Internet Dating – 50s Style


This post is a little bit off of my usual style, but it will serve as an example of how things can work out, even if a little unorthodox.  But, most importantly, how having faith in the Man upstairs, can make things work out.

It started when Ann and I were down at Beverly Stribling’s ranch, leading eleven delightful ladies on a birding tour.  After that was done, lunch was served, wine was imbibed, and  conversation was entertaining.  One of the ladies insisted that Ann and I tell them how we met, since we have been married 58 years.  After I told them that it was at bit unusual, to say the least, they wanted the complete unabridged story.  I believe that I may have touched a bit on the subject in a post several years ago, but I will be more thorough this time.  I think you will find it a little entertaining.  Perhaps a little unbelievable.  So here we go……..

I am from Muskegon, Michigan originally.  In March of 1958 I was stationed at Ardmore AFB, Oklahome.  Ann had just moved to Muskegon from her home in Beulah, Michigan.  She did this to attend Muskegon Business School.  She was nineteen year of age.  She just happened to rent an upstairs room and my grandmother’s house.  (You can see where this going, can’t you.)

Yep, my sweet grandmother, decided that she should do the right thing and notify me of the cute girl upstairs.   She provided me of her address, just in case I was interested.  This was in mid March of 1958.  Well, since I was a lonely service man, of course, I was a little interested.  (heck, a lot interested).  I decided to write this lass, and introduce myself as the grandchild of her landlord.  She wrote back immediately with a very nice letter, telling me about herself, etc.  So I wrote her back again.  We struck a neat friendship that blossomed as we got to know each other.  She sent me a couple of pictures of herself.  This was the first one.

Ann – 1958

Ann – 1958

You have to agree, she has great looking legs.  So, anyway, I sent her a couple of mine, as I wanted her to know what she was getting into.  Here I am, dressed to impress.

Bob – 1958

We continued to write each other.  By mid-April we were writing each other every day. Before, I had been writing to about 50 other girls.  (Well that figure may be inaccurate.  Maybe it wasn’t that many  I will need to go back and check my records.  After all, I am nearly 83 years of age, and my memory is a bit fuzzy.)  Anyway, I remember sending both of them a Dear Joan letter.  Things were getting more serious, but I still hadn’t met or even talked to Ann.

In about mid-June, I decided to ask Ann if she would marry me.  Yep, that’s right.  Sight unseen, I knew she was the one for me.  I waited in anticipation for her answer.  Three days later I got the return letter.  She said “I’d be honored to be your wife.  Wow! I thought, what do I do now?  Well, I got my calendar out and did some calculating.  First,we needed to set a date.

I decided a fast trip home was in order.  I could only ge a three-day pass, but that didn’t stop me.  I decided to hitch-hike to Oklahoma City, go to Tinker AFB and get a hop (free-right) on any military aircraft that was heading to Michigan or vicinity.  I figured I would hitch-hike to Muskegon, see my future bride for a few hours, then grab a bus back to Ardmore.  I called my dad and asked him go to Ann’s apartment and inform her of my plans.

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.  I made it to Tinker just fine.  But as I was sitting, waiting in the transient lounge a fierce thunder storm hit.  It included rain, very high winds, and large hail.  All flight operations ceased and all aircraft were grounded.  I had no choice but to hitch-hike back to Ardmore when weather cleared.  When I got there I called my dad again and asked him to go to Ann’s place again and tell her of my aborted mission.

Okay, I decided.  Time to go to plan B.  I decided to call her and talk to her on the phone.  This would be the first time I would hear her voice.  I called my dad once again.  (By now, my dad is getting to know Ann quite well.)  My grandmother didn’t have a telephone, so I asked my dad to, once again, go get Ann and bring her back to the house.  I would then call home at a designated time, and Ann and I would have our first conversation…….to make wedding plans.

Well, to have a private conversation at my parents house is not easy.  My dad has his favorite chair, a huge recliner that is where he spends his time relaxing.  Our phone is, yep, you guessed it.  On a stand, right next to that chair.  There are no other handsets.  I do not know if my dad gave up his seat for her, but I didn’t ask, as I had other things on my mind when she said hello to me…..for the first time.  We chatted a little then I asked her how August 18 would work for her.  I mentioned that date because of my plans that I worked out, explained in the following paragraph….

I had made some preliminary  plans vis-a-vis our wedding date.  I knew the how many paydays I would need to have to get enough money to rent an apartment, buy groceries, and get a round-trip ticket for me.  All the little things need to start a sucessful marriage to get off the ground.  So I had calculated all of this and figured if I could leave on Friday the 15th, after getting paid of course I could get to Chicago.  A friend of mine was heading that way and he would give me a ride there to the bus station, where I could buy a ticket for the final leg to Muskegon, Michigan.  Ann was to meet me at the bus station, at 2:00 PM the following day, Saturday.  Then we could get married on Monday the 18th.

So, back to our very first telephone conversation.  She said that date would be fantastic.  She would graduate from business school the previous week, so our timing was impeccable.  She said she would make all of the plans, get the license, line up a church and preacher, and send out invitations.  Before I forget, I also went to a jewelry store and paid 79.00 for a set of diamond rings.  Yes, they were real.  Remember this is 1958.

It worked out exactly as planned.  I pulled into the bus station at 2:00 and she was sitting on bench looking pretty much as she did in that picture above. It was like we had known each other forever.  We got a taxi to head for my parents house.  Remember, back then co-habitation (shacking-up) before marriage usually wasn’t done, so I would be staying there until we were married.  She mentioned on the way to the house, that I wouldn’t have much time to relax, as the wedding rehearsal was at 4:00.

All went well, we got to know each other more as the weekend went by.  The wedding was very nice, except for the absence of her parents.  They we up in age and didn’t feel up to making the 150 mile trip from Beulah to Muskegon.  On the following day, Tuesday, we did drive up there, though, so I could meet my in-laws.  They turned out to be awesome people.  There was only one minor snag.  I didn’t have enough money for Ann’s bus ticket back to Ardmore.  I had hoped to get some cash in our wedding gifts.  Alas, there was none.

The Melody Rangers – Ardmore AFB – Me 2nd from the right.

But no fear.  Since I was a professional musician before and during my Air Force career, I had an extra alto saxophone that my parents were keeping for me.  I took it to the local music store, that I used to haunt as a teenager.  I talked the owner into buying that sax so I could buy Ann’s bus ticket.  Problem solved.  We packed all of Ann’s belongings, including dishes, pots and pans, etc. into seven suit cases.  We checked them through on the bus.

Back in Ardmore.  The following day I took Ann out to the airbase.  She got a civil service job working in base supply.  Our landlord, thought we were a sweet couple.  Their son had a cream-puff 1953 Buick Roadmaster that he was willing to sell us for 795.00 and he would tote the note.  I would make payments to him.

So there we were.  All of a sudden we went from, ah, let’s see.  I won’t say a struggling couple, as we didn’t have enough sense to know what struggling meant.  We were just taking each day one at a time, having the time of our lives.  But there we were, Ann had a great job, we had a great car, and I was about to get promoted and add another stripe.  You see, the Good Lord was following our antics all the way, making sure we wouldn’t get lost.  It has now been nearly 59 years.  I wouldn’t recommend our way of getting ‘hitched’ but if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wedding photo

Wedding photo.

I hope you enjoyed this fun, but true story of love and adventure.

 

A Special promotion for my WordPress readers.


As many of you know, I am not restricted to bird photography.  One of my award-winning photographs was from the International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo.  It has won many first place awards, besides being one of my best selling photographs.  I am now offering it for a limited time as a stretched canvas print, ready for hanging. It is a special promotion for my WordPress readers that havae been so loyal and faithful over the years.  A saving of $ 23.00.  Click here for more information.

Thank you for considering

Watch for another post here soon. 🙂

 

Bob’s Big Return……with a Bang!


Well, after a six week absence, I am finally ready to get back to posting.  I have my health issues corrected and I am feeling great.  Actually, my health problems go back several years, when I had fits of depression, blood pressure issues, numerous IT infections, and finally culminated with skin cancer problems about two months ago that prompted me to take several weeks off.  I really need to thank my adoring wife, Ann,  for putting up with me and supporting me through all of those years.  I also had the support of several close friends, includding Deb and Paul Tappan, Laren Green and many others, plus a host of FaceBook friends who had me in their prayers.  But the most important individual was, of course, Ann.  If it wasn’t for her, I would not be where I am today.  Now at the age of 82, I am feeling much younger.

During the past several weeks, although I was slowed down a bit, I was able to amass a collection of photos during short visits to surrounding areas.  I am not going to post them in any particular order, but feel free to click on any of them to see some nice enlargements.  If you are interested in any prints, they are available at my on-line store.  Prices starting at 17.56.  I would be greatly honored if you decide to hang one in your home.  If you would just like to have one of my beautiful coffee mugs, check them out here

Okay, let’s start with this wonderful image of a Vermilion Flycatcher.

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/640 sec, @ f7.1, ISO 800.

By the way, for those that would like to know, my basic equipment for my bird photography is a Canon EOS 7D Mk II and a Tamron 150-600mm Gen 2 zoom lens.

I love the Summer Tanagers.  Evern the female pictured here, has  distinct beauty of her own.

Summer Tanager – female – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

It is migration time in Texas, and the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are returning.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 125.

This is probably a Western Meadowlark.  However I am not positive as the Eastern is so nearly identical that I have a hard time discerning which is which.

Western Meadowlark – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 800.

I was proud of this image of the secluded White-eyed Vireo.  Very hard to catch one for a decent photo.

White-eyed Vireo – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 2500.

The Lark Sparrow is one of the most recognizable of the sparrows.  That distinct marking of the head that reminds me of a football helmet.

Lark-Sparrow – 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 200.

The Northern Bobwhite is one of the quail family that is much in abundance in this area.  Some of you photographers may have noticed that I have no qualms about shooting at high ISOs.  My Canon 7D Mark II handles high ISOs very well.  But if there is excessive digital noise, I use a Photoshop plug-in, Topaz DeNoise, that removes it rather nicely.

Northern Bobwhite – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

Great Kiskadees are, or have been, very rare to the Concho Valley.  They were practically unheard of around here.  But back in late September of 2016, four of them made there way to the Lake Nasworthy area.  By late March of this year we thought they had disappeared.  But on April 4, Ann and I were cruising around Spring Creek Park.  She said that she could hear one nearby.  I thought she imagining it, but she opened her iPad’s  iBird Pro app.  She played the sound for me, and one of them answered and flew to a nearby tree for this shot.  I guess they have found a home here.

Great Kiskadee – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 400.

Sometimes I  pass up chances if a bird or subject feels like it is too far away.  Such was the case with this Osprey.  He was very tiny, even in the viewfinder, but I made sure my camera and lens was firmly seated on my bean bag on my window sill.  With spot focusing I squeezed off the shot and it proved to be sharp enough to make a nice enlargement.

Osprey – 1/1000 sec. @f7.1, ISO 320.

This was my first photograph of the year of an Ash-throated Flycatcher.  There was a rumor of a similar Brown-crested Flycatcher in the area.  I discounted it as it would have been a rarity for here.  I don’t know of any recorded, confirmed sighting ever in this area.  However, “show me the picture”, and I will believe.

Ash-throated Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 800.

I love the little Kinglets, but they sure as heck really hard to photograph.  Always on the move.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

Bluebirds.  A crowd favorite.

Eastern Bluebird – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

I was lucky to catch this Nashville Warbler when he was showing a bit of his rusty crown, which is usually hidden.

Nashville Warbler – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 640.

The Chipping Sparrow is another sparrow which is easily recognized.

Chipping Sparrow – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 800.

There are two sub-species of the Yellow-rumped Warbler; Audubon and Myrtle.  This one with the brilliant yellow “chin” is an Audubon.

Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

The problem with this Rock Wren is they are very hard to see.  We find them in the rocks, or riff-raff, on the side of O. C. Fisher Dam.  We know they are there, so we must be patient and watch for movement along the huge structure.  Finally, when we get a glimpse, it is easier to track them as they move along the rocks.

Rock Wren – 1/800 sec @ f7.1, ISO 1250

This little Bewick’s Wren was singing his little heart out.

Bewick’s Wren – 1/640 sec @ f6.3, ISO 320.

I watched this Great Horned Owl patiently for several minutes.  I was about 200 yards away so there was no way that I was going to agitate him.  I was waiting for him to open his eyes.  I moved his head many times but never opened them.  After about 15 minutes I gave it up and left the building.

Great Horned Owl – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 800.

Well, I think that is it for this post.  It felt wonderful to be posting again.  This particular post has a record number of photos, nineteen.  That is the most I have ever published in one post.  I hope you enjoyed every one of them.

 

Say it isn’t so, Bob, say it isn’t so…….


Well sorry to say, it is so.  I am suspending my blog, at least for a short period.  You might say I am taking a sabbatical for several weeks, perhaps a couple of months.  I am undergoing a series of procedures to cure some skin cancer on my face and neck.  I am hoping to get back to work by the end of April, as Ann and I want to spend a few days in the Davis Mountains during the first week of May.

Because of this, I obviously need to keep myself out of the sun as much as possible.  My face looks like it has been run over by a garbage truck with a full load.  It is very uncomfortable, and that makes it hard for me to concentrate on anything to do with writing creatively.  I do hope to get outdoors anyway, perhaps earlier in the day, or when it is cloudier.  I am not fit right now to be seen in public.  But in the end, it will be worth the discomfort.

Anyway, to ease your disappointment, I have a few images from the past couple of weeks that I will show you here.  Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Burrowing Owl

American Kestrel

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Carolina Wren

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-winged Blackbird – female

American Robin in early morning light.

Horned Lark

Osprey, with lunch

Red-tailed Hawk

Great Horned Owl – peeking from behind a freshly cut branch.

So there you have it, something to hold you over for a few weeks.  See ya then….

Happy Birding.

A Pre-Valentine’s Day Post


I am getting back into my routine since returning from the Big Bend.  The weather is moving up and down like a Disney roller-coaster.  93° last Saturday.  Maybe 45° today.  No matter, I try to get out for an hour or two, or three nearly every day.  The birding is improving, but having said that, it will probably be another wait for the spring birds to arrive.  But let me show you the photos I have gotten since my last post.  As usual, click on any image to see some nice enlargements.

Here in San Angelo we do have American Robins pretty regularly, but this year it seems there many, many more than in the past.  I see them almost everywhere I go.

American Robin - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

American Robin – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

This House Finch and the above robin were photographed early in the morning at the same darkish location, which accounted for the high ISO of 3200.  As you can see, they are sitting on the same branch.

House Finch, female - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 550mm.

House Finch, female – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 550mm.

I love to photograph the Northern Cardinals.  They are so photogenic, it is hard to get a bad image.

Northern Cardinal - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

Northern Cardinal – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

Loggerhead Shrike, AKA ‘the butcherbird’.  They love to impale their prey on a thorn or barbed wire before consuming them.

Loggerhead Shrike - 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 200, 600mm.

Loggerhead Shrike – 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 200, 600mm.

The Belted Kingfishers are not innocent either.  They dive and hit the water at about 100MPH, stabbing their fish, and giving themselves a nasty headache.

Belted Kingfisher, female. 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400, 600mm.

Belted Kingfisher, female. 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400, 600mm.

This Carolina Wren gave me a nice pose early one morning.

Carolina Wren - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640, 600mm.

Carolina Wren – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640, 600mm.

Last week one day, we ventured out to about a dozen miles west of Eldorado, where this Burrowing Owl was making it’s home in a culvert.  When we arrived, we saw from about 100 yards down the road.  He was standing looking our way, like he was waiting for us to show up.  As we neared he jumped into the culvert, and turned and peeked out to look our way.  Of about 100 images this was one of my personal favorites.  My camera and lens gave me an excellent quality file to work with, and I was able to crop close and give you this portrait.

Burrowing Owl - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400, 600mm.

Burrowing Owl – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400, 600mm.

One day at San Angelo State Park ann spotted this Merlin off to the right of the car.  I only had time to shoot across Ann’s lap through her window.  The early morning gave me some good light.

Merlin - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000, 600mm.

Merlin – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000, 600mm.

Before we left the state park, we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk perched.  As I was starting to shoot, from about80 yards away, it decided to take flight.  I was ready, and I filled the frame with my lens.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320, 600mm.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320, 600mm.

I hope you enjoyed this post and all of the photographs.  I am working on adding images to my FineArtamerica store where you can buy prints and other items with my photography.

You may want to start a collection of my coffee mugs with birds or some of my landscape images.  They make fine gifts.  To browse and/or purchase, Click HERE.

A return to the Big Bend


We got back to San Angelo Friday afternoon, after a five hour drive from our Casita at Far Flung Outdoor Center in Study Butte, Texas.  We were exhausted, not from just the trip, but from the great four days that we spent in Big Bend National Park and Chisos Mountains of west Texas.  We saw a great number of birds, although not as many as we had hoped.  But considering it is winter time, we should be glad.  We added five more to our yearly list, including a lifer, a Bushtit.  We are at 108 for the year as of now, and my life list is up to 294.

But apart from the birding, I was also able to get some nice landscape photos from that beautiful area.  I am usually in the birding mode, and I tend to not notice the majestic scenes of Big Bend National Park.  This time I made it a point to enjoy that aspect much more.

Here are a few photos from our memorable journey.  Click on any of them to see pretty enlargements.

There were plenty of Red-tailed Hawks.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 250.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 250.

We saw plenty of White-crowned Sparrows, too.

White-crowned sparrow - 1/640 sec. @ f9, ISO 250.

White-crowned sparrow – 1/640 sec. @ f9, ISO 250.

We also saw numerous of these Loggerhead Shrikes.

Loggerhead Shrike - 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 200.

Loggerhead Shrike – 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 200.

The grandeur of Big Bend National Park is amazing.  Photo opportunities at every turn.  This photo is from a very high lookout point along the Ross Maxwell Highway.  Probable altitude around 5,000 feet.  You can look across the top of Kit Mountain and see the opening in the 1500 foot cliffs that mark Santa Elena Canyon, a distance of around 20 miles away.

Sotol Vista - 1/320 sec. @ ff10, +0.7 EV, ISO 200.

Sotol Vista – 1/320 sec. @ ff10, +0.7 EV, ISO 200.

This is a typical desert scene.  Cerro Castellan is in the distance.

Desert Landscape - 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, I SO 200.

Desert Landscape – 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, I SO 200.

Here is close-up detail of Cerro Castellan.

Cerro Castellan - 1/200 sec, @ f5.6, -0.3, ISO 200.

Cerro Castellan – 1/200 sec, @ f5.6, -0.3, ISO 200.

When eating a breakfast of burritos and coffee in the morning in the ghost town at Terlingua, this cactus wren was happily singing near by.

Cactus Wren - 1/3200 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, IS O 2000.

Cactus Wren – 1/3200 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, IS O 2000.

From the window formation in the Chisos Mountains, altitude 5,000 feet, looking west, you can see forever.

Window View - 1/3200 sec, @ f5.6, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Window View – 1/3200 sec, @ f5.6, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

I hope you enjoyed these image of our little vacation.  We are hoping to back again soon.  Now it is back to birding for a couple of months.

Now that Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, why don’t you have a look at my gifts in my FineArtAmerica store.  Not only prints of my images, but coffee mugs, bags, and other nice gifts featuring my photography.

Happy Birding!!!

 

A Hall of Fame award.


I received a very prestigious award yesterday that I would love to share.  Most of you know that before my photography I was very much into the music scene.  During the 60s, 70s, and 80s I was I was a wild saxophonist, playing with various bands and musicians over the years.  I retired from music in 1986.  Well, the West Texas Hall of Fame decided that I ought to have the Pioneer Award for the year 2015.  I received this plaque yesterday.  I was honored to receive it and glad that they didn’t have to present it posthumously. 🙂

Bob Zeller's Pioneer Award

Bob Zeller’s Pioneer Award

I will be back with some birding and photography posts after I return from a vacation next week.

While I am gone, you would enjoy reading of my musical exploits.  Click HERE.

There are six small and entertaining parts.  That will give you some insight as to why I was given this award.