Image of the Year: 2014 Poll

Photos and article by Greg W. Gilstrap. It’s that time of year again: a time when much of the country is covered in varying degrees of white, and when we here in the Arizona Valley of Sun are enjoying glorious sunshine and warm days. At night, we are blessed with the opportunity to squeeze in temperatures that can hover near, or just above, freezing. The cool evening air is a particular blessing for those of us who are from places where more extreme temperature variances are traditionally recorded. A little cold is often embraced, but I have to say it goes a long way for me.

With the promise of a new and even better year rapidly approaching, it’s once again time for our (third) annual Photoremedy Image of the Year contest. As with our previous efforts, we are offering what we like to refer to–tongue in cheek–as a “Chicago-style” approach to voting.  This means you can “vote early and vote often.” If you love a photo, follow the poll’s progress and don’t be afraid to share it with your friends or to come back to register extra votes for good measure. More than 1,000 votes were registered each of the last two years. The poll can be found at the bottom of this post, after all of the photo candidates are offered.

2013 Image of the Year Finalists. Winner: Cannon Beach (top)

2013 Image of the Year Finalists. Winner: Cannon Beach (top)

The 2014 images below include traditional photographs and some that feature significant digital art enhancements. Like many, I enjoy both forms of artistic expression. All of these pieces were captured and developed while pursuing photoremedy. Click on the ‘Background and Initial Post’ tab above for our working ‘photoremedy’ definition. Check out the options, and then select the image that you feel is worthy of being crowned Photoremedy Image of the Year. The contest closes at midnight MST, New Year’s Eve.

1. Stations of the Cross Early in 2014, we visited Denver’s spectacular Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for our good friend Paul Louderman’s ordination as a Catholic Deacon. The Basilica features exquisite stained glass and poignant salvation history art. I was particularly blown away by this image taken of a tiny “stations of the cross” sculpture depicting the moment when Jesus was stripped of his garments.Station Of The Cross -1j

2. Lake Mead Marina Since Las Vegas is so close to our home, Mary and I generally go there for a couple of short visits each year. If you time it right, there are great hotel rates to be found, and there are always awesome culinary options. On the way to Vegas, we’ve sped past Lake Mead turn off dozens of times. This year was different. We are so grateful we slowed down and took the road less traveled. If we hadn’t done so, we would have missed out on incredibly enjoyable photoremedy at the Lake Mead Marina.

Lake Mead Marina

3. This Ain’t a Kiss Our hometown, Anthem, features green parks and walking trails. The “big park” is always full of action, ranging from kids at the big playground and riding the small train to pets on leashes and water fowl on the lakes. It, too, is a great place for photoremedy. While tagging along with my wife and one of our grandchildren in 2014, we came upon this scene near one of the fishing ponds. While it may look like these two are loving on each other, they were not. These aggressive drakes were actually involved in a territorial tussle of sorts when their beaks got stuck together. It took a few minutes for them to break free. After that, they appeared too tired for brawling; each of them then headed in different directions.

At Anthem, AZ Community Park

4. Life is a Splash Our grandkids have blessed our lives with much love, laughter, and hope for the future. As grandparents, it seems Mary and I are a bit more in tune with the young ones’ sense of awe and wonder than we were with our children. This thought was hilariously reinforced during a summer outing when our oldest grandson got a bit of a shock at the Anthem Splash Pad.Emmett Splash 2b (1 of 1) - Copy

5. Z is for Zebra Awe and wonder is also produced when we take the young ones to places where they can closely observe–or interact–with animals. Litchfield Park’s Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium is one of our favorite experiences in the metro Phoenix area. Not only do the kids love it, but so do I. Each time, I seem drawn to the artistic potential that zebras offer. Zebra images are often illustrative of the protective power of coming together.I See You  (1 of 1)

6. Will I See You Tonight? Coming together for dinner is often one of the foundational building blocks of healthy societies. I feel like this digital image beautifully illustrates the warmth that can be produced when people gather together in small and intimate places for good food, a refreshing drink, and neighborly conversation. Cheers!Ingo Final fapj w border

7. Local Character Good food, in interesting places, can often tell you a lot about a local community. What does the Two Hippies Beach House tell you about the emerging eclectic Phoenix restaurant vibe?

Two Hippies Beach House - 501 East Camelback Rd., Phoenix

8. Coming Home This summer, a few of our Arizona family members returned to Kansas for a few days with our families in, and near, where Mary and I have roots. Tiny Aurora, Kansas isn’t a major stop on the tracks these days. But, from here, many of Mary’s relatives (and teachers, if you will) learned a lot about life, love, and community. To me, it is more than “just another small town.” It’s still a remarkably important place that shaped a bright future for Cloud County and beyond.Auroa tracks sunrise 1j

9. Up on Main Street I am as impressed as anyone with Frank Lloyd Wright designs, modern architecture, mater-planned communities, and expensive marble buildings. If you want to know the type of place where I’d most like to enjoy a “nice cold one,” however, this is it–up on Main Street.

Downtown Aurora, Kansas

10. Save St. Joseph The past few times that I’ve been back visiting with Mary’s relatives in Cloud County, Kansas, I feel this extraordinary pull to enjoy a little photoremedy in tiny St. Joseph. I am so impressed with how the community has been devotedly maintained–in particular how the historic local Catholic Church there has been lovingly maintained. There’s even an impressive YouTube video about Guardians of The St. Joseph Church Foundation. Check out their efforts.

St. Joseph Cathedral - St. Joseph, Kansas

11. I Got Your Back Another great Kansas stop is the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park (metro Kansas City area). During our summer trip there, our granddaughter got to meet her second cousin for the first time. They really enjoyed the attraction, and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to capture images like this. They went running into the Nature Trail entrance, and suddenly stopped cold in their tracks. Then, with a gentle touch, I could almost hear him say, “I got your back!” Of course, knowing young boys, he might have been saying, “This looks scary. You first!”I Got Your Back 1fapj (1 of 1)

12. Elliott Bay Sunset Our youngest son is attending school in Seattle, Washington. We have spent the past two Thanksgivings there with him. Mary and I have really grown to love the city–particularly when it offers sunset views like this one from Elliott Bay.Elliott Bay Sunset 1j

Note: Photoremedy.me is published as a labor of love. Please feel free to share the site, or any of our posts, with others. Our Home Page always features an option for our readers to sign up to immediately receive new material as an email. We hope you will become a part of our photoremedy network. Special thanks to Andrew Gilstrap for adding his special touches to this post. In my humble opinion, he is one of the best writers and editors in the Phoenix market.

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A Good Cause

One of the primary purposes for the Kansas trip that was featured in our previous photoremedy post was to join the families of Mary’s six brothers and sisters in participating in the 4th Annual Shane Hoesli Memorial Poker Run.

Clay Center, Kansas

Clay Center, Kansas

The event raises scholarship money in Shane’s name. Shane–a tremendous bundle of energy that brought smiles and laughter to his family and large group of friends during his all too short life–was tragically taken from us in a 2010 construction accident.Shane's Headstone 1j (1 of 1)

Shane had a large group of close friends and admirers, and many of them continue to honor him in the Poker Run and in many other ways. The fund raiser participants came on motorcycles, a short bus, and in a few “chase” vehicles. It started and ended in Clyde (Shane’s hometown), and involved stops in four other Kansas communities (where participants received one card).

Clyde, Kansas

Clyde, Kansas

Those with the best “hands” at the end of the run received donated items, while the participation fees supported the scholarship fund. It was a ton of fun, and provided significant photoremedy opportunities of both the run and surrounding scenery.

Clyde, Kansas

Clyde, Kansas

Home on the Range

It’s been more than two decades since Mary and I packed up the kids and headed west to the Phoenix metro area. We love the colorful Sonoran Desert and the southwestern roots we have planted here, but it is always nice to go “home” to Kansas where we were both raised.

Railroad tracks near Aurora, Kansas

Railroad tracks near Aurora, Kansas in Cloud County

I particularly love the photoremedy opportunities presented when we visit Mary’s hometown of  Clyde. During the last few trips to the area, I rise well before sunrise and head out to capture the morning colors presented all around Cloud County. I even find myself returning to many of the same areas–both on the range and in resilient small communities–where I’ve snapped pictures previously. Different times of day, and different seasons, often put some of these favorite sites in surprisingly different light. Below is a sample of some of my favorite Cloud County and other rural Kansas pictures from this year.

I’m working on a couple of additional Kansas photoremedy posts, including one which features our daughter Amanda introducing precious Isabella to her first Sunflower field experience.

Sunflower fields near Waterville, Kansas

Sunflower fields near Waterville, Kansas

Sunflower as High as an Elephant’s Eye

cropped-sunflower-_bee-1-1-of-11.jpg

The legendary 1943 Broadway  musical “Oklahoma” featured the magical Rodgers and Sunflower-to_Sky-1 (1 of 1)Hammerstein hit song Oh What a Beautiful Morning, a tune later made famous by actor/singer Gordon MacRae when the play was adapted into a 1955 Academy Award winning movie.

Even though the play and movie soundtracks predate me by a number of years, they were still popular when I was a youngster. Some of the movie’s most famous song lyrics–“the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye”–keep coming to mind, ironically, when I step into my backyard this summer.  That’s because a sunflower seed I tossed into the garden outside our master bedroom window in February has now grown into a plant that is roughly as high as an elephant’s eye.

Oddly enough, I planted the seed in an attempt to bring a bit of Kansas (the Sunflower State) to Arizona. Because of our family’s Kansas roots, most of the Arizona Gilstraps love sunflowers. The cover photo of our travel book, Being Amanda in Europe, even featured Amanda and a bushel of sunflowers.untitled (295 of 11940)

3 Sunflowers-1

I just didn’t anticipate this spectacularly beautiful annual would grow so exceptionally well in the Sororan Desert. Our sunflower plant is now roughly eight feet tall. If it keeps thriving, we’ll look for it to provide ongoing photoremedy, and even PhotoArt, opportunities.

Two Sunflowers PA-1

PhotoArt by Greg

Note: The photoremedy mission is to encourage those fighting chronic pain and other afflictions to consider using photography as a powerful tool to move their focus away from the pain. In the process, we strive to enhance readers’ ability to see beauty and experience elevated joy in their lives. There are many gifts that can accompany health challenges; one of the greatest offerings is it frequently forces sufferers to set better priorities for their lives and assists them in seeing the world in new and more meaningful ways. 

Photoremedy Photo of the Year: 2012 Poll

It’s time again for our annual Photoremedy Photo of the Year poll. As with last year, we are ‘focusing’ on making this a lot of fun. This means we will again strictly adhere to our Chicago-style approach to voting; we encourage everyone to ‘vote early and vote often.’ If you love a photo, follow the poll progress results and don’t be afraid to come back to photoremedy.me to register a couple of extra votes for good measure.

2011 Photo of the Year - Verde Canyon RR

2011 Photo of the Year – Verde Canyon RR

To get us to the final dozen pictures, we listened to comments via Facebook and on Photoremedy. We also took in email input, and sought a few “expert’s” opinions. The final list features a little of wine country, quite a bit of Kansas, a lot of Ireland, and even our favorite grandson shot. All of the pics were taken while pursuing photoremedy. If you still don’t know what photoremedy is, click on the ‘Background and Initial Post’ tab above.

So, let’s get to it. Check out the options below, and then select the photograph that you feel is worthy of being crowned ‘Photoremedy Photo of the Year.’ The polling mechanism is offered at the bottom of this post. Here are the finalists, obviously in no particular order.

1.  Bunratty Living History The famous Bunratty Castle is a beloved Limerick-area attraction. The historic site also features a first-class living history museum. This picture was taken while enjoying a sunset tour of the property, prior to participating in a most enjoyable dinner at the castle.

Bunratty Living History

2. Dingle Harbor Ireland’s breathtaking Dingle Peninsula was reportedly once cited by National Geographic as being “the most beautiful place on earth” and has been voted among the top 100 destinations in the world by Trip Advisor. The Dingle Harbor is a must see stop on the peninsula.

Dingle Harbor

3. Dingle Town Our tour of the peninsula also allowed for us to spend a bit of time sampling Dingle Town. Okay, our motor coach tour stopped here, and Mary and I had a couple of beers. But, first, I was able to take several memorable photographs. To me, it looked like the bird in this photo was the only one trying to get somewhere in a hurry.

Dingle Town

4. Fields of Kerry Our tours of both the Dingle Peninsula and the famous Ring of Kerry departed from Killarney. If you plan a similar journey, make sure you allow time to take in the countryside. Rural County Kerry is both peaceful and breathtaking.

Fields of Kerry

5. Journey Home Mary and I spent a lot of time back in our home state of Kansas this year. Mary’s beloved mother passed away in January; so, we had a funeral trip and, later, a trip for the estate sale. Fortunately, I was able to get in a bit of photoremedy during both visits. This photograph, from the Catholic cemetery in tiny St. Joseph, helped put things in perspective for me. God is the Alpha and the Omega. When we are born, we come from our Creator. And, when we pass, we pray that the road will lead us back.Journey Home

6. Lance’s Cross One of my dearest friends lost his brother this past year at the tender age of 40. Because of their Scottish and Irish heritage, the Celtic Cross means a lot to the family. I took this photo (near Lisdoonvarna, Ireland) for them as a reminder that, no matter our age, the hope is that we will leave our broken down bodies and go to the light.

Lance's Cross

7. Passing the Baton In track and field’s four-person relay races, a common strategy is to have each runner pass the baton to an even faster runner. In a four-person relay race, the fastest runner is the one who receives the baton last (or most recently). When it comes to the best parents, I believe each one hopes that happiness and/or success will come much more quickly for their children than it did for them. I felt like this picture of my oldest son, and my first grandchild, illustrated the “passing the baton” life parenting concept far more eloquently than my mere words could express.

Passing the Baton

8. Past Meets Present During an early January morning photoremedy drive, I came across this wonderful illustration of how our nation’s past and present are exploding into one on the plains of Kansas.

Past Meets Present

9. Country Store The past and the present  may be coming together, but I’m always thankful for those times when I come across simple treasures that leave me slowly shaking my head and saying aloud, “That is so cool! I’m so glad that hasn’t gone away.”

Country Store

10. Nothing Could be Finer The good news is wine is timeless. It has been a part of my past, I am committed to making it a part of my future! One of my favorite destinations for wine-related touring and photoremedy is Temecula, California. The red wines produced here are often excellent, and, as this photo suggests, the curb appeal often far exceeds that of much better known areas.Nothing Could Be Finer

11. Torc Waterfall When Mary and I decided to visit Ireland this year, I knew I had to include a trip to see the famous Torc Waterfall. Why? It is, perhaps, the best known attraction in Killarney National Park. And, as detailed in our Being Amanda in Europe book, it is where our daughter Amanda displayed typical Gilstrap coordination by slipping and falling into the water up to her chest. LOL!Torc Waterfall

12. Anthem Veterans Memorial The community park where we live in Anthem, Arizona is always filled with photoremedy opportunities. On a warm 2012 summer’s evening, I could see we were in for a special for a special sunset as storm clouds were rolling in from the high country just to the north of us. I grabbed my camera, and this was the first shot I captured that evening. I like to think perpetual light and eternal peace are in store for those brave Americans who have given their all – for all of us.

Veterans Memorial - Anthem, Arizona

Veterans Memorial – Anthem, Arizona

Please take advantage of the opportunity–in the poll below–to rank our Best of 2012.  This was a lot of fun last year, as votes kept coming in right up to the deadline. Please invite others to join in on this clearly un-scientific poll. We hope you had a great 2012, and pray that you are looking forward to an even better 2013.  Our poll will be open until noon on December 31, 2012. I hope to post results by New Year’s Day. Of course, that depends on how much Temecula wine I sample on New Year’s Eve.

– Greg

Note: Photoremedy.me is published as a labor of love. Please feel free to share the site, or any of our posts, with others. Our Home Page always features an option for our readers to sign up to immediately receive new material as an email. We hope you will become a part of our photoremedy network.