Tag Archives: autumn

Stop and Take a Breath

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Double click for a larger version of the image…

Well, it’s Labor Day weekend. The time of summer and sand is over, school is back in session, and the crisp fall air will soon be slithering its way down from the Arctic and the leaves will turn and fall. I wrote a bit about that last post, but today I want to take moment and just recall the summer that we leave behind.

On Saturday, we drove up to Dahlonega, GA to pick up something my wife had ordered. It is a bit cooler in the north Georgia mountains than it is here where we live, though it isn’t a long drive to Dahlonega. It was still a warm day, but as we turned off to wind our way up farther into the hills to the town, we saw scarecrows along the side of the road (you’ll be seeing some of those pictures in the next few days). Scarecrows in Iowa were always pretty much a sure sign of the summer being at an end.

My wife has a favorite restaurant in Dahlonega and we stopped there to eat. It is a seafood restaurant and their food is good and the prices are not unreasonable. We sat on the enclosed porch on the second floor as we ate. I noticed the sign in today’s photo as I sat there. It drew me in to the summer one more time. While I am not a beer drinker at all, the image of the blue sky and billowy clouds, the thatched roof shade over the lounge chair, the beach and water quietly lapping at the shore in the near distance…it almost made me feel the gentle breeze over my skin and I felt the peace of the scene.

I hope that your summer was a good one. And I hope that you get to relax a bit this holiday weekend when we honor the working women and men of our great country. Stop, take a breath and enjoy…it is a sign that the summer is over, but one can always look back in the mind and review the scenes and events of that made our summer what it was.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1915, a prototype tank nicknamed Little Willie rolled off the assembly line in England. Little Willie was far from an overnight success. It weighed 14 tons, got stuck in trenches and crawled over rough terrain at only two miles per hour. However, improvements were made to the original prototype and tanks eventually transformed military battlefields.

The British developed the tank in response to the trench warfare of World War I. In 1914, a British army colonel named Ernest Swinton and William Hankey, secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defence, championed the idea of an armored vehicle with conveyor-belt-like tracks over its wheels that could break through enemy lines and traverse difficult territory. The men appealed to British navy minister Winston Churchill, who believed in the concept of a “land boat” and organized a Landships Committee to begin developing a prototype. To keep the project secret from enemies, production workers were reportedly told the vehicles they were building would be used to carry water on the battlefield (alternate theories suggest the shells of the new vehicles resembled water tanks). Either way, the new vehicles were shipped in crates labeled “tank” and the name stuck.

The first tank prototype, Little Willie, was unveiled in September 1915. Following its underwhelming performance–it was slow, became overheated and couldn’t cross trenches–a second prototype, known as “Big Willie,” was produced. By 1916, this armored vehicle was deemed ready for battle and made its debut at the First Battle of the Somme near Courcelette, France, on September 15 of that year. Known as the Mark I, this first batch of tanks was hot, noisy and unwieldy and suffered mechanical malfunctions on the battlefield; nevertheless, people realized the tank’s potential. Further design improvements were made and at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, 400 Mark IV’s proved much more successful than the Mark I, capturing 8,000 enemy troops and 100 guns.

Tanks rapidly became an important military weapon. During World War II, they played a prominent role across numerous battlefields. More recently, tanks have been essential for desert combat during the conflicts in the Persian Gulf.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: though it has been found on every continent on earth, gold is so rare that the world pours more steel in an hour than it has poured gold since the beginning of recorded history.

Falling towards fall…

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Double click for a larger version of the image…

Have you noticed how the days are growing shorter? It is getting light slightly later each day and dark slightly earlier and it will continue that progression until December 22 when it reverses course and heads back the other way.  We are not far away from the vernal equinox, when the hours of sunlight and dark are equal.

Today it doesn’t feel much like fall outside, at least not here in Georgia. It’s a warm one today, but it have been cooler over the past couple of weeks, and we welcome it. This was our first year of being here throughout the entire Georgia summer. I have to say that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d imagined it might be. Sure, it was warm and at times very muggy, but all in all, not bad.

Our oldest son just moved his family up to the Portland, OR area. He noted that this morning it was a crisp 48 degrees at his house. The news said that in the west right now it is about 15 degrees below normal temperature. That’s good – it may help the weary firefighters who have been battling horrendous blazes for months now.

I’ve noticed a few leaves turning yellow – not in great profusion, but it is beginning. The lake near which we live will be ablaze in color before too much longer. Those are all good signs that we are falling into fall.

This being a three day weekend and fall approaching, I thought that this photo that I shot a few months back might be appropriate. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1780, patriot Francis Marion’s Carolina militia routed British Loyalists at Blue Savannah, South Carolina, and in the process Marion won new recruits to the Patriot cause.

Following their surprising success at Nelson’s Ferry on the Santee River in South Carolina on August 20, Lieutenant Colonel Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion and 52 of his militiamen rode east in order to evade pursuing British Loyalists. They were successful, but during their escape, another, much larger, force of Loyalists led by Major Micajah Ganey, attacked the militia from the northeast. Marion’s advance guard, led by Major John James, routed Ganey’s advance guard and Marion ambushed the rest, causing Ganey’s main body of 200 Loyalists to panic and flee. The success of Marion’s militia broke the Loyalist stronghold on South Carolina east of the PeeDee River and attracted another 60 volunteers to the Patriot cause.

Marion, a mere five feet tall, won fame and the “Swamp Fox” moniker for his ability to strike and then quickly retreat into the South Carolina swamps without a trace. He also earned fame as the only senior Continental officer in the area to escape the British following the fall of Charleston on May 12, 1780. His military strategy is considered an 18th-century example of guerilla warfare and served as partial inspiration for Mel Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, in the film The Patriot (2000).

Marion took over the South Carolina militia force first assembled by Thomas Sumter in 1780. Sumter, the other inspiration for Mel Gibson’s character in the film, returned Carolina Loyalists’ terror tactics in kind after Loyalists burned his plantation. When Sumter withdrew from active fighting to care for a wound, Marion replaced him and teamed up with Major General Nathaniel Greene, who arrived in the Carolinas to lead the Continental forces in October 1780. Together, they are credited with grasping a Patriot victory from the jaws of defeat in the southern states.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A baby dolphin is born tail-first to prevent drowning. After the mother breaks the umbilical cord by swiftly swimming away, she must immediately return to her baby and take it to the surface to breathe.

…Early Light

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Our national anthem speaks about a glorious sight that was seen at the dawn’s early light: Old Glory still standing after a night of warfare.  It must have been an inspiring and stirring sight, indeed.

There is a reason that they speak of the hour on each side of dawn and of dusk as the “golden hour” in photography.  The light is special and it brings out tones and colors, light and shade, in a magical way.

I shot this picture early last Friday at a small lagoon on the lake by where we live.  I’ve been shooting the turning of the leaves, but every once in a while, I get a picture that even makes me smile.  This is one of those pictures.  I’m thrilled to share it with you!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  on this day in 1941, the Combine Japanese Fleet received Top-Secret Order No. 1: In 34 days time, Pearl Harbor was to be bombed, along with Mayala, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines.

Relations between the United States and Japan had been deteriorating quickly since Japan’s occupation of Indochina in 1940 and the implicit menacing of the Philippines (an American protectorate), with the occupation of the Cam Ranh naval base only eight miles from Manila. American retaliation included the seizing of all Japanese assets in the States and the closing of the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping. In September 1941, Roosevelt issued a statement, drafted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, that threatened war between the United States and Japan should the Japanese encroach any further on territory in Southeast Asia or the South Pacific.

The Japanese military had long dominated Japanese foreign affairs; although official negotiations between the U.S. secretary of state and his Japanese counterpart to ease tensions were ongoing, Hideki Tojo, the minister of war who would soon be prime minister, had no intention of withdrawing from captured territories. He also construed the American “threat” of war as an ultimatum and prepared to deliver the first blow in a Japanese-American confrontation: the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

And so Tokyo delivered the order to all pertinent Fleet commanders, that not only the United States—and its protectorate the Philippines—but British and Dutch colonies in the Pacific were to be attacked. War was going to be declared on the West.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Burger King’s Triple Whopper with cheese has an amazing 1,230 calories. Hardies Monster Thickburger has 1,420 calories and 2,770 grams of sodium. Carl’s Jr.’s Double Six hamburger has 1,520 calories and 111 grams of fat. Most people need only 44-66 grams of fat per day, and most of them should come from sources like nuts, fish, and olive oil.

…and Aflame

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Double click the image for a larger version of the picture

It’s just starting, really, I think.  I’ve not been in Georgia in this time of year before, so I’m not real sure what to expect as far as the turning of the trees in the fall.  I guess I’ll must have to wait a few more weeks to find out if gets much better than this.

I took this picture just this morning.  I’d actually hoped for a day without fog on the little lakes that are just down the hill from us, but it the mist was rising from the lakes so I shot pictures anyway.  The sun had risen just enough behind me to reach the base of the trees at the waterline, giving them a bit of a glow with the mist and bright light at water’s edge.

I’m under no illusions: I know this fall won’t be like the turning of the season in Maine (unbelievably beautiful if you’ve never seen it!), but I always enjoy this time of year.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991, the so-called “perfect storm” hit the North Atlantic producing remarkably large waves along the New England and Canadian coasts. Over the next several days, the storm spread its fury over the ocean off the coast of Canada. The fishing boat Andrea Gail and its six-member crew were lost in the storm. The disaster spawned the best-selling book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and a blockbuster Hollywood movie of the same name.

On October 27, Hurricane Grace formed near Bermuda and moved north toward the coast of the southeastern United States. Two days later, Grace continued to move north, where it encountered a massive low pressure system moving south from Canada. The clash of systems over the Atlantic Ocean caused 40-to-80-foot waves on October 30—unconfirmed reports put the waves at more than 100 feet in some locations. This massive surf caused extensive coastal flooding, particularly in Massachusetts; damage was also sustained as far south as Jamaica and as far north as Newfoundland.

The storm continued to churn in the Atlantic on October 31; it was nicknamed the “Halloween storm.” It came ashore on November 2 along the Nova Scotia coast, then, as it moved northeast over the Gulf Stream waters, it made a highly unusual transition into a hurricane. The National Hurricane Center made the decision not to name the storm for fear it would alarm and confuse local residents. It was only the eighth hurricane not given a name since the naming of hurricanes began in 1950.

Meanwhile, as the storm developed, the crew of the 70-foot fishing boat Andrea Gail was fishing for swordfish in the Grand Banks of the North Atlantic. The Andrea Gail was last heard from on October 28. When the boat did not return to port on November 1 as scheduled, rescue teams were sent out.

The week-long search for the Andrea Gail and a possible cause of its demise were documented in Junger’s book, which became a national bestseller. Neither the Andrea Gail nor its crew—David Sullivan and Robert Shatford of Gloucester, Mass.; William Tyne, Dale Murphy and Michael Moran of Bradenton Beach, Fla.; and Alfred Pierre of New York City—was ever found.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.

All That Glitters

“All that glitters is not gold.”  Have you heard that before?  It’s line from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.  You know, Shakespeare was a pretty wise man, besides being a passable playwright.  There is much wisdom in that brief line (and yes, know the original is “All that glisters is not gold”).  Throughout history it seems that people are tremendously motivated by gold (or in our age, by “green”), relentlessly pursuing bigger and bigger piles of the stuff in an attempt to get rich.  Some have succeeded spectacularly, but most don’t hit the “big time.”  Sadly, in the process they miss what I believe are far greater riches.

Is there anything in the world that can compare to the feel of a child’s arms running to the door to greet you, leaping up into your arms and throwing their tiny arms around you neck and squeezing as hard as they can?  Or the smile on their face when they open a birthday or Christmas present, or a “just because I love you” present?  Can anything equal the loving smile of a wife or husband, or the hug of support during difficult times?  How about the tail-wagging greeting of a beloved dog who literally dances for joy and spins around in circles because you’re home?  What about the wonder of laying outside at night, gazing up in wonder at the vast expanse of the universe, pondering the size and scope, trying to sense the coldness of the deep, black, empty spaces separating stars and galaxies?  You may not enjoy that, but what about music, photography, reading, being with friends?

In our pursuit of gold/green, it is easy to sacrifice things such as these for a few more coin.  And in the process, we often miss out on the most wonderful treasures of all.

Photography is one of the things that gives me joy and fills my life with riches (not of the monetary kind!)  On those occasions when a picture really “pops” and delights me, I revel in it.  Today’s picture is a reminder to me that all that glitters is not gold…

All That Glitters is Not Gold

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 30 BC the foxy chick known to the world as Cleopatra, died.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the smallest mammal in North America is the pygmy shrew.  It weighs less than 1/14th of an ounce – less than a dime.


Autumn Barn

On a recent spectacular fall morning, I was driving a back road searching for something to photograph.  I was particularly searching for either color (vineyards turning in the fall), interesting lines/patterns (which you sometimes get in the vineyards depending on their layout), barns or just about anything else that was interesting.  I LOVE going on such hunts!!!  And the thrill of discovery when you find something that looks interesting!!

On that particular morning, I knew there were a few barns down this narrow, two-lane vineyard road.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Here’s one of the shots I got that morning:

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1904, President Teddy Roosevelt wrote a letter of approval to a distant cousin named Franklin who wanted to marry the President’s niece, Eleanor.  You know who they became…President Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: human skin has about 100,000 bacteria per square centimeter.  About 10% of the dry weight of humans is composed of bacteria.


Now That’s What I’m Talkin’ About

It seemed this year that the nice color was missing in the vineyards.  I must say that if I compare it to last year, this year doesn’t measure up.  For whatever reason (I’m told it has to do with severe and significant weather changes at that right time), the color this year just hasn’t measured up.  Two or three weeks ago, I was talking to my wife as we were driving down highway 101 that the colors this year seemed rather dull and dingy.  She agreed.

Maybe we complained just a bit too soon, or we were just too impatient, because now the colors are better.  I won’t say that they equal last year (which was the best year for color in the vineyards that’d I’d seen in our 9 years here), but they are beautiful in spots now.  I don’t know if they’ll get much better than this for this fall because so many of the leaves have already fallen, but there are some really pretty vineyards at the moment.

Today’s photo was taken next to the Trione winery on the east side of highway 101.  I took it on Saturday when Laurel was gone with my sister to, well, you guessed it, shop.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll share a picture that I took using a new technique called focus stacking.  It’s rather interesting.  I’ve only tried it twice, and I have a way to go before I’m good at it, but it offers some really exciting possibilities for a photographer when used with the right type of scene.

But for now, on to the vineyard!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1949, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer hit the music charts, becoming THE musical hit of the holiday season.  Gene Autry’s version was the most popular, but it’s been recorded over 80 times and over 20 million copies have been sold.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Americans consume 353 million pounds of turkey during National Turkey Lover’s Month (June), but over 675 million pounds during Thanksgiving (and some years, I think I’ve eaten half that amount all by myself…but not this year!)

Let It Begin

Just yesterday I wrote about waiting…being patience and not in a rush.  Well, that was yesterday.  Today is Thanksgiving and it is time to let the season really get started!!!

It has been a wild and wooly year in oh, so many ways!!!  It’s been a crazy year economically, politically and in terms of weather and news stories.  It’s been a wild year for us personally as we moved to Georgia in December of 2011, then moved back to CA at the start of September.  We will be facing one more relocation soon…hopefully.  Not sure where yet, but hey…if we knew everything that was going to happen, it sure would take some of the pleasant surprises away from us!!!

The picture today doesn’t have anything to do with what kind of year it has been.  It was just a joyful looking scene that looks rather “holiday-ish” to me.  And so, with Thanksgiving turkey eaten and the holiday nearly over, let’s push on into the rest of what we call “the holiday season.”

I hope it will be a great and joyful time for you and yours.  What will the season and the coming year hold for us?  What is coming just around the corner?  As with this picture and the gravel drive that disappears, I don’t know…we’ll have to wait and see!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1842, when Mt. St. Helens in Washington erupted, it was the first time for which a specific date was known of a volcanic explosion in the United States.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: gold is only the 16th rarest of the chemical elements.


A Hazy Shade of Winter

They are lyrics I could sing in my sleep.  I grew up with them as did my high school classmates.  I’ve written before about what I consider the most amazing explosion of great popular music in history: the period of the 60’s-70’s.  Just recall a few of the names: Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Who, the Supremes, Peter/Paul/Mary, the Four Tops, Simon and Garfunkel…and the list could go on and on and on.  It was an era of unequalled musical creativity and sound.

I was listening to some Simon and Garfunkel this afternoon on my headphones.  My, how it took me back!  I could see the faces of my friends (most still living, but some now gone) at the parties we attended in high school where their music would be playing.  The faces in my mind were still young.  We were thin.  We were healthy.  We were excited about the future and the seemingly endless possibilities that awaited us just around the corner.

Then, Hazy Shade of Winter came on.  The lyrics always moved me in some way that I couldn’t describe as a teenager, partly because as teens, we cannot envision or imagine the fall/winter of our lives.  We couldn’t imagine heart problems, diabetes, strokes, anurysms, or cancer.  Such things, we believed, would never be able to touch us.

Now, we know better.  Here’s some of the lyrics to the song.  It’ll probably stir memories in your heart if you lived through those turbulent, wonderful, amazing times as I did.

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Clouds gather and fall and winter come…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1040, King Duncan was murdered by Macbeth, who went on to rule for 17 years.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  in 1909, American Annie Smith Peck, 57 years young, became the first person to climb 21,000 foot Mt. Huascaran, the highest peak in Peru.

Leafing Is Hard to Do

Neil Sedaka once did a song called, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.”  If you are like me (meaning you are older than dirt), you probably remember that song from your formative years.  I’m sure that my grandchildren would say, “Neil, who?  Did he go to elementary school with Moses?”  Shows you what all those young whipper-snappers know about real music, right?????

I’ve shot so many pictures this fall of the colors around Cloverdale.  The vineyards have been more beautiful than I can ever remember this fall.  We had big windstorms yesterday that blew many of the leaves off trees and vines, so they’re probably past the peak in terms of vibrancy and beauty now.  (Boy…did I rake leaves today!!!!!  Four BIG bags full of leaves…and our front yard was all I raked and it’s a SMALL front yard!!!!  (Did I mention that I hate raking leaves?)

I was out in the yard the day before the wind and I was smitten by the color on the leaves in the corner of the yard.  They were gold and red…some were half and half, some were more red than gold, others were yellow-gold with virtually no red.  I came back in the house, got the camera and captured the color.  I suspect that they’ll be the last pictures I take of the colors in Cloverdale.  If I may be so bold as to borrow/modify a line from Neil Sedaka (you know, the guy who went to school with Moses), “Leafing is hard to do!”  I will miss this place…but more than anything, the people that we’ve grown to love and appreciate over the eight years we’ve been here.

But now, on with the show!!!

Tree leaves in our front yard, from 11/29/11, Cloverdale, CA

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1990, when the engineers digging the tunnel under the English Channel broke through the final bit of rock, they had created a connection between Britain and mainland Europe for the first time since the Ice Age.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in the earth’s oceans, there are 58 different species of sea grasses.