A diseased tree was leaning over our house. We contacted Jason Kelly, a certified arborist who determined the 50ft. water oak needed to come down. So, up he went and methodically felled the tree over the course of one very fascinating afternoon–giving me the opportunity to meet two challenges in one! Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Leaves or Trees and the Jen H’s Daily Post Challenge: Story
Among of our favorite toys are building blocks. According to Karen Hewitt, a toy designer and founder of the Learning Materials Workshop of Burlington, Vermont, the timeless, simple shapes lend themselves to endless opportunities for education through play. We stack them up and knock them down, we build walls and bridges, we learn about shape and color, about building and rebuilding.
There’s a new toddler in our lives; our fourth grandchild. It’s been a while since the box of blocks was opened, so I decided they needed a bath. I filled up the kitchen sink with some mild soap and water and plunged in the brightly colored cuboids, cylinders and triangular prisms together with some classic Lincoln Logs. Did you know those interlocking logs were originally designed by John Lloyd Wright, son of the architect Frank Loyd Wright? I didn’t.
Anyway, the sight of those building blocks bobbing amid the bubbles inspired me to bring out the camera. And in that mysterious way that inspiration works, the next day I saw a link to the Life of B photo challenge A Month of Squares. So I decided to play along.
In 1983 Charleston SC Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. visited the Shedd Aquarium near Chicago, and an idea was born. He made a deal to purchase a contaminated strip of land on the Charleston waterfront, secured Superfund money from the federal government to help clean up the area and built the South Carolina Aquarium. It’s a stunning piece of architecture when viewed from the Charleston Harbor as we often do, Aboard Seanachai.
Nick, pictured above, has great plans to explore the deepest ocean reefs and discover exotic undersea creatures. For him, a visit to the SC Aquarium is a trip to wonderland. This photo is my contribution for Travel with Intent’s Blog, One Word Sunday Challenge “Fish”
Completed in 2000, there’s much to see at the SC Aquarium, which was designed to showcase plants and animals found in each of five regions of the state.
But the centerpiece is the Great Ocean Tank. Forty-two feet below the surface at its deepest point, it’s the deepest public aquarium in North America. The 18-inch thick windows are acrylic—strong enough to keep back the pressure of 365,000 gallons of water, without distorting the images of the fish. A multi-layered filtration system “turns over the water” in only 90 minutes.
It showcases three distinct areas of the Atlantic Ocean, the deep/open ocean, the shallow rocky reef and the deep rocky reef. About 550 animals of 40 different species swim in the tank. The only animal in the tank that’s not a fish is Caretta, a 30-year-old loggerhead sea turtle.
Here’s my entry for Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week Challenge “Look Up”
As we prepare for the Spring sailing season, I’ve had some time to look through some older images. This one is from October 2016 when my husband and I made a weekend cruise aboard our Catalina 22, Seanachai. Part of the passage took us through Wappoo Creek and I experienced the opening of the Burnet R. Maybank drawbridge from a new perspective. We posted a YouTube video of the first leg of the trip, including the opening of the bridge.
At it’s center, the bridge has a clearance of 33 feet. The masthead to the waterline of our boat is just over 29 feet. Technically, we could motor under the bridge, and we did–about three months later–as captured in the photo below. The captain’s steady hand guided us under the center of the bridge, while I looked up.
At the start of 2018, the Southeast coastal area experienced a rare snowfall, turning our landscape into a peculiar panorama where snowflakes in the Spanish moss looked like thick icicles dripping from from the branches of our great oaks. This photo is my first contribution for Becca’s Sunday Trees challenge.
Fortunately for the tropical Spanish moss, our snow event was short lived. After six days all traces of ice and snow melted away and we enjoyed the balmy 55º typical of our January highs.
Neither lichen nor moss, Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is one of the signature plants of the Antebellum South, (although it may be found from Virginia to Argentina). It’s an epiphyte, meaning that it uses trees for support. It absorbs nutrients and water through its leaves from the air and rainfall. You see it most often along the coastal areas, because it needs high humidity and mild winter temperatures to survive.
Mysterious and ubiquitous, the plant is a favorite of storytellers throughout the area. Among the legends is this poem (author unknown):
There an old, old legend, that’s whispered by Southern folks,
About the lacy Spanish moss that garlands the great oaks.
A lovely princess and her love, upon her wedding day,
Were struck down by a savage foe amidst a bitter fray.
United in death they were buried, so the legends go,
‘Neath an oak’s strong friendly arms, protected from their foe.
There, as was the custom, they cut the bride’s long hair with love,
And hung its shining blackness on the spreading oak above.
Untouched, undisturbed it hung there, for all the world to see,
And with the years the locks turned gray and spread from tree to tree.
We certainly have our share of snowbirds in South Carolina. But those who thought they’d escape the cold blast of Arctic weather by slipping into Dixie were in for a big surprise January 3. According to the National Weather Service, the precipitation brought by the 2018 Winter storm “Grayson” was the heaviest one day snowfall in the city of Charleston since 1989. Freezing temperatures kept our streets treacherous for six days, cancelled more than 75 flights into and out of the airport, and kept our kids home from school well beyond the holiday break.
These little birds chose the frosty ledge of our backyard bird feeder to rest during the snowfall. It’s my favorite image captured during the record winter storm. And it’s my contribution to the One Word Photo Challenge “Weekly Weather Jan. 7: Pick your Own”
Know what this is? It’s called a reproducer or a sound box. Found at the end of the tone arm of a portable gramophone, it holds a steel needle at approximately 60 degrees to the shellac surface of a recorded disc. Once the main spring is wound-up, a turntable gently spins at 78 rotations per minute. If you close your eyes, perhaps you can imagine how astonishing it was to hear the very popular Billy Murray sing “Pretty Baby”.
It’s 1916, and for the first time, Americans can take recorded music anywhere they want to go. They’re called “Talking Machines.” State of the art technology, 100 years ago.
Today there are savvy youngsters who have never seen an 8-track tape player, boom box, Sony Walkman, Discman or Rio. Even the iPod is 16 years old.
Now we talk to a machine and it retrieves the music we want from a nebulous place called “the cloud.” I can’t begin to imagine where the next 100 years will take us.
Perhaps you’d like to slow down, step back and remember how it was. These vintage Talking Machines are still out there, ready to be recycled. That makes this photo my take on the Tuesday fpj-photo-challenge: Recycle
Did you ever hear the story of how the first talking machines changed the way we listen to music?
When you embark on a 5-night, 6-day sailing adventure along the Gulf Coast of Florida, you expect to see the sugar sand beaches and blue green water of the Gulf of Mexico. What you don’t expect to find is the likeness of a 108-foot woman skinny dipping in a marina. She’s my entry for Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge this week.
In 2012, George Barber, billionaire art patron and owner of the marina, commissioned Mark Cline, a self-taught sculptor, to design this unusual floating lady. Already well known for the whimsical creations formed in his Enchanted Castle Studios, the Virginia artist built the fiberglass sculpture, inserted giant styrofoam blocks inside her head and knees and gently splashed her in a pond at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, AL. Later, she was trucked down the the Alabama gulf coast and placed in the corner of the Barber Marina, where she could greet all the visiting crews. Mark Cline christened her “Country Girl Skinny Dipping,” but locals call her “Lady in the Lake.”
My husband and I had a chance to see her when we took our Catalina 22 “Seanachai” on the 20th Annual C-22 Northern Gulf Coast Cruise (NGCC). A YouTube video series highlights our adventures, this episode includes our visit to Barber Marina.
This image of a waterfall nestled in the cultivated woods of Poinsett State Park is my entry for Frank Jansen Photography’s Tuesday Photo Challenge-Woods.
According to archaeologists, people have lived in the “high hills” area of South Carolina for at least 10,000 years. The landmasses, water features, flora and fauna preserved in our State Parks are mere inkling of how the country looked for centuries.
Poinsett State Park in Sumter County, SC exists in an area called “the mountains of the Midlands.” More than 11 miles of hiking trails traverse a mixed terrain that includes 100ft bluffs and black water swampland, where you’ll find a blend of Upstate mountain laurel shrubs, Lowcountry Spanish moss draped over hardwoods and tall stands of Southern yellow pines. You may encounter red-tailed hawk, deer, snakes, turtles and possibly an American alligator.
Evidence shows Native Americans from the Santee, Wateree and Catawba tribes hunted in these woods. In 1753, Matthew Singleton petitioned South Carolina for 300 acres with the understanding he would improve the property by clearing fields, building houses and mills. Remnants of the mill still exist.
It’s believed someone named Levi built a dam to create a pond on Shank’s Creek in order to cultivate rice. The 10-acre lake in the park is named “Old Levi Mill Pond” in his memory.
During the 1800s, the area around the property became known as the “Capital of the Lumber Industry” in South Carolina. According to the SC Forestry Commission, such was the production that by the end of World War I, most of SC’s virgin timber was gone.
In 1934, Sumter County purchased 1,000 acres, dedicating it to the public as a recreation and game refuge. Subsequently, the County donated the land to the State of South Carolina.
In an effort to address the unemployment of the Great Depression, and conserve timber resources, President Franklin D. Roosevelt conceived a “New Deal” program called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was responsible for the construction of many state and national parks, including 17 State Parks in South Carolina. The CCC employed young men and World War I veterans. The men learned a wide array of skills in addition to their wages.
From 1934 to 1938 the CCC built recreational and support facilities and trails in this Park. Company 421, one of three CCC companies who helped with construction, named the park after the South Carolina congressman, physician and amateur botanist, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was also an envoy to Mexico from 1822-23. (That’s where he found the red plant known in Mexico as the Christmas Eve flower. Due to his promotion of the plant in the US, it became known as the poinsettia.)
The CCC companies used coquina, a local rock made of ancient sand and shells to build a 75ft. spillway and the waterfall (pictured above). A number of the buildings constructed by the CCC are still in use today, including the ranger station.
This bumblebee is making her way to a cluster of tomato blossoms. The pollen baskets on the tibia of her hind legs are almost full, but she is going back for another batch. According to bumblebee.org, pollen is loaded at the bottom of the pollen basket, so the pollen that has been pushed towards the top is from flowers the bumblebee visited earliest. Only female bumblebees have pollen baskets (corbicula). A full pollen basket can contain as much as one million pollen grains.
Not quite black and white, this desaturated image is “almost there” too. I got this effect through Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor by completely dropping the saturation of each color–except yellow, which I reduced by about half, then tinted the entire image with a warming filter (81).
It’s my contribution for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge “Anything that Flies”
January and February is the peak blooming season for camellias in our neck of the woods, although the blooms start showing as early as October in the Southeast. This image of a Viceroy butterfly drinking the nectar from Camellia Sasanqua “Falling Star” was captured in my backyard this past October.
I’m certainly no expert on these plants, but if need to know more, there’s always help nearby. The local branch of the American Camellia Society, Coastal Carolina Camellia Society held their 68th Annual Camellia Show in Charleston, SC on January 28. At that event 1067 different blooms were shown. The variety of Camellias seems endless! For those who may be interested in the American Camellia Society, the National Convention will be held April 5-8 in Newberg, Oregon.
Sharing this one with Cee’s Photography, Feb. 21, 2017 Flower of the Day.
I spend quite a lot of time photographing in our garden throughout the spring and summer. Let me first say, I have ALWAYS been creeped out by bugs. But if you spend enough time in a vegetable garden, you’re likely to encounter quiet a few. So, while keeping a safe camera lens distance from them, I like to capture their images and I research what I found.
I was astonished to catch this moment. It’s a Dogday cicada just coming out of its nymph shell.
In the Christian liturgical calendar, February 2nd marks the official end of the Christmas season. While some are looking for a groundhog’s shadow and others are humming “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” the staunchly traditional among us are still contemplating Silent Night.
After a spring daysail aboard Seanachai, we came upon this mallard drake standing at the edge of the marina dock. Camera at the ready, I took a few steps toward him. Truthfully, I expected he would fly away at any moment. Instead, I was able to get close enough to cast a shadow over him, which toned down the highlights from the setting sun, and revealed the detail in his feathers. For several minutes he stood his ground, looked me right in the lens, and commenced to recite some sort of duck manifesto while I happily snapped this image–my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challege: Duck Duck Goose.
In my faith tradition, the four weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas are called Advent, meaning, “to come to”. We are taught the Advent season is a time to direct our attention to the coming of Christ at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
It isn’t easy to stay focused on these spiritual matters in our culture. For most Americans, the Christmas season began the day after Halloween and is a sensory overload of marketing from TV shows, movies, store displays, and an email inbox overflowing with ‘unbeatable deals’ with ‘last chance’ sales.
Holiday traditions are important to me, and those traditions include celebrating the hopeful spirit of Advent. So I was thrilled to receive this charming wood Advent Calendar several years ago. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30 (the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle), but most Advent calendars begin the countdown on December 1.
According to the German folklorist and historian Esther Gajek, the history of the first printed Advent Calendar is traced to 1908 and Gerhard Lang. Lang, a native of Maulbronn Germany recalled the homemade calendar his mother made with little candies. He was working in the printing office Reichhold & Lang, when he produced little colored pictures that could be placed on a cardboard marking the countdown to Christmas. Later, he produced calendars with little doors to open.
The kids especially love to open the doors of our Advent calendar. So, in addition to a bit of candy, I bring them into the Spirit of the season with a bit of Scripture printed on cardboard.
Halloween is just around the corner. For those who participate in the alter-ego tradition of dressing up in costume, it’s a wonderful time to use our imaginations. This couple suited up for the holiday as characters from JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels.
This digital art project creates a vision of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the quest of the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield and an elfish princess. It’s my entry for the Daily Post photo challenge Quest. Here’s the original snapshot…
My selection for this week’s CFFC challenge featuring the color purple brings me to a consideration of color theory and the color wheel. I think the complementary color of the table (yellow) makes the purples in this basket ‘pop’.
Did you know that Sir Isaac Newton, the 17th Century English physicist and mathematician, was also the inventor of the color wheel? I didn’t.
Sure, I remember the story about an apple falling from a tree which led Newton to “discover” gravity. I leave it to Steve Connor of the UK Independent to detail the veracity of the anecdote. But there’s so much more about the scientist I didn’t know.
For instance, according to biographers, Newton was born into a farming family on what was Christmas Day 1642, just three months after his father died. His mother remarried two years later, but the young boy was sent to live with his grandparents and felt orphaned. His early school reports described him as ‘idle’ and ‘inattentive’. Apparently, however, a grammar school headmaster perceived his talent and encouraged him to remain in school. Eventually he entered Trinity College Cambridge, with the aim of earning a law degree. After being introduced to philosophy and the mechanics of astronomy and optics, he later settled on the study of mathematics.
In 1665, a terrible recurrence of Bubonic Plague spread across London, killing 15% of the population and closing the University until 1667. Newton, just 25 years old, went home to Lincolnshire. In the next two years, his independent studies led him to extraordinary advances in mathematics, optics, physics and astronomy.
It was during this period that he argued that white light is really a mixture of many different types of rays, each producing a different spectral color. He arranged the colors in a wheel, primaries (red, yellow and blue) opposite their complementaries (green, purple and orange)–demonstrating each complementary enhances the other’s effect through optical contrast.
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. – Sir Isaac Newton
Summertime temps this year have been hovering in the mid- 90s, which makes for an uncomfortable time aboard Seanachai. One day, we’ll sail with a proper bimini top, until then, we’ve adopted an idea from The $tingy Sailor for a “poor man’s bimini”.
The boom tent is easy to install and stows away compactly in the cabin. We’ve motored with the boom tent installed, but mostly we use it when we’re at the dock. It makes the cockpit about 10-15 degrees cooler–just what the captain ordered to make the sundowners more enjoyable!
Here’s a video I made detailing how it works.
September is a month of anniversaries for me in many ways, and in a solemn way, for the United States.
Aboard Seanachai for our wedding anniversary cruise, my husband and I made a two-day trip along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Charleston, SC to the Limehouse Bridge on John’s Island.
I photographed lots of watercraft along the way, but this image of the Research Vessel Joe Ferguson is particularly significant. She was apparently having some maintenance completed at Ross Marine boatyard on John’s Island when I snapped this picture. Not the best photo technically, but the story makes it special.
According to the website, the vessel was obtained by Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary in July 2008. She provides a platform for research, rescue, training and educational operations for researchers connected with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
The boat is named for Joe Ferguson, who was the former director of the National Geographic Society Education and Outreach Program. Ferguson was killed on September 11, 2001 when the plane carrying him was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon. He was traveling with National Geographic Society staffer Anne Judge, and three teacher-student pairs on an educational trip to the Channel Islands of California. The team was planning to participate in a Sustainable Seas Expedition. The teacher-student pairs were: teacher James Debeuneure and student Rodney Dickens; teacher Sarah Clark and student Asia Cottom, teacher Hilda Taylor and student Bernard Brown. All of the star students were 11-year old sixth graders.
That I would learn about these outstanding people and their work within days of the anniversary of their deaths makes this September profoundly memorable.
The San Francisco, CA firm Donald MacDonald Architects, was charged with creating a design for a new bridge across the Cooper River near Charleston, SC. The goal, they said, was to create a timeless landmark that pays homage to the historic city and compliments the harbor and waterfront park. Across the landscape, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge “evokes a sail motif over the river.” It opened to the public in July 2005.
A sailboat framed through the rigging of our C-22 Seanachai, with the landmark bridge behind emphasizes the architect’s theme and is my entry for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: Frame
This fledgling robin was found out of its nest in a Greenville, SC neighborhood. A fledgling bird is about two weeks old, fully feathered and able to grip a finger or perch.
The homeowner was mowing when she noticed the young bird in the grass. Nearby, she could hear the call of the adult robins. After this brief photo-op, the chick was carefully placed out of the reach of curious cats, where it’s parents could continue to feed it. Within a couple of weeks, the youngster flew off to roost with the other robins.
According to an article by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, the homeowner did exactly the right thing. Often young birds are mistaken for orphans and humans try to save them, but it’s really better to simply place them out of harms way. I’m just glad I was there to capture the moment for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Feathers.
Aboard Seanachai on August 22, we were on the Cooper River, passing under the Ravenel Bridge around 5 PM. Suddenly, we saw this small airplane making several close passes around the bridge and later, over Drum Island. At first I thought it must be a photographer, but it seemed incredible that the pilot would be making so many passes. We watched the plane, a Thrush S2R-T34, make big swooping curves around the iconic bridge, then drop down for a low pass over the trees. It was not until we were home again and some investigation revealed that the plane was likely spraying for mosquitos in the city and the island. (The photos clearly show the sprayer attachment.) Local news reports from a previous treatment noted drivers on the bridge were terrified at the sight of the plane. According to other reports, the low flying airplanes deliver specially modified chemicals to eliminate mosquitoes in areas of stagnate water. Although it’s the first time I saw it, this kind of delivery system has been used in this area for at least six years. This fighter plane was merely turning around over the river so as to continue making passes across the land–doing battle with the mosquitoes!
I like this “boilerplate” image of a walk on Folly Beach not only because of the familiar composition, but also because of the details.
My eye is drawn from the highlights on the cloud, to the roof of the observation deck, across the curling surf to the rising sun reflected on the couple, who are walking in perfect tandem—each touching their toes on the wet sand.
The lighting is clear enough to see the fishermen at the end of the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier. The pier stretches 1,045 ft. into the Atlantic, at the “Edge of America.” The pier is 25 ft. wide and 23 ft. above sea level. It is the second longest on the east coast.
Just before crossing Folly Creek onto the Edge of America, there is a little strip of land called Little Oak Island. Developers of the gated community built marsh-front villas and beautiful water-front homes. In the center of the island is a rookery that boasts a diverse population of egrets, pelicans, herons, ducks and other birds. Recently, I dropped in on the birds and found this pair of Ibis and a black crowned night heron.
I didn’t think I had any images for this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge topic Legs and Feet, but over the weekend I caught this one. On a visit to Cottageville, SC and Bee City’s aviary, the parakeets couldn’t get enough of my grandson’s feet. Although the little pecks tickled, he stood still and enjoyed the toe-curling attention.