Bring me some Flowers


We have several Forsythia bushes in our yard, and they are now blooming. It’s a fast change from bare limbs, to small, bright yellow flowers, to green leaves, and then it’s just a plain looking bush. But, for now, it’s worth a photo or two.




Also in our yard (as I’ve written about before) are lots of also quickly blooming Daffodils. Right now they are all yellow in color, but there are a few cream-colored variety as well … but not yet blooming.



Not to be outdone, trees (below) are beginning to “bud” but that process is much slower than with the flowers. The most important aspect of this, however, is it’s a sure sign that Spring is near. (Aside: Well, maybe not “that” near, since possible snow is predicted here this weekend.) Waiting in the wings, so to speak, are numerous Dogwood trees we are blessed with … all over our neighborhood. My camera is alert and waiting.



In sum, every year at this time I see a wonderful transformation in SW Virginia, from  drab Winter vegetation and overcast skies, to a variety of gradually unfolding colors sparkling in warming sun, with blue sky and puffy white clouds overhead. This makes me thankful for what we have been given. To overlook it is … well … not wise.



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.


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!


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.



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.




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.





Another Reason

We’ve lived in Martinsville-Henry County Virginia for over 15 years. That’s pretty special, considering our 28-year career in the Army when we moved on average every 2-3 years. I love living where we do now, retired fully and enjoying it all the best we can, considering age and health concerns. My cameras help keep me focused (no pun) on what’s around me. This photo essay is about a very nice (and relative new) attraction in Martinsville. Another reason why we love living here.







The items in the display represent many facets of the diversity of people and activities in Henry County … textiles, furniture, music, faith, farming, recreation, etc. The display shows a high level of creativity in how those items are presented. Thanks to all who designed and put together this creative artwork, and to those officials and others who made its public display possible. It’s great!

Closed for the Winter


A very popular location in SW Virginia at which to enjoy yourself is Fairy Stone State Park, with it’s swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing lake, plus many amenities designed especially for younger children. Now, it’s closed for the winter. Heavy rains have muddied the normally clear blue, spring-fed water, while fallen leaves and other debris have cluttered usually clean, white sandy beaches.


During warm summer days, there would be rental kayaks and canoes lined up along this shoreline, with fees being paid in the shed in the background. A different summer scene would be present below, with more rental boats lined up.


Fishing in the lake, both from shore (below) and on the water, is very popular; however, in the midst of winter, the lake is mostly deserted. Pedal boats are currently stored under picnic shelters, waiting to again be put in the water in just a few more months.



Also sitting idle are gymnastic facilities designed for young children. I’ve been there in the midst of summer and this specific place is packed with shouting, suntanned kids, while nearby parents watch happily.


Distinct contrasts between seasons in many locations all across northern regions of America may appear rather sad and drab when not snow-covered. I don’t look at it that way at all. It’s just a promise of what lies ahead.