Thoughts & Images from Andy Sharp

2015 National Night Out
Young Frankenstein
Sun City Garage Sale
2015 Clayman Rodeo
Pink Waterfalls at Sun City
Bark Park
Holy Trinity Parish Bazaar
2015 Autumn Begins
Dove Hunting Season
2015 Kite Day


National Night Out in Georgetown, Texas

National Night Out, an event which fosters positive community relations between first responders and the communities they serve, was held last Tuesday in Georgetown.   The Georgetown Housing Authority, where these photos were taken, hosted one of the bigger block parties in town.   In this time, when relations are strained to the hilt around the United States, it’s good to see these events.   The fellow in the opening photo, City of Georgetown police officer Robert Jones, stands as an example of how people can come together to make things work in harmony.  You could see the compassion in his eyes.


“Young Frankenstein” at the Palace Theatre

Just in time for Halloween, Georgetown’s Palace Theatre is “putting on the Ritz” with their production of “Young Frankenstein.”   It’s a continually-moving bit of work that should keep audiences entertained throughout.   A number of the Palace regulars are in this one, including Craig D. McKerley (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Emily C. Niswonger (Elizabeth), Pete Munoz (Inspector Hans Kemp), Nikki Bora (Ziggy), Betty Ortwein (Frau Blucher), Brandon Blake (The Hermit)  and other names you’ll recognize.  The Monster is played quite well by Clint Cox, who looks to be a pretty big fellow in real life.  Ashlee Zoch, playing Inga, is new to the Palace stage, a welcome transplant from Houston.  The show, directed by Palace Artistic Director Mary Ellen Butler, will be on the Springer Memorial Stage weekends through November 8.


Everything Under the Sun (City, That Is)


The Sun City Kiwanis Club  held their huge Sun City Garage Sale last Saturday morning.   It’s held twice a year, in the Spring, again in Autumn.   The sale is a fundraiser to assist kids with their education needs, from elementary school right on into their college years.   Naturally, I forgot just how crowded this event can be.  Arriving a few minutes after its 8a.m. start time, my parking place was not close!  When I got there, however, it was total pandemonium.  Taking it all in was Lilo, a 3-month-old English Bulldog who came with her human friend, Erik Arguelles.   She seemed to attract as much attention as the bargains.   These photos were taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Learning the Art of Rodeo

Kelly and Jim Bob Clayman have been training folks the art of horsemanship at Windsong Farm, in Georgetown, Texas for many years.  Their students, mostly a youthful group, get the chance  each October to demonstrate some of what they’ve learned at the Clayman Rodeo.  Jim Bob and Kelly are both rodeo veterans.    I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon and early evening taking it all in.   Primarily, students focus on things like barrel racing, pole bending and events that call on their roping skills.   Generally speaking, you won’t see any bucking bulls or broncos at this event, but you will see the respect the kids have for their horses, and the love of all things equestrian.  One barrel racer even had a Go Pro camera mounted on her helmet!   Of course, kids in the audience each year get a chance to pull a ribbon from a calve’s tail in the calf scramble.   Finally, let’s not forget the audience members, like the two 5-year-olds near the end of this post, and a 7-year-old lady who already knows how to use a real camera!   These photos were taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Sun City’s Pink Waterfalls

While on another assignment in Sun City, Texas Saturday morning,  driving by Legacy Hills Golf Club, I saw something vibrant and amazing: the waterfalls coursing through the already-beautiful landscape were flowing pink!  Completing my other assignment, I determined to stop by and ended up staying close to two hours, tripod and camera in hand.  Note (as if I have to say it … duh) there is no manipulation in these photos.   I found out that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Legacy Hills and another Sun City course, White Wing, teamed up for a Rally for the Cure, a golf tournament to raise funds for cancer research.   The water, of course, is a hit you over the head reminder, done in an inspiring way.   Here are a few photos from my time on the course.  At times, the water looked pink, other times purple, with a little red thrown in, too.   It was breathtaking.   For more information about breast cancer awareness visit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.   By the way, Komen began in Dallas, in 1982.

Georgetown’s Amazing Bark Park

In one of my wandering moods Wednesday, trying to get a grip on sinus and allergy-related issues, my drive took me to Georgetown, Texas.  It was a pretty afternoon, with a gentle breeze, perhaps a bit warm, but that was okay.   Initially, the plan was to drive by San Gabriel Park, but then I remembered that Georgetown has a Bark Park, on Holly Street.   I’ve driven past it a few times, but never stopped for a visit    The overused word “wow” comes to mind.   This Bark Park is amazing!   Nestled under a canopy of healthy pecan trees are six acres of fun, for big dogs, small ones, and everything in between.  There’s even a fenced-in area inside the larger part where small dogs and their owners can safely play.  One doggie mom, with her three active pooches, found time for a jog around the perimeter a few times.  Her well-behaved babies occupied themselves with trying to get a squirrel.   This park, open year-round from dawn to dusk (weather permitting), is one of the gems in this Central Texas city north of Austin.   These photos were taken for my pals at the Williamson County Sun.

A Visit to New Corn Hill, Texas

Last weekend, my cameras and I spent time at the annual church bazaar for Holy Trinity Catholic Church.   Since returning to Texas, in 2009, I’d ridden by this church on bike rides into the countryside.  The first sight of it, from a distance, is something special.  Like so many structures around here, you can see things from great distances.  Holy Trinity qualifies.   In North Williamson County, Texas, it’s above Walburg.   From there, you travel up F.M. 1105  for a few miles, quickly pass through Theon, and there it is, in New Corn Hill, Texas.  The post office lists this as being in Jarrell,  but it’s New Corn Hill, quite near what was once just “Corn Hill.”   But I ramble.   The bazaar itself was a splendid event, with whopping amounts of food served in the parish activity center.   Once the meals were done, the tables cleared,  followed by a live auction,  with a great auctioneer, Buddy Johnson, from Thorndale.   In an adjacent room, bingo was a hopping place to be.   Luckily, I decided to sit close to 6-year-old Mason Danek, with his grandmother, Barbara Danek.  Of all the many people playing, Mason actually won, right in front of my lens!   On the church grounds outside, polka music, performed by several gentlemen of Czech heritage,  was plentiful.  Among them were Edward Kopecky, leader of the Funtime Czech Band, who played the accordion, but often switched to his trombone, or a trumpet.   Also playing a mean accordion was  Willie Vrabel, who attends Holy Trinity and just enjoys performing and visiting with friends.  There  were games for kids, a raffle, too.  I couldn’t leave Holy Trinity without a visit into the sanctuary of the church, here since 1913.  Others had the same idea, including friends Nina Blevins and Olivia Anderson, and Andrew Palousek.  Now in his 60s, he enjoyed a visit to the area leading to the bell tower.  As a child, he attended Holy Trinity, doing duty as a choir boy.  He has fond memories of climbing the bell tower ladder for a good hiding place with fellow choir boys many years ago.   Outside the church, after way too much good food, Charlie Halm opted for a short nap on the grounds.  Recalling how the church appears late in the day, I went home, looked at a few images on the computer, then returned for the exterior photo posted here.   I’m glad I dd.   It was a good day, another opportunity to learn about the culture of my area.   These photos were taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

The Autumnal Equinox

Yesterday, at 3:21a.m. Central Daylight Time, the Autumnal Equinox quietly began its time.   For my area, it was cool: the day began with temperatures in the 60s.   Of course, it warmed to 95 by day’s end, but at least we can start to think about dropping temperatures.  I began this collection of photos, all in Georgetown, Texas.  before dawn, paying a quick visit to the town square, then on to Blue Hole Lagoon (the opening photo), where I noticed walkers out already.  And a Great Blue Heron some folks called Harry as he foraged for fish.  Moving on, I stopped by San Gabriel Park, where a pedestrian bridge out since the Memorial Day floods was once again intact.  Everyone I met was happy at that development!

After about 3 hours, I switched into my walking clothes and strolled a gentle six miles on the San Gabriel River Trails.  The hike took me past a really nice little area near Booty’s Road Park, the water flowing nicely around bits of lichen, the insects feasting on yellow flowers.  I ended my autumn experience by taking in the waxing gibbous moon at Georgetown’s First United Methodist Church.  These photos were for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Dove Hunting Season in Central Texas

Recently, I spent a little time with dove hunters in my area as they participated in dove hunting season, which runs from September 1 through October 25 in Central Texas.   The fields in the Taylor area are apparently a popular destination for hunters.   On the first day,  the land Wilbur Brinkmeyer shares with his son, Ted, was the place to be for hunters who drove from Louisiana and Alabama for the chance to try their skills on this slice of the  Blackland Prairie.   Daniel Campbell, from the Louisiana side of Toledo Bend, came with his daughter, 17-year-old Kaitlyn Campbell, shown in the opening photo.   On hand to help retrieve game was Reno, the Brinkmeyer family’s resident dog.    Hunting is an activity that’s never held my interest, but I support those who participate.   They, like my 84-year-old deer hunting father-in-law, who has hunted since he was a kid growing up in Arkansas,  seem to be doing it without any agenda.  As with my father-in-law, the hunters I spent time with for this series of photos  planned to put the game on their supper tables.     The hunters I’ve met through the years aren’t to be confused with some gun rights advocates who feel the need to parade around public places toting AR-15 assault rifles and the like.

The good hunters I’ve been around just want to do what others have done since the dawn of time.    That, as far as I’m concerned, is their right, if done responsibly.

A Perfect Place to Fly a Kite

Chicago may be the windy city, but I’m hear to tell you that Taylor, Texas, where we live, is the windy town.   When we moved back to Texas, in summer 2009, we settled in Taylor, a city of a little over 15,000 people on the Blackland Prairie.    After years of the clutter and traffic in Atlanta, Georgia, we wanted some wide-open spaces and low density.   I did find, however, that if I wanted to take a bicycle ride into the lovely countryside, that needed to be done very early in the day.   If you wait too late, most days the wind has picked up a lot, making pedaling a chore.   So it made perfect sense for the City of Taylor folks to start their own Kite Day last year.   This year’s second annual Kite Day, at Taylor Regional Park, was again well-attended, with many colorful kites and excellent breezes.  There were store-bought kites aplenty, but also some interesting homeade ones, like the “invisible kite” 72-year-old Willie Gore made using clear Saran Wrap and scotch tape as his primary materials.  The only way to spot it was to look for its colorful 16-foot length of tail.  Now fast-foward  7 hours after the event was over.  Passing through the park, I noticed a lone  kite gracefully floating above.  Closer inspection indicated no person attached to it.   Apparently, this one got away from its owner, but before sailing into oblivion, its strings caught the very top of a light post.  That’s it in the final shot.   It seemed an appropriate way to conclude the day in the windy town of Taylor.