Friday, September 30, 2016

Solitary Wandering

I learned a new word this week.

solivagant: rambling alone; marked by solitary wandering

I learned this word from Leigh who posted about it on Focusing On Life's blog. You can go right here and read her post. I began to think about this word and how it perfectly describes me when I'm at my happiest; wandering alone.

My solivagant journey led me through one small Arkansas town, two cemeteries, and along the banks of a river. I'll show you a view things I found along my journey.

 I found an acorn made of marble that was covered in lichen.

I found steps that went up and then went down.

 I found my initial carved in stone.

I found a vintage water tank covered in rust.

I found a garden hidden away behind a historical building
complete with a vintage Case tractor. 

I found a 1939 Ford truck.
I know this because Mr. H knows his Ford trucks.
I took this picture just for him!

I found a strange and ferocious door knocker.

I found Pole Man.
Anyone from Arkansas should take note of the very faded Razorback cap.

I found a delicious piece of coconut pie in a small country cafe.

I found a beautiful river that is known for it's rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. 
Fishermen come from all of the world to fish in it's cold waters.

I found a wonderful old bridge, built in 1930, which takes you across the White River.

 I found myself alone as I drove across the bridge.

I found to my right an old train bridge built in 1905.

I found myself having a delightful day.
You should try it sometime.
Just stop in a small town or park and go wandering by yourself.
It's pretty wonderful.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumn!

It only got here this morning,
but it finally arrived.


Today is the official first day of Autumn!

It doesn't feel like fall here in Arkansas. We're still in the 90's with lots of humidity. Except for the first picture below, I had to dig through my archives for the pictures I used for this post. I do see a little cooler weather in the forecast. I must be patient and know that it will come. I am so ready for fall and what it brings.

To celebrate this fine day, I wrote this list.

Things I Love About Fall

1. the brilliant golds, yellows, reds, and oranges

2. leaves silently floating to the ground

3. putting on my boots and going for a hike

4. pumpkins of varied colors and sizes
5. spectacular mums

6. leaves drying and curling

7. visiting the pumpkin patch

8. acorns hitting the tin barn roof

9. bringing out fall decorations

10. gathering bits and pieces of nature

I enjoy making lists and this one I'm exceptionally fond of. I write my lists in my Journal of Lists notebook. If you'd like to know more about it, drop over to Focusing On Life where I'm posting today.

Happy Autumn!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Thirsty or Not

You know you’re a photographer when you’ll drive 57 miles to take a picture of one sign! That’s exactly what I did. I will admit the trip served a dual purpose. First, I hunt “ghost signs” those vintage advertising signs that are painted on the sides of buildings. Recently a fellow Arkansas blogger posted a picture of a ghost sign in Altheimer, Arkansas. The building looked pretty unstable and the sign was fading, so I knew a trip was in order before something happened to the building. The second purpose was my dad. Many of you know he has Alzheimer’s. Every Alzheimer patient is different, each has their own set of peculiarities. One of my dad’s peculiarities is his need to GO, GO, GO. Go anywhere! Go anytime! I thought since photographing the sign wouldn't take very long, he would enjoy going for a ride. So, he, my sister, and I headed down the back roads to Altheimer.

Altheimer is a small town of less than 1,000 people. The town was named after brothers, Joseph and Louis Altheimer, two Pine Bluff merchants.  We found the building very easily. We couldn't have missed it. The old Leake building which was built in 1917 is pretty much all that’s left of the old downtown area. I searched far and wide and could find nothing about the history of this building. 

The building is crumbling; windows all broken out, the roof seems to be collapsing, and thick vines are cascading down the sides. It looks like the last business that occupied the building was Rusty’s Package Store. For those of you who don’t know southern dialect, package store is a term used for a liquor store.

Coming up to the front door you can still see the name Leake in the entryway tiles. There was a lot of debris so I couldn’t see the whole word.

It’s always exciting for me to see a ghost sign. My heart speeds up a little. They are such a wonderful part of history and advertising. This one is slowly fading away, but it did not disappoint. It advertised Grapette.

Grapette was a grape flavored soda introduced in 1939 by Benjamin Tyndle Fooks and bottled right here in Arkansas in Camden. Grapette invited people to drink their soda whether you were “Thirsty or Not." It was sold in much of the United States in six-ounce clear glass bottles showing off the beverage’s purple color. As a child I didn’t get soda very often, but when I did it was a Grapette or Orangette. The company was sold a couple of times, and then in 1977 the last purchaser closed down the business and the flavor was retired in the U.S. In 1986 Grapette was once again produced and sold under the Sam's Choice brand. In early 2000, Grapette International was able to purchase the U.S. rights to the Grapette trademark and the flavor and name were reunited.

Grapette bottles.png
photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Now, I’m thirsty and I really want to go to Walmart for a Grapette soda!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Spontaneity!  That's what I've been missing! The urge to grab my camera and go; no destination in mind, just go. I didn't realize it has been so long since I spontaneously went on an adventure until I looked back over the last year of my pictures. Only three times did I go on an outing with no planning. I'm really shocked. I used to do that all the time.

So, you guessed it, early Monday morning I went on an adventure. I wasn't sure where I'd end up, but I did know water had to be involved. As I drove north I decided on Maumelle Park. It's a camping/picnicking area on the Arkansas River. 

I arrived early. The park was quiet. As I wandered along the river bank I felt my shoulders relax and my breathing slow.

I stopped to exam wild plants and flowers.

The strangest thing I found at the water's edge were elephants made out of play-doh. I wondered who made them. Were they letting them swim in the river and forgot them?

After the walk it was time to just sit and soak in the beautiful day.

I did a little journaling, a little reading, and whole lot of looking through my binoculars.

I couldn't believe how fast my day passed. Way to soon it was time to pack up and head home.

I was rested. I was happy. I needed this day.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Passing Gifts

Near the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock sits a unique building of glass and steel which is the headquarters of Heifer International. I really don't know where to start this post. Should I tell about this non-profit organization or should I tell about the building. I think I'll just tell it to you as it was told to us. Us, being my sister and sister-in-law. We've been stuck inside so much this summer with the heat, humidity, and constant rain. I'm not complaining about the rain. It's actually been good. We still have lush green grass which is very unusual! Anyway, needing to just "do" something, we decided to play tourist in our town and visit Heifer International. We'd mostly be inside, which is a good thing.

We first took the tour of the Heifer Village which houses the educational building and their cafe. You'll notice that it looks a little unkempt, but really it's not. They replanted the area with native cone flowers and reeds, much like it was before they developed it. More on the development later. 

Our guide was well informed and so very comfortable to be with. I won't go into a lot of detail. If you're interested in more information you can visit their website. This organization was started in 1944 when an Ohio farmer, Dan West, who was a Church Of The Brethren relief worker during the Spanish War, directed a program where hungry refugee children were given rations of milk. He later wrote that he thought "these children don't need a cup, they need a cow." Heifer International started with a shipment of 17 heifers (pregnant cows) to Puerto Rico.  The men who went along on this sea voyage to deliver the cows were called "seagoing cowboys."

Heifer International now distributes many types of animals such as fish, pigs, camels, rabbits, goats, bees, water buffalo, llamas, and chickens to poor rural communities. They work in each state in the United States and several foreign countries.

The first heifers given were named "Faith, "Hope" and "Charity." The recipient families had to promise that they would donate the first female calf to another impoverished family to pass along their gift. This is still a requirement for receiving an animal. You must pass the gift to others.

One more thing before I move on about the cafe, the food was delicious. We had their days special a chicken sandwich with honey sauce, fresh vegetables and homemade chips. We couldn't pass up dessert either. I had a piece of blueberry/peach cheesecake. Needless to say we needed to move around after that meal, so we toured the main headquarters.

Heifer's campus is built on the site of a long-abandoned railroad yard. The land had actually been condemned due to years of industrial pollutants. After Heifer purchased the land they remove tons of soil, rocks, and salvaged building supplies. These were taken to an approved location and literally cleaned of all their pollutants. The soil, rocks, and what they could salvage of the old buildings were then brought back to the site. Some of the sidewalks were made with the old bricks. The steel and glass building that was erected achieved the highest "green building" rating possible. It uses 55 percent less energy than conventional office buildings of similar size and use.

First off, all that glass is there for more than just beauty. The windows allow staff to work in natural light. You read that right; natural light. There are some very small LED lights that contain sensors that can adjust the lighting based on the amount of darkness outside. I was amazed, I had no idea until we were told that the bright light we were seeing inside was natural and from the windows. The building is narrow, so the entire floor can be lit by windows on each side. With everyone working in cubicles, even the big shots, there are very few walls to block the light from outside.

The building is curved so the journey of the sun will illuminate the interior of the building all day. 

Next they use gray water, rainwater that is captured in a collection tower, to supply non-consumable water. In the picture above you can see the reflection of the tall structure that houses the collection tower. It's like a very, very tall funnel. The rainwater is also funneled from specially designed roofs and parking areas through a filtering system into a holding area which includes a pond and a mote around the building.

There are many more things that make this building "green", but they're in the structure of the building; the air conditioning, wiring, plumbing, etc. The counter tops are made from recycled Coke bottles and the insulation from recycled t-shirts and seeds. Even the carpet was made with recycled material. Anytime they could use something recycled they did. There were other things, but it was a lot to absorb and I don't remember them all. I was pretty much in awe of this building!

Inside, the building is decorated with gorgeous pieces of art from paintings to huge tapestries that are gifts from various countries. The tapestries hang in an atrium area that is four stories high. Three tapestries hang one of top of the other. There was a total of twelve. These pictures definitely don't show their massive size.

It is amazing how this company has transformed a piece of condemned property into a thriving wetland habitat surrounding their buildings. It's also amazing to know that they have helped millions of hungry people, not just by handing out food, but by teaching them how to grow their own food for themselves and their new livestock. They want these families to become self-reliant and in return help others.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour with us and hope this hasn't been too much information. I'm always afraid I'm going to bore someone. Of course, if I do, you can just look at the pictures! I have this inward zeal to learn more about every place I go and then my stories get kind of long.

 Until later, enjoy each moment of your day!