Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mansion Elegance


Christmas decorations can be simple like those in my last post or they can be glitzy and glamorous. From the moment you walk up to the front door of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, sparkling beauty greets you everywhere.


The formal living room feels cozy with pretty stockings hanging from the fireplace mantle. I love the colors that are used to decorated the mansion. They're chosen to blend well with existing drapes and furniture.


The formal dining room fireplace is draped with a gorgeous garland that sparkles in the light of crystal candelabras and chandeliers.


We are very blessed in Arkansas to have a Governor and First Lady that know the real meaning of Christmas. I wish I had counted how many nativity sets were among the decorations ranging in size from tiny to one set with figures about four feet tall. There is also a life size nativity on the front lawn.


Not all the decorations are elegant, the glass atrium is a wonderland for children. I saw of a lot of happy smiles from the little ones as they watched trains travel around two separate villages. One of the trains was modern and one was vintage.


In addition to the trains, the decorations in the atrium were colorful and whimsical.


If you look up high on the second floor balcony you can catch a glimpse of Santa and one of his reindeer.

 

And, if you head to the grand hall you might just run into the real Santa! I assured him I'd been pretty good this year!

 

If you'd like to see more of the
Mansion's Christmas open house,
there's a nice video here.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from Arkansas!



Monday, December 11, 2017

Pioneer Christmas


As I sit in my warm, snug home gazing at my Christmas tree with over a thousand multi-colored lights and ornaments galore, I'm wishing. Wishing that Christmas could be a simpler time. A time where Christmas really meant something. When Christmas meant the celebration of the birth of Christ. Don't get me wrong. Santa is loved at my house, always has been. I'm talking about the hustle, the over spending, the craziness of a commercialized Christmas.



I was reminded of a simpler Christmas recently when I attended a Christmas celebration at an 1880's pioneer village. I thought back to when Christmas meant a fresh cut tree, ornaments made from paper, and strung popcorn for garland.


I was reminded of when gifts were made and given from the heart; maybe a whistle or toy animal carved by father or maybe it was a handmade muslin doll or knitted mittens from mother. A time when a simple apple or orange was a rare treat.


I was reminded when decorations were simple.



I was reminded when love was the center of the home and love was the center of Christmas. 


Do I want long for those days of yesteryear? Absolutely not! I do admire the courage of those pioneers who struggled to make a home in a new land far from friends and family. I'm not sure I would have been able to do that. No, I don't long to return to those days. You see, I enjoy my modern comforts. What I do long for is a simple, quiet Christmas. That's my goal this year and so far it's working. I'm enjoying this season. I've also enjoy sampling Christmas treats. At the village we had sugar cookies and apple cider. They were delicious!



I had to laugh when I uploaded my pictures of these wonderful volunteers who dressed in period costumes and played the roll of pioneers. Check out the pocket of the man in the center. Could that be a red cell phone peeking out? Can't get away from modernism, can we? 

How is your Christmas season? I hope it is one of quietness, peace, and celebration of the birth of Christ.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Scene & Story - November 2017



Recently I attended a photo slideshow presented by Tim Ernst, an Arkansas nature photographer. For about twenty minutes you relax, listen to soothing music, and soak in the beauty of nature. The photographs were from his current photo book, Arkansas Beauty. Not only does he take amazing photographs, but after the presentation he has some great stories to tell about his adventures in the woods of Arkansas. Something he said this year stuck with me. He told us that if we don't get out there with our cameras, we're not going to take great pictures. So many of his photos were a result of being in the right place at the right time and then taking his time composing the shot. His words encouraged me to get out more at different times of the day. One morning I chose to go outside to watch the sunrise. It was worth the effort! The sun illuminating the clouds was breathtaking. It made me realize once again that even though I've lived here for over forty years, there are still new and beautiful things to see. I just need to get out there.


* * * * *
If you would like to see a little bit of Arkansas Beauty,  just click right here.

* * * * *
I'm linking with Scene & Story hosted
by Sarah and Lee.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Don't Fight The Wind


This year will not go down in the record books as a gorgeous autumn. Once again it's been too dry and the temperatures too warm. The rains came and the temperatures finally cooled down a bit, but it was just a little too late. The last few days have been windy with overcast skies and a little rain. The gusting wind today has the leaves falling from the trees and dancing across the yard. I think my neighbor's leaves are all dancing over to my yard!


In spite of the wind, I was determined to take some leaf pictures before all the leaves were gone. In order to not get super blurry pictures of blowing leaves, I started looking for leaves that were caught on something.


Much to my surprise, they were everywhere. All I had to do was get out there and look.


Naturally a good majority of the leaves I found were caught on the branches of small bushes and vines.






There were also quiet a few caught on our neighbor's chain link fence.


My favorites, though, were the ones caught in the Juniper tree. The dark green needles made the color of the leaves brilliant.


I'm glad I finally decided there wasn't any point in trying to fight the wind. I just needed to get a little creative and find a way to work around it!

~

"Autumn doesn't always promise that Winter will come,
but she works hard until every colored leaf
has reached its destination."
~ Terri Guillemets

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Scene & Story - October 2017


I think we all know how peaceful it is to be near water. Recently I sat on this bench, swinging my feet and soaking in the beauty of Lake Carlton in the San Bois Mountains in Oklahoma. When I first sat down it was dark and chilly, but as time passed the sun began to rise behind the mountains. It wasn't a beautiful sunrise. The sky was full of dark rain clouds and occasionally a light mist fell. As the sun rose I watched a large flock of geese land on the water and slowly glide across the lack. I watched a father and son fishing from their kayaks. I looked across the lake and noticed autumn colors just beginning to show. I was calm, content, and happy.

This pictures looks peaceful, doesn't it? What you don't see in this picture is what was behind me. The fact is, a fall festival was happening behind me with thousands of people wandering around, carnival rides, food vendors, live music, and an antique automobile show. We were there taking part in the automobile show and were fortunate to be able to park our car near the lake. This was perfect for me. I was able to find peace in a situation that certainly wasn't quiet or peaceful. As photographers we can tell the story we want by what we allow in the frame of our camera.

"Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame.
When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts." 
~ Garry Winogrand

* * * * *
I'm linking with Scene & Story hosted
by Sarah and Lee.

Join us each month as we choose a photo and tell a story.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Perfect Day

What does it take to have the perfect day? To me, it's being outside enjoying sunshine and nature. I had one of those perfect days this past weekend.

It began with a tour of Boxley Grist Mill which was built about 1869. It's basic function was grinding corn into meal. The mill which is now part of the Buffalo National River Area and is slowly being restored.


Also on the mill property was this old barn, which is just about to be taken over by weeds. Oh, I love barns! They make my heart sing. I saw several, but this was the only one I was able to get pictures of.


The perfect day also includes a perfect hike. What is included in my perfect hike? I'll be glad to tell you.

1. My perfect hike includes finding a good trail; not to strenuous as my knees seem to be aching more and more. In spite of those achy knees, I enjoy trails that have steps that are much easier to navigate than inclines covered with rocks and slick leaves.


2. My perfect hike includes water. Water was a little hard to find on this hike, we've been in a little drought season, but, find it I did. Water was seeping out of an opening in one of the rock formations.



3. My perfect hike includes color, any color; the color of rocks created by minerals in the water that seeps out of the cliffs, the color of the sky, and this time of year the color of autumn.


4. My perfect hike includes unusual trees.


5. My perfect hike includes unexpected surprises like lichen in the shape of a heart and



a face looking down from a huge cliff.


6. My perfect hike includes enough activity to accelerate my heart rate. Only this time it wasn't the hiking that got my heart pounding, it was watching my grandsons crawl all over the boulders and cliffs. Remember the water coming out of the cliff a few pictures up? That picture is a little deceiving. When I took the picture I was standing on a rock across a large rock valley. There's nothing for perspective, so you can't see how enormous this cliff really is. That's where these guys are, at the top of the water fall. Trust me, it's way up there! Boys are made for rock climbing, but Gramma's heart is not!




5. But, more than anything I listed above, my perfect hike includes family!




The perfect day always has to end.
My heart is full of joy!
I am blessed!


"From the moment I woke up,
I could tell that it was going to be
good day."
~ Aly Johnson

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October Skies

"From out yon nimbus cloud, the mighty sun
Sweeps o'er the raptured woods his golden beams,
And wakens in my soul such dulcet chords
As harp or breathing organ never swelled."
~ James Rigg  1897 ~


I love the rich colors of autumn:
orange pumpkins,
red, yellow, and gold leaves,
green cedars and pines.

Autumn colors are all beautiful, but my favorite is blue; the rich blues of the skies this time of year. It's the perfect background for the beautiful clouds that been sweeping through.


I read something this morning that said to reduce stress, share something you love with others. So here I am, sharing what I love . . .  clouds, skies, and quotes. I hope you enjoy them!


"They never stand still—
but they're not
in a hurry either."
~Terri Guillemets



"Clouds on clouds, in volumes driven,
Curtain round the vault of heaven."
~Thomas Love Peacock




"It's wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky.
Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears."
~Helen Keller




"Hardly a day passes but we may see
in the sky above us
that God is producing scenes of perfect beauty,
or of glorious majesty,
which so far as we know
are only produced for the sake of
giving us pleasure."
~Alfred Rowland, "The Clouds: God's Angels of the Sea,"
in The Sunday Magazine (London), 1884



"I thank you God for this most amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite, which is yes."
~E. E. Cummings


I encourage you to go outside, look up,
and soak in the beauty of autumn skies.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Silence and Stillness



I've been thinking a lot about silence and stillness. I live in a fairly quiet area, but I can still hear the sounds of traffic on the road below us, a neighbor mulching his leaves, an occasional jet passing high above, dogs barking, and children playing. 



When I really want silence and stillness I usually go somewhere and that somewhere always seems to involve water. There is something about the colors and rhythms of water that soothes my soul. Today I'm going to be silent and just show you the quiet, still places I found this past week. Enjoy!
















'The world is quiet here."
~Lemony Snicket