Friday, February 17, 2017

Young Pine Cone

There are at least three dozen different pines all over the United States. Not exactly sure what I found here on the side of an urban road, but the growth of young pine cone fascinated me. Also with the import of foreign species for landscaping purposes I'm not even sure if it would be a domestic US pine or if the "shrubbery" is actually from Asia or from Mexico. As far as I can tell the bundle of needles is two hold together by the sheath.
Not being a biologist I also have no clue, if these are female or male parts. Maybe somebody of the readers could share some insight.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Hear The Train A-Comin'

On my first visit to the US, I was staying with a friend who lived close to the railroad tracks. During the night a train was approaching and honked his horn because of a nearby unsecured grade-level crossing. Man, I never woke up that fast at 3am in the middle of one of my R.E.M. phases. I mean I was standing next to the bed wondering what just happened to me. Growing up, I was used to a mere loud whistle, but that intensity could have woken a dead man!
The next morning over coffee, I asked my friend about the trains and he shrugged his shoulders and said, that he can't hear them anymore when they are driving by at night. Well since then, train horns became part of my life, wherever I lived, I was able to hear "short short long short" outbursts of air. Sometimes from a distance, sometimes closer to the tracks.
Trains fascinated me since my early childhood, when my grandfather took me to watch trains passing the big train bridge leading them into my hometown and the love never subdued. Recently we stumbled upon some special locomotives of a small local railroad, in yellow and blue livery. And that's where I took the picture of the train chimes as they are also called. I loved the minimal approach with the blue sky behind the horns.
And no, I did not know that there are that many different manufacturers of horns and that they all chime for a free-passing in different tones, till I stumbled upon the video below.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Let Love Grow Slowly

Slow down!

As they say - smell the roses.

Yes love can be a "burning ring of fire" as June Carter & Merle Kilgore co-wrote in the song made famous by Johnny Cash, but sometimes you have to be careful to not "burn out." So let it grow. Let it grow slow. Take time, rest, enjoy and contemplate. And as that snail is working up its way, keep on working on it. Life is not a race, we all get to the end. Sooner or better later.

I prefer being late to my funeral. There is a lot I want to cherish before that. Love is one thing!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sunset - Promise of a New Day

Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Last March, on a trip back to Texas from Atlanta, we had just crossed the Chattahoochee River and came into the little hamlet of Columbia, Alabama. The combination of church and sunset, made us stop, it just looked magical.

Finally coming around, editing the picture - I did some research on that church building and found out that the Columbia United Methodist Church had quite a little history in its walls.  According to a website that seems to not have been updated in over 15 years, the town of Columbia was founded in 1821.

So called circuit riders (clergymen on horseback who rode from congregation to congregation to give their sermons) were the first to teach, until 1845 when a full-time pastor was appointed. After being housed in a single room building, where the High School is now, the church saw a need for a new building as their congregation was growing. In 1889 the pictured church was completed on Church Street (also named Alabama State Route 52) and Davis Street. After World War II, in 1949 the church was bricked and in 1956 and 1978 tow annex buildings for sunday school and a fellowship hall were added.

But not everything is new, the website says that the church still houses the original bell of the first church, which was carried over to the United Methodist Church in the picture.

Sources: Columbia United Methodist Church

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hogwart? Hemlock? - Tansy Ragwort (maybe)

Seeing the shot, taking the shot, editing the shot - that's one thing! But actually trying to write something to go with it, is a completely other realm. I often spend more time trying to figure out what I shot and what I do tell about it, to make the blogpost more interesting, than in the Lightroom or on Photoshop.

With today's search engines, yes plural is correct - google is not almighty and I often find myself wondering back to the nascent of search about 6 years bg (before google). There was a thing called yahoo, well it still dabbles around, even though by now part of (tele)communications company Verizon.

Point in case - searching for "Ranch Weed Texas" on big mama didn't even bring me close. Hogwart, Hemlock, different wild carrot species showed up. All the pictures showed flowers as well, simply ignoring my quest that I took the shot in mid-winter, in January.  So long story short, after roaming a gazillion pages and photos, it was finally yahoo that suggested to me that this could be a Tansy - a Tansy Ragwort.

Yeah how the stems run to the flowers and form the little clusters is way different from Hogwart and Hemlock and it could well be Tansy Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris), So if I find it again in spring, early summer (it's somewhere in the northwestern end of the property) and I get yellow flowers on it, then I may know more. But it would also mean that I would search it with a shovel and get rid of it - as they are considered invasive and toxic to livestock. And it wouldn't matter that the decaying beauty made for quite a gorgeous photo. Don't you agree?

Sources: google, yahoo,

Friday, January 13, 2017

Don't Pick The Prickly Pear With The Paw...

Withering prickly pear fruit in Winter. As the cacti (Opuntia) are quite abundant on the ranch, this year I will try to make some PP jam, maybe a bitch even spicier with an added jalapeno to it.

Does anybody have a good recipe to share?

And yes I remember this form the Jungle Book

Don't pick your prickly pear with your paw
When you pick a pear use your claw

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Red Soil And Sweet Gum Tree

Oh land and soil,
red soil and sweet gum tree,
So scant of grass,
so profligate of pines

Jean Toomer

Writer and poet Jean Toomer described the sweet-gum tree in his poem "Song of the Son" in his more natural environment. In the meantime the tree, also called Alligator-Wood has become an ornamental tree even outside of his habitat, largely because of it's fiery red shining leaves during automn.

The picture depicts a cluster of sweetgum tree seedpods or fruits, by now (it's January) dried out and lying around in big batches. If you're an airhead, you may actually slip on them and fall.

Sources: Wikipedia, Modern American Poetry (via, Seeds in the front yard