5 months into a new reality.

Posted: 28th July 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Almost the first of August and 5 months ago we rolled into town. How very unsettling to be unsettled. We had hopes for smooth sailing and as far as the studio goes, it was nice to walk into having a little work waiting and after having done this line of work for so many years, it really wasn’t all that unfamiliar.

Kate our former owner of Island Photographics has been very helpful and we are grateful for a smooth transition. She immediately began to introduce us to the movers and shakers here in Venice and we are having people come in now that have at least heard of us.

In this area, we are told that the town is around 20,000 people, perhaps a little over double where we came from in Keokuk. We are also told that “in season”, November thru April, that it swells to 200,000 people. What we weren’t quite prepared for was the “off-season”. Although we were certainly told about it, we weren’t prepared completely for what that really meant.

Every business that we’ve talked to experiences the same thing. We have to plan on things dieing off when the snowbirds leave. In April, when they have pretty much all gone back north, people here also tend to leave and go on vacation, or else they button up and spending is curtailed. Things began to pick back up and the outlook better as July came and talks of a very busy fall season give a lot of hope and anticipation. That’s how things are going with the business.

At home in North Port, we actually had a tornado hit out neighborhood over Memorial weekend. John Mott, who is our neighbor here that is also from Keokuk goes north during the summer and I hitched a ride with him to go back to Iowa and get my pickup truck. As we were northbound, a popup thunderstorm hit near our house and Judy called me to tell me her and Austin had taken refuge in the bathroom as they saw the funnel cloud approach. It was 150 ft. wide and apparently hit our neighbors house and ours as we had a lot of debris in the trees around our house. Other lost part of their roofs and we made the national news. Judy and Austin weren’t hurt and we sustained moderate issues with our house, some soffiting and roof issues but not as bad as our neighbors.

Drove back a few days later, was able to do a few photo shoots while I was in Iowa and that helped pay for the trip. Austin went to be with his dad for the summer back in June and is scheduled to return in a couple weeks.

Christopher my son has just passed his exams for being a court reporter and his gal Cecillie has graduated and passed her RN tests, school and boards and is now a full fledged Registered Nurse. My daughter is planning to get married soon here in Florida and Owen is growing and conversing like a real big kid.

And such is life right now, all is well and I continue to miss family and friends back home.

Two months…

Posted: 6th May 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

This week, it will have been two months since we landed in this foreign land of Florida.

Eveything, absolutely everything in life is different. Not different in a bad way, just different. The little things you do on a daily basis, the habits, the routines, the friends and family. Things that were important now are important in a different way, mostly as memories. Everything from getting up in the morning, to the unfamiliar faces you greet both in the commute to work and those on the street after you get to work. My office is different, my studio is different, my routine is different and the scenery is definitely different.

That being said, I guess I’m not insane as I felt I needed to do something different in order to get other-than-the-same results.

So, have you ever wondered what it might be like to just move away and start over?

This is what it’s like.

Last year after Judy went in the hospital for emergency Gall bladder surgery, it became pretty clear to me that we needed to try and do something different if we were going to be able to afford health insurance. Thankfully our church (Cornerstone) stepped up and helped out a bit and helped take some of the pressure off, but we will be paying off the hospital for many years to come unless things become real successful, which of course we strive for.

Keokuk always treated us well and no complaints from me. It’s just that the market there for what I do and the world economy no doubt pressed us into needing to take some drastic measures. That’s when the idea of getting out of our routine and considering moving our entire existence started to form.

I had moved from Keokuk back in 1999 and it was because a job at CHMI called me back with great incentives, good pay and position. I thought sure I had some security, insurances and maybe even retirement. That combined with being a photographer on the side made for living in Keokuk nice and comfortable. For 10 years I enjoyed that and then all of a sudden, the company crashed and nearly everyone was permanently laid off. For the next two or three years we gave it a go on Main Street and seeing the writing on the wall, I began to look at options.

For those that have been following our story, you know that this studio in Venice, FL. became available and that is where we are and many many small and large miracle made it possible for me to continue to do the job that I love to do. So far it’s working out wonderfully.

You probably also know that I miss my family and friends like crazy. I’m missing seeing my child and grandchild and his mother, my mother and brothers, cousins and neighbors. Our church family was close and irreplaceable.

So for the moment, after only two months, we still feel like we’re floating and I’ve heard it said that it take a couple of years to feel at home.

I’ll let you know how that works out!

Thanks for reading.

Monday night

Posted: 19th March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Yesterday was an interesting day. We are in search of a church we can use our music skills, not desperately seeking, but keeping our eyes and ears open for opportunity. We really loved what we did at Cornerstone Church in Keokuk, personally, I loved doing that every bit as much as Photography or any other thing I do for my day job.
We were invited by a customer last week to visit her church in Venice, so we did that yesterday. They have a lot of talent at her church so not sure they really have room for anyone else, but the Pastor and his wife were very nice, took us to lunch and we got to share….as they did too. Was pretty surprised that they entertained us afterwards as we were just visitors. Very very nice.
By the time we got home after church it was 3:30 in the afternoon. We must have talked a lot.

It is challenging to meet all these new folks and then try to remember names, etc. Then when we talk to each other, it’s hard to reference people as well. I’m sure it will all come together.

Austin’s first day of school was today. The first week we were here he was out due to the paperwork nightmare, and last week, they were out of school for Spring Break. He was scared and apprehensive. We told him, welcome to what we’ve been experiencing.

The Guidance Counselor was awesome and because we are on an “Island”, she shared that the Island folks really patronize and try to help each other out. We have heard that from several others and it is proving to be true. The High School graduates about 600 students per Senior class. We are one of very few studios in the area that does Sr. Portraits and it appears we should have a very good market for Sr. Port. Photography here in the near future. That with the unbelievable scenery should make for a successful studio.

Saturday night, end week 2

Posted: 17th March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

We have had opportunity to meet and speak to a good number of people now. Kate has introduced us to many customers and this last week I attended the Bay Area Professional Photographers meeting in Sarasota. A wonderful group of like minded photographers that openly share their craft. Kate introduced me to the group and I have actually already seen some of them through our Sr Port organization at convention.
Kate also introduced me to Rotary Thursday group at Venice yacht club. They are a fun crowd, slightly larger in numbers than Keokuk Rotary club, but I must say run quite differently.
Along with Paul Fitzsimmons, brother in law to be, we are bringing a new service to Venice and the world, and that is APP creation for Android and Apple phones and Pads. A bit specialized at the moment, but interest and demand is there so we are building a business division with that service. More on that soon!

Wednesday, three days on the job.

Posted: 7th March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Here we are, three days in and trying to get our bearings. Quite a feat, getting home, job and Austin’s school situated and juggling the hold over responsibilities from Iowa.
Kate and Gloria from Island have phenom in getting us rolling and the appointments are coming in.
Venice is an amazing beautiful city and I have begun to document this place and plan to share photos with you soon.
Everyone, I mean everyone I have talked to about Venice here just raves about it. People that have lived here all their life to the UPS driver who has been here 35 years, young to old just brag about it.
That makes for an easy time doing business for sure.
I am sorry for not dolng a better job of staying In touch! It has been a little hectic.

First Day as Island Photographics

Posted: 5th March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

What a weekend! Moving is said to be as large a life experience as other things we might do like being born or dying. I’m here to attest to that.
At a time when most, especially our parents would be pretty settled in life and they would be planning a quiet retirement, we have decided on this giant change.
My own father at this point however lost his job that he had been at for 20 plus years and I remember how devastating it was to him. He died at 62 and my last vivid memory was how he was laying on the floor of his little house as the room filled with emergency personnell pushing so hard on his chest that I wondered if it could even succeed.
I’m in much better physical condition than he was but I thought if I only had 7 more years to live what might I want to do with it?
Ready to give it all I’ve got is part of that plan rather than give us as I believe he did. My three brothers and our mother watched as his sense of purpose drained out of his life, and then as his life drained away from any other purpose on this earth. His depression and sadness being something I never want to experience.
So there is some personal insight, but with all of that motivation, that doesn’t minimize the impact of the emotions that are going on at this moment during all of this upheaval.
I am very thankful to Kate Hill Moore who has literally made this opportunity available who is now the previous owner of the studio we are taking over.
We know next to no one in this town, save for Kate and her employee friend Gloria Pierce and that’s where our story begins today.
Coming from home where I knew everyone from our Mayor and government offficials to leaders of industry and served in leadership in our church, to now being a stranger as having landed on a foreign shore.
Will we fit in or be accepted here or what can I do with the skills I have acquired?? Those are questions where answers will be reserved as future pixels on future pages of this page.
Hmmmm wish I could read ahead to see how things turn out!
I do know the words from the friends and family that we left (but not lost) serve as awesome reminders that leaving doesn’t make us alone. Thank you for reading!

Ed…I have a test for you!

Posted: 2nd March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

You know those days you have when you know you’re being tested?
Well…this has been one for my own personal record book.
At about the halfway point in our journey came the mountain.
Not the figurative, metaphorical mountain, however, I suppose for the purpose of this entry it serves well as both the real thing and the hypothetical one.
Eagle mountain is south of Nashville and north of Chattanooga and it is about 4 1/2 miles up a very steep grade and then of course a steep decline.
I didn’t sleep well last night having thoughts of possibly needing to use the runaway truck ramps…or worse. But as is often our fears turns out to be nothing.
The toughest part turned out to be the climb. That poor old white truck worked so hard climbing that it got really hot.
After getting down off the mountain it acted like it was dying.
The heat gauge was reading normal, but it was sputtering like it was running out of gas. I struggled (and I mean I was sweating bullets) to get it out of hectic traffic and the second time we wound up in a Target parking lot.
All kinds of thoughts going through my mind…like how in the world would I get my cargo transferred if I had to rent another truck because I have this huge printer in the truck that takes 4 people to lift…not to mention it is on the bottom of the pile with a crate custom built around it.
So, we made it as far as Forsyth, Ga at a Days Inn where we are watching the weather channel warning of strong tornadoes passing where we just passed moments ago.
Thank you for the prayers, well wishes and sentiments! You have been very uplifting!

Thursday night

Posted: 1st March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

An early departure as you already know and with the trucks, we successfully turned an 8 hour trip into 13.5 hours.
We are at a Days Inn in Murfreesboro, Tn and in the previous trips in the car we would have just blown by this area as we like to drive it straight through.
Yes Donna, I wish I could scoop everyone from home and bring you with me. No more rearview mirror needed. Problem solved!
Ok, so I guess that can’t work..but please don’t take me off your Christmas card list!

The moment has arrived

Posted: 1st March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Its early am and I lay here watching a fire burn in a fireplace in an old home in Keokuk that has been adopted by friends that also adopted us for a couple days and let us stay with them as we wrap things up here in Keokuk. In a couple hours my hometown will be in our rearview mirror and a new life adventure lies ahead.
When I was younger I might have felt as though I was escaping gravity and taking flight. Now however, feelings of I am leaving a place that was of security through familiarity,friendships, responsibility and all of the rewards that come with all of those. I was and still am RICH, not with money by a long shot, but as I have learned these past two weeks with friends, family and comuunity that care.
I do look forward to the next chapter ahead with excitement and am eager to dig in and see what I can do with all that you at home have taught me this lifetime.
Don’t worry, I won’t forget to write!

Wednesday evening…

Posted: 29th February 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Well.here we sit all loaded and ready to go and the weather had different plans for us today. High winds prevented us from getting on the road. I figure all things happen for one reason or the other so we are staying at Hank and Karen’s one more night now that we are Keokuk homeless. Thank you Hank for all the assistance loading stuff and thank you Karen for breakfast and amenities of home. Sure helps to not feel so un-grounded.
Anyhow, we plan to be on the road around 5 am, only 4 days later than originally planned.
Thank you Kate and Gloria for keeping things going in Venice! We are racing to get there as soon as we can!!!!