Hopper’s Hotel Room

Hopper Hotel Room 2

Earlier this year, Jim an I visited the museum of art in Indianapolis and enjoyed an impressive exhibition that explored Hopper’s relationship to hotel rooms, both in his personal and professional life.

While walking through gallery upon gallery of hopper paintings, we discovered this hotel room had been set up inside of the museum to look mimic a hopper painting. For a photographer, this was a dream opportunity to capture color, light, and shadow! So…I did.

Hopper Hotel Room 1

I do love a good Hopper painting. His ability to simplify color and light is amazing. However, to see a hopper painting come to life adds new dimensions to the experience.

I hope you enjoyed the images and one of my rare excursions into color.

Have a wonderful day folks.


I have a love hate relationship with crowds of people. I love to hate them. I get anxious around large groups and begin to feel penned in as my personal space begins to shrink. I look for an escape route and a place of refuge.

I can speak with one or two people who I don’t know. Three tops. That’s when the camera comes in. It’s the perfect blind. Put a camera to your face and people stop talking to you. Sometimes, they’ll even run the other way. I’m fine with that. This feeling of discomfort is something that I think about at times when I’m shooting.

I know how to put people at ease around a camera when I want them to be relaxed. Every tutorial on portrait photography seems to want you to put your subject at ease. However, as a photographer, there are also moments when I want them to feel the same discomfort that I feel in a crowd. That’s the emotion that I sometimes want on their faces. Not all portraits are meant to be pretty. Some portraits are meant to stand out from the crowd.

Fancy Bahler and the Case of the Permanent Meh

Fancy Bahler wasn’t much of a looker. It’s not that she was homely or anything like that. It’s more that she never really liked anything that she looked at. As a result, Fancy generally wore a look of disdain every time she found herself gazing at something. Some people, I suppose, are just hard to impress.

Her husband, Bill, likes to tell his friends that there is only one occasion that Fancy failed to wear her patented unimpressed countenance and that was on their wedding night. I’ll have you know that Bill has been known to exaggerate from time to time. So, be your own judge. Look at Fancy’s face. Is that the look of a woman that’s ever seen anything that’s ever made her cry out in wonder and amazement? I rest my case.



During my life, he was first Daddy, then Dad, and for the last few years, he was sometimes Pop. That’s just my siblings and me. To his grand children and great grand children, he was PaPa. To those who might not have known him well or who wished to show him respect, he was Mr. McMurdo. To most folks, he was simply Tom. I think “Dad” honors him best as his family is his greatest legacy.

I won’t bore you with the facts and figures. They won’t tell you who Dad was or the impact he had on so many lives any more than knowing his name will tell you about his gentle kindness. They can’t possibly show you how warm and comforting I felt when I held his hand or when he gave me a massive hug every time I came home to visit for a short weekend or a long holiday. They won’t tell you of the joy he felt to be with his family or how he lit up around his grand and great grand kids.

So, I will try to tell you who he was to me and to my family.

Dad was the friendliest person I knew. He never met anyone that he couldn’t walk up to and engage in conversation. I can’t count the number of people that have, over the years, told me how wonderful he was and how much they liked him. There wasn’t an old lady on earth that he didn’t flirt with, tease, and make laugh. He had an easy way with people that I can never hope to match. Dad was a people person.

Dad was also engaged, sitting on park boards, volunteering his time, and pitching in when needed.

Dad loved old buildings and anything rusty or made of wood. He could spend hours in the lumber store, picking out the perfect board. He’d feel the grain, check for knots and the board’s straightness.

Dad was a master wood worker. Each of his children and grand children own desks, hutches, possum bellied cabinets, clocks, tables, shaker boxes, caned chairs, benches, and more…all lovingly crafted with his own hands. Mom would see something in Southern Living and the next Christmas, all of the women in the family would be given that item as a gift…hand made by Dad. He could look at a photo and figure out how a piece of furniture was built. I don’t know how many times he would have me turn a bench over and take a photo of the underside so that he could see how it was put together.

Dad took a sketch that I made of a shaker desk and turned it into one of my most prized possessions. He crafted the desk from solid cherry, sourced from a tree that he cut down on Mom and Dad’s property in the mountains. Mom and Dad once came to visit for a long weekend. In just two days together, Dad and I built a pair of book cases to go in my den.

Dad was generous with his time, his money, and his affection. He would go out of his way to help you. Once, when I was depressed, Dad picked me up and took me up to their place in the north Georgia mountains. We spent the day making a dam in the creek that ran through the property. No Pressure, no deep talks. Just him showing me that he loved me. That was his way of being there for me and getting me out of my own head, if just for the day. When I was unemployed for fourteen months, Dad called me nearly every day.

When Dad knew I was on the road, driving the nine hours from my home to his, he would call me every couple of hours to check on me. When he was in the hospital a week before his death, Dad had my sister call for him. He needed to know that I was safe. After burying my dad, my sister called me during my long drive home, taking up where Dad left off.

Dad wasn’t afraid to tell you that he loved you or that he was proud of you.

My dad had a gift for making you feel special. Every one of his children and grandchildren know in their hearts that they were his favorite. They alone had that special connection. In some unfathomable way, they are right. Part of his magic was the ability to love each of us uniquely, without taking anything away from the others.

I have to say that Dad did have a favorite, one that he loved more than anyone else. Mom. He loved my mother like no other person on earth. They were partners in every sense of the word. Together for 57 years, they showed the rest of us how to love someone deeply and passionately. As an adult, it was not uncommon for me to walk into the kitchen and find them hugging and kissing. Or watch the two of them holding hands as we hiked through the woods. He would often say “Your mother is the best.” After she got onto him about something, he would turn to me and tell me “I love that woman.”  There was never anything that she ever wanted that he wouldn’t get or do for her. OK. So, he never took the trash out exactly when he wanted her to take it out. He also snuck junk food behind her back. He was after all, a man. That’s how we are.

There is something about the death of my dad that makes me feel like I am just a small child again. I feel vulnerable and the world feels off kilter. The ground isn’t quite as solid as it used to be. I know these feelings are part of the loss that I struggle with. I am learning to live in a world without him. I can’t call him to hear his voice or to ask for advice. However, in my memories and thoughts of him, I have a fine example of a man to guide me through the rest of my life.

Dad gifted each of his children with an inner strength that we can draw upon when we need it most. He showed us how to laugh in the face of troubled times. Dad taught us to be a family that supports one another and one that circles the wagons when needed. We have circled the wagons. We are here for each other. He would be proud of us.

I have a favorite memory of my dad being a dad and the lessons that he handed down to the rest of us.

On one trip to Atlanta, my car broke down on the Kentucky – Tennessee border. Dad drove five hours to pick me up. I put us up in a hotel for the night and took him to dinner. We talked all evening in the hotel room. In the morning, we headed to Atlanta. On the way back to Mom and Dad’s house, we stopped and picked up my son, Josh. I told Josh about the car and how Papa had come to get me. I told him the lesson learned is that, no matter how old you are or how far from home you were, when you are in trouble, your dad will come get and you.

That was my dad. He would come and get me…and did.

Struggling With Loss

On September 2nd my father died. 

There, I’ve typed it in black and white. There is no going back. 

My father is gone and since his death, my mother, siblings, his family, friends, and myself have all had to begin the process of living in a world without him. And I have to be honest in saying that it hasn’t been easy. I don’t see how it possibly could be. 

I miss him terribly and losing him has left me with an aching pain that has me struggling.  The lump in my throat and the tears are never far away. Laying just below the surface, they pop up at the most unexpected times. If you’ve lost someone that you dearly loved, you probably know what I’m going through. If you haven’t, I don’t think you could. I know that I had no idea the depths of pain that others felt after loss. I thought I did, but I hadn’t a clue. Now I know and wish that I didn’t.

A month has gone by since he left us. A month in which I’ve shared his death with just a few close friends. For those of you who knew him, I am sorry. Please temper your thoughts with an understanding of what I and my family have been going through. 

On Friday, we laid both Dad and my Unlce Eddie to rest, side by side, in the national cemetery in Canton, Ga. I’ll tell you more of that day in another post. I’ll share more about my father and his life as well. But, for today, I just wanted to let you know of his death.

While much of today’s post has been about my struggle with loss, know that I have an amazing support team looking out for me and my family. We are in good hands. Thank you to all of you who hug us, call us, text us, and see to it that we have the support we need to put one foot in front of the other. You mean the world to me and to my family.


All the Flowers Are for Me

Cincinnati Art Museum - 072817-08485

Saturday, My buddy friend and I spent the day in Cincinnati. First stop was the Museum Center where we saw a show of original Star Wars costumes. Second stop was lunch and last, but for me the best, was a stop at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Highlight of that stop was an art installation by artist Anila Quayyum Agha named All the Flowers Are for Me.

The immersive artwork was spectacular to see in person. For me, she took a simple concept, a light bulb placed in a suspended steel cube and and turned it into an amazing piece of art.

To give you a better understanding of the cube’s size, I’ve included a photo of Jim getting ready to take a photo of his own.

Cincinnati Art Museum - 072817-08483