Saturday, September 30, 2006

Summer’s End

Another season has passed. Summer’s hot, hazy, lazy days are over.
Everything has its season and just as surely as the summer has
so has the useful life of this old machine.

Can you identify this antique?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Foggy Mountain (Breakdown)

Today I seem to be suffering from mental block. I like this photograph and wanted to post it. I just could not find a title no matter how hard I tried. What do all good husbands do when they don’t have the answer? Ask the wife, of course!

With one glance she exclaimed Foggy Mountain! Leave it to the girls, they ALWAYS have the answer! I added the breakdown thus naming it after the Flatt & Scruggs bluegrass song.

The Foggy Mountain Boys (1948-1969) was the name of the Flatt & Scruggs band, with the Foggy Mountain Breakdown as their opening tune. For you old-timers out there, do you remember The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction? If you do then you remember these boys music.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Man versus Beast

This is a tale of a battle of epic proportions. While my son was visiting this spring past I invited him to a day on the Chesapeake to pursue the mighty Striped Bass. The day started with wakeup at 1:30. AM that is! After traveling an hour we stopped to fuel and pick up my faithful fishing companion Paul, another two hours on the road and we arrived at the marina. Whew, half a day in already and we’re now just ready to launch!

With the boat in, a two mile run took us to the fishing grounds. Spring trophy striper fishing is accomplished by trolling. For those not familiar with this sport, the boat is run at slow speed pulling the lures through the water. As long as the lines are in the water the boat cannot stop or the ensuing tangle will be so severe as to make any old salt weep!
Here we go! Eight lines in, trolling speed set, 3.5 mph, water calm, sun rising, the hunt is on!

Soon a rod goes down and my son does the honors.

After a battle lasting a few minutes the first fish is on board. Too short! Oh well, splash, maybe we’ll see him again in a couple of years. On my boat we take turns fighting the fish so a couple of fish later it was his turn again but he passed. What's this? Do I see green? Yeah green it is! We have us a case of sea sickness! Out with the pills. Down the hatch. Reassurance that life will get better.

Ok more fish to catch for the old salts. The youngn needs time to recoup, but no problem. He can drive the boat while we fish.

A couple of hours later he is back up, ready to have another go.

Whoa! Now that rod is down big time, drag stripping, get it boy! It’s a biggun! Biggest one today! Maybe biggest one ever! Keep the pressure on! Don’t horse her. Might break the line. Doing good! Keep im coming! Good job! Gosh it gotta be a biggun! Take it easy! Keep the line tight!

With line taunt, muscles bulging, sweat popping, he pulled, he cranked, pulled some more, slowly ever so slowly the great leviathan neared the boat.

Hold the boat straight Paul! Pull up Chad, bring her over the net. A little more. More. There we go, she’s in the net! Wowzer!

The fish didn’t flop, she didn’t ever wiggle, she was totally exhausted! And so was our hero! I ask him to hold her up for a quick pic. No way. Wooped! Totally! Wooped! So I did the best I could, then quickly put her back in the water, held her, revived her, and set her free. I looked around, my young fisherman was eating! Calories, he needed Calories!

They had a good fight. He won! But the best part…………..

They both lived to fight another day!

Note: some photos by Chad Oneil

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sweet Innocence

Two little boys exploring the wonders of a new pet.
How does this thing work?
You put the grass up to its mouth and......
It disappears!

Monday, September 25, 2006


No brush grows in a new fence row, the post are neatly aligned and properly spaced, the wire is new and shiny. Each fence of this type is nearly identical to the next.

A tree falls on it here, a cow forces her way through there, a little bird nest in a hole where a knot has rotted away. Ivies climb the post, brush grows, and repairs are made. The passing years, the problems encountered are written indelibly upon the fence. As the years take their toll each fence develops its own unique character and beauty.

When young, we are nearly perfect with fresh young faces and lithe young bodies. As the years pass, the life we live, the trying times we go through are indelibly etched upon our countenance.

Like the fence, with the passing of time, we too develop our own unique individual character and beauty.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Boulders

In literature we frequently find references to rocks. They are seen as being solid, durable, strong, and impenetrable. In times past rocks were used to build pyramids, fortresses, and many other massive imposing structures. During our Civil War General Thomas J. Jackson earned his name “Stonewall” at the battle of the First Bull Run for standing in the midst of shot and shell unflinching. General George H. Thomas earned the nickname “The Rock of Chickamauga defending Chickamauga Creek in northwestern Georgia.

Have you noticed how banks and large government buildings are frequently made of stone? Mankind’s intuitions are only as strong as the faith of the people. Imposing masonry structures have an aurora of strength, stability, and permanence designed to bolster our faith in them. Just like the soldiers mentioned above they may not be as solid and eternal as they first appear. They may in fact be supported by only a small underpinning without which they must surely fall.
This outcrop on the edge of a precipice portrays all of these characteristics.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Little Country Church

I have always had an appreciation for the architecture of the little country churches. They are so different from the mega churches often built today. These little churches seem so serene, as though the problems of the world have passed them by. Many of them are quite picturesque as well. They are often accompanied by a small grave yard. As you wander through it you will find many generations which have made this church their spiritual home and are now at rest, buried beside their ancestors.

These churches house small congregations as well, usually less than one hundred and frequently much less. Unlike large churches where one may attend for years and never learn everyone’s name, here all know one another intimately. Everyone regularly attending soon becomes like family members and the term “Church Family” has a very real meaning.

I grew up in a small church and vividly remember the Sunday School classes, the preachers pounding the pulpit, revival service with dinner in the church basement at its conclusion. I remember the Sunday afternoon hymn sings where the local talent would give their rendition of the good old gospel songs.

If you have never attended worship at a Little Country Church and you have the opportunity, do it! You will be glad you did. You may find yourself with a whole new family of friends.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sunrise on the Water

My father in-law passed a major milestone in life on his last birthday. This year he celebrated his 70th birthday. If you know him, you cannot help but love him. He is one of the most gentle men I have ever known. For his birthday my wife and I decided to surprise him with a day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. I captured this image of him as we were departing from Madeira Beach Florida. The fish were not the most cooperative that day but that did not hinder us from having a great day at sea.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Crossroads School

My Grandfather was born in 1901. He and his siblings attended the Cross Roads School. They had a two mile walk to reach the school. Of course this trip was made regardless of weather conditions. The country schools of that day had all eight grades in one room with one teacher. Blanche Hollinshead is the teacher in this picture. I remember her from my childhood. She organized a non-denominational bible school which we attended each summer. She would frequently call on my grandfather to give a “Habit Talk”. The habit talk was a short story illustrating a moral lesson. She also did substitute teaching at my elementary school. Granddad is one of the small boys pictured in this class photograph taken in about 1910.

This is the Cross Roads School house today. It is now used by its present owner as a workshop

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Path

I beckon you come.

Walk under the spreading branches of my mighty oak. Follow me through the mist. The way is not clear. Do not be timid. Others have passed this way before and you must only follow for I am here to guide you.

Follow me into the glorious light of the future.

The Path by Salty Dawg

(This verse was inspired by my wonderful wife, who upon seeing this photograph said “That picture speaks to me”)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Lonely Pine

On a lonely windswept mountain top, a pine stands guard. The beautiful valley which lies before is shrouded in fog. Such is the way of life; we cannot always see what lies before us.

I arose early this morning to go in search of an image. I traveled to a high mountain overlook hoping to capture the sunrise over the valley floor. Instead I was met with dense fog. So as the old saying goes; when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade!

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Tin Type

The above photo is of my Great Grandmother Laura, born in 1871. When Laura was seven her family traveled by wagon from southern Pennsylvania to Kansas to become wheat farmers. In those days the Homestead Act of 1872 provided free land to farmers. Kansas had undergone a period of abnormally wet years. The farmers of that day had a theory that rain followed the plow. Shortly after her family arrived the wet years ended and Kansas became a dust bowl. According to family legend the crops failed and there was no wood for heat. They gathered buffalo chips for fuel. When the chips ran out parts of the house had to be sacrificed for heat. In a few years the once affluent family had no other choice but to load the wagon and return east. On the return trip two of Laura’s brothers became ill and were left behind with a distant relative in western Maryland. One version of the story has one brother dieing but another has both surviving. Perhaps someday we will be able to verify which story is correct. Upon their return Laura’s father again set to farming, becoming quite successful.

This photograph is a scan of a tin type. Considering the age of Laura in the photograph I would date it in the late 1880’s to early 1890’s. Laura went on to marry and raise a family of seven children.

I find the choice of studio props of this era to be interesting. The chair, table and books serve to support and steady the subject as well as add to the photograph. With the slow films of the day I would expect it was quite challenging to keep a subject still long enough to get a sharp image.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Images from the Past

This is another photograph from our family archives. It is a photo of my Great-Great Aunt Letitia with her daughter Pleasant and husband George.
These folks had all passed away before my time but I love this photograph. It appears that George had most everything of value to him present in this portrait, his family, car and home.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ripples on the Water

This is another photograph from our Florida Vacation. I spent a few evening at various lakes shooting with Chad. The weather was beautiful and the water birds were very cooperative. It has been my experience in photographing wildlife that to obtain the best shots one needs to shoot in areas where the wildlife is acclimated to human presence.

The reflection of the grasses in the ripples of the water is my favorite part of this shot. Of course I did not see this while shooting this pair of White Ibis' and was pleasantly surprised upon viewing later.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th 2001 Remembered

In an abandoned strip mine near Shanksville Pennsylvania the first battle in the war on terror was fought and won. Five years ago today our World Changed

Many times down through history there have been watershed events that brought irrevocable change to the lives of the people. The Boston Tea Party, the secession of South Carolina, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the election of Adolf Hitler just to name a few. September 11th 2001 was one of these events. The world changed that morning, never to return to life as we knew it. Never again will we feel that terrorist acts are something that only happens somewhere else. Never again will hijackers find airline passengers to be passive. Two countries have been invaded. Will we someday look back at this event as the beginning of World War III.

Only the future will tell.

We have visited Shanksville twice since that day. It is nothing spectacular, just a grass covered strip mine. The impact site is beside the grass covered mound in the top photograph. This mound was formed from the material sifted through during the investigation. The small temporary visitor’s center is surrounded by memorials that everyday people have placed there to memorialize their friends, family and fellow countrymen who's lives were given that day. The mood of the visitors is that of reverence. It is the same as one experiences in church, only more so. Everyone speaks in hushed voices, there are no children running and playing, no one laughs, no one calls out to their friends.

All who visit understand the significance of that fateful day and of the good Americans who left this life fighting for what all good Americans believe in.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Silently Watching

A Great Blue Heron watches from the shadows while partially concealed by a cypress tree. We were entreated to this close encounter while vacationing in Florida this past February.

The Great Blue Heron is fortunate that his plumage never attracted the hunters of the plume trade thus his numbers were never decimated as was many of the other large birds. Herons primarily eat fish and are sometimes killed by misguided persons believing they are doing a good deed.

Herons watch and wait nearly motionlessly until an unwary fish moves into their kill zone. With a lighting quick strike they spear the fish through with their bill.

Later we watched while this bird speared and consumed a crappie.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Harvest Moon

Last evening I watched as the Harvest Moon rose from behind the mountains. I first noticed a glow in the eastern sky followed by a bright pinpoint of light shinning through the distant tree tops. Quickly I ran for my Canon and began firing from the deck railing. There was no time to spare for it only takes a minute or two to rise above the trees. NASA has the following to say about the Harvest Moon.

The Harvest Moon is no ordinary full moon; it behaves in a special way. Throughout the year the Moon rises, on average, about 50 minutes later each day. But near the autumnal equinox the day-to-day difference in the local time of moonrise is only 30 minutes.
In times past this came in handy for northern farmers who are working long days to harvest their crops before autumn. The extra dose of lighting afforded by the full Moon closest to the equinox is what gives the Harvest Moon its name.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reflections of the Past

Grandpa and Grandma husking corn

In my youth our family consisted of three generations living under one roof on the family farm. Our farm was consistently behind in technology. Corn was the last harvest of the season and as such it seemed there was no hurry finishing the task.

The process started cutting the corn with a binder pulled behind the Farmall H tractor. The binder tied the corn in small bundles and dropped it on the ground. Once the cutting was done we would pick up these bundles placing a number of them together in a shock. To weather proof the shock it needed to be tied tightly. This was accomplished by wrapping a rope around it and with a person on each end pulling it as snug as possible then wrapping a twine around the tightened shock and securing it. After an appropriate time to dry the shocks were then taken down and each and every ear husk by hand. The ears were then put on a wagon, hauled to the crib and shoveled into it. The corn fodder (stalks) were retied into bundles and set up into shocks to be fed to the cattle during the cold days of winter.

One of grandpa’s hobbies was growing watermelons. He grew some of the largest, sweetest watermelons for miles around. Late each summer many friends and relatives would come for a Sunday afternoon visit and watermelon feast. As the threat of frost would near Grandpa would pick the remaining watermelons and place them in the corn shocks through out the field. Of course he couldn’t remember which shocks contained the melons so when one was discovered while husking it was time for a break.

Life moved much slower in those days. It didn’t seem as if people were in the hurry they are today. Neighbors visited neighbors; families spent many Sunday afternoons together. Have we really improved our lives with the fast passed atmosphere of the present?

This photograph was taken with my Minolta SLR

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Gate

The gate has served its family for many years. Its duties has been to keep the cows and chickens out of the lawn and to keep the children safely in. Once this was a bustling farm, the parents, busy running their business while tending to their five children. Of the young children who once played in the lawn some have passed away. The gate now hangs in disrepair as this farm as well as its occupants shows the obvious signs of age.

Time waits for no one.

The old have learned this truth,
the young will as time passes.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Chesapeake Dawn

For the dedicated striper fisherman this is a familiar scene. Oft times the rockfish bite begins and ends early. An early start is an advantage sometimes accompanied by the serene beauty of a nautical sunrise. Who knows what the day will hold? Will the fish cooperate? Will we be lucky and find the trophy stripers? Will the line hold, or will we have to tell the story of the big one that got away?

Striper fishing is my favorite game. Spring trophy stripers are big, brawny, hard fighting, beautiful fish. The lure of the open water beckons the hardcore fisherman to come and enjoy. The Chesapeake can be a place of serene beauty or a boiling caldron fraught with danger.

On this day the beauty of the sunrise belied the fact that the morning temperature was 32 degrees and my hands were so numb from driving the boat that I could hardly fire the camera.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Photo Humor

I am seriously trying to maintain a semblance of a serious blog these days
aside from a little rednecken’ from time to time. After visiting Chilly's Mom's blog I found it imperative to post this question.

Dis ere sight is a sure ‘nough a uncommon thang up ere in da nort an Ize is a wonderin if’n ya’all offen see it down dare in da south?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Honor for a Fallen Hero

On a hot July afternoon many gathered to pay tribute to a Fallen Hero.

Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Szwydek was killed in action near Nasser Wa Salamm Iraq during October of 2005.

On this day a bronze memorial was dedicated in his memory. This photograph was taken during the dedication prayer at the statute. A very touching moment at a dedication honoring a young life cut short at the tender age of only twenty.