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. 

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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!" 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Scene & Story - June 2017

It was on the ground under the shade of a tree, close to a small lake where geese played and swans glided across the water. It was waiting; waiting to be picked up and a wiggly worm put on its hook. It was waiting for its line to be cast into the lake where it’s red and white cork would bobble in the water until some unsuspecting fish snatched at the worm and the cork would quickly sink under water.

The highlight of many of my childhood summers included a week spent with my Uncle Harry and Aunt June. They had no children of their own, but each summer they welcomed not only me, but several cousins as well. Most summers there were at least six of us. I look back and wonder how they every survived the week!

Among the traditions of the week was fishing in the pond across the road from their house. It was in the middle of a cow pasture, but my uncle always mowed us a path to the pond. The boys would go looking for worms and then we’d all get our poles and hike down the path. I remember . . .

Uncle Harry patiently baiting our hooks,
casting my line,
watching the cork float in the water,
the smell of hot grasses,
cows mooing,
the heat of the sun,
the chorus of crickets and frogs,
straw hats,
itchy legs from bugs and chiggers,
the excitement when my cork began to bobble,
Uncle Harry with his camera around his neck taking our picture when we caught a fish,
the smell of frying fish for supper.

But, most of all I remember the joy of being with my favorite aunt and uncle and the love they gave us all. I miss them both so very much. I’m thankful for these childhood summer memories that came flooding back when I saw a pole, a line, and a cork under a shade tree.

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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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


The month of June brings a day of celebration for me. It’s the month of my birth. Before my birthday, which has now passed, I began thinking about how I wanted to celebrate. A friend of mine, Sandra, recently wrote about her birthday celebration on her blog Reflections and Nature. I know she’d love for you to stop by and read about her day and see a little of the beauty of Switzerland. That got me to thinking about my upcoming birthday.

I spend most of my birthdays alone. Now, before you get sad about that, understand that I enjoy being alone. I enjoy being by myself on my birthday, at least during the day. Jerry is home for dinner and the evening. My birthday began with breakfast which I ate outside. I read a while, but then got the urge to go somewhere. I think I was influenced by Sandra’s scenic walk!

I gathered a book, a couple of magazines, my camera, and my binoculars; then headed to a park near the Arkansas River. Oh, and I stopped by and got my favorite lunch; fried chicken strips, tator tots, and a biscuit. Not healthy, but it was my birthday and I was celebrating!

I had a wonderful afternoon, listening to the river rushing by! We’ve had a lot of rain recently and the river was high and fast. I saw a red-winged blackbird, ducks, a blue heron, and various other more common birds. They kept up a constant chorus around me mixed with the chattering of squirrels and the laughter of children. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. It is a tradition that we go out to eat to celebrate birthdays. On Sunday Jerry and I enjoyed a wonderful Mexican meal with our son and his family.

I was wondering how you celebrate your birthday? Do you make plans or have traditions or are you open to spontaneity? 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Scene & Story May 2017

The month of May was a busy month with family times, beautiful garden strolls, and road trips. Needless to say I took a lot of pictures, but as I looked back through them one stood out above the others. It was taken at Springfield Botanical Gardens in a section which included the oldest cabin in Springfield, barns, a kitchen, a granary, and a one-room schoolhouse. The buildings weren't open the day I was there, but steps had been provided under the windows so you could peek inside. As I stood there with my face pressed to the window of the schoolhouse, memories flooded through me. First, memories of a scared little girl as she walked into a classroom on the first day of first grade and then memories of a smiling little girl as she met friends and fell in love with her teacher. The little girl was me and my first grade classroom looked much like this one. It was not a one-room schoolhouse nor did we have slates to write on. but my classroom did have desks, book shelves, and a world globe just like these. What really stirred my memories were the books scattered about. I remember some of these books like the one on the lower right desk, Someday Soon. I read that book. In fact, I have a copy of that book. Since I didn't go to kindergarten or day school, the first grade was where I learned to read. I still remember the excitement of learning to read simple words.
Run Spot.
Run, run, run.
Oh, oh, oh.
Funny, funny Spot.
In case you don't know, Spot was a dog belonging to Dick and Jane in a series of school readers. While there are many memories of my first grade, learning to read was the best!

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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.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Walk in the Park

This past weekend Jerry and I were in Springfield Missouri for a National Street Rod Show. While searching online for a motel, I discovered that Springfield has a botanical garden. Since it was just a couple of miles from the hotel we chose, I talked Jerry into dropping me off while he went to get our truck registered for the event. He was reluctant to drop me off at a strange place in a strange town, but I assured him I would be fine. I was more than fine. I had the most wonderful afternoon strolling through the garden which covered over 100 acres with 26 themed areas. I knew my time was limited so I planned my route through the garden with three specific sections I wanted to see . . . the butterfly house, the lake, and the Japanese garden.

I was surprised that I was able to stroll through most of the garden areas. I only missed a couple of small ones on the other side of the lake.

Butterfly House

Drummond Lake

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

I blogged about the Japanese Garden over at Focusing On Life this week. I would love for you to hop over there and read about it. There were winding paths, three small lakes, water cascades, a ceremonial teahouse, a moon bridge, and a meditation garden. The 7.5 acre traditional Japanese Garden was my favorite section. 

The rest of the pictures are random shots throughout the garden.

Well, here's my ride, I need to go!

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at Springfield Botanical Gardens!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Every Fifteen Steps

I began the story of my trip to Garvan Woodland Gardens in last week's post. I went to the gardens with a list of intentions: things to photograph for four classes I am taking.

Mission #2

This exercise was for a class I'm taking called A Year With My Camera. It started with the basics of taking your camera off automatic and then moved forward into light and composition. Most of those first lessons were things I knew, but it never hurts to review. The lesson for this past week was a creative one. She gave us several options to pick from. I chose to go on a photo walk taking a picture every fifteen steps. 

As you can imagine a photo walk through a garden would bring endless possibilities of photos every fifteen feet. Knowing that, I chose to take a woodland path where there weren't many flowers blooming.

Sometimes as I stopped I had to look very closely to find something interesting to photograph. This lesson was not about taking amazing photos. It was not about learning our camera. It was about looking closely, what I call seeing. It was teaching us to let our eyes slowly scan the area instead of taking a quick look and snapping the shutter at the first pretty view.

I took a total of sixteen pictures for this exercise. My last steps brought me back to a paved path that led to the welcome center. And who was there to welcome me back? George, the peacock greeter! He's been at the gardens for several years. Last year he was alone, but this year he has two peahens to keep him company and oh, how he loved to show off his feathers for them! He was the perfect ending to my photo walk!

"We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there.
We have been conditioned to expect . . .
but, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs."
~ Aaron Siskind

Friday, May 12, 2017

Setting Intentions

It seems life is sometimes slow and easy and then other times there’s so much to do! Photographically speaking, this week has been a very busy one. I participated in four different photo groups. Two of them are weekly, one is monthly, and the last one was for this week. Whew! It can be overwhelming sometimes, but I enjoy each one of them.

This week I was able to complete the exercises for all four groups in one trip. I had them all written down and the paper in my pocket so I wouldn’t forget what I was looking for. I thought a good bit, mostly in the middle of the night, about where I could go for a photo walk. I decided to go to Garvan Woodland Gardens which is about an hour’s drive from me. This was the first time I’ve been to the garden by myself, which is strange since I’m always going places by myself. Anyway, I usually go to the garden with my two best friends who happen to be my sister and sister-in-law. We have such fun together laughing, talking, eating, and pointing out what catches our eyes. It’s a splendid place for walking and talking, but this time I needed to be focused on my mission, fulfilling the four exercises!

Mission #1

I’m part of a group on Facebook who are taking a yearlong adventure through Kim Manley Ort’s book ADVENTURES IN SEEING. I’ve taken this class on line with Kim several years ago, but she has recently turned the class into a book; a good book which you can find here. The adventure for this week was to go on a photo walk with set intentions. We were to walk looking for something specific. There were a lot of things I could have focused on at the garden: flowers (not much of challenge in a woodland garden!), animals (there are more in the garden than you think!), water (beautiful waterfalls and creeks abound here!) or landscapes (maybe?). What I finally decided on was to find flowers and rocks together, which was a little bit more of a challenge than flowers or water.

I think I’ll let you scroll through the pictures of what I found. No words are necessary! I’ll meet you at the end.

Kim also suggested in her Facebook post that we keep our eyes open for red. Red is a color that will quickly catch your eye. Here are the shades of red I found in the garden.

There is one other picture I want to add. It’s not a rock or a flower, but it is hard-as-a-rock!! While walking I noticed a lady with two small girls staring into the woods. The girls were excited. The mom was taking pictures. As I approached I asked them what they were looking at. It was five armadillos! I’ve never see a real armadillo other than at the zoo. They are not so pretty, very noisy, and fascinating!

I tried to do each of the four exercise separately so I could concentrate only on it. Exercise number one was completed, now it was time to move on to the next one. To keep this post from going on forever I’ll tell you about the other three exercise in future posts.

“All the technique
in the world doesn’t compensate
for the inability to notice.”
~ Elliott Erwitt

Monday, May 8, 2017

Scene & Story - April 2017

Every year we wait and wait and wait! This young tree in our yard is always the last tree to unfurl it's leaves each spring. Every year it makes me a little nervous until I see those first leaves begin to form. We have a lot of trees on our property, but this one is special. It was just a little seedling when we got it. It was so scrawny that I never expected it to live, but it did. Maybe it lived because it was planted with love and care. Our oldest grandson, Jake, was only four when he helped Jerry plant the tree. I remember his excitement as he helped dig the hole. He held the tree straight as Jerry packed the dirt around the roots and then he gave it lots of water. It's been ten years. Jake has grown unbelievable fast and so has the little tree. Jake is taller than me and the tree is now at least 15 feet high. Each year as I wait for it's springs leaves I think of a little boy with a big smile and dirty hands helping his Gramps!

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I'm linking today with Scene & Story hosted
by Lee and Sarah.
You can see all those who link up on Sarah's blog.
Join us each month as we choose a photo and tell a story.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lately. . .

It's spring! I'm supposed to be lively and energetic, but I'm not. I've been fatigued, yawning my head off, and feeling irritable! It's called Spring Lethargy. The opposite of Spring Fever, where energy levels rise! Leave it to me to do the opposite of everyone else! I've been trying to overcome this ailment through photography.

So, here's a list of twelve things I've found or done lately.

1. I went to a photography exhibit featuring Ansel Adam's early works. Very impressive and inspiring. Makes me want to take more black and white photos!

2. I worked in my shade gardens getting the last of the fallen leaves removed and burned.

3. I picked one of my mom's peonies to bring in the house to enjoy. Of course, I waited until the bee left.

4. I walked in the woods a little. Not much, the mosquitoes are out in massive numbers. I had to wait for a cool, windy morning!

5. I found some honeysuckle and tasted it. Did you do that as a child; hold the honeysuckle in one hand, pinch off the end,  pull out the stamen and then lick the drop of nectar?  I did! For some reason though, they don't seem to be as sweet and tasteful as when I was a child. This photo makes me laugh. The bloom on the left looks like it's sticking it's tongue out trying to get rid of the spider web!

6. I mowed again! The weeds seem to be winning the battle!

7. I did a little traveling. As Jerry drove, I took pictures out the window. I enjoyed the beautiful spring greens surrounding my favorite barn!

8. I finally purchased a plant I've been wanting for a long time; a hellebore. They aren't showy flowers, just very simple with elegant colors and lines. They do like to keep their heads down which makes photographing them difficult. They remind me of myself when I'm walking; always keeping my head down. There's such interesting things on the ground, but I miss the view that way!

9. Quite by accident I was able to go into a small, old post office (someone left the door unlocked.) It was once the Detonti post office and now sits with an old church and historical home in a town near me. There's not much inside, a bulletin board with old pictures and papers, a typewriter, and a book, The 1932 edition of the Postal Laws and Regulations. Among the papers was a copy of an old envelope. The postmark reads North Hollywood California Feb. 4, 1946. The postage was only 3¢. The fascinating part is the address: This letter is going to Uncle Lee down in Tull, Arkansas, Grant County, between Mud Creek and Saline River, and across the field from Uncle Hardy's, better know as Detonti, Arkansas RR#1. Uncle Lee got the letter all the way From His Nephew Grady DuVall out in California! Wasn't the world simpler back then!

10. I've been watching for the buckeyes to form on our buckeye tree. We had three last year, but the squirrels got them first! This year there are several and also a strange looking bug!

11. We took our car to the shop where it will getting it's new upholstery. You can't tell by this picture, but there are six people in this little car. Jerry, our son, and four grandsons! Just so you know, no child was on the road for the making of this photo! They met Jerry at the end of our long driveway and road to the house. I say that because there are no seat belts yet and three of the boys were on their knees facing backwards. There is no back seat!

12. And lastly a fun surprise as I was driving down some country back roads. I spotted a camel enjoying himself in the spring sunshine. I imagine he was glad to be done with winter! The strangest thing is he doesn't live too far from me and I've never seen him before! Maybe he was there to bring me a laugh!

That about wraps it up! I'm trying very hard to get through these few weeks of low energy. All will be well as soon as I adapt to the seasonal changes. I'm hoping your spring is filled with beauty and that you're enjoying it RIGHT NOW!