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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Smiling

You know how sometimes something you read or see will quickly bring a smile to your face? It happened to me several times yesterday and I wanted to share them with you.
 
First, there was a particular blog post that made me smile. It was from the wonderful girls at Focusing On Life. They are such a great group of girls that encourage and inspire me. I always leave with a smile when I've been visiting their site, but this time it was a little bigger smile. You see, they're having a giveaway...a beautiful poster. I think you might want to check it out and enter your name in the drawing.
 
 
Now, let me tell you about the rest of my smiles. Yesterday I wanted a certain book from the library and the only copy available was in the nearby town of Maumelle. Now, I could have had it sent to a library closer to home, but I really like to visit libraries and thought this would make a good outing. Isn't this a pretty library and this is the back side?

  

Since I knew there was a walking path around the lake, I took my walking shoes to walk there instead of where I normally walk which has gotten a little boring lately. Of course, I can't walk without a camera so I had that with me too!  One lap around the lake to take pictures and one lap for exercise. That works!

 
 
As I walked there were several things that just made me smile, giggle, or laugh out loud. This weed growing through a knothole in the boardwalk brought a smile. That's determination! He could have taken the easy route like the others branches; but no, he wanted to grow through that little hole.

 
 
 
I was fortunate enough to see this beautiful Egret. He wasn't cooperative. He flew anytime I got near him. It made me smile that I got his reflection in the water though. I really like abstract reflections!
  
 
 
 
Part of the path goes behind a large group of condominiums which had such pretty little gardens. I snapped a few pictures and then realized that someone was hiding in the garden. Well, actually he was getting a drink out of the birdbath. I would like to think that the owner of this pretty garden had purposely placed a low birdbath just for this guy to use. He's a Muscovy duck and well, he's kind of ugly. I know I probably shouldn't say that, but all of creative doesn't have to be pretty to be good. When he wasn't drinking, he would just stare at me and that brought a giggle.



I picked up the books at the library and was headed back to my car when I spotted this cool guy. He made me laugh with his snout on crooked! He almost looks like he's begging for a treat.

 
 
When I go anywhere and have extra time I always get online and google the town/place and see if there's anything interesting I've not seen or done before. I do this even if it's a town I've been to many times. It seems I can always find something different. I was surprised to see that there were three cemeteries in Maumelle. (I'll write more about that adventure later.)  You don't really think about smiling at a cemetery, but this marker sure made me smile.  Can you imagine???    84 grand and great grandchildren??  Her name was Louise Hayney. She was born in 1818 and died in 1910. Let's see, that made her 92. Wow!!  I would love to know more of her story.

 
I want to thank each of you who left such beautiful comments recently and for all your prayers. This family believes in prayer and we felt comforted by yours. I count myself blessed to know such good friends. You make me smile!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Sing

I sing the almighty power of God,
That made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
And built the lofty skies.


I sing the wisdom
That ordained the sun to rule the day,
The moon shines full at his command,
And all the stars obey.
 
 
I sing the goodness of the Lord,
That filled the earth with food;
He formed the creatures with his Word,
And then pronounced them good.


Lord, how thy wonders are displayed,
Wherever I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread,
Or gaze upon the sky!

 
There's not a plant or flower below,
But makes thy glories known;
And clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from they throne;

While all that borrows life from thee
Is ever in they care,
And every where that man can be,
Thou, God, art present there.

We sang this hymn in church this morning and it touched me. God is powerful. God's love is powerful. I give thanks to him. The hymn I sing the Almighty Power of God was written in 1715 by Isaac Watts.
 
I haven't been anywhere special this week for photography, but, I did wander around close to home and several pictures I took go with the words of this song. I'm linking this to Helen's Weekend Walk at A Flash Of Inspiration.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In Memory

 
In memory of
Dylan Michael Moon
January 3, 2008 - September 16, 2013
 
All of our lives have been touched by sorrow at one time or another, but it is especially hard when we lose a child. Dylan is my sister's five year old grandson.   Dylan was a happy guy with eyes that sparkled and a great big smile. He contacted a very rare strain of meningitis that took him less than eight hours after the first symptom.

When I thought of those who visit here, I knew that if I shared this, you would pray for Dylan's family. I know prayer can be powerful and comforting.

Would you do something else for me? Would you give an extra hug or kiss or a simple "I love you" to your children, your grandchildren or any of your loved ones. Times like this remind us just how fragile life is.

Thank you and sending my love to you. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Surprise Visitor

I rarely take my computer outside. It is so hard to see the screen, but I just needed to be outside and I had a scrapbooking video I wanted to watch, so out I went. Look who paid me a visit. Perched right there on the corner of my screen. Thankfully I had my point and shoot camera right beside me. There was no time for adjusting settings. I clicked away and was lucky to get any good shots!



Aren't they fascinating creatures.
I mean, what a face!
 
 
And, what gorgeous details.
 
 
Some days I feel extra blessed!
 
How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
--Psalms 104:24


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

People

Just to refresh your memory...
I took a 50mm lens class in August with Kim Manley Ort.
I visited Hot springs, Arkansas to fulfill a couple of assignments for class. (read about it here)

One of the lessons  pertained to street photography using the 50mm lens.  Street photography as in shooting people!!
I. DO. NOT. LIKE. PEOPLE. PHOTOGRAPHY!!!
 
But, since I'm the rule-following person that I am, when Kim gave us an assignment of street photography for class, I had to do it!  I always try to do what I'm told, even though my mother would beg to differ!  So, I dutifully walked the streets looking for photo opportunities.

First shot
This cute little boy wandered up next to a bench where I was hiding from people sitting. It's not to bad. It's composed fairly well. I needed to be further back to include what he's reaching for. He was wanting to put his hand in the hot water coming from a spring. That's why the railing is up. The water is 143 degrees. I didn't have to worry about his parents caring if I took his picture, they weren't even in sight. Was he lost?  Nope, his parents finally did arrive. He talked to me for a while as I sat there about the hot water. I couldn't leave him there by himself. I felt like he needed someone to watch over him.  Seriously, in this day and age who in their right mind would not have their child in eyesight at all times!!  Okay, I'm calming down and moving on down the street.


Second shot
Don't get too close and shoot 'em from the back.
Photography sounds violent, doesn't it?


Third shot
Shoot from the hip. That means shooting with your camera low and not up to your eye. That way they won't know you're taking their picture. Well, I thought I'd get more than feet, but this turned out OK. I got her whole shadow and those are cute sandals.


Fourth shot
I'm trying to hide so they won't see me with a camera in my face. Surely they'll think I'm taking a picture of the fountain. Actually, she wasn't paying me a bit of attention. She was talking ninety-to-nothing with wild hand gestures.


I'm going to quit counting shots here.
It really doesn't matter!
This shot has a story behind it. The lady in the light pink had just squatted down to take a picture of something on the bulletin board.  Once she got down, she couldn't get up! Her friends, while laughing, helped her up. Yes, they saw me taking their picture and I had to explain that they reminded me of my sister and I. We are always squatting down for a picture and not being able to get back up. Chalk it up to old knees. We also laugh a lot when we're together!

I call this one Contrast in Transportation.
Seems a little blurry. Yeah, due to nervous shaky hands and the desire to be quick!


I'm relaxing a little and finally looking for interesting things and trying to compose the images a little better. These guys made me smile. How cute are they with her purple hat and his purple fanny pack! They even match the purple bench.


There are a few water stations around Hot Springs where you can bring your own bottles and fill them with the mineral rich hot water that the town is know for. She filled her bottles, put them in the black crates, and then her husband came and carried them to the car. They had a lot of bottles to be filled.


This was the closest I got to anyone. She was so busy texting on her cell phone that she never even knew I was there.
 
 
Toward the end I began to look for connections between the people I photographed. This couple was across the street from the historic Arlington Hotel. She was pointing and telling him something about it. I love the way he's leaning in to hear what she has to say.


And finely the last one.
This was taken at a small overlook.
I like the couple eating lunch together, while in the background the young ladies are spending a fun time together.

DONE!!
Like I said, I don't like people photography. I feel like a voyeur. Like I'm eavesdropping or intruding in their space. It also terrifies me. I'm so afraid someone is going to say "hey you, stop taking my picture!"  I did survive and I did begin to slightly enjoy this assignment.  I even felt a little brave!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Traveling Back In Time

In the quiet of the morning I could almost imagine that I was back in the 1800's. The time when our nation was at war with itself...the Civil War. The battlefield lay before me; the homestead behind me. It was quiet this day. There was no gunfire, no cannon blast, no screams or shouts; only silence. I find that when I'm in such areas as battlefields and cemeteries that there is a different quiet, I would call it a reverent quiet.
 
 
 
 
Trees had to be felled when the land was cleared for the park. Tree trunks were split into logs and used for fences.
 
 
 
 
The place is Reed's Bridge, Jacksonville, Arkansas. Another town that is very nearby and another town that has new places for me to explore. I had errands in Jacksonville so I searched the Internet for interesting places and discovered this Civil War park and homestead. I grabbed some lunch at the drive through and had a picnic at the park. It was delightful sitting in this rocking chair on the back porch of  a log cabin and eating my lunch.
 


In about 2008 the park was developed and these period home were built. In my mind, I could see a mother churning butter on the front porch of the main house, a young child playing nearby, and a baby sleeping in the loft. I could see a new bride as she swept the floor of her starter cabin.  There certainly wasn't much floor to sweep. This cabin was very tiny! I could smell the greens that were cooking in the kitchen and the fire of the blacksmith's forge. Looking out across the field I could see the farmer laboring. I think they lived a simpler life than we do, but I know it was a hard life.
 
 
 
One thing that really surprised me was that most of the buildings were open. I guess I live too near a big city because I kept wondering how these things weren't being stolen or vandalized.


 
Near the kitchen, of course, was the garden which had been sown with seeds authentic to the era. I love this little stool where one could rest in the shade after tending the garden. 


Beside the barn sat an old wagon. I looked at those rusty metal rims and thought what a rough ride it must have been sitting on a hard wagon seat bouncing over rocks and ruts. I think we're a little spoiled with our smooth riding vehicles and paved roads.

 
 
There was a nice walking trail into the woods behind the house that lead to the battlefield. Even though it was a hot, sunny day the thick trees made the trail cool and shady. Look at all those leaves on the trail. Fall is certainly on it's way!



I reached the back of the property and walked along a fence row to the battleground. It was a beautiful area, fields stretching out to the distance tree line and flowers growing along the fence.
 

 
The trail led to the Bayou Meto, a stream that runs along one side. This is what the battle of Reed's Brides was all about.  On August 27, 1863,  Confederate troops sought to hinder the advance of the Union army toward Little Rock. They withdrew behind the natural barrier of the bayou and set fire to the only crossing of the stream, Reed's bridge. Troops took positions on both sides of Bayou Meto and the fighting began. Union guns on the high ground above the bayou and confederate cannons south of the stream.  At the end of the day Confederate troops withdrew toward Little Rock.  The capitol, Little Rock, was captured on September 10, 1863.
 
 
 
It was an enjoyable day, walking the historical battleground and woods and getting a little glimpse of what life was like in the 1800's.
 



Linking with Helen's Weekend Walk.
Won't you come join us?
I guarantee you'll see some beautiful places.
 
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Hot Water!

 
 
I’m always wishing we traveled. Mr. H. doesn’t like to travel at all and if I’m totally honest I’m not sure how enjoyable it would be for me anymore since I don’t like strange places, crowds, or planning trips. But, there are days when I do wish I could see the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, the beach, and so on. To offset those wishes at least once a week I try to get out and visit somewhere nearby. It's kind of fun playing tourist for the day. I went back to the city of my birth and took a day to stroll down the historic streets. I'll tell you right up front there's plenty of facts here, so if you don't like facts about places, you're more than welcome to just scroll through the pictures!
 
I also had another purpose in mind. For my 50mm class with Kim Manley Ort we were to use this lens on a photo walk, try out different distances, blurring backgrounds, and just become more familiar with it. For those of you who don't know a 50mm lens is a fixed lens. You can't zoom out or in. It only has one distance setting. That means in order to zoom one must use their feet; walk closer or back up. It's a little tricky learning this lens. I am forever getting too close to capture what I want and having to back up, carefully watching behind me of course!!
 
(Entrance to the Grand Promenade)
 
I started my walk at the Grand Promenade, a beautiful brick walkway lined with trees, benches, and tables where you can play checkers. I was hoping someone would be there playing, but I guess it was just too hot!
 


The Promenade, Central Avenue, and the surrounding mountains are all part of Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. It is the oldest and the smallest national park. In 1832 President Andrew Jackson signed legislation setting aside land for the government to protect. It was orginally called a reservation, not an Indian reservation, but land reserved for the Government. In 1916, congress established the National Park Service system and Hot Springs reservation came under its administration.
 
 
 
What about Hot Springs makes it special? Water! it’s all about the water and the name of the town tells you what kind of water it is...hot water flowing from streams right out of the mountain side!  That's what first attracted people here, and they have been coming here ever since to use the soothing thermal mineral waters to heal and relax.
 
(Ral Spring)
 
The water coming from 47 protected hot springs maintains an average of 143 degrees and flows at about 850,000 gallons per day. If was fascinating on this hot day to see steam rising from this spring as it rushed down the mountain side. I would love to go back on a cold day and see the clouds of steam rising. Better put that on my calendar!
 
(roof of the Quapaw Bathhouse)
 
You can guess what happened when the hot springs were discovered. By 1873 six bathhouses and 24 hotels and boardinghouses had sprung up near the springs. The rich and famous came to the "spa city" to enjoy those hot baths.
 
(bathhouse row)
 
Several devastating fires and floods raged through bathhouse row.  The Victorian bathhouses built were replaced by fire-resistant brick and stucco bathhouses, several of which featured marble walls, billiard rooms, gymnasiums, and stained glass windows.
 
(Fordyce Bath House - 1915)
 
The Buckstaff is the only remaining operational bathhouse within the boundaries of the Hot Springs National Park and has been in continuous service since 1912. I'm pretty crazy about all those blue awnings and the blue chairs on the porch.
 
(Buckstaff Bathhouse - 1912)
 
It's quite a beautiful stroll down Central Avenue. Although many of the buildings stand empty I did see an art gallery in one, but I didn't go in. I wish now that I had. Hot Springs is close only 45 minutes away, so I can make another trip.
 
(bathhouse row - Central Avenue)
 

Along with its Bathhouse Row one of downtown Hot Springs’ most noted landmarks is the Arlington Hotel. The Arlington Hotel has been built three times. The first time was in 1875. It was razed and rebuilt in1893. In 1923, a fire spread, and the hotel burned down. The hotel was built for the third time in 1924. The Arlington was a favored retreat for Al Capone. When he was in town he was know to rent whole floors of the hotel. During the prohibition era, Capone came from Chicago to strike deals with bootleggers in Hot Springs to stock his clubs in Chicago with alcohol. Not only was Hot Springs a remote town located in the middle of the Ouachita mountains, but the pine trees provide "cover" for the moonshine stills year round. Capone would ship his bootleg liquor in tanker railroad cars, and for protection, he had the words "Mountain Valley Water" painted on the side of the railcars! 

(Arlington Hotel - 1924)
 
It’s hard to imagine the city as a hotbed for organized crime, such as gambling, prostitution and bootlegging. But from the late-1800s through the mid-1900s, especially in the 1930s, Hot Springs was a popular hangout for Al Capone, Frank Costello, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, and other infamous mobsters. The safe, secluded scenic location of Hot Springs made it the ideal hideout. I'm pretty sure they had some of the local lawmen in their pockets, too!  One of the gangsters was shot and killed while in Hot Springs. His body was embalmed, placed in an open coffin, and put in the chapel of Gross Funeral Home for people to view as a ghastly reminder that crime does not pay.

My dad was born and raised in Hot Springs, not too far from Central Avenue. He remembers when gangsters would drive through town tossing out quarters, nickels, and dimes to the children along the street. He grabbed himself a few of them!

("Mother Nature" sculpted by Longhua Xu - 1992)
 
Another fact I learned this day was that in the 1900's many professional baseball teams held their training camps at Hot Spring including the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Browns, and the Philadelphia Phillies. I imagined they enjoyed those thermal baths to sooth their aching muscles!
 
The building below is interesting. Notice the fancy Victorian look on the front and the rough brick on the side with a cigar ad. Doesn't quite go together does it? Most of the building, not including the bathhouses, have been turned in to little tourist shops.
 

I'm adding this last picture purely for sentimental sake. At the end of Central Avenue, the road splits right and left. In the center of the intersection is this fountain. The fun part is that instead of going right or left, you can drive in a circle around the fountain. I always wanted  my dad to circle the fountain, but he never would. I don't know why he wouldn't do it, but you can be sure that I've driven in a circle around the fountain more than once and laughed when I did.

 
Hope you enjoyed this educational tour of Hot Springs. If you stuck with me till the end, I love you for it!  I'll be back soon showing you some of the people who live and visit there. Yes, I said people, as in people photography!  Not my favorite thing to do!!
 
I need to make a correction regarding my September 2nd post. I mistakenly said that I was taking the 50mm class with Susannah Conway and that just isn't so. I took the class with Kim Manley Ort. My apologies to Kim!