My photography, my art, my thoughts.

An Amazing Woman’s Faith

I speak of the elder of my two sisters. Born in 1944 to Hazel and Winfred, she was premature and was placed in an incubator as was the practice. But, as a result of too much oxygen, she developed cerebral palsy and near total blindness. I was born five years later.  Our father, knowing he was dying of lung cancer, committed suicide leaving my mother with four very young children. She eventually remarried.

My earliest memories of Gwyn were of her reading Braille pages with her fingers, her strange glasses with one very thick lens on one side and how she had to place her face close to the page to read a book. I remember her broken gait when she walked. I also remember her sitting on the floor with a cat in her lap. She loved to sit in the swing under the shade of the large privet hedge in the summer and read. She was a voracious reader despite her very limited sight.

My mother had three more children. I was the last. She was an unhappy, angry person, who treated her depression with alcohol and cigarettes and tried to hold it together. But Gwyn was often the target of her misery, simply because she could not get away from her when she was young. My mother’s abuse was simple meanness and humiliation, verbal and sometimes physical. I’ve seen my mother yank hard at Gwyn’s hair when combing it. Gwyn had thick wavy hair. And my mother was harsh with the comb. We other siblings had the mobility to escape to parts unknown.

Gwyn became a young woman of courage and faith. She joined the church and the choir. She loved to sing. She studied hard and went to public schools, staying at the top of her class. She learned to ride the bus and use a cane and find her own life and way. She received a four-year academic scholarship to Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, staying on the Dean’s List, graduating magna cum laude and receiving the Key Man Award (something like valedictorian) and the Oglethorpe Cup.

In the following years she would obtain a PhD, marry, and raise two children. She would work as a Home Teacher for the Blind in Atlanta. She told me stories of working in the worst neighborhoods, helping blind individuals, living on assistance, to learn how to take care of themselves. How to cook meals, buy groceries, do everyday tasks without sight. She told me of bus drivers warning her not to walk in the neighborhoods where her clients lived. She mentioned hearing guns shots before.  She told me of going to a blind woman’s home and finding her locked out sitting on her porch in tears. My sister calmed the woman, determined that there was an opportune window on the side of the house, and the two of them working together boosted my sister up and through the window where she managed to find her way to the front door and open it. I can only imagine the number of lives she changed while caring for those who needed her knowledge and kindness.

As many families do, we scattered to distant locations. Me to New England, our brother to Florida, then North Carolina. My other sister to Texas. Gwyn went on to work for the CDC in Washington, D.C., then back to Georgia.

I believe what kept Gwyn going, achieving, moving forward, always doing her best though those years, was her faith and her stubbornness. She was a beautiful soul with a body that fought her all her life, yet she lived her life as though anything could be overcome. She clung hard to her faith. And gave constantly of her time to others. She had severe arthritis and osteoporosis as she got older. She had hips and shoulders replaced. Even when she was unable to walk, she still sat and crocheted Afghans and blankets for children in the hospital so they would have something of their own to hold close. She made hundreds.

When I mentioned her stubbornness, I mean to say that she was determined. You didn’t tell Gwyn she couldn’t do that. She would most certainly prove you wrong. She had a childhood she had to escape out of necessity and turned it into a life as full and accomplished as any.

But her faith was what gave her the courage. I believe it is her faith that protected her as she walked the streets of Atlanta. It was her faith that guided her and gave her a pathway out of her darkness. It was her faith that brought her back from the edge of death on numerous occasions in the past several years.

Gwyn passed away on March 19th. It would have been our brother’s birthday, but he passed a few years ago.

She was special. She was a treasure. She was an amazing woman.


–– Imageguy

It Shouldn’t Be Like This

Bill passed away this week. It wasn’t Covid. It was his time. But it was far more than that. It was sorrowful to lose Bill. But it was a relief as well.

Bill was the father of my closest friend. He was 95. I have known Bill as long as I have known his son, since 1978. Bill welcomed me and treated me as extended family at many a holiday function.

He was a kind man but a reserved man. A man of strong beliefs. A man of discipline, and routine, and expectations. He was a former Merchant Marine and proud of his service. Like many men of his age and background, he had a strong work ethic. He was proud of his family. He lived the life expected of a man who grew up though the war years and the cold war and all the stereotypes of a typical American family in New England. He was frugal, reserved, not extravagant. His yard was neat and his driveway was swept. He saved his money. They were comfortable, he and his wife.

Then his wife began to decline, dementia. Requiring assisted living. And as might be expected, Bill’s aging body became frail and he followed his wife into a facility. Before this was necessary, they had to sell their home and most of the contents. Things that they had lived their lives with for years, sold for pennies. Bill was meticulous about his tools and proud of his knowledge of repairs to most anything, a man who loved his mechanics, and his tools were high quality, and organized with precision. I know how men value their tools. Many that I have, I have had since the 60s. He told me, when I visited as they prepared for the sale, “if there is anything here that you want, just take it.” As I looked at this beautiful collection of tools of all sorts, I picked up a red case containing a Starrett caliper set. This is a fine machinist’s measuring tool. I turned to Bill and said, “I would love to have this.” And he said, “it’s yours.” Bill will forever be attached to that tool when I reach for it. When I saw him last, it was the last Christmas that his wife was alive. He gave me a shiny silver dollar.

The reason I write this is because Bill died after such a long suffering, that robbed him of his savings, his dignity, his happiness, his last years of life. The cost of assisted living is enough to bankrupt most elderly people. Having lost his home, his wife, his mobility, he was naturally an unhappy man. Watching his savings disappear at the rate of thousands of dollars a week. In pain, needing assistance to perform simple tasks like using the bathroom. He became a typical, I expect, complaining patient who soon became the man who cried wolf. He would ring for assistance with a slow or even no response. When they wouldn’t respond, his rings would become more frequent and eventually someone would respond. But he became the “annoying old guy in 5B”. It breaks my heart to think how a man who is so miserable, in pain, both physically and emotionally, has no prospect of anything getting better, is responded to by people who do not recognize his pain. Only that he is ringing again.

Bill eventually fell for the third time while trying to get himself to the bathroom, splitting his head on the edge of the sink the first time, and breaking both his shoulder and his hip the third time. Bill was finally allowed by the medical establishment to pass away as he had requested of his son weeks before and find an end to his suffering.

Medical care in America has become a mine field of decision making based on monetary concerns, legal threats, insurance hounds, liability, and stockholders. Too many decisions involve unnecessary tests to keep billables up, drugs prescribed without need, poorly trained or overworked professionals who battle not only the illnesses but the politics.

There was no need for Bill to suffer the way he did his last years. Bill could have received more compassionate care. There was no need for Bill to lose so much of what he worked for and saved all his life. The cost of health care is out of control. There was no need for Bill to spend days in pain while hospital liability was weighed more heavily than a man’s suffering and his own desires to simply let him die.

Rest in peace, Bill.

Why do we collect?

Why do humans collect things?  What is it about gathering a group of objects that have some similar characteristic or some common thread that ties them to each other and to us as individuals is satisfying, or maybe it’s investing, or some sort of study, or status?

As a young person, I collected stamps and coins and baseball cards and eventually rocks and minerals.  Interestingly, I still have some of the rock collection. None of the others. I’ve collected a lot of other things that have vanished. Once had a huge collection of depression glass. Like most people growing up, I collected music, records, tapes, CDs, videos. Some were stolen, some sold, some given away. I used to collect pebbles at the beach at Cape Cod, but only the ones that had a single stripe running through them. I’ve collected a lot of junk too, as we all tend to do. “Don’t throw that away, you might be able to use that for something.” I have a collection of shot glasses from places I’ve traveled to.

But for many collectors, I believe a big part of it is the story that accompanies the object. Finding it, the hunt. The just missed it. The deal. The trip. The people. The event or side story.

I have a nice small collection of guitars. I play them all, I play often, and I enjoy each one for its own characteristics, its sound, its playability, its feel. Recently I found a guitar that I will keep until I die. I have been looking for this one for six years. I wasn’t really looking for this guitar at the time when I came across the ad on marketplace. I have several guitars, I didn’t need to have “another” guitar, but I did need “this” guitar. I have another I will sell to accommodate the new acquisition. But for any collector, who has sought out some object of desire, when you find “it” and it is within reach, you don’t walk away. When I have, I have regretted it. And when I have accepted that fate has put in front of me what I have been seeking, I have always said later, I’m glad I said yes. So, I bought this guitar. But that is not the point of the story.

The ad was listed in a city about an hour’s drive away. We communicated, agreed on a price and a location convenient to the seller to meet me with the instrument. In looking at his listing I noticed we shared a friend, which was odd since I know of only one person from his area. Once we met, we made the normal exchange of money and guitar, and I asked him about the friend we shared. Turns out, the seller is a wedding photographer. Something we have in common. He photographed a wedding for the brother of this friend we share, who happens to be a close friend of my own daughter since high school (13 years ago). That one person I knew from his city.

So now, this guitar carries that story, silently, unknown to anyone who might see it. But for me, connections like this almost make me feel like the guitar found me, not the other way around. It is a special guitar already. But this simple additional human connection over miles and years of time makes it even more special, of greater value, at least in my own soul. I will play it with greater wonder and with the memory of that brief encounter. And I will be thankful that it found me.

Say, “I see.”

Have a wonderful holiday.


Please visit my website at Art makes a wonderful gift. Anyone from this blog using the coupon code imageguy will receive 20% off one purchase until December 31st. Thank you!

© George Cannon – Images LLC

A Few Words About Customer Service

I’d like to say a few words about customer service and what has happened to it in the land of online commerce. Today’s online climate (and I admit to being part of it out of necessity) with shopping online changing the economy, brick and mortar stores closing, shopping malls empty. Face to face commerce and customer service is becoming limited to a handful of big box stores and the rest is dominated by Amazon. I have a real hard time with Amazon (way beyond my disdain for Jeff Bezos). My paycheck, these days, depends a great deal on Amazon because that’s where the company sells the most. And we sell there the most, because more people buy there than they do anywhere else and that is why Bezos is so rich. And I have more issues with Amazon beyond this conversation about customer service, but perhaps I’ll come back to that later.

Online shoppers have been schooled by Amazon that no matter what their complaint, Amazon will refund their money. I remember the old adage of “the customer is always right”. I did my shopping in a Belk-Gallant department store, or a JC Penny, or a shoe store, or hardware store. These places had employees and people who knew their products and you could actually talk to them and they were helpful. So, there were few returns or unhappy customers because the customer left satisfied with what they needed. I understand the need for a retailer to bend to please a customer. Make them happy today and they will leave feeling like they got what they wanted. And they’ll be back. Yes. And I am a quality product kind of person and believe you should get what you pay for. No arguments. What many consumers have come to believe is that they can get what they pay for and get their money back for any reason. Keep the product or return it, whatever. It didn’t arrive before 2 PM the next day? Refund. Tracking says it arrived but I don’t see it. Refund. The color is a little off from the picture on my phone. Refund. I got the thing, but I want my money back. Refund. That’s real easy, when it’s not your money you’re refunding. Amazon is a huge consignment/fulfillment company that owns none of the product it sells, charges about 50% to handle the sale (with all the fees), only pays their vendors part of what they sell each month and with all the money they hold, they lend it back to struggling businesses. I don’t even need to get into the horrible customer service they provide to major sellers with technical staff that don’t know what they are advising, give you a different answer for the same problem over and over (none of which work). Well you get the picture. I’m no fan.

But as a result of the culture shift, companies offer less and less direct assistance with problems. Consumers have become much more self-entitled and demanding. Expectations are unrealistic and consumers have little tolerance for any error. Case in point. Our company ships the days shipments out at 2 PM Eastern time on business days (five days a week). A customer places an order at 4:04 PM on a Thursday, asking for overnight shipping. Our terms state that we make every attempt to fulfill orders within 24 hours, but, in some situations, it may take up to 72 hours. That’s for late Friday purchases. So, an order placed at 4:04 PM on a Thursday is processed and shipped on Friday morning. Shipped overnight, it arrives next business day, or on Monday. Customer wants their shipping charges refunded because it didn’t arrive on Friday. Is that reasonable or logical? I say no. Nowhere do we say “orders shipped same day”. But with companies like B&H in New York who have pick-ups late at night because of their huge volume, people have come to expect that if I order it now, I should be able to get it tomorrow. The crazy thing is, you used to be able to. You just had to go to the store.

We have customers who purchase a new product, take the old product they are replacing, and send it back for a refund. Or they simply rob parts they need and send back the rest. Sometimes they send back something that’s not even our product, just to take up space. No one would attempt that over the counter. Online shines a light on the lack of integrity and the extent of the opportunistic.

But on to other events. I recently launched a new website ( built on the Squarespace platform. It’s a commerce site for the sale of my artwork. I chose Squarespace to build the site because my daughter had used it for a site for her non-profit. In order to offer products on a Squarespace Commerce site, you are currently limited to using Square (for point of sale transactions), PayPal (and Venmo) for PayPal payments, and credit cards must be processed through a company called Stripe. They are a big processing house that I had knowledge of. I already had accounts with Square and PayPal, so opened a Stripe account, and everything was set. I spent three months building the site. I took a week vacation just to finish it and launch it publicly. That Monday I got an email from Stripe saying my account had been disabled because my current company (the one I was launching the website for) or some other company I was affiliated with has my name on a WATCH list for Mastercard. Because I am on this list, they will not do business with me. Now I have a website ready to launch, and I can’t sell online.

I ask for help from Stripe (you can’t talk to a person) and was directed to a few pages of links on “here’s where to go and what to read about your problem”. Sort of, we can’t help you….go do the research.  I turned to Squarespace, who essentially said the same thing followed by …”go read your agreement.” Squarespace does not offer or accommodate other processors, so if they say no, you have paid for a year’s website hosting for nothing. Not to mention the time invested before you are blocked.

The gist of what is written about this online says, if you are on the MATCH list, the only way to get off is to have whoever put you on in the first place, take you off. Either that, or you are removed automatically after 5 years. So, you must investigate and determine who put you on this list. The only companies I deal with are PayPal, Square, and my bank. All of whom told me “it wasn’t us”. I asked the bank for assistance, hoping they could access this MATCH list from Mastercard. Turns out, to access the list, you must subscribe to a service from Mastercard that costs thousands of dollars a year, a service which my bank does not subscribe to, so no access to the list. No way to get information, no one to talk with, nowhere seemingly to turn.

I then turned to Mastercard and complained to them. It took about a week before I received an email from a woman at Mastercard, stationed in India, who asked for the name of the company (my new website) and my parent company name. Which I supplied immediately. The email, however, stated it will take two business days to get a reply. This is a Friday, so wait over the weekend and two business days. I get another request, what’s your address? Another two business days / weekend. I am writing saying, why can’t you ask everything you need to ask and let’s get this solved. It’s a relay of delays from here to India to Mastercard offices (wherever) back to India and to me.

Finally, now a month late launching the site, I filed a complaint with the NY State Attorney General. The response was almost immediate though I didn’t have a lot of hope at this point knowing how the wheels of government turn. I explained my issues in standard forms online. I received letters in the mail within two days. Then as the case was just about to escalate, I received an email from Stripe. It said, we’re sorry, our mistake. You’re not on the list, your account is active. Have nice day.

I let them know their apology fell far short of adequate. I wondered how many people go through a similar situation only to give up and say, there’s no way to do this. I’m black listed and can’t get off. Money, grief, weeks of wasted time, all because of poor customer service.

If you shop online, remember the little guy on the end who really wants to make you happy. But follow the motto of the By Water district of New Orleans, and Be Nice or Leave.

Stay safe. Be nice.

Imageguy  –––

The Meaning of Life

My daughter gave me a weekly subscription for a year to write answers in the form of stories or relate feelings, memories, etc. based on a single question. We reached the end of the subscription with a final question “What do you think is the meaning of Life?” It’s a pretty broad question when you think about it and the older I get the more plain and simple it seems to get. So I responded…

Life is what it is. Life exists. Life evolves. Life’s purpose is to continue.

In the last several years it has become more resolved in my mind that we are here only by the happenstance of evolution. We are not special, at least in the biblical sense, that God has put us here as the center piece of everything. That’s just human ego. We want to think we are special. And, in many ways, we are, some good, some not. We are because we have advanced brains that have developed and evolved to the point of logic and problem solving, that over thousands of years have built and flourished in complex civilizations. The rapidity of our development as a species has given us dominion over the planet, which is contrary to nature and science. So now we are realizing the damage we are doing and some are sounding the alarms. But too many are beyond caring. Too much has been altered to return balance.

Nature exists in balance. When something in nature becomes out of balance, such as a species over population due to weather abnormalities, nature will increase the predators and find a way to control the over population. Nature may do the same with insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses, diseases, and evolutionary changes in genetics. Nature seeks balance, and in the same turn, provides all that is necessary to achieve it. Until human intervention. Humans are the main obstruction to natural balance.

There is much discussion about consciousness. Are we the dominant species because of consciousness? Is consciousness unique to humans. Some say, today, that perhaps everything has consciousness. Certainly we can see in mammals the similar behaviors that echo human feelings and family traits. In our communications with our own pets, do we not come to feel they understand, feel love and hurts and loneliness and joy, have memories, and dreams. They problem solve, they protect, they share affection. You see the same interactions and behaviors in other species, elephants, whales, birds, fish. So why not corals, or spiders, or plankton? Is consciousness what makes us human, or what connects us to the universe? Is consciousness a spiritual achievement, or the curse of the higher primate?

The reality is, there are countless trillions of stars, galaxies, planets, extending beyond our conception and understanding. Recent admissions by the government actually affirm the possibility that we are already being visited by someone far more advanced than we. The entire planet we are on was once ruled by giant reptiles. At some point in Earth’s evolution, it will likely rid itself of humans as the ruling species, as nature will always seek balance.

As the space-based telescopes have opened our eyes as to how small and insignificant we are in the total scheme of things, I cannot believe we are the center of it all, or the only life. I believe that if we could shrink ourselves to the smallest levels of atoms and molecules, we would find the only difference is time. Very small moves very fast. Very large, as in universe, moves very slow. But it is only a matter of perspective, where in the mix you are. And where ever you are, the speed seems normal. It’s like walking inside a rail car while hurtling down a track. I like to think of the earth as a molecule with an electron spinning around it. We are a simple, small element. And we are part of a fabric that stretches forever and is simply a part of another larger organism, or mineral, or gaseous cloud floating on a much grander stage. And that if we could shrink to the size of a nucleus in an atom, we might find growing on its surface, all manner of life, only sub-molecular life. With consciousness.

Is there really meaning?  I believe the meaning lies in nature. The meaning is to survive, and spend the life span that is given to each of us doing what nature intended. That is growing, learning, reproducing, and dying. What we do as a species to enrich that time provides the pleasures and rewards that make the time enjoyable, and by way of consciousness, meaningful.



We’ve Become Too Accepting of Death

Today is a day of great sadness in America, having topped the milestone of half a million people now having succumbed to the Covid virus. We sit silently in awe of the number, and yet it has passed by us almost like the weather or the stock market. So many of us who have been fortunate enough to avoid this deadly bug have gone about our lives fearful and guarded and separated. It is a lonely way to live. But we have survived. And millions more have been touched deeply by loss of someone close, who did not need to die this year. Can you imagine if we had been drawn into a new war somewhere in the world and had lost half a million soldiers in only a year. I believe the country I grew up in would have taken to the streets in mass all over the nation to stop such a horror. Yet somehow, because so many of these lives disappeared behind hospital walls and in nursing homes, because these people were old, or vulnerable, or had no celebrity, because they died mostly alone except for a nurse, or a cell phone, they have been quietly drifting by us, ghost like, touching that spot in us that feels so helpless.

Some continue to complain because they are asked to simply protect themselves and at least not endanger others. Yet, in the new American arrogance of the individual who feels they have to stand up and scream like a five-year-old, “you’re not the boss of me”, such childish selfishness should have been erased by the time they were adolescents. Until parents teach their children that they have responsibilities as human beings in a community, the defiance of immature individuals will interfere with the well-being and security of all Americans. We have spent four years learning to distrust, distracted by ridiculous drama on the grandest scale, while half a million American citizens of all families and communities passed from our lives and we are all the poorer for it.

Please wear your mask and get vaccinated. Be safe.


Why is Nature trying to kill us?


The only thing more threatening to us than politics at this time is the Corona virus. Through the year of “everything that can go wrong has gone wrong” to bring us to the worst-case scenario, we are now faced with a country where the virus is out of control, killing people in LA at the rate of four an hour. My own sister, Covid positive, was sent home, then denied ambulance service to return to the hospital in northwest Atlanta. The vaccine is there, but with no cohesive plan nationally to distribute it, other than “give it to the states and let them figure it out”. So, vaccine sits waiting for the way-over-stressed medical community to just get off their lazy asses and start poking people.  We are our worst enemy.

The country is so divided politically, emotionally, philosophically, culturally. The red hats with guns and the rebel flag and the pick-up trucks and the rude shouting at young people trying to do a difficult job and the “I don’t have to do it because I’m an American and I have rights” people who are so enamored with narcissism that they would cause an entire plane load of people to be forced off an airplane just to say, “you can’t make me wear a mask”. I am sorry. But I have had all I can take of the rudeness, the hatred, the racism, The selfishness, the brutality, the false Christians, the hypocrisy, and the lack of understanding among educated people, that we are all part of a system and no one can live in this system without contact and influence in the lives of those around you. It is an abandonment of responsibility. Too much greed. Too much tolerance for a lack of civility and humanity. This is a world capable of the most magical and amazing developments. But as human beings we are constantly bent on a path of self-destruction. And as the dominant creature on the planet, there is little there to control that destruction.

My theory is…enter Nature. We, as a species, have the capability to produce anything. When I saw the rockets of SpaceX landing back on the launch pad, like a 60’s sci-fi adventure, but real. It was like watching the first manned orbit. That same excitement and amazement at what could be accomplished. At my age I have seen incredible technological advances. I grew up in the era of cars with 6-volt batteries and straight shift on the column and tires with tubes. I remember the development of the hand-held calculator and the transistor radio, the touch tone phone, we had bikes with coaster brakes, black and white TV and 45 RPM records. My first computer was a monster with 64K of ram and two floppy drives. This world could produce solar power world-wide, with power from waves, and wind. Enough to power everything we need. We have the technology to raise enough food to feed the world’s populations. I believe tiny Denmark grows more food than the country can eat and feeds a huge part of Europe. Agriculture, industry, science and research need to evolve with the needs not only of the humans, but of the entire planet. The entire system.

This will take an enormous change of attitude among the people of the world. Some of us believe that educating young people on this goal is the key, but the control of education, ideas, curriculum, research, the setting of goals for the nations and the world, these things require major commitments from leaders and the population. Humans seem hell bent on avoiding this, or at least creating a riot while avoiding change. We over fish the oceans, using massive factory ships. We spend massive amounts of energy and resources to create food for animals that then become food themselves, and create massive pollution in doing so. Where ever you turn, you can find a way we have damaged our planet while suiting our own desires and ends.

Nature has a remarkable way of controlling the system when you look at the evolution of species on this planet. Everything in nature is by design. From cell structure, to physical form and appearance, to colors and patterns, to evolutionary development and natural behaviors. The hierarchy of species, how smaller creatures feed larger creatures, and how insects co-exist with plants to the benefit of both. How the destruction of one organism is designed to benefit the life of another. These are all things that nature designs to stay in harmony and balance on the planet. We are part of that evolution, yet our brain development has led to a species that is capable of interrupting the natural paths of nature. By altering the flow of rivers and changing the atmosphere, and forcing extinctions by destruction of habitat, and such efforts, we have also altered the balance required to maintain a livable environment.

When nature experiences something that alters the path, nature makes correction. This is evolution. When there is a year of abundant rain, that feeds the natural seeds, such that the population of mice grows, nature will then provide an abundance of fox pups to control these multiplying mice. And so, it goes up and down every chain, except in the case of humans.

So as nature attempts to control the ever-burgeoning population of humans on the planet, who have devised ways to shelter from weather and storms, to build structures in the most hostile locations, who have learned to find water in the desert and heat on mountain tops. We are defiant of control, even by nature. But as anyone who has owned a home on the coastal shores will tell you, the power of nature is not to be denied.  Ask any dinosaur.

So, if I were in nature’s shoes, I would be looking at this planet system and saying, something is way out of whack. So, what can we do to stop these humans. And a virus looked like a good alternative. Storms don’t seem to work since they have pretty good houses. And you just can’t get to everybody easily. Plus, we hurt other animals and such in the process. Fires worked pretty well this year, but humans are cagey and can move fast so they escape and we just end up hurting the forest. So, we need something that doesn’t require specific planetary guidance. We need something that they will just give to themselves without assistance. Not only that, but something that would spread quickly and that there was no known avoidance. Make it easy to spread. All they have to do, is breathe in and breathe out, which they do normally, especially at sports events. That will be easy.

So out of nature’s pocket comes Covid-19. Not only is this a crafty little predator, if you do something to make it harder on this smart-ass he just changes, evolves, to combat the road block.

Nature is pissed off and I don’t blame her. The Native Americans believe we have a responsibility to this earth that is our mother. Species will arrive, evolve, and perish based on their willingness to be a part of the system. We are all star dust, as is everything around us. We have simply evolved as specific organisms in nature. And our own evolution has put us in peril, not to mention the species that have vanished as a result of our being here. We have a chance like every generation before us to school the young to understand their place in the survival of this planet and the living things on it. We are not separate. We are a necessary part. But we are out of balance. We have our place, but have over stepped our boundaries. We owe Nature our attention. We have lost sight of our purpose and our humanity. Nature will continue to slap our hand until we look inside and understand. And Nature will continue in spite of us, and without us if necessary.

Happy New Year! Be safe. Wear your mask.

Say, I see! 


It’s A Pisser Getting Old


I’ve recently experienced watching a close friend’s parents reach the ends of their lives. I’ve seen this couple for many years, grow older, slowly lose their freedom, their health, their life savings, their independence, their hope. They went from pride and precision and stability to dependent, and lost, and robbed of their dignity. Her dementia likely shielded her from her ultimate losses. We certainly hoped if she could experience anything within her failing body that it would be a sense of joy or relief as opposed to trapped. His loss of her as a support, a reason, a purpose. And what to do but wait.


I started out to write this to simply complain about my own aches and pains. But I can see more first hand now how others experience what is inevitable for all of us. I have watched my older sister struggle with hospitalizations as her body has rebelled in many ways. Hip and shoulder replacements, osteoporosis, arthritis, hearing loss. We struggle to stay alive as we approach the end, like sliding down a slippery slope and little passing by to grab hold of anymore.

After weeks of lock down and distancing through this pandemic, I was finally able to return to my massage therapist today.  The relief was amazing. We forget how therapeutic things are until we can’t have them. This applies to anything that gives us pleasure in life. A threat to life is present in the everyday exchange of human interaction and we are forced to accept change. Change in the way we interact with each other. Change in the way we conduct everyday life. Change that forces us to be alert, and suspicious. Change that forces us to see our neighbors differently. The hard part is, how do you let that change affect you? You could assume your neighbor is infectious and shun them, or you could approach them with the feeling of, I am sorry I can’t reach out and touch you, put my arm around you. But I will protect you if I can. We are social primates. We need touch. Isolation causes abnormal behavior.

I’m not ready to die. I will adapt. I will be suspicious of the real enemy. I will do my best not to get complacent. Because I am not ready to die.

I thought today that one of the reasons the US has the largest virus infection and death rate and climbing is because of the American Dream. For centuries we have all grown up in a world of “you can have what ever you want in America”.  You are free. Well of course this isn’t true for the majority of the population. But we all believed it. So, we have become a selfish nation. I will have what I want because I can and you can’t take it away from me. The problem then arises that not everyone wants the same thing, or everyone wants exactly the same thing and doesn’t want anyone else to have it. When I see a huge man screaming like a tantrum consumed toddler that he can’t go down the street and buy a hamburger, it only reinforces the selfishness of one individual. But when I see a president staging a rally where people will be asked (or instructed) to not wear masks with thousands packed in an arena and then be asked to insure they will not sue him, then this has to be systemic. Like a herd of lemmings.


At my age, I have learned that nothing happens as quickly as you want, except death (but maybe that too). When you are young, getting your driver’s license takes forever, because the anticipation of your first taste of real freedom is approaching. You want a run-away freight train and it’s Thomas the Tank Engine. Then losing your virginity (or maybe you already have crossed that milestone). Then 18, a “proto-adult”. Draft age, but still can’t drink. Can vote, but can’t get in a club. Then 25, (marriage?),30, 40 (alarm), 50 (tired…ready for retired), 60,65 (social security/Medicare/senior citizen discounts), 70,71,72, (shaky), 80……? At this point, the slope is way too steep.


I’ve always thought that when I got to the point of having lost any real quality of life, that I would be okay with checking out. But where do you draw the line on how much body pain you are willing to sustain, how many medications you take to stay alive, what is the limit of loss of mobility, and there is always the possibility of dementia, loss of mind and body function, or the failure of a single organ.  Could I deal with an oxygen tank? Could I live with dialysis? I love music, what if I lost my hearing? I’ve already been told I am developing cataracts. Unwelcome news to a visual artist. But I have also been told cataract surgery is the most performed surgery in the world. I have friends who have experienced it and say it was an easy process. And they can correct your vision in the process which both delights me and scares me too. Don’t screw with my eyes.

As my hair gets thinner (lucky to have as much as I do at this point) and my skin gets paler and my veins bulge a little more, as my muscles and joints ache and my eyesight and hearing deteriorate, I am still thankful everyday that I can create something no one has ever seen before. That I can sit down and play music on a beautiful instrument. That I can still see the colors in an evening sky. That I can derive joy from making another smile. That’s still quality of life. I am not ready to die.


Peace and stay safe. Don’t be selfish, you always get back more than you give.




photos copyright © George Cannon – Images



How Close We Come To Death

At a time like this when the world is locked down resisting a deadly microbe and we see young and old succumbing to the attack of this pathogen, we think heavily on our own mortality. How easily it would be to simply touch the wrong place or stand to close to someone and contract a bug that can kill you in a couple of weeks. We are vulnerable, we are unprepared, and we are frightened.

I have been battling with how this distancing and lock-down has affected my life and how for some time I was so anxious, angry, distracted, frustrated, dropping things. I cut myself breaking down a box. And I am realizing what I am most upset about, or at least, what is triggering my disturbed mood is the disruption of my routine. I was really happy with my routine. And now I’ve been forced into a new one. It’s so disruptive and upsetting. So.

Age old question. What can you do about it? What is within your control? First, be prepared. Have what you need close at hand. Stay safe. Listen to the warnings. But what about routine? For the first couple of weeks it has been bat-shit crazy. But I realized that part of what I love about my routine is, when I go to work, I leave at quitting time and come home to my time. And I don’t feel guilty about “my time”. I leave work at work as much as I can.  But now, work has invaded my home space. It is here all the time and I feel compelled to check emails and print invoices and send POs during “my time”. And that’s not fair. So.

I have decided that I’m going back to my routine (granted without photographing people in the studio or having dinner in a restaurant). But my work hours will be my work hours, and I am now giving myself permission not to work on “my time”. Though not working means I still work on my art and practice my guitar (money for nothin’ and chicks for free). I already feel my anxiety levels going down.  But I digress.

This blog is about death, and how close we come every day.  I started watching DEVS on Hulu and was struck by how the show has focused on how everything happens for a reason, there are no random events. How one split second can mean the difference between being alive and being dead in our world and we go about our lives everyday without regard for how vulnerable we are. Certainly we don’t dwell on such things or we’d be hiding in a cave somewhere. But we are vulnerable. How many times have you had an event in your life where you said “that was close” as your heart was pounding. The lightning strike next to the house, or the near auto accident.

When I was about 17 years old, I drove into downtown Atlanta one night with two of my best friends, Doug and Bill. Doug had his mother’s 57 Ford Galaxy that night and we road Ponce de Leon all the way into Atlanta with Doug driving with his elbows. Power steering! We were passed by several fire trucks on the way and decided to investigate so followed them onto Peachtree Street at the Fox Theatre. Down Peachtree the street was blocked and a fire was roaring in a store that sold electric razors. We parked the car and made our way through the crowd and took up a position in front of the hotel across the street to watch the action. There was a sizable crowd of people. As we stood there taking in the spectacle, two fire fighters approached the front of the building to knock out the front windows of the store and ventilate the fire, but moments before they could accomplish this, the entire front widows exploded outward from the pressure inside. The crowd that we were a part of was knocked to the pavement and showered with broken glass and sparks and smoke and burning debris. I was standing with my hands in my jacket pockets. When the explosion occurred, I yanked my hands up so quickly, I ripped the pockets open on my jacket. I fell to the side walk cutting my knees and palms on broken glass. My hair was full of dirt and glass fragments. Doug was knocked through the doors of the hotel.  A photo in the morning paper showed a picture of those doors spattered with blood and peppered with glass shards. All three of us got minor cuts and scrapes, damage to our clothes.  Many people were lacerated badly by the flying glass including the fire fighters. But it was not my day to die.

One day in my early twenties as I drove through downtown on the interstate, I was traveling on a stretch of road where the opposing side was elevated or banked in a way that left that side higher than the roof of my car so looking to my left was mostly a steep bank of grass topped by a guard rail. As I sped through downtown, I head a loud crunch to my left. As I looked all I could see was the underside of another automobile hurtling over the guard rail. It happened in a split-second. As I quickly looked to the rear-view mirror, I saw the car come crashing down into my lane and slowly roll across about four lanes of pavement. My immediate reaction was simply surprise and a bit of an adrenaline rush. It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realized had I been only a second slower, he would have landed right on my windshield. But it was not my day to die.

We really don’t know how close we come every day. One moment of wrong judgement, one accidental step, and life as we know it can change in an instant.

I live in New York, the state with the most cases of Corona virus. Fortunately, I live upstate so we are not as badly affected. Our county currently shows 105 tested positive with five hospitalized and no deaths so far.  People here are trying hard, for the most part, to stay with the distancing and stay-at-home orders. But some people see themselves (and rudely everyone else) as invulnerable so are less considerate.

For myself, I live alone, so isolating is sort of normal for me. I’m fine with it for now. But I am in that elderly population and I have a lot more living that I want to do. So, in the words of the dancing master in Game of Thrones, “What do we say to death?  Not today!”

Stay healthy. Be safe. Live another day. And be thankful for it.





The “Catch 22” of Photography as Art

Photographers that work to sell their photographs as art are constantly faced with a general public that devalues photography. In a world where there are tens of millions of cell phone cameras constantly snap chatting and insta-gramming, the photograph is possibly the most used form of communication on the planet. Seeing is believing, right? But when photography made the jump, like all other current technologies, to digital, it was like an earth quake. This changed, not only, the recording, storing, and delivering of images, it also changed the technician’s ability to manipulate the image in ways that can be creative and break barriers in design and presentation.


Along with that, unfortunately, comes a mistrust and an opportunity for corruption. That can come in the form of doctored photos that deceive in journalism, or heavily retouched photos in advertising, causing a lack of trust among the public. The tabloids are notorious for this. Before digital, it was very difficult to doctor a photograph without detection. For over a century, a photograph of something was proof of its existence, evidence in court, the true story in the news. Yet painters have always been allowed “artistic license” to paint their ideas and perceptions and memories, and be very subjective in the presentation of their subject matter.


Photography as art has always been characterized as “of lesser value” because once you had the negative, you could make a hundred copies. But print makers and sculptors have been making multiples of prints and etchings and silk screens and castings for centuries. Contemporary print making today can be done in a myriad of ways. Ansel Adams could have printed a thousand “Moonrise” prints, but he didn’t.


I feel like the public perception of art having value is often tied to what the artist had to do to create it. A large intricate painting that might have taken months or years, that required a trained artist with a special eye for reproducing what they have seen to labor long hours…to make only this one. The rarity. Therein lies the other point of value. I worked as an artist in stained glass for twelve years and most of my work in those days were all one-of-a-kind pieces.


So an artist who has not gained notoriety in the gallery market and met the proper people, who is not a recognized name, is met with some suspicion as to the value of their creations. Yet having worked in an art museum for sixteen years, I can testify that many things qualify as valuable in the art realm that hardly deserve the moniker. Often times it seems that simply making it big is all that is required. I have hung shows that contained pipes and spare tires, popcorn, half-filled water bottles hung on wire, stacks of sticks. I realize it’s an artist’s statement. But where do we gauge the value of one expression over another?

My view (and that’s sort of what this blog is about) is that the value lies in the effectiveness of the message and the artist’s skill at communicating that message. Every person’s perception of any artwork will be colored by their own experience, so will likely be different from that of the artist. But is the viewer’s experience of the artwork satisfying, or stimulating, or distressing? Is there a definable experience? I believe if there is, then the art is successful. And if it is successful in creating a valuable experience, then how it is recorded, created, delivered, expressed, is of no consequence in establishing its value. A single line drawing by Picasso can sell for more than an old master landscape. One is a line on paper, the other a canvas that a skilled painter took hours to produce. Both being one-of-a-kind so each a rarity. Both being from talented visionary artists. But a difference in perceived value.


Much of the art being created today using digital technology can take hours, days, weeks to create. A photograph can be made to look like a painting with brush strokes and the subtleties of a hand painted canvas. It can then be printed onto canvas and can even have a hand textured surface applied to create the surface texture of a painting. This is the technology of today. If this canvas will last centuries like any painting might, if the image, when displayed, is seen and appreciated and enjoyed as a painting in a frame, is the only difference the rarity, or is it the viewer’s perception, reaction, that establish the value? You could print only one. Then you have a level playing field. Becoming skilled as a photographer and as a digital artist can take years of training with major investments in equipment. And just as anyone can pick up a brush and put some color on a canvas, though few are compelled to try, everyone with a cell phone fashions themselves a photographer.


If a photographer creates an image and prints it on canvas and frames it and hangs it on the wall in a gallery. And if a painter paints a canvas that looks identical, and hangs it on the wall next to the photographer’s canvas. And a person standing twenty feet away looking at both canvases cannot tell the difference between them. Is one more valuable as an artwork than the other, simply because of the way it was produced?


I have begun producing large canvases of my images. These are called giclée prints. They are printed on museum grade canvas and are printed with archival pigment inks. Because I have the ability to produce any number of prints from one digital image, many see these as “reproductions” when in fact they are “originals”. The digital file is essentially the photographers negative. The recorded data. It is not the artwork. The actual print made from that negative, like a silver print from a film negative, is the artwork original. The artist can choose to make as many issues or prints of a negative or file as they choose, knowing full well that the value of an item can depend on its scarcity. Of course, there must always be demand as well. Something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay.

–– Imageguy


All images are Copyright © George Cannon – Images


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