Clear the Shelter

Much of this day was spent at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, where free pet adoptions were the order of the day for the Clear the Shelter event.   Our shelter in Williamson County has had no-kill status for a few years, but the numbers for pets needing homes grows each day.  This is the 5th year for Clear the Shelter, with our shelter partnering with KXAN and NBC Universal  to make it happen.  Dogs, cats, and even rabbits were available free of charge.  That “free” included spaying and neutering, vaccinations and chips, in case your four-legged family member wanders away from home.   These are a few images made today for the Williamson County Sun.

Remembering Elvis

Tonight I  took photos at a summer concert series performance by Elvis Presley impersonator Mike Elliott, held on the square in Georgetown, Texas.   It’s fitting to have this week’s concert pay tribute to Elvis on the 42nd anniversary of his death, August 16, 1977.   Included here: a 3-year-old enamored with the music; a couple engaged to be married enjoying a dance and a kiss;  a sleeping 7-month-old safe in the arms of his aunt on this warm Texas summer night.    In August 1956, for my 4th birthday, my parents gave me a 45rpm record player.  Along with the player the the record  “Hound Dog,” released by Presley the month before.  Big Mama Thornton was the first artist to record “Hound Dog” in August 1952, but Elvis made it a gargantuan hit.   Within weeks of Elvis’s death, I lost my mother, too.   I will always admire Elvis.  

Back to School in Central Texas

Once upon a time school years began with more consistency.   When I was a kid, a long time ago, it was an event that began after Labor Day.   These days, it can vary quite a lot.   These photos were made today at Mitchell Elementary School in Georgetown, Texas.   In metro-Atlanta, where we used to live, classes began weeks ago.  Right up the road from us, in Granger, I don’t think classes begin until late-August.    Anyway, the first day of school is something I’ve enjoyed documenting for many years.   These photos were made for the Williamson County Sun.

Ahead of Sunrise in Taylor, Texas

I was on the road early this morning en route to first day of school in Georgetown when I saw what you see here.   A cloudy evening last night cancelled out any plans of an almost-full moon image, but a little after 6:30a.m. the Sturgeon Moon glowed in the morning sky above an abandoned farmhouse surrounded by recently-harvested corn.   The light on the windows is courtesy of the eastern sky as sunrise approached.   Included with the photo I prefer are a tighter version, plus the sky offering up the light.   It was a good morning.

Lighting Up the Tracks

While wandering this week, in the far distance I happened to notice late-day light shining bright and golden on Union Pacific train cars on the tracks between Hutto and Taylor.  I figured the moment would’ve passed by the time I got close.   Surely the train had moved on.   But it hadn’t.  It was stopped on the tracks.   My guess is it was waiting for a train coming from the other direction to go on by.   Whatever the reason, time was on my side as this still-life fell into my lap.    I do find trains interesting.

A Waxing Gibbous August Moon

Tonight I’ll keep the words brief.  We’re making our way toward a full moon this week.  Last evening, when the Waxing Gibbous moon was at 94.8% visibility, I stopped by Taylor’s Immanuel Lutheran Church for a few photos.   Tonight, when the moon, still in Waxing Gibbous phase, was just under 99% visibility, I traveled to Mager Cemetery in Beyersville, Texas.  The completely-full moon isn’t expected until 7:30am Thursday, but we’re expecting clouds.  And I have paying work then.   These, I think, get the point across.

Corn Portraits

Our Blackland Prairie corn crops are quickly being harvested.  Over the past few weeks I’ve tried to take a few photos of them before the stalks are gone.  These aren’t harvest photos (done that already), just portraits.   Cotton is coming soon.

Celebrating a Happy 95th Birthday

Last night I had the honor of being invited to the 95th birthday celebration for Lillian Naizer, an extraordinary kolache baker for most of her life.   A few years back, covering the annual Kolache Bake Sale at Georgetown’s St. Helen Catholic Church, I met Lillian working in the kitchen as she and other volunteers put the kolaches together. She had more energy than everyone else in the room.  Really!   At last year’s sale, a friend told me  family and friends were planning a 95th birthday celebration at her home church, Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Granger, where she was raised in a strong-willed Czech family.   Her actual birthday is today, August 11th, but the big  event was last night at the Cyril & Methodius Recreation Center.   There  was food, music and dancing.   Lillian’s family is musically-inclined, too.  It showed as her sons, daughter, a grandson and a great-granddaughter took to the stage to serenade her and the gathered audience.  Saxophones and accordions are popular instruments.   The only  time I saw Lillian la little down was when her family played a favorite song of her husband, Raymond, gone from the earth for many years.   I thought it touching.   Beyond that, it was all fun, with Lillian spending time with siblings, children, grandchildren and a few of her seven great-grandchildren.   The little lady, Vivian, 4, shown in the opening photo dancing with Lillian, is one of those seven.   The youngest great-grandchild, 6-month-old Koda, got a kiss from great-grandma.  Not to be outdone on the music front, Vivian brought her harmonica along.   As I mentioned, it’s a musical family.   Happy birthday, Lillian.

Another Evening at the Rookery

While the rookery at Taylor’s Murphy Park is still lively, I enjoy my time there.   You’ll  almost always find ducks, geese and cormorants around the park’s lake, but  the egrets are mostly seasonal, arriving in spring, dispersing by late-September.   So I strike while the iron is hot. The birds are fascinating to watch, so much in synch with one another. Another plus, as mentioned before, is that it’s a close-in destination, about a mile from home.   In the end, I photograph it for one reason:  it’s beautiful.

Cotton Arrives in Central Texas

This week I’m beginning to see a few actual cotton bolls in my area near Taylor, Texas.  The plants have been thriving for a few weeks, but it’s nice to  see those little fluffy bolls, isn’t it?  Most of the fields I’m seeing are still in the flowering stage, but they’ll get there soon.  A couple of farmers I know think this will be the best harvest in years.  The Blackland Prairie soil is parched and dry right now, but spring rains prepared the fields for a fine season.   Texas continues to be the number one cotton-producing state in the country.