Tell me a Story: April 2019: The Alamo

If you did not catch yesterdays post, we are in San Antonio.  My brother is in town and we are catching up once again.  It’s Wednesday and we are up bright and early.  Or rather once my brother left for the convention center.  Today we are heading to the Alamo.

San Antonio:  April 9-13, 2019: 3914

The Riverwalk has a single canal that goes off of the U, and that heads up to a few restaurants, to a shopping center and eventually to the Alamo.  So off we went.  The morning is peaceful, with few walkers, and one or two joggers.

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This is our second day in town and I am still in love with the bridges and the serenity of the nature side of the walks.

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I spotted this church in the background and it turns out is St Johns Lutheran church.  I visited it later in the week and discovered it was a beautiful church with gorgeous stain glass windows.  A bit about the church – in the 1800’s many German families moved to San Antonio for a new beginning.

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The families traveled by wagon, many of them settling in San Antonio.  A church was established and led by Pastor Phillip Zizelmann, starting out with only 15 members.

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The current church was established in 1932 during the Great Depression.  The church is absolutely stunning, hosts gorgeous stained glass windows.  If you are in the area, make sure that you get to stop by St John’s Lutheran Church.  Sit in a pew, relish the silence, be in peace.

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Continuing up the Riverwalk we finally arrived at the shopping center, did a quick walk through there and came out on the other side.

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Since we had opted to have a late breakfast, Starbucks was on the agenda.

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It was pleasant to sit outside that morning.  The weather was cool and since we were early for the Alamo, we just sat back and enjoyed the beautiful day.

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From Starbucks it is a very short walk to the Alamo.  I loved all the metal work we were passing through.

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Arriving at the Alamo, I was amazed at these stunning, sprawling trees that lined the sidewalk and inside the actual gardens.

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Arriving at the Alamo I was surprised at how small it actually was.  So why is the Alamo so significant to Texas, and San Antonio history.  The way I understand the video that I watch was that the land originally belonged to the Mexicans, but was not thriving.  In order to develop the land they invited settlers into the area.   Due to new policies on the Mexicans part, along with increased tariffs and new enforced immigration laws, the immigrants started to rebel.

San Antonio:  April 9-13, 2019:

In the October of 1836, the Texas Revolution occurred.  This was the first battle between Americans and Mexicans.  The Mexicans were defeated by the Americans.  The President of Mexico, Santa Anna, was enraged.  A new resolution by Santa Anna, resulted in any immigrant fighting being executed.  When the Mexicans fled San Antonio, the Americans captured the Mexican garrison, now known as the Alamo.

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The original design of the Alamo had been to prevent Indians from attacking and gaining entrance to this Spanish Fort.  However it was not built to withstand military with artillery capable to destroying the walls.  Early in 1936, the commander, Colonel James Neill wrote requesting additional troops and supplies to boost the remaining 100 soldiers housed in the Fort.   The government was not able to supply much assistance.

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Colonel Neill requested help from Huston, and the result was that 30 men under the command of Colonel James Bowie were sent to aid Colonel Neill.

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In the interim the army under the Mexican President Santa Anna had swelled to over 6000 troops. Soon they began to march on the Alamo.  A slow and tedious march, but march all the same.

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Santa Anna marched on the Alamo, hoisting a red flag to signifying that no quarter would be given.  No agreement could be reached through representatives and at that point a siege began.  On February 25 about 200 Mexican soldiers managed to get to some wooden huts close to the forts.  The Texian soldiers were able to drive them back.

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On March 3, the Mexican soldiers numbered more than 3000 men.  Seeing the number swell Colonel Travis sent 3 men, including Davy Crockett to try to find troops that were supposed to be on their way.  They did find a group of about 50 men, and were able to drive their way through the Mexican troops to get to the safety of the Alamo

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History has it that the Mexicans bombarded the Alamo relentlessly, and then eased off.  The easing off allowed the Texian soldiers to rest and for many to fall asleep.   In the early hours of the morning, Mexican troops silently marched on the Alamo.  The fort was surrounded.

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The guards stationed to watch were killed in their sleep, and the Mexicans moved closer.  At this point the Mexicans began to celebrate their impending glory.  Shouts of Viva Santa Anna went up and the noise woke the sleeping Texians.  The Mexicans stormed the fort.

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The Texans escaped to the chapel and the quarters.  The fort was taken over by the Mexicans and the last fighting Texian group was lead by Davy Crockett.  By this time the Mexican troops controlled all of the outer walls, and they turned their attention to the flag.  Replacing the American flag with the Mexican flag resulted in the death of four Mexican soldiers.

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The Mexican systematically took control of the fort and within hours all the men were killed and only women and children were left surviving.  Santa Anna hoped that with the recapturing of the Alamo and the knowledge of the size of his troops, things would be restored back to normal with the Mexicans controlling the area.

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However, the events at the Alamo had the opposite effect and on April 21 the Texian army attacked the Mexican troops.  Within 18 minutes the Battle of San Jacinto was over.  While the Mexicans were slaughtered shouts of “Remember the Alamo” could be heard.  Santa Anna was captured, but his life was spared.  He and his troops were forced out of Texas.  This ended the Mexican control of the area and allowed for the beginnings of a New Republic.

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The Alamo today is not this huge fort, but rather the grounds along with what is left of the buildings.  The grounds are beautiful, in fact despite the tourists, they are peaceful.

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Suggestions of what living back in those days are created for us to view.

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The Alamo building like the rest of the historical buildings, have the same design, same stone, similar structures.

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I love old buildings and these that we saw at the Alamo, and the missions really captured my attention.

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In a quiet courtyard is a tribute to the men who defended the Alamo. Colonel’s Bowie, Bonham, Travis and Crockett.  This is an area for peaceful reflection.

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One of the aspects of this style of building is the beautiful arches.  You will see them again in a different blog on the Missions of San Antonio.

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There is the unique contrast of old buildings, each with their own style and details.

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And like most cities there is the contrast of old and new.  If you are thinking of visiting the Alamo, make sure to swing by and watch the video on the history of the Alamo.  There was only one downside to visiting the main building of the Alamo.  Photographers were not allowed to take photographs inside the building.  When asked why, I was told that the building is “reverent”.  Fortunately there was not a lot to take inside.

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I hope that you enjoyed my walk through the Alamo.  It is definitely worth the visit.  Oh, and a bonus, it was free to visit.

This is a circle blog so take some time to check out Lupji Photography and follow the links around all the blogs.   I don’t know about you but I love to see what is going on in the lives of our contributors.

30 Minutes in the Life: April 2019

I am not going to lie – this post is more than 30 minutes but I am going to share it all anyway.  This month we headed to San Antonio to meet up with my brother.  Yes he was back again for a conference.  That man puts more mileage on his suitcase than anyone else I know.  We flew in Tuesday and flew out on Saturday.

Richard had spoken to a few people who said two days in San Antonio was more than enough, I had spoken to people who said that there was so much to do.  To be honest we landed on the happy medium – four days was a good fit for us.

It was a good feeling not to run foul of the TSA peeps this time around.  I packed those stupid liquids (most of which are eyes solution, drops, cleansers etc) into the tiny allowed bag, and I managed to get through without any issue.  We always travel with carry-on’s so it makes it very limited to what you can get through. Ha ha, Richard on the other hand had his laptop pulled out and checked.

We opted not to hire a car but rather use local bus transportation.  Kudoes to San Antonio bus system, it was amazing and timely.  We got dropped off 2 blocks from out hotel and walked on down.  We were staying at the Hilton on the Riverwalk.  After checking in we headed out to explore the Riverwalk and find some food.  All of my images today are reflective of our walk.

So what is the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  Some cleaver person decided to add some attractions to the City.  The Riverwalk is a U shaped man built canal created off the main river, the San Antonio River.

San Antonio:  April 9-13, 2019: 3826

While we meandered the Riverwalk looking at what it was about and different restaurants, our goal was to eat.  We had got up at 3am to go to the airport, flew out at 5:30am and arrived at 11am.  We were hungry.  Being of English decent and growing up in a very English influenced home, my go to meal is always a British or Irish pub, and decent pork sausages are what I want.  The USA does not have great pork sausages.

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So lunch was enjoyed at Mad Dogs on the Riverwalk with a pint or two.  I got my traditional bangers and mash and Richard opted for fish and chips.


Something that fascinated me in San Antonio was that means of transportation that stood all over the place.  Some of the items were linked to Uber.  Pay your price and scooter all over town.  Suffice to say we did not do that.  I would be hazardous not only on a scooter but on the road as well :).

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The River walk has two sections, the busy restaurant driven area, which is a hustle and bustle of people, and river boats, and then the quieter more nature inclined walk area.  At random points there are these beautiful bridges to cross.

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Richard took a liking to this wooden chair made out of tree branches.  It fitted in with the beautiful aspects of nature.

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Talking nature, the trees in San Antonio were stunning.  The Riverwalk had these beautiful tall trees.  When we were at the Alamo they had gorgeous sprawling trees.  Look out for them in tomorrow’s blog.

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I always like to convert some of the images to black and white and I thought the bridges would be a good conversion.  This area is opposite the outdoor amphitheater and was really so pretty.

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Artwork always appeals to me and this was a pretty big statue sitting above one of the restaurants.  I am not sure who it is supposed to depict but it certainly got my attention.  San Antonio has an interesting history of Mexican / American occupation but more about that tomorrow when we visit the Alamo.

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I cannot resist the beauty of nature in the middle of a city type area.  I think this was a common weed but I kind of liked it.

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I loved the mix of old world and new world that you find in San Antonio.  The architecture and aged look are amazing, inside this bustling city.  There were so many places to stop and smell the roses, and have a beer or two.

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We did a short walk along the quieter side of the Riverwalk and came across this cattle drive iron works.  I have seen something similar in Dallas on a bigger scale.  The artwork is incredible and depicts the beginnings of San Antonio cattle history.

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We did not go far, before we headed back to our hotel, seen below.  The hotel itself had an interesting history.  The builders of the hotel were given a short time frame within which to build the hotel.  The hotel is a 21 story hotel (and we were staying on the 20th floor) and hosts 500 rooms.  This history was that the hotel was being built for a fair in 1968 and the time frame that they had did not allow for the hotel to be built in the normal manner.  They built the first 4 floors and then the rest of the hotel was built offsite as modular units.  Each modular unit was complete with the plumbing, electricity, artwork, and apparently even down to the ashtrays.  The rooms were stacked in 42 days and the hotel was completed in 202 days actually opening 5 days before the fair.   The hotel is situated perfectly for the large convention center across the road and perfect for the explorer wanting to see the Riverwalk.

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This appears to be one of the iconic views found on the Riverwalk.  It is a Mexican restaurant.  The colorful umbrella’s can be found on magnets, posters etc.

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It is always good to meet up with my brother.  With him living in another country I never know when I will see him again.  So while he is traveling to the US, I plan to meet up with him.  Next time he will be in Philly, and I am considering heading up there.  Probably on my own as Richard does not seem to interested.

Look out for the Alamo blog tomorrow.

Thank you for joining us for another month of 30 Minutes. Just a reminder that this is a circle blog, so take some time to visit my friend Ceri Herd Photography, who lives in the UK, and see what she has for you this year.

Share Six: April 2019: Psoriatic Arthritis

As you have seen from the past couple of months, Share Six decided this year to highlight different causes that we have either worked with before or are directly affected by.  This month I chose the disease Psoriatic Arthristis.  As a family we are directly impacted by this autoimmune disease.  If you are photographing colors – the theme colors are orange and/or purple.

Four years ago when we first met Kathryn, she had a foot injury. Something the doctors had put down to an injury caused from a soccer incident. Kathryn actively played on a soccer team.  Through many investigative and intrusive procedures, they were convinced that she had a bone spur affecting her and procedures were done to rectify that.

In August 2015, Cameron and Kathryn got married.  Instead of wearing sparkly dress shoes, Kathryn wore sparkly sneakers.  She had a fear that her ankle would not support her when walking down the isle.

Cameron & Kathryn S:  August 28, 2015 8064

Kathryn was a beautiful bride, excited about what the future would bring. Little did they know how serious her sore ankle would become.

Some months and numerous specialists later, Kathryn symptoms took a new turn. At the age of 28, she was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis.  What is Psoriatic Arthritis?  It is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints, along with a skin inflammation.  The joint inflammation is painful as is the psoriasis.

Her symptoms were joint pain.  Pain in her ankles, pain in her knees, pain in her hips, pain in her wrists, pain in her lower back and neck.  Sometimes both of them sometimes different parts of the body.   These days we do not see Kathryn without a brace on her ankles and her knee, quite often they will be on her wrists as well.

What is your wake up like in the morning?  I like to sleep late, and have a series of alarm clocks that get me up and moving throughout my morning rush to get to work.  For Kathryn, waking up could take every bit of her energy.  Fatigue is a very real side effect of Psoriatic Arthritis.   Kathryn can sleep up to 12 hours a day and not feel like she has got any sleep.  I spent 3 hours with them this past Friday taking pics and by the time I came to leave I could see that she was exhausted.  I knew that when I walked out the door she was heading for the bed.

Her morning starts with medications.  Besides for the pills, there is pain patches and injections.  Her evening finishes with medications.  This has become a way of life for her.

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Kathryn & Cody: March 29, 2019: 3587

Psoratic Arthritis can affect other aspects of her life besides inflammation, joint pain and fatigue.  PSA can affect her eyes, her hearing, cause nail dystrophy, and increased mood swings.  PSA can also adversely affect her heart, cause obesity, swelling and metabolic syndrome.  It can also cause diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.  Simple tasks like cooking can be hard for Kathryn because the psoriasis had caused the tips of her fingers to split open and bleed.

Kathryn has gone through multiple medications in an attempt to find the one that actually makes a difference.  The doctors quickly realize it is not working for her but the medical system will make her wait a number of months before she can switch to something different.  The waiting means dealing with pain that is not being helped.  She has also had a series of nerve blocks to try and ease the pain.  These procedures were painful and often resulted in tears.

Starting her day and maintaining her strength throughout the day is tough for Kathryn and given that Kathryn autoimmune disease has progressed quite rapidly, they made the decision to introduce a new member to the family.  His name is Cody.  Cody is being trained to be a full time service dog.  And people will ask, “why does she need a service dog, it does not look like there is anything wrong with her!”

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Cody has a multi purpose role.  He is a Golden Doodle that looks about as big as a Shetland pony.   He is still a puppy at 2 years old, playful and excitable.  However, Cody is learning commands, and learning what a service dog outfit is like. He also functions as a comfort dog.

I spent some time with them on Friday learning just what Cody is being trained to do.

Cody has learned how to open the fridge, because some days Kathryn does not have the strength in her wrists to pull the fridge open.  Cody has learned to fetch a bottle of water for her.  (Taking photo’s of a moving dog was much harder than I thought 🙂 )



Cody has learned how to pick up the dirty clothes from the floor and give them to Kathryn because some days bending over is too painful.  Cody has also learned how to drag the laundry basket to the kitchen area where the washer and dryer is situated.



Cody has also learned to carry parcels for her if she is struggling.  He is very pleased with himself when he has achieved what he has been asked to do.

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Have you ever gone to a shopping center and wondered about the person in the disabled parking spot.  I will confess to saying I have, that was until I had foot surgery and used the disabled parking that I full understood that sometimes you may look normal, but there is stuff going on.  PSA is that silent disease that has you looking like you are ready for the day and feeling like you are crippled and cannot move because the pain is so intense but to the world it is not visible.  The same applies to Kathryn.  You and I may not see the true reality of what she is going through.

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Cody is there to nudge her if she is a little foggy.  He is there to lick her hands to get her attention.  He is there by her bed at night in case she needs help.  If she wakes up in pain and Cameron is not visible she can tell Cody “Go fetch Cameron” and off he will go.  Cody is more than a pet, he is her right hand.

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Cody is a service dog.  He is used to his harness and has learned to walk at Kathryn’s pace.   He has a job to do and he is learning to do it well.

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We were at Epcot recently as a family.  Kathryn cannot walk Epcot.  However, the catch-22 is that she cannot sit for 8 hours either.  So for a period of time Kathryn will ride on a motorized wheelchair and Cody will walk alongside her.  When she cannot sit any longer, Cameron will ride the motorized wheelchair and Kathryn will walk with Cody.

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Cody even got to go one one of the rides at Epcot.  We did the Frozen ride with him.  He was well behaved and did not seem too concerned about the slight drop at the end.



Cody is a service dog.  One little boy called him a “Superman” dog because of his red coat.  Kathryn tends to agree with him.  Service dogs have a job to do, and people are asked not to touch them.  Yet somehow that request is ignored.  People want to pet him which will make him excitable and difficult for Kathryn to manage.  Cameron overheard one person say it would be fun to pull his tail.   These are the kind of comments that are made about service dogs.  If you see a service dog respect the role he has to play.  If we go out to dinner with Cameron & Kathryn, we do not pet Cody until the end of the evening when he is going to get in the car.  Despite that, when he is out of his “superdog” outfit, he is a playful and energetic pup.

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As time goes on and dependent on how Kathryn’s autoimmune disease progresses Cody will become a significant help to her in her day to day living.  He will be her strength when she has none.  He will be her brace when she is feeling unsteady.  He will lick her face if she seems unresponsive.  He will open the fridge, bring her a bottle of water, drag the laundry, pick up things for her, find her keys and be the best possible assistant she can have.  His favorite command apparently is “go find Cameron”.

Kathryn & Cody: March 29, 2019: 3609


Psoriatic Arthritis is not for the weak.  The pain that you live with day in and day out is intense.  It limits what you can do, where you can go, and sometimes how you react in different situations. I have learned so much from Kathryn about what she is going through.  I admire the determination she has to get up every day and try to make the best of it.  Some days are good, some days not so good.  Some days she wakes up with such intense pain that she cannot get out of bed. Those days are the hardest, especially when you are home alone.  Cody has brought a new sense of comfort to her.

If you know of someone suffering from Psoratic Arthritis, try to understand that some days she may want to be with you and other days she may not.   Try to understand that life is tough.  Be there for the person when they need something and just be the support and friend they need.

I read the following recently put out by the Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources:

I have a chronic illness, don’t be surprised if…

I don’t answer the phone or respond to messages straight away

I cancel our plans, especially at the last minute

I can do something one day, but not the next

It seems like I am not listening or interested (brain fog)

My energy levels change and I become exhausted

I leave early from a social gathering, party or event

I suddenly need to lie down and rest.

I still love being your friend, but sometimes my illness prevents me from doing the same things as before, please don’t give up on me. 


Psoriatic Arthritis, along with other forms of autoimmune diseases is a silent disease.  We don’t see what is going on.  Don’t give up on you family member, your friend, your colleague or casual acquaintance. They are going through far more than we ever know.

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  From the sneak peak images I have seen, you are going to want to follow the circle.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist Janet Douglas and see what she has for you this month.  To view Janet’s IG page head over to @wiredtothemoon  Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month.  Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_autoimmune or #sharesix_orange_purple