February 28, 2013

Chair, Table, Late Afternoon

Light and shadow can make a mundane subject look interesting.

On Rumors, Lies, and Infographics

Does this make sense to you?
The statistics are made up but I put them in a graphic to make a point: Graphs give credence to information even if it's not true! There is so much misinformation on the internet, especially on social media, and it irks me.

But I should probably stop correcting people who pass around internet rumors. It wastes my time and sounds snarky. Still, it's uncomfortable for me to just let lies fly around. What do you do?

I hereby resolve to be less sarcastic and more patient. But first please allow me to post some advice.
  1. Don't automatically believe charts and other graphics. Anyone can make one!
  2. Before you pass on a hot story, do a little fact checking. At least look up the original story instead of relying on someone's opinion. And check Snopes or look up the topic on Wikipedia — it's not guaranteed accurate but it often provides good background information. Or search out a key phrase and the word scam.
  3. Consider the source. What are the qualifications of the writer? If none are given, be very skeptical.
  4. And keep in mind: Just because something backs up your philosophy doesn't make it true.
From now on I'll try to control my impulse to get self-righteous when I see internet lies. It's easy to hurt someone's feelings and we've all been fooled by something we read. There must be a polite way to handle this.

February 27, 2013

Goose Encore

gray goose

This is not the first time I've shared photos of geese and I'm sure it won't be the last. When you live on a lake, you see geese every day. They are fun to watch, although I sometimes chase them away from the bird feeders. Not that they rob the feeders, but the squirrels knock a lot of seed on the ground and I like to see songbirds eating it, not geese.

Our geese are already well-fed by one of our neighbors and by visiting children.  The graylag geese and their white cousins look rather plump.

View through the Windshield

The wall is actually straight. Rain on the windshield distorted the scene.  I liked it well enough to show it to you.
In Bunker Hill, WV

February 26, 2013

Bower Sisters

I've written before about my great-grandmother Mary Amaryllis Bower Hammer. Her name gets confusing because she preferred the name Emma when she was young and her first husband was Russell Carpenter so we have the name Emma L. Carpenter inscribed in her prayer book. So Mary E., Emma L., and Mary Amaryllis are the same person. Recently I heard from a woman who is descended from one of her sisters! She sent me a portrait of her ancestor with another sister.
Amanda Bower, Florence Vinitia Bower Townsend, Lizzie
We do not know who Lizzie is, although there was a Mary Lizzie who was a niece of Russell Carpenter. The distant cousin who sent the photo included this list of Bower siblings:
  • Sarah F Bower born about 1843 in Ohio
  • Mary E. Bower born abt 1848 in Ohio
  • Amanda M Bower born 6-22-1852 in Ohio
  • Florence Vinitia “Flora” Bower bn 1855 in New England, Ohio
  • And then in the 1870 Census…one more girl was added ( Addie C. Bower born abt 1861 in Ohio)
    as well as an apparent step-mother (Harriet Reynolds)
My great-grandmother's journals lists Addie as Ada. She mentions another child, Willie ("Bub"), and later Charles Edward who died in infancy. Emma also writes of childhood hometowns in Ohio including Portsmouth, Watertown, Vincent, and Rome Township. (I mention these for other Bower descendants who may be searching for family history.)

Emma married Captain Russell Carpenter in 1865 and they lived in Tennessee and then West Virginia for a few years. In 1869, Russell was critically injured in an accident at Polk Street Bridge, Chicago and was buried in Rosehill Cemetery. My great-grandmother Emma, now a widow with a small child (Maud Russella), found a job at a "skirt manufactory" and after that the Aetna Sewing Machine Company. She tried selling books but went back into the sewing machine business. Eventually she married my great-grandfather in 1874.

Red Winter Sky

Here we're looking west toward the dam at Shenandoah River Lakes. To our left is the Massanutten Range.

On the gray days of winter, I welcome color when I see it. A bright sky at sunset is a wonderful sight!

Link added at Skywatch Friday

February 25, 2013

Kalimba, Mbira

This instrument has seen better days! I've had it for decades and never learned to play it. I don't even remember where I bought it.

It's an African instrument that goes by various names including thumb piano, kalimba, mbira, or sansa. A description in Wikipedia says it's a type of lamellophone.

February 24, 2013

Old Air Guard Plane

This old plane decorates the entrance to the Front Royal-Warren County Airport. Sometimes we drive past it on our way to Shenandoah River State Park. This airport is not very large although it is bigger than the little one in Basye.

In the distance you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains. Look closely and you can see Skyline Drive! In fact, you can also see the airport from the Shenandoah Valley Overlook on the Drive.

February 23, 2013

Neanderthal Ancestry

According to my Geno 2.0 profile, I am 2.1% Neanderthal. This statement would have been unthinkable a decade ago, before the Neanderthal genes were identified and found in all modern humans except for those in Africa (or recently from there).

Even the Neanderthal's had African origins but their ancestors apparently left that continent around 300,000 years ago. Read Decoding and Rethinking Neanderthals for more of what scholars are saying about this.

I don't mind being part Neanderthal! For a long time I have been skeptical of the idea that Neanderthal's  were stupid brutes because that theory so neatly fits the typical model of ethnocentrism. Every group likes to think they are superior but obviously not every group is. More likely no group is! We need to open our hearts and be humble.

February 22, 2013

The Belle Boyd Cottage

In Front Royal, VA
This historic building is famous because Belle Boyd lived here in 1862 when she rushed information to Stonewall Jackson as the Battle of Front Royal began. It's known as the Belle Boyd Cottage although it was actually the home of relatives and she only stayed there temporarily. 

Belle Boyd became famous as a Confederate spy and capitalized on this after the Civil War by writing a book and touring the country giving dramatic lectures on her adventures. There is also a house in Martinsburg called the Belle Boyd House where she lived for part of her childhood. 

February 21, 2013

A Herald of Spring

I saw these daffodils in Front Royal yesterday. They were growing near a wall, which must shelter them from cold winds.

February 20, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis

Such pretty birds! Northern cardinals are regular visitors to our feeders. The males are bright red; the females are green and gray with a few red highlights.

I don't know what's going on the last photo. The birds were quietly feeding and just as I clicked the shutter there was a flutter of wings and then the male flew off. In the frozen-in-time image, it appears that he attacked the female, but she did not seem flustered or hurt.

A Black Vulture

I saw this guy sitting by the lake and thought he was a turkey vulture until later when I zoomed in on the picture. If he was a turkey vulture, his face would be red.

Instead of flying away, he actually hopped off into the woods. I hope he was just tired and not injured.

The black vulture's Latin name is Coragyps atratus.

February 19, 2013

Little Sparrow

I think this is a white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). He likes to visit our feeder. 

The female does not have the bright yellow markings so this must be a male.

February 18, 2013

Snow on Massanutten

Sometimes we see snow on the mountains even when there's none in our yard. It's a little colder at the higher elevations but that's fine with me — I'd rather look at snow than drive in it!

February 17, 2013

Waterlick in the Civil War

I posted a picture of this old church in Waterlick last year along with a little history. Recently my husband found an online copy of a claim that the church filed for reimbursement of damages and unpaid rent from the time of the Civil War. (In case you are not familiar with similar cases, there were numerous claims made to the U.S. Government after the war and it took years to resolve them. Not only did damages need to be proven but parties needed to convince the court that they were loyal to the Union and did not support the Confederacy during the war.)
Here is an excerpt from the claim:
During the late Civil War the military authorities of the United States took possession of the building and grounds of the Primitive Baptist Church of Waterlick, Va., used and occupied the same for various military purposes for a long period of time, by reason of which much injury was done to the same and that the reasonable rental value of said property during such occupation, including the repairs necessary to restore said property to the same condition in which it was before such occupation, was the sum of $1,000, for which no payment has been made; that said property, consisting of a church building about 30 by 36 feet in size, was occupied by federal military forces for a long penod of time, at least a year; that during said occupation the floor was torn out, weather boarding torn off, the seats and pulpit broken up, and horses were kept in the church building on several different occasions, and finally the entire building was destroyed by said forces; that the claimant has at all times borne true allegiance to the Government of the United States and has not in any way voluntarily aided, abetted, or given encouragement to rebellion against the said Government.
I don't know when the destroyed church was rebuilt but it looks like the trustees were awarded $100. It was common to award a much smaller sum than was requested. And while it seems disrespectful to shelter horses in a church, this was not rare. We heard a similar story at St. Thomas Chapel in nearby Middletown.

Our little town of Waterlick is also mentioned in accounts of the Battle of Front Royal as follows:
...after crossing the South Fork at McCoy's Ford, Ashby's and Lt. Col. Flournoy's (6th Virginia) cavalry rode via Bell's Mill and Waterlick Station to reach the Union outpost at Buckton Depot. Ashby made a mounted assault, which cost him several of his best officers before the Union defenders surrendered. Ashby cut the telegraph lines, severing communication between the main Union army at Strasburg and the detached force at Front Royal. He then divided the cavalry, sending Flournoy's regiment east toward Riverton to threaten Kenly's rear. Ashby remained at Buckton Depot astride the railroad to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Front Royal.
Railroad tracks are still in use here, seen on the embankment on the other side of Richardson Road across from the church.

A train station was listed at Waterlick and another at nearby Buckton. According to historian Gary L. Ecelbarger, Union troops were stationed here to protect the railroad. He tells the story in the book  Three Days in the Shenandoah. Wikipedia summarizes the results in a history of the Manassas Gap Railroad, telling us that On May 23, 1862 Colonel Turner Ashby and the 7th Virginia Cavalry, during the Valley Campaign of 1862, tore up rails in the direction of Strasburg, Virginia, while Colonel Thomas T. Munford's 2nd Virginia Cavalry "wrecked track and bridges as far east as Thoroughfare Gap."

February 16, 2013

Vine Hill in Middleburg

Winter is a good time to visit an indoor museum and we had never been to the National Sporting Library and Museum, so last week we drove to Middleburg, which is less than an hour from home. Part of the art collection is housed in historic Vine Hill which was built in 1804. During the Civil War, Union General James Barnes briefly used Vine Hill as his headquarters and a few letters to him were found hidden in a wall when the house was remodeled to be part of the museum a couple of years ago.

The art collection centers around "sporting" which in Virginia's hunt country refers to fox hunting and other horse-related sports. Not all the art was of horses though. One temporary exhibit featured the wildlife art of illustrator Bob Kuhn and another one showed the work of Abbott Handerson Thayer, who not only painted wildlife but also researched animal camouflage and passed on his discoveries for military use during World War I.

Middleburg is surrounded by pretty countryside with rolling hills, stone fences, and horses grazing in fields. The gentleman-farmers who own these idyllic places include some of the country's rich and famous.

February 15, 2013

Snow at Belle Grove

Winter Near Middletown, VA

Belle Grove is wonderful historic estate in the Shenandoah Valley.

I altered this picture in Photoshop because... well, because I could! Actually, it's fun.  I used a "Find Edges" filter and then blended the layers at about 33% opacity.

A Genealogy Shortcut

I've posted some of my family history on this blog and the results have been incredible! I've heard from various distant relatives and they have contributed information about my ancestors that I did not have before. I'll share some of this when I get it organized.

Judge D. H. Hammer
In the meantime, here's a tip for those who have family roots going back to the time of the American Revolution: You can check the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) database to see if one of your ancestors has been catalogued there. 

This occurred to me recently when seeing a DAR book in a public library reminded me that my grandfather's sister had applied for membership in the DAR. I went to the DAR.org website and found the Genealogical Research Database. A search brought up the names of a few of my ancestors. I was pleased to find the following on my great-grandfather and his father:
David Harry Hammer was the child of
John W Hammer born on 21 - May - 1806 at Hagerstown MD
died at Polo IL on 5 - Jan - 1879 and his ( 1st ) wife
Eliza Witmer born on 25 - Dec - 1813 at Beaver Creek MD died at IL on 1 - Apr - 1907 married on 14 - Feb - 1832
The Said John W Hammer was the child of
George Hammer born on - - 1765 at Lancaster Co PA
died at Hagerstown MD on 31 - Jul - 1829 and his ( 1st ) wife
Catherine Hull born on - - 1769 at Lancaster Co PA
died at Hagerstown MD on 9 - May - 1853 married on - - 1790
Below that is George Hammer's Revolutionary War record:

A Question for Bloggers

Okay, some of the good folks who follow this blog are really great about commenting so I have a question for them. How do you manage all that commenting? 

I know it's polite to visit someone's blog after they comment on my posts. And I'm also following quite a few blogs that I like to comment on. But it takes time and the more blogs I read, the more time it takes. I realize that some of you have less time available than I do since you have a job or children to take care of. So how do you keep up? Is there a shortcut to doing this, an app that helps you keep track? 

For readers who don't do this, I can explain how it happens. When I start to comment on someone's post, I usually see other comments and sometimes I can tell that one or more is from someone with whom I have something in common. Perhaps they are from my part of the country or perhaps they are a lover of gardens or birds or history, or perhaps they are an artist (which I am not) and I like to see their work. So I go to their blog and comment on something, and later they click my name and come to my blog and comment. So soon I am getting more comments, which is fantastic, and I have cool blogs to read, which is wonderful! But one night I realize it is one o'clock in the morning and my eyes are tired and my wrist is getting numb. And I still haven't caught up on commenting!

Tips are welcome. But right now I need to go to bed! Good night everyone! And thanks for visiting my blog.

February 14, 2013

Variation on Graffiti

This started out as a photo of graffiti on a railroad overpass which included a heart. I copied the heart, changed the image size to be a lot smaller, and pasted the heart back in. After experimenting with effects and layer styles, I wound up with this.

February 13, 2013

Living Room Window

It's nice that the center window in our living room has an arch at the top. Even nicer is the view of the lake! And behind that are mountains, but here they are masked by clouds and snowfall.

Another Old Photo of My Girls

Marie and Lynn at Burke Lake in Northern Virginia

February 12, 2013

From an Old Album: Fishing

This is an old photo of my daughters on a fishing expedition. Marie (holding the string of fish) really dislikes fishing but she was a good sport. Lynn is holding a net with a turtle in it and the youngster behind them is our neighbor Ernie.

The girls' dad liked to fish. I found it boring but that's partly because I had no talent for catching fish.

February 11, 2013

Good Press for Marie

My daughter Marie Javins has been getting some positive publicity recently. First a literature blog praised her book Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik as well as her website. Then Wanderlust published a great interview with her, How I help create international superheroes.

Marie has been a regular contributor to Wanderlust Magazine as "Wander Woman."

Smiling Squirrel

Our squirrels often look like they are smiling! I think this is due to markings on the face, perhaps a trait of the local squirrel family.

February 10, 2013

Enchanted Evening

Another Massanutten Sky

Viewed from Waterlick, VA

February 9, 2013

Goldfinch at Our Feeder

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

The American Goldfinch is also called the Eastern Goldfinch or Wild Canary. In summer the male turns brighter yellow.

The goldfinches like seeds. This one stayed at the feeder for a while.

February 8, 2013

Shelter for Kitties

When we first bought our house and walked around the lake, I spotted this tent and wondered if a homeless person was living there. I mentioned it to a neighbor who we hired to paint our house and he explained that it was a shelter he had erected for the homeless cats that lived around there. He brings them food too!

Pattern in Gray

What is this? Not Lace...

Our front door has an etched design on the glass. We are looking through a portion of it here with the screen door behind it.

This was one of those pictures that I took on impulse just to see what it would look like. Ever do that?

February 7, 2013

Money Plant at Dusk

Pods of the lunaria plant look a bit like coins so we call it the money plant. Other names for it include moon plant.

February 6, 2013

Sunlight through Clouds

On a Winter Afternoon in Woodstock, VA

I saw this sky while waiting in the car as my spouse shopped in a drugstore. I felt the scene was worth a snapshot, at least.

February 5, 2013

An Old Pic of an Old Car

...and an old-style rail fence.
I took this picture many years ago at Manassas Battlefield. I have no idea why someone had an antique car out on a snowy day but I like the way it looks next to the split-rail fence.

February 4, 2013

Geese on Ice

The geese appear to enjoy having ice on the lake. The cold does not seem to bother them at all.

Watch the short video!

I think Sonny must have spread out some corn for them shortly before we got there.

Vulture Nest

Vultures and Nest in a Tree

February 3, 2013

Blog Post #3700

Blogging Since 2005
Hello, I'm still here! So many bloggers have stopped adding new posts, and I suspect many of them have switched to Facebook or Twitter. I like Facebook too, but I keep posting on Blogspot because it is easy to find via search engines and is great for sharing with a large audience.

Most of my new visitors come via a Google search, a lesser number arrive via other search engines, a few come through City Daily Photo, and a handful via other blogs, particularly the splendid photo blog Fotodienorascio Parastese.

The most frequent search terms that brought readers over the past month covered a wide range of topics:
  1. Frampton Plantation [SC]
  2. Fort Mulligan in Petersburg WV 
  3. Native birds in Virginia 
  4. Colonial whitesmith 
  5. Zoo animals 
  6. Castle in Timberville 
  7. Images of grist mill in McConnell's State Park [PA]
  8. Tea allergy
It's interesting to me that so few of these are related to the most frequent themes of this blog, the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia history. Anyway, I want to thank you for reading this and let me give a BIG thank you to those who take the time to leave comments!

February 2, 2013

Street Scene in Middleburg, Virginia

I took a snapshot while passing through Middleburg in December. Today I decided to do something with it, so I brightened it in Photoshop and added a Poster Edges filter. I hope you like it.