Tag Archives: McNay Art Museum

The Latest 02-14-2016

[cue: Love by Nat King Cole]

Happy Valentine’s Day. First of all, I think Paul Reiser summed up the feelings both Wendy and I share about Valentine’s Day. Enjoy:

Paul Reiser’s Commentary on Valentine’s Day (CBS Sunday Morning)

Valentine's Dinner 2016

Valentine’s Day for us was a wonderful and quiet dinner at home. We love our kitchen and our dining room, so it seems a little silly to spend money fighting the crowds at a restaurant when we can spend time together making a special meal. We opened an amazing Australian Shiraz,  grilled some steaks and Wendy whipped up a simple but succulent dessert.

[cue: Teach Your Children Well by Crosby Stills & Nash]

Things around Vander Well Manor have stilled in the past few weeks. First, Suzanna headed back to school. Then, I helped pack up Taylor and move her into the Catholic Worker Community in Des Moines. She has been living with the community and volunteering service there part time for a few months. The community chose to welcome her as a full-time resident. She will work part-time at the art store in the Drake neighborhood, is doing some ghost writing for a friend, and is going to work on a creative project God has put on her heart.

I have, in previous posts, written that God calls us to steward our children, not to be their masters. I will admit that as I toured her new home there was a paternal part of my head vigorously shaking. Seriously, if Martin Scorsese wanted to film a movie about 1960’s hippie-commune-counter culture they could just bring the cameras into Taylor’s new place and start filming. It’s a ready-made set. It suddenly struck me that my daughter is a Bohemian. Having said that, she is blissfully happy, feeling a sense of purpose, and who am I to say that this isn’t totally God’s purpose for her. In fact, my heart tells me she’s right where she is supposed to be. Far out, man.

[cue: Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh]

Madison was overjoyed when United started serving a Pella favorite: stroopwafels!
Madison was overjoyed when United started serving a Pella favorite: stroopwafels!

Madison continues to fly for SkyWest (United Express), though she has been applying for sales jobs in the cosmetics industry. She turned down a job offer in South Carolina. Once again, a part of my paternal head was shaking at the thought of turning down a perfectly legit job offer (especially in this economy), but she has a job and it’s becoming clear that her heart is in the Rockies. Dad is learning a whole new level of letting go.

Madison has applied for small apartment in Colorado Springs and is opting to commit herself in Colorado Springs for the time being. When she’s not flying the friendly skies for United Express she’s been a rep for Derma Doctor at Ulta stores in the Colorado Springs and Denver area.

[cue: Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive ]

Work has been keeping me very busy. In fact, I’ve been feeling a little weary. If regular readers have noticed that I’ve been missing an occasional morning post it’s because I have. Between the busy and feeling a little sick I have been trying to catch up on sleep and my morning quiet time has been sacrificed.

At work, I have been trying to get new projects off the ground, wrap up some delayed 2015 projects, and working on marketing efforts to bring in some new business. Ugh. Every day the task list seems to have added more new items than the number of items I had checked off that day.

McNay Courtyard

I spent the earlier part of this week in Texas working with a client. I left Sunday afternoon and missed the Super Bowl as I was making a three-leg flight to Laredo. I then ended up in San Antonio and flew home on Wednesday, arriving in Pella just before 1:00 a.m. They were a long few days, but at least they were relatively warm days. I even finished a little earlier than planned, so I stopped for a few minutes at the McNay to sun myself in the courtyard before flying home.

I had a short night’s sleep as I had been invited to be the chapel speaker at Pella Christian High on Thursday morning. It was an honor to be asked and I enjoyed the experience.

[cue: Elbow Room by Schoolhouse Rock]

A Dominie & Maria selfie in the Scholte House Museum
A Dominie & Maria selfie in the Scholte House Museum

On Thursday evening, Wendy and I donned our costumes to portray Pella’s founding couple, Dominie (Pastor) H.P. Scholte and his wife Mareah, at the Scholte House Museum’s 2nd annual Valentine’s Day Dinner. We greeted the 30 or so guests as they arrived. I gave a short welcoming message and prayed for the meal. We then enjoyed a five-course meal and were pleased to sit next to Dr. James Dahm and his wife. The Dahm’s had previously owned our cute little house on Columbus Street and so we enjoyed talking about the house and the neighborhood.

[cue: Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy by Pentatonix]

The weather has been cold and snowy, and we are so ready for the spring like temperatures (in the 50s!) that are forecast for next weekend. Wendy and I scuttled a planned trip to Des Moines today because of the 3-4 inches of snow that fell this morning. Ugh! Why did I blow the driveway off the other day?

Oh well. Don’t worry. Be happy. The Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next weekend. We’re almost there!



Happiest Place on Earth


Last Sunday afternoon Wendy and I had the opportunity of visiting the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. We visited the McNay for the first time on our honeymoon  ten years ago. It’s come to hold a special, sentimental place in my heart. I posted to Facebook:

You can have Disneyland. Ever since Wendy and I visited the McNay on our honeymoon 10 years ago, this has been, for me, one of “the happiest places on Earth.”

The courtyard at the McNay is one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I’ve ever been and I could sit there for hours, especially with Wendy. On our visit last Sunday I couldn’t help but take this photo with my iPhone. There’s nothing extraordinary about the photo and I know it can’t possibly capture the true beauty of the place. Sometimes the power of shot has nothing to do with being great photography,  rather the ability of a shot to transport us back to a powerful time or place is what makes photography great.

The Latest 10-11-2015

Long week on the road this week, which began with a 5:45 a.m. flight out of Des Moines on Monday. Was on site with client in San Antonio Monday through Wednesday morning, then made the drive down to Laredo for more meetings Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday. Finished up about 7:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Redemption for the long week of business travel began on Thursday night about 10:30 p.m. when Wendy arrived. Last summer our friends Kevin and Becky informed us that, for Becky’s birthday, Kevin had given her tickets to see Counting Crows at Austin City Limits in Austin, TX this past Wednesday. Looking at the calendar we realized that I was going to be in San Antonio and Laredo that week. So, we conspired to have Wendy fly down and for the four of us to meet in Austin for the weekend.

Wendy and I headed north from Laredo about 10:00 a.m. on Friday, arriving at our hotel in Austin about 2:00. We grabbed a shuttle into downtown Austin where Kevin and Becky met us to being what amounted to our 24 hour Austin blitzkrieg.

We were starving so we Uber’d to South Congress for some Home Slice pizza and dessert at the Cupcake truck across the street. We then did a little shopping before Ubering it back downtown. We did Happy Hour at Malverde’s where I was introduced to El Cubico, a cocktail made with tobacco leaf infused tequila, vanilla infused brandy, grilled pineapple juice and volcanic saffron-infused salt on the rim. It was like drinking a fine cigar. Wow!

We made our way to Stay Gold, a bar with live music, a nice courtyard, and a food truck (Toaster’s) that made a mean grilled cheese. We ended up spending the rest of our evening there and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves enjoying some foot-stomping old-timey southern gospel from the McMercy Family Band:

By the time McMercy Family ended and Meatloaf Spaceship began, we were into our third band of the night. It was late, so we called it a night and took Uber to our hotel.

Kev and Beck picked us up at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and we high-tailed it over to Gordough’s Doughnuts, a food truck that makes speciality doughnuts. I had the Sin-a-Bomb doughnut which was topped with cream-cheese frosting and a liquid cinnamon and sugar glaze poured over the top. Wendy got the Naughty-and-Nice which was coated in sugar and cinnamon and then came with honey butter for dipping. I’ve gone entire weeks without that many calories!

We stopped by Hope Gallery Park after breakfast. It’s the shell of an old building terraced in the side of a hill. Graffiti artists have continually transformed it with their work (as well as random visitors with spray paint). It was a fascinating place. We got to watch and talk to one of the artists who’d been painting there for a short period of time after moving from California.

For lunch we’d decided on visiting a place called Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden. The menu is nothing but different kinds of unique and gourmet sausages (they even have a Turducken sausage). What was really impressive, however, was the more than 100 beers on tap. Kevin and I each did a flight of four different beers. I did the dark and roasty stouts while Kevin did the IPAs. Of course, we all shared and enjoyed the variety. Wendy even got herself a pint of Funnel Cake Beer (I’m not kidding) which actually smells like and leaves a hint of funnel cake on the palate. Quite amazing, really. We had a good, long lunch together and really enjoyed ourselves.

Despite the fact that we were stuffed, we decided that we might as well go over the top by stopping at Amy’s Ice Cream where Wendy and I enjoyed a salted caramel fudge sundae over dark chocolate ice cream.

That’s when my stomach exploded.

Not really, but it was  touch-and-go. Time had slipped away, and it was time for Kev and Beck to catch their flight home. They dropped us off at our hotel where our car was waiting. Wendy and scooted down south to San Marcos and met my brother Tim and his girlfriend, Kumi, at Kent Black’s for a drink and a chat. Wendy and I then drove the rest of the way to San Antonio where we were scheduled to fly out on Sunday.

All of our socializing had the two of us relatively pooped, so by the time we got to the hotel we were ready for some relaxation and quiet. We watched the Cubs beat the Cardinals in game 2 of the NLDS and then got some take-out to bring back to our hotel room for supper. We had the Mets-Dodgers game on as we ate. Then I laid down on the bed and remembered no more.


We took our time getting ready this morning. Made a quick trip to Wal-Mart for a few items and got Wendy a treat from McDonalds. We checked out of the hotel and went to the McNay Art Museum. When Wendy and I honeymooned in San Antonio 10 years ago we’d made our first trip to the McNay. It’s become a special place to us and we enjoyed a gorgeous Sunday afternoon walking the grounds, sitting in the courtyard, and touring the collection.

All good things must come to an end, and after our time at the McNay we headed to the airport for our flight home. It’s been a really fun weekend, but we’re looking forward to being in our own bed tonight!

Top Five Favorite Places in the World (So Far)

Last Friday I wrote of my limited travels and it got me thinking over the weekend about all of the places I’ve traveled and seen. Among all the places I have been on this Earth, here are five of my favorites places:

Sunrise, Rainy Lake
Sunrise, Rainy Lake (Photo credit: jck_photos)

5. Rainy Lake, Minnesota: Sentimental reasons. I grew up going to Camp Idlewood with my family two weeks of every year. This is where some of the most glorious memories of my childhood are sourced. It will always hold a dear place in my heart.

Courtyard of the McNay Museum, San Antonio
Courtyard of the McNay Museum, San Antonio

4. The McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX: Sentimental reasons once more. Wendy and I discovered this gem of an art museum on our honeymoon. The courtyard at the McNay is one of my favorite places. I could sit there for hours, and I even get to return there a couple of times a year on my business travels.

beefeater @ london tower 031909 LR

3. London, England: I can’t name one place within London. I just loved the whole city: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, the Globe Theatre, the All England Club, the Tower of London, etc., and etc.  I can’t wait to return someday.


2. Mount Arbel, Israel: Just off the Sea of Galilee, Mt. Arbel is most likely the place referred to when it was written “Jesus went to a mountain side to pray.” From the top of Mount Arbel you can see across the Sea of Galilee and the towns and villages that dot its shores. I looked down and heard Jesus words: “See the fields white unto harvest.” It is a thin place and my brief time there left an indelible impression on me.


1. Vander Well’s Playhouse, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri: There are a number of exciting and exotic places I’ve visited, but as I pondered my favorites – well this special place tops the list. Like Mount Arbel, it is a thin place. So many precious memories of family and friends combine with a place of quiet refuge and retreat. How blessed to be able to return there often! 🙂

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Dragonfly on a Flower

Canon EOS 6D  f/4  1/125  ISO 100
Canon EOS 6D f/4 1/125 ISO 100

Last week I had a chance to spend an hour or two at the McNay Art Museum while in San Antonio on business. I snapped this shot of a dragonfly resting on a flower in the courtyard fountain. I loved the brilliance of the lavender flower in bright sunlight against the green hues of the lily pads and water.

Seeing the Saint on the Forest Edge

Jean Arp's Saint of the Forest Edge; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio
Jean Arp‘s Saint of the Forest Edge; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio

As I was leaving the McNay Art Museum, I looked back and saw this sculpture by Jean Arp through the full length windows by the entrance. Sometimes art captures me, not because of the piece itself, but because of the artwork in it’s particular space. In this case, I was struck by the small sculpture framed in the giant portrait window with a flood of light that wasn’t directly behind it, but slightly off to one side. The image of the sculpture in its space became an artful vision of a piece of artwork. I shot this photo from outside the museum. If you look at the high res image you can barely see my ghost like reflection taking the picture.

Sometimes, the title of a piece adds to its impact. In this case, “Saint of the Forest Edge” was ironic, since it sits just inside the window looking out over perhaps the most beautiful grounds of an art museum I’ve ever experienced, yet forever trapped inside.

Fallen Petals

2013 07 25 McNay Flower1

This is another picture from the courtyard of the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. I loved the way this gorgeous bloom sat perched on the end of a branch over the water. The two fallen petals, still colorful, lay as a nearby reminder that some of life’s most beautiful things are momentary and fleeting. We have to enjoy them in the moment.