Posts Tagged With: photography

railroad at chapman mill

Chapman Mill is a crumbling ruin standing where Prince William and Fauquier Counties come together. I’ve driven past it countless times. Every single time, I say aloud, “I want to go take photos there.” (even if I’m in the car alone)
Well, Saturday two weeks ago, the sun was shining (for the first time in ages) so YBW and I got bundled up against the below freezing wind chills and headed to the mill.
I got to wear my brand new love YOUR melon beanie for the first time!
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(Little D’s new mom and I were texting about getting together and I took this photo asking her to tell him I kiss him. But at least you can see my hat so it’s cool.)

When we arrived at the mill site we were greeted by this.
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I was livid! THE FREAKING GATE WAS LOCKED!! We couldn’t get all the way down the road to the mill. I will admit to saying one or two bad words…well, perhaps it was one or two bad sentences. How dare you hang a sign to welcome me and then lock the gates? Rude!

But…the railroad runs right beside the mill. So I get it in my head to walk down the tracks to the mill.
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Only the moment I walk up the path to the tracks I hear the whistle of a train…I waved to the engineer and he waved to me. It called up all the many times in my life I’ve stood at the side of the railroad and done that. It brought me great joy and in that brief moment, I was a little girl again.
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YBW decides right then it may not be the safest course of action since the sides are steep and there really is nowhere to go but down. I was like, but the train just came by, this is the safest time. We split the difference and I just stood at the path crossing. Honestly, I didn’t want to go down to the mill by myself, I wanted to share that experience so it worked out OK in the end.

I absolutely loved this curve in the tracks. I think the railroad is so elegantly beautiful for being something so well constructed for such hard core usage.
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You know I had to look for spikes while I was up there. And I found some, just lying around in the rocks. I love how a railroad spike and rocks create these natural sort of collages.
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There were three such collages, but this is the particular spike I picked up and carried home.

The mill really is quite compelling. In a hauntingly sad yet beautiful way.
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I’m eager to return when the gates no longer lock me out. The wheel is still there on the other side of the mill. You can see Broad Run, which is a lovely. The view from the interstate is even more beautiful than this view from the railroad. I’m keeping my hackles up, but I’ll be checking back more frequently as the weather warms.

When we left the mill site, we drove down along the tracks just to see where they went. This was the opposite way of home, but we were on an adventure! We were out with our cameras to shoot things that moved us!

I loved the way this railroad crossing sign looked behind the overgrown grasses.
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Lastly I got on my knees in the middle of another crossing to shoot the tracks from a different point of view.
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The mail carrier who had to wait for me to get my shot and get back up out of the way before he could drive his truck over the crossing didn’t seem terribly impressed by my attempt to create art…of course he had a job to do and I was just out shoot stuff.

We decided to go back out today with our cameras. I’ll leave my warm beanie at home today because instead of upper 20s wind chills, we’ll have upper 60s temperatures today! I might even wear a dress depending on where we decide to go shoot.
Spring is kicking down winter’s door today and I intend to take full advantage of it!

Here’s a quick vid about the mill and it’s restoration.
(My advice to you is: mute the music.)

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squirrel study

Outside the window in our back living room there is a tree. This tree is an extremely popular hang out for squirrels.
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Now I know most people don’t like squirrels. Honestly, that makes me kind of sad because I just love squirrels. They’re kind of adorable and they do the funniest things!

I love to watch them in this tree, sometimes there is more than one. They chase and play and race up and down and over the branches. On this particular day there was only one, and mostly he (she?) was having a bath.
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Once he was clean, he began to consider how he might explore his environment.
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I love how his little hand is holding onto that teeny branch.

Then it got interesting when he did a series of somersault-like things around the branch.
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He did it a couple of times in a row before he went back to bathing.
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What a funny little guy!

When Thing 1 and Thing 2 were little girls, we had a squirrel that loved to hang out on our back porch out by the pool. They realized their father put treats out for the squirrel so they named him “Little Buddy” because he was Daddy’s little squirrel buddy. Soon, Little Buddy began to bring around a friend. They named him “Fatso” because he was a really big squirrel. When we moved to SC, Thing 2 was rather serious about bringing Little Buddy and Fatso with us. She was concerned the new people who were going to live in our house might not take good care of them and they would be sad and miss us. She also pronounced the word squirtle instead of squirrel. I still say squirtle when I see or talk about squirrels.

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It’s a date!

At our last pre-wedding meeting, A charged us to go on a date.
YBW and I side-eyed each other.
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Pfft! We know how to go on a date.

Needless to say, she noticed our conceit and challenged us further. Instead of one date, we each had to come up with a date for the other with the strict stipulation that we couldn’t discuss wedding stuff.
One more smug look was a silent “we got this” and we were on our way.

The date I planned took us downtown for a picnic at the National Arboretum and a side trip to Oak Hill Cemetery. I broke the rule straight away in the car. YBW reminded me and I sat on my hands as long as I could stand it. But then I had a stroke of genus! Traveling to the date wasn’t actually being on the date. I immediately amended the rule to include wedding talk in the car but only until we arrived at our destination. (I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s Robynbird logic…just roll with it.) 
Of course this time of year there isn’t much in bloom at the Arboretum, but that was actually beneficial because it meant less people.
The first thing we did on our date was split up. (I know…) But YBW wanted to see all the bonsai and I wanted to visit the herb garden.
I was fortunate to catch a few things still in bloom while successfully avoiding the bees gleaning the last little bit yummies before there were no more blossoms to be had.
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The light was harsh, but I enjoyed my time behind the lens.
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It may seem odd that the first thing YBW and I did on our date was walk in opposite directions, but neither of us wanted to follow the other around like a puppy so we did what we wanted to do knowing we’d end up in the same place. And as it turned out, just as I was finishing up in the herb garden, the most adorable man walked up and kissed me. Then we walked together up the hill to see the Capital columns.
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Kinda pretty, don’tcha think?

We picnicked on fruit, veggies, potato salad, and cold fried chicken trying to figure out what was actually going on at the Grove of State Trees. We drove all around the arboretum, even out the non-existent road that was the original entrance.
Then it took forty minutes to drive about six miles. As we passed embassies I used the long lens of my camera to read the plaques over the doors and YBW teased that the red light cameras saw and we would be branded spies. I just laughed.
We got to Oak Hill Cemetery just in time to capitalize on the most glorious afternoon light.
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Once again, we split up. Me meandering along looking for good shots on the way to Kay Graham’s gravesite. YBW playing Ingress…turns our cemeteries are ripe with portals for the hacking.
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Allow me to quote Minerva from Midnight in the Garden, “To understand the living, you got to commune with the dead.” I’m a firm believer in this concept.
I love cemeteries. I love everything about them. The gravestones seem so natural in the environment, on the hillsides and under trees. I love the peaceful quiet. There was construction on R Street, and I mean jackhammer construction, but the further I walked into the cemetery the more quiet it became.
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There was one place in the cemetery that wasn’t still. It was quiet, but there was work going on. I can’t believe it took me passing it twice before I realized what I was seeing.
Construction on the mausoleum of Ben Bradlee, one of my most beloved folk heroes! Qu’il repose en paix.
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It’s a bit modern for my taste and for it’s location, but I wasn’t consulted…what are you gonna do?

YBW and I ended our day at a cafe table on the patio of a small restaurant in Old Town sipping cocktails of vodka laced iced tea.
Never once talking about the wedding.
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the redbuds

Spring is here! The redbuds are blooming!

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I stopped on the way home to take photos. It’s gray here today, which made the light harsh. I find that a bit disappointing.

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If I could be reincarnated as anything I would choose to be a redbud tree.

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Manassas Battlefield

I absolutely adore Manassas Battlefield. I used to love to go there as a child and spend hours wandering aimlessly. I go there now as a grown up to experience that nostalgia.
I love the history of my home state. I love the fact that these places have been preserved, the physical places as well as the history.
When I go now, I almost always experience the battlefield from behind the camera.

The Henry House is my favorite place to visit. I love the view from the hill there. The story of Mrs Henry, stuck in her home due to illness as the first battle of bull run raged around her always resonated in me. She wasn’t able to leave her home before the fighting and ended up mortally wounded by Union fire.

The Henry House

The Henry House

I love how the changing light affects everything.

The Henry House

The Henry House

YBW likes to wander and play Ingress (To me it seems like a kind of electronic version of capture the flag for grown ups.) on his phone, “capturing” and “hacking” “portals” all around the battlefield.
The cool part of him playing this game on his phone is that I’ll tag along with my camera. We get out of the car, go our separate ways, and come back together after an hour or so.
I get time behind the lens, joy of being in a place I love, and he gains important “points” and “badges”. It’s pretty much win-win.

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The Stone House as seen from the top of Henry Hill. It was used as a hospital during both the first and second battles of Bull Run. I remember being at a post sledding bonfire there once when I was really little. I remember feeling a combination of excitement and fear. I was so tired after a day of up and down the hill but the bonfire was so thrilling. All the people, the chaos, me feeling very small and vulnerable and afraid to get separated from my mom caused great anxiety within me.

The Stone House

The Stone House

Sometimes folks get their nickname here.
Thomas Jonathan Jackson became “Stonewall Jackson” when General Bee of South Carolina observed his resolve in battle and cried out, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!”

There stands Jackson like a stone wall.

Stonewall Jackson

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every picture tells a story

I’m going through photos from our summer trip to Memphis to create a collage for the naked walls in the basement and I came across this one.

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This man works as a ticket taker at Autozone Park where the Memphis Redbirds call home. He fascinated me and I shot a couple of pics of him as we were entering the park.

I captured him in a moment between laughter and conversations with spectators, some of whom he knew personally. It was a perfect accident to catch him in this brief moment of quiet thought.
I love his face.
I don’t even pretend to imagine what this man has experienced in his life. But I suspect he’s done it well.

The Redbirds kicked the holy hell out of the Kansas City Cylones that night. YBW and I drank quite a bit of beer and the Redbirds catcher tossed a foul ball up to Thing G.
It was a great night at the ballpark. But that man is what I remember most when I think about that night. He fascinated me.

It’s been said that every picture tells a story.
This man moved me enough to take his picture.
I’ll never know his story, but I have his photograph and that is enough for me.

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becoming my very best self

Taurus horoscope for December 29, 2013
You are evolving, Taurus. You are beginning to blossom into your very best self. You have experienced a lot of lessons recently, and you have learned them well. Now it is time to transcend who you were, and become who you really are. You will be able to forget the past, and to let go of any mistakes or wrongs you still feel guilty about. Don’t fight it. Don’t let guilt drag you down. Let go and move forward. Allow yourself to evolve and to become the best you that you can be.
(Yeah, I’ve been trying to write this for more than a few days.)

After the chaos of 2013 I’m ready to become the best me that I can be.
There are a few circumstantial things in my favor…I’ve found a doctor who is helping make strides to improve my physical and emotional health. I have a safe and loving home and I’m surrounded by good, strong loving people for whom I’m eternally grateful. I have a job that no matter how frustrated and exhausted I feel is ultimately rewarding.
Possibly the most important circumstance is that Thing 2 has come back to me. The ease this brings me is immeasurable. There were several tearful phone conversations which included her saying, ‘not to sound hypocritical, but who wouldn’t want you to be their mommy?’ and ‘I was selfish and stupid.’ and ‘I just need you to help me.’ These conversations also included me saying, ‘I will always help you, baby.’ and ‘that’s why you have a mommy.’ and ‘I love you and will always do my best to keep you safe.’

She’s coming home to us later this week. Sundance and I are over the moon, Girlie Thing is too…YBW seems hesitant. He watched what I went through, but he was also very hurt by her too…I sense he is worried about her but concerned about what it will be like for her to be here. I hate that. I am ready to move on. My forgiveness is vast and all encompassing. This is not to say I have forgotten the way it felt, but I know what’s important, and to me that means healing and moving forward with love and understanding. I believe that’s where he is too, but I can’t seem to shake the fretty feeling.

In addition to these circumstantial things, I’m beginning to feel less as though I’m in survival mode and more as though I’m beginning to be able to govern the events of my life. I’m tired of feeling guilty and angry. I’m ready to let all that go and embrace peace. It’s funny, I’m sensing a “new year’s” sort of theme…I’m not the resolution kind of girl, but I’m feeling inclined to welcome change. Something’s got to give. I can’t keep going the way I was.

I got a brand new do yesterday and the metaphorical weight I lost with that cutting of hair was more freeing than I could have imagined…not to mention it’s pretty adorable.
I am revisiting that Robynbird as phoenix-like feeling…and making big plans as I move into 2014…(But not really resolutions.)
This morning I read an article posted on facebook by a guy I grew up with, about goals vs systems…it made good sense to me…designing and maintaining a system for doing what you want instead of setting goals and holding yourself to an unrealistic standard…it fits nicely into my big plans and I plan to embrace it whole-heartedly.

Though the following are conceptually resolutions, I don’t consider them as such…to me they’re promises I’m making to myself to assist my move from survival mode to my very best self…it feels like less pressure that way…this isn’t something to crow about or to wear like a badge, it runs deeper than that, I am honoring me and don’t really care what it looks like from the outside.

I promise to be more aware of what I put in my body, to be mindful of my physical health and strength.
I promise to get behind my brand new camera once a week.
I promise to write with purpose twice a week.
I promise to give my preschool students the best age appropriate curriculum I can create.
I promise to be truly present with my family.
I promise to devote the time and attention my own school work deserves.
I promise to trust my gut and ignore my logic.
I promise to put myself first without guilt.

No more half-assing my life. I will be the best possible me because it is time. My time. I promise.

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