Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Poem


Black birds call early

robins late,

the blue bird

discusses the snow

while house sparrows

clatter about,

disrupting treaties

cardinals and chickadees

hammered out through the winter.
By Kathleen M. Tenpas

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Old Barn

Just an interesting old barn near the interstate. I shot this in black and white as an experiment. I have no idea about it's history or even if it has a history, but I've never seen a barn built in this style. I wonder how long it will remain as the property belongs to an out-of-state commercial developer and sits right on the edge of a large industrial park.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thalictrum thalictroides

Although we got to see the world's largest open pit granite quarry on Saturday's day trip (and I got an education on granite), that was pretty much the extent of snapshots. The day was overcast and cold and because I thought we were going to the Reynolda House Museum, I had left the big camera home and was only toting the FP8.

We did comment on the profusion of rhododendron (aka mountain laurel) bushes along NC 103 going towards Virginia, but they don't bloom until June. And Madison, once a bustling textile town, has a wonderful clock tower that was built in 1919, but the light was sucky.

We also drove by a plantation near the Dan River that was built in 1828 and semi-hidden from the road that would lend itself at another time to snapshots. I researched and found out the owner of the house and will write a letter to see if I can come back onto his property. If not, I'll have to be content with roadside pictures.

So, pictures for the future, but what about today?

Well, Friday while on the walking trail behind our office building I found this little flower:

This is Thalictrum thalictroides or Rue Anemone, a member of the buttercup family. There were also many May Apples on the forest floor, but, of course, they don't bloom until May.

Now that there are all these tiny little blooms on the walking trail, I am chomping at the bit for the weather to clear up so that I can go back and find more to photograph.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Largest Granite Quarry on Earth

TB and I decided to scrap a visit to Reynolda House Museum Saturday for a short day trip as we hadn’t been out of Greensboro since the beginning of February. First, I got sick and then TB got sick and neither one of us wanted to travel anywhere. Instead we stayed home and moped and complained about how bad we felt.

So back on the road again for a short trip up through Mount Airy and into Virginia.

I spotted a sign for the North Carolina Granite Quarry and took a quick swing up to its observation area. I only had the little camera with me (I lost the lens cap Thursday for the big camera while I was taking my sunset photos and am waiting for a replacement one).

Mount Airy is home to the largest open face granite quarry in the world. There are larger pit quarries throughout the world but no larger open face quarries. A pit quarry is below the surface, while an open face quarry is at ground level.

Shaped like an enormous oyster shell, the quarry covers approximately 90 acres, which is currently under operation. The deposit is about 1 mile long and 1/3 mile wide. Geological mapping shows the total mass to be about 7 miles by 4 miles and 6,000 to 8,000 feet deep. Since 1889, the quarry has been in full operation, and the surface has only just been scratched according to depth tests. Geologists say the deposit can be quarried for approximately 500 more years without exhausting the supply.

Because the granite has no natural beds and cracks, it is necessary to free great sheets of granite from the mass by a process called lifting. Dynamite is never used for quarrying. The results of its use would be disastrous because its force would shatter and crack the granite, which would cause flaws. Instead, black gun powder is used.

The story goes that the world’s finest natural quarry changed hands for nothing. In 1872, a farmer named John Gilmer purchased several thousand acres of farm and woodland covering what is now part of Mount Airy and much of the Flat Rock community. One of his friends learned the tract of land contained 40 acres of bare rock. Mr. Gilmer immediately went to the seller and threatened to back out on the deal because of the worthless 40 acres. The seller agreed to deduct the 40 acres of worthless rock in calculating the dollar value of the whole tract. Therefore, the quarry exchanged hands for nothing.

About 17 years later, a firm of builders, Thomas Woodruff & Sons, was building railway stations in the area. They recognized the potential value of a granite quarry and bought John Gilmer’s “worthless” rock for $5,000. 

The quarry is so large that it can be seen by astronauts in outer space!

The quarry operates seven days a week. While we didn’t hear or see any explosions, we were almost run off the road to the observation area by one of the largest forklifts I’ve ever seen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunset Sunday

With the forecast for several storms to come through Greensboro from the Midwest, starting on Friday, I knew that I had to take some sunset snapshots earlier in the week. The first couple of days were so-so to rather blah. By Thursday evening when the clouds started to build with the first front coming in, I took off for my favorite place near the airport to take pictures.

This shot is actually looking from a high vantage point towards Interstate 40 west (you can see a truck stop sign down in the right hand corner.) If you were an adventurous sort, you could jump on the highway and keep driving all the way to Barstow, California. I've driven almost all of it; once driving all the way from Flagstaff, Arizona to Greensboro - more than 2,000 miles.

You can find Sunset Sundays over at Finding Another View. I'm doing this with Anyes at Far away in the Sunshine as an ongoing project.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Small Garden

Up to now I've only shown bits and pieces of my small garden and patio - mostly bird feeders, daylily shoots and the random odds and ends.

Starting this spring, I'll post maybe once a week (I haven't decided) on the progress of the garden and the containers on the patio.

Last year I decided that I needed to do a little more in the way of gardening than just spreading mulch around the redbud and the crepe myrtle. There were no plants in the garden and the patio had just pots on annuals that I had picked up at WalMart or the big box home improvement stores which would then be thrown out at the end of the season.

I started ordering lost tagged daylily fans (those are the roots) from a nursery in Indiana, mostly because they were extremely cheap (some of the more exotic hybrids can go for hundreds of dollars per fan). I planted probably close to sixty fans throughout the summer of which some bloomed and some didn't.

This spring the daylilies have started to emerge but, as I posted earlier, I have a circular area just to the east of the bird bath where nothing has come up. I know I planted a few fans there, so obviously they've either died on me or something has eaten them. I will plant a few new fans there this weekend; nothing spectacular, just ones I picked up at Lowes.

My other plan is to sow perennial flower seeds between the daylilies. I saw this in a garden blog as a way to have flowers all summer long and to hide the faded daylily leaves.

Here is the small garden as it looked Thursday morning.

So, let the games begin!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cardinal at the Bird Bath

Although the bird feeders were taken up the beginning of the month so that I could concentrate on the garden, the bird bath is a permanent fixture and focal point. I planted a Lady Banks rosebush at the base some years back and soon it will be full of tiny yellow roses. Right now it is just greening up and trying to recover from being killed back during our very hard winter.

So, the birds come through the garden now just to take a bath (like the robin) or a drink like this male cardinal.

And while the birdbath may look as though it is made out of granite, it is actually plastic made to look like stone.

I also see over at the website that a first sighting of a hummingbird for this area was just made on March 18 (it is the 3/18 dot that is in the middle of the state up near the Virginia border). I will put up a feeder for them this year, probably this weekend.

I had a lot of hummingbirds come to the small garden last year to investigate the daylilies, but didn't stay long. My guess is that they can't feed off the daylilies and I didn't have a nectar feeder out to keep them around. Now, let's see what kind of snapshots I can get with them this summer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Forest Pansy Redbud

I hope you've noticed the new header for the blog. As Sunday was the beginning of spring, the dark-eyed junco on a snowy tree limb just didn't match up with the sunny weather and the trees regaining their leaves.

I took a picture of my flowering Forest Pansy redbud tree. Because the garden is so small (5x4 on the east side of the path to the back gate and 5x7 on the west side), I've planted small specimen trees so as not to overwhelm the patio. The redbud is sited on the larger of the two pieces and is the earliest to start blooming. I have a crepe myrtle, var. Sioux, in the smaller area and it doesn't even start to leaf out until much later.

Since the redbud is a member of the pea and bean family, the tiny little flowers look exactly like those of peas when they bloom. After the blooming season is over, the tree will develop long legumes that, according to Wikipedia, can be cooked just like regular peas. I'm not so sure I'll ever do that, but I guess it is nice to know just in case.

For comparison, a picture of a sweet pea flower from the Web:

See the similarities?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not the Supermoon

I wish I could say that I took this on Saturday when it was the Supermoon. But it became very cloudy right during the time the moon was to rise and despite driving round and round Greensboro, I never saw the moon at its biggest and brightest.

This was taken Friday evening as a test shot. I drove over to an industrial area west of Greensboro where there wasn't much in the way of street lights and overhead telephone and electric wires so I could get a clear view of the moon. I used the car door to steady my hands, took a deep breath and got some terrific shots. But it is not the Supermoon and it is only 99% full (as if anyone could tell the difference).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunset Sunday

I went out to an area by our airport to take pictures of Saturday's sunset for today's post. The clouds had already started to roll in earlier this afternoon so I knew the sunset wouldn't be much as the sun would be obscured by the clouds.

Imagine my surprise when I downloaded my sunset pictures and saw the little plane at the top of the snapshot. I never saw it or heard it fly by.

You can find Sunset Sundays over at Finding Another View. I'm doing this with Anyes at Far away in the Sunshine as an ongoing project.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My First Spring Robin

At least someone is using the birdbath:

Guess it is really and truly spring now.

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Japan With Love

I'm joining with other bloggers for the Bloggers Day of Silence for the people of Japan. I have sent a contribution to Japan SPCA through Global Animal. Please consider donating to a charity of your choice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Magnolias at the Greensboro Arboretum

While I was at the Greensboro Arboretum Sunday, I took these pictures of the flowering magnolias:

This is "Leonard Messel" from the United States.

This is "Royal Star" from Japan.

And some surprising information about magnolias:

The magnolia family is very ancient with fossil remains dating between 36 and 58 million years ago. The unusual distribution of existing magnolia species resulted when Ice Age glaciers destroyed ancient European forests but not those in Asia or America.

Surviving magnolia species represent some of the more primitive flowering plants. Magnolia flowers do not have true petals and sepals but are composed of petal-like tepals. Flowers do not produce true nectar, but attract pollinating beetles with fragrant, sugary secretions. Magnolia flowers are primarily pollinated by beetles of the Nitidulidae family because magnolias evolved long before bees and other flying pollinators.

Magnolias were well known and widely used by ancient cultures in Asia and the Americas. The beautiful flowering tree,Magnolia denudata, was known as "Yu-lan" ("Jade Orchid") to the ancient Chinese and has been cultivated since the 7th century. The Japanese have grown Magnolia stellata for centuries as flowering pot plants called "Shidekobushi" ("Zigzag-petalled Kobushi Magnolia"). The Aztecs knew Magnolia macrophylla var. dealbata as "Eloxochitl" ("Flower with Green Husk").

Europeans were not familiar with magnolias and they first discovered them while exploring the Americas. In 1688, Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana) was the first magnolia introduced to Europe. Unaware of Amerindian or Asian names for the species, 18th century taxonomists named magnolias to commemorate Pierre Magnol, a 17th century French botanist.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Daylily Murderer

Last year I planted more than 70 daylily fans in my small garden. Some bloomed last summer and some decided that they would just wait until this year before they bloomed.

For some reason I have a large circular area that doesn't have any green shoots poking up through the leaf litter.

I wonder if he has anything to do with the missing daylilies.

I wonder what that is in his tiny little paws. Daylily fans, perhaps?

I went out and bought 20 more daylily fans from Home Depot that I will plant in the bare areas and when it finally looks like the weather will stay warmish, head out for some of the daylily nurseries nearby and buy something that isn't a Stella del Oro.

Monday, March 14, 2011

For Japan

The Japanese Cherry trees are blossoming at the Greensboro Arboretum this week.

I wanted to post this in memory of all those who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunset Sunday

I took this Thursday evening after the huge storm that brought flooding to the Northeast left Greensboro. We were spared the massive amounts of rain that hit New Jersey and New York, getting only a little more than an inch and a half. Great for all the daylilies that are starting to peek up in the small garden.

You can find Sunset Sundays over at Finding Another View. I'm doing this with Anyes at Far away in the Sunshine as an ongoing project.

Friday, March 11, 2011

February Full Moon

I took this the middle of February during the last full moon.

I see the next full moon is on March 19th, the next weekend. Wonder if I can get a similar snapshot?

I'm feeling better (still a little cough, but nothing like the last couple weeks), so I'm going to go to some of the city gardens this weekend (TB has other plans, so no day trip) and see what has started to bloom that would be interesting.

The birds have also started to migrate back from Central and South America (not the hummingbirds; they will come later in the spring) and I'll try to take some photographs if I can. The bird feeders are out of the small garden, but robins come looking for worms under the leaf litter. I think they are deserving of being photographed, too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blenko Bottle

And a picture of a bottle for the photography class.

I used to collect Blenko glass until it became discovered by the shelter magazines as the thing to collect for those who were into mid-century houses, furniture and accessories. Then everyone went over to eBay and started bidding Blenko into nose-bleed territory. Plus my collection had started to take over every flat surface in the house and it was starting to look more like a Betsey Johnson interior (although pink is not my thing).

Most of the glass has been put up with the exception of some of the better and larger pieces. This bottle (or decanter) was blown in the early 1960's and stands about two and a half feet tall. I was really fortunate to find it in an antique store here in Greensboro where the word hadn't filtered down that it needed to be priced higher than the $45 I paid for it (it should have been priced around $400 or ten times as much). It now sits with four other large Blenko pieces in front of my sliding glass door.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Truths for Mature Humans

I have no new snapshots to post. Being sick for more than two weeks has severely impacted my desire to go out and take pictures.

But a friend (thank you, Leigh!) sent this list to me a while back and now is the time to share this:

Truths For Mature Humans

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

 18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

24. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important. (Ladies.....Quit Laughing).

Yes, I know there is no # 17- it was deleted

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Ring

Since I am a newish photographer, I wanted to take advantage of the creative photography class offered at our local community college that was being offered this month. Our first assignment was to take four photographs; one of a bottle, the second of a ring, the third of something lazy (with three cats, that would be easy) and the last of something wrapped around something else.

Here is the one I took for the class of my ring. A little background on this. I found it offered on eBay some years back. The account for the auction was that the front piece, the one with the entwined hearts, is modeled after a wrought-iron screen in some English church (I think that is how the description went). Whatever is the true background on the ring, I wear it daily and enjoy it for its uniqueness.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Day Late

A day late and a dollar short. Sunset over Lake Townsend, the largest of our city reservoirs.

I am still sick with whatever this thing is - cold, crud, bronchitis (but not the flu; no fever). So I'm sorry for the paucity of snapshots and posts. It is hard to drag yourself out of bed when you just feel lousy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

He Who Knocks

The old doorknob and lock at Evergreen Academy, right across the street from the Amos Hinshaw barn (and written about in an earlier post), brought to mind this morning the verse from Matthew 7:7:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Amos Hinshaw Barn. Randolph County, NC

Here is an unusual barn for North Carolina, not far from the NC Zoo.

A little background on how this barn came to be here in the rural area of the Piedmont of North Carolina:

During the Civil War, Thomas Hinshaw and his brother Jacob, and their brothers-in-law Cyrus and Nathan Barker, had all decided that the right thing for them to do as Quakers, given the war going on around them, was to simply stay at home, quietly carrying on their everyday work until forcedly conscripted into the Confederate Army.  Confederate soldiers came and tied them to gun carts and took them to the "Militia camp" near Buffalo Ford. The Confederate enlistment rolls show Thomas, age 31, and brother Jacob, age 28, were "enlisted" (forcedly) on Nov 3 1862 as privates in Company G, 52nd North Carolina Infantry. They were captured by Union forces at Gettysburg and transported to a farm in Indiana.

When Mary Hinshaw, Thomas' wife, and her cousin Elizabeth learned that their husbands were alive and in Indiana, they loaded some provisions and their four children, including Thomas's son, Amos, into a covered wagon and headed westward six hundred miles across the mountains in the early fall of 1864. 

The Indiana barns that influenced Amos were built by Swiss immigrants and had a wagon ramp leading to the second floor. This allowed hay wagons to drive in and deliver the hay to the storage area rather than the normal custom of hauling hay bales up to the second floor by block and tackle or, with families with strong-armed sons, throwing them up to be caught and stacked.

It no longer is a working barn or a working farm for that matter. But it does make for an interesting snapshot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Signs of Spring

The daylilies have started to come up. That's it. I don't have any spring bulbs planted as I  decided just last year to plant daylilies in the small garden. Prior to that, the garden was just wood mulch with a forest pansy redbud and a crepe myrtle tree (var. "Sioux").

Not knowing what they would look like this year, I just decided to leave the garden as is for this spring to see how much the daylilies would spread. I bought and planted more than 60 daylilies as a start. I'll fill in as I go along this year.

They were all lost tags from a nursery in Indiana, so I don't even know what to expect this year. I would say be prepared for a mishmash of flowers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mills Long Gone

If you take a look at a map of Guilford County (where Greensboro lies), you'll see a lot of roads with Mill as part of their names. Just off the top of my head, there is Freeman Mill Road, McKnight Mill Road, Branson Mill Road, Price Mill Road, Davis Mill and so forth and so on. These all got their names way back when there were grist mills near every small farming community.

All these grist mills are gone, but the names still remain on downtown roads and obscure county roads. On our day trip which took us down to the NC Zoo, we took a detour over to Kidds Mill Road near Franklinville about thirty miles south of Greensboro. Here, too, at one time was a local grist mill, but the building  itself is long gone. However, still standing is the original stone dam that created the pond for the departed mill race:

And a close up of the hand-placed stones:

And a half buried millstone, the only item still remaining from when it was the center of this small farming community: