The holiday lights are upon us.

Gallery of citizens and lights from the 2017 Fairhope Annual Tree Lighting.

These witches will give you stitches.

Title says it all.  A few shots from the 2017 Witches Ride in downtown Fairhope, AL.  I was unable to make the event early enough to execute a write up.  But I believe these images will pretty much represent the fun this event was to ring in Halloween.

Rescue Dog Red

Rescue Dog Red is a strong beer.  Along with its 8% BAV, comes a strong color, full flavor, and a smooth aftertaste.  It truly is a fantastic brew, being released on a fantastic occasion: Barcs & Brews.

Fairhope Brewing Company hosted the Baldwin County Humane Society for a pet adoption and beer release party back in early March.  Not only did they host, but $2 of each tap pour sale went to the BARC team. Pet adoption hits a note in our household; we are the proud parents of three rescued Northern Breeds.  Additionally, we have also fostered in support of our former local rescue in Bethlehem, PA.  There are so many wonderful animals, old and young, in need of a fresh start and new furever home.  Chances are, there are some humans that need them to enter their lives for similar benefits.

The venue is perfect for such an occasion.  The inside is spacious, open, and very relaxing.  The hosts and tenders are extremely polite and professional.  There is an outside sitting area that allows for the animals to rest and greet possible adopters.  Award winning BBQ was also in attendance as well as live music to sooth the soul.

And if the venue, food, brew, and music was not enough to make for a beautiful days....did we mention puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats?!?  There was a lot of excitement and positive energy.  Attendees participated with BARC team members, donated towards the cause, and picked up some swag.  Best of all, was watching the hearts of kids and adults burst at the faces of the animals.

Before providing the small image gallery that concludes any DMG Blog; there is one story that stands out during the day.  I met a very happily married couple, and now friends, David and Yvonne Walls.  Like most days at the brewery, you meet new people and hopefully make some good friends.  Well David and Yvonne have one kitten at home, Bruce, recently adopted within the last couple months.  After some conversation with the BARC team members, it turns out Bruce's kitten sister was on location.  Sometimes, the signs are so obvious, that the choice and chance are replaced by automatic response.  Needless to say, Bruce and Betty are reunited.

There goes Betty.

I highly recommend to following Fairhope Brewing's Facebook Page as well as visiting their website for upcoming events.  The FBC team constantly provides back to the community in one form or another.  I highly recommend visiting the Baldwin County Humane Society if you begin pursing a furry friend to  your home.  See you soon neighbors.

Fairhope First Fridays

It is April 7th, 2017 in small town Fairhope.  A big bright sun is cascading towards the horizon, allowing the wind to provide a gentle cool breeze against a vibrant warmth.  The afternoon is falling just as fast as the sun and the evening draws near.

As your strides take you closer to Fairhope Avenue; the sounds of half ton pickups start fading into string bands, horns, and song.  There is no mistaking it, this is First Friday.

First Fridays are nothing new, these events have been a part of communities for decades.  And despite its long history, towns across the country are just starting to adopt these affairs.  Fairhope, as a community, in many ways has perfected it.  In a rectangular 290,000 sq ft of downtown Fairhope, restaurants fill their tables, stores' registers ching, and local artists play for the citizens.  Small town business flourishes.

In walking the streets, you can tell this is more of a community of friends, than just neighbors. The group sizes tend to be more than you can count on one hand.  Conversations being held not just about how the week was;  there are details and intimate knowledge which portrays how much closer the personal relationships are.  I may be looking through a lens, but my ears work just as well as my vision. 

At the backbone for all First Fridays are the little gems of restaurants, art galleries, antiques and hangouts.  Each location you visit, has its own personality that you experience with all senses.  If your mood fancies something different; it is always within walking distance.  Fine 100% made Italian in this peaceful corridor.

Less than a hudred paces later, some ice cream treats at the book store.

The community flourishes.  All ages indulge to their heart's content in a peaceful and friendly setting.  For some it is fine food and wine.  For others, those tasty treats.  Many visit the local artist gallery to see what is new and stimulating.  The town is full of arts and wonders.  Local plays advertising for their future audiences.  You can easily be taken to places beyond these streets; to a different time even.

Music is one large part of Fairhope's First Friday culture.  Various instruments, styles, and sounds blending together across the sidewalks.  It's at these locations, that sometimes the conversations stop.  This is not due to nothing left to say, however to let the ears soak in the melodies.

Home the heart is.  And at Fairhope's core, it's citizens beat a rhythm unlike most others.  And continue to until it is time to pack that guitar for the night.  See you all next month.

Through the fire

A photographer can become very stale over time.  You can lose an edge, a willingness to grow, and maybe even the will to shoot.  I fear the last two thirds.  Thousands of words can be portrayed in a single image.  A capture in time can provide endless emotions, and to lose the will to freeze these moments, well that is one sad thought.

But then there are moments that can redefine your methods and approach.  These moments can, in many way, redefine your own being.

The time is 10:45 am.  The date is Saturday April 1st.  You would think a man in his old chair, watching his neighbor's house burn, would spring into action of some sort.  Despite his elder appearance, he was still spry.  Same for the fire fighter sitting in the folding chair before the old man.  But this was in some sorts an April Fools Joke for those motoring by the scene.  You could feel the heat, there was no mistaking that this house was going towards ash and minerals.  Yet I am sure those driving down Route 98 were confused at the lack of action.  Everyone in a way, seemed to be also engulfed by the intensity of the flames.

This was the climax and ending of cross department fire training.  The hosts being the Fairhope Volunteer Fire Department and the caterers being the new home owners.  That is right, new home owners.  The repair and restoration of this new-to-them home was going to cost them significantly.  The decision was made, that they would build new.  Another decision was made at the closing of the home between memories and futures.  The previous home owner was a part of the fire fighting community for years.  It was agreed, that this property and this home could be used by the fire department.  Which brings us to April 1st, 2017, where the home was turned to ash.  A viking funeral per say of memories and time.

And just like a new home will resurrect from here, so did a new burning passion for photography.  As I got to by an impromptu bystander, I triggered in myself a desire to be a photojournalist.  How many opportunities will I have as a photographer to capture such images and emotions.  I can probably count that number on two hands for an entire lifetime's worth.

Photo journalism is a parallel line between photographer and text.  It is an innate ability to tell a complete story through words.  While I was not on premise from the time training started, I had just enough to practice telling a story.  Without words, one can easily interpret the young girl lost a home.  And this boy has learned a new future.  Through these moments, I am now focused on growing my passion for photography in practicing photo journalism.  The shutter released on my camera for possibly 10 images post Christmas holiday through March.  Now it will firing for no less than 10 a week.  This blog section of DMG will now be transformed into something more.  My work will be transformed into something more.  I looking forwarding to sharing both news and life with you my friends.

Fairhope Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

It's Lit.

That is the best way to describe the ceremony.  A few thousand residents gather at the center of town for a light switch to be flipped on.  It is a big switch, thousands of little light bulbs come to life in a single moment with this switch.  Every tree branch in down town is wrapped several times over in light strands.

Thousands gather at the corner of Fairhope Avenue and Section Street.

The ceremony is primed with the local choir and school orchestra playing seasonal classics.  The new Mayor gave a speech to her citizens.  Recognition was also paid to our armed forces heroes as a WWII vet was honored before the crowd.

The town flourished from all of its evening participants.  The local restaurants and town stores were full, small production companies were entertaining, and the local radio stations making appearances.  Mrs. Claus paid a visit for the children to deliver their Christmas day wishes.

But the biggest key to this event, this ceremony, are the children.  The kids that light up as bright as the trees.  It is their faces, now well lit by the lights in pure joy, that make this evening special.  Their amazement and cheer as the foam "snow" machine rains down across the town.  These are the moments that start the holidays and remind us why friends, family, and loved ones are the key to every holiday season.

Hoping everyone enjoyed an excellent holiday season and is off to a 2017!

Childrens' sports, a commodity that always has value

I enjoyed attending my nephew's flag football games in New Orleans.  It was one overcast day in September, you know the ones with a storm always looming.  As you watch the action unfold, you cannot help but go back in time, to days when you were in the cleats running around like a mad junior woman and man all hyped up on Gatorade.  You get the nostalgic feelings, going down these memory lanes, but you also recollect some of the vital things that sports contributed to your own growth.  These same development experiences learned from other forms of sports.  Action and motor sports build the same skills and can apply the same logic as below, it just comes as a different medium than football, soccer, baseball, etc.

1.  Being part of a team.  You see what being part of a puzzle can do to the whole picture.  You begin to see that counting on others, and trusting them, can lead to some good results.

2. Even playing fields.  There are no physical differences or comparisons once that whistle blows.  There is only an objective or goal that everyone must work for as part of the team.  Race, social status, friends and clicks are all behind you.  And sometimes, if you are lucky, you never realize these things even exist for you. They are just "things" out there that do not have to effect you.

3.  Falling and failing are never the same.  You can begin to disassociate winning and losing as a term.  Especially when 1 on 1.  At the end of the day, somebody will win and someone will lose this game, this drive, this play. And tomorrow or next week, you might be on the other side of that coin toss.  You just learn to go out and play had.

4. You are still a hero.  Parents, this is so key in a world of internet, cool gadgets, toys, and video can still be their greatest hero.  Your kid will fall, get scrapes, bruises, broken bones and a whole bunch of other physical, emotional, and psychological scars that life can bring their way.  But you can always be the singular object, the rock, that your children know will never move and be there for them when they need it most.

5.  Have fun!  No matter the age, we all feel life's pressures.  Just like #4 begins to indicate, sports is about you too, Mom and/or Dad.  Have some fun, it is contagious.  A kid's bad day can be brought to happier times with an excited parent looming near by.

September 18, 2016