Thoughts & Images from Andy Sharp

Cotton Harvest
2014 Chisholm Trail Days
Saturday Sun Features
FUMC Pumpkins
2014 Blessing of the Animals
Best Little Whorehouse
Homeade Fishing
2014 Clayman Rodeo
Art & Wine in the Square
Chilly Lilies

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Where Cotton is King

Texas leads the country in many areas.  Among those is the production of cotton.   For years, the Lone Star state has come in first for their  efforts.   In my area of Central Texas, the Blackland Prairie land is even more well-suited than most.   The dirt is dark and rich.   This year’s crop, says longtime Taylor-area farmer Larry Safarik, is among the best he’s seen in years.  “We got the rain when we needed it the most, in June and July,” explained Safarik.  The soft and fuzzy result was a good outcome for the 900 acres he planted this season.   Like many modern farmers, Safarik plants the seed and cultivates the crop, but at harvest time, he brings in outside help to get the harvesting work done.   That’s a good thing since Safarik continues to teach middle school when he’s not in the fields.  The harvesting goes on day and night, seven days a week.  Rain, a good thing  in early summer, can be a hindrance when its time to pick.  Nobody wants to harvest a soggy yield.   Once harvested, his cotton makes  its way to Waterloo Gin, one of many longtime facilities in the area ready to get the 22,000 pound modules from the fields whittled down into 500 pound bales.    Like its counterparts, the Waterloo Gin is a dusty place, but quite efficient.   Most of the workers wear protective masks (yours truly included), but gin worker Pedro Guajardo seemed oblivious to is effects.    Once ginned, our local cotton is then taken to the Taylor Compress, where it’s stored in huge warehouses  until its sent on its way, much of it across the ocean.     This little slice of Texas, my “land ocean,” loves its cotton crops this year.

A Celebration of the Chisholm Trail in Texas

For a number of years in the 19th Century, the Chisholm Trail was a key route ranchers used to navigate their valuable herds to markets in the north.   Novelist Larry McMurtry eloquently took us into that world in “Lonesome Dove,” his 1985 masterpiece which went on to win the Pulitzer prize for fiction.   In Georgetown, Texas, thanks to the Williamson Museum, a bit of that time is remembered each October at their Chisholm Trail Days celebration held  in San Gabriel Park.    In its heyday, the famous Chisholm meandered right through Georgetown.   At Chisholm Trail Days, folks enjoyed western music, a cowboy breakfast, learned  how to lasso a little and perhaps sat astride a horse.  They got to listen to stories about the Buffalo Soldiers from the very knowledgeable Horace Williams, the current head of Company A, 9th Cavalry, based at Camp Mabry, Texas.

Blacksmiths regaled everyone with their metallic endeavors.    One thing I found particularly interesting was the different points of view regarding cowboy boots.   One little guy, in a couple of frames, obviously loved his footwear, but another young man obviously had had enough!  The culmination at each year’s event is when a herd of Texas longhorns make their way through the park.    I’m thankful the Williamson County Sun allows me to document this event for their astute audience.   By the way, the cowpoke who didn’t like his boots is my kind of guy.   I’m Texan through and through, but those pointy cowboy boots are truly a pain!

A Tiny Bit of Music on the Square

If you attended Market Days last Saturday on the Georgetown Square, you may have had the good fortune to see 6-year-old Jordan Covington as he made a wee bit of music in front of his father’s guitar shop, Ken’z Guitars.   Dad is not a violinist, but Jordan did seem quite taken with the instrument.   He even attracted some paying customers, enough, according to dad, to purchase a new toy or two!   “I need to let him take lessons,” said dad.    From the looks of things, I think Jordan would love that.    By the way, that is indeed a real violin, just very very tiny, like Jordan!

Roll Out the Pumpkins

Two Georgetown churches, First United Methodist  and San Gabriel Presbyterian, have rolled out their pumpkins for the Halloween season.   Both pumpkin patches are fundraisers for various charities.   While San Gabriel’s pumpkins arrived on time last weekend, it took a little longer for the orange orbs to make their journey from Farmington, New Mexico to our Methodist friends.   The initial arrival was scheduled for Sunday, but the  driver’s truck broke down.  Then, with a Tuesday date set, the driver  got stuck in some sort of traffic jam and called the church with his dilemma.  Finally, the huge  truckload of pumpkins made it here Wednesday afternoon, with plenty of helpers on hand to unload 2,500 pumpkins.  The first 6 photos are from First United, the last 6 from San Gabriel.   Check them out if you’re in need of a pumpkin or two.   These photos were taken for the Williamson County Sun.

Loving Our Animal Families

Recently, I was able to photograph two Blessing of the Animals ceremonies in Georgetown.   One, held by Grace Episcopal Church, was in scenic San Gabriel Park on Sunday morning.   A horse, a champion 10-year-old Morgan stallion named Ace (his full name is way long!) was there with his owner, Celeste Brown, for a blessing from Reverend Father Trey Garland.    It was a nice morning.   The last two photos included in this post were taken at Sun City’s Blessing of the Animals service.  One of the blessed babies there was Bugsy, a 4-year-old rabbit who belongs to Lois Gallagher.  Some don’t believe animals possess souls.   I happen to disagree with that.   From what I saw at these two services, these loving owners would concur.    These are a few images taken for the Williamson County Sun.

Texas …. Has a Whorehouse In It!

Georgetown’s Palace Theatre has  a lively offering this month, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”   This production, directed by Ron Watson, will be playing weekends on their Springer Memorial Stage.    If you’re in the area, or visiting, check this one out.   As with most musicals, the tickets will go quickly so click on the Palace link above for yours.

The Basics of Fishing

In my little Texas town, there’s a park where I like to go with my fold-up chair and a book.  It’s next to a creek that sometimes has a few fish, some elusive turtles,  and birds who offer up  their songs.   It’s a quiet place.   Occasionally, however, something  will come along and catch my attention.   A few days ago, I noticed a young man, accompanied by his two even younger fellows, sticks in hand, searching the creek banks.   As it turns out, they were on a fishing adventure.   The fishing was simplicity personified.  They’d gone to the store and purchased line, hooks and corks, but rather than attach these items to a rod and reel, or even  a cane pole, they used what Mother Nature provided, fallen limbs from nearby trees.    For bait, they used crickets, grasshoppers, and the occasional  tiny toad frog, all right there.   It caused me to recall a time, when I was very young, going cane pole fishing with my great-uncle Harry on his farm’s stock pond (tank, if you will) in northeast Texas.   Up there, we used worms we dug from the ground.   And Uncle Harry had plenty of cane growing right there on the land.    Back in the present, this story is also a reminder to always have a camera nearby.   I learned that many years ago as a student at University of Texas in Austin.   If you’re a photographer, always have the tools of your trade  within reach.  And I do not mean a phone.

The Art & Joy of Rodeo at Windsong Farm

Jim Bob Clayman, along with his wife, Kelly, rodeo athletes for many years, spend much of their time these days at Windsong Farms, where they pass along their equestrian skills to a mostly younger generation of riders.   They’re joined on their Georgetown, Texas spread by their boys, Payden Cash Clayman and Ryden Rope Clayman.    One of the highlights of their instruction each year is their Clayman Rodeo, held right on the premises.   The competitors take part in barrel racing, breakaway roping, team roping and pole bending.   There’s a calf scramble for the little folks, plus a really funny rodeo clown!

This year’s rodeo, held last Saturday, is their 21st.   If the crowd on hand to watch is any indication, I think they’ll be around for many good years to come.   Here are a few photos I took for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Art & Wine in the Square

The picturesque square in Georgetown, Texas was the scene for this weekend’s Art & Wine in the Square event.  More than 50 juried artists were on hand with some very nice work.   There to take in the action with their owners were Karly, a Chiweenie, Athena, a Great Dane, and Darvy, a Sheltie.   While their owners checked out the art and wine, these babies were intent on each other!   Wine tasting was added to this year’s happenings.  It proved to be a popular tent!  For thirty dollars, visitors could sample wines from fifteen area winemakers in a relaxed setting with relaxing tenor saxophone melodies provided by Rodney Howell.

Welcoming the Chilly Lilies!

Wonderful red flowers, sometimes called chilly lilies, are sprouting up all over Central Texas.  Around here, they’re generally a good sign that cooler weather is coming (thankfully!).  Officially, they’re known as Oxblood Lilies, but also schoolhouse lilies.   Whatever you call them, these flowers bring out the smiles for those who see them.    These crimson beauties have their origins in Argentina, but gained popularity in our area when German settlers began planting the bulbs in large numbers.   The examples posted here are from the yard of my Taylor neighbor, Alfredo Delgado.   “They just pop up every year!” he explains with a grin as he allows me to traverse his yard for about an hour in search of the best light and angles.