January 31, 2021

The First Snowfall of the Year.

It's not the first snowfall of the winter, but it is our first measurable snow of 2021. Even so, it was only about 5 inches deep. We may get a little more tonight.

Here's a view from a different window. I kept a little decoration in the frame to liven up the ordinary scene. Weather is considered a trite topic of conversation but I think it's interesting. Even in this technological age, we depend on weather for our crops and security. I suspect we are genetically programmed to pay attention to the weather. 

Inspired Sunday: This is Bethel Lutheran Church of Edinburg, VA. The church was completed in 1867.

I photographed it a couple of weeks ago. It sits on a hill in a rural area.



January 30, 2021

Deer, Woodpeckers, and Mouse.


When I drove up to Dickey Ridge the other afternoon, that was as far as Skyline Drive was open because there was ice covering the road at higher elevations. There were other people there even though it was cold. If you look closely at the second picture, there are some people walking front of the forest in the center of the picture. The deer is not concerned because tourists are constantly walking there to see the view. 

The bird hanging from the feeder is a downy woodpecker, our smallest woodpecker. It's one of the bolder birds in my yard and sometimes continues to eat when I go out the back door. Every other bird flies away except the geese, who think there's a possibility I'm going to feed them. 

This larger woodpecker is a red-bellied woodpecker. 

Today's final creature is a mouse. He's partly in shadow but I only had a moment between the time I released him from a box and the moment he scampered away. 

This little guy has been keeping me awake at night, scratching around in my bedroom. I have traps all over the place, plus an electronic pest repeller that does not seem to bother these critters. This morning he entered a Mouse Cube around 5 AM and started tapping the plastic door trying to get out. It is hinged in one direction so he was trapped. I got up and put the trap, which is a little plastic box, in a shoebox which I then placed in the laundry room. Unfortunately I could still hear it so I didn’t get much sleep.

The problem with these “humane” traps is that mice usually enter them in the small hours of the morning, usually at 1 AM or later, and often in terrible weather when it isn't very humane to release them outdoors. I use them because mice are surprisingly smart and often avoid the snap traps. I’ve caught more mice in this type of box than any other trap. But you have to release the mouse far enough away from your house so it will not find its way back. The recommended distance is at least one mile but that’s not always practical. Also you have to avoid any location close to someone else’s house.
I stayed in bed until 10 AM, having had very little sleep. As soon as the temperature rose to almost the freezing point, I put on warm clothes and went out to release him. At first he did not want to get out of the box and he was shivering. I don’t blame him. Not only was it cold, but the chances are very high that he will get eaten by a cat or owl.

I had my cell phone so I got his picture. I hope he doesn't find his way back to the house.

January 29, 2021

What a Year 2021 Has Been... So far!

And we aren't even a full month into it.

There was political unrest and a riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, followed by arrests and ongoing investigations;
We prayed for a peaceful inauguration and got it, with a breath-taking recitation by our Youth Poet Laureate;
and two brands of Covid vaccine were being distributed but were hard to get.

Meanwhile we continued to avoid other people like the plague because we didn't know who had it. 

My daughter Lynn finally recovered from it and tested negative. Frank and I got the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday and will get the booster dose on February 16th. 

We stay home a lot. Frank watches TV and I read, write reviews, blog, and feed the birds. Several times a week I seek out the peace of nature. 

Skywatch: A View from Shenandoah National Park.

It's Willy Nilly Friday so I have an excuse to change topics in order to show a variety of photos. This Black and White shot features my swan-style gravy boat surrounded by a piece of quartz and an antique horse head that probably decorated a cane. 

It Looks Like Valentines Day is Coming.
Friday Bliss / Weekend Reflections and Street Photography: Woodstock, VA.

  Coming theme for February 1: The City Daily Photo theme day topic will be Smiles. I rarely see any smiles outside my home because everyone with any sense is wearing a mask. I don't know how Frank feels about posing because he is undergoing dental work, so I haven't decided what to show. I may go back into my archives. These are from 2018.
Frank, Peggy, Lynn, SU Field Trip Leaders. 

January 28, 2021

Yesterday in Winchester

Sometimes when I'm in Winchester, I drive by this veterinary office just to see what sign they've posted.  This seems like good advice. I don't lie down in the snow anyway 'cause I'm too old for that. 

I posted some photos yesterday of the vaccination site at Shenandoah University. Here we see a depiction of the school's mascot, a hornet. It stands outside the athletic center where we went for the Covid vaccine. The vaccination stung but not as painfully as a hornet!

The process was well organized, a relief after the stressful sign-up process, which required racing through onine forms to secure an appointment before they were all taken. I tried every day for a week.

In three weeks we will get email messages telling when to get our second dose of the vaccine.

They gave me a sticker and a card showing when I got the shot. I was thankful and elated to get the vaccine.  I'm looking forward to feeling less threatened by the pandemic after the second dose, although we'll need to keep masking for a while. I should be able to see Lynn again in March! She is officially over Covid-19 and is isolating for a few more days. 

The final shot is a selfie I took while waiting 15 minutes after getting the shot. This is required to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction. As someone with allergies, I stationed us close to the table with a Medical Assistance sign.

My hair was terribly windblown so I cropped this image rather than retouching it. Okay, maybe I did modify it a little bit. Can you tell?

Thankful Thursday / Signs / My Corner of the World


January 27, 2021

Birds on the Ground.

It looks like we have a second black duck in the neighborhood. Now the one that's been hanging out with the geese has a friend his own size. I don't know if this is a potential mate or a long-last sibling.

I'm glad he has a duck friend. The geese tolerated him but sometimes the guard goose (in the middle) was mean to him.

Other birds tolerate each other, at least while there's enough food around. 

Everyone likes seeing Northern Cardinals. The male is scarlet red, and the female is decorative in her own way. 


Vaccination Station.

At Shenandoah University.
Wordless Wednesday

January 25, 2021

Mosaic or Collage.

The original definition of mosaic was "a surface decoration made by inlaying small pieces of variously colored material to form pictures or patterns," and it is related to the word museum. It can also be "something resembling a mosaic," and it popular use it can be a collage or even a group of ideas.

Here I made a collage of pictures representing fashions through American history, with the middle row and a few other pictures being family photos. All these pictures are from this blog. 

I wanted to edit a photo to look like a mosaic but the mosaic filter in Photoshop just give my flower image a blocky look. I used the stained glass filter instead. 

Here's another experiment with filters and layers. I inverted and solarized the top layer, and eventually chose certain blocks on a grid and erased them from the top layer. It's an odd image but it may be a technique to try again.

January 24, 2021

Church #400

 Inspired Sunday Meme

This is my 400th post with the label "Churches." Pleasant View Church of the Brethren is west of Mt. Jackson on Conicville Road

I was pleased to see that the date built was inscribed on a window over the door: 1876. 

The church is on beautiful and hilly farm country in Shenandoah County. 

The Barn Collective.

January 23, 2021

Geese and Goldfinch

These geese were captured by my trail cam. It is activated by movement.

The first picture shows Canada Geese. These are visitors , although we do have a small group of Canada Geese who live in our neighborhood year-round.

The white geese are descended from farm geese. They visit my yard every day. They are not strong fliers like the Canada Geese.
I took the goldfinch pictures using my aging Nikon camera. It has a zoom lens so I keep it near the back door for taking pictures of birds. 

Saturday Critters / I'd Rather Be Birdin'

January 22, 2021

Winding Down on Willy Nilly Friday

We're only three weeks into 2021 and we've certainly seen some highs and lows! Our country made it through the attack on the Capitol and the Inauguration, but we are still in the throes of the pandemic. We have lost over 400,000 lives already to Covid-19. Two vaccines are available but there are not enough qualified personnel in our part of Virginia to keep up with the demand. So we wait. 

I haven't been to a restaurant in ages. I go into stores less often and very cautiously. Meetings are done online. Thank goodness we have the internet! 

Well, I can still go for rides and take walks in uncrowded places. It is easy to find them except on weekends when every family seems to be outdoors. 

Yesterday I found Seven Bends State Park to be very quiet. Here's one more picture from there,  more abstract than the others and in Black and White

The floral image is from my archives. There are three floral themes I'm linking to: Friday Bliss, Garden Affair, and Floral Friday

Looks like I inadvertently returned to the red, white and blue theme I used on Inauguration Day. Well, they are great colors! 

My skywatch shot has a similar color scheme, but with orange tones in the sunset.

The rest of today's pictures are from 1998 on Maryland Heights. This was a hike in the fog from Harpers Ferry to the Civil War fort on the mountain. I don't think I could do that steep hike now so I'm glad I went when I could.

I wanted to share these because Harpers Ferry is one of my favorite places. 

I posed at the overlook that is photographed by everyone who goes up there. You can see the bridges across the Potomac, and the town of Harpers Ferry. The river on the upper left is the Shenandoah and it meets the Potomac at a point that's out of the frame to the left. 

Originally I was going with a group from the NVCC Civil War class. It rained that morning and only two of us showed up. The rain had let up but we the found the heights shrouded in fog. 

I think my lens got fogged up too. The few pictures I took of the old stone walls are blurred by mist. This was 22 years ago and I did not own a digital camera, which would have been extremely expensive then.

The fort was built by Federal troops in 1862.  I think the sign in the final shot shows the 30-Pound Battery

My companion on this hike was a classmate and I think his name was John Campbell. In that class we typically knew each other by first name. It was pretty much a series of interpretive trips to Civil War sites and there was no roll call. Anyway, he hiked up the mountain with ease and I struggled to keep up.

January 21, 2021

There's Frustration but There's also Beauty.

First things first...

I couldn't let that go by! Something else I couldn't let go by was a chance to sign up for a Covid vaccine. Yesterday I learned that our health district would announce appointment slots at noon today. I was on their site at 11:59 and refreshed my browser at noon. There were slots available at two locations. My priority was to get an appointment for Frank, since he is older than me and also has diabetes. 

The nearest location available was at Shenandoah University so I filled out three pages of forms for Frank. I had done this same thing the other day but missed a slot while filling out insurance details, so this time I only filled out the fields marked with an asterisk, which were required in order to advance to the end. When I submitted the form I got a list of appointment times. All were full! 

I quickly chose a location in Luray, farther away but apparently still available. The software had remembered all data except the last page, which was checkboxes and a place to type his name. I did that and submitted. Drat! All those slots were gone too. It was only six minutes past noon. 

Tomorrow I will try again. I don't think it's possible to get appointments for both of us on the same day. Frustrating. If these were concert tickets, there'd be scalpers.

Oh, well. The sun was shining so I did some chores and then drove up to Seven Bends State Park to take pictures and walk along the river. 

I walked past the white barn that was once a pony barn back when this area was a youth camp. The Gokotta Trail goes along the North Fork of the Shenandoah. I did not explore very far because it was late in the day and I wanted to be back on the main road before dark.

Thank goodness for our parks and the beauty of nature! 

I'm including a picture of a trash can because it is a bear-proof style that we see in the parks here. In order to open it, you have to fit your fingers in a metal tunnel in order to grasp the release. Bear paws won't fit in there.