Monday, September 18, 2017

The Bois d'Arc Tree

One can only imagine what this tree has seen and heard in it's lifetime. On this plot of land where it's spread it's roots and branches it may have seen the building of a military installation to guard settlers from angry Indian attacks. Later it probably witnessed the construction of one of central Arkansas' oldest buildings, the Arsenal Building, where munitions for the military post were stored. It watched soldiers from both the North and the South during the civil war. It was nearby when Douglas MacArthur was born in a nearby building. MacArther would become General of the United States Army during WWII and most of the Korean War. Through it's long life it has witnessed so much history.

This is a Bois d'Arc tree which means "wood of the bow" in reference to the Osage Indians practice of making bows and war clubs from the tree's wood. It has others names as well: Osage Orange, Horse Apple and Hedge Apple, which refers to the fruit of the tree.

The Good

This is my favorite tree. Any time I'm near, I stop and take more pictures. As I was taking pictures a gentleman from the nearby museum came out to replace two of the flags that are at the Veteran's Memorial. I stood watching him through the branches. It was a touching moment to see the flags raised in honor of fallen soldiers.

The Random
I've never found another tree that has such fascinating bark. It has wonderful texture and color in the deep swirls and crisscrosses of it's gnarled wood. The bark also contains tannin and was once used for tanning leather. The heartwood is bright orange. I could spend hours studying the bark and roots. Some of the roots are above ground and are at least 12" high. 

The Fun

The wood of Bois d'Arc trees is quite valuable due to it's density, which makes it suitable for everything from fence posts to artistic woodcarving. And one last fun fact, the fruit of the tree repels numerous insects, including spiders and cockroaches. This is certainly an interesting and useful tree! I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks to see it covered in autumn color.

Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods
and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.
~Author Unknown

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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Good, The Random, The Fun - No. 5

Last week I began an abstract photography class with Kim Manley Ort. I've taken most of the classes she offers and have actually taken this class before. Abstracts have begun to fascinate me. This class will help me look for pleasing forms, shapes, colors, and textures instead of looking at the object. It's another step in training my eyes to see beyond the obvious.  

The Good
Light and nature really make some great abstract images.

The Random
The textures, colors, and shadows of a rock can create abstract art.

The Fun
Squint your eyes a little and look closely at the next photo. What do you see? I see the North American Continent. You're not going to believe what this really is . . . it's the inside of a squashed aluminum can!

When I visit an art center, abstracts are not something that usually attract my attention. In fact, I'm one of those that just stands there and says, "I don't get it!" But, I'm learning to "get it" a little more. Abstract art is meant to make you feel something, not see something. The first image made me feel order, warmth, and happiness. The second; gracefulness, gentleness, and quietness. The third; strength and the fourth, well it just made me smile!

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Monday, September 4, 2017

The Good, The Random, The Fun - No. 4

Each month the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program offers tours of historical buildings in central Arkansas. The tour this month was of the Park Hill Fire Station and Water Company Complex. The buildings in the complex, all made of fieldstone, were constructed in 1938. My pictures for this weeks Good, Random, Fun were all taken during the tour.

The Good
The buildings are all surrounded by the prettiest gardens cared for by Arkansas Master Gardeners. I was delighted by these pretty purple petunias. I believe they are Mexican Petunias.

The Random
Rock buildings amaze me. I marvel at how each stone has been carefully placed to create wonderful patterns and shapes. I also love the details that were added to one of the buildings. The lion's head is a symbol of vigilance and strength.

The Fun
The Master Gardeners not only included beautiful plants, bushes, and flowers in the gardens, but they nestled cute decorated houses to add a touch of  whimsy.

Linking with

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Scene & Story - August 2017

It’s just a simple bloom, but it made me smile. My mother had two cacti, one was a Thanksgiving cactus and the other a Christmas cactus. Every year they were loaded with pretty pink blossoms. After mom passed away we neglected to care for them properly. Between my dad, my sister, and I our care alternated between drought and drowning. A plant really only needs one keeper! Both cacti began to shrivel up and turn brown. I asked my dad if he’d mind if I took them home and tried to save them. They looked so bad he thought I should throw them out, but my heart just wouldn’t quite let me do that, so they came to my house this spring. One of them perked up, but the other was beyond help. I finally gave up on it and dumped it near the edge of the woods. Imagine my surprise when several weeks later I realized it was living and growing. Taking it out of the pot had evidently allowed the roots to finally dry out. I re-potted it and put it back on my porch. Not only is it growing, but I spotted this little bloom. It’s neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas, but I’m not complaining. It can bloom any time it gets ready.

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, August 28, 2017

The Good, The Random, The Fun - No. 3

I can't believe how fast summer has past. Schools have already been in session for two weeks, the air is a little cooler, and leaves are starting to fall. I've almost survived another Arkansas summer. I'm grateful this one has not been extremely hot and there has been nice breezes and plenty of rain. I don't normally enjoy summers. In fact, summer is my least favorite time of the year, but I did enjoy this summer. Of course, part of that enjoyment was being able to get out with my camera and having some good, random fun!

The Good
I spend a much needed photography day with my sister and sister-in-law.

The Random

Mushrooms don't always grow vertically, sometimes they grow horizontally.

The Fun
I celebrated the Great American Eclipse with my cereal box pinhole projector and a special treat of Cosmic Brownies!

Linking with

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Good, The Random, The Fun - No. 2

Summer has arrived! We've had the nicest summer weather, well maybe a little too much rain, but this week it has been horrendous. Upper 90's with the heat index around 110. Much too hot and sticky for me to be out much. I did manage to get out early a few mornings and take pictures. I am extremely grateful for air conditioning!

The Good
To get what you want, you sometimes have to wait a very long time. Over seven years ago we bought a very rusty piece of metal that has since been in three different shops to create the beauty she is today. She spent time in the metal shop, the paint shop, and then the interior shop. She came home this weekend to stay. She's beautiful and she rides so nice!

The Random
In a recent blog post by my friend, Lee, she explained the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly. This valuable information came from a six-year old. Drop over and read her story, it's very sweet. The difference lies in the position of their wings. Quoting the six-year old "when you see one resting, if its wings are opened flat, it's a dragonfly. If its wings are folded over its back, it's a damselfly."

The Fun
Playing Uno Spin with my grandsons. Sharing laughter as the four year old had to keep drawing cards, winding up with 28 in his hand. He thought it was hilarious. Even with the odds against him, he still won the game!

Linking with

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Good, The Random, The Fun

It seems my blogging has really slowed down recently and I don't like that. I enjoy posting here, showing you what my part of the world looks like and sharing the beauty of nature. There's a blog I've been following for quite a while that has a Monday link-up entitled, you guessed it . . . The Good The Random, and The Fun. It seems the perfect fit for me. Just a quick post with three pictures and a few words. I always have random pictures that I would like to share.  I'm hoping this will inspire me to bring a little more activity to my space here. So here goes!

The Good

I found a new path at my absolute favorite garden in Arkansas, Garvan Woodland Gardens. I've been close to this path several times, but never walked it and didn't know it had this beautiful waterfall. 

The Random

I discovered a new flower at the garden. Doesn't this just make you smile? You can see where it gets it's name, Bat Face Cuphea. This tiny tubular bloom is only about an inch long with the "face" about 1/2 inch across. Just image a plant that's about 18" tall full of these delightful blooms.

The Fun

Peeking in the houses in the fairy garden hoping to see a fancy fairy.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

On the Lookout

As I travel Arkansas highways
there are certain things that I like to look for
historic buildings,
ghost signs.

To find these things it means getting off the main thoroughfare and finding the historic downtown streets. In most Arkansas towns that's not too hard at all. Occasionally Jerry and I take a trip to satisfy my craving for all things old. I'm so grateful on these hot summer days that he's willing to keep the car cool while I hop out and take a few pictures.

I'm not a big fan of modern architecture with it's steel and glass. I love old brick buildings. I love the designs they made by carefully placing bricks. Sometimes I find one really unusual like this pharmacy. I've never seen the pharmaceutical sign made out of bricks.

DeQueen, AR

I like the architecture on top of this building; the curved canopy and parapet which is decorated with brick piers that are topped with rounded concrete caps. It was built around 1902 for the First National Bank of Lewisville. Later it was home to legal offices and title companies. It's know as the King-Whatley Building.

Lewisville, AR

My heart skips a beat or two when I spot old ghost signs, which are advertising signs painted years ago on brick walls. I found several this trip, twenty-eight in only six cities. Among my favorite are the Coca-Cola signs. There's just something nostalgic about Coca-Cola signs. It brings back childhood memories of ice cold glass bottles of Coke on a hot summer afteroon. That was something rare to us. We mostly drank Kool-Aid.

Camden, AR

Sanitary meat anyone? It's a shame someone broke out part of the bricks to insert an air conditioner. Couldn't they find a better place? Like the back maybe?

Stamps, AR

Lewisville, AR

For some reason I vividly remember all the advertising for Dr. Tichenor's formula. Although you can barely read it, the advertisement below is for Dr. Tichenor's which could be bought at Lafayette Drug Company. I got a little curious and googled his name. George Humphrey Tichenor was a Kentucky-born physician who introduced antiseptic surgery while in the service of the Confederate States of America. He was very loyal to the South and would not let his antisepetic be used on soldiers from the North. His medicine consisted of alcohol, oil of peppermint, and arnica. The company is still in existence although the recommended uses are as a mouthwash and topical antiseptic.

Lewisville, AR

Lewisville, AR

My favorite find of this trip was a small library in Ashdown, AR. The public library is housed in what looked to be some type of old garage. Note the large garage door on the left. As you can see they tried very hard to make their library attractive. The murals of popular books were painted on all four sides by artist Art Pelcher. I regret that I didn't take the effort to take better pictures of the library. These where shot out of the car window. I was tired, very tired and very hot. I just couldn't get out of the car again!

Ashdown, AR

This trip was to southwest Arkansas.
Next trip will be to the northeast.
Wonder what I'll find there?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Scene & Story - July 2017

I love this lake.
The water is still.
There's no one in sight.
It's quiet here.
All I hear are birds and frogs.
I have to dream about walking along it's banks
or dipping my hand in the cool water.
I dream of rowing a small boat across the lake to the opposite shore
where there's a pretty extension bridge and a garden.
But, dream is all I can do.
This is Marylake which is in front of a Carmelite Monastery
and surrounded by iron and rock fencing.
Even though I can't get any closer, I come here for the calm.
July was active and even stressful at times.
I needed to get away by myself;
to just stand and listen and dream.
I knew just where to go.

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

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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

We Love Trains!!

If you belong to my family you'd better love trains. With 2,667 miles of active rail lines in Arkansas you're bound to run into train tracks often. We don't moan when those crossing gates come down and the traffic has to stop; we get excited, we wave at the engineer, and count the cars as they pass. When our children still lived at home our vacations sometimes centered around riding excursion trains or train museums. In fact, we've ridden every excursion train in Arkansas with them. My son and his wife took a train trip on their honeymoon. My daughter and her husband rode a train in Alaska. The grandsons, they love everything about trains! This post is for them. It's full of train photos and train information. 

* * * * *

Gramps and I took a little road trip yesterday to southwestern Arkansas. Well, not a little road trip, 375 miles round trip. I'm still working on my project to photograph all 84 courthouses in the state. On our trip I added six more courthouses leaving me with 13 to go!! During our trip we saw several train stations and even a couple of trains.

Here's a little history of why we see trains when we're looking for courthouses. Early towns in Arkansas were built as a result of the construction of railways. Towns were built along the railways making it easier to get goods and easier to travel. As counties were formed many of the cities chosen for county seats were near waterways or railways for easy travel to conduct county business. Therefore, the courthouses are many times near railroads. After I take pictures of the courthouse we look for railroads. 

I love to photograph historic train stations, but cabooses are always one of my favorite things to find. This long caboose sits at the Memphis, Paris and Gulf Railroad Station in Ashdown. The station was build in 1908 by a railroad that connected Memphis, Tennessee and Paris, Texas. It offered passenger service until 1947 and freight service until 1993. 

This Cotton Belt "Drover" Caboose No. 2304 was used to haul passengers, freight, and goods on branch lines to larger cites. It ran in Arkansas up to the 1960's. I had quite surprise when I looked in the small window on the caboose door. It's a Christmas caboose!

A few of those 375 miles we traveled were in Texas. The city of Texarkana is in both states. This historic train station built in 1928 straddles the state line. There is an entrance and exit into both states. On the Arkansas end of the station Amtrak's Texas Eagle still stops for passengers. When it's stopped the west end of the train is in Texas and the east end of the train is in Arkansas. The rest of the station is now abandoned, but I've read that it's privately owned and will be renovated. 

Texarkana is proud of it's railroad history. There are several murals painted on sides of the old downtown buildings.

I wasn't able to get this train all in one pictures. There were two bushes right in the way. So, here's the engine . . . 

and here's the rest of it.

They also have the best painted trash cans I've ever seen.

I almost missed this train track sculpture. I was taking pictures of the mural and trash can then turned to walk back to the car and there it was, behind my back!

In the very small town of Lewisville, we were turning around in a parking lot and spotted this sculpture on the side of a building.

Like I said we're always on the look out for trains so I can take pictures for my grandsons.

Note to my grandsons:
Jake, Drew, Josh, Aaron, and Isaac I hope you enjoyed the train photos. You were on my mind a lot yesterday. I kept saying to Gramps "the boys would love to see this!"