Tag Archives: barn

Barn, Baby, Barn


I’ve not posted a photo of a barn for a long time because, well, frankly I’ve not had my camera with me when I saw some cool looking barns. I hope to remedy that one Saturday before too long.

That being said, this barn is maybe 2-3 miles from where we live, off to the side of a twisty, turny country road in north Georgia. I wish I’d photographed it about 2-3 weeks before I did when the grass was greener, but it’ll green up next spring and I can shoot it again!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1491, a storm in the North Sea battered the European coastline. Over the next several days, approximately 10,000 people in what is now the Netherlands died in the resulting floods.

The lowlands of the Netherlands near the North Sea were densely populated at the time, despite their known vulnerability to flooding. Small villages and a couple of cities had sprung up in what was known as the Grote Waard region. The residents built dikes throughout the area to keep the water at bay, but fatal floods still struck in 1287, 1338, 1374, 1394 and 1396. After each, residents fixed the dikes and moved right back in after the floods.

Even the St. Elisabeth’s flood of November 1404 (named after the November 19 feast day for St. Elisabeth of Hungary), in which thousands died, could not dissuade the residents from living in the region. Seventeen years later, at the same time of year, another strong storm struck the North Sea. The resulting storm surge caused waves to burst hundreds of dikes all over Grote Waard. The city of Dort was devastated and 20 whole villages were wiped off the map. The flooding was so extensive this time that the dikes were not fully rebuilt until 1500. This meant that much of Zeeland and Holland–the area that now makes up the Netherlands–was flooded for decades following the storm. The town of Dordrecht was permanently separated from the mainland in the flood.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The deadliest earthquake known hit Shansi, China on January 23, 1556. An estimated 830,000 people died.

Vermont Barn

Double click for a larger size image...
Double click for a larger size image…

When I was a child in Iowa, we had a red barn. I don’t know why it is that barns are almost always either red or white. Have you ever seen a green, blue, orange, purple, yellow…or any other color of barn? There are a few I’ve seen that were intentionally left with just the unpainted wood, but those are more “collector barns” for those who want that rustic look.

This barn was at the farm where we stayed in Vermont. It was a fairly typical barn, but the thing that made it unusual was the bright red phone booth at one corner. Perhaps it was just put there for decoration…probably, in fact. But I could imagine a phone call between a cow and her sister (like something right out of The Far Side comic strip where a cow is bragging on how much milk she gives in one day. I probably never happened, but every now and then you have to just let your imagination run a bit wild. The possibilities are endless!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1777, Samuel Mason, a Patriot captain in command of Fort Henry on the Ohio frontier, survived a devastating Indian attack on this day in 1777.

The son of a distinguished Virginia family, Samuel Mason became a militia officer and was assigned to the western frontier post of Fort Henry in present-day West Virginia. In the summer of 1777, with the colonies fighting a war for independence, Mason feared attacks by the Indian allies of the British. He was proven correct on August 31, 1777, when a band of Native Americans from several eastern tribes attacked the fort.

The Indians initially fired only on several men who were outside the fort rounding up horses. Hearing the shots, Mason gathered 14 men and rode to their rescue; this was exactly what the warriors hoped he would do. They ambushed the party, killing all but Mason. Badly wounded, Mason escaped death by hiding behind a log. A second party that attempted to come to his rescue suffered the same fate as the first. All told, Mason lost 15 men, compared to only one fatality among the attackers.

Mason recovered from his wounds and continued to command Fort Henry for several years. Following the end of the war, though, he fell on hard times. Repeatedly accused of being a thief, he moved farther west into the lawless frontier of the young American nation. By 1797, he had become a pirate on the Mississippi River, preying on boatmen who moved valuable goods up and down the river. He also reportedly took to robbing travelers along the Natchez Trace (or trail) in Tennessee, often with the assistance of his four sons.

By the early 1800s, Mason had become one of the most notorious desperados on the American frontier, a precursor to Jesse James, Cole Younger and later outlaws of the “Wild West.” In January 1803, Spanish authorities arrested Mason and his four sons and decided to turn them over to the Americans. En route to Natchez, Tennessee, Mason and his sons killed the commander of the boat and escaped.

Determined to apprehend Mason, the Americans upped the reward for his capture, dead or alive. The reward money soon proved too tempting for two members of Mason’s gang; in July 1803 they killed Mason, cut off his head and brought it into the Mississippi territorial offices to prove that they had earned the reward. The men were soon identified as members of Mason’s gang, however, and they were arrested and hanged.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The first recorded “nose job” is found in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts (600 B.C.).c Physicians would reconstruct noses by cutting skin from either the cheek or forehead, twisting the skin side out over a leaf of the appropriate size, and sewing the skin into place. Two polished wooden tubes would be inserted into the nostrils to keep the air passage open during healing.

Swallowed Whole


Have you seen that video that has been going around on Facebook about the divers who were in the ocean and a huge whale comes up almost beneath him and it appears as if the diver was nearly swallowed whole?  It’s impressive…in spite of the fact that the whale was a plankton eater and not the kind of whale that opens its mouth wide enough to swallow a human.  I know, though, that if I’d been that diver, I’d have swam as hard and fast as I could to get to the boat and get out of the water after that experience!!!  And, I doubt that I’d ever go diving again except in the neighbor’s swimming pool.  There is just something about being adrift in water that holds creatures that are far larger than I am and that can be very, very hungry!

Not everything that is swallowed whole, though, is life-threatening.  Take today’s photo for example.  About two miles from where we live is an old farmstead that is a historical place.  Along the road right in front of it they are widening the road and doing lots of construction.  But off the the left (as one travels southward) you can catch a glimpse of a couple old buildings that have been eaten alive and swallowed whole by the Georgia woods.  Plant life grows rapidly here – there’s plenty of rain year round for it to suck up through the root system and it appears that the soil must be rather fertile as a result of the plant detritus that covers the ground.  The net result: the woods and undergrowth spring up all over the place in a rather voracious fashion.  Any old buildings that are left standing for very long can rather quickly be overtaken by the flora.

Such is the case with today’s photo.  I wonder how this old barn feels about it?  I suspect it could sympathize with that diver…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Although accounts of an aquatic beast living in Scotland’s Loch Ness date back 1,500 years, the modern legend of the Loch Ness Monster was born when a sighting made local news on May 2, 1933. The Inverness Courier reported that a local couple claimed to have seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.” The story of the “monster” (a moniker chosen by the Courier editor) became a media phenomenon, with London newspapers sending correspondents to Scotland and a circus offering a 20,000 pound sterling reward for capture of the beast.

Loch Ness has the largest volume of fresh water in Great Britain, reaching depths of nearly 800 feet and a length of 23 miles. No less than a dozen references to “Nessie” are found in Scottish history, dating back to around A.D. 500, when Picts carved a strange aquatic creature into standing stones near Loch Ness. The earliest written reference to a monster in Loch Ness is a 7th-century biography of Saint Columba. In 565, Columba was on his way to visit the king near Inverness when he stopped at the Loch to confront a beast that had been killing people in the lake. Seeing a large beast about to attack another man, Columba intervened, invoking the name of God and commanding the creature to “go back with all speed.” The monster retreated and never killed another man.

In 1933, a road was completed along the shore, giving drivers a clear view of the loch. After the sighting was reported in the local paper on May 2, interest steadily grew, especially after another couple claimed to have seen the beast on land, crossing the shore road. British papers sent reporters to Scotland, including London’s Daily Mail, which hired big-game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell to capture the beast. After a few days searching the loch, Wetherell reported finding footprints of a large four-legged animal. In response, the Daily Mail carried the dramatic headline: “MONSTER OF LOCH NESS IS NOT LEGEND BUT A FACT.” Scores of tourists descended on Loch Ness and sat in boats or decks chairs waiting for an appearance by the beast. Plaster casts of the footprints were sent to the British Natural History Museum, which reported that the tracks were that of a hippopotamus, specifically one hippopotamus foot, probably stuffed. The hoax temporarily deflated Loch Ness Monster mania, but stories of sightings continued.

A famous 1934 photograph seemed to show a dinosaur-like creature with a long neck emerging out of the murky waters, leading some to speculate that “Nessie” was a solitary survivor of the long-extinct plesiosaurs. The aquatic plesiosaurs were thought to have died off with the rest of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Loch Ness was frozen solid during the recent ice ages, however, so this creature would have had to have made its way up the River Ness from the sea in the past 10,000 years. And plesiosaurs, believed to be cold-blooded, would not survive in the frigid waters of Loch Ness. More likely, others suggested, it was an archeocyte, a primitive whale with a serpentine neck that is thought to have been extinct for 18 million years. Skeptics argued that people were seeing “seiches”–oscillations in the water surface caused by the inflow of cold river water into the slightly warmer loch.

In the 1960’s several British universities launched expeditions using sonar to search the deep. Nothing conclusive was found, but in each expedition the sonar operators detected large, moving underwater objects they could not explain. In 1975, Boston’s Academy of Applied Science combined sonar and underwater photography in an expedition to Loch Ness. A photo resulted that, after enhancement, appeared to show the giant flipper of a plesiosaur-like creature. Further sonar expeditions in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in more tantalizing, if inconclusive, readings. Revelations in 1994 that the famous 1934 photo was a hoax hardly dampened the enthusiasm of tourists and professional and amateur investigators to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: One observer in 1959 noticed that the dirt at the Treblinka concentration camp was not brown but gray. As he felt the dirt trickle through his fingers, he realized the earth was “coarse and sharp and filled with the fragments of human bone.”

License to Thrill

Sometimes it is the simplest things in life that give us the most joy.  In fact, based on my lifetime of experience, I’d say that it is almost always the simplest things that bring us the greatest happiness.

How can one resist the raw delight of a squirmy, tail-wagging puppy?  They are not complicated.  They don’t require a PhD in zoology to enjoy their antics.

On a hot day, how about the delicious taste of an ice-cold ice cream cone?  Or your favorite beverage poured tantalizingly over cubes of ice, making that familiar fizzy sound as the liquid fills the cup?

Those are just a couple examples of how simple things can bring us so much happiness if we will just take the time to appreciate them.  Can a new computer or cell phone or iPad really bring the kind of delight that lasts for years and years like a good dog or cat?  No.  They wear out quickly and their charm erodes even faster.

When I was at the family reunion, I went into my cousin’s machine shed on his farm south of Des Moines where I was treated to lots of potential photographs.  I started firing away and I was carried away with the joy of it!  The wood was worn and water streaked where water had seeped through the boards.  Items were hanging on the walls, piled on the dirt floor, leaning against the walls and against one another in a delightful Hodge-podge of objects.  The lighting was all natural, but it was shady and uneven.  In other words, it was a photographic paradise.  I could have happily stayed there for hours!

Once in a while a photographer has the pure ecstasy of taking some pictures and having them turn out far better than he/she could have anticipated.  I don’t mean that they’re necessarily great technically, but that they just bring him/her delight that they had not expected.  Such was the case with today’s photo…and a few others I’ll share in the coming days on this blog.

LicenseToThrillON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1956, on his new record label, RCA Victor, Elvis Presley recorded “Hound Dog” and “Don’t be Cruel.”


Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson and Johnson developed the Band-Aid® in 1920 for his accident-prone wife, Josephine. His employer, Johnson and Johnson, a company launched by pharmacist Robert Johnson and his two brothers, produced large, dry, cotton and gauze dressings, which remained sterile in germ-resistant packaging until opened. They formed their Company upon the premise set forth by Sir Joseph Lister, of Listerine fame, at a speech given in Philadelphia in 1876, that surgical procedures should be sterile, to reduce the alarmingly high post-operative mortality rates, which were 90% in Britain at the time.

Earle attached small pieces of this sterile gauze, produced by his employer, to the center of strips of surgical tape to bandage poor Josephine’s wounds. A colleague of his encouraged him to pitch his invention to Management, which he did. Management initially dismissed his idea, but later reversed its position when Earle demonstrated how easily the bandage could easily be applied by oneself. The powers that be realized the earning potential of this invention, snatched Earle’s idea, and ran with it.

The original bandages Johnson and Johnson produced, were not only handmade, but were rather large in size at 2 1/2″ in width, and 18″ in length. Needless to say, first year sales left much to be desired. By 1924, Johnson and Johnson revamped the production process of the Band-Aid® by using machines, and by cutting down the size of the product. Sales skyrocketed, and Earle’s vision became a reality.  To date, over 100 billion Band-Aids have been sold.  Earle should thank God that he had a clumsy wife that led to his invention and his fortune!

On the Back Side of a Barn

Farmsteads are photographic treasures.  The older the farm and the buildings the better.  It’s even great if the buildings are near collapse, or if the premises has been abandoned for some time or if it is suffering from maintenance neglect.  Things tend to accumulate beside the outer (and inner) walls of barns and they can make for some interesting scenes.

This weekend I was at a family reunion and I stayed with one of my cousins on Saturday night.  Sunday morning I got up and went outside with my camera to snoop around a machine shed.  On Friday, I’d noticed some interesting things hanging on the inside walls and I wanted to be sure to get pictures of them before I had to return home.  Time didn’t permit me that luxury on Friday, so I made a point of it early this morning (Sunday).  You’ll see some of those in the next week or so, but what I’m sharing today was on the backside of that same machine shed.

I loved the way the colors came through, and the living and dead things that are in the picture which goes together to make the composition more intriguing.  In a way, it told the story of our family reunion.  There are very few of the “Greatest Generation” still living in our family, and only one was able to make it to the reunion this time.  That means that my generation is nearly the oldest generation.  This past year we lost three of the cousins.  It could get depressing, like the dead, inanimate things in this picture, but we had little children scampering around the reunion, laughing, cuddling stuffed animals, being fed while sitting on mom or dad’s lap.  It was a reminder of the tremendous resilience of life, the pugnacious tenacity that though the years and generations roll past, life renews itself over and over again, just as the green plants that are co-existing with the dead or worn objects in the photo.  It is beautiful…thoroughly lovely.  I hope I will treasure it more than I have.

I hope you had a good weekend.  I sure did! _MG_3064ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1520, Montezuma II, the last Aztec emperor, was killed during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Grand Rapids, Michigan is the “SpaghettiOs Capital of the World” because per-capita consumption is highest in that city, per the Franco-American company. Reportedly, there are more than 1,750 “O’s” in a 15-ounce can of SpaghettiOs.


I Finally Figured It Out

If you’ve read by humble blog for any length of time, you know I have an affinity for photographing old barns.  I’ve often wondered why it is that I find them so fascinating.  This morning, I think I may have come upon the answer in a flash (okay, maybe a dim glimmer) of insight.

Old barns are much like us humans as we age.  We once were straight and tall, well decorated on the outside, strong to keep out the wind and the cold and protect whatever is within.  Time has a funny way of doing things to us, and barns, as the years turn into decades and the decades become a lifetime.

Barns get weathered.  The outside isn’t as pretty as it once was.  There are cracks between the boards that let in some of the chilly blasts of wind and temperature.  What was inside isn’t as secure as it once was when the building was new.

We’re sorta like that, too, I think.  We get weathered as the storms of human existence beat upon us.  The sheen and luster of youth disappears.  We learn that we’re not as strong as we once thought we were.  What we held inside in order to protect ourselves gets jostled around by life events.  We are more vulnerable in all ways – emotionally, physically, socially…and perhaps spiritually as well (though I could make an argument that in some ways we may grow stronger spiritually).  We’ve dropped many of our pretenses and defenses out of sheer exhaustion.

But you know what?  It’s not all bad.  Old barns have an amazingly wondrous weathered beauty.  In many, many ways they are far superior, in the ways that count, to a new barn.  They have character…new barns seldom have that quality.  It takes time to build, and even more time to reveal, character.  And so it is with us humans, too.

That’s why I love old barns…they tell me about life and about myself.  They are reminders of days gone by, of the beauty of each stage of the journey, and about how old things can be spectacularly beautiful.

Let your beauty show as you age.  You’ve earned it.

Why I Like Barns

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1953, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine made its debut in Chicago.  Marilyn Monroe was the magazines first centerfold.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: it takes 9000 pounds of roses (4-1/2 tons!!!), or about 55,000 blossoms, to make 2 pounds of rose extract for fragrances.

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.


Just Waitin’ Around

Isn’t it interesting how when we were younger we could hardly sit still?  Nothing ever happened or came to pass quickly enough.  Now, at the age I presently am experiencing, I’m much more content to just let things come to me rather than chasing after them!

One young boy (actually he just turned 13) that I know, was asking his mom about getting something and she told him, “No, not now.”  What do you think the rest of the conversation was like?  I can guarantee you that it wasn’t, “Oh, OK, mom.  I understand.  It’s good to learn self-control and not push for things immediately.  Immediate gratification isn’t nearly as good for us as building character.  Thank you so much for denying my request and helping me learn patience and character through this disappointing circumstance.”  No, not now, probably never.  It was a continual ragging on his mom to get it NOW, not later.  Gotta give his mom credit, though…she stood her ground.

I do know people who aren’t aging gracefully, to say the least.  They seem to be more and more grouchy, more easily upset, quicker to fly off the handle.  That’s sad.  I don’t know why they are aging that way.  I hope I never get that way.  Sure, we all fly off the handle every now and then, but we should be able to rise above such petty responses.

Buildings are a lot like people.  Some age gracefully and get more beautiful as they age.  Others – well, not so much.  I think the picture of the shed today has aged gracefully up to this point.  It isn’t as strong as it once was.  It is on the decline, to be sure.  But it still looks to me like a happy building.  It patiently awaits what lies ahead.

That being said, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  And I hereby give you permission to not be too patient when it comes to going for seconds…or you may miss out!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1942, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the Alcan Highway through Canada into Alaska.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Australian scientists have discovered a species of spider where the young gradually chew off their mother’s legs and dine on her body after the little brats have hatched.  They suspect it is a natural mechanism to keep them from eating each other and this wiping out the species.  Voracious little rascals, thinks I!!!!


Be Ye Warned

Warnings are everywhere.  I know that they’re well-intentioned, but come on, folks, we know that sometimes they’re just downright silly.  Like these warnings on products (my comments in parens after the warning/statement:

Jonsreds Chainsaw:  Do not attempt to stop chain with hands.  (If you do, you won’t try that again, we guarantee it.)

Komatsu Floodlight: This floodlight is capable of illuminating large areas, even in the dark.  (Unfortunately, it couldn’t enlighten the person writing this warning….they were obviously still in the dark.)

Fritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.  (Just steal the bag, get the details, and you could go to jail!!!  Wonder if that was the prize?)

Craftsman Push Mower: Warning: Do not attempt to remove blade while lawnmower is running or plugged into an outlet.  (See comments on chain saw, above.  Ditto.)

Mark and Spencer’s Bread Pudding: Product will be hot after heating.  (And it will also be gone after eating, so what’s the big deal?)

Energizer AAA 4 Pack: If swallowed, promptly see doctor. (That is, if you can sit still with 4 Energizer bunny batteries in your belly.)

And to think, someone gets paid to write that stuff.  But, I guess in our litigious society, one can’t be too careful.

Take today’s picture and the warning sign posted on this little garage/barn.  “POSTED: No Trespassing, Keep Out”  I get the gist of it.  But isn’t it a bit redundant?  Wouldn’t just “No Trespassing” been sufficient?  I mean, how could you get inside without trespassing?  It’s a shame, because it looked like it would have been an interesting place to explore.  There might have been piles of dead bodies in the garage.  Or gold doubloons.  Or Santa’s elves hard at work.  Who knows what mysterious wonders this building holds? Perhaps Rapunzel is sleeping in there.  Now, I guess we’ll never know…all thanks to some one who spilled hot McDonald’s coffee on her lap and claimed, “No one told me it was hot!”…and now she’s probably sitting on a beach in Tahiti as a result of her lawsuit winnings.

Oh, well.  Such is life.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1703, the real “Man in the Iron Mask” died in the Bastille prison in Paris, France.  His true identity is the cause of much intrigue and was celebrated in the writing of Voltaire and also of Alexander Dumas.  Of course, several movies have been made about it.  But, we know the truth: it was Leonardo DiCaprio, right?!?!?!  Or Richard Chamberlain (depending on your generation).

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  the leaf-cutter ant can make anthills up to 16 feet deep which cover as much as an acre or more.


Down in the Holler

Yessuh, folk talk funny roun’ these here parts.  They talk about things like “sewin’ machine awl” (oil) and things down in the woods in a low-lyin’ place as bein’ “down in the holler.”  (hollow)

Well, yessiree, I’m gettin’ the hang of it, I think.  And here’s a barn shot I took recently that was down in the holler a wee bit.

I hopes y’all ‘ll come back now, heah?

The barn down in the holler...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson sent 12,000 US troops over the border into Mexico in a failed attempt to apprehend the bandit, Pancho Villa.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  at the time of the Civil War, New Orleans was the Confederates most populous city.