Blue Birds Misc

First, I have to say that making photos of Blue Birds isn’t easy. They flit around very fast, and when using a 200mm lens like I was, the critters aren’t always in perfect focus. I did the best I could, however, and overall I’m happy. Here’s a gallery to see what I saw. (I note that the very early buds on the trees now, and the warmer weather insects below the trees on the ground, are attracting one of my favorite birds. Our neighbors have bird houses for them, so they are always around. Unfortunately my long lens camera isn’t. I kinda got lucky here.)

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Floyd Virginia – Part 1

Floyd County Virginia, and the town that holds that name, provide for me an opportunity to see how rural America once was, and to explore various sights and sounds that are unique. In short, I love it. Over the next few posts I’ll share what I saw recently. For those living reasonably nearby in Virginia or North Carolina, the drive itself (along VA Route 8, or the Blue Ridge Parkway) is a worthwhile trip. Photo opportunities abound. Especially in Spring when Apple trees are in bloom. If that’s not possible, I’m here to show you what’s there.

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The Floyd County Court House sits at the center of the town. History is alive there in many ways. It’s a very popular place to visit because of that, and on many weekends the town center is full of happy visitors, enjoying where they are.

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A dusting of snow had fallen the day prior to my visit, and when I saw this “Christmas Season” composition outside the town’s historic hardware store, I immediately focused and clicked the shutter on the camera I was carrying (iPhone 7 Plus).

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The building at the right (upstairs) has a really nice coffee shop. There were many folks going up and down the stairs, but I waited until none were seen. (I prefer photos without people in many cases. This was one.)

Below are just two of the interesting shops that are located in the town. The name “Republic of Floyd” derives from a group of artisans and small business people who have called Floyd their home. The shop sells perhaps one of the largest variety of craft beers I’ve seen.

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Backyard Barns

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We live in a moderately “rural” part of SW Virginia, very near my second most favorite state, North Carolina, and one common sight I see all over both states down here are backyard storage buildings, I’m calling them “barns.” People do a lot of yard and garden work and for that a suitable place to store tools and such is required. Here are two just up the street from our house. I really like the red one best. Just because. Here’s a close up.

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A Favorite View

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There’s a spot along Virginia Route 8 between Stuart and Floyd that I have traveled for many years, on my way to seek out photo opportunities. The best time to go is whenever I feel like it.  Except when there’s snow or freezing weather about. The road travels down a gentle slope passing by Apple trees which are part of a small farmer’s orchard. During the spring when Apple trees are in bloom, and with puffy clouds over the Blue Ridge  in the background, it’s a wonderful scene. I had a nice clear day yesterday on my way to Floyd, and was thus able to capture once again a favorite view.

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Making Old Buildings New

My prior post was about the decline of American industry and the remnants of associated buildings left behind. I saw lots of “beauty” in that regard, and decided while making those photos to take a look at how local community developers and elected officials have decided to improve on that situation. I recently began following a blog written by a couple living in Greensboro, NC who live in a renovated textile plant in that city, which is attracting many young people like them. I decided to take a look closer to home here in Martinsville, VA and what follows is what I saw recently.

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For years I drove by a somewhat rundown brick building that once was home to the Martinsville Novelty Company. What’s a “novelty” you ask. Good question and certainly not something we see anymore with that title. Wikipedia defines this as “A novelty item is an object which is specifically designed to serve no practical purpose, and is sold for its uniqueness, humor, or simply as something new.” I remember as a kid seeing ads in comic books that touted many “novelties” each of which captured my attention. Anyway, I digress. Several years ago a developer purchased the building and turned it into a very nice apartment complex with lots of amenities. The adjacent parking lot was crowded the day I visited to make this photo. Success number one!

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Success number two. The historic Henry Hotel sat for years in the center of Martinsville, and served its purpose well. Then it closed years ago. Recently another developer gave the building a new chance in life. Martinsville’s Historic Henry Hotel is now The Henry, a 25-unit downtown loft complex. Small businesses were attracted and that has helped put a bit more vibrancy into the city, previously impacted by closures of many local major industries.

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Lastly, and perhaps most significant is what has happened to the main production facility for Tultex, Inc located here in Martinsville. The city was once referred to as “the sweatshirt capital of the world”, due to Tultex’s production of athletic and other popular lines of clothing. Then along came China to compete, and “boom” Tultex and many companies like it shuttered their facilities. The loss of jobs had a obvious significant impact on Martinsville, but left behind was a very large multi-story brick building. That changed due to forward-looking and wise action on the part of many people. A portion of the plant has been converted to office space with large meeting/conference facilities, that have over the past several years, added a lot to the community. Here’s what it looks like today in its new life.

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I’m proud to have been witness to the transformation processes related to each of the three examples I cited above. I already mentioned one such success in Greensboro, plus I’m aware of many other examples elsewhere in North Carolina and Virginia. It makes me proud to see what’s happening. We Americans are indeed adaptable.

Beauty in the decline of industry

We live in the Piedmont Region of Virginia and North Carolina. Once, this area was a major source of economic progress for the United States. Especially textiles, furniture, and tobacco. For various reasons, our politicians helped drive those industries into partial or full decline. My purpose here is not to judge all that, it’s done. However, I do want to share some photos I made recently that show the remains of some of those industries, namely textile and furniture near where we live. Martinsville VA (textiles) and Bassett VA (furniture). I find black and white presentation to show best what I want. There is a bright 9colorful) side to all this, but I’ll make you wait until my next post for that.

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