December 31, 2018

I'm Trying to Choose

Photo of the Year... I Can't Decide.

December 30, 2018

In First Presbyterian Church.

 This afternoon we went to a progressive concert in Winchester, Virginia. It featured organ music and other music in three churches in the downtown area. The final stop was First Presbyterian Church, which is on the walking mall. The church was founded in 1788.

December 29, 2018

Viewing Birds, Late December.

I really need to start choosing my Photo of the Year, but it's hard to judge so I procrastinate. Today I'm posting for my favorite Saturday linkups: Saturday's Critters and I'd Rather Be Birdin'.

Let's start with a blue jay and a Carolina wren. The jay is a large bird and can be as much as a foot long. Did you know they sometimes squirrel away nuts to eat later?

The round little Carolina wren is much smaller. Isn't it a cute bird?

I believe this duck is descended from domestic ducks that escaped and now live wild on our community lake. They live peacefully alongside our mallard ducks, a muscovy ducks, various geese, and great blue herons.

The pair of birds in the tree are mourning doves. I often see them in pairs.

The bird on the feeder is a female cardinal.

I'm getting better at spotting great blue herons.  This one looked like a blue-tinted spot across the lake until I zoomed in using my old Nikon with its 42X optical zoom lens.  I also cropped the picture in Photoshop.

I keep the old Nikon (a P510) on a table by a window so I can take pictures of birds. I rarely take it on expeditions because its capacity is now limited to the built-in memory. The SD card slot got messed up months ago and a couple of repair places said they cannot fix it because it is "old" and they no longer have parts for it! It dates to around 2012.

Typically I download pictures from it twice a week (connecting with a cord) and then reformat the memory. For most of my photography, I use a newer camera or my cell phone. The cell is handy for public places because people don't even notice it so it doesn't make them nervous or self-conscious.

December 28, 2018

It's the Final Friday of 2018.

1. They call it the Full Cold Moon. I stopped by the lake and took a few pictures of it on December 22. This one isn't the best technically but I like it the most.

Sharing with Skywatch and Weekend Reflection.
2. This is an old black and white picture that I took of Lynn when she was about ten. If I'd known how much better black and white prints would hold up compared to color, I would have used it more.

3. Today is Frank's birthday. We had dinner at Outback Steakhouse.

4. At a few grocery stores (like Whole Foods), I can get a salad to go in a cardboard carton. Unfortunately, most salad bars only offer plastic containers. I do wash them and recycle them, but not all recycling centers accept plastic that's not bottles. I hate to clog the landfill with unnecessary plastic. Plus we have to take recycling to the transfer station ourselves, so the more we have, the more times we have to drive there. Since I'm burning gas to recycle, I'm concerned about the carbon footprint of doing this. But what can you do?

Location North America5. The last picture shows a globe (from Wikipedia commons).  Look how much coastline we have! Look how much coastline Mexico and Central America have. Think about it.

Two words: boat people. A wall won't keep them out.

I'm not saying that we need to keep people out. We do need to continue vetting everyone who wants to come in. Security is important. But there are tunnels, planes, drones, boats, plus all sorts of inside threats that need attention, and that takes money.

And there's recent history. I'm old enough to remember the Mariel boatlift. In 1980, over 125,000 people came to our shores from Cuba in over 1,700 boats. The Coast Guard was overwhelmed.

I don't hear people talking about this.

December 27, 2018

And Christmas is Over.

Most of our guests were only here on Christmas Day, except Marie who left the next day. Allow me to share a few more holiday photos. I am thankful that both my daughters were able to visit, plus Allison and Dave.

  1. Marie
  2. Lynn
  3. Allison
  4. Marie and Lynn
  5. View of the lake.

The lake photo is from a walk that Marie encouraged me to take after her sister left. Marie walks regularly; she does not even own a car at this time.

Marie made arrangements to meet her friend Marie Alice in Northern Virginia before leaving to go home. They were best friends in high school and only see each other on rare occasions now that my Marie lives mostly in California (although she still has a home in New Jersey).

I'm going to close with and old photo from a long-ago Christmas. This shows Larry and Peggy and their nieces, Lynn and Marie.

December 26, 2018

Well-Fed Birds

Gold Finches
I'm feeding birds again, hoping that our local bear has gone into semi-hibernation and won't tear down my feeders!

The woodpeckers like the suet and the "woodpecker block." The one hanging upside down is a red bellied woodpecker and I believe the other one is a yellow bellied sapsucker. I don't see sapsuckers very often so I grabbed the camera when this one showed up.

The blue jays surprised me by feeding in a group of three. Usually I see only one or two at a time. They were scavenging food that had fallen from a feeder courtesy of a squirrel that was grabbing whatever seed he could from it, spilling quite a bit.

Speaking of squirrels... well, what can I say?

December 25, 2018

Love the Family Visits!

Marie arrived yesterday. On the way home from picking her up, I made a brief detour to see Skyline Drive in the late-day sunlight. Although government employees are on a politically-induced furlough, Shenandoah National Park is open with basically no services, although we did see a ranger's vehicle doing a basic safety check.

This is a Christmas Eve picture that I blurred beyond recognition.

That was supposed to show Santa riding on a fire truck, reflected in the lake, followed by other vehicles with flashing lights. Well, you can see there were lights... let's say I used special effects!

Allison and Dave showed up at noon, as scheduled. Here Frank is posing with them.

Lynn showed up a little later. I was not able to get a "perfect" picture of the sisters together because one of them always rolls her eyes or grimaces. I've been taking pictures of them since they were babies and they tired of it decades ago. 

There were presents to unwrap, including items from "Wish Lists" and silly gifts.

I hope you had a fun day too!

December 24, 2018

Seasonal Windows

These two snowmen windows are in Strasburg. They are temporary decorations but I'm counting them as murals.

The third picture is from inside Roy Rogers Restaurant in Front Royal. I think the decorations are painted plastic but they give a nice stained glass effect with the sunlight coming through. 

I still have a present or two to wrap so I'd better go do it. Tomorrow is the day for family visiting and and exchanging gifts, so let me just say, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."

December 23, 2018

A Historic Church in Woodstock and a Historic Barn in New Market

Recently an official state historical marker went up to tell the story of Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Woodstock, Virginia.

"Inspired by visits from traveling preachers, African Americans organized what would become Mt. Zion United Methodist Church ca. 1867. The congregation acquired the framework of a former German Reformed Church in 1869, moved it to this site, and used it to construct a sanctuary. In a town segregated by race, this church was the center of the African American neighborhood and hosted religious, educational, political and social events. After black residents campaigned for a school building, Woodstock's first African American public school was built on the church lot in 1882. The congregation constructed a new sanctuary here in 1921 under the leadership of Rev. W. H. Polk."

Let's travel a little way south to New Market to give two views of a barn. This was reconstructed in 1942 on the original foundation of the historic Bushong barn, which survived the Battle of New Market in 1864, but was struck by lightning in 1939.

December 22, 2018

Spying on Critters

I have two wildlife cameras set up. I hadn't checked the one in the backyard in almost a month, partly because the yard has been soggy from all the rain we've had. Today I went out there and got the SD card and downloaded it. There were hundreds of shots of pretty much nothing but there were also some interesting ones. 

At night it shoots in black and white. This first one shows three deer as captured full frame.

There were several pictures of just one deer. I cropped this one.

There were plenty of shots of geese and quite a few of cats. I don't own a cat but the neighbors do.

And finally, this night shot. You can't see much full frame.

I cropped it and brightened it in Photoshop. Yes, it's a bear! There were two other shots of him but they were even darker than this one.