Wednesday, December 29, 2010

White and Blue

Apparently a large vein of limestone runs through Shelby County, Alabama and all along the vein there are very large open pit mines, hidden to some extent behind twenty foot earthern berms, but clearly visible in Google satellite photos, like here and here, and occasionally from the road.  The plant above is one of several where the limestone is processed into lime for use by numerous industries, and is located near the first link above.  Everything around the plant is covered in white dust, including the plant itself.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shiny, Rust, and Blue

This sculpture is in front of the newest part of St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham.  It claims to be the oldest hospital in the city, but it has grown and morphed so much over the years, I'm not sure I could find any part of the original buildings (or even the parts that were here when I moved to the area 39 years ago.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mother and Child

Victoria Austyn Ray was born this past Saturday evening at St. Vincents Hospital in Birmingham.  This frosted glass statue of Mother and Child (it actually may be called the Madonna and Child) graces the hallway on the second floor of the Women's and Children's Center at the hospital.  It is not a huge statue in the middle of the hall, but is in a recessed, black lined opening in the wall, and the hallway image is a reflection in the front glass.  Makes for a pretty neat photo, though.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Unexpected/Order

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Unexpected/Order.

My wife ordered a book from a web site called  The unexpected part of her order, however, was that if you weren't extra careful in the checkout process, you were actually signing up to let them charge $19.95 to your credit card every month, simply for the privilege of being a part of their club, with absolutely no other benefits unless you continue to order large numbers of books from them at their supposedly discounted prices.  Somehow we missed the warning on their website, we missed the email they supposedly sent explaining it all, so we got no benefits.  I should've paid more attention to the bills, but by the time I'd figured out what that charge was each month, they had a tidy sum via what I called a SCAM.  They finally agreed to refund some of our money, but we still lost more than I'd care to admit.

Lesson learned!  Watch where your mouse goes.   

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Step/Floor

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Step/Floor.  This first step is at least a floor, and probably a little more.
This door is on the side of a building which now houses Bernie's on Main Street, the fanciest place to eat in Columbiana that's not a private residence.

Bernie's sits on the corner next to the old courthouse (where I was standing, awaiting the Cowboy Parade last February), but it wasn't always there.  I've only been here about 12 years and this building was a Western Auto when I moved out here.  It reminded me of going to Western Auto as a child when my father needed something to work on his cars, but neither Bernie's nor the Western Auto had a second floor.  So why the second level of windows and the way up high door?  Recently we were visiting one of the older ladies from our church who moved here right after World War II, and she was talking about something her nephew did in the balcony of the movie theater.  Yep, that used to be a movie theater, but the balcony is now just empty space and a high ceiling in the restaurant.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Remember the Goldenrod from a couple of months ago with the bees and lady bug?  It's not quite so colorful now, but still interesting.

Friday, December 3, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Abundant/Emptiness

The current 2 Things Challenge is Abundant/Emptiness.  This is a spring time photo of the big dipper, along with a number of its neighborhood stars.  You may have to look closely to pick it out, the handle starts above that darkest tree in the middle.  Between here and there are a few things like those trees and the vapor trail, but mostly it's a vast expanse of abundant emptiness.

Friday, November 19, 2010

These Don't Blow

We had a couple of days of much needed rain this past week, but now all the leaves piled in the yard and on the deck are too soggy to blow off.  Well, maybe that one in the lower left.  It'll take days of warm sun before they'll be dry enough.  I may have to just rake (yuck!!) them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Warning/Authority

 The 2 Things Challenge this week is Warning/Authority.  This set of signs, along with a locked chain link fence topped with barbed wire,guard a nearby cell phone tower.  They provide ample warning of the dangers inside, and if you look closely, there are even additional warnings and danger signs on the power panel behind the fence.  I guess if you went inside without the proper authority to do so, and they caught you, you would be in some kind of big trouble, and perhaps even slightly toasted.  The signs clearly say don't climb that tower, like I would really want to.

Nipped in the Bud

This Confederate Rose bud just got started too late, so alas, it is the flower that will never be.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Black and Orange

The Lady Bugs were crawling all around the siding, in and out of all the little cracks.  Looked to me like they were looking for a warm place to spend the winter, but I don't really know if that's how they survive.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lemon/Strawberry Maple

This yellow maple seems to have some minor crossover with a red maple.

Friday, November 12, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Dull/Sharp

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Dull/Sharp.
The surface of the berry seems a little dull to me, but the holly points are definitely sharp, even if most of them are outside the focus field.

Brick and Blue

Bright blue sky, rough textured brick, and a macro lens.  'Nuff said.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Emerging/Satisfaction

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Emerging/Satisfaction.  One of my most satisfying treats is an IceDream cone from Chik-Fil-A.  Something about it just tastes more like home made.  I think it is that they actually put a little vanilla in it instead of just sugar.  Anyway, I called the nearest Chik-Fil-A and asked the manager if he would let me take a photo of the IceDream, true satisfaction, emerging from the machine.  The wimpy weekend manager said I would have to call back on Monday and talk to the General manager.  Too late, buddy, it's due tomorrow.  So I settled for something closer to home, the local McDonald's.  The machine is similar, but what's emerging just doesn't produce the same satisfaction.

Then on the way home, the little McDonald's cone in my belly, I passed the other hamburger chain in town, Jack's.  They serve hand dipped Blue Bell ice cream milk shakes, so I got one for my wife, and I got one for myself.  She prefers some of the crunchy flavored ice cream, but I definitely like the orange sherbert milk shake.  Tastes just like the dreamsicles I got when I was a kid.  Here the straw is emerging from my future satisfaction.

And here, if you look down in the straw, you can see some of that dreamsicle satisfaction emerging.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oak Leaf Camo?

We placed the empty rind from a yellow watermelon on the deck before taking it to the compost pile and when I walked by a while later this guy was sucking up the juice.  I thought it was just one of the 2.6 million or so leaves in the process of dumping from our big oak by the house until he flew away.  I got the camera, hid behind the glass door, and he came back, along with a couple of his buddies.  The upper sides of their wings are orange with brown spots.  That would be a dead giveaway amongst all the brown leaves, so they kept them closed except when flying.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Two Things Challenge: Ghost/Image

Ghosts of Airplanes Passed
The Two Things Challenge this week is Ghost/Image.  Last weekend the sky was perfect for leaving contrails, the ghosts of airplanes passed.  They were everywhere, and I could only get about half of them, even with the 17mm lens.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Things Challenge: Drive/Round

The 2 Things Challenge for this week is Drive/Round.  This is the old Shelby County courthouse at the head of Main Street in Columbiana.  I'm not sure how old this building is, but the "new" courthouse was built down the street in 1906.  The old one is now a museum for Shelby County history.  When you get to this end of Main Street, you have to enter a traffic circle and drive round the building to get to any of the other streets, or turn around. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pardon Me, Mam!

While photographing the bee below, I also spied this Lady Bug feasting on the same goldenrod.  Rather than the nectar and pollen preferred by the bees, she seems to be enjoying the stalk of the plant, or perhaps some microscopic parasite.

Monday, October 18, 2010


When I went to photograph the Goldenrod, I found them covered with honeybees, stocking up for the winter.  About a third of them had these pollen saddlebags, stuffed to the max, but the rest did not.  Either they had just unloaded, or it's not their job.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Poison or Not?

The Monarch butterfly is poisonous to birds.  The Viceroy butterfly is not (or so the popular theory goes), but it mimics the Monarch in coloration and patterns.  There is a subtle difference in the markings on the lower wings, but birds don't take the time to figure it out, they just tend to leave them both alone.  Others say it isn't so, and they both taste bad.  I don't eat either one.
This one is a Monarch, and we don't see very many of them around here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2 Things Challenge: April/October

The 2 Things Challenge this week is April/October, and it was tougher than I thought it would be.  Half of this is from April, and half from October.  Which is which?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Every fall these things show up all around here.  I wonder if the paint is edible for cows and horses.

Monday, October 4, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Instant/Delay

Sitting around DFW for 8 hours . . .
Our original flight had a broken air speed indicator light, so the plane had to wait on a new one to be flown in. 

Instant delay

They booked us all on the next flight, but there wasn't an available connection for us to Birmingham, so they rebooked us on another airline, leaving 5 hours after the original was supposed to. 

Another instant delay. 

Okay, we'll just be a little late, but we won't have to go through Atlanta.  But . . . no bag when we got to Birmingham, and it takes almost an hour to file a simple lost luggage claim, especially when the bag was switched from one airline to another and we had no new bag claim check. 

Another instant delay. 

They delivered our bag the next day, no problem, but filing a lost luggage claim has got to be the most inefficient process any of the airlines have.

Join us at 2 Things Challenge for other interesting interpretations of the weekly challenge.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Chicken and corn tortilla casserole and avocado salad with my son and daughter-in-law when we went to Texas to see our new granddaughter.  Delicious.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Two Things Challenge: Post/Card

The Two Things Challenge this week is Post/Card.

This yellow card is used extensively around this part of the country to post the property to keep trespassers out, or at least warn them they are entering private property.  There was an attempt to reinforce this card with little slats of wood when it was nailed to the post, but it looks like the slats split.  Still, the message is plain, "Go somewhere else!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Attack of the Gulf Fritillary

There was an unbelievable number of these butterflies attacking the flowers and butterfly bush last Thursday.  I've never seen so many.  I believe they are Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), but I'm certainly subject to being corrected.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Chain/Game

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Chain/Game. 

It surely looks like Mason thinks going for a ride on the chain supported swing is a game to be enjoyed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Liberty Park Fisherman

An 8x10 print of this photo won a blue ribbon in the "People" category and a "Best of Show" ribbon for all adult (age not content) photography at the Shelby County Fair this week.  I thought others were better, but hey, I'm not the judge.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1001 Nachts

Went to the local Shelby County Fair last night, mostly to see if any photographs won ribbons (more on that later) and to take a few new ones. 

This must be a German ride (1001 Nachts?).  Lots of smiles during loading.
And lots of screams a few minutes later.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Bumper/Crop

The 2 Things Challenge for this week was Bumper/Crop.  I parked next to this car today and I thought it fit the challenge.  Here is a bumper crop of bumper stickers, so many they won't all fit on the bumper and some wind up on the back of the trunk lid. 

Perhaps it's because Alabama is, as the bottom middle sticker says, "A Really Red State," meaning predominantly Republican, that most of the cars I've seen with more than a couple of bumper stickers seem to belong to people who lean rather emphatically to the left politically.  Of course there's always the occasional right wing extremist who goes beyond the bumper sticker to actually painting their slogans on the car with spray paint, but those are really rare, even in Alabama.

How about some of you from "blue" states?  Does the bumper sticker mania seem to apply more to the left, right, or is it more universal?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I saw this young lady yesterday afternoon as she gave thanks for a drop of water from the leaking hose connection.

While I was trying to make her photograph, her friend sauntered up and wanted her picture taken too.

They may look like they are praying, but their mouths let you know, they are preying.  They remind me of Arnold's adversary in the movie Predator, and for good reason.

Monday, September 6, 2010


One morning last week I spotted this in the bird bath.

At first I thought it was an incredibly smooth river pebble from the flower bed that Mason had put into the bird bath.
But closer examination determined it was really an egg, most likely from a mourning dove.  Why she chose to lay it in the bird bath I'll never know, but I can just see her thinking, "Whoa, what was that?"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dew Circles

Walking through the dew covered grass Thursday morning, the sun glinted off this tiny beautiful spider web.

Down in the grass was a tiny spider, waiting on another meal before winter gets here,  or maybe she was just catching water.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Here/Gone

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Here/Gone.

Columbiana has been the county seat for Shelby County, Alabama, since 1826.  For the U. S. that's a long time.  At several places throughout the town you can find these steps from the street to a vacant lot, since the grand old house that used to be here is now gone; ravaged by fire, eaten by termites, or simply allowed to decay into the ground.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gross Out Warning!

Have you ever plucked a honeysuckle blossom and sipped the sweet drop of nectar at its base?

Friday, August 27, 2010

2 Things Challenge: Stone / Stare

This stone (I think it is actually concrete) statue of Jesus graces a small family plot in the nearby Wilsonville Cemetary.  Some stares can be mean, contemptuous, inquisitive, interested, or simply blank, but this one seems compassionate.