Showing posts with label Mary Beth Granger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Beth Granger. Show all posts

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Visit Missouri-Klondike Park St. Charles County

Klondike Park Meeting Facility

On a recent beautiful June afternoon,  my friend and I ventured out into Missouri Wine Country.  After a wonderful lunch at a winery overlooking the Missouri River Valley, we stopped at Klondike park for a bit of hiking and photography.

Location of Park

Klondike park is located in St. Charles county just 14 miles south of the 40/94 interchange.  It is a wonderful location with over 250 acres nestled in the middle of Missouri Wine Country.

Boat Ramp

As we left the winery we took the first exit we saw for the park and found that this exit really just led to the boat ramp with access to the Missouri river and not into the park itself.  We decided to get out for a few minutes to photograph the river from this vantage point.

There is a power plant in this area and from the boat ramp we got a good view of the power plant across the river.
We had really wanted the main entrance to the park so we got back in the car and went down hwy 94 for about 1/4 of a mile and we came to the main entrance.

Features of Klondike Park

The park has a modern meeting facility (pictured at the beginning of this page) that is perfect for both family and business meetings.

One of the key features of the park is the beautiful bluffs overlooking the Missouri River valley.  There is a paved path that you can hike to the top of the bluffs for some scenic views of the area.

Hiking and Biking Trails

There are more than 4 miles of natural and paved trails for hiking and biking.  The trail pictured above is one that we took to go down to the river.  It was an unpaved path that went down a rather steep hill before it crossed the Katy Trail and eventually ended up at the river.

Katy Trail

The Katy Trail is a 237 mile hiking and biking trail that goes across most of Missouri.  Over half of the trail follows the path that explorers Lewis and Clark took along the Missouri River.

Camping at Klondike Park

If you are looking for a place to stay, Klondike park offers camping facilities including, 6 rustic cabins, 43 campsites, restrooms and showers.

Other facilities include:
  • Picnic shelters
  • Playgrounds for children
  • Large lake that is fully stocked

Unique Birding/Wildlife Area

We found there were numerous opportunities to take photographs.  There were many fields with wildflowers and birds.

Image from Klondike Park

Here is a canvas I found on Amazon which depicts a scene from Klondike Park.  Klondike Park is just north of Augusta, Missouri.

Here is a book with information on day hiking trips in Missouri.




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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Book Review on Golden Poppies


Golden Poppies by Laila Ibrahim was my pick for the Amazon Prime free books for May.  I always enjoy historical fiction and I was not disappointed with this compelling story.


The Book on Amazon




Main themes of the Book


There are several themes that run throughout the book.  
  • Love and friendship that endures throughout the years
  • Racial discord and fear
  • Inequality 
  • Women's Voting Rights
  • Strong and resilient women


Highlights of the Book


This book looks at two generations of people who are linked by friendship and racial solidarity.

The book begins in 1894 with the story of Mattie, a former slave who escaped the plantation on which she lived and worked.  When the story begins Mattie is now living in Chicago and is very ill.  Her daughter, Jordan and grandaughter, Naomi are by her side; but Mattie desires to see her old friend Lisbeth one more time before she dies.  Mattie had been Lisbeth's nanny on the plantation before she escaped and they have kept in touch with each other through the years.   Jordan finally agrees to getting in touch with Lisbeth, even though she doesn't know if she wants to share her mother's last days with a "white" woman.  Upon getting the message, Lisbeth immediately makes plans to leave her home in Oakland California to visit Mattie.  Lisbeth's daughter Sadie travels with her by train to Chicago.

I don't want to give away the whole story but after Mattie's death all four woman end up going to Oakland.  During the weeks that follow they  become involved in the Women's Suffrage Movement.

There are many interesting side stories that make the book a real page turner.  These include the birth of a child, a husband's abuse, an interracial marriage and the continued loyalty and friendship of the two families.

My Thoughts on the Book


I found the book to be very compelling.   It was one of those books I just couldn't put down.  The author made the characters come to life and I found myself routing for their success and fearing for their safety.  

My favorite character was Sadie, Lisbeth's daughter, who had several struggles of her own during the story but always was there for her Mom and her friends.  She was married to a man who was very domineering and her struggles seemed very true, both for those times and today.

I think the one thing that struck me was that in all the struggles, even though they took place over a 100 years ago, you can see that many things are still the same today.  Sadly, sometimes the more things change the more they remain the same.  



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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review of Spring Bird Photography

Young Sparrow
Spring is one of my favorite times to photograph birds.  It is so wonderful to wake up in the morning and hear all the birds singing in the trees.  Each day I look through my camera zoom lens and try to locate new birds to my area.  Some are just passing through during their migratory routes and others will stay here for the summer.  Still others are year round residents that are growing their families in the spring.  The photo above shows a young sparrow that I captured on our back fence.


Mockingbirds



I was walking in our neighborhood park when I spotted a group of Mockingbirds.  I have rarely seen them in our yard so I was excited to see several in the park.  As I watched the birds, I soon saw a young Mockingbird in the same area.  They look quite in a disarray with their feathers all fluffed out.  I wasn't sure what I was seeing at first but I took some photos and looked them up in my bird book when I got home. 



Changing to Spring Clothes


Some birds change their colors in the springtime.  One that does this in our area is the American Goldfinch.  In the winter the bird has a brownish coat but as warmer weather approaches the feathers molt into a brilliant yellow color.  They are a delightfully colorful little bird that I always enjoy seeing at our finch feeder.


The below photo shows the American Goldfinch in their winter coat. You will note they just have a touch of color under their beak.


The Birdbath a Popular Spring/Summer Hangout


The birds seem to love the birdbath in the warmer weather.  Most birds just stop by for a drink, but the Robins love to hop right in for a splashy bath.


It seems like we are having a lot of Robins this spring.  They don't really go to the feeders but they do love the birdbath.

New Bird for Our Yard


I am always on the lookout for new birds in our yard.  This spring I spotted a white crowned sparrow.  They are quite a stately looking bird.


Whenever I see a new bird, I try to photograph them from several different angles.  I then pull out my bird identification book and look for them.  I also post photos online and ask for help or confirmation for my identifications.

The book below has been a big help in my bird identification.




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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Review of Spring Photography

Lilacs in the Springtime

Spring is such a wonderful time for photography.  Flowers are blooming everywhere including my own backyard.  I love to go for walks in the neighborhood each day and see what new flowers and flowering trees and bushes are blooming on that day.  In the area of the country I live ,  midwest USA, the beauty begins to unfold in mid March.  From that time and for the next 2-3 months there are new delights to find each day!  On this page I will share with you, through my photography,  some of my favorite springtime flowers.


Early Bloomers

Tulips are one of my favorite early spring flowers.  There are different types of tulips that will start blooming in our area throughout April and May.  The photographs taken below were captured during the first week of April.

This next photo was taken in late April.  This tulip is fully opened and still beautiful.

Zazzle Cards from my Tulip Photos

I love creating cards to send to friends and family from my photographs.  Here are a couple I made on Zazzle.

Yellow Tulip
Yellow Tulip
by mbgphoto

Flowering Trees and Bushes

In the springtime flowering bushes and trees are a wonderful sight to behold.  I particularly like the Lilac bush as seen in the photo at the beginning of this article.  In addition to being beautiful they have a very fragrant smell and I love cutting some off my lilac bush and bringing them in to my house. They make the whole house smell good.

The red bud tree is another beauty of springtime.  In the spring you can see them all over the hillsides in our part of the country.  Here is a photo of one that I took at a park near our home.

One of my favorite trees is the dogwood tree.  They can be found in both pink and white flowers.  Here is a photo of each.

Later Spring Flowers

Once spring is well under way, in late April or May, the Iris's start to bloom.  They are such beautiful and stately flowers.  I love to photograph them.  This first  photo is an Iris from my friend's garden.
I really like the two toned colors.  Here is another two toned Iris, this one was taken on a walk I took at the Missouri Extension garden.
A solid white Iris can be quite striking.  Here is one taken at Missouri Extension garden.

Wildflowers in the Spring

Spring is a wonderful time for wild flowers.  You can see many of these native plants along the sides of roads, in parks and in some peoples gardens.  Here are a few that I found beautiful.






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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Book Review: Missing Sister


The Missing Sister is an exciting mystery that takes place in some out of the way places in Paris:  the catacombs, the brothels, and the underworld

Characters

  • Shayna Darby is recovering from the death of her parents when she gets a startling call from Paris.  Her twin sister, who she has not been getting along with is missing and she has been called to identify a body that was pulled from the Seine, that is presumed to be her sister.  When she arrives at her sisters apartment and starts going through her sisters things she makes a startling discovery.  A message, written on a whiteboard in a code that the two sisters developed to talk to each other.  This message could only be meant for her and it said "Alive, Trust No One".  Shayna is excited that her sister is alive but now does not know who she can trust to help her.  She identifies the body as her sisters, even though she realizes it is not, so that she can keep the ruse going while she does her search.
  • Angela Darby, the wilder of the twins went to Paris to study and never returned home.  She loved Paris and was very involved in her life there.  She did not even return for her parents funerals, which became a sore spot between the twins. What was she studying and why did she disappear?  These are questions that Shayna needs to investigate.
  • Jean- Luc lives in the apartment above Angela's.  He introduces himself to Shayna as a representative of the embassy who is there to help her get accustomed to Paris. But can, Shayna trust  him or does he have something to do with Angela's disappearance.
  • Sebastian introduces himself as Angela's boyfriend, but Shayna has never heard of him before.  Of course, Angela has not told her many things the past few years.  At first she lets Seb show her around, but after seeing Angela's message she wonders.  Can she trust him?
  • Valentin- The Officer in charge of the case.  Is he someone Shayna can trust or should she take her sister's warning literally.
  • Chang-a neighbor of Angela's and the one person Shayna feels good about trusting.

Find the Book on Amazon

This book was one of the Amazon Prime's free books for March.  If you like a thrilling mystery that is a real page turner, and just a bit spooky in parts, you will love this book.




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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Review of Facts and Photos of the American Robin

Robin after a Bath

To celebrate the start of spring, I thought I'd share a bit of information and some photos on one of my favorite birds, the Robin.  Here is a poem that I found that celebrates the Robin and the start of spring.


Robin Poem by William Warner Caldwell


From the elm-tree's topmost bough, Hark! the Robin's early song! Telling one and all that now Merry spring-time hastes along; Welcome tidings dost thou bring, Little harbinger of spring: Robin's come!

 Of the winter we are weary, Weary of the frost and snow; Longing for the sunshine cheery, And the brooklet's gurgling flow; Gladly then we hear thee sing The reveille of spring: Robin's come!

 Ring it out o er hill and plain, Through the garden's lonely bowers, Till the green leaves dance again, Till the air is sweet with flowers! Wake the cowslips by the rill, Wake the yellow daffodil; Robin's come! 

Then, as thou wert wont of yore, Build thy nest and rear thy young, Close beside our cottage door, In the woodbine leaves among; Hurt or harm thou need'st not fear, Nothing rude shall venture near: Robin's come! 

Swinging still o'er yonder lane Robin answers merrily; Ravished by the sweet refrain, Alice claps her hands in glee, Calling from the open door, With her soft voice, o'er and o'er, Robin's come!


Robins and Bird Bath


I have found that Robins love to take baths in our bird bath.  Other birds will stop for a drink, but a Robin will plunge right in for a bath.

In the photo below the Robin has just finished his bath and I caught him sitting on the edge of the birdbath, shaking his tail feathers.  They are so much fun to watch.


Robins Features




  • Pot Bellied look
  • Brick Red Underparts
  • Yellow Bill
  • White Chin
  • White Eye Arcs
  • Male has darker head and deeper red underparts than female
The Robin's song is very cheerful.  I often see a lone Robin sitting on the peak of our neighbors roof just singing away for hours on end.  It is always a joy to hear.


I have found the National Geographic book Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America to be a wonderful guide for information on the birds I find in my backyard. I know I can find all kinds of information about birds online, but sometimes it is just good to hold a book in my hands and look up information on the birds I find in my backyard.



Robins in our area Year-round



Robins are migratory birds, but although we seem to have more in the spring and summer, we do have Robins in our area in the Midwest all year round.  The photo above shows a Robin in the snow.

My Photos on Zazzle Products









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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Review of In a Field of Blue



In a Field of Blue is a compelling novel about life during and after World War 1.  I downloaded this book on my Kindle when it was one of Amazon Prime's first reads.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more books by the author.

Setting


The book takes place in three different countries.

  • England
  • France
  • Canada

 


Summary of Plot


The story follows an English family whose oldest son has gone missing in action in World War 1.  After four years they are looking for answers when a young woman, Mariette, arrives at their manor claiming to be their missing son's wife and the mother of his child.

The youngest son, Rudy, sets off on a quest to find the answers of the missing brother.  The quest takes him to the ruins of the war fields in France and then to the far northern territories of North America.

The book shows the ravages of war, the miracles of love and hope, and the secrets of another time.

Characters


  • Edgar- the oldest son who goes off to war and is listed as missing.
  • Laurence-the middle son who seeks to claim his inheritance when his older  brother is presumed dead.
  • Rudy- the youngest son who idolized his oldest brother.  He wants to believe that he is still alive and goes around the world to try to discover the truth.
  • Mariette- a young French woman who claims to be Edgar's wife and the mother of his son.  She shows up with very little proof.
  • Samuel- the young boy who shows up at the manor with Mariette.  He wins the hearts of Rudy and the staff at the manor.

More book by author Gemma Liviero


After reading In a Field of Blue, I am anxious to read more books by the author.





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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review of Designing Collages and Composites in Photography


Putting photographs into collages is a fun way to display a grouping of photos.  In the grouping above I show a simple collage with a group of my bird photos.

Create a Simple Collage in Lightroom


The above collage is one that I created in Adobe Lightroom.  To make this collage I moved several of my bird photos to the Print option at the top left of the Lightroom screen and then followed the directions to add the framing and sizing.  You also have options to change the color on the frames and the background and to add some text.

Here is another collage that I made in the same way.


Composites


I belong to a Facebook group called "Create 52" where each week we have a theme to create a photograph and post it on the page.  One of our recent themes was called Collages/Composites.  I posted one of the collages that I made on Lightroom.  I then decided to try to stretch my knowledge and try some of the composites.  Many of the other members were posting some very interesting composites.  Composites are a very creative way of using your photographs.  For my first try I went to Photoshop and opened the collage of the Cardinals and then opened a texture that I had of snow.  I combined the two into one photograph and then changed the opacity to get the desired effect.  Here is the resulting photo.


More Advanced Composites


After seeing some of the other posts in our "Create 52" group, I decided to try some composites using multiple photographs.  I had been on a field trip with a group I help mentor in photography and we went to a local college and several students displayed their musical instruments for us to photograph.  I took several of the photographs and combined them into one design and then used a photo of some sheets of music for a texture.  Here are two of my designs.  Remember, I'm just learning but I think you can get the idea.



Creating your own Collages and Composites


If you are interested in trying one of these procedures there are a lot of tutorials that will help you online.  If you have Photoshop just search for tutorials for creating composites in Photoshop.  If you use other editing software just search online and I'm sure you will also find tutorials for them.  Many of the tutorials are on YouTube and are free.  You can watch them and pause whenever you need to review a step.  I have learned a lot on YouTube.


Zazzle Design from my Collage





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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review of Bird Photography in the Snow


I love photographing birds and in the winter a snowy day can give a wonderful backdrop for my bird photographs.


Female Cardinal


As I reviewed articles online in preparation for writing this article, I found many tips on photographing in the snow.  Most of these talked about protecting your camera, wearing gloves with the fingers cut out and that type of tips.  I have a different setup for photographing birds right from the comfort of my own home and that is what I will be sharing in this article.

Photographing through Glass



The photograph above, as well as all of the photos on this page were taken through glass.  I have tripods set up in my home that I use to photograph the birds in our yard.  The photograph above was taken through our sliding glass doors in the kitchen.  I often get a surprised reaction when people hear that I photograph through glass, but it has worked well for me.

               When photographing through glass
                be sure to keep the glass clean.

I keep a cloth handy to quickly wipe away any smudges on the glass.  On a snowy day I will frequently open the door to wipe away sleet or drops that have formed on the glass outside.

                Set up the camera as close to the
                glass as possible.

I have my cameras set up on a tripod just inches away from the glass.

My Setup


I have two cameras that I use to take my bird photography.  Both are set up on tripods.  
  • Sony A57 DSLR set up with a Tamron 200-600 zoom lens.  This camera is perfect for getting the birds that are at a bit of a distance.  I use these when the birds are at my far feeders, up in the branches of the trees along the back of our property or in the bushes.
  • Sony a6300 mirrorless camera.  This camera set up with a 70-210 zoom lens is perfect for the birds on the deck and in the closer feeders.  I use it in connection with a wireless remote so that I can sit at the kitchen table and trigger the shutter release when I see a bird.  I used this setup in photographing the BlueJays pictured below.













Bright Colored Birds on a Snowy Day


I love to photograph all birds but catching some of these brightly colored birds against the snowy backdrop are my favorites.




















Dark-eyed Junco or Snowbird


Another favorite of mine is the Junco which is commonly called the snowbird.  It has a dark top and white underside which looks great on a snowy day.


Zazzle Products from my Photographs





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