Thinking Different in 2017

img_0159

I listened to a talk recently that discussed how “what we think”, can define “who we are.” If for example, in 2016 we awoke every day worrying about a problem or situation in our lives we had to face that day, and let that define how the day went, we’d walk around sorta miserable all the time. If we continued that thought process day after day in 2016, by the end of the year there might be a good chance that pattern of thinking would carry over into 2017. Unless we change the way we think. Such as looking at each day as an opportunity to conquer some challenge, meet some goal, do good things for others, or being truly thankful for all the great things in our lives. If we think that way in 2017, even though in reality we still have all the same challenges we had in 2016 (maybe more), perhaps our attitude about ourselves and others in 2017 will be significantly better. I choose to think differently. Happy New Year.

Walking with Grandsons

p1050264

Few things make me happier these days, than being able to enjoy times together with family. Daughter Amy is visiting now with her two sons Stephen (right) and Daniel (left). Today, they went with me on a nice walk in the woods near our home, along the Smith River. As we walked and talked, my camera eye spotted lots of interesting colors and patterns you can see below. The trail we walked along the river reminded me of all the interesting sights these two young men will see during their walk down the path they are on, so long as they look around the next bend and experience unknown adventures. Shorty, Stephen will be in the U.S. Coast Guard, and Daniel will enter Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Exciting times for sure for these two guys, and I’m vary thankful to have spent time with them today “in the woods.”

p1050266

p1050268

p1050269

p1050267

Rustic is Good

dscf5195

I made this photo a few days ago, and it represents a specific photo subject I enjoy very much: rustic building windows and doors. It’s the wooden texture, reflections in the old glass, peeling paint, and thoughts about what sort of things lie behind, that get to me … every time. While I was making this photo, an old man came driving onto the property I was on, illegally I might add because there were “No Trespassing” signs in view. However, a metal farm gate was open, and I’d been to this old house several times before. I figured better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Anyway, the man was a farm hand, carrying items out from behind the house. I explained what I was doing and he welcomed me to stay as long as I liked. Maybe it was my rural SW Virginia accent that did the trick, or the US Coast Guard hat I was wearing. We chatted a bit about the old home, which he said was built in the 1870s, and had been enlarged over the years. He said folks had lived there well into the 20th Century. It was indeed rustic. The foothills of the Blue Ridge where we live sure do have character. Like this rustic old house, and the nice old man I ran into that day.

Fitness is Good

img_0647

Our daughter Amy teaches 3rd Grade students in North Carolina. She’s also been trained in various aspects of “physical fitness”, and plans to obtain her professional certification in that regard. Being retired military, I understand what fitness is all about. When Amy’s son Stephen decided he wanted to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard, Amy took it on her own to help get him ready for the rigors of Boot Camp. Her youngest son, Daniel shown below to the left is a natural athlete himself, so he’s sort of along for the ride, and when called upon may serve as a “demonstrator.” He did just that showing Amy how to walk the parallel bars at an Army Corps of Engineers built and managed “Fitness Trail” near where I live. While Stephen and Amy “sweated it up” jogging in-between fitness stations, Daniel and I walked ahead to recon the difficulties that they’d see, and Daniel noting how he’d done a lot of these rigorous exercises when he was playing high school football in Texas before they moved to North Carolina. Like my title says, “fitness is good.”

dscf5187

dscf5193

dscf5194

A Walk in the Woods and Fields of Henry County, VA

dscf5149

It was a nice day, sunny and cool, so I decided to take a stroll at a nearby recreational center, that has lots of fields, walking paths, a nearby river and many other attractions that for me from time to time spell “camera and exercise time.” Like I do whenever I go on a photo road trip alone in my car, I had no exact idea that day where I might go, so I just let my feet lead the way.

dscf5136

As I wandered in an area I’d not been before, I saw this interesting scene, and positioned myself so as to use the small drainage ditch to lead the viewers eye into the photo. Afterwards, I saw another interesting sight; a lone tree in the field, with colorful leaves barely hanging on.

dscf5138

Walking along, I eventually came to a familiar wooded trail that wound its way along a small river. I especially like making photos when the leaves are gone from trees.

dscf5145

dscf5146

And then I saw one tree that had lots of leaves remaining.

dscf5143

As I neared the end of my walk that day, I saw a familiar sight I’d photographed before (below), and the colors made me want another. It was a good day all in all.

dscf5144

A Quilter’s Country Home

IMG_0448

My wife Barb is a very good “Quilter” and she has close friends here in SW Virginia who are equally so, or better. They each truly love what they do, and spend a good bit of time doing it together. A few days ago, I drove Barb to her quilting friend Patsy’s country home, to deliver an item she had made to be “machine quilted” on Patsy’s large frame machine. I was excited to go along because I wanted to see and photograph Patsy’s century-old family home. The brick style is classic, and it’s in very good condition. There were outside aspects of the home that caught my eye. Such as …

IMG_0460

IMG_0461

After I went inside, and after Patsy kindly said I could go look at whatever I wanted, I wandered about being most attracted to the warm wooden textures, especially on the well-worn stairs. The stained glass window in the front door was also interesting. It’s not an original, but looks like it.

IMG_0458

IMG_0459

I also walked around outside, making photos of her apple trees and the grape arbor, noting that birds and bees were thoroughly enjoying themselves on the fruit. Patsy also has a vegetable garden, and before we left she took me into her “root cellar” to show me all that she has preserved for later use. She offered me a couple of mason jars full of goodies, which I happily accepted.

IMG_0445

Enlight1

IMG_0457

Three hours after we arrived, we drove home having just experienced the true hospitality of a “SW Virginian” … folks we are so very happy to be close to.

The Dick and Willie Trail

DSCF4743

Before the arrival of railroads in the Dan River Valley region of SW Virginia, goods were transported to city and town markets via flat-bottomed boats. By the late 19th Century, railroads had taken over that purpose. A rail line was completed from Danville to Stuart in 1884 and passed through Martinsville. The “Danville and Western Railroad” was nicknamed the “Dick and Willie” by local residents and while train traffic was discontinued years ago, the roadbed of the line has been converted into a multi-purpose recreational trail as it passes through Martinsville. The 4.5 mile long trail is used today by thousands annually, and the name Dick and Willie remains affectionally in the hearts of many. Recently, I took a early morning walk along the trail, and was rewarded not only by the exercise I had, but by the beauty of wildflowers and greenery all along the route. Kudos to local government planners and officials for making this all possible.

DSCF4741

DSCF4742

DSCF4737

DSCF4739

Find your path and follow it

P1040729 (1)

To those young people undecided what to do with their lives, I’d counsel visualizing a “path” just like in the photo above. I’d say, look at that path in your mind as an adventure in discovering, through life experiences, what lies beyond each twist and turn. Other than taking a mental leap into the unknown, there’s often no major risk involved, and much to gain. Perhaps a few months or years may pass “walking” down this path of discovery, but events encountered during that adventurous span of time, simply add to one’s better understanding of their true mission in life. And, most importantly, to be able to perform that mission with much greater purpose and determination than they had when they set forth.

Change is never easy, especially when it involves heading into unfamiliar territory. But, that change may very well be exactly what one needs to make them realize what it is they really want to do in life. Be bold. Take a step out on your path.

Special Tennis Match

We were visited recently by our daughter Amy, her husband Mark and son Daniel. They had traveled from their home in Texas to spend some time touring the mountains of North Carolina and SW Virginia. During the visit, I had the pleasure of watching Daniel play a match with his father. Both are excellent players and were evenly matched throughout the game, with the “old man” winning closely. I had my camera handy of course and got some nice action images. Note Daniel’s form. Very nice indeed!

P1040629

P1040631

P1040605

P1040642

P1040638

P1040643

P1040646