Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

I think "Taps" is one of the most beautiful, albeit heartrending, songs ever written, and I couldn't think of a more fitting song to use for this brief slideshow commemorating our veterans this Memorial Day weekend.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow:

I wish I could personally thank each and every one of them for the sacrifices they and their families made for our country. May God bless and keep them and let them know how much their service is appreciated.

I would also like to remember with gratitude our servicemen and women who, as I write this, are risking their lives every day to keep America out of harm's way. May God protect them as they protect us, and bless them and their families for the sacrifices they make for us.

I hope you enjoy the slideshow. Be sure to turn your sound up so you can hear the hauntingly beautiful strains of Taps echoing in the background, performed by the United States Army Ceremonial Band.

And for a very eloquent, inspiring, and heartfelt tribute to go along with Taps, be sure and visit my friend Rachel at Lawn Tea. Your weekend will be better for it.


Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, scouts must go to their beds,
Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

Taps was composed by Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War general. Butterfield wrote the tune at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, in July 1862.

Friday, May 28, 2010

How Now, Black and White Cow!

I was thumbing through some old issues of Country Living magazine the other day and in the September 2009 issue, I came across this black and white picture of a cow that had been framed.

The article accompanying the picture was about transforming just about anything into works of art ... the cow picture actually being a recycled place mat that was framed.

Place mat or not, I really liked the picture and immediately thought about my collection of cow pictures I've captured the past couple of years, and wondered what they would look like in black and white. That was easy enough to find out ... all I had to do was convert them to black and white in my Photoshop Elements program, and Viola! ... my own little herd of black and white cows, suitable for framing!

The next picture is my favorite, and I'll probably have it framed someday when I can find just the right place for it.

On second thought, I may have to frame more than one of those. I just love cows, and surely I'll be able to find someplace to hang them!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Soul of a Flower

I received the inspiration for this post from a comment one of my favorite blogging ladies -- Tonja at Tonja's Gatherings -- recently made about some of my photos of spring flowers and trees. If you have not had the pleasure of visiting Tonja, I hope you will stop by Gatherings and treat yourself to her delightful sense of humor, ever-inspiring faith, and beautiful, sweet spirit.

Here is the gracious note she wrote about my flower photos:

How you manage to find just that exact spot on the flower that holds it very essence! It's as if you can pick out the soul of the flower! I guess it's not 'soul' in a flower, but I think you get my drift! It was wonderful.

I appreciated Tonja's kind words and they got me to thinking about the fascinating concept of flowers having a "soul." I looked up the definition of soul, and found that it has several meanings that could apply to flowers:

Spirit, life, vitality;

The quality or qualities that
make a thing what it is;

An active or essential part;

And my favorite:
The quality that arouses emotion and sentiment.

Since I've been photographing flowers, I have discovered some of those qualities hidden deep within their petals and centers, which can't be seen by the naked eye. Only through the magic of my camera lens have I been blessed with seeing the actual heart of a flower -- it's pistils and stamen and carpel and all its other parts that "make it what it is." It is always a breathtakingly beautiful sight when my camera focuses on a flower's deepest core, and it never fails to evoke an emotional and/or sentimental response from me.

It may sound strange, or even weird, but I can recall several occasions when I have been overcome by emotion while capturing pictures of flowers. The most notable occasion was during a photo shoot in March of this year at the Old Court House Museum here in Vicksburg. As I walked around the grounds, I spotted this beautiful purple Iris in the distance.

It looked so regal, standing there proud and tall, and I decided to get some close up shots. Boy, was I in for a surprise! You can click on the images, if you'd like to get a closer look inside these flowers.

As I zoomed in with my lens, I noticed that it looked like a little light was shining from deep within the depths of the petals.

And the closer I zoomed, the brighter the light became ...

Until it looked as if there was a candle burning brightly within the center of the Iris -- like a heartbeat.

I'll never forget seeing that image through the lens, and the chill bumps accompanying it.

Another memorable occasion was when I was taking some macro shots of the center of a magnolia blossom. As I clicked away, I watched transfixed as some of the stamen fell away from the carpel, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer delight of being able to capture it as it was happening.

There have been countless other times when God's glory has been revealed to me from the depths of flower petals. While all flowers are beautiful on the outside, I believe that, just as with human beings, it is the "inner glory" found deep within the heart of a flower that makes up its "soul," whether it's a tiny wildflower, or a magnificent magnolia blossom.

I would like to share a few more pictures I've captured of flowers that gave me just a small glimpse into their "hearts and souls."

Like the "purple heart" of this Queen Anne's Lace blossom.

Or the centers of this glorious Hibiscus and the Lotus Blossom below, which aren't hidden from sight ...

The very essence of a Bradford Pear Tree Blossom

The heart of a Morning Glory

And the breathtakingly beautiful
center of a Snapdragon ...

And, last, but not least, one of my favorite most recent magnolias, with its very heart on display for all the world to see ...

I would like to thank Tonja again for giving me the inspiration for this thought-provoking post ... and I would like to thank God for the blessing of His glory that surrounds us ... even in the "souls" of His flowers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Heavenly Hydrangeas

This is the Steigleman Home in Vicksburg. It was built of red brick in 1840, and its Londonderry Chimneys were destroyed by a tornado in 1953.

Although it's a beautiful and stately house, that's not why it catches my eye this time of year. It's the "side yard" of the Steigleman house that beckons me to come ... to its lovely little Hydrangeas Garden.

And what a lovely garden it is! I don't believe I've ever seen one as beautiful, and with a range of colors like this one.

Even on hot summer days, the pair of beautiful old benches beckon you to come "sit in the shade a spell," and enjoy the cool blues, lavenders, and pinks of the Hydrangeas.

Just look at the beautiful clusters of flowers, tangled amongst themselves, in hues ranging from deep blues ...

To pastel pinks ...

To the softest shades of lavender ...

To a bold splash of bright fuchsia!

And my lagniappe for the day was this glorious blossom featuring all the colors in one delicate cluster. Oh, be still my heart!

The heavy blossoms were bowing under the weight of raindrops from a rain shower the night before, their leaves and petals shimmering in the mid-morning light.

I love the contrast between the heavily textured and veined leaves and the soft, delicate petals of the flowers.

I've never grown Hydrangeas, but have always loved them and think, next to magnolias, they epitomize southern grace and hospitality. They also remind me of happy childhood memories of playing in grandmothers' gardens of long ago.

I'm linking this post to "Outdoor Wednesdays," and would like to thank our hostess Susan at A Southern Daydreamer, for giving us the opportunity to share our outdoors today.

Be sure to visit Susan, and follow the links to see everyone else's contributions.