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2014_07_20_July day trip 2014_254Hello Bloggers. My name is Carolyn aka Skip; I live in northeast Ohio about a mile south of Lake Erie and 20 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio, and I will begin this introduction with a confession. I am both a Blipper and a Blogger, and Seen along the trail is NOT a new blog. I created it several years ago when I began to accumulate a large collection of photos from my daily photowalks. For those not familiar with the term Blipper, I will explain. A blipper is a person who takes pictures and maintains a photo journal on Blipfoto.com where s/he posts a picture-a-day…Not every day in my case, just most days. I have been blipping for seven years, and I just posted my 2500th Blip. My blog hasn’t been around that long. It includes entries going back to October 2011.

Recently I signed up for Blogging 101, a WordPress course that helps bloggers improve their blogs. You might wonder why I signed up for Blogging 101 at this late date. The answer is really simple: I just discovered it, and it looked like something I really need to do. When I first began blogging and blipping, I had three pretty straightforward goals: to improve my photography skills; to improve my writing; and to find a way to share some of the huge backlog of images on my hard drive (Currently there are 51,000 of them sitting there. I take lots of photo walks). I have learned a lot about blogging and blipping over the years, but there is still much to learn. Although up to now, I haven’t been a very good blogger, I am persistent…most of the time. However, several years after starting this blog, it began to feel stale to me, so over the next six months, I want to learn how to liven it up a little lot and make it a blog where people will be able to connect…through images, comments, and  even by posting blogs of their own that relate to something I’ve blogged about.

I believe that connecting with people and being present for them (even virtually) is a gift, and for me blogging and blipping are all about connecting. Nature, especially the birds, critters, and people I encounter in my regular photo walks will continue to be an important focus of Seen Along the Trail. I am also looking for ways to be more invitational, to make people feel more welcome so they will hopefully want to join me on my daily photowalks. Although I am not exactly sure yet how to do that, I’m looking forward to learning and improving my blog in the process.

Carolyn aka Skip

P S: If you want to know more about why I blog and how I got started, check out my “About Skip page.”

Graduation Day 2015

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Half the senior class…Emmy is somewhere in that sea of blue.

Today, graduation day for the class of 2015, was a big day for our granddaughter Emmy, Following the main event of the day, the graduation ceremony, Alison and Mike hosted a terrific brunch for Emmy and her guests at Pier W, a restaurant overlooking Lake Erie with a great view of downtown Cleveland.

Members of the Board of Education took turns presenting each student with his/her diploma. When it was time for Em to receive hers, it was handed to her, along with a hug, by a former neighbor and long time friend of the family who serves on the Board of Education. That made a significant moment even more memorable. Although we were sitting way up in the upper reaches of the State Theater where the graduation was held, I managed to grab a couple of quick shots of Emmy receiving her diploma:

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Cap, gown, and diploma in hand

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Following the ceremony, it was time for brunch and picture-taking on the patio overlooking Lake Erie (Click on a picture to scroll through the gallery).


Congratulations, Emmy. After a summer of teaching swimming lessons, you are off to college, and with two kids in college, Mom and Dad are off to work!! The years will fly by quickly. I can tell you that from personal experience. Work hard; learn a lot; make good friends; remember the values you live by; and create special memories that you will always treasure.

Love you forever,
Grandma

Repurposing a community’s school

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The term repurposing has become an accepted way of describing the process of recycling or finding a new use for something that is outdated, worn out, or useless in its current state or condition. That is exactly what happened to McKinley Elementary School when it became too old and the repairs too costly to make it feasible to continue to serve as a school. So they transferred the students to another, newer, school and closed McKinley. For a little while, it sat empty until our church and others decided to open it as a community center to meet the needs of local residents. Now, less than two years after it was closed, it has new life as a center which continues to serve the community where it is located. Each month several hundred eligible families enter its doors for the free distribution of taxable items, donated furniture, clothes, pet food, and many other services. As McKinley Community Outreach Center, the empty school has been repurposed

Today I took my photowalk around the grounds of McKinley, instead of trekking through the park on my usual trail, because this was the day of the first annual 5K race in support of the McKinley Community Outreach Center, and I had been asked to take some pictures. As you might expect, I took a lot of pictures and had fun doing it! Today’s post is a small selection of my photos from the event, including pictures of the runners and their supporters before, during, and after the race. Hopefully you can see the excitement, positive energy and spirit of this event from the faces shown here (Click on the first picture to scroll through the gallery).

That’s it for today’s post.
It was a great occasion.

Carolyn aka Skip

Nikki’s celebration

On Sunday, May 31, 2015, Bob and I drove to Kent to celebrate Nikki’s graduation from medical school (a much anticipated detour off my usual photo walking trail). The celebration, a fantastic brunch hosted by Nikki’s parents, was held at the Pufferbelly, once an old RR station and now a superb place for lunch, brunch, and special celebrations! Eight years ago (I think it was) we attended Nikki’s first graduation when she, Bryan (at that time her future husband), and their classmates graduated from Kent Roosevelt High School. Since that day, she has accumulated quite a few degrees. Although she told me it wasn’t because she was all that crazy about school, once she started down that trail she just-kept-on-going until she reached her destination, a medical school degree. Congratulations, Nikki! You set a challenging goal, and your dedication, single-mindedness, and perseverance have carried you through. Along the way, in addition to diplomas and degrees, you have also accumulated a wonderful (No, I’m not biased) husband, a dog, and, for the time being, two apartments, one in Toledo and another in New York City.

Here are a few memories from your celebration (Click on a picture to scroll through the gallery).

So Nikki, today you and Bryan have reached a major crossroad. With your “schooling” behind you, you can look forward to more challenging and exciting experiences as he returns to Michigan to finish university and you put on that (metaphorical) white coat with Dr. Nikki Wawrin inscribed above the pocket.

2015_05_31_untitled_070I spotted this old railroad crossing sign on my way out to the parking lot after your brunch. What serendipity! May it remind you both to stop, look, and listen in the days (and years) ahead…to your professors, your colleagues, and to each other.  Oh, and forgive me for indulging in one last grandmotherly piece of advice, take time to give thanks…always remember to give thanks!

God bless you both!

Love,
Grandma L.

Sense of place???

Are you wondering what I mean by “sense of place?” Here’s the scoop. If you follow my blog, you know that I post a (huge) number of birds. I love photographing birds and catching them in action. Sometimes they have the most comical expressions, and honestly, their behavior can be outrageous and sometimes downright risque. However, after posting hundreds (thousands?) of birds just sitting around looking birdlike, I have decided it is time to provide my blog friends with a sense of the place where I take all these photos. I actually have 50,000 images on my hard drive, a huge preponderance of them are birds (or deer), and very few give you a clear indication of their habitat. So from now on I am going to intentionally include more pictures that will provide that “sense of place.” I hope it is a positive addition to my blog. Please let me know what you think.

This morning I was up and out early again. The morning light was wonderful, the birds were active, and I even caught a deer wandering through the tall grass. Hopefully soon I will encounter some fawns to share with you. It’s about time for them to appear. But for today, no fawns, just lots of beautiful birds and some landscape shots to give you that sense of place. Hope you like them.

That’s it for this beautiful Thursday morning walk through Chagrin River Park. Thanks for coming along. I had fun sharing this time with you.

Carolyn aka Skip

Sun’s up!

I took an early morning walk today. The sun was up but not for long, and I’ve become a convert! Why in the world have I been lazing in bed until 8 am when I could be up and out by 6:30? I don’t have much time for blogging today (I’ve already used up hours photo walking and processing pictures), but here is a potpourri of  bird portraits I captured on this beautiful (almost June) morning. I hope you like them (Remember that you can click on any picture to scroll through the gallery).

And here are a few other images to provide a sense of place and to show that sometimes I photograph things that aren’t birds! (Note: The picture of the river was taken on another day this week, so the light is a little different).

Comments are great!
I would love to hear from you if you have time.

Carolyn aka Skip

Detour!

Today we took a detour. After my morning walk in the park, I left my usual trail behind and, at the invitation of friends, we drove to Kathy and Dean’s house for the first cookout of the season. And what a magnificent cookout it was! Everybody contributed something to the meal, and we feasted, told stories, laughed, feasted some more, and topped off the feast with homemade ice cream nestled next to a serving of Texas sheet cake, drizzled with chocolate syrup. Yum!

Dean was the grill master with the emphasis on master… (Click on a picture to scroll through the gallery).

…while everyone else, including the family cats, just hung out and waited for the (metaphorical) dinner bell to ring.

It was a special time with special people on a special day, but I have to say it’s a good thing that this kind of “special” doesn’t happen every day because it’s going to take a while to recover from all that feasting. As detours go, this one was definitely special.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope I didn’t make you too hungry.

Carolyn aka Skip

A muggy morning walk

Gulliver was my photo assistant again this morning. We didn’t go far, just a little less than a mile, but we did see some birds of interest…to me at least. I don’t think Gulliver was particularly interested in the birds, although he did show a little interest in the water fountain installed just for all the dogs that walk in the park. As long as the dog has a person on the other end of his leash who will turn on the water, a cool drink of water is available. That made Gulliver a happy dog.

Gulliver before our muggy morning walk

Gulliver before our muggy morning walk

Here are a few photos I took along the trail today. The pictures aren’t great, but at least they provide a record of what I saw on this May morning (Click a picture to see the larger version):

That’s it for today. Not many birds, but a good opportunity to practice with my camera, and, once I got back to my computer, more practice on my “digital darkroom” skills. There’s plenty to learn there.

Thanks for visiting.
Comments are always welcome. I love hearing from blog friends.

Skip aka Carolyn

Not the usual!

My walk in the park today was definitely not the usual…in more ways than one. When I drove into the parking lot, I spotted my best photo op of the day. I didn’t even have to get out of my car to see it, but of course I did because I knew the best photos would be up close and personal. According to the young man who owns this handsome critter and brings him for outings in the park, he is a seven year old African spurred tortoise. Originally he was named Turtle Man, but as he is actually not a turtle, he has been renamed Gordon because it is more accurate and more dignified. Gordon loves grass and clover, so for him a visit to the park is like dinner at a five-star restaurant!

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Gordon’s owner explained that his pet was only the size of a silver dollar when when they bought him at a pet store seven years ago. Obviously he has grown…a lot! He is not aggressive, as I was able to observe when a curious dog came over to investigate. The dog barked and barked, as dogs will do when confronted with a tortoise, but Gordon just continued to munch and meander across the grass. I asked if meandering was his top pace and was told that he can easily pick up the pace and his species has been clocked as fast as 5 mph.

It was an interesting but unusually short photowalk that ended when the skies opened, rain bucketed down, and I dashed for my car that thankfully wasn’t far away. Gordon’s owner picked him up, placed him in a large plastic container, and they headed for home. As you would expect, I took at lot of pictures of Gordon. Here are a few that show him doing what he obviously does best. (Click on a picture if you want to scroll through the gallery.)

Gordon is definitely not your typical cuddly pet, but watching him was fascinating, and I was impressed by the owner, a young man who is very knowledgeable about Gordon and making plans to protect and help not just Gordon, but his species. I really never know what I will encounter when I visit the park.

I would love to hear your reaction to Gordon. Are you familiar with his kind? Would you like to have a pet like Gordon? You could take him for a walk in the park, but you wouldn’t be putting many miles on your pedometer.

Thanks for visiting today.

Skip aka Carolyn

Another day and a few more warblers

Although I didn’t encounter as many warblers as yesterday, nor anything that made me as excited as the indigo bunting, this was still a delightful day in the park with Gulliver as my photo assistant. Being a “senior dog,” he isn’t impatient and will wait for me when I spot something I want to “shoot.” I just drop his leash on the ground, step on it, and shoot away. Here are six photos (but only two different species) from today:

That’s it for this post. Gulliver and I hope you enjoyed our birds.

Skip aka Carolyn

My new photo walking assistant

When I set out on my photowalk this morning, my dog Gulliver was with me. Gulliver is almost 13 years old, and, as happens with age, he is slowing down, but he still enjoys his daily walk in the park. Usually my husband is in charge of dog walking, but today, I hooked the leash on Gulliver, and off we went. Although I was doubtful about taking pictures while holding the leash, expecting to capture a lot of out-of-focus birds, I carried my camera over my shoulder, determined to do my best. I was amazed at the outcome, and that is what I want to share with you today. (Click a picture to scroll through the gallery.)

That’s the lot for today, and I am more than happy with my new photo walking assistant. I was especially delighted to capture the grosbeak, yellow warbler, and indigo bunting. Maybe Gulliver was my lucky charm today. What do you think?

Thanks for visiting.
I hope you like the pictures.
Carolyn aka Skip

Long day and a productive photowalk

Note: If you want to scroll through a gallery or see the large version of a photo, just click the pic.

It has been one of those days that started early and just kept on going. By the time I got out for a photowalk, the afternoon light was waning, but the birds were still active. I headed for the bluebird nesting boxes first; both mom and pop bluebirds were there, and perched nearby was a tree swallow, so I added his picture to my collection for the day.

Walking on, I headed past the bog, where I spotted flashes of bright yellow. Click, click, click! I captured several colorful birds, but at first I wasn’t quite sure what they were.

…until this handsome dude showed up on the scene…

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…and I exclaimed, “Oh! Orioles! Both the male and female.”

Then they discovered each other, and I quickly captured the surprising interaction with my camera!

Gotta love witnessing that interaction, but the walk wasn’t over yet. On the way back to my car, I saw a downy woodpecker…

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…a singing cardinal,2015_05_07_Chagrin River Park_183
…and a very shy mystery warbler who was hiding in the underbrush.
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And that was the end of the evening and the very productive walk in the park. If you liked it as much as I did, feel free to comment. I would love to know if you had a favorite picture.

Thanks for stopping by today!
Skip aka Carolyn

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