Tag Archives: vines

…on Honesty

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I realize that not everyone grew up in a home where moral values were stressed.  One of the values that was stressed greatly was that of being honest and telling the truth.  I was always impressed with the need to tell the truth, though I can’t say that I always practiced it – not then, and probably, if truth be told, not today.  There are just some things which call for wisdom.  For example, if telling the truth were to lead to the death of an innocent person, what would be the right thing to do?  Such are the questions that theologians and moralists wrestle with.

But there was a saying in the days of my childhood that I don’t hear much any more, and it goes like this: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  That stuck with me all these years.  And when I saw these vines growing up the side of an old barn, I was reminded of that saying.  It would be hard to untangle these vines and free the barn…and it is difficult to untangle a web of deceit to get to the truth.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1862, the Civil War exploded in the west as the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston collided at Shiloh, near Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became one of the bloodiest engagements of the war, and the level of violence shocked North and South alike.

For six months, Yankee troops had been working their way up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Kentucky was firmly in Union hands, and now the Federals controlled much of Tennessee, including the capital at Nashville. Grant scored major victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in February, forcing Johnston to gather the scattered Rebel forces at Corinth in northern Mississippi. Grant brought his army, 42,000 strong, to rendezvous with General Don Carlos Buell and his 20,000 troops. Grant’s objective was Corinth, a vital rail center that if captured would give the Union total control of the region. Twenty miles away, Johnston lurked at Corinth with 45,000 soldiers.

Johnston did not wait for Grant and Buell to combine their forces. He advanced on April 3, delayed by rains and muddy roads that also slowed Buell. In the early dawn of April 6, a Yankee patrol found the Confederates poised for battle just a mile from the main Union army. Johnston attacked, driving the surprised bluecoats back near a small church called Shiloh, meaning “place of peace.” Throughout the day, the Confederates battered the Union army, driving it back towards Pittsburgh Landing and threatening to trap it against the Tennessee River. Many troops on both sides had no experience in battle. The chances for a complete Confederate victory diminished as troops from Buell’s army began arriving, and Grant’s command on the battlefield shored up the sagging Union line. In the middle of the afternoon, Johnston rode forward to direct the Confederate attack and was struck in the leg by a bullet, severing an artery and causing him to quickly bleed to death. He became the highest ranking general on either side killed during the war. General Pierre G. T. Beauregard assumed control, and he halted the advance at nightfall. The Union army was driven back two miles, but it did not break.

The arrival of additional troops from Buell’s army provided Grant with reinforcements, while the Confederates were worn out from their march. The next day, Grant pushed the Confederates back to Corinth for a major Union victory.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Artillery barrage and mines created immense noise. In 1917, explosives blowing up beneath the German lines on Messines Ridge at Ypres in Belgium could be heard in London 140 miles (220 km) away.


I’ve recently posted pictures of some classic cars at car shows that really weren’t “vintage” because most of them were not original equipment.  I guess, though, that one could say that they are “vintage” in the sense that they bear some resemblance to the originals.  I suppose, in a way, everything is vintage, right?

Well, in northern California’s wine country, vintage has an entirely different meaning as you may well guess.  A year’s harvest and subsequent production is a vintage, isn’t it?  As in, “That was a good vintage” means (I think!) “The wine was good that year!”  (You see, I’m not classy enough to speak oino-language!!!)

Truth be told, I’m not much of a drinker of anything that has alcohol in it…by choice.  I may have a glass of wine once in 60-90 days, but that’s it.  My interest in the vineyards isn’t tied to the product, but to the scenery – especially in the fall once the colors of the leaves have started to turn.

It’s a bit early still in northern California to see the leaves on the vines in their best color, but the color is starting to come.  For those who live on the eastern seaboard and witness the turning of the seasons every fall, what we experience here in northern California is a poor imitation of ridge after ridge of mountains in fiery color that you see in New England.  But, it’s still not bad.

Here’s a shot I took quite recently.  Ah…vintage!

_MG_7009ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1917, Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, was executed for espionage by a French firing squad at Vincennes outside of Paris.

She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in Malay. In reality, Mata Hari was born in a small town in northern Holland in 1876, and her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France, mostly because her show consisted of her slowly stripping nude.

She became a famous courtesan, and with the outbreak of World War I her catalog of lovers began to include high-ranking military officers of various nationalities. In February 1917, French authorities arrested her for espionage and imprisoned her at St. Lazare Prison in Paris. In a military trial conducted in July, she was accused of revealing details of the Allies’ new weapon, the tank, resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers. She was convicted and sentenced to death, and on October 15 she refused a blindfold and was shot to death by a firing squad at Vincennes.

There is some evidence that Mata Hari acted as a German spy, and for a time as a double agent for the French, but the Germans had written her off as an ineffective agent whose pillow talk had produced little intelligence of value. Her military trial was riddled with bias and circumstantial evidence, and it is probable that French authorities trumped her up as “the greatest woman spy of the century” as a distraction for the huge losses the French army was suffering on the western front. Her only real crimes may have been an elaborate stage fallacy and a weakness for men in uniform.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Former bricklayer Jack Kelly, father of actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly, once headed Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s national physical fitness program.

Of Vines and Tomato Soup Walls

Do you like tomato soup?  It was never my favorite, but I do recall as a child when we lived in Iowa that my mother would, on a cold winter day, heat up some tomato soup and make grilled cheese sandwiches for my sister and I to eat as we sat in the kitchen of our small farmhouse.  The combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches has stuck with me all these years.

Don’t get me wrong..I don’t love tomato soup.  I’d much rather eat cream of mushroom soup, bacon and potato soup, or Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana (probably my all time favorite).

Sometimes I see something that is about the same color as tomato soup and it takes me back to those lunches on cold Iowa days.  I had an experience somewhat like that this past week when I saw the side of a building that was tomato soup colored, but what caught my attention wasn’t so much the soup color but the intricate and intriguing vines that had grown and attached themselves to the wall, and then seem to have died.  They almost formed a latticework on the wall.  I thought it fascinating…even if the wall was the color of tomato soup instead of zuppa Toscana!

VinesAndTomatoSoupON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1922, Mahatma Gandhi was sentenced to six years in prison for his civil disobedience campaign.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: there is only one known species of ostrich in the entire world, the order of Struthioniformes.


Winding Down

Life, as described by Solomon and experienced by all of us, has its cycles.  There are beginnings, middles and ends…and then there are new beginnings, new middles and ends…and so it goes.

Solomon described it well in Ecclesiastes and the Byrds took his words and put them to music in their song (written by Pete Seeger), Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is a Season) that was popular when I was a kid.  The song also made an “appearance” in the movie, Forrest Gump.  It speaks of how there is a time to be born, a time to die, and everything in between:

“To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

“A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep…”

It holds true in every area of life: physically, emotionally – throughout human history.  Election cycles are called that because they’re cyclical.  The evaporation/rain cycle is the same.  The turning of the seasons are evidence of how things start up, exist, and wind down.

Right now this is beautifully displayed in the vineyards around us.  Harvest has taken place, but there are still vines with some grapes left on them.  The tiny buds and growing shoots of springtime gave way to lush greens and growing nodules of grapes that by fall had become the stuff of wine makers dreams.  Now, as November has settled in, the winding down of the vineyards is evident.  Today’s photo is evidence…even as there are still grapes, their time is nearly gone.  I’m grateful for the passing of the election, but sad to see the passing of the color and the total loss of leaves.  But, I suppose these things are necessary for there to be new growth and vitality come springtime.  Still, I’m a bit nostalgic.  I like the color…I like life.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected to a six-year term as President of the Confederacy.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: alcoholics are twice as likely to confess their drinking addiction to a computer as they are to confess to a doctor, according to Wisconsin researchers.

A Tangled Web

Did your mom ever tell you, after catching you in some kind of deception, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive?”  Mine did.  I hated it then, and to this day it still grates on me.  Mind you, I don’t disagree with what she said or with the truth of the statement.  But that still doesn’t mean I have to like it!!!

Black widow spiders are very eccentric web weavers.  Some spiders create beautiful webs, very symmetrical and intricate.  Not so with black widows.  Maybe it’s because they don’t feel like they need to do anything too pretty.  Maybe it’s because their poison has affect them somehow.  Who knows?  All I know is that if I was outside (this was when we lived in California) and I moved some wood or something else that had been sitting in the garage or shed for a long time, I was very likely to discover a really messy looking web…and almost invariably, I’d find a black widow, too.

Well, today’s photo isn’t of a spider web, though I’d really like to shoot some early in the morning sometime when there was still dew on the web.  This is, instead, a tangled web of vines at The Forum.  These are so twisted that I have to wonder if someone did this on purpose.  Maybe someone out there can tell me if one can do this on purpose if you bend the vines around at the right time.  Probably can.  I don’t know.  But I liked the way they looked.  They reminded me of a nest of snakes, all curled and twisted around each other.  The good news is this: I didn’t find any black widows spiders!

A veritable snake-pit of twisted vines!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1945, Germany launched their last V2 rocket from The Hague in the Netherlands.  It landed in Orpington, southeast of London.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: since white tigers have pigmented stripes and blue eyes, they are not albinos.

Vines and Wall

I have always enjoyed looking at vines as they snake their way up a rock or brick wall.  I’m not saying that I’d want them climbing up the outside of MY house, but I can at least enjoy looking at them on someone else’s house, or a building.

I took this shot on Saturday at a shopping center, The Forum, near where we live.  I really don’t know why I like such things, but I do, so just forgive me and humor me for a while.  After all, I had a young boy (maybe 5 or 6) at my 3-year old granddaughter’s day care/school the other day look at me and say, “You’re look really old.”  Ah, kids.  What are ya gonna do with them?  So, that’ll be my excuse.  Old age.  I’m eccentric perhaps, or maybe I like this kind of stuff so much because the vines move so slowly that I can keep up with them.

Vines climbing a brick wall at The Forum

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1979, Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin signed a peace treaty with Israel, ending 30  years of war between the two countries.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: it takes 69,000 extractions of venom from a coral snake (very deadly) to fill a 1-pint container.

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.


In my opinion, nature is beautiful.  Yes, I know that it is at times “red in tooth and claw”.  But it is also beautiful – breathtakingly so.

No big commentary today, but I just loved the way this picture turned out.  Click on it a couple of times to “blow it up” to larger size and enjoy it.  I have.  This is better stuff than any human can create.  All we can do is stand back and suck in our breath in awe and delight.

Enjoy…and have a great weekend!!

I love this image!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1918 the armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed, ending WWI.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the largest man-made geyser in the world is located opposite the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.  It reaches heights of 600 feet utilizing 800 hp pumps that discharge water at 200 feet per second.  The geyser can keep 1,100 gallons of water (weighing 9200 pounds) in the air at one time.


Remember the child’s game of “Peek-a-boo”?  Usually, it was played by putting one’s hands over your eyes and then peeking out between their fingers while saying, “Peek-a-boo, I see you!” and the little one you were playing with giggled with delight!  I don’t know who had more fun with that game – me or my kids or grandkids.

Yesterday, Laurel and I needed a break and we went for a drive.  I’d not taken any pictures for quite a long time and I desperately was looking for something in this area to photograph.  The grape harvest has started and that means that the vines which have been picked have started to turn colors.  We’re a long way yet from the peak of color here in northern California’s wine country, but I did notice a few vines that had some color and that looked interesting.  I pulled the car to the side of the road, walked down the embankment and indulged myself by taking pictures.  I shot several of the vines from a distance (and you’ll probably see one or two of those in the next couple of days), but when I got up close and personal with one vine, I noticed a dried leaf hiding behind a screen of leaves that still had green in them.  I focused on that dry leaf (in the very center of the picture) and came up with this picture that I’m sharing with you today.  I felt that the leaf was playing hide-and-seek with me.  I hope you like it.

Peek-a-boo dried leaf, I see you!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: the comic strip, Peanuts, made its first appearance in nine newspapers.  It would go on to become, arguably, the most popular comic strip ever…and is still be published as re-runs to this day, even after the death of Charles Schultz, the late creator of the strip.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: bees can see ultraviolet light!

Vines and Fences

You know, if you catch them in the right light, very simple things can make for very nice pictures!  Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck thinking that if you’re not in Yosemite looking up/down at Half Dome or El Capitan or Yosemite Falls that there’s just nothing worth shooting.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  There are interesting things to shoot everywhere…even in your sister’s back yard!

My sister and her family just got a new dog named Roxie.  Roxie is a 4-year old Rot/Shepherd mix and she’s a sweetie.  We’d never met this dog before today, but we went to my sister’s house this afternoon to make friends with the new pooch.  I had my camera with me because we’d gone to Petaluma (Laurel was picking up some more yarn from a yard store there) and I was taking pictures while she was shopping.  So, when we got to my sister’s place, I took the camera in with me, thinking I’d take a few pictures of Roxie.  I did.  But I also took some other pictures that I thought turned out pretty well, too.

I love fences…wooden fences, that is…especially those that have a bit of weathering on their faces.  Couple that with grapevines that are climbing and clinging to the fences, mix in a bit of sun and shadows and voila!…you have the makings of a decent picture!  (At least I think so!)

Here you go…I hope your weekend is going well!!!!

I like climbing fences...so do grapevines! Maybe I am a grapevine????

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1741, Danish explorer Vitus J. Bering and his crew became the first Europeans to reach Alaska.  It was his second attempt to reach Alaska from the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia.  The sea between Siberia and Alaska would be named after Bering.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: every day, 8.5 million tons of water evaporates from the Dead Sea on the border of Israel and Jordan.