Friday, August 31, 2012

Fences for Friday

Somewhere in Virginia, along I-81.  I loved the multiple rows of fencing - and the horses...and the star on the  small house beside the big house.

(with soft texture added)
Linking to Jan and Jer's Friday's Fences.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

American Soldier

"And I will always do my duty no matter what the price
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
 Oh and I don’t want to die for you, but if dyin’s asked of me
I’ll bear that cross with honor, cause freedom don’t come free.

I’m an American Soldier an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand

When liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right
I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight
American Soldier, I’m an American, Soldier."

 (If you don't know the song, check it out on YouTube - American Soldier, sung by Toby Keith.  Awesome tribute to the men and women in uniform.)

The first 5 photos are from the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico, VA.  The last 2 photos are from the Naval Aviation Monument at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, VA.

Linking to Thursday Theme Song.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blue Bird

This beauty was in the Secret Garden at Parrot Mountain, Pigeon Forge, TN.  I am not totally sure what kind of bird this is...I think it is some kind of bunting...anyone who knows for sure is welcome to correct me!
I have looked through my bird identification book, and online, and that is as close as I can come!

Linking to Anni's The Bird D'pot and Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Leaning, Leaning...

Oh, the joys of replenishing the "barn coffers"!  The trip to Tennessee was very successful on a number of levels.  Drive-by barns, surprise finds, and those we expected to find - it was a veritable smorgasbord of barns!  I even spotted a few quilt barns!  I am good for a few months now...

This barn was spotted as we arrived at Parrot Mountain in Pigeon Forge.  From the end view, it doesn't look to bad...
 But continuing toward the other side, the lean became more pronounced.

 When I got to this angle, it looked like it was going to fall down backwards.  I hope they aren't still using it!

Linking to Tricia's Barn Charm, where barns from all over the world are being preserved in photographs.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sebring Murals

I am departing from my pictorial essay on the murals of Lake Placid, Florida today, to bring you a few from a neighboring town, Sebring.  My mom lives in Sebring, and when I visited in July, we went to Old Town to see the murals that have been added.  Unfortunately, I could find no information on them, so I can't tell you much about the history or artist.  Other than the one that advertises to have your pet's picture done in the mural, there is not much to tell.  But, I thought they added a nice touch and were certainly worth of mention!

I am not sure I would have put this behind the tree, but then, I guess if that's where your wall is, that's where you paint!  I couldn't get a good angle on it without the shadows, but it is a nice, elegant mural!

Check out the rest of the offerings at Monday Murals.  Thanks to our host, as always!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Through It All

I have been greatly distressed this past few weeks with news of illnesses - both physical and mental - of friends.  In times like these, I cannot help but reflect on the experiences I have had in my own family - with illness and death. These things are a fact of life - our loved ones will die, we will suffer loss, pain and sadness. However,  through all of these life events, we have an anchor.  We just need to hold on.
When my son, Eric, took his life in 2000, he was 5 days short of 29 years old.  Looking back on his life, I realize that he was always too intense in his feelings - loved too deeply, agonized over small things.  Maybe there were things we could have done earlier in his life to help him - but I know there is nothing to be gained from blaming myself, or trying to second-guess what drove him to that desperate act.  I do know that, in spite of being raised in the church, Eric, at the time of his death, had insufficient faith to be able to live with his emotional pain.  My faith, and my trust in God, was the anchor that sustained me.
In 1998, my brother, Roger, took his life.  He was 10 days short of his 56th birthday.  Another case of a brilliant, talented life, uselessly lost.  The excesses of his life had left him financially destitute and without hope, unable to see a way out.  Despite years that our family prayed for him, he had no faith of his own to sustain him.  My faith and my trust in God sustained me yet again.
"Through it all, through it all...I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God...I've learned to depend upon His Word"...what a beautiful promise!  The Living Water that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is sufficient to sustain us in the darkest of times.  I have lived the pain, and come through it, because I have that anchor.  And, because I firmly believe this promise:  "All things work together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28)", I have been able to use my experiences to help others who are dealing with the pain of suicide and loss.

This is not intended to be a sad post today  - but an acknowledgment of the unfailing love and support provided by our Lord.  I pray you will lean on Him and learn to trust Him.  May God richly bless your comings and goings today and every day.

To read what others are sharing today, please visit Charlotte's Spiritual Sundays.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


On the return trip from Pigeon Forge, we detoured to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to Cataloochee in the Maggie Valley.  In 2001, 25 elk were relocated from Kentucky, Land Between the Lakes, to the Park.  In 2002, another 27 were imported.  All were collared and monitored during the 8 years of the experimental part of the project.  In 2009-2010, they began developing an environmental assessment of the program and a long-term management program for the elk.  We knew that we would need to be there early in the day or late in the evening in order to see them.  So, we set out from Pigeon Forge at 5am, arriving at the park at 7am.  We began our descent into the valley, along a 10-mile gravel road, with steep drop-offs and no guard rails.

When we arrived in the valley, our first sighting was along the road, just on the other side of the opposite lane.  A beautiful bull elk was calmly grazing along the roadside.

Had to use the flash - it was still pretty dark in the hills!
A short distance later, we saw 2 more bulls grazing beside the Ranger Station.

Imagine looking out your front door and seeing this sight!
 A little farther along, we saw 5 more - cows and calves.

It was wonderful fun to be able to stand up in the seat of the car, with my head out of the sun roof, and my 150-500mm lens resting on the top of the car!  Safety...that's the ticket here.  The bulls can weigh 600 - 700 lbs, and are 7 - 10 ft long, nose to tail, and 4 - 5' tall at the shoulder.  Females are slightly smaller - weighing an average of 500 lbs.  The calves weigh about 35 lbs. at birth!  They are the biggest animals in the park, and can be quite aggressive if they feel threatened.  It is a federal offense to willingly approach the elk within 50 yards - with a hefty fine!  Of course, when they are in the just don't want to get out of the car!

Linking to Camera Critters.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August Break

Somewhere around blogland, I heard rumors of an August break from blogging.  I don't remember where I heard it, or who said it, or who even does it!  But, I am going to...

We are headed to Pigeon Forge, TN for some much needed R&R - Dan is recovering nicely, and we have been planning this for some time now.  So, other than auto-posting my Wordless Wednesday Again, I will be mostly offline until Saturday, August 25th.  I am pretty sure I am not going to be able to stand being TOTALLY offline...that is a lot like pulling the plug!  But, I am going to spend my time enjoying the sights and sounds of the mountains - and taking LOTS of photos!  I am really hoping to stock up on some great barns, and fences, and critters...and all the other things that delight the senses!

So, until then...have a wonderful week!  I will catch you when I return!  Peace out...

***Comments off.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Award-Winning Fence

I have borrowed this photo from Dan, who is rapidly emerging as THE photographer in the family!  I could be envious of his skills...but instead, I will take advantage of them whenever possible!  This photograph of an old fence took 1st place in the category "Fences" for our Annual Photo Hunt.  Our photography club annual dinner was last night, and he walked away with two 1st place certificates and one 2nd place in the Photo Hunt.  I was very proud of him...and now, without further ado...his fence!

It is a charmer, isn't it?

Linking to Friday's Fences.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Please forgive a silly grandma for indulging one of her passions - sharing photos of her grandsons.  No children were harmed during the creation of this post.

"There are smiles that make us happy...
There are smiles that make us blue seem so true!
Connor and Tyler
There are smiles that steal away the tear drops 
As the sun beams steal away the dew 
There are smiles that have a tender meaning 
That the eyes of love alone will see...

And the smiles that filled my heart with sunshine 
Are the smiles that you they gave to me!
Listen to Judy Garland singing this lovely old song here: Smiles.

Linking to Anni's Thursday Theme Song.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Red-Winged Blackbird!

These beauties have been a particular pursuit of photograph one and get the markings clear.  A few months ago I missed a drive-by of an entire flock taking place to stop, no time to get the camera aimed.  I have lamented that fact ever since.

This is the best I have ever been able to do with them - I will not give up!

On a trip to Missouri, along I-64, through Indiana, there were red-wings on fence posts along a stretch of road...seemed to be evenly spaced.  I thought it odd, almost like they were guarding their territory.  I looked them up when I got to my computer and found this information, courtesy of Wikipedia.

"The Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a passerine bird of the family Icteridae found in most of North and much of Central America. It breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to Florida, the Gulf of MexicoMexico, and Guatemala, with isolated populations in western El Salvador, northwestern Honduras, and northwestern Costa Rica. It may winter as far north as Pennsylvania and British Columbia, but northern populations are generally migratory, moving south to Mexico and the southern United States. Claims have been made that it is the most abundant and best studied bird in North America.[2] The Red-winged Blackbird is sexually dimorphic; the male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, while the female is a nondescript dark brown. Seeds and insects make up the bulk of the Red-winged Blackbird's diet.

The range of the Red-winged Blackbird stretches from southern Alaska to the Yucatan peninsula in the south, and from the western coast of California and Canada to the east coast of the continent. Red-winged Blackbirds in the northern reaches of the range are migratory, spending winters in the southernUnited States and Central America. Migration begins in September or October, but occasionally as early as August. In western and middle America, populations are generally non-migratory. [14]
The Red-winged Blackbird inhabits open grassy areas. It generally prefers wetlands, and inhabits both freshwater and saltwater marshes, particularly if Typha (cattail) is present. It is also found in dry upland areas, where it inhabits meadows, prairies, and old fields."

That sure was a lot of information...which I will quickly forget!  I just know I like them!

 Linking to the Bird D'pot and Wild Bird Wednesday