Floating Oddity

Aboard Seanachai, Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
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“Lady in the Lake”  by Mark Cline                     35mm   f 5.6  1/250

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.

Sailing Vessel "Seanachai" at Barber Marina

Seanachai “The Storyteller” at Barber Marina, Elberta AL May 10, 2017

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A Cultivated Wood

Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
Waterfall at Poinsett State Park

Waterfall at Poinsett State Park                              35mm      f7.1      1/50

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.

Poinsett State Park Ranger Station reflected in Old Levi Pond Lake.

Poinsett State Park Ranger Station reflected in Old Levi Pond Lake.                      35mm   f6.3   1/100

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Almost There

Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
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35 mm,  f/ 4.5, 1/200   desaturated colors, add’l filter (81)

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

 

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Catch a Falling Star

Latest Pix, Life Captured: Every Day Observations
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Camellia Sasanqua “Falling Star” and Viceroy Butterfly                          F5 1/60 35 mm

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.

Just out

From the Garden, Life Captured: Every Day Observations, Photo Challenges

 

Dogday Cicada emerging from its exoskeleton

Dogday Cicada emerging from its exoskeleton                                       f/5.0 1/400, ISO 560, 35mm

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.  

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Tales of the End of Christmas & a Few of My Favorite Things

Life Captured, Special Ocassions

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.

Duck, Duck, Quack!

Aboard Seanachai, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
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Mallard Drake on Marina Dock                                                         f/6.3  1/500, ISO 250, 35mm

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.

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close enough to cast a shadow!

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Sweet Anticipation

Life Captured: Every Day Observations

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.

Imaginary Quest

Digital Art Projects, Photo Challenges
JRR Tolkien's Elfish Princess Arwen and Thorin Oakenshield imagined in Middle Earth

JRR Tolkien’s Elfish Princess Arwen and Thorin Oakenshield imagined in Middle Earth

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…

Original snapshot of Tolkien characters Elfish Princess Arwen and Thorin Oakenshield

Original snapshot of Tolkien characters Elfish Princess Arwen and Thorin Oakenshield

Complementing Purple

Photo Challenges
Basket of Colored Easter Eggs in purple shredded cellophane

Basket of Easter Eggs                                                                 f/6.3, 1/60s, ISO 450, 35mm

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

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Seanachai Sun Screen

Aboard Seanachai, Digital Art Projects

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.

 

Remembering September – Part 1

Aboard Seanachai
NOAA R/V Joe Ferguson at Ross Marine Dock, Johns Island SC

NOAA R/V Joe Ferguson                                                       f/6.3 1/1000s, ISO 280, 55-200@200mm

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.

Framed Through the Rigging

Aboard Seanachai, Photo Challenges
Black and white image of a sailboat viewed through the frame of another boat's rigging, Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River, Charleston, SC

Through the Rigging                                                               f7.1, ISO 100, 1/400s, 35mm

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

Bird in the hand

Latest Pix, Photo Challenges
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Fledgling Robin                                                                                       f6.3, 1/60s, ISO 280, 35mm

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.

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Fighter plane?

Aboard Seanachai, Latest Pix

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!

Today’s Shot: Folly Beach, SC

Latest Pix
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Morning Walk, Folly Beach                          f/7.1, 1/2500s, ISO 640, 55-200@55

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.

 

 

Birds of Little Oak Island, SC (1)

Latest Pix, Photo Projects
Pair of Ibis

Pair of Ibis                                                      f6.3, 1/125s, ISO 100, 55-200@200

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 usually shoot my Nikon D-5100 with Nikkor 35mm lens, but inspired by UK blogger Mike Hardisty, I tried a few shots with the Nikkor 55-200.  Birds are challenging and Mike has some masterful images.

Black Crowned Night Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron                                                          f6.3, 1/125s, ISO 180, 55-200@200

 

Punch Buggy Pig; no punch backs.

Photo Challenges

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Do you play this game on the roadways?  Here’s how we play: See a Volkswagen Beetle and be the first to say “Punch Buggy (name the color); no punch backs.”  Being the first allows you to give the person next to you a gentle punch in the arm–and they can’t punch back.  It’s always great fun for siblings in the back seat; for parents who settle the disputes, maybe not so much.  Official rules are available here.

I took this shot while exploring in the neighborhood one October morning about three years ago. I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to share it.  What better than Cee’s Odd Ball photo challenge!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

Photo Challenges
commuter bus

Commuter steps into early morning bus.

This image of early morning bus commuters is my entry for this week’s challenge.  It also appears in an earlier post.

I got up before dawn on a cold February morning to stake out this shot.  I was interested in the experiences of people who take the bus to work in our suburban town.  Public transportation is often lauded as the antidote to traffic congestion, although it may not be the most efficient.

For example, Keisha rides the bus because her car broke down.  In order to get to work on time, she catches the same 6:53 AM bus as the commuters pictured here.  If Keisha could drive to her job, she’d be there in 20 minutes. Taking the bus adds over 40 minutes to the trip and requires that she walk nearly two miles to and from the bus stops, on roads with no pedestrian walkways. What a way to start your day!

 

Tomato Pie with thanks to Moms, Betty and Paula

From the Garden, Garden Fresh Recipes

When the garden is producing a bounty of tomatoes, this is such a favorite treat! I double the recipe and make an extra pie for neighbors or friends. It’s great for brunch, a meatless dinner, or with afternoon tea.

This homemade crust for this tomato pie combines a recipe from an old cooking buddy, Betty Crocker, and my mother-in-law’s technique for keeping the pastry cold which makes it easy to handle and extra flakey.

The basic recipe for the filling comes from several Internet sources, including the queen of southern comfort food, Paula Deen. The technique for easily peeling tomatoes is something I first saw in my mother’s kitchen.

Here’s the recipe.

Garden Critters 1

From the Garden, Latest Pix
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Carolina Green Anole – changes color from green to brown

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Carolina Anole Couple

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Carolina Anole Green

The garden seems overrun this year with these little green lizards called Carolina Green Anole (Anoles Carolinensis).  These creatures are about 5-8 inches long and change color from green to brown depending on their surroundings.  We see them dart about the plants, especially among the jungle of eggplant leaves.  We’re happy to have them, as they are great bug hunters.

According to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory:  “Anoles eat a wide variety of insects, spiders, and other invertebrates.  They may be either green or brown depending on environmental conditions. When brown, may have faint markings on the back. Males have a pinkish throat fan that is displayed in territorial rivalries or when approaching a potential mate.”

“The anole’s ability to change color has given it the nickname chameleon; however, this species’ color changing abilities are not nearly as sophisticated as the true chameleons which inhabit the old world. The green anole is the only anole species native to the U.S.”

 

Attention to Detail – A Summer Garden Story

From the Garden

 

Charles Dudley Warner, an American essayist, was Mark Twain’s friend and neighbor.  Although often attributed to Twain, it was Warner who quipped, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” No doubt complaints about the weather factored into his observations while writing “My Summer in A Garden” in 1870. Although I didn’t learn of this book until the end of this summer, I instinctively shared his understanding: “the principal value of a private garden is to teach patience and philosophy and the higher virtues.”

From March through September, I went about patiently documenting the progress of our garden.  My first observation: God is in the details. From seedling to harvest, the camera captures the intricate facets of stems and vines, flowers and fruits.  Meanwhile, the garden plants attract pollinators, pests and predators, and the camera captures their stunning, alien character.  Ultimately, I see the marvels of the Creator manifested in the life cycles found in the garden.

The completed project is a full color 11 x 14 book.