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Posts from the ‘photography’ Category

a commute with a (different) view

the old Hardwick Woolen Mill

One of the more interesting benefits of becoming involved with our local American Red Cross chapter has been the change of scenery from my cycling commute point of view.  Riding to the chapter office a couple of times a month has been a chance to leave the old barns, the fields of cows, and ride into the old industrial part of town on largely deserted old streets.  The view is gritty, tough, battered and even decaying and crumbling in places – but (and it might sound crazy) I’ve enjoyed the departure from green fields.

 

I’ve taken my camera along on a couple of past trips, but never managed to stop and explore for one reason or another – running late to a meeting, getting rained on, running out of daylight, or (recently) not wanting to stop in the sweltering heat.

Today things were in my favor to linger and look around.  The building I have always been most fascinated with is the old Hardwick Woolen Mill.

back in the day ... the old Hardwick Woolen Mill (postcard)

today ... the old Hardwick Woolen Mill, not so postcard-ish

Built in 1890, it had once been used to process wool produced from local farms – “the entire process of cleaning, drying, weaving, cutting, and sewing was performed at the Mill”, according to information on The Old Woolen Mill website.  Although there has been a vision to revitalize the old building and convert it into a combination of retail, commercial and residential space, it’s been a struggle.  To date, there has been only minimal development – most of the property continues to crumble and deteriorate, sadly.  To some extent, I suppose it mirrors the economy…

I’d like to think that someday it might be vibrant again … meanwhile, I can’t help but enjoy the patchwork of the broken windows and other old things left behind.

patchwork of old broken windows; Hardwick Woolen Mill

Boiler Company door on the Hardwick Woolen Mill building

the very great people at the Red Cross let me bring my bike inside while I work 🙂

sifting through ruins

Through a chance and random conversation, I ended up with a volunteer crew trying to help several local families clean up and sort the the ruins of their homes.   As the damage assessment throughout the Bradley County continues, the need for helping hands grows.  As of this afternoon, I am now a “spontaneous” volunteer for the Red Cross (and hope to become a regular volunteer in the near future).  I am scheduled to help in whatever way they may need me over the next few weeks.

I also want to make it clear that while I did have my camera with me, I was reluctant to even take it out of my bag in respect for the privacy of the families we were working with.  However, after some time together, several of the families almost encouraged us to use cameras;  they seemed to want to “document” the scene, saying it was “important for other people to see” what had taken place.  And so, when I had moments, I shot as respectfully as I could.

While men with chainsaws and BobCats worked to clear the heavy debris and tree limbs, several other women and I helped clean up the cuttings and helped a few homeowners sort through the rubble to reclaim items that could be salvaged.  I have to confess that it was heartbreaking at times – seeing cherished pieces (and simply ordinary pieces) of a family’s like strewn about like an afterthought.

On one property, I met an elderly woman who was combing through the debris at her son’s house – which had been completely demolished.  She seemed to need someone to listen to her – she talked and told me so many details of what had happened, what her son’s house had been like, where they had been when the storm struck.  How a basement didn’t help.  And the terrible aftermath.   It was as if she needed to verbalize the experience, and I can only hope that I helped her in a small way by being there to quietly listen.

there was no safe place - even in a basement

One of the most difficult moments of the day for me was finding 3 small dogs hiding in the ruins of a demolished home.  One of the neighbors told me that the woman who lived there and owned the dogs had been injured and had been taken to the hospital.  It’s unclear whether or not she had any family to come and retrieve and care for the dogs.  So I went and got some dog food and bowls of water, and the neighbor and I worked on making sure they would be cared for until they can be reunited with their owner.  (The Red Cross is also working on pet rescue in the area.)

As of today, the county schools will be closed through May 6th.  Two of the elementary schools sustained significant damage and will not reopen before the end of the school year.

My son’s high school will be opening their doors next week to serve meals and allow residents and out-of-area volunteers to use the showers.  My son, and many of his fellow students will be volunteering to help through efforts coordinated by the school.

As I write this, so many thoughts are swirling through my mind.  I haven’t seen a moment of the whole Royal Wedding – and I don’t care.   I apologize for not replying/responding to friends who commented on the previous post – I thank you for your concern.  I don’t think I will be taking or posting any more photographs of the damage – it almost makes my eyes ache with sadness to shoot these scenes.  (I would never cut it as a photojournalist, apparently).

I also know that there are other areas of the Southeast, from AL to GA, and even within Bradley County, that have suffered far more than the destruction I’ve seen in a few small areas here.  My heart aches for all of them, and I hope that anyone who reads this can reach out – to volunteer,  or donate supplies or funds to relief agencies.   Please help in whatever way you can.

These are the last photos … from today’s efforts.  (You are in my prayers tonight, Mrs. Johnson).

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critterpalooza

 

lens cleaner

(You can thank me now – despite the initial scare, this is a 100% goat-less post). 😉

There has been a lot of rambling around lately … because I am obviously honing my non-productivity skills.  And because the weather is beautiful, and I’d rather be out on  my bike goofing off, rather than, well … cleaning out the attic or mowing grass.

I’ve been drawn to long rides on the Xtracycle lately.  As someone once perfectly described – it’s not the lycra-clad fast and furious stuff (as if I ever do that), but more of a “long, slow boogie”.  Typical me.  Carry a picnic lunch, stop and talk to cows, linger in the fresh green of spring.

So … a few of the sights of recent days, because there’s not much more to be said.

exploring un-named roads

... and always finding more cows

things that haul...

 

... and things that haul "better"

the curious ones ...

and the not-so-curious ones

pink-ness

the "end" 😉

 

in a pickle(!)

 

who knew pickles could be so emphatic? ... (exclamation mark, really?)

Winding down, the last few days of #330daysofbiking, and I find myself “in a pickle”, so to speak.  Nothing to do with my bikes or cycling, but rather my camera.  While I am not exactly camera-less, my favorite camera, my best camera, my DSLR … has died.

From the symptoms and error message code, it appears the shutter has reached the end of its expected lifespan.  While only the Canon techs can tell me the exact shutter count, I anticipated that I was probably past-due for this to happen.  This camera has been a real workhorse, and while very well-loved, it has also survived an incredible amount of abuse.   In fact, I debated getting another camera body for the Italy trip at one point, as I really didn’t want to risk technical failure on that trip.  Fortunately, I’ve gotten through the past months without any problems … until now.

 

the very last shot from my beloved 7D

So, I have sent her off to the camera hospital and will hopefully have a diagnosis/prognosis by the end of the week.  Sadly, it seems that everyone is temporarily out of stock on the same camera body (by itself), if I come to the point I need to shop for a replacement.  And as much as I’m tempted to move up to a full-sensor body, there are too many features on the 7D (mostly fps) that I would have a hard time living without.   Forgive my rambling.

I guess I had just looked forward to finishing up #330daysofbiking with some really nice spring shots, with the camera that is so familiar and so comfortable to me that it’s almost like another appendage.  Yes, I get carried away with this stuff.

For now, the weather has been rather grey and dismal in recent days – a little bit like my mood.  Hopefully the sun will re-appear very soon …. Today was day 327.  Three days to go.

 

grey and dismal ... the day the camera died

Day 325: sticks ... and bike (Lumix)

 

today's tulips ... Day 327 (iPhone)

back to the bike

the pink sleeve

the pink sleeve (... cold enough for jacket and gloves)

 

basically, the sum of my addictions

The week has gone from cold-ish and grey requiring jackets and gloves,  to warm and sunny with flip-flops and sleeveless shirts.  Such is March.  And it has been back on the bike with, well, perhaps some renewed enthusiasm – although I still have snow on the brain.

The big excitement of the week:

  • having Dillon home for spring break and getting to ride with him (although he is much too fast for me these days)
  • seeing the publication of several of my photos, including the cover photo, for VBT‘s 2011 Italy Bike/Walking Vacations catalog (and yes, with permission and compensation – thank you, Chaipel)
  • coconut cupcakes 😀 #FTW!

For #330daysofbiking, I have reached Day 316.  Two weeks (?!) to go ….

 

grey day and greening pastures

road repair roadblock {-P

riding (or rather, trying to keep up with) Dillon

riding (or rather, trying to keep up with) Dillon

beautiful spring day, students and their bikes on the local Lee University campus

 

my dear husband (via my camera) appears on the cover and in feature article of VBT's 2011 Italian Cycling Tours catalog

the snow excuse

 

there is nothing... NOTHING... better than this - sun, fresh snow, high mountains, my skis and first tracks though the trees

To the people who have known me best over the course of my life, they know with little doubt where my first love lies – on the snow, on skis, in the mountains.  As much as I am passionate about cycling, and as much as it has become such a big part of my life, there is nothing I love more than being on skis on a cold sunny day on top of a big mountain.  Nothing.  Period.  (Apologies to my beloved bicycles.)

A little background  … my father decided put me on skis when I was a pre-schooler, and I still have fond memories of first lessons in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico before I was even able to read.  My dad became a National Ski Patrolman in the midwest where I grew up, which enabled us to ski virtually every day during winter.   I grew up racing and eventually became a ski instructor.   I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to ski in the summer for several years, when I shipped off to summer race-training camps on the high mountain glaciers each June.

 

with "my boys" at 10,000 ft - Storm Peak, Steamboat Springs

Skiing was a huge part of my life, of my family’s life … and despite ending up living in the snowless Southeast and raising my own family, the passion continues with my own boys, who have become incredible skiers in their own right – learning to ski in North Carolina, and skiing each year in the Rockies.   They have become skilled enough to ski everything on the mountain – from the trees to the double-black diamond chutes.

 

Ross shows how it's done ...

 

Mason heads down Storm Peak

powder day ... you can't really tell, but he's grinning ear to ear :)

powder day ... you can't really tell, but he's grinning ear to ear 🙂

So what does any of this have to do with biking?  Well for me, it appears that this crazy obsession/diversion of the trip to the mountains has managed to derail #330daysofbiking.  Since I managed not to get in a single day of cycling while out West, it appears I will be two days short of meeting my goal by April 1.  Rats.  But I just couldn’t help myself – the lure of the snow and the mountains was just too irresistible to do anything other than ski.  It’s my only excuse.

Despite this “failure” – and it is disappointing, because I was so close – I think it was good to have the interruption for sake of perspective.  Maybe it was good to get off the bike for a few days and revisit another passion with the people I love.

Someday I hope that we will be living in a place where I can set another (silly) goal – one that would look something like #100daysofskiing-and-#300daysofbiking.   Load the ski equipment onto the Xtracycle and pedal to the mountain for a day on the slopes.   (Although I might have to add in a #30daysofcupcakes and #100daysofknitting just to round things out 😉 ).

For now, I have a renewed enthusiasm to be on my bike again, and the quest continues to finish #330daysofbiking one way or another.  Since I can only blame my weakness for snow for the lack of cycling in recent days, I’m leaving a few last pictures from the mountains.  Sigh.

 

the snowy day tree

the USSA Junior National Freestyle Championships were being held on the mountain while we were there - these kids were unbelievable; our future Olympians

the art of spotting (and not landing on your head)

I had to restrain myself from buying a pair ... but I seriously thought these would look SO hot while riding my bike

the iconic symbol of Steamboat Springs ... the old barn on a snowy day

... and as the sun sets over the mountains

 

 

Indian summer-winter?

 

self-footrait 😉

It is winter.  And not really.  We’ve had a stretch of crazy warm days, with the thermometer reaching into the upper 60’s F.  It’s the stuff of riding in shorts, in short sleeves, of walking outside barefoot.  A ride past my neighbor’s field and the song of (too-)early Spring Peepers.   Vanishing memories of the snow of recent days past.

January?!

The warm weather makes me restless.   Feelings of wanderlust, longing for variation in the routine … metamorphosis, transformation.  Not exactly sure why.

Maybe in a few days it will snow, and I will return to normal (whatever that is)?

 

uphill on January 30 .... yes, in shorts

summing up January (aka ... shortening my camera's lifespan)