Africa-Leopard

growing – crowded – tangled – exuberant – comfortable 

This is what makes photo challenges so much fun – looking at an archive from a different perspective. My offerings are as diverse as the chosen topics, selected to match each of the descriptive words above:

GROWING

Nothing beats a child growing. This was our Baby-J just a blink ago.

CROWDED

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Crossing Prague’s Charles Bridge on a rainy day. I bet it’s quite a different scene these days.

TANGLED

Wires, wires everywhere in the Old Section of Hanoi.

EXUBERANT

To me, nothing is more exuberant than fireworks, these from a July 4th at Linville Ridge, NC.

COMFORTABLE

Back to an image of the South African leopards, just couldn’t get enough of them.

 

 

It’s still hard for me to think about, or even plan, travel at this time – but I do miss the adventure. This year’s cancellations were, of course, due to Covid-19; but the year prior we had some cancellations for a much happier reason, the birth of our first grandchild! Family-time with grandkids trumps even the best trip!

We are blessed to have so many wonderful travel memories, this one from a favorite trip to South Africa:

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For years my husband has been picking up feathers for me. I don’t know what it is I love so much about them, I just know I do. In Florida, he finds a lot of peacock feathers, but here in North Carolina, it’s usually turkey feathers. As it turns out, our cat, Pippi, also loves feathers, so I’ve had to keep them far out of reach from frisky paws.

For as long as I can remember I have kept a feather in a cup of pens on my desk. Maybe it’s linked to my love of history, but I enjoy the symbolism of the quills famously used by early writers. My vase of feathers has long been a conversation piece in our home, although it’s not as noticeable these days perched on a high mantle, thanks to Pippi.

I now know feathers are hard to photograph. I think what makes them so special is what also makes them hard to capture with a camera. Each unique color and barb seems to absorb light differently. Even using my Nikon 60mm macro lens I wasn’t getting the sharpness I wanted, so I defaulted to some more artistic close-ups.

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“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul . . . ”  ~ Emily Dickinson

Historic Baker Barn, Madison County, NC

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This is actually part of a re-post, with an update, from a topic I wrote about last year.

Rural barns. Old barns are disappearing way too fast throughout America’s countryside and the backroads of North Carolina are no exception. This topic was also perfect for A Photo a Week Challenge about Nostalgia as well as Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge about old buildings, including barns.

The Appalachian Barn Alliance is a not-for-profit group dedicated to preserving rural history in part of western North Carolina by documenting historical barns and the traditions they represent. Last summer, my husband and I took one of their self-driving tours and visited the barns of Walnut Township in Madison County, near Asheville.

Once in Madison County, we followed winding country roads for about two hours to nine different barns the preservation group researched. There were many other old barns and farm buildings along the route, turning our drive into a sort of barn-treasure-hunt.

IMG_8861A few of the barns were not exactly where we thought, but the directions got us close enough to figure it out. Most of the structures were eventually used for tobacco drying of some sort, and many were originally built to house livestock. The history of each barn was as interesting as its deteriorating appearance and we could soon spot the distinctive monitor roof and gambrel roof designs. Along the way, we read about many used as flue-cured tobacco barns and converted in the 1920s to air-cure burley tobacco (used primarily for cigarette production). Many early barn-owners sold (or bartered) their barn roofs for advertising . . . maybe our first billboards? Does anyone else remember those “See Rock City” barn ads?

This year, due to Covid-19 the group has had to cancel many fundraising events but has come up with a great way to still conduct tours. Participants travel in their own cars and follow the researcher/guide as he conveys info by phone or walkie-talkie, during the 3-hour tour ($45pp).  Once at a barn site, the guide uses a microphone and it’s easy to keep socially distanced.  For info email info@appalachianbarns.org. There are so many routes still to explore and we plan to try one of these tours sometime soon.

For more details about the covid-era tours and self-guided tours check out their website appalachianbarns.org It’s a wonderful way to spend a beautiful day.
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First, let me tell you four super-women how much I enjoyed learning more about each of you, and how you all connected, courtesy of the great interview on TCHistorygal.net  I am awed by the sensational talents each of you displays.

Deco feature, Wolfsonian Museum, Miami Beach.This was a tough topic. I don’t feel like I have been particularly creative during this odd time during Covid. Busy, yes. Productive, I’m not so sure. Like many, when we were first on lockdown, I came out of the gate like a gangbuster, cleaning out closets and drawers, re-organizing, attending webinars, exercising, and cooking better meals. Also, like many, as the weeks, then months went by, my focus diminished.

It’s more realistic to say I’ve been more determined than creative.  Determined to finally finish the Goggle Analytics course, attend technical webinars, follow more blogs, and to resolve various production details on my site. I worked selecting pics and writing posts to save for the much-anticipated day we all start to travel again.

My blog is my hobby, it combines my passions for travel, writing, and photography. These past few months, I finally had time to reflect a bit more about how to select and kraft my content as well as grow readership. Extra time allowed me to explore and participate in these wonderful photo challenges. Challenge posts have not only been enjoyable to read, but I have learned to look at my photos and content from different perspectives. And, I have learned from your beautiful photography and been motivated to get out and experiment more with both my Nikon and my iPhone.

So, thanks to you all for being catalysts and role-models!

A group of women enjoying companionship in Kathmandu, Nepal.

 

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Our first grandchild – sweet Baby J! Of course, everyone in my family brings me happiness and love – but my friends were right when they told me there was nothing like being a grandparent! There is never enough time with this little cutie and it’s almost impossible to catch the best moments on camera. Gotta keep the iPhone on-hand at all times, but even then, I’ve missed so many great shots.

The Making of a Cat-Lover

Baby J has her own kitty and has just really started to notice that big fluff-ball is not a static fixture; somehow my cat, Pippi, seems so much more interesting.  Last month Baby J learned more about Pippi and how to be friends.

Pippi is spotted upstairs. Baby J is going to be good at hide-and-seek, she found Pippi every time.

Learning that the kitty treats are for Pippi and really don’t taste that good anyway.

Pippi needs a rest but can keep an eye on the action, just beyond the baby gate.

Raindrops glistening on new Gerbera Daisy blooms are so bright and fresh. These pretty flowers always make me happy. Have a good week!

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One thing about this time of Covid-19 – I have time to catch up on some shows I wanted to watch. Top of my list, Game of Thrones and I have just finished season 7 (of 8). Faced with the difficult task of selecting photos for this challenge, the incredible sets and scenery in Game of Thrones were lurking in my subconscious, pushing me towards Dubrovnik, site of King’s Landing scenes and the Iron Throne everyone is fighting to control.

Walking the walls in Dubrovnik was awe-inspiring.

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Try to ignore any electrical wires or satellite dishes you spot in these pics.

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The crowds were overwhelming when we visited and apparently, it was quite a challenge to film on location. I recommend watching any of the features about how they created and filmed Game of Thrones. Impressive on all levels.

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In Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) at last count, there were 47 million “motos” and 3 million cars. Incredible. We saw everything being transported, and even families of four balanced on one small motorcycle. And they rule the road, so you’d better get out of the way.

IMG_9759 - CopyThis is a blurry photo, taken as we zipped by in a bus, but I just had to include it as an example of the livestock we saw being routinely transported by motorbike.

In India, we saw more cars, but still so many families on motorbikes. It was hard to even watch the way the babies and small children were being transported (and to think of the contrast with how we restrain them in cars here in the US). I always wondered how the Indian women kept their beautiful saris from getting caught up in the motorcycle mechanism.

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Mountains are my sanctuary, specifically, the enveloping cool, green, coziness of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. Each visit I feel my blood pressure lowering as a calmness washes over me.

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I love the cool crisp air, sounds of a running stream, clouds that lay low in between the valleys and peaks (thus the name, Smoky Mountains), the bright blue skies of fall against the vivid colors of the changing leaves, and the shifting palette of greens bursting forth on the trees each spring.

I got to really know these mountains during my freshman year at Western Carolina University, the only school I could find back then offering both a journalism degree and a mountain setting. We would head off to study by isolated mountain lakes, slip our sodas into the running streams to chill, and take Sunday afternoon drives just to see where the roads would lead (one notable time, right to an old-timer with a rifle).

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A really special memory was heading off with my friends Meta and Leslie, driving across a mountain stream to get to Meta’s family cabin, killing time target shooting, and just sitting on the porch talking and enjoying the scenery. Then in a total comedy of errors, we had to figure out how to build a fire or freeze during the cold spring night.

For the years of memories and those still to come, the mountains will always be my sanctuary.

A typical mountain cabin, Bales Homestead, Roaring Fork.

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Scenes from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

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