Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Be Still - Week 37

Winter is a good time to be taking a still life photography class. It helps fill the hours when I would rather be outside. I do go out everyday, but even bundled up, you can't stay outside too long. So, right now, Be Still 52 is helping to fill the days inside. Come spring, it will be a different story and I'll have to work at staying inside. Our exercise this week was to include a banner, garland, or something hanging in the background. 

My first idea was to create a story about bird watching, so I made a bird garland and gathered a few other things: binoculars, nature book, nest, and feathers. 

Then, I took out the binoculars because it just seemed to have too much black and added a piece of pottery with feathers. I like this one better.

On a trip outside to walk in the falling snow, I thought of a natural garland. This picture didn't turn out to be what I really wanted and it's not very impressive. I tried different backgrounds, but just couldn't get the warmth I wanted and as most of you know, I don't have a good editing program. 

Not being real happy with any of the above, I tried a sewing theme. I gathered some sewing paraphernalia and a heart garland that I made some time ago. 

I did a few close ups to highlight some of the items I chose: a little basket that sits on a small shelf in the hall and my grandmother's needle book and buttons. The quilt that I used to sit everything on was made by my grandmother. I used the back so it would be less distracting. I love to see those tiny stitches that her hands made. 

The more I looked at these images, I realized that they tell a great deal about me. They tell my love for birds, nature, sewing, crafting, and vintage items. 

There are so many different ideas for garlands, buntings, and banners that I think one could do a year of photographs of them. Just think of the possibilities, Easter banners, birthday banners, beach theme banners, Christmas banners; you get the idea.  Am I going to do the series?  No, but banners may be showing up more in my photography!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 43

Quote from Woman's Home Companion, 1935

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Unusual Weather

Let's talk about the weather; this strange winter weather we're having. First, let me say that my heart goes out to those on the east coast.  I cannot begin to imagine the difficulties that come with the massive amounts of snow you've received and the bitterly cold temperatures. I pray each day that you are safe and warm. I love winter, the cold and snow, but winter here in Arkansas is not so difficult.  Our weather is quite diverse. Let me tell you about it.

Last Sunday was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, the skies were a brilliant blue, and it was 73 degrees. I spent most of the afternoon outside soaking in some sun. I was still a bit under the weather, so I just sat and looked and listened and was still. 

Sunday night the temperature began to drop and it began to sleet. We woke up Monday morning to about 2" of sleet. We even had sleet drifts of up to 4". Now, that created an icy mess! Our city literally shut down. Our high was 37 degrees. A big change from Sunday!

 It looks pretty and even looks like snow, but it's not.

But, wait there's more. We woke up on Wednesday morning and it had snowed during the night. Just a dusting, but hey, it was snow and I loved it. I just regretted that I slept through it. I understand it was about thirty minutes of very heavy snowfall.  Oh well, I was still excited to see it.

It wasn't much, but it was enough to cap the gumballs and fill this little lichen cup.

On with the weather story, we're not though yet. Yesterday brought a little thaw, it was 41 degrees and sunny, but it also brought very high winds that chilled me to the bone.  Today we're still sunny and cold. That brings us to tomorrow, well tomorrow we're supposed to have thunderstorms!!! So goodbye to the sleet and the snow...bring on the rain and mud!

Let's recap here...                
    sunny and warm
cold and sleet
 cold and snow
wind and sun

Our family loves the Wizard Of Oz. We've watched it over and over. There is a line from the movie that we love and still repeat quite frequently.  Do you remember the scene when Dorothy, The Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow are under a deep sleep in a field of poppies? Suddenly Glinda the Good Witch causes it to snow. Upon waking the Cowardly Lion comments...

"Unusual weather we're havin', ain't it?"

That sums up Arkansas weather!  We're definitely never bored!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week 36

Every time I think the Be Still 52 exercise is challenging, the next one challenges me even more. I have learned to let the challenge roll around in my head for a few days before I even begin to think of how to complete it. For this week's challenge we were shown a magazine spread to inspire us. Well, it took several days before anything on the page inspired me. I studied it every day, looking at the composition, the colors, and the textures; nothing happened. Not even a little spark. Then, this weekend my eyes kept going back to one picture on the spread. I decided what really appealed to me about this picture was the tone on tone with a little color added and the similarity of shapes.

My starting point was the similarity of shapes.

Then, I decided I wanted to do something with bits and pieces of nature using the colors shown in the spread.  This was my first attempt, but I wasn't too happy with it. I did like the heart-shaped piece of bark I found, but the outcome was not really impressive.

I've just recently discovered a nature blog that I thoroughly enjoy. Mary Jo Hoffman creates art with nature, beautiful art. I hope you'll take a moment to hop over to her blog and have a look. One of her recent images was a half wreath. I loved it and decided to try and create something similar using the colors in the magazine spread.

Okay, so this was fun.
This was more than fun!
This, I enjoyed!!

 The beauty of nature fills my heart with gratitude.

So, now you have the journey that my mind took all from looking at a magazine spread. It's an exercise that I will try again. Inspiration is personal. My eyes will see one thing and yours will see something entirely different. I am learning to celebrate my own uniqueness.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 42

"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.
Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for."
~ Louis L'Amour

I've decided to change my approach to Sunday Sundries. Each week on Monday I'll be choosing a quote and during the week looking for a way to illustrate it. I've been doing the opposite finding an image I want to share and then finding an appropriate quote. This will make the post a little more challenging for me and right now I need a challenge!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mount Holly - cont.

A few weeks ago in a post I promised I'd show a little more of a walk through Mount Holly Cemetery. Mount Holly Cemetery is the burial place of many notable Arkansans, including governors, mayors, military heroes, supreme court justices, newspaper editors, physicians, and attorneys. As we walked I found myself drifting back in time, imagining what it would be like with no sky scrappers in the distance or automobiles buzzing nearby. There would be only quietness and peacefulness in this cemetery; maybe a horse drawn carriage would arrive on the narrow paths.

In the center of the cemetery sits a pretty little building - the bell house. Years ago when the sexton lived on the cemetery property, if you needed his services you stopped by the bell house and rang the bell. 

There are so many stories here. Some filled with hardship and sadness, yet ending in happiness like "Uncle Nase" who was freed from slavery and founded an African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Others would be heart breaking like the story of David O. Dodd who was hung as a traitor when he was only 18.

It was very evident that the gravestones were created to make certain people standout and was often an indication of a family's wealth and social status. Certain individuals were acknowledged by the size of the gravestone or the amount and sophistication of the art.  The one above is the gravestone of Augustus Hill Garland who served as a governor, senator, and attorney general of the United States. 

The opposite of Garland's tall gravestone is this one. Which is the gravestone of  Elizabeth (Quatie) Ross, wife of John Ross, chief of the Cherokee Tribe. Elizabeth was born in the Old Cherokee Nation in 1791. During the forced removal of the Cherokee people, Quatie and John Ross began their journey west aboard the steamboat Victoria, which was owned by John Ross. Elizabeth died of either small pox or pneumonia near Little Rock while traveling the "water route" of the Trail Of Tears. Elizabeth has two markers, one a reproduction of her original stone (above). The original stone is in the Historic Arkansas Museum.  The second stone was placed by the General George Izard Chapter of the United States Daughters of 1812.

On the top of the second stone, visitors leave rocks, coins, and other items as a sign of remembrance or respect to Quatie.

The gravestone above of a fireman holding a fire hose was erected by the Volunteer Firemen of Little Rock. It memorializes Henry C. Brookin who was killed March 11, 1891 while responding to an alarm fire. As you can tell from my angle, his marker was extremely tall. The fireman was sculpted of zinc by J. Weisse, who inscribed his name on the right side of the "roof."

I did a little research to find out what the different symbols on the stones mean. A rare sight was the double draped columns. The columns represent mortality and the drape represents the break in earthly to heavenly life. You can see how tall this is by comparing it to the smaller gravestones directly to the left and barely in the picture. Those are about the size of what I call a normal gravestone.

The urn represents the soul.
The flame from the urn represents eternity.

My sister and I wondered about the hand pointing down. We could understand the hand pointing up toward heaven, but, pointing down?  I was rather relieved when I learned the hand pointing down represents the hand of God descending from Heaven. 

Musical notes were usually found on the graves of musicians. The music carved can be from a song the musician wrote or it could be the deceased person's favorite hymn. In this case these notes are on the stone of Colonel Sanford C. Faulkner who wrote the "Arkansas Traveler," the state song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963. Since 1987 it has been the state historical song.

I think flowers are the most popular symbol on gravestones. Each one has it's own meaning. The poppy represents eternal sleep.

I cannot imagine how many hours were involved in creating the intricate engravings and carvings on the gravestones. Gravestone carving in the U.S. began in the 19th century until in the 1920's. Cemetery stone carvers became a well-respected profession in America. Gravestones presented carvers a means to express themselves artistically. Not only is a cemetery a place of burial, but it is a place to see art and learn history.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week 35

Breakfast, the first meal of the day. A meal I'm not very thrilled about, that is unless there's a doughnut involved!! Then, I think it's the best meal of the day, especially when the doughnut is heart-shaped, strawberry flavored, and covered with sprinkles. 

So now you know my "guilty pleasure!"  A pleasure I try very had not to partake of on a regular basis. A doughnut for breakfast only happens if it's a special day OR I need something for a Be Still 52 exercise. This week's exercise is breakfast. It also fits perfectly with a flickr group I belong to, Prompt Addicts. This week's prompt is heart-shaped. Definitely those two things combined are a great reason to have a doughnut for breakfast!!

A little trivia about doughnuts. . .
"According to anthropologist Paul R. Mullins, the first cookbook mentioning doughnuts was an 1803 English volume which included doughnuts in an appendix of American recipes." (thank you wikipedia for the information between the quote marks!)

My apologies if you haven't had breakfast and now you're craving a doughnut!!

Have a sweet day!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Out And About...FINALLY!

What do you do on a Sunday afternoon when you've been stuck in the house for six days, feel a little weak and shaky, and have a bad cough?  Sweet Mr. H had the perfect solution, a short road trip. I was able to just sit back and enjoy the scenery and the warm sunshine. Oh, by the way, it was 70 degrees again today.  Where, oh where is February?  Where is the cold I so love? Where is the snow? Okay, back to our road trip. Recently he had spotted an old church that he thought I'd be interested in taking some pictures of.  Did I mention that he was sweet?

We hit the road after lunch armed with camera, water, tissues, and cough drops!  I wasn't worried that I'd give this awful viral mess to Mr. H, he's the one that gave it to me!!  So sweet to share?? When Mr H said an old church I really expected a rundown church with cracked windows and peeling paint. Not so,  this church was beautiful and so well kept which is amazing. The nearest town only has a population of 314. I know parishioners come from around the county, but we're talking about a very sparsely populated area.

In the small town of New Dixie, Arkansas tucked away among tall trees is the Saint Boniface Catholic Church. It was worth the drive just to see this lovely building in the woods. But, it got even better. As we drove up the road we noticed a few cars in front of the church. The cars began to leave, all except one. She stopped beside us and told us we were welcome to enter the church. The don't lock the doors since they enjoy having visitors see the inside of their historic church.  They also have a greeter who welcomes you. See he/she sitting on the lower part of the handicap ramp?

Immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland formed the St. Boniface Parish in 1879. They attended mass in individual homes until a church could be built on 40 acres donated by The Choctaw Railroad which is today known as the Rock Island Railroad. The first church they built was destroyed by fire in 1906. All was lost but the high alter which had been brought from Germany by one of the church members. The people were able to construct a new building the same year. I know 1906 doesn't sound very old to some of you, but in poor rural areas churches were not build with brick, they were build with lumber cut from the nearby woods and that lumber would not last forever. In fact the oldest church building still standing in Arkansas was built in 1856.

The bells placed in the steeple in 1906, are still tolled by hand and ring out across the community every Sunday morning.

As with most old churches there was a cemetery beside it. The older markers were written in German, but we could make out a few words. I was fascinated by the beautiful crosses, from the very simple to the amazingly intricate. 

We continued on our drive to see another old church and then we headed toward home passing by St. Boniface Church from a different direction and in the late afternoon. As I spotted the church through the trees I knew we had to stop again. 

The afternoon sun was shining on the church bring out rich golden tones. The stained glass windows were glowing. The colors didn't show up quite as beautiful as what I was seeing. Just trust me, it was breathtaking!

I can't tell you how good it felt to just get out of this house on such a beautiful day with good company. To top it off, we were blessed with the most gorgeous sunset!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 41

"For where two or three are gathered together
in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Finds

It's time for Friday Finds with Kim Klassen. I almost didn't post this week, because I find myself a little under the weather and haven't done much photography. It's hard to take pictures with a tissue under your nose! I think it's just an old-fashioned cold, at least I'm hoping it's just a cold! Anyway, I'm stuck inside feeling a little yucky!  I was able to get out few minutes Monday before this mess struck and took pictures of a seedpod I found on my morning walk. That's all I have this week one little seedpod. 

"In photography, the smallest thing
can be a great subject."
~ Henri Cartier-Bresson