Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekend Reflections - Capitol Interior

Time to join James at Newtown Area Photo for Weekend Reflections. Don't forget to visit all the participants. You will be amazed at the gorgeous photography from all over the world.

I shared some reflections at our Capitol Grounds a few weeks ago. This week we'll move inside

You may need to click to enlarge this last photo in order to understand what is pictured. Then again, you may have much better eyesight then I do!

Thanks for visiting, and make sure to visit all the other contributors to Weekend Reflections.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

F is for Freezing

It's time once again to report to Mrs. Matlock's class for Alphabe-Thursday. This week we are to present our papers on the letter F. Since it's been such a horrible, no good, really bad week, you can guess the first word that popped into my head. But this is a PG rated event, so I'll settle for Freezing!

Sunday was a gorgeous day. 78 degrees, sunny, light Southerly breeze. Perfection! DH told me that snow was forecast for Tuesday. I laughed and laughed.

Tuesday morning, I left the house at 6 AM and felt stinging pellets hitting my face - sleet! I crunched out to the car and started it. Then I marched back (well, I slid back) to the house for another cup of coffee while it warmed up. Said to myself, it's just a little sleet, it will blow over.

NOT! We ended up getting about 3 inches of snow, which stuck to the lawns and rooftops. Luckily the streets were warm enough that the roads didn't get too bad. In Austin they had some problems with the elevated bridges and flyovers, but those babies freeze if you drop a slurpee on them, so that was expected. And TXDOT did a good job of prepping them before the weather hit.

Now I know all of my blogger buddies who live up North will laugh at this, but here is what 3 inches of snow looks like in Georgetown, Texas. These were taken in the afternoon when some of it had already started to melt. But you can see the size of the snowflakes - they were huge. I felt sorry for the school kids, the weather system moved in after the busses had already started their routes, so no snow day for them. I imagine there were alot of restless rowdy kids in class!

Can you imagine how confused this poor redbud tree was? It starting budding out last week, now it's being snowed on!

Hope you enjoyed seeing our little snowstorm. By Wednesday, it was 54 degrees and the only evidence left was a bunch of snowman fannies left on lawns. They have already lost their heads and mid sections! Make sure to stop by and visit Jenny's blog and see what everyone has come up with for F. This should be an interesting one!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Weekend Reflections - Sun shots

My contribution for this weeks Weekend Reflections, hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo. Sunset photos taken at Lake Georgetown, Texas.

Click here to see links to this week participants.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Writer's Challenge #4 - My Favorite Place to Visit

Lori at Family Trees May Contain Nuts is hosting a new Writer's Challenge. Our subject is Our Favorite Place to Visit. Make sure to stop by and read all of the entries. This challenge brings out the best in all of us! This was an easy one for me, my favorite place to visit is and always has been St. George Island, Florida. As I wrote this, I began to realize that the reason it is my favorite place to visit is less about the location and more about the fun times our family has shared there.

St. George Island is a very small barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The closest town of any size is
Apalachicola, a beautiful fishing village situated between the glorious Gulf and Apalachicola Bay. As you turn onto the bridge to the island, you feel lighter somehow. I'm not sure if it is the quality of the light, the smell of the breeze over the water or the wheeling gulls crying above. But it is a magical experience.

We have been visiting St. George for 10 years. It is a place where our family, scattered over different parts of the country, comes to reconnect and recharge. The cast of characters changes from year to year, but the wonderful times we have does not.

St. George is where I met my sister-in-law's cousin Skippy. A wonderful young man in his thirties, born blind and mentally challenged, Skippy taught me to remember the joy in simple things. He taught me that it is a blessing to raise your voice in song, regardless of your talent. He re-taught me the joy in just being.

St. George is where I met new nieces and nephews for the first time. It is where our daughter Caitlin grew to understand the bonds of family and the joy of acting like a goofy little kid when you are an incredibly serious teenager.

St. George is where we brought friends and "adopted" family members to revel in the freedom of no wi-fi, horrible cell phone reception and tv's that don't always work.

St. George is where I saw a sea turtle nest for the first time, and the drag tracks of that incredibly determined mother who worked so hard to lay her eggs where they would be safe. It is where I learned to turn out the house lights so that the little hatchlings would not be confused and would run to their home, mother ocean.

St. George is where I reconnected with my estranged father. It is where my father met his granddaughter for the first time. It is where I saw the light of absolute love in his eyes as he was surrounded by his adoring grandchildren. He told me once that the happiest days of his life were spent on this island with his children and grandchildren, after so many years alone.
It is where we scattered his ashes when he died. It is where I believe he is finally at peace.

St. George is where I learned the most important lessons of all. To slow down and be still. To rejoice in the joy that is family, for all their faults and foibles. To truly appreciate the beauty of nature and the magnificence of simple things.

Finding Beauty - Bird of Prey

Claudia at Dipity Road hosts Finding Beauty every week. It's nice to be encouraged to see the beauty that is all around us, every day, if only we'll take a moment to look. On a recent trip to Lake Georgetown to shoot some sunset pictures, I looked up and saw this beautiful fellow soaring above us.

Click to enlarge to see this magnificent creature better.

Funny, DH was hollering for him to get out of his shot, and I was hoping he would fly into mine! Be sure to stop by and visit Claudia. She has such a wonderful outlook on life, and her blog and photography are just beautiful!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Alphabe-Thursday - E is for Eden

Good Morning Mrs. Matlock. I have my paper prepared and ready to turn in. You look lovely today, Mrs. Matlock. Would you care for an apple? Yes, I'm being a little Eddie Haskell today. Time to visit Jenny Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday. This week our letter is E.

E can stand for so many things. But for me, this week, it stands for Eden. As in St. George Island, Florida. This gorgeous barrier island lies just south of the Florida panhandle on the Gulf Coast. It is known as the "forgotten coast". St. George Island has no high rise condos, no amusement parks, not much of anything but homes, a few shops and some restaurants. Wi-fi is available in a few places, cell phone service is spotty at best, and the TV reception leaves alot to be desired. In other words, Eden...

From sunrise....

There is time to walk along the beach....

Build a sandcastle ....

And at the end of the day, you can sit on the porch and see this ...

And then of course, it's time to go to bed so that you can get up and do it all again.
Like I said, Eden! Make sure to visit Jenny and see what everyone is sharing for the letter E today!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend Reflections - Texas Capitol

Time to head over to Newtown Area Photo for Weekend Reflections. This event is graciously hosted by James every week, and has links to some really outstanding photography.

This past weekend, cabin fever set in and we trekked into Austin for a little night shooting. It was COLD! But I took one for the team and came back with a couple of interesting shots.

This first is your standard Capitol at night shot, back view of the Texas State Capitol. There were few interesting reflections to be found, mainly due to the fact that this place is lit up like a football field on a Friday night in a Texas town! But notice that black "hump" in the foreground. It looks like a standard boxwood hedge, until you stand on the brick surround and look down...

If you do, you will be rewarded with this. This is looking down into a glass ceiling. The Capitol has numerous corridors and offices below street level, and they use alot of glass to let in light. Finally, a reflection! The focus is not great, had to shoot this handheld because I could not get the tripod over the little fence without putting it on the glass. I don't think the Texas State Troopers patrolling the grounds would have accepted the excuse that I was just trying to get a good shot for James!

If you ever get to Austin, make sure to tour our beautiful Capitol. The building and the grounds are magnificent - no brag, just fact!

Thanks James for hosting this fun event.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Alphabe-Thursday: D is for Dome

It's Thursday! Time to join our favorite teacher, Mrs. Matlock, for Alphabe-Thursday. Make sure to swing by Jenny Matlock for your assignment. By now I'm sure you've all met our host Jenny. You haven't? Quick, go there. I guarantee you'll be smiling for the rest of the day! This week we are to write about the letter D. I work for a vet, so my first inclination was D is for Dog. But on a recent trek into Austin to take some night shots, I decided that my D would be for Dome. This is the dome atop the State Capitol building in Austin. I loved this perspective. But it was SO COLD that I had a hard time keeping the camera still for a night exposure!

This is the rear view of the Capitol. If you ever have a chance to visit Austin, make sure to tour this gorgeous building and grounds. The Capitol has been lovingly restored, and it is an absolutely beautiful building.

For more information about the restoration of this historic landmark, click here. And thank you Mrs. Matlock, for hosting this fun event!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekend Reflections - Dreaming of Summer

It's time to join James at Newtown Area Photo for Weekend Reflections. Make sure to stop by and see some amazing photography from all over the world.

We have had rain and gloomy skies for the past 10 days. I'm not going to gripe about the rain after enduring a 3 year drought. But surely I can dream of summer? These were taken last November on a trip to Rockport Texas. I know, it wasn't summer, but it certainly felt like it. Oh how I long to go back!

Hope these made you smile! Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Alphabe-Thursday: C is for Charity

Yippee, it's Thursday, time for one of my favorite events! Alphabe-Thursday is graciously hosted by Jenny Matlock every week. We were given the letters A & B to practice with for the first two weeks. Now it's time to crack those books and get serious! 2 down, only 24 to go. Make sure to stop by and visit Jenny and all this week's participants! I promise you won't be disappointed.

I've had this post floating around in my head for awhile. When I realized that this week's letter was C, it hit me. C is for Charity!

While cruising through blogland, I read Jenny Matlock's post on the homeless in our country. If you haven't read it, click here. It was such a heartfelt essay that it got me to thinking about what we see (or don't) around us every day. We are blessed to live in an area that is financially stable and comfortable, but the effects of the economy and homelessness are so prevalent that we are beginning to see and feel it's effects here as well. If you drive 30 minutes South into Austin, you will see large numbers of people sleeping rough and trying to get by from day to day, without benefit of shelter. The effects aren't quite so obvious in our little town, which makes it a bit easier to think that it isn't a problem here. But if you dig deeper, the numbers are disturbing.

Nearly 1 in three students at Georgetown High School are classified as economically disadvantaged.

There are more than 150 students at Georgetown High School identified as homeless.

45% of students in GISD qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The population of Georgetown was estimated to be 49,000 in January 2009. This is up from 28,000 (2000 census). The median household income was $59,593, compared to the national median of $60,374.
If we have this many homeless students or students identified as economically disadvantaged, what must the statistics be like in areas that have been devastated by the current economic crisis.

What can one person do to help stem this crisis? A group of student athletes at Georgetown High School decided to find out.

Eagle Locker is a student initiative started by student athletes at Georgetown High School to address the needs of homeless students in our school district. They collect donations of clothing, school supplies, personal hygiene items and money to stock the "locker". Students in need may come in and choose items that they need, totally free of charge. This movement started out slowly, but when the community saw the dedication and resolve of these kids, they got behind it in a big way.

The program received a huge boost from a former student, Mason Crosby. Mason was blessed with a phenomenal talent as a kicker. After graduating from Georgetown High School, he attended the University of Colorado and now plays for the Green Bay Packers. Mason has started a program called "Kicking for Kids", which accepts donations based on his season statistics. Donors make pledges based on his stats, and the money is donated to the Eagle Locker Program. Click here for more information on Kicking for Kids.

On a personal note, our clinic made a decision this year to forgo our annual Christmas party and donate the money to Eagle Locker. One of our Doctors graciously allowed us to use her home for a potluck dinner rather than having a big shindig at a pricey restaurant. A few days after delivering our check to the program director, I happened to be at our local Wal-Mart. And what did I spy in the checkout lane? A group of 5 or 6 football players with carts full of mittens, coats, hats, school supplies and personal care items. I'm telling you from experience, there is nothing more joyous than seeing a big, burly teenage boy scanning tiny pink mittens at Wal-mart! And grinning from ear to ear the entire time he was doing it!

To learn more about Eagle Locker, click here. This is a great project, and these kids have really put their heart and soul into making it a success. The next time you hear about rotten teenagers, send them to this link!