Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mystery of the Miracle Frisbee

This is a true story that happened on New Year's Eve of 2011. I originally published it in January of 2012.  I've republished it on New Year's Eve over the past few years because it's true, possibly inspirational, and I think you'll find it amazing.

The story below is absolutely true.  My family and I were there and experienced this first-hand.  It is not the type of material you find in my typical blog entry.  However, it is too good not to share.  Please post your thoughts at the bottom of this page.  Share this with anyone you think might enjoy it or get caught up in the mystery.

What do you call it when something beyond understanding occurs -- something that defies all odds? Is it a paranormal event?  A coincidence of unimaginable proportions?  Magic?  Or is it a miracle? And what if you can prove to yourself and others that it really happened because you were there and you took photographs!  This incident concerns nothing more elaborate than a Frisbee, but it is mystifying, nevertheless.

My wife’s family is from Guatemala.  My wife, our two children, and I live in Illinois and sometimes visit her family in Central America over the holidays.  This year, we, along with most of my wife’s large family, spent the week after Christmas at my sister-in-law’s beach house on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

My daughter practicing her gymnastics on the black sand beach.
Every day, my wife’s younger brother, Gonzalo, would run out to the volcanic black sand with his Frisbee and toss it along the beach or over the waves and let the wind return it to him.  Two days before New Year’s, as my children and some of the cousins played on the beach, I took my camera and photographed him exercising with the white disc.
My brother-in-law, Gonzalo, running on the beach with his Frisbee.  Notice the design of the Frisbee on the inset.
Later in the evening, my wife, Maria, and I; Gonzalo and his wife, Marta Yolanda; and the children went down to the beach to catch the sunset.  The children built a castle in the sand.  Maria, Marta Yolanda, and I stood and watched the progress of the castle building activities, while Gonzalo launched his Frisbee toward the waves.  I took several photographs.  Several times, the Frisbee landed on the water and was returned in the waves.  Everyone was having a great time, until my brother-in-law made a bad toss.  He groaned as the Frisbee went into the waves and was not immediately returned on the surf.

The children made a sand castle, while my brother-in-law (far right) played with his Frisbee.

“It’s gone,” he said.

“Give it a minute, and maybe the waves will bring it back,” I suggested.

“No, Tom, I don’t think it’s coming back,” he sighed, as we all peered into the dark waves, hoping that he might be wrong.

After another half minute, I pointed into the surf as a white object came into view. 
“There it is,” I yelled.  The Frisbee washed directly to my wife’s feet and hit her on the shins.  She walked over and handed it to her brother.

He took the disc happily, but after only a moment said, “This isn’t my Frisbee.”

We all looked at him. 

“My Frisbee was red on top.   This one’s black.”

“That has to be your Frisbee,” I said.

“Maybe it had a sticker on it that came off in the water,” my wife suggested.

“No,” Gonzalo insisted.  “Mine was a pure white.  This is pearl colored.”

“That has to be your Frisbee,” I said.   “If it’s not, whose is it?  And how is it possible that it washed up at our feet just as we were looking for a Frisbee?  How many times have you ever had a Frisbee wash up at your feet, let alone when you’re looking for one?”

“Never,” he answered.

“And how many times have you ever just found a Frisbee on the beach?”


“Then how is it possible that this isn’t your Frisbee?

“I don’t know,” he answered.  “It just doesn’t look like my Frisbee.”  It was obvious that my logic had convinced him to give up his argument.

We watched another dramatic Pacific sunset, and then returned to the house to have dinner and rest for New Year’s Eve.

It wasn’t until the next morning when I was looking at some of my photos on the LCD screen of my camera that I realized I had shots from before the Frisbee was lost.  I quickly found the photos and zoomed in on one where the design on the Frisbee was plainly visible.

There was no doubt.  It was not the same Frisbee.  The photographs plainly show a Frisbee with a very different graphic design.  If not for the photographs, we all would have given up on the notion that one disc had been thrown into the ocean and a different disc returned.  It was just too difficult to believe.  But that’s exactly what happened:  one Frisbee was thrown into the ocean, only to be replaced by a different one a moment later.

The Frisbee that returned in the waves (center) and the Frisbee that was thrown into the ocean (inset).
I have no explanation.  Something very strange happened.  I don’t know how or why.  Maybe it was nature’s way of assuring us that miracles can and do happen.  If something with odds this impossible can take place, it can happen again.  And maybe next time, the miracle will be something that will change someone’s life for the better.  Maybe next time we’ll believe the impossible really can happen.  It’s already happened once.  It can happen again.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Photography Year in Review - 2015

Every year brings new opportunities for photography.

2015 was no exception.

This year I added both quality and quantity to my fine art photography portfolio.  I also totally redesigned my fine art photography website:

I totally redesigned my website late in 2015.  Take a look if you get a chance:

My other big announcement is that effective January 1, 2016, I'm retiring from my long-time position as a college administrator and educator to devote full time to photography.  I'll have more time for international travel and to take on the projects that really interest me.
_ _ _


 In January of 2015, I traveled to Guatemala again with my family.  It was a great opportunity for street photography and capturing images of people being comfortable in their own environments.

Pepsi Man.  This Mayan Indian man was enjoying a soda in the busy market of Santiago Atitlan.  This may be my favorite image of the year.  You can click on images for a larger view.
Here's the same gentleman in color.

I believe that these men were father and son.  Again, from the market of Santiago Atitlan.
These shrimp in the marketplace looked appetizing.

Now, jumping to Illinois, I found these images of an old farmstead when I took a detour around a delay on the Interstate:

The old farmhouse is just west of Nashville, Illinois.
I also liked the wide shot with the barn in back.

An old out building also stood out among the rows of corn.

Take a look at older posts from my blog and you'll see these and many other photographs that helped inspire a creative 2015.

You can view my website at:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A New Website

My fine art photography website, hadn't seen a redesign in several years.  It was time for an upgrade.

I hope you enjoy the look and feel of the new design.  Please give feedback so that I can make the site even better.

The new website was designed using Adobe Muse software.

If you haven't visited the site recently, it's been updated with my recent photography in addition to the traditional favorites.  Thanks for taking a look at

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Continuation of the Detour

Last week, I posted a couple of fine art images I shot when taking a detour because of major traffic delays on the Interstate.  Below is another image from the same shoot.

Take a look at last week's blog entry for the other images from this shoot.
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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Detour to Fine Art Photography

The other day, as I neared the intersection of Illinois Route 127 and Interstate 64 at Nashville, Illinois, a sign warned of major delays on the Interstate going toward St. Louis.  I decided to take the back-roads.

Only about a mile into the alternate route, I noticed a fine art photograph waiting to be made.  I did a mental note to return when the light was better and I had more time.  I'm glad I took the detour.
It was nothing more than an old farmhouse, a barn and outbuildings in the middle of a cornfield.

Click on the photograph for a larger image. 
I'm glad a detour away from the Interstate allowed me to capture these images.
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Worshipping the Maximon

There is a mysterious idol called the Maximon (pronounced maa-shee-MOHn) that resides in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.  Some say a representation of St. Simon, other say one of the Mayan gods, it is worshiped and venerated by many of the indigenous people.  It moves from house to house each year, and is watched over by men who guard its secrets.  Some say a very ancient stone idol hides under the clothing and wooden mask.

When you travel to Santiago Atitlan, it is worth the experience.  They will ask you for a few Quetzales, the Guatemalan currency, to take photographs, but if you get lucky, you may actually see the locals paying homage to the idol, giving it cigars, rum, or money.

This is the Maximon as I saw him this January.  Notice that his wardrobe has totally changed, yet he always wears a necktie.
You can click on the images for a larger view.

This is the Maximon as I saw him in 2010.  The man in the foreground is praying to the idol.

This gentleman took me to the home that houses the Maximon.  The location changes each year.
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Men on a Bench

Men sitting, relaxing and socializing on a bench while the world goes on around them.... It's something that seems to happen everywhere -- in small towns and big cities.  It's also a subject for street photography.  Below are a couple of the images I captured this January in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Conflicting Worlds

I thought the situation was interesting.  Two traditional men in Mayan Indian clothing stand outside a beauty salon in the lakeside village of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.  They maintain their traditions, while the world around them changes.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

I Liked Their Faces

I'm often asked why I chose this person or that person as a subject for my images.  Almost all of my fine art work is street photography.  That means that I walk around looking for the perfect subject, or that the subject comes to me.  I never ask anyone to pose.  Seldom are those I photography aware that their image is being captured.  For me, it ensures spontaneity, a slice of life that is lost once someone becomes aware enough to start posing.

"I liked their faces," is often the answer as to why I chose certain subjects.  That is certainly true of the men in the image below.  A father and son, possibly, sitting on the sidewalk in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala on a busy market Sunday this January.

Click on the photo for a larger image.
I'll have more images of faces I liked in coming posts.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Pepsi Man

Several days ago, I posted a photo of a man enjoying a soda in the market of Santiago Atitlan.  Here's another of the same man.  I like it even better.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Antigua Traditions

Some things are so traditional of Antigua, Guatemala, that you recognize them instantly as belonging to Antigua, despite possibly never having seen them before.  One of those things is the Antigua stairwell, found on roofs of old colonial buildings.  The stairwell is enclosed, and despite being out of sight of the casual observer, it's ornate enough to please anyone looking for colonial detail in the old buildings.

This colonial stairwell is atop the Meson Panza Verde restaurant in Antigua.

The fountains in Antigua are also spectacular.  The one below at the Hotel Antigua is one of the best kept in Antigua.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Men in Traditional Clothing of Santiago Atitlán

In my last post, I mentioned that men still dress in traditional clothing in the lakeside village of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.  I'll have more photos like these coming in the upcoming days and weeks.

Two men quietly watch market activities in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.
I think this one also works well in color.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Photographs from Santiago Atitlán

In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some of my new photographs from Guatemala, with several people shots coming from the lakeside village of Santiago Atitlán, home to a thriving Sunday market and the mysterious idol, Maximon (pronounced mash - ee - moan).  More on the Maxion in an upcoming post.

In many of the villages of Guatemala, it is unusual to see men dressed in native clothing. While women more often maintain traditional dress, men have discovered that western clothing is cheaper and easier. Not so, in Santiago.  Most men proudly wear cowboy hats, brightly colored shirts of native cloth, and short pants of traditional design.

The man below was enjoying a Pepsi in the busy market.

The man has lots of character in his face which works well in a cropped version in color.

Be watching for more photographs from Guatemala in the next few days.

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