Birds before breakfast

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I was excited when I glanced through the kitchen window  at the backyard buffet and discovered an Eastern bluebird posing for multiple photo opps. The sky was overcast, as it usually is in February. A sunny blue sky would have been appreciated, but it wasn’t essential because this colorful visitor arrived with his own special brand of sunshine. And talk about blue! The hue on his wings suggested that they  had been dipped into a can of brilliant blue paint. Take a look at these photos of his morning grooming session.

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Mr. Bluebird wasn’t our only visitor yesterday.  Look who else stopped by to say hello! These unexpected sightings…all before breakfast, made this a memorable morning.

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The pileated woodpecker didn’t hold his pose for as much as a minute. He flew in, landed long enough for me to click off two shots, and whoooooshhh, he was gone!   But I got the shots, which made this a very good morning!

Thanks for stopping by to say hello.
Hope to see you soon!
Trail Walker

More memorable moments

My family then, then and now…# 2 in an ongoing series

On a rainy day in late November,  I went to Holden Arboretum for a photoshoot with two of our grandchildren, Michael and Emmy. A few days later, I created a blog post using the pictures from the photoshoot, along with pictures of them when they were about four and five years old. I titled it “A Fun Photoshoot.” If you missed it, you can see that blog post here.  At the time, I saw it as the beginning of a series titled My family: then and now.

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Michael and Emmy…2016

Now fast forward to today…

For about a month I have been working on my SmugMug website, bringing it up-to-date. I have seriously neglected it, so it truly needs more than a little reorganizing and updating. As I was working on that project today, searching my years of accumulated photos for snowy day pictures to use in a winter-themed gallery I want to create, I rediscovered these long ago photos of Michael, Emmy, and their cousins on the sledding hill in Chagrin River Park.

 

The discovery stopped me in my tracks and detoured me down a different trail. After a brief , “Aww, weren’t they cute” moment, I jumped into creating today’s blog post, “Number 2” in the series I mentioned above. When I come across old family pictures, my parents, sisters, children and grandchildren, I can easily lose myself in reminiscing. Many memorable moments come to mind, and I enjoy every minute of those detours.

And that brings me to the purpose of today’s post. Plain and simple, I would like to encourage you to set aside some time to dig into your photo archives. Until you do, you’ll never know what trails they will lead you down. Get out the old photo albums or that big box filled with snapshots (that hopefully someone has labeled with names and dates 😊 ) and have fun with them. I can’t think of a better snowy day project!

Thanks for joining me on the trail today. If you’ve had similar photo detour experiences, I would love to hear about them in the comments. If you dig into those old photo archives, have fun! I hope you’ll come back and share some of your memorable moments.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

 

 

Eastern screech owl redux

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What should a photographer, who loves trail walks, do on a cold, rainy January morning? She could of course put on rain gear, thumb her nose at the wet weather, and head down the trail. However, this trail walker (me) found a more appealing (and much dryer) activity this morning. Sitting in front of my computer, I opened the WordPress website, clicked on the link to the “Reader,” and began to wander through the blogs of other WordPress contributors. What followed was not my usual walk down the trails in Chagrin River Park or Holden Arboretum, but was, nonetheless, a fascinating (and dry) trail walk that linked me to trails in distant states and far away countries.

One of the first links I clicked on was this one, posted this morning by Belinda Grover, an outstanding photographer I follow regularly. Belinda’s post today, an Eastern screech owl, reminds me of the screech owl that lives in a nesting box in Chagrin River Park.  With that reminder,  I dug into my photo archives until I found the little owl posted at the top of this page.  My sleepy-eyed owl is cute, but Belinda’s is much sharper, and she even caught it with one eye wide open, so I implore you to take a minute to click on the link and enjoy Belinda’s photography. I hope you return here, however, and read the rest of this post, because my intention today, in addition to introducing you to Belinda’s work, is to share several tips that have helped me become a better photographer and blogger.

  • First, I want to encourage you to take a little time every day (0r as often as you can) to click on the WordPress Reader. It has links to a wealth of interesting blogs, fascinating bloggers, and exciting opportunities to visit new places and see beautiful scenery.
  • Second, I want to suggest that examining the work of other photographers, via the Reader, can help you become a better photographer. Not only have I met new people and visited places I will probably never visit in person (think Switzerland, Denmark, or New Zealand), I have also learned from photographers who are more experienced than I. What a wonderful way to get an education.
  • Third: Remember to mine your own archives every once in a while. You may find photos you have forgotten (like my sleepy owl) that could become the focus of future posts. How exciting is that? They’re yours; you won’t be breaking any copyright laws; and they are already on your computer, making them easy to access.
  • Finally, related to mining your archives, is a fourth tip. Please make a habit of giving a few keywords to all your images. When you want to find that picture you took in Kuala Lumpur or Hawaii (Don’t I wish!), it will be much easier to bring it up, if you have given it a few relevant tags (keywords).

However, this business of leaving the familiar trail and wandering through the Reader and/or through your archives, comes with a warning. It will be interesting, educational, and unbelievably fun. It can even be eye-opening, introducing you to new blog friends and far-away places. However, above all it can be addictive. So you might want to set a timer to remind you when it is time to come back to earth, i.e. to your own blog. You’ll want to leave enough time to finish your post for the day.

Thanks for stopping by.
Some bedraggled (think dripping wet) bluebirds visited the
Backyard Buffet, while I worked on this post! So…
Come back tomorrow to see them!
(Preview below)
Trail Walker

 

 

 

 

Sharing Christmas joy

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Joy to the World!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Christmas is a joyful holiday, especially for those who celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus. But I believe that those who celebrate Christ’s birth should do everything we can to spread the joy of this celebration and share it with others in our community and beyond. That is what our church, Willoughby United Methodist, was doing on Christmas Day when we prepared a delicious Christmas dinner and sent out an open invitation to our community to come and enjoy it with us. Weeks of planning and several days of cooking turkeys, hams, cookies, and more, culminated in a festive celebration that was enjoyed by many.  Chatting with the guests and snapping their pictures added to my joy, and I hope sharing this Christmas Day dinner with others added to theirs.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Friends!
See you in 2017

Meanwhile, enjoy this rendition of “Joy to the World,”
sung by a boys’ choir from Ireland in 2013.

Trail Walker

 

Everybody loves a teddy bear!

On Christmas Day, our church (Willoughby United Methodist) serves a free turkey and ham dinner with all the extras to anyone in the community who wants to join other people for a delicious holiday dinner. This year it followed our Sunday worship service. We give teddy bears as gifts. We also take bears to give away when we go Christmas caroling in nursing homes. People of all ages love teddy bears!

A fun photoshoot

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The golden willow in Lotus Pond on this drizzly November day.

Two of our grandchildren, Michael and Emmy, siblings as Emmy described them today, are home from college for the holiday weekend.  After our family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, I asked if they would be interested in visiting the Arboretum today for a little photoshoot. They agreed, so off we went this afternoon.

My goal was to replicate a photo I had taken of them fourteen plus years ago when their mother and I took them to the Arboretum. That beautiful spring day in 2002 they were about four and five years old  and the weather was perfect for playing around Blueberry Pond. Today’s weather was  drizzly  and only a couple degrees above 40,  but we proceeded with our plan anyway, and we had a lot of fun. Here are the pictures:

Michael, Emmy, and me in 2002

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Michael and Emmy today

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If the ground hadn’t been so soggy today, I was thinking of taking their picture on the little footbridge at the bottom of the hill. When I got home this evening and started digging through my old picture files, I wished I had gone through with the plan, despite the mud and slippery leaves, because…

Here are Michael and Emmy on the footbridge in 2002

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And here they are today overlooking the Butterfly Garden

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I can’t believe it has been over 14 years since that May day in 2002. Time flies by way too quickly; places change and people change also, especially children. Blink your eyes, turn around once or twice, and they are no longer little children. This is why I enjoy photography so much and treasure the pictures I have collected over the years. On this post-Thanksgiving day, they, the children and the pictures, mean the world to me.

Thanks, Michael and Emmy, for visiting the Arboretum with me today. It was cold and a little wet, but I had a wonderful time!  -Grandma

And thanks, blog friends, for coming along!
Trail Walker

P.S. I’m thinking I see a future series of blog posts. All I have to do is get the other grandchildren back to Ohio and take them to the Arboretum for a photoshoot. That might take a while, but I’ll file it in the back of my mind and maybe someday it will happen.

Could we ask for more?

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The day dawned with fog which gradually lifted during the 2 1/2 hours I wandered the trails at Holden Arboretum. After snapping the picture above, I headed down the trail toward the gingko tree.  Eager to find out if it was finally dressed in the rich golden hue I remembered from previous years, I was delighted when I rounded the curve in the trail and saw this:

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and then this:

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…and my heart was filled with joy and gratitude. Could I ask for anything more than what we have already received from this amazing, colorful autumn? But truthfully, there was more, as you can plainly see.

On down the trail from the gingko, I circled Lotus Pond where I captured two more shots of the golden willow to add to the collection I posted last week, showing it from two different sides of the pond.

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The other area I wanted to explore today was the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden. I have posted a few picture from there recently, but today I decided to spend more time in this area because it is quite large and there is so much to see. Walking along the trail into the rhododendron garden, I was confronted with some large earth-moving machines and a crew of workmen. For several years Holden has been engaged in major redevelopment projects that are ongoing, and the constant rumble of the earth-moving machinery, along with the beep-beep-beep warning sounds reminding walkers to take care, are signs that big things are happening!

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Men and machines at work

While all this activity was happening on the right side of the trail, on the left the scene was very different!

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Past the construction zone, the trail winds through the rhododendron and azalea beds, which will be beautiful in June. Although in November little is in bloom, I spotted a trio of wilted rudbeckias, a startling contrast to the vibrant red and orange tones of autumn.

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It’s time to end this post. If you are still with me, thanks for your patience, but I’m getting weary and you may be also.  I did a lot of walking today , followed by several hours at the computer preparing this post, so instead of sharing all the images that I collected today, I will save some for another day, or maybe even two days, making this post part one of another series.

Here are two more autumn images from the rhododendron garden before I wrap up with something that was a happy and totally unexpected surprise.

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Serendipity

As I was leaving the rhododendron garden after taking the picture of that beautiful orange-red tree, I was surprised and delighted to see an Eastern bluebird perched on a limb nearby. So surprised in fact that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of course I didn’t have the best lens on my camera for catching birds, especially little birds that flit from tree to tree, but I gave it my best shot and managed to get these two pictures:

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Eastern bluebirds aren’t rare in northeast Ohio, but they are migratory birds and many (although not all) of them fly off to a more temperate climate by mid-November. These are the first bluebird pictures I’ve captured this late in the season, so I’m happy to share them with you.

See you soon for another visit to the Arboretum.
Thanks for sharing this walk with me.
Trail Walker

Reconnecting with a friend

A note to my blog friends: I wrote this blog post especially for my friend Dollie. None of my regular readers know Dollie, but if you had a special connection with a friend at sometime in your life, a friend you haven’t seen for many years, my words in this post may resonate with you. If they trigger memories for you, as this experience has done for me, you may even find yourself creating blog posts based on those memories. If that happens, I wish you happy blogging!

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This was me, back in my high school days when I met Dollie.

Several weeks ago, a special message showed up in my email box. As I read it, my eyes got wider and my smile grew bigger. The message was from someone I have never met, but she introduced herself as Kim, and explained that she is the niece of one of my very good friends from high school, which was a long time ago…back when I was growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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I think (but I’m not sure) that this was Kennard-Dale High School.

Our high school wasn’t large. As I remember it, there were only 61 members in our graduating class. Located in the country, surrounded by beautiful farms with rolling hills and lots and lots of cows (my father was in the dairy business), the school was new when we entered 10th grade. The students came from different elementary schools. Many of us only knew a few of our classmates at this new school. Fewer than a dozen had gone to grade school with me, so high school became a time for making new friends, which thankfully didn’t take long. That is when I first met Dollie, and we were good friends all through our three years at Kennard-Dale High School.

After high school,  I went off to Philadelphia for college. There, as these stories often go, I met someone special. When I graduated from Beaver College (now Arcadia University) in 1959, Bob and I were married. He started a career in sales, I taught school,  we raised three daughters, and I never returned, except for short visits, to my home town in southeastern Pennsylvania. As a result, I lost contact with my friends from Kennard-Dale.

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Bob with our daughters
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Me with our daughters

But home never stopped being important to me, and occasionally we still drive through that little town on the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, bringing flowers to the cemetery, located on top of the hill with a wonderful view of the valley and houses below. We drive down Main Street (There is only one main street. It really is a small town) to see what has changed. And of course we always drive from end to end on Chestnut Street, past the home where I grew up, which sadly has changed way too much. One of these years I expect the old homestead, built by my grandparents in 1907, will be gone. That will be a sad day for me.

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My parents are both gone now, and my sisters as well. My husband and I rarely make trips back to the corner of Pennsylvania that I still call home, but there is a very special corner of my heart where I keep my memories of that time and place. Was I glad to get an email from Dollie’s niece Kim? I was more than glad; I was deeply touched, delighted, and grateful. It means so much to me to reconnect with that time and place and with my good friend, Dollie.

Happy Birthday, Dollie. I hope you have a wonderful day, and I hope we can continue to keep in touch. As they say Best Friends Forever (BFF)!

Carolyn

A few more pictures

Saturday’s miscellaneous moments

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For the past few months I have been hard at work organizing the 50,000+ photos I have accumulated on my computer’s hard drives. I have categorized, keyworded, labeled, and even deleted photos in my effort to gain control over what had become a massive mess. For some photographers, 50 thousand photos wouldn’t make a dent in their collection, but for someone like me, someone who had no logical method for organizing my files as they continued to accumulate, 50 thousand is a lot!

I primarily use Adobe Lightroom to import and optimize my pictures, but although Lightroom has a great system for organizing photos, even 50 thousand or many more, I had no conception of how to use it to my advantage. Then one day, a few months ago, I signed up for several online workshops by Ben Willmore. Since the day I began taking Ben’s workshops, I have had multiple “eureka moments”and now, finally, I am on the way to being in control of my massive mess of picture files. Bit by bit, I am getting them categorized, labeled, keyworded, and (dare I say) ORGANIZED. I don’t have total control yet, but I’ve taken control (thanks to Ben) and I’m gradually getting there.

Then today I went out with my camera and took a bunch of pictures, in a bunch of different places, for a bunch of different reasons. I came home, downloaded them to my computer, and began to wonder about the best way to organize them. I needed to keep track of them and know exactly where they resided on my hard drive, so I can find them when I’m ready to share them on my Blipfoto journal, this Trailwalking blog, or even just to email them to family and friends. And hallelujah, I figured it out! So tonight I am celebrating, and I just had to tell someone, so I chose to tell you. If you’re not interested, if you could care less, that’s okay. You can just ignore the last three paragraphs. But before you check out, please take a look at these miscellaneous moments I captured with my camera today.

The day started with our usual Saturday visit to the Willoughby Outdoor Market. To my delight, I heard music and discovered two young musicians had taken a space at the market and brought their instruments (and their mothers) because they wanted to raise money for their friend Marik, who is undergoing cancer treatment. I was impressed by these ninth graders, both by their talent and their initiative to step up, organize, and implement such a special fund raiser for their friend. They are generous spirits, and I believe Marik must be also.

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Next I ran into our old neighbors Harold and his daughter Sandy, who used to babysit with our daughters many years ago. One of my favorite things about the Outdoor Market is running into people I haven’t seen for a while, and stopping for a conversation, which is what Sandy and I did. As we were talking, Harold kept on walking past other vendors, so I said, “How old is your father, Sandy?” It turns out he is 97, and Sandy had to keep moving to catch up with him! I took the opportunity to snap their picture.

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Harold and his daughter Sandy

I also ran into our friends Ruth and Mike Lovett. Ruth was eating a scone that she said was delicious, so I made sure Bob and I bought a few before we left the market.

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Ruth and Mike

After the market, Bob and I drove out to Patterson Fruit Farm. It was getting near noon, and I hatched the idea that a warm apple dumpling would make a great lunch. Patterson’s makes great apple dumplings, and just thinking about them was making me hungry. However, when we arrived at Patterson’s, we discovered a fall festival in full swing. The fruit farm had been overrun by families of all sizes and they appeared to be having a great time. The lines were long, the kind that wind out the door and down the path. Bob took one look and said, “We can come back Monday,” and I agreed. So we came home without our apple dumplings, but fortunately, we had those scones, and they were delicious too!

After taking a few pictures of the festivities, as well as several landscapes, we headed for home.

 

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Orchard Hills, which once was a golf course, adjoins Patterson’s property.
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The narrow blue line on the horizon is Lake Erie.

So that’s it for the visit to Patterson’s, but I’m looking forward to a return visit for those apple dumplings. It’s time for lunch, so we should head for home, but if you have a few extra minutes before we sign off, why don’t you go back and look at my last several blog posts. I’ve labeled them “Color Me Autumn,” because they are all about the beauty of Autumn as I’ve photographed it in my walks along trails in Chagrin River Park, Holden Arboretum, and on the beach at Headlands Nature Preserve. They start here at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve.

Thanks for joining me for today’s “Miscellaneous Moments.”
See you soon for more Color Me Autumn trail walks.
Trail Walker

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