Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week 42

This week's exercise involved crates. I don't have any crates around here other than a couple of bright plastic ones which definitely wasn't what I wanted. I did remember this old sewing machine drawer and added a few of my wooden spools, bobbins, and spindles.

Bobbins and the machinery they ran on were some of the greatest inventions of the Victorian Era. They were created to manage the piles of thread and yarn that would be used to weave cloth. Each spindle held a bobbin that either released or collected the thread. 

Wooden bobbins can be found in various shapes and sizes since most mills had bobbins made specifically for their machine. When I see these beautiful wooden pieces of history in an antique store, I really have a hard time passing them by.  They just want to come home with me!


Friday, March 27, 2015

History Walk

We met at the courthouse on a chilly overcast morning; a group of about eighty to ninety who were interested in the people and the historic buildings in the town of Benton, Arkansas.

The beautiful courthouse was built in 1902. It was the third courthouse to be used by the county. My favorite part of courthouses is the clock towers. I don't know if there's a real bell in the tower or not, but it still rings out the hour.

Rachael Silva, from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, led us around town beginning inside the courthouse. The painting beside her, The Bauxite Mines, was painted by Julius Woeltz as part of the New Deal-sponsored Art in Post Office project. It was originally installed in the US Post office of Benton in 1942, but was later moved to the courthouse. Woeltz chose to depict the importance of the mining of bauxite to the surrounding area.

I love to wander around old downtown streets. I'm fascinated by the unique brickwork, doors, windows, and trims of these historic buildings. It's always interesting to hear the history and stories about these buildings. 

The Royal Theater opened in the spring of 1949 after an older theater built in 1920 was extensively remodeled and enlarged. In the 1950's the owners acquired the neon sign and marquee from the recently dismantled Royal Theater in Little Rock and remodeled the entrance. The Royal continued showing movies until 2000 when it was converted into a community playhouse. 

The Gann building was constructed in 1893 to be a medical office for Dr. Dewell Gann, Sr., by a group of patients who couldn't afford to pay for the doctor's services. The exterior walls are made of hand-cut bauxite blocks.  Bauxite is relatively soft out of the ground, the builders sawed the blocks square with handsaws and allowed them to harden in the sun for six weeks before assembling them into this gingerbread style house. This is the only know bauxite building in existence in the world. Note, Dr. Gann had separate entrances built for men and women to assure his female patients that they could avoid any rough workmen who were visiting the office at the same time. In 1946 Dr. Gann Jr. gave this building to the city to serve as a library and later a museum.

In 1895 Dr. Gann's home, a beautiful Queen Anne Structure, was built next door to his medical office.  The home's design features a rounded turret, a wrap-around porch supported by fluted columns, and leaded and stained glass windows. It's so sad to see it in such disrepair. Hopefully someday it will be restored.


I love the porch swing!

Another very interesting building was The Bell Building constructed in 1888. It housed the Bell's Hardwood, Dry Goods, and Grocery Store. The facade has been changed by the removal of some windows and the addition of stucco. What is interesting is not the front, but what's on the side of this building.

A beautiful mural, painted by Dianne Roberts and Mark Davey, has just recently been completed depicting the history of Benton. The mural concept originated with Arlene Rainey, now 97, when she shared her desire for a downtown mural. She commented that the Bell Building was "a building that is speaking to me and telling me that it would be a perfect place for a mural." The mural's story begins with the 1400's when Native Americans inhabited the area and ends in 1900 when the trains were in their heyday and pottery was a thriving industry.

The figures on the mural are painted from photographs taken of local people dressed in period costumes. 

At the end of our tour we were treated by the History and Heritage Society to cookies and punch. After two hours of walking, we were ready for a little sweetness.

Many thanks to Rachael and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program for this fun tour through Arkansas history. Most of the information I've shared here is from Rachael's research. The AHPP provides programs including Walks Through History featuring historic sites around Arkansas and Sandwiching In History featuring historic sites around central Arkansas.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Be Still - Weeks 39, 40, & 41

Although my days have gotten a little busier, I have managed to sneak in a little time for photography. I especially didn't want to get behind in the Be Still exercises. Finding time to put together a post has been another matter. Finally the opportunity came, a rainy afternoon.

Week 39
The exercise included 
glass, light, airy, and shades of white

I have a small collection of glass jars and bottles that I choose three from. Then, I added a few buttons tumbling out of the jar and a piece of lace in the background. Very simple, but that was the look I wanted.

Week 40
Our exercise was to make something that we could use in the next week's exercise. I looked through my Pinterest boards wanting something springy. Since my time is limited I was also looking for something easy and fast. I decided to create a couple of simple little paper birds, gathered my supplies, and began to create.

Week 41
This week's assignment was to photograph what we made three different ways. 

First, I brought in some blossoms from my flowering plum tree. They are such pretty, delicate blossoms.

I embellished a small nest with blossoms and stuck a couple of limbs in a bottle.

Next, I covered three books with scrapbook paper, added one of my grandmother's doilies for the background, and picked a bunch of daffodils "for you."

And, lastly, just for fun I took these little sweeties outside. They are not very stable on those paperclip feet, so the breeze kept blowing them over. It became a race between me and the wind.

I finally got one I was fairly happy with.

Then we just wandered around the yard together
checking out the spring colors.

I loved the "make something" exercise and because I love these little birds, it was easy to photography them.  I definitely needed the time outside enjoying the fresh air and the beauty of spring.

A quick update on my mom. She is now in a rehabilitation center. I'm not sure she'll regain much use of her right leg and arm. There is a little movement, but not much. Her speech has improved each day and we are so grateful for that. Things can still change, nerves can heal and that's what we're praying for. I want to thank each of you for you thoughts and prayers. You're each very special to me!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 47

"The sun has come out . . .
and the air is vivid with spring light."
~ Byron Caldwell Smith

Friday, March 20, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Life Is Always Changing

Life as I knew it has come to a screeching halt and drastically changed directions. The normal quiet life I know is gone for a while, maybe forever. My family is entering a new stage, caring for our parents. For the past week my norm has been sitting in a hospital room looking at lovely flowers, a dirty window, rain, and a full parking lot. My mom has had a major stroke affecting the her entire right side and her speech. We are grateful that her speech is improving a little each day and she can communicate with us. In the next couple of days we'll be moving her to a rehabilitation facility.  Then there's our dad. He is in the mid stages of Alzheimer's. Mom has been his primary caregiver. He is missing mom. He says he misses her snoring at night, (Don't tell my mom she snores!) but he is doing well with the situation.  I am so grateful that I am not alone in dealing with all of this. I have Mr. H, a sister, a brother, and other family members who will all help share the care of mom and dad.

We are a praying family and we've felt God's hand in helping us make some major decisions. Things have just fallen into place with little difficulties. Those of you who also pray, please add mom to your prayers.

So what about blogging, photography classes, and flickr groups? While I've been sitting with mom I've been able to read a few blogs, but honestly I haven't felt like commenting much. My brain is too overwhelmed and tired. I've enjoyed the distraction of reading and looking at beautiful photography though. I will be posting here when I can. I hope to at least keep up my Sunday Sundries post. I'm going to try to take some "me" time each week and keep up with my Be Still class and a flickr group I enjoy.

Well, I can't figure out how to end this post, so I'm just going to say thank you for your prayers and I'll be around!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Renewing The Journey - Part 2

This week's exercise for Renewing The Journey involved returning to a familiar place or subject and taking at least fifty pictures.

There are places that I repeatedly visit with my camera. Some because I find quiet and solace there, some for their beauty, and some to capture it in different seasons. Different seasons was the reason I found myself at the Pugh's Old Mill. The mill is a historic re-creation of an 1880's water-powered grist mill. It was used in the opening scenes of the classic movie "Gone With The Wind" which was released in 1939. I've always wanted to take pictures of the mill in the snow, but icy, snowy streets have prevented me going. This latest snowfall was followed by warm days. While snow was still on the ground, the streets quickly cleared. This was my chance to capture the mill in winter. Although a lot of the snow was melted at the mill, there was enough left to show it's winter.

Returning to a familiar place is an opportunity to look at things differently; to find different perspectives. It's a chance to explore, to see something you haven't seen before. When you return to a familiar place, the time of day you're there is different creating different light and shadows. The sky is a different color in each season. This time the light, the sky, and the water were perfect for a good reflection. As I took this picture, I knew it would be my favorite. I am fascinated with reflections. I saw several reflections and took several pictures, but this one remained my favorite. 

The bare trees created beautiful shadows on the side of the mill. I found the mill to have a lonely feeling in winter without the leaves on the trees and the beautiful garden flowers of spring. The mill in spring makes me think of romance. The mill in winter makes me think of a cold, harsh living.

Going to a familiar place can never be as exciting as seeing it the first time. I remember the first time I took my camera to the Old Mill. I took hundreds of pictures. This time there were far less to cull through.

I have always enjoyed returning to a place with my camera. To me it's like visiting an old friend you haven't seen in a while. The person is familiar and the place is familiar, but there is growth, changes, and things not seen before. I feel the same way about parting, too. I'm never quite ready to leave an old friend and I'm never quite ready to leave a place I enjoy.

I added a couple of pictures of the mill so you could see the differences in spring and summer. Now, I only need to get there in the fall.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 45 - Snow and Fog

"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Snowy Shadows

The sleet came first. For hours I could hear it peppering against the windows. 
Then came the snow, but sadly it came after I was asleep.
I  missed seeing it fall soft and powdery on top of the ice.

When I woke up the sun was shinning bringing light and shadows.

Delicate shadows beneath my azalea bushes.

Crazy shadows of limbs stuck in the snow.

Even the barbed wire cast a fine shadow.

By late afternoon the snow was melting off the roof,
dripping on the front steps,
creating tiny ice sculptures.

The persimmons were right. We finally had lots of snow.
The groundhog was right. We had six more week of winter.
I think spring is not far away
I will miss the winter.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week 38

Why would a person who loves nature have trouble with an exercise to photograph something organic? Because, I want my organic to be mushrooms, lichen, bark, or seedpods and I want them outside in their natural setting. But, since Be Still is about still life photography I gave it a try.

I gathered a few things; a little metal pan, a wooden vase, dried seedpods, natural potpourri, cheesecloth, and burlap. I used weathered boards for the base and black fabric for the background.

I worked for three hours and took 93 pictures! Yet, what I find fascinating was that I enjoyed those three hours. I was calm. I was still. I played. I just didn't get the results I wanted. I felt like I was fighting the light, which surprised me because I was using light from a north window and it was an overcast morning.  I had quite a bit of difficulty with the sidelight shining on the pan and leaving blown out areas. I managed to solve that by tilting the pan, putting up a piece of foam core to block some of the light, and using sheer fabric over the window.

This weeks photo for Be Still will be somewhere near the bottom of the list of favorite images I took for this class. I think you can tell that my heart just wasn't in it. If I made a list of things learned, this would be near the top. You just have to get the light right. It's all about the light!