Keep on truckin’

Do I belie my 1970s upbringing with that post title?  Too bad.  My kids and I set out for this old Dodge with the intention of working the entire sunset with it as our subject.  It was a wonderful trip.  The kids are finally old enough to appreciate not only the photography aspect, but the beauty of hiking out in the middle of nowhere and exploring.


I have way more shots from this area than I’ve got the energy to post for now, but let it suffice to say that there was a different sunset in every direction. The first shot in this post shows the long, linear clouds that eventually blazed over Bismarck-Mandan at sunset.  This shot shows the brilliant pinks and purples that greeted us from the north; and my kiddos took plenty of shot featuring a blazing orange and gold sunset to the west (behind the camera in this shot).

Not only was this photo jaunt a success, but I have turned the corner with my kids as far as convincing them of the joys of rural photography.  Next time I head out roaming, I expect to have a couple of enthusiastic companions!  Maybe each with a camera of their own…

Sandbar sunset surprise

hoge_sunset_ip_2465I took my little family to our favorite secluded sandbar spot tonight, and it was a win on all counts.  Wading in the river cooled us off in the warm early evening, a bonfire allowed for heat as dark approached and provided opportunity for lessons in fire safety while letting the boys poke sticks into the fire, and we got to watch the die-hards in the area continue to light off expensive fireworks.


sandbar_dance_circle_ip_2481One of the best parts was dancing with my wife.  After a while one of the boys came up and pointed out that we were making a circle with our feet, which was pretty cool too.

I have fond memories of going to the sandbar under the Memorial Bridge in the 80s, especially in the evening after various practices would get over and we’d get a group of guys assembled for some frisbee.  We’d have some fusion jazz going on a big boom box and hang out at sunset until we couldn’t see the frisbee anymore, then jet up the hill and eat insane amounts of A&W food.  So to be able to share the music, the sunset, the frisbee and football with my sweetie and my little guys brings back old memories even as we forge new ones.

Against some things I just can’t compete

sanford_heli_24746I’ve always been a fan of the Bell 222/230 helicopter models, because I was a fan of the TV show “Airwolf” as a kid.  So when I got to shoot photos and video of the launch of the then-upcoming Sanford AirMed aircraft as a second shooter for a colleague, I was all over it.  Too bad they couldn’t round up the rocket pods and chain guns from the TV model!

Unbeknownst to me, my wife had taken our little boys for a McDonald’s treat to watch Daddy on the roof of the hospital as the helicopter came in on approach, hovered, took off, landed, and that sort of thing.  I found out about that later.  A few nights prior they’d seen me at the Bismarck Civic Center, running a camera for the monster truck show.

As I tucked them in that night and recalled some of the things they’d seen Daddy do, the conversation with my littlest boy went something like this:

Me: “Working around monster trucks one day, then a helicopter a few days later, your Dad sure has a neat job, huh?”

Boy: “Yeah…but did you know that Uncle Kaasiim is a MAILMAN?”

Not to insult mailmen, but I thought monster trucks and helicopters would have ranked a little higher!  Oh well, I guess maybe I needed a dose of humility.  What better to deliver it than the unguarded utterance of a child?

Satisfying sunset

riverboat_35390My precious, sweet wife and I recently celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. The timing wasn’t right for an elaborate vacation, but we did one better: we took our little guys on the Fort Lincoln Trolley and the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, with a picnic in between.  One thing that made it more special is that, aside from the riverboat cruise, I left my camera out of the picture (pun intended).

Getting the shot so often detracts from enjoying an event, something I know all too well due to the nature of my work.  For instance, I can’t count how many time I came home from running Instant Replay or directing a live sporting event show, unable to tell my wife who won.  It’s the nature of making things look good for others.

I’ve got plenty of photos and video from on board the Trolley anyway.  We did take a photo of our picnic, because it was at the location where I initially proposed to my then-girlfriend.  I was free to enjoy the afternoon and the evening.  I even brought a little Bluetooth speaker so I could dance with my wife on the Riverboat while Captain Jeff Bathiany, the coolest riverboat captain around, allowed my boys to join him and his dog in the cabin and pilot the boat.

There was one shot, however, that I really wanted to have.  Thankfully the two-up seat at the front of the boat was available, and as the boat chugged its way home I was able to quickly set up my tripod, frame up my shot, and let the light and the bridge come to me.  I also took a nice photo of my sweetie, too, but I don’t post photos of my family online.  The shot above, though, I’m eager to share.

That’s my boy

jonathan_sunset_57900The sky only allowed us a few minutes, and it was cold and breezy outside, but there was a pretty good sunset the other day.  I had my littlest guy with me and handed him one of my cameras so he could accompany me in style on a brief photo jaunt between errands.  I looked on the camera’s card yesterday and found this shot.  Pretty darn good for a young boy with no training!  I didn’t have to level it or crop it. I added a touch of saturation because my old 20D is set to produce very neutral photos, but that’s it.

Photography and time with my boy.  Can’t get much better than that!

‘Twas a good week to be a boy


skytypers_31000 Last week I got to treat my little guys to lots of fun boy-stuff, thanks to the generosity of some friends.  I thought I’d share a few highlights:


thunderbirds_31425We got to see the Thunderbirds perform at Airventure 2014, in Oshkosh.  Once those F-16s rolled on the throttle at the beginning of the runway, it was like slowly pushing the Smile Lever on those little faces!


wall_of_fire_31787As if that wasn’t enough, there were also simulated bomb runs and dogfights, along with the notorious and aptly named Wall of Fire.  My youngest boy’s favorite, naturally.


thunderbirds_31371I got a really cheap deal on renting a nice telephoto lens from, and it performed admirably.  I have so many cool shots like the one above that I’ve hardly had time to sort through them all.  To top it all off, later in the week we went to see Planes: Fire & Rescue at the Grand Theater back here in good ol’ Bismarck.  It’s still the nicest movie theater I’ve ever seen, and I appreciate the effort they put into providing a good experience.


natl_night_out_ip_3306Next, we attended National Night Out on August 5th.  This is where various agencies like Police, Fire, Sheriff, State Patrol, Red Cross, et al put on displays for the kids (and parents) to showcase how they protect and serve our community.


natl_night_out_ip_3275Kids love trucks as much as firefighters do, and they got to sit in this one until it was called away.  There was also a hose set up and the wooden “fire house” where kids could grab the hose and knock down the ‘fire” in the windows.  Always a big hit.


natl_night_out_ip_3333Robots are a staple in the life of any kid these days, and Bismarck PD’s got one.  Target was kind enough to not only host the event, but provide free hot dogs, hamburgers, pop, and chips too!


medora_musical_ip_3504The finale for the weekend, bookending a long stretch of fun times, was the Medora Musical last night.  I hadn’t attended since my friend and show host “Gentleman Wade” Westin passed away.  They did a nice tribute to past hosts of the show this year, as it’s an anniversary for the Musical, and that was nice to see.


medora_musical_ip_3465The kids got to take the stage for the singing of the national anthem, and each got a little flag to bring home with them.  Something I didn’t get a shot of was the colors of Old Glory splashed on the wall of the hill behind the stage at the end of the show.


medora_musical_ip_3496A tribute to the hosts of the Musical.  My boys had never seen this show before, and they really liked it.  Especially the acrobats who performed during intermission and the battle scene reenactment from the Spanish American War.

As you can see, we’ve been a little busy lately.  That’s a nice break from the things we’ve been dealt over the last year and through which we are still struggling.  If I can provide my little guys with some joy and excitement along the way, then I feel like I’m at least doing my job as Daddy.  This past week was full of little victories in that regard.

Hot rods and memories at the BK

hotrod_iphone_2996I drove past the Burger King in Mandan with my family tonight, and my youngest little guy (a big car fan, even at his age) spotted the classic cars and wanted to take a look.

Since my surgeries and my wife’s surgery, along with all the other stuff we’ve gone through, the little boys have been great.  They’ve been cooped up a lot when Mommy and Daddy can’t take ’em places, although we have friends that have stepped in.  But to have actual family time on a summer night like tonight…well, that’s long overdue.  It’s also taught me a sense of perspective.  We were on our way to a specific destination, but I’ve learned to make time for whatever little thing is important to my children.  So we stopped.

The best part about my evening was one of the first: my little guy grabbed my hand, led me around the parking lot, and talked up a storm about all the shiny hot rods on display.  He had a blast, I was on cloud nine, and before long we were all back in the truck and continuing on with our evening.

I often quote one of my favorite songs by Grasshopper Takeover: You can never get it back; you can only let it go.  Well, tonight I didn’t have to let anything go.

Why “The LEGO Movie” should have been released on Freedom Friday, not Taco Tuesday (SPOILERS)

lego_movie_1Today was a long awaited day in my house; the LEGO Movie came out on Blu-Ray today! My boys and I had “three dudes time” to see this at the luxurious Grand Theater and were eager to watch it with Mommy. Tonight that dream came true.

Let’s get one thing straight: This is a DAD movie. I knew this from seeing it in the theater, but the point was driven home again tonight…strongly, considering all I’ve gone through lately and the fact that Father’s Day was two days ago.

With that in mind, I’d like to point out why this movie should have been released last Friday, in anticipation of Father’s Day, not today. There are spoilers here, so you’ve been warned to come back after you’ve seen the movie.






. (spoilers below)






lego_movie_2I was surprised when the film switched to live-action, but impressed how they bridged the happenings in the LEGO universe with the play of the young boy. Where the whole point of the movie gets driven home, however, is when the boy’s father appears. We conservatives are used to Hollywood movies having leftist agendas, so when the villain was named Lord Business many people automatically thought it was an indictment of capitalism. No, guys…it’s not. It’s an indictment of dads so wrapped up in work and order that they are no longer capable of playing with their little boys. I’m pretty sensitive about this subject, and I have been since I was a kid, so I caught on right away.


lego_movie_3So did the boy’s father, the instant he found the President Business figure. At an hour and twenty-eight minutes into the movie: denouement. The father gets a heart-wrenching lesson from his boy: it’s important to remember to play. Realizing how he has figured into his little boy’s play world, Will Farrell’s character is convicted in his heart. The loving, contrite way in which he opens up to his boy is a perfect lesson every dad needs to see, and of which we should be reminded regularly.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the structure of our lives and forget how to play. There’s always one more thing to be done, there are always demands at work and at home, and innumerable distractions try to worm their way in between a Daddy and his children. As one of my favorite Grasshopper Takeover songs says, “You can never get it back…you can only let it go.” That, my friends, is the real lesson behind the LEGO Movie, the sweet message that I think too many have completely missed, and the reason why I think it should be a Father’s Day staple from this day forward.

Somebody else wants in on the action

pj_29213On Memorial Day I was able to take not one photo trip, but two.  Each time I took a different boy with me, and I was able to see their photography talents emerging.  They did great, and we had some fun “two dudes” time as father and son.  Well, my young gentlemen now understand what a Website is, and at their behest I’ve agreed to post some of their work for the world to see.  Here are a few shots from my oldest boy:


pjs_57809This was one turtle who didn’t dart into the water right away as we approached.  He was patient enough to let us put a 300mm lens on my boy’s camera and snap away for a while.


pjs_57793These geese didn’t like us much.  They swam over to the far shore and got out to walk away.  The funny thing is, they came to the end of the land and had to plop back into the water anyway.


pjs_57779Then there’s this guy.  He posed for us briefly before taking off.  He had a pretty nice perch until we came along and made him uncomfortable with all the cameras pointed his way.


jon_29276Then I took another boy for a trip in the opposite direction!   We didn’t approach any water at all, but we did find plenty of scenery.


jons_57827He didn’t have a wide enough lens to get the whole church in Almont into the frame, but he did frame a nice level shot.  I didn’t have to crop it or anything!  There are plenty of grown-up would-be photographers who can’t frame a level shot.


jons_57864One of his favorite subjects:  Daddy.  This is that old piece of farm equipment I posted recently.  This one was taken from the truck, as it was getting late and we were running out of snacks.


jons_57832We ventured out to Fish Creek Dam, where we were a trio of kayaks and this fishing boat.  You can see from the background how the clouds were pretty spotty.  There were long periods of shade as enormous clouds passed over.

I was so happy to get out with my camera not once, but twice.  I was even more happy to do it as a father-son trip, also twice.  I haven’t been able to use my cameras for a while, so to get back into the swing of things for now has been very therapeutic.


Almost had some sundogs

sunset_iphone_2358It would be an understatement to say that my life’s gone through an upheaval in the past six months, medically and otherwise.  That’s why you haven’t seen a lot of new photos lately.  I’ve simply been unable to get out with my camera, a situation that’s been just short of maddening.

Well, I was out on a friend’s land last night, enjoying the vista of open prairie, and happened to notice that we almost had a couple of really nice sundogs from the developing sunset.  On the left of the sun you can see one forming, and even a hint of one on the right.  The conditions weren’t quite right for really well-developed refractions, but it was still a cool sight…especially since it’s been so long for me to even gaze at the sky.

In a way, today is one of those “first day of the rest of your life” kind of days.  I’m not out of the woods yet, but I’m also not facing some dire prognosis either.  I’ve got more medical stuff ahead of me, I’ve sold our house to adjust for now and downsized my life significantly, but I’ve got prayer and loving friends on my side.  So as one stage of my life sunsets, I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us as we claw our way back to a new “normal”.  I’m sure it will include a lot of new photos to share at some point.