Tag Archives: leaves

Catchin’ some SERIOUS Air


Down here in Georgia, there is a fun-house for kids called Catch Air. My grand daughters love to go there. There are all kinds of bounce house-like thingies, slides, places to climb, and it’s all fun all the time for the kiddos. 

Well, today’s picture shows that you don’t have to be in a bounce house to catch some serious air. When the grand daughters came over for Thanksgiving, we made that huge pile of leaves that I wrote about before. In today’s photo, my 8-year old grand daughter (who is truly a gifted young athletic kid) was running toward the pile of leaves that was originally up to about her chest, if not her shoulders, and with wild abandon she launched herself into the air to crash into the pile with all the exuberance she could muster in her 8-year old self. That’s her style, though…she doesn’t hold back on much of anything! I think she could leap a tall building in a single bound if she chose to do so. Of course, today she’d get covered in red Georgia clay-mud as it’s cold, wet and cloudy, so I’m glad she didn’t try this today!

When is the last time you launched yourself into a huge pile of leaves? Isn’t it about time?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1952, heavy smog begas to hover over London, England. It would persist for 4 days, leading to the deaths of at least 4000 persons. 

It was a Thursday afternoon when a high-pressure air mass stalled over the Thames River Valley. When cold air arrived suddenly from the west, the air over London became trapped in place. The problem was exacerbated by low temperatures, which caused residents to burn extra coal in their furnaces. The smoke, soot and sulfur dioxide from the area’s industries along with that from cars and consumer energy usage caused extraordinarily heavy smog to smother the city. By the morning of December 5, there was a visible pall cast over hundreds of square miles.

The smog became so thick and dense that by December 7 there was virtually no sunlight and visibility was reduced to five yards in many places. Eventually, all transportation in the region was halted, but not before the smog caused several rail accidents, including a collision between two trains near London Bridge. The worst effect of the smog, however, was the respiratory distress it caused in humans and animals, including difficulty breathing and the vomiting of phlegm. One of the first noted victims was a prize cow that suffocated on December 5. An unusually high number of people in the area, numbering in the thousands, died in their sleep that weekend. (Galen: I hope this isn’t giving you nightmares!)

It is difficult to calculate exactly how many deaths and injuries were caused by the smog. As with heat waves, experts compare death totals during the smog to the number of people who have died during the same period in previous years. The period between December 4 and December 8 saw such a marked increase in death in the London metropolitan area that the most conservative estimates place the death toll at 4,000, with some estimating that the smog killed as many as 8,000 people.

On December 9, the smog finally blew away. In the aftermath of this incident, the British government passed more stringent regulations on air pollution and encouraged people to stop using coal to heat their homes. Despite these measures, a similar smog 10 years later killed approximately 100 Londoners.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: body language is a strange thing, yet the study of it is a scientific discipline of it’s own. For example, in Asia, kissing is considered such an intimate act that it is not permissible in public, even as a social greeting. A woman has a wider-ranging peripheral vision, which allows her to check out a man’s body from head to toe without getting caught. A male’s peripheral vision is poorer, which is why a man will move his gaze up and down a woman’s body in a very obvious way. Men do not “ogle” more than women—their tunnel vision means they just get caught more easily.

The Joy of Leaves


I like to photograph leaves in the autumn. I haven’t really done that this year and it is really too late now. Alas. I love the way they change colors and how a single leaf can break out in a flurry of various colors and shades. They are amazing and it delights me to see them.

But, perhaps there is no greater joy of leaves than that which comes to a child who can run and jump into a big pile of leaves!

On Thanksgiving day, our youngest son and his family came to our house for the Thanksgiving celebration. Prior to their arrival, my wife and I had raked up a HUGE pile of leaves for the purpose of letting their kids have some fun with the leaf pile. Fortunately, we have NO shortage of leaves as our home is surrounded by tree and backs right up to the Dawson forest with no fence in the back yard. So the leaves were plentiful!

I shot over 200 pictures of the little girls giggling, running, jumping, leaping, turning somersaults and messing up the pile of leaves we’d worked so hard to create. Did I mind that the pile got destroyed? Absolutely not! That was the point, after all!

And then this morning after church, our youngest grand daughter crawled up in my lap and said, “Pop-pop, it was SO MUCH FUN playing in the leaves at your house the other day!”  (I have one sequence of shots when she was running to the pile, jumped in, got twisted around, and at one point, only her rear end and shoes were sticking out of the leaves…but she emerged with a huge grin and laugh! I laughed so hard when I saw the pictures of that sequence!!!

Guess what? I’ll rake up a big pile again next year and let them destroy it again – laughing all the time!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1703, an unusual storm system finally dissipated over England after wreaking havoc on the country for nearly two weeks. Featuring hurricane strength winds, the storm killed somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people. Hundreds of Royal Navy ships were lost to the storm, the worst in Britain’s history.

The unusual weather began on November 14 as strong winds from the Atlantic Ocean battered the south of Britain and Wales. Many homes and other buildings were damaged by the pounding winds, but the hurricane-like storm only began doing serious damage on November 26. With winds estimated at over 80 miles per hour, bricks were blown from some buildings and embedded in others. Wood beams, separated from buildings, flew through the air and killed hundreds across the south of the country. Towns such as Plymouth, Hull, Cowes, Portsmouth and Bristol were devastated.

However, the death toll really mounted when 300 Royal Navy ships anchored off the country’s southern coast—with 8,000 sailors on board—were lost. The Eddystone Lighthouse, built on a rock outcropping 14 miles from Plymouth, was felled by the storm. All of its residents, including its designer, Henry Winstanley, were killed. Huge waves on the Thames River sent water six feet higher than ever before recorded near London. More than 5,000 homes along the river were destroyed.

The author Daniel Defoe, who would later enjoy worldwide acclaim for the novel Robinson Crusoe, witnessed the storm, which he described as an “Army of Terror in its furious March.” His first book, The Storm, was published the following year.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A modern coin-counting machine can count 2,500 coins a minute. A bank note-counting machine can tally up to 100 bills in 4 seconds. It can also tell what denomination they are and if they are fake.

…Lost in the Woods

Double click to see an enlarged version of the image…


It is one of those days here in northern Georgia when you love to be inside.  It has been raining since before sunup and I don’t know if it has stopped all day.  I can hear the rain on the roof…and that is a sound that I love.  I love to look out the window on such a day and see the weather and color.  On a day like this, the rain has washed all the leaves clean of whatever dust has settled on the, it darkens the colors of the bark making for greater contrasts.  The cloud cover keeps everything from being too bright.

My wife stuck her head out the door briefly on a task and she asked if I had my camera.  Behind where we live, well, all around us, there are trees and bushes.  Though most of the leaves have fallen now, there is a tree behind us that still have most of its leaves and color.  I don’t know what kind of tree it is (I am fairly certain, though, that it is not a dandelion!), but it is one of my favorite kinds of trees.  And my wife was right: in the rain, there was beauty.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1959, Robert Stroud, the famous “Birdman of Alcatraz,” was released from solitary confinement for the first time in 43 years. Stroud gained widespread fame and attention when author Thomas Gaddis wrote a biography that trumpeted Stroud’s ornithological expertise.

Stroud was first sent to prison in 1909 after he killed a bartender in a brawl. He had nearly completed his sentence at Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas when he stabbed a guard to death in 1916. Though he claimed to have acted in self-defense, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. A handwritten plea by Stroud’s mother to President Woodrow Wilson earned Stroud a commuted sentence of life in permanent solitary confinement.

For the next 15 years, Stroud lived among the canaries that were brought to him by visitors, and became an expert in birds and ornithological diseases. But after being ordered to give up his birds in 1931, he redirected his energies to writing about them and published his first book on ornithology two years later. When the publisher failed to pay Stroud royalties because he was barred from filing suit, Stroud took out advertisements complaining about the situation. Prison officials retaliated by sending him to Alcatraz, the federal prison with the worst conditions.

In 1943, Stroud’s Digest of the Diseases of Birds, a 500-page text that included his own illustrations, was published to general acclaim. In spite of his success, Stroud was depressed over the isolation he felt at Alcatraz, and he attempted suicide several times. The legendary “Birdman of Alcatraz” died in a Missouri prison in 1963 at the age of 73.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  One in five adults admitted to urinating in swimming pools, which means 20% of adults in swimming pools have urinated in it. Red eyes associated with swimming are not caused by chlorine. They are caused by chloramine, a chemical that is created when urine combines with the chlorine already in the pool. In fact, the more strong smelling a pool is, the more contaminated it is.


What makes you special?  I suppose that’s just another way of asking, “What makes you, you?”  How would you answer that question?

You might start off talking about fingerprints and how there are no two alike in the world (by the way, the same is true of snowflakes!)  The iris of your eye and its pattern are also unique.  No one else in the world has an eye just like you.  Your combination of biochemistry, DNA, size and shape…all go together to make you, you!  But I think that there’s more than just physical stuff that makes us unique.  Your hopes and dreams, while similar to others, are unique.  You have a unique history, thought patterns, experiences, friends and expressions and all those things, too, serve to make you even more unique.  Those things cannot be described by chemical formulas or weighed in a scale.  Far more than your biology, those things have shaped and formed you into the You-nique being that you are!  So, if you ever feel that no one else understands you or is like you, in a way, that is true…but I think more than anything, that is something to be celebrated, not bemoaned.

What’s another way of saying “You are unique!”  Try this one: “You are special!”

I don’t know, but I also suspect that things like leaves are unique, too.  I’ve been fascinated by the shapes and colors of leaves for a long time, but only recently thought about starting an online photo album (probably on my FB page) that I think I’ll call, “Leaf Studies”, which will feature close-ups and macro shots of leaves.  Today is an example of some I shot recently.

But, as beautiful as some of these leaves may be, they can’t hold a candle to YOU!

_MG_7041ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1941, German Nazi soldiers went on a rampage, killing thousands of Yugoslavian civilians, including whole classes of schoolboys.

Despite attempts to maintain neutrality at the outbreak of World War II, Yugoslavia signed a “friendship treaty” with Germany in late 1940, finally joining the Tripartite “Axis” Pact in March 1941. The masses of Yugoslavians protested, and shortly thereafter the regents who had been trying to hold a fragile confederacy of ethnic groups and regions together since the creation of Yugoslavia at the close of World War I fell to a coup, and the Serb army placed Prince Peter into power. The prince-now the king–rejected the alliance with Germany-and the Germans retaliated with the Luftwaffe bombing of Belgrade, killing about 17,000 people.

With Yugoslavian resistance collapsing, King Peter removed to London, setting up a government-in-exile. Hitler started carving up Yugoslavia into puppet states, hoping to win the loyalty of some with the promise of a postwar independent state. Hungary, Bulgaria, and Italy all took bites out of Yugoslavia, as Serb resisters were regularly massacred. On October 21, in Kragujevac, 2,300 men and boys were murdered; Kraljevo saw 7,000 more killed by German troops, and in the region of Macva, 6,000 men, women, and children were murdered.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The first manager of the Seattle Space Needle, Hoge Sullivan, was acrophobic – fearful of heights. The 605-foot-tall Space Needle is fastened to its foundation with 72 bolts, each 30 feet long. The Space Needle sways approximately 1 inch for every 10 mph of wind. It was built to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour.


It’s Time to Leaf….

Why is it that no matter where you go, even if you can’t speak the language, that leaves speak to us?  Is it their gentle dancing in the softest breeze?  Is it the light-reflecting dance as the sun penetrates the thin, leafy material and highlights their various colors?  Is there some strange sound they make that draws us like the sirens in Homer’s epic that pulls us close, bidding us to take a more intimate look at these wonderful, dancing, singing things?

OK…I don’t pretend to know.  But let’s just say that maybe it’s all the above and then some.  Wouldn’t it be cool if someday we learned that leaves make a sound of their own (not just the rustling in the wind) that is only discernable at a sub-hearing level of our unconsciousness?  Do I think that’s the case?  No.  But I’ve been wrong before (please don’t tell my wife, OK?)

These leaves were in Mexico and I liked the curve of the brick arch and the various colors as the sun pushed its way through the leafy surfaces.

ItsTimeToLeafON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1554, Lady Jane Gray was executed for high treason after serving as queen of England for only nine days.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: during the Middle Ages, the human-folk believed that birds began to mate on February 14…hence it became a day for lovers and the Valentine’s Day card became a reality as lovers send love letters on that day.  Now, aren’t you glad you asked???


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.

Simple Joys and a Grandpa’s Heart

Do you remember when you got all excited to be given an ice cream cone?  Or to make one of those chain links out of colored construction paper so you could count down the days to Christmas?  How it was exciting to be given a candy bar or to go trick-or-treating?

Childhood should be a time of abundant, simple joys.  I had a wonderful childhood…one filled with all sorts of delightful experiences and very few painful ones.  I know that in many ways I was one of the lucky ones.  I’m very thankful for that.  I wish every child could have that kind of childhood, that no child would ever be abused, mistreated or go to bed without a full stomach.  That’s part of why I am moving into a new and different direction as far as what I hope to do for the rest of my life: helping kids regardless of where they live, to get food, water and protection.

We are 8 days away from moving.  We had two of our three kids and their families here for Thanksgiving…and what a wondrous time it was!!!  I’ve got the most wonderful family on earth: three kids who are all married to wonderful spouses, and 5 grandkids that make me the proudest grandfather in the history of the world.  But then, Friday came and our daughter and her family had to return home…so we had a long, tearful goodbye.  Today, our oldest son and his family went home…so we had a long, tearful goodbye.  Both of their families live in the Bay Area, and since we’re moving to Georgia, it’ll be some time before we see them again…and we won’t see them as often.  Sure, we’ll Skype a lot (at least that’s our intention), and while it’s great to be able to do so, it’s not the same as being in the same room and being able to feel their hugs or to give them a hug.  I won’t be able to buy my grand-kids an ice cream whenever I want.  These two families live close enough that on any given day, we could have drive down to see them.  Not after 12/5.  But we will be near our other son and his family.

While these things weigh heavily on our hearts tonight, this post is about simple joys…those known to kids.  Today’s photo was taken Friday afternoon.  Two of my granddaughters are in it, and my oldest on has just crash-landed in a small pile of leaves that she and her two cousins had raked up in the front yard.  I love the look of the simple joy of jumping into the leaves that is on her face.  What a wonderful time they had!  I wish I could be with all my kids and grand-kids every day to share simple joys with them!

The simple joys of childhood...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: there are 61 towns in the United States that have the word “turkey” in them,

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in 1703 a two day “Great Storm” ripped through southern England flooding the Thames and Severin rivers, killing over 8000 people.

It Was a Dark Day

Well, there’s simply no other way to put this.  I’ve tried to think of other ways to say it, but without any luck.  It was a dark day in the Dalrymple household today.  Today we got an issue of AARP Magazine…and Antonio Banderas was on the cover.  I told Laurel that I was truly sorry.  I know how much she loves Antonio.  But there he was in living (if barely living) on the cover of the old folks’ magazine.  I think Laurel may come out of her mourning in about 6 years or so.  As I said, it was a dark day…

But it wasn’t all that dark.  I don’t think the sun ever broke through today, or if it did, it was for a nanosecond here or there.  But we had our daughter with us all day and our oldest granddaughter and we’ve had a great day of it.  And it’s not over yet!

Many people don’t think that cloudy days are good for taking pictures.  I think they are great days for shooting.  You don’t have the harsh light that often accompanies bright sun and there is much greater balance in the exposure as a result.

At his age, I don’t think Antonio cares whether it stays cloudy or if the sun comes out.  But maybe, in our household, when Laurel stops weeping over his appearance on AARP magazine’s cover, the sun will come out again.

Vineyard leaves on a cloudy day...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1842, Mt. St. Helens in Washington state erupted, making it the first volcano eruption in North America for which an exact date could be established.  Of course, over a century later, it would erupt again in a spectacular explosion that changed the shape of the mountain forever.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the common male housefly lives out its entire lifespan in a period of just 17 days.

Through the Window

Today is the second of the two pictures I shot on Wednesday.  This was from a window that is above the sink in the master bathroom sink area.  It’s a rather wide but quite short window.  As I was walking by it on my way into the shower yesterday, I noticed how bright the blue sky and leaves were outside the window in the side yard.  That’s what prompted me to look out other windows to see if there would be interesting photos…and it yielded the photo I shared yesterday.

Amazing how blue the sky was (and I didn’t do anything to the color curves via Photoshop!!  Because I metered the exposure off the light from outside, the inside walls at the top and bottom of the window came out looking very black.  I hadn’t quite anticipated it, so that was one of the delightful after-the-fact discoveries that happen every once in a while!

A glimpse of glory....

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1558, Elizabeth I ascended the British throne after the death of Queen Mary.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the South Pole is actually considered a desert environment, receiving about the same average amount of annual rainfall as the Sahara desert.

Signs of the Season

Fall as finally arrived in the wine country…for sure.  There was frost all over the truck this morning, and they are saying it might get below 30 tonight.  I know for many of you that’s not very cold, but it doesn’t get much cooler than that here…ever.  On rare occasions, it may get into the 20’s, but only for a few nights.

Of course, Halloween is just past and hot on its heels will arrive Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  November is my second favorite month after October, so I will be enchanted all month with the seasonal change.

Today’s photo is a blend of man-made and God-made wonders.  The man-made wonders are Snickers, Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy bars, though I must say that Butterfinger really isn’t in the same class as the Snickers and Baby Ruth!  And then, of course, Three Musketeers and Milky Ways don’t even appear on my radar!!!!

The God-made wonders I picked up off the ground outside of our daughter’s place.  There were so many bright, vivid colored leaves that I just couldn’t resist picking out some and bringing them home where I staged them on a white background with the candy bars and berries.

Now, I think it is time to eat the Snickers and Baby Ruth.  If any of you want the Butterfinger…you’re welcome to it!

A mix of seasonal signs for October and November

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter found the first signs of the burial tomb of an ancient pharaoh.  Of course, it turned out to be the archaeological find of all time: that of the young pharaoh, Tutankhamen.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: when female wasps return to the hive after foraging, they engage in a strange practice called “male-stuffing” which consists of taking the males and stuffing them head-first into empty nest cells.  Scientists think this behavior helps to contribute to the colony’s health by providing more food for the developing larvae (they eat the males!)  Now, aren’t you glad that you’re not a male wasp!