Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Greetings

Thank you, God, for all the Beauty in Nature.
Today, November 24 is the day that we in the USA celebrate Thanksgiving.  It is a day when Americans take time out of their daily lives to be thankful for all that has been given to us.  

For this Thanksgiving Day review, I would like to share with you, through my photographs some of the beauty in our world for which I am truly thankful.

The Moon


I love photographing the moon.  Here is a shot I captured back in September of the full moon.

 Special Times with Family and Friends

I am very thankful for my family and friends and the special times we spend together.  We recently all got together for a bonfire at my brother's.

Birds

As any of you know that follow my reviews, I love to watch and photograph birds.  Here are a couple of my recent bird photos.


Flowers

I am always amazed by the intricacies of the many varieties of flowers God has placed on this earth.  




Photo Walks

I love to take walks just to capture the beauty around me on my camera.  Here are some of my latest photos from these adventures.






Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  May you be blessed with a thankful heart.




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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Review of Suet Nuggets for Birds

 

Nuthatch waiting turn for Suet Nuggets 
One of my favorite wild bird foods to use in our backyard feeders are Suet Nuggets.  These little pellets contain a blend of suet and other high oil content ingredients.  I find them easy to use, less messy than other feed, and the birds love them.  I find them easier to use then the suet cakes and there is less waste with the nuggets.



In my yard they are particularly popular with the Downy woodpeckers, but I have also seen other woodpeckers, nuthatches and even sparrows feed on them.  I have seven different types of bird feeders in my yard, and the one that is most popular is the suet nugget feeder.

In this photo a female Downy is getting the last bits of the nuggets out of the feeder.  Below is a male Downy enjoying the nuggets in the wintertime.


The suet nuggets are designed to attract a wide variety of wild birds.  They are formed into soft nuggets so that they are easy for beaks to break apart.  They may be served alone (as you see I have done in the feeder above) or combined with other feed.  These nuggets are ideal for year-round feeding.  I always have a feeder full of these nuggets in my backyard.

The nuggets are available in a variety of flavors.  I have tried the sunflower, bluebird and woodpecker varieties but the one I use the most often is the peanut variety.
Red-bellied Woodpecker



As you can see in the photo above even the sparrows enjoy the nuggets.





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Thursday, October 27, 2022

Discover St. Charles in the Fall


 One of my favorite places to visit, is a town that is only a few miles away from me.  It is historic St. Charles Mo.  It has a very vibrant Main Street that attracts visitors all year long.  I have written about this area several times in the past and I will include those links later in this article.  Today I want to review with you some of the photographs I took on a beautiful fall day in October 2022.  First of all, here is a photo I took telling a little bit about the history of the area.


Main Street in the Fall

Main street is a wonderful area with cobblestone streets and sidewalks and lots of delightful little shops and restaurants.  In the fall the shopkeepers do a wonderful job of decorating for the season.  We saw lots of pumpkin displays, colorful leaves and some very imaginative displays.  Here are a couple of the photos I took on Main Street.




Halloween Decorations and Activities

Halloween is a fun time on Main Street.  There are a variety of activities for all ages and the shopkeepers have some wonderful displays for the holiday.




You can click on the QR code in the above photo to find out about the Legends & Lanterns tours that take place on Main Street.


These fun characters are motion activated and you can hear them talk and sing when you pass by.  Below you see some of the decorations around the gazebo, which is a gathering place in the middle of Main Street.




The Riverfront Area

A block down from Main Street is the Missouri river.  This area has a wonderful park that provides some great trails and walks along the river.  There is an old train station, and you can see some train cars on the tracks.

There is a lot of history that took place in this area including a departure spot for Lewis & Clark.




Other Articles about St Charles

Here are four other articles I have written about the area.  The first is about the era when St. Charles was the first capitol of Missouri. Visit Missouri-First Capitol  .  Another article was written on the riverfront area. Frontier Park

A favorite time in St Charles is during the Christmas season.  Here is an article on that. Christmas in St Charles

Several years ago I went on the Worldwide PhotoWalk in St. Charles.  Here is an article I wrote. Worldwide PhotoWalk



Read More about St Charles




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Thursday, October 13, 2022

Book Review The Diamond Eye

 

Imagine that you are a young woman in 1940's Russia.  You are a mother raising a young son alone as you work in a library and study to gain your degree.  You are forging along in everyday life when suddenly your country is invaded, and you are facing a world at war.  In this riveting novel, Kate Quinn gives a look into the life of Mila Pavlichenko, a young history student and mother who joins the Russian military and becomes a world-famous sniper.



I found this book to be very intriguing.  Mila is a young woman who married way too young when she found she was pregnant.  She is raising a young son and trying desperately to get a divorce from her older and emotionally abusive husband.  This is not easy in 1940's Russia.  She is a passionate history student and loves her studies.  Then Hitler invades the Ukraine and Russia, and she feels compelled to sign up to protect her homeland.  

Mila is a strong woman who does nothing partway.  When assigned the task as a sniper, she becomes the best and shoots over 300 of the enemy.  Her talents gain her fame, and she is sent on a good will tour of the United States where she befriends Eleanor Roosevelt.  This friendship and the dangers that come with it made this one of the best books I've read in a long time.   

The book is based on a true story and most of the people and many of the events really happened.  In the author's notes at the end of the book she details what parts were true (based on Mila's memoirs) and what parts she fictionalized.  I found this very interesting and would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery, historical fiction and intrigue.



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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Reviewing Hawks in my Backyard

Young Cooper's Hawk
I have always enjoyed watching the birds at the feeders in our backyard and have been told to watch out for Hawks because they can kill the birds.  Because of this, I had never really studied much about Hawks and just considered them a bird to avoid.  Recently I have photographed some Hawks in and around our backyard and now I have a new appreciation for the fascinating creatures that they are.  Up in the air they always looked menacing, but when seen up close in a photograph I realized what beautiful details they have.  In this post I will share with you some information on two of the Hawks I have photographed in our yard.  The first is the Cooper's Hawk and the second is the Red-Shouldered Hawk. 

Cooper's Hawk

I have seen Cooper's Hawks or at least what I think are Cooper's Hawks fairly often in our area.  The photo above was taken on our back fence.  It was identified by several people on bird sites online as a young Cooper's Hawk, so I feel fairly confident with that identification.  Sometimes I find hawks colorings are so similar, especially with the differences in adults and juveniles that I am not sure of my identification.  I wrote a review on one of my favorite bird books several months back.  It is the book I used to find the information on the Cooper's Hawk.  Here is a link to that review. What it's Like to be a Bird
Here is what it has to say about the bird.
  • It is a medium-sized hawk at about 16 inches long.
  • They often keep watch at feeders and then swoop in low hoping to surprise the flock.
  • They target mid-sized birds that are slower flyers such as doves and starlings.  These birds are easier for them to grab with their talons.
  • The juveniles have vertical brown streaks on their chests with brown back while the adults will have tight horizontal reddish barring on their chests with gray crowns and backs.  Both have barred tails that are rounded at the tips.
Here are a couple photos that I think fit these descriptions.



 Red-Shouldered Hawk


The photo above is a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  I captured it sitting on the satellite dish on the roof of the house behind ours.  I zoomed in and quickly took this shot before he flies away and then I carefully check my camera settings and tried to wait for him to turn his head, so I get him looking my way.  Before I could get another shot, he took off and I was able to capture him in flight.  I am particularly proud of this shot. It was the first time I had seen one of these hawks.

I looked him up in my guide to backyard birds and found the following information.

  • It is a fairly common, medium to large hawk.
  • The adult has reddish colored upperwing coverts and also densely barred reddish underparts. The wings and tail are dramatically barred in black and white.
  • The juvenile has brown-streaked underparts and a dark tail with many pale bands.
  • They make a loud screaming sound that sounds like (KEE-ahh) which is given in a series.
  • They are widespread and found in well-watered woodlands and suburban areas with nearby wood lots. 
  • They are a perch hunter and feed on frogs, snakes, lizards and small mammals.
  • Their nests are located high in trees and are made of bulky sticks.

Here is a link to the book where I got my information.




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Thursday, September 8, 2022

Review of Sculptures in OFallon MO

Tumbleweed by Alison Oullette-Kirby

I live in O'Fallon Missouri, which is located about 45 minutes west of St. Louis.  I am fortunate to live in a town that provides some wonderful cultural events and displays for all to see.   We have community theatre, musical concerts, displays by various artists and so much more.  One cultural event that was started in 2020 is a rotating sculpture series.  This series runs for 18 months and then the sculptures are replaced with another rotating set of art.   I wrote about the first group of sculptures in my review called A Review of 2020 Fall Favorites.  In this review I will be looking at some of the sculptures that are in the 2022/2023 rotation.  Over the past few weeks, I have taken my camera along to photograph the sculptures.  Some of the photos lend very well to black and white photography and others I prefer in color.

I think it is best to let the artists describe their own works, so I am adding quotes from the O'Fallon website The Shape of Community.  All of the photographs are mine. 

2022/2023 Sculptures


The sculpture at the top of this post is called Tumbleweed and is located in front of the O'Fallon city hall.  Here is what the artist Alison Oullette-Kirby has to say about her art.

Through the objects I make I endeavor to build allied relationships between a viewer and myself. Most often, I build work that either creates or stands as an expression of uncertainty, instability, discomfort, and awkwardness. These are states of being I believe are shared points of mutually understood, if not uncomfortable contemplation. The forms I make are familiar, specific, and recognizable; yet the circumstance in which they are presented can be uncomfortable though highly crafted. In a way, the objects become surrogates for my state of being, and a mechanism for me to engender analogous relationships with others.

Infinite Green


Infinite Green by Leticia Bajuyo

The above sculpture is one that I believe needs to be photographed in full color.  It is made from repurposed artificial grass and a push-mower salvaged from a neighbor's trash on trash day.  It is seen here in front of the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex.  Here is a quote from the website.

 INFINITE GREEN stirs the questions: What is ultimately sacrificed in an endless quest for the perfect lawn, the perfect home, the perfect life, the perfect version of the American Dream? To what end do our natural resources withstand overuse, and what price will we pay for their exploitation?

With Solid Sound and Stable Stance 



The photograph at the left is residing in front of the local ballpark.  It is entitled With Solid Sound and Stable Stance and is by artist Noah Kirby.  Here is what Noah has to say about his art.

Through my artwork I am exploring my place in our collective world; how to relate where I’m from with where I’m at. I endeavor to define my role as a contributor in a larger context, frequently taking a critical view of social, political and cultural issues that alienate how a singular individual relates in our collective culture. Often referencing my working class roots in labor and construction, I explore ideas of authority by juxtaposing my familiarity with trade oriented materials and processes with abstract forms and structures. My works are often partitions that create a separation or demarcate a boundary. I see them as moments of contingent space where the viewer is faced with the circumstance of their own authority. In asserting my place in the world in this manner I can express my class identity and connect with those that would value the constructed world as a meaningful place of our own collective creation.

Spike 


Spike by Vincent Houston

The sculpture above is found at our Civic Park.  I like the way the black and white photograph brings out the details of the sculpture.


Longshot

The photo to the right is one found at Fort Zumwalt  Park.  It is titled Longshot and is by Nathan Pierce.  Here is a quote from the website.

Nathan's large public sculptures reflect not only his personal interest in architectural forms, but also a belief that communication plays a fundamental role in our perceptions of the world we live in. His work has always dealt with the conflicts of confinement and freedom and exploring catalyst between the two: building or destroying communication. “The material I use and the process of my work is directly influenced by experience. Inspired by his many years in the construction business, the idea to create sculpture from those same materials seemed natural and permanent. The decision to utilize the benefits of structural steel in my work also comes from being inspired by the fabrication process. “I enjoy the dedication and commitment that is required with this material, it helps build character."


Per Aspera

Per Aspera by Melanie Reichert



I enjoyed photographing this one at our Renaud Center.   It was a bit challenging to photograph with cars and buildings all around and I wanted to have the sculpture stand out.  I like this one in color against the green bushes.  Here is a quote from the artist.

This is my first large scale sculpture. Steel is a very industrialized material and it’s important to me for my work to be very natural and earthy-- these materials are derived and purified from the Earth and I want to make an homage to the roots of where it has come from. This also ties into a theme of opposites that I portray in my work through the process of surface altercation.

Ambient Current


Ambient Current by Kurt Breshears

Here are the artists thoughts on his sculpture.

The concept behind this work is a philosophical and mathematical examination of patterns. In the written work The Critique of Judgement by philosopher Immanuel Kant, he discusses the way in which we use the concept of the universals of taste when judging the aesthetics of objects and their beauty. An example of this notion of universal ideas is that of mathematics. Employing the idea of mathematics in the work gives the work a sense of unity using math to achieve patterns. Based purely on numbers and patterns, M.C. Escher has been for me a lifelong influence. Being mindful of Kant’s ideas and Escher’s use of arithmetic, I believe that Ambient Current brings some semblance to visually pleasing and appealing art. It is the hope that the use of a heavy materials will convey the sense of how heavily weighted it is in our nature to judge things for beauty.



I hope you have enjoyed this small pictorial tour of the O'Fallon sculpture series.  There are several more sculptures in the parks along with some permanent sculptures.  I invite you to check them out at the website listed above or if you are in the area stop by and see for yourself.





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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Update on Book Club

 


In January of 2020 I wrote a review on Book Clubs.  If you are interested in starting a book club, I would recommend you read that review here Review of Book ClubsIn that review you will find out how the book club I belong to is set up and how we handle the meetings.  In this post I will update you on what we have been doing since that last review and a little bit about some of the books we have been reading.

Our Book Club in 2020/2021

As you can all imagine 2020/2021 was a bit challenging for our bookclub.  With the pandemic we had to look at how we could do it differently.  We didn't meet at all for the first few months, but then in the summer of 2020 we all ventured out and met on my deck, where we could wear masks and social distance with each other.  We hadn't picked any one book to read, but rather all discussed what books we had been reading.  During the rest of 2020 we only met one more time in someone's family room where we could spread apart.  In 2021 we decided to venture out and start choosing monthly books.  A few didn't make it at first, but eventually most of our members returned to our monthly meetings.  

We read 11 books in a year, skipping the month of December where we all meet for a holiday luncheon instead of our regular meeting.  In the next section I will discuss the last 11 books we have read.


Books we have Read in the Last Year

  • When we started meeting again on a regular basis one of the first books we read was Educated by Tara Westover.  It was a very thought-provoking book that gave us lots to discuss.  Fellow reviewer Olivia Morris has also read the book and wrote a review which will tell you a lot more about the book. Educated
  • The next book we read was The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Piccoult.   Jodi Piccoult is a favorite author that always spends a lot of time researching the books that she writes.  This book deals with Egyptology along with discovering the relationships of the people involved.  Most of our members really liked the book, although a few wished it had a bit less technical items on Egyptology.
  • The Giver of Stars was a book we read by Jo Jo Moyes. This book takes place in depression-era America in the hills of Kentucky.  It starts with Alice who has married a rich American to escape the stifling rules of her parents in England.  She soon finds that the hills of Kentucky can be just as stifling, and she signs up to be a traveling librarian from Eleanor Roosevelts new plan to bring books to rural America.  The book shows us the brave women who worked this program and their relationships.  It is based on a true story, and we found it very intriguing.
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson is another book about the traveling book program.  You can read more about it in the review that I wrote.  The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and also one that fellow reviewer Dawn wrote Here .
  • The next book we read was Gray Mountain by John Grisham. This book deals with mining and many of the legal battles the ensue when it is abused.  It is very well written, and you can really become involved with the characters.
  • The Hypnotists Love Story is a novel by Liane Moriarity.  We have read several books by this author and know they will always give us a lively discussion. This one did not disappoint.
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a wonderful mystery that takes place in Australia in the early 1900's.  It is a work of historical fiction.
  • The Husband's Secret is another book by Liane Moriarity.  Everyone enjoyed the discussion on this book, and we delved a lot into secrets and what we would tell and what we would not.
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was our next book. It was a very interesting book about a young woman who lives a very structured life.  She struggles with everyday social skills and tends to say exactly what she is thinking.  This all changes when she meets Raymond.  You must read this book to find out more!
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Piccoult.  This was my favorite book this year.  In this book Jodi tackles a very timely subject as the book begins in March of 2020 just at the start of the pandemic.  I wrote a review of the book which you can find at Wish You Were Here. 
  • A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd is a detective story which takes place in England.  It features Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge and is an interesting mystery.  We had a good discussion on the methods used to solve the mystery.
  • The last book on my list is the one we will be discussing this month.  I have read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is Mitch Albom's Finding Chika. Fellow reviewer Pat Austin (aka Wednesday Elf) has written a review on this book. Finding Chika

I Hope you enjoyed hearing about these books and perhaps you will find one or more you'd like to read yourself.  Happy Reading!!




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Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Brighter the Light- Book Review

 

The Outer Banks

I always love stories that take place in locations I have seen on my travels.  When I saw Mary Ellen Taylor's latest book takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I was instantly drawn to the book.  The Outer Banks are wonderful and full of beautiful beaches and lighthouses.  I looked forward to an interesting story based on this locale and I was not disappointed.




Main Characters


There are two main characters in this story and the author takes us back and forth between both their stories.

          Ivy


We first meet Ivy when she comes to the Outer Banks to settle things after her grandmother has died.  Ivy had been raised for much of her young life by her grandmother, living in the Outer Banks.  When she graduates from high school she leaves for a new life in New York.

          Ruth


 Ruth is the grandmother, and we meet her through flashbacks to the 1950's when Ruth is running a resort on the Outer Banks.  She is a very colorful character that works hard and runs the resort.   She is an excellent cook who passes on her skills to Ivy.

Summary of Story


At the beginning of the story Ivy is returning to Nags Head, North Carolina in the Outer Banks. She has inherited a beach cottage from her grandmother and now she must return to sell the cottage and sort through all the belongings in the cottage.  Ivy dreads returning and seeing the best friend and ex-boyfriend who betrayed her.

Folk lore from the area talks about a ship that rises from the sea after strong storms and the secrets it holds.  After a storm, Ivy looks out the cottage window and sees the ship has again risen in the tides.  

The secret of the ship is not the only secrets that Ivy uncovers during her stay at the cottage.  She is conflicted about staying after a budding romance and memories from the past resurface.


My Recommendation


I really enjoyed this book.  It had a great setting, interesting characters, and a memorable story line.  I would recommend it for anyone looking for an interesting and thought-provoking summer read.






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Thursday, July 14, 2022

Sparring Partners by John Grisham

 

Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse

Sometimes, especially if I've just finished a rather long book, I am in the mood for a shorter story.  In his latest book, John Grisham, delivers three interesting short stories that can each be read in one or two afternoons.  I downloaded the book when I saw a photo of the Gateway Arch on the front cover.  Since I am from the St. Louis area, I always find it interesting to read stories about my hometown.  It is fun to read about places I recognize and to see the St. Louis sports teams mentioned. I am also a fan of John Grisham's thrillers, so I know I will always find an interesting read when I pick up one of his books.





I really enjoyed all three of the novellas in the book.  Below is a brief synopsis of each of the stories.

Homecoming

This story brings back a familiar Grisham character in Jake Brigance and returns to Ford County the scene of other Grisham books.  In this story however, Brigance is no longer in the courtroom but is contacted by a former lawyer in town in a mysterious way.  The lawyer, Mark Stafford left town three years earlier in the middle of the night without letting anyone know.  It was discovered he had stolen money from his clients and then disappeared.  Why is he back and what does he want with Jake Brigance?  You will want to read this story to find the answers.

Strawberry Moon

In the second story in the book, we meet Cody Wallace, a death row inmate with only three hours to live.  When all appeals have ended and the last chance for clemency from the governor has gone by, Cody has one final request.  It is a very unusual request that you will have to read the story to discover.

Sparring Partners

Sparring Partners is the third story in the book and the one that takes place in St. Louis.  I enjoyed the St. Louis references and the story was intriguing.  In this book we meet two brothers who are partners in a major law firm that they inherited from their father.  The firm had been very successful under the father's watch, but he is now in prison charged with the murder of his wife, the boys' mother.  The firm is now in a financial turmoil and the brothers do not know how to work together.

In fact, the brothers will not even talk to each other except through the only person they both trust, another attorney in the firm named Diantha Bradshaw.  

From here the story takes several twists and turns and keeps you engrossed until the very end.



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