November 30, 2012

Statue of Admiral Byrd

This stands in front of a court house in Winchester, VA.  Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr. was born in Winchester and gained fame as a polar explorer.

He is also pictured on a giant apple in Winchester.

Benny with my New Camera

I tried out my new camera yesterday. Much as I loved my old Coolpix, it was starting to act up, blurring everything whenever I zoomed in all the way. I feared it might stop focusing completely, and repairing a digital camera that old would cost more than the camera is worth.

I got another Nikon and many of the controls are the same so the learning curve is not too steep. It has a Pet Photo setting and I tried it on our cocker spaniel. It gave me a fast shooting mode with a hair-trigger so sensitive that I took a lot of pictures accidentally. Most of them were a "miss" because Ben kept sniffing the ground and turning his head away. But I did get this one.

November 29, 2012

The View from Thoburn's Position

When we first arrived at this site on Cedar Creek Battlefield, the sun was shining but it soon disappeared behind clouds. A cold wind chilled us.

 The living history exhibit was in the woods where the old trenches still exist. Back in 1864 those trees had been cleared and log walls helped enclose the redoubt [defined as a small usually temporary enclosed defensive work.]

View from the Trenches, Thoburn's Redoubt
It seemed a little odd to look out from a living history site and see the sign for Burger King but that's what is there on the edge of Strasburg. In between is a steep ravine and Cedar Creek.
On the Pasture with Signal Knob in the Background
In 1864 Confederate officers looked out from Signal Knob and evaluated the Federal encampments around Cedar Creek. They could see the strong position of the redoubt but also saw weakness on this side where the slope was not as steep and defenses not as extensive.

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November 28, 2012

Living History at Thoburn's Redoubt

These re-enactors were out in the cold on Saturday at the site of Thoburn's Redoubt. We had a little trouble finding them at first, although I knew approximately where the site was along Bowman's Mill Road. Few onlookers were there; perhaps because it was Thanksgiving weekend and the day was windy. Cedar Creek Battlefield had a few events going on and I chose this one because I've only been to that particular site once before even though it's not far from Strasburg.

These hardy men are part of the 10th Virginia, a unit I've run into before because they are very active participants in history events in the Shenandoah Valley.

You might also like: Cedar Creek Tour with Prof. Noyalas
and on my CWFT pages: Valley Campaign of 1864

November 27, 2012

A Milestone Birthday

Frank's middle daughter celebrated her 40th last week. She was not able to join us for dinner on that day but we got together on Sunday. Frank purchased a small cake for the occasion.
Dad Lit the CandlesDave and Allison

November 26, 2012

Cedar Creek at Bowman's Mill Ford

The scene looks tranquil at first glance but if you look closely you can see signs of recent flooding. Debris is still hanging from trees.

There's a low-water bridge here which floods regularly, so during a heavy storm you might want to cross the creek on the other side on Strasburg on U.S. 11 or I-81.

There was no bridge here 150 years but Confederate soldiers crossed at a ford on their way to attack a Union encampment, starting the Battle of Cedar Creek.

November 25, 2012

Blog Post 3600

(Image Composited in Photoshop)
Winter's cold dark days are depressing.
Here we don't get snow very often, so we welcome it for breaking the monotony of grayness
with whiteness, which is brighter, more cheerful.

I long for sunshine.
I take vitamin D but it does not comfort me like the sun's cheery rays that warm my skin and overfill my eyes.
I have a lamp that fills my eyes with brightness, but it does not caress my skin with warmth.

Gray days too short in a season too long: Winter.

An Old Hay Barn

November 24, 2012

Lynn Had a Birthday

Lynn's birthday was yesterday. I took a picture of a childhood portrait of her. Unfortunately it had obtained a strong reddish cast over the years so I turned it into a grayscale image in Photoshop.

South Fork near Bentonville

Shenandoah River State Park, Sept. 2012

November 23, 2012

Tree Next to Stone Wall

On the Kernstown Battlefield 

November 22, 2012

It's the Fourth Thursday in November

Today is Thanksgiving and we celebrated it rather quietly. No family members were able to come this year, although Allison and Dave were planning to meet us for dinner. Unfortunately she came down with a severe cold so we have postponed that occasion.

I have enjoyed a number of holiday dinners at the home of my sister Peggy's in-laws, who were always gracious and welcoming.  I decided to post a couple of pictures from one of those occasions. This was back in 2005.
Alex, Elias, Meadow, Marie

November 21, 2012

Autumn in Winchester

Along Stewart St., Winchester VA
I spotted this colorful tree and paused to take it's picture. This was on the last weekend of October.

November 20, 2012

View from Thompson's Hardware

Edinburg, VA

I took this picture from the parking lot of a hardware store which is having a "going out of business" sale. The blue tint on the windshield darkened the sky in the photo.

November 19, 2012

We Still Have Some Fall Color

Although most of the brilliant autumn leaves have fallen and turned brown, certain trees still display colorful leaves especially in the valley. We've had freezing nights though, so we'll lose their cheery foliage soon.

November 18, 2012

Missing Summer Sunshine

The days have grown short and temperatures have dropped. I miss being able to soak up the sunshine!
Over the years several doctors have advised me to take vitamin D pills, and I have done so but apparently not as much as I should because blood tests have shown that I am not getting enough. So I am trying to take more, especially now that summer is over and I'm not getting it through the skin.
Photo by Frank, Sept. 25

Today I read that older adults do not absorb vitamin D as well as young people. Also, we should take supplemental D with a meal that includes fat.

November 17, 2012

Shenandoah in September

This is the combined river, the Shenandoah near Harpers Ferry. Farther up the river we have the North Fork and the South Fork, and they join together at Front Royal.

November 16, 2012

Three More Pictures from Our Yard

These are leftover images from October. I still have more photos from that month to post; October was a busy month and a photogenic time of year.

The crane in the first picture is not real; it's a yard decoration that I talked Frank into buying for me. Of course, the squirrel is not real either.

Our back yard looks out upon a small lake, providing us with a variety of views to enjoy.  

Sassafras Leaves, Lakeside

Ritual of Autumn Leaves

It's been years since Frank had to rake leaves! Both our homes in Bryce Resort had wooded lots with very little grass, so the leaves just laid on the ground until they "returned to the forest" (as signs say on nature trails). Although we don't have too many leaves here either, he looked forward to the ritual of burning them.

Instead of raking them into a pile he used a blower, which is noisy but dramatic. 
When we lived in Montclair we didn't need to burn leaves because we could pile them at the curb and a big truck came by and sucked them up. We don't have that service here in the country, and I think he wanted to recreate the childhood memory of burning leaves anyway. The rule here is you have to wait until after 4 PM to burn them, ostensibly because the danger of the fire spreading is lower after the humidity rises, but also the volunteer firemen are more likely to be available after 4 PM, just in case.

November 15, 2012

A View from Our Driveway

Our neighbor has a new dog, seen here in her yard. They adopted Molly from a rescue organization. She is friendly and seems very sweet. Our dogs were a little shy about meeting her but they seemed to like her okay after making it through the initial sniffing ritual.

November 14, 2012

Inside Dulles at Night

I grabbed a couple of snapshots inside the terminal at IAD. The first picture has a distinctly green cast from the lights, which I assume were fluorescent. I filtered out a little of the green in Photoshop and left the rest for effect.

This is the final picture from out trip to Washington state. (Hmm, we flew from Washington to Washington!)  It took me three weeks to finish posting the images from the short trip, but in my defense I interrupted the series for other subjects plus I was using an aging laptop that kept slowing down. Now I have a new Macbook so my production speed should improve. 

November 13, 2012

Landing at Night

The only parts of flying that I really like are taking off and landing. Here's a quick look at landing at IAD (Dulles).

November 12, 2012

From an Airplane Window

I took these last month when we left SeaTac, which is the Seattle - Tacoma Airport.

November 11, 2012

Honored in Their Generation

This Civil War Trails marker at the Rappahannock County Courthouse honors the 115 men from the county who died during the Civil War. This is an appropriate subject for Veterans Day because these men sacrificed for the same reasons as soldiers of recent wars: a sense of patriotism, a desire for honor and value, and dedication to their community.

I like this marker because it discusses the history of the monument itself as well as listing the names of the men who were honored.
"After the war, as the years passed and the numbers of veterans dwindled, memorial efforts increased around the nation, and many communities, north and south, erected monuments. In the former Confederate states especially, by the turn of the twentieth century, most county court squares featured such monuments, which often listed local units and the names of the men who died in the conflict. 
Herbert Barbee (1848-1936), a son of noted sculptor William Randolph Barbee, crafted the monument, as well as Confederate memorials in Luray and Warrenton.

The Rappahannock County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the monument in 1900."
Photos on the Civil War Trails sign show a "rack of arms" that once stood on top of the monument and two former members of Mosby's Rangers standing by the monument around 1900. This sign was dedicated in April 2011.

Washington, VA near the Court House
Photoshop Note: I modified portions of this street scene to bring out the colors. A key step was creating a layer from a selection of the foreground and merging it as "Color Dodge."

November 10, 2012

Seatac Tarmac

Did you know that the word tarmac is short for tarmacadam, which was a variation of macadam? And macadam is named after John McAdam, a Scottish engineer who improved the method of road surfacing around 1820.

November 9, 2012

Another Update on Bird Haven

My posts on the Shenandoah Community Workers and historic Bird Haven have been popular because there isn't much else on the web about them, although you can find a few references in Google Books. Today I got a comment from Mrs. Carr, current owner of Bird Haven, which you can read under the Bird Haven Revisited post. Her great-grandparents owned the nearby Alum Springs Hotel!
I found an article about Bird Haven on DNRonline. It's by Helen W. Smith, a volunteer with the museum in Timberville which has exhibit items and a binder of documents about Bird Haven.

Bird Haven is near Basye and Bryce Resort in western Virginia. 
Items Crafted in Bird Haven

Bright Lights, Highway at Night

Virginia state law requires motorists to slow down when passing a stopped emergency vehicle and move over to a farther lane if possible.

November 8, 2012

A Warning on the South Fork

We saw this sign next to the South Fork of the Shenandoah in Front Royal. The Virginia Department of Health advises that "Fish caught in these waters may contain polychlorinated biphenyl's (PCB's). Eating fish containing PCB's may increase the lifetime risk of cancer."

A New Retaining Wall

We built a small retaining wall on one end of the septic riser so that we could raise the soil level and put in some perennials. We are required to have a mound septic system. It's not attractive but adding more plants around it should help.

The angled bricks are designed specifically for retaining walls.

A Book for the Library

I'm working on a Blog2Print book for the Basye-Orkney Springs Community Library. It's basically a collection of blog (web log) posts about library events.

When I lived in Bryce Resort and volunteered at the library, I photographed some library events and shared them on the blog. Now I miss the friendly people at the library! I thought it would be nice to give them an album of the pictures.

Blog2Print offers a simple way to publish a hard-copy book of blog posts and I can select them by "Label." The result is not perfect because links don't work in a book and videos don't show up. Still, it should make a nice photo album. This blog is at and you can search it for "Library" posts.

November 6, 2012

Views from the Other Side of the Lake

Egret at Shenandoah River Lakes

We've had a resident egret for the past few weeks. Since he moved in, I haven't seen the great blue heron. Perhaps the lake isn't big enough for both of them. The geese don't mind the egret's presence though.

Our house is located behind the trees just above the upper left corner of the pictures.