Gone Too Soon

Front: Ike Siler, Josie Siler Back: Aubrey Wait, Janell Javis, Annie Siler, Randy Siler

(Photo by Ike Siler) Front: Ike Siler, Josie Siler
Back: Aubrey Wait, Janell Javis, Annie Siler, Randy Siler

This isn’t your typical Behind the Photo Friday post because this hasn’t been a typical week. This week we experienced tragedy.

Early Tuesday morning my brother Ike went to wake up his best friend and roommate only to discover that she had passed away in the night. Sweet Janell was only 33 years old and her loss hits us all hard.

I wish you could have met Janell, you would have loved her! She was full of life and energy and fun. She was easy to love and became an instant part of our family.

This summer was one that none of us will ever forget. My cousin Aubrey came to stay with me for a couple of months this summer and our little family of four grew to a family of six for three wonderful months.

We played hard together and even though I didn’t know Janell long, I felt as if I’d known her forever. She was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I have ever met. She knew how to love well. She impacted all of our lives in a profound way and we will never forget her; we’ve been forever changed by the impact of her life and her love.

Janell loved dragonflies. When we got home from spending time with her parents on Wednesday we pulled into the driveway to discover hundreds of dragonflies swarming around our yard. I didn’t take any photographs because that was a special moment just for us. It was a gift from God, a special little hug to remind us that Janell is with Him and that she’s not just okay, but better than she’s ever been.

“Dragonflies” in Loving Memory of Janell Javis

They flit, they fly

They zoom through the sky.

Twisting, turning

Our hearts are yearning.

Diving, soaring

Peace and hope restoring.

Coming, going

Our love is flowing.

Laughter, tears

We’ll remember you all our years.

Dragonflies, dragonflies

What a blessed surprise.

Until we meet again,


P. S. (Hug your loved ones extra tight tonight.)

The Tree of Light

The Tree of Light

The Tree of Light

When spring comes after a long Wisconsin winter a person is itching to get outside, get away, breathe fresh air, and explore new territory. This was just the case a few years back. Some friends and I had planned to attend a large conference several states south, but when those plans changed we decided that we had to do something!

We already had the time off of work so we decided on a mini-vacation a bit closer to home. We traveled along the Mississippi River to the wonderful little town of Lake City, Minnesota. Sure, it wasn’t as far south as we had wanted, but it was a little bit south so that was something.

We spent time exploring Lake City. It’s a great little town you should check out if you’re in the area. We ate at a yummy little cafe, walked along the Mississippi River, watched sunsets – and even a sunrise, discovered a coffee shop, browsed an eclectic book store, and explored area parks.

One perfect afternoon found us in Frontenac State Park. I’m sure we only explored a fraction of the large park, but what we did explore was beautiful. We stopped to take pictures along the cliffs overlooking the Mississippi. What a view! The river sparkled below and the cliffs on the other side stretched high.  Barges and sailboats made their way along the waves as eagles and hawks soared lazily over our heads.

As we meandered along a small path leading to the woods I stopped short. It was as if God had turned a spotlight on this incredible tree. I could almost hear mood music playing somewhere in the background. Da da-da DA!

Often afternoon light is harsh and you don’t get the greatest photos, however the lighting on this tree was fantastic. The buds were just starting to bloom and the little baby leaves were lit up as if they were Christmas lights hanging on the otherwise bare branches.

I plopped myself down in the middle of the path, legs straight out in front of me. I leaned forward as far as I could, then looked up through my lens to capture this unique view of a tremendous tree. Oh yes, I looked ridiculous, but that’s the life of a photographer. You do what it takes to get the shot!

And that, my friends, is the story of how I captured The Tree of Light. (Click to Tweet)

Until we meet again,


The Thirsty Monarch

The Thirsty Monarch's story is told!

The Thirsty Monarch

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is wander my mom’s beautiful gardens with my camera in tow. There are so many things to capture sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin!

This particular day it was easy to decide. I spotted a monarch butterfly whiz past the driveway and head toward the strip of flowers along the garage. Naturally, I crept over there to see if I could find it.

Ah-Ha! Success! I quickly spotted the monarch flitting from flower to flower. When she decided to camp out on a tall liatris flower I was able to get a few shots. And then she was gone, and I was off on a butterfly hunt. I spent the rest of  my time in the gardens that day chasing the elusive monarch.

When I found her again she was drinking nectar from a purple coneflower. Monarchs, like other butterflies, drink their meals through something called a proboscis. This long, straw-like appendage curls up under their head when it isn’t being used.

After getting her fill, the thirsty monarch flew off to have a grand adventure, I’m sure! One of my favorite things about summer is watching butterflies. What do you love about summertime?

And that, my friends, is the story of how I captured The Thirsty Monarch. (Click to Tweet!)

Until we meet again,