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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Hodgepodge

Today's post is a random accumulation of images from the last few weeks. 

First up is a wonderful old barn that I pass several times a week. It sits beside a state highway in an area which is rapidly being overtaken by retail stores and other businesses. The property is for sale, and I fear it's only a matter of time before this beauty is only a memory.

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Some of you will remember my talking about Doug's brother, Dennis, who underwent a partial amputation of a leg in 2014. His daughters and their families live a few hours north of Dennis and haven't seen him since his hospitalization three years ago. We live a couple of hours south of Dennis and see him about once a month. Well, on April 29, several members of his family to the north met us and Dennis at Aubree's Pizzeria and Grill in a town approximately an equal driving distance for them and for Doug and me.

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Aubree's Pizzeria

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A reunion at Aubree's
Dennis is in the green jacket, between his oldest daughter, Denise, and my hubby, Doug. Dennis' middle daughter, Becky, is across the table from him, with the man in her life to her right. On her left is Denise's son and his wife. And Denise's daughter and her little son are on the left end of the table. It was a special time, and I hope we'll be able to do it again sooner rather than later.

Also, those of you who have been around awhile will remember my great-nephew, Carson, who is active in music, drama, and dance. On Tuesday, May 2, Carson performed with the high school orchestra in their last performance of the school year. I understand that it was probably Carson's last performance with the orchestra, too. He's considering playing keyboard in the school band next year.

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Carson in orchestra performance

And lastly in this random mixture, a look at the front of our house and our beautiful azalea bush.

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The azalea bush was very small when we bought the house 28 years ago. It's grown considerably in those intervening years. And it just glows when it's in bloom. It's such an eye catcher that we notice the Amish checking it out as they drive by in their buggies. It's about the only time of the year that they pay us much notice.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spring!

Don't you just love spring...all the spring flowers popping up and the gorgeous flowering trees and shrubs? It's such a beautiful time of year, probably made more so as all that color comes on the heels of the winter season which is so black and white. 

Here are a few pictures of spring in our backyard.

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Crab Apple Blossoms

The next three images show some of the blossoms on an apple tree in our yard:

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Next are two views of the backyard, essentially the same, but taken several years apart:

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A view of the backyard - April 25, 2017

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Essentially the same view, taken at least 17 years ago
I know the above picture was taken at least 17 years ago because that old satellite dish pole was removed in October, 2000. When we bought the house in 1989, there were no trees in the backyard at all, except for an oak on one side and a maple on the other. We wanted more privacy, so we put in lots of evergreen trees and flowering trees and shrubs. We've enjoyed the park-like feel of the yard over the years, and it's become home to lots of birds, squirrels, and rabbits.

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Cut flowers from yard - May 3, 2008

The arrangement of cut flowers pictured above was made of cuttings from some of those trees and shrubs. That spring of 2008, it seemed that everything was blooming at once. On this particular day, Doug surprised me by bringing in these cuttings and arranging them in a vase for me to discover on my next pass through the kitchen. I was so touched by that since Doug isn't usually a very spontaneous guy. But then he goes and does something like this. He's a keeper.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring at Ouabache State Park

This past winter was a mild one, but it seemed to have more of a negative effect on my mood than previous winters. However, spring has sprung at last in Indiana. Yesterday was a beautiful, warm spring day; and Doug and I took advantage of it to visit Ouabache State Park, about an hour from our home.

The lake had been drained for, according to signs posted in the area, beach construction. We're not sure what that means since it doesn't seem to us that the water is suitable for swimming.

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The drained lake

Of course, some water had accumulated in the lake from recent rainfall. That seemed to provide an irresitable attraction for some sandpiper-like birds, apparently passing through on migration.

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Migratory sandpiper-like bird

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A Red-tailed Hawk was riding the wind currents above us.

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This beautiful old tree was still leafless.

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A display of wildflowers at the base of another old tree

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The dozens of redbud trees in the park were putting on quite a show.

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A lone Redbud among several still-bare trees.

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A glorious display of flowering trees across the lake


We spent a most enjoyable afternoon at the park, relishing the warm sunshine, good books, and each other's company.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beauty & Peace in the Smokies

My last post focused on the fire damage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But, lest you think that there's nothing left in the area but burned-out buildings and scorched landscapes, I'd like to assure you that we still found the area beautiful and still experienced the sense of peace that always comes over us when we're there.

We enjoyed some beautiful spring-like weather during our recent short stay. I've been experiencing some foot pain (plantar fasciitis), so we weren't able to hike, but we did take the very short walk back to Cataract Falls.

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Cataract Falls

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This beautiful flowering tree was drawing a crowd at the Maloney Point Overlook.

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The historic Bud Ogle cabin escaped the fire, which had burned to within a few feet of the back porch.

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A Mockingbird serenading us from the top of a tree at one of the many outlet malls.
A quick story about going to the outlet mall...Doug saw a store advertising wallets, and he needed a wallet. So we stopped in. It was a Wilson's Leather store. They didn't have what he wanted in a wallet, but they did have what I wanted in a leather jacket. We thought about it for a couple of days, and I did some online research to look for a better price. But, in the end, we went back to get it. And I love it.

One of our favorite places in the area is the Douglas Dam overlook, so we went there on the day before we came home.

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Douglas Dam


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We've seen lots of unusual things on our visits to Douglas Dam. This time, it was a man playing a trumpet (later, a saxophone), accompanied by his faithful dog, Jazzy. 

Another time when we were there, some teenagers had strung a rope between trees and were practicing tight-rope walking. Fortunately, the rope wasn't very high off the ground because they hadn't finely tuned their skills yet.

Before leaving the dam, we like to go down to the base of the dam, where birds gather to fish. There are blue herons, cormorants, egrets, terns, and bald eagles. An alarm goes off when water is about to be released through the dam, and it's like a dinner bell to the birds. Apparently the incoming water is filled with fish.

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This rookery includes nests of herons, egrets, and cormorants.

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Blue Herons waiting for dinner


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Smokies After the Fire

Doug and I got away for a few days last week to visit our beloved Smoky Mountains. We'd been wanting to get down there ever since the wildfires had raged through the area in late November, 2016; but this was the first opportunity we'd had to do it.

During the time since the fires, much had been done to deal with the damage and destruction. Some 2400 structures had been damaged or destroyed in and around Gatlinburg. Most of that debris had been removed, at least in the areas we saw. But we stayed away from some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

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The above photo, taken from the Gatlinburg overlook, shows the scorched trees in the foreground.


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The Park Vista Hotel, the tall, round hotel in the photo above, was surrounded by the fires. The blackened area in front of the hotel shows how close the flames were on that side of the building. A little below the Hotel, about the middle of the photo, there are several burned-out structures visible.


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Crews had sprayed a mixture of fertilizer and grass seed along the burned areas next to the roadways in the national park, resulting in lush green grass growing close to the road. But, a look above the green reveals some of the burned area.


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We've often stopped at the overlook from which the above photo was taken, but we'd never seen the river at the bottom of the hill before. The fires had burned away much of the ground vegetation. You can also see a blackened strip coming down the ridge of the mountain on the right.

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The photo above shows what's left of the Smoky Mountain Castle, situated high on a mountain, overlooking Gatlinburg. To see pictures of the Castle before the fire, click here. A bit of the Castle's history can be found here.

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Above are two views of one home's burned-out foundation.


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Two more burned-out homes

The fire started in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Chimney Tops, a popular hiking destination. On November 28, 2016, winds approaching 90 miles per hour swept the fire down the mountain and into the town of Gatlinburg, with little warning. In addition to the 2400 damaged or destroyed structures, 14 people lost their lives. Two juveniles are currently being held in Juvenile Detention, accused of aggravated arson.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Life

This has been an interesting winter. After a heavy snowfall and some bitterly cold temperatures in December, the weather has been very mild. In fact, during the last two weeks, we had eight or 10 days with temperatures in the sixties (15-20 C). That set some records, brought some birds back a little early, and prompted some trees to begin budding.

Doug and I both had a touch of the flu, but nothing like other folks we know. Then Doug came down with another case of chronic hiccups, probably brought on by the coughing he'd been doing. After eight days, several trips to doctors, and trying various medicines, we finally resorted to going to the hospital emergency room. There, they were able to give him some more powerful medicine intravenously, and it cured him. That was 10 days ago and so far, so good.

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In the midst of all that, I had to have some dental work done, involving the removal of four crowns (numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10), drilling out the decay in each of the teeth under the crowns, then fitting me with temporary crowns until the permanent ones could be installed on February 28.

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Monday, as we were walking a neighborhood and passing out the John/Romans booklets that I mentioned in the last post, we knocked on the door of a pastor of another church. He and his wife invited us in and introduced us to another man and two women who were apparently staying with them for a time. As we talked, he invited us to attend a presentation on church safety at their church on Tuesday, the 28th, dealing with how churches can prepare for some of the dangers, both natural (as in killer storms) and criminal (as in killer humans), that are becoming so prevalent these days. Doug told him we wouldn't be able to go because I was getting new teeth that day. One of the lady guests said, "She'll be able to take a bite out of crime." Cracked me up.

It won't be long now until our favorite ice cream shop opens for the season.

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Hope you've been having a good winter, whether in spite of or because of the weather. Spring is on the way.


Sunday, February 05, 2017

This 'N That

About a year ago, Doug and I began walking neighborhoods in the small town where we attend church, handing out booklets that contain the complete Gospel of John and the complete book of Romans, in an attempt to get at least a portion of scripture into the hands of anyone who is interested in having it. Our motivation is the biblical promise that God's word shall not return void, "...but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)

Last Tuesday, we decided to drive the three hours or so to Bearing Precious Seed, the publisher of these booklets, to pick up another order and to tour their printing operation. We were amazed at the size and scope of their ministry.

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Bearing Precious Seed Printing Facility

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Tyler spent about an hour and a half with Doug and me, giving us a thorough tour.

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A small museum displaying equipment used in the beginning.
BPS ministries include what they call Seedline, which is a is a means for the local church to have hands on involvement with Bible publishing for the world. This is accomplished by taking the printed page and collating it, folding the covers, putting the Scripture in the cover, stapling it, cutting the book and boxing them for the Field.

FirstBible International is another of their ministries, involving translating and publishing Bibles to provide a Bibleless people group with a reliable first Bible. Once that goal is accomplished, the next desire is to reproduce that Bible so that each individual within that people group has his first Bible.

It was a great visit and worth every minute of the travel time. As an extra bonus, we were able to work in a visit with my cousin-in-law, Anita, on our way back home.

Now, for a little change of pace, the following pictures are from today:

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It was cold this morning, and this rabbit had managed to create a warm nest of leaves.

The rabbit pictured above was in the back yard this morning, having burrowed into a pile of leaves under a tree. Doug saw the dark spot and got the binoculars to see what it was. It looked as if the critter had even managed to throw some leaves on top of himself as a sort of blanket. Of course, my eyes aren’t as good as Doug’s, even with the binoculars. So I got my camera out and took some pictures of the mystery critter, then enlarged them on the camera’s LCD screen, to see what it was. It did have a face like a rabbit, but the ears looked more like a squirrel. So I told Doug I thought it was a squabbit. When I got the photos downloaded to the computer, though, it was obvious that it was a rabbit.

And, now, one last photo from today...a sunset shot taken from the moving car as we drove to church tonight for the evening Bible study:

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You may have noticed that my posting has slowed to a crawl lately. I think the winter doldrums have hit me harder than usual this year. But it's February, after all. The end is in sight. And the sun shone beautifully today.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Blogging Blessings

In my six-plus years of blogging, I've been blessed to get to know so many other bloggers from around the world, people that I might never meet personally in this life but with whom I've found some wonderful virtual friendships. But the big surprise to me is how many unexpected visitors to my blog have come as a result of various photographs I've posted or stories I've told. Here are some examples:

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I've already written here about the renewal of a friendship with the girls in the above photo, a friendship that had lain dormant for nearly fifty years.
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In my posts about my horses and about Kerrydale Ranch, I spoke of Lauren, from whom I'd purchased my first horse, a Half-Arabian mare named Gayranna. After Gayranna's death in 1981, Lauren and I lost contact with each other. But, one day, about a year and a half ago, as Lauren was poking around on the internet, she typed in Gayranna's name and voila! She was led to my blog, where she found my email address and contacted me.
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Another woman, Melanie, was led to the same post about my horses when she typed the name of her horse, Sera Diamond, into the search engine. Sera Diamond was one of those foals produced by my beloved Half-Arabian mare. Melanie and I exchanged emails, and she sent me the above photo of Sera Diamond. Here is what she wrote: "Sera Diamond, Sammy to me, was my horse in the 80's. We showed the Arabian circuit and took many wonderful trail rides. He was amazing! We loved to play tag in the field and he always loved a good carrot! He made the 'teen years' much easier." It was such a pleasure to hear from Melanie and to know a little bit about the life Sera Diamond had after I sold him.
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My post about our family's summer vacations in Canada during my growing-up years was discovered by the daughter of the current owner of the property. Recognizing the property from the photos, she contacted her parents; and her mother emailed me and even sent some pictures showing what the place looks like now.
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The Bureau of Land Management contacted me, asking permission to use my photo of Split Rock (above), an important landmark on the Oregon Trail, in a technical brochure. When the brochure was published, they were kind enough to send me a copy.
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Another photo is scheduled to be included in a camping brochure to be published later this year. I don't feel the freedom to be more specific about that since the brochure hasn't been finalized yet. There's always a chance they'll decide not to use my photo. That happened once before when a company asked permission to use one of my images in an Indiana tourism publication. In the end, they didn't include it in the final product. But it was still a thrill to have had one of my photos considered for the project.
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I did a post  here about two country bands that I'd seen and loved in the sixties: Ray Corbin & the Raymen and Waylon Jennings & the Waylors. The son of Ray Corbin found that post and shared some of his memories of both his dad and Waylon.
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My post about Portland Arch (pictured above) drew a contact from a man named Michael, who had accumulated a detailed history of that area, which he kindly sent to me. About a year and a half later, a man named Bob emailed me, reminiscing about his experiences at the Arch and even including pictures from when he had been there as a Boy Scout. I sent him a copy of the history that Michael had provided and put the two of them in touch with each other.
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One of the most amazing things that has come from the blog started with a contact from Jordan Liles, asking permission to use some of my photos from our first trip to the Smokies in 1990, in a video he was making. If interested, you can view his video here.

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Wonderland Hotel, Great Smoky Mountains National Park-1990
Soon after Jordan's video went public, the Huffington Post picked up the story, and my stats skyrocketed. Next, Yahoo News ran the story, and the stats jumped again. About a year later, the story resurfaced on social media, although greatly distorted. Nevertheless, it again resulted in a jump in page views on my blog. To date, at 16,207 page views and climbing, the post about the beginning of our love affair with the Smoky Mountains is the most viewed post on my blog.
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