,000 sf, of a former factory and warehouse building located at 433 River Street, Troy NY to support the office needs of a software firm, on the cutting edge of Enterprise Platform development.  This 9 story former high bay manufacturing and warehouse facility, located on the banks of the Hudson River was once the headquarters of Cluett Peabody & Company, a longtime manufacturer of shirts, detachable shirt cuffs and collars. What was once a largely vacant eyesore and symbol of urban decay has been re-named (as Hedley Park Place, re-imagined (as a model of urban waterfront development), and re-purposed (as a multi-use business, technology, innovation and governmental center).  As such it now represents what can be accomplished through creative development, and adaptive reuse of existing building stock.

@firstcolumbia, @hedleydistrict, @apprenda, @RenscoChamber, @TroyBID, #hedleyparkplace, #retailspace, #officespace, #troyny