Thoughts & Images from Andy Sharp

SU Powwow
Leander Egg Hunt
Moon Over Buffalo
Sun City Spring
Bluebonnets & Longhorns
Berry Springs Park Features
Bluebonnets and Farm Equipment
March 2014 Wildflowers
St. Martins Catholic Church
The Big Event


A Native American Gathering at Southwestern

People who have known me for a while are probably aware of my affection for the Native American culture.  Thus, it’s always a pleasure and honor to cover the annual Spring Powwow held at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.   This year marked their 8th year.   They continue to attract tribal groups from all over the United States.   It’s a celebratory event that showcases the art of dance that goes back literally thousands of years.   This year’s Head Gourd Dancer was Kenneth Begay (in the opening photo), a Navajo who traveled here from his Arizona home “near the Grand Canyon” says Mr. Begay.   Here is a selection of photos I took for a package in the Williamson County Sun.

Chasing the Eggs!

It’s interesting to see how Easter Egg hunts have morphed.   These days, they’re called egg hunts, but it’s usually candy-filled eggs.   It’s a new world and I suppose it’s best to go along with these new traditions, right?   Over the past weekend, I covered two Easter Egg events.  On Saturday, it was the city of Georgetown’s, for the Williamson County Sun, followed by a big one on Sunday in Leander for the Austin American-Statesman.    Whatever the prize, it was still great fun to watch the little folks go after the loot.   I’m betting a lot of them had a big sugar high going by evening!   The last 4 four photos are from Sunday’s event in Leander, all showing two-and–half year old Channing Washington.   This young man was fantastic, really into it big time!

A Fast-Moving & Fun Palace Offering

Georgetown’s Palace Theatre has once again come up with a winner with their current offering, “Moon Over Buffalo,” playing weekends through May 4 on the Springer Memorial Stage.   The scene is Buffalo, New York, circa 1953.   It’s one of those funny and fast-paced productions, this time under the direction of Mary Ellen Butler.   I’m posting a bunch of photos from their dress rehearsal.   If you need something to brighten your weekend, this is it!

A Spring Pastime for Everyone

Baseball, a sport many  associate with Spring, is one of those games where age is no barrier to having fun.  For instance, in Sun City, Texas, there’s a league where the players don’t qualify until they’re in their 60s.   Some, like Jerry Schaffer (the second and third photos in this post) have graduated into their 80s.   Mr. Schaffer and his pals are still going strong in their Sun City softball league.  On the other end of the scale, there’s T-Ball, as played in the Georgetown Youth Baseball Association’s 4 and Under division.  I had a chance to photograph both recently.   Both groups were having a great time.  This post also reinforces my belief that the best subjects in the human world are at the far reaches of the age spectrum.   It’s all fun though.    Both these sets of photos were taken for the Williamson County Sun


Bonnets and Longhorns

Two favorite images, Texas Longhorns and Texas Bluebonnets, somehow ended up in the same pasture over the weekend.  For this collection of photos I didn’t have to leave Williamson County.   These babies converged in a field on Ronald Reagan Parkway in Leander, Texas.   A lady who lives near here said there was hardly a bloom this time last year.   A lot of people were stopping by to take photos and admire the scene, including Joyce Hopkins, taking a self-portraits (selfies?) with her daughter, Cynthia Turner, visiting from Tulsa.   And there was cowboy hat-wearing 4-year-old Miguel Fajardo  who stopped to play among the flowers with this family.   It’s a good thing I’m a persistent person.   I waited for almost three hours before the dang cows actually decided to get up and mosey around.   These bovines didn’t realize I have the patience of Job, did they?

Having Your Cake and Wearing It, Too

It’s such a good season for wildflowers, I tend to get focused (no pun intended) on that type of imagery at this time of year.   However, on a features troll for my friends at the Williamson County Sun the other day, I stopped by Berry Springs Park & Preserve, a favorite spot that’s filled with a grove of stately pecan trees.   There, I happened on Alice Barragan as she celebrated her first birthday under the trees with mom and dad, Karissa and Mike Barragan.   This day was marked another first, too:  her first taste of cake.   With some  help from mom, dad got some photos to mark the occasion.   Karissa, knowing Alice likes to admire herself in the mirror, brought one along to spark a smile in little Alice.   In the end, everyone had a good time.   Alice ended up wearing as much of the cake as anything.   Mom said this was called a “cake smash.”    After the last photo in this post, Alice enjoyed a good wash-off and the rest of her special day, sans cake!

It’s Looking Like a Good Texas Spring

The last post was a result of specifically seeking out images of wildflowers.   This one I just happened on today as I returned from another assignment in Schwertner, Texas for the Williamson County Sun.    For the last 18 years, David and Laura Van Soest have been fortunate indeed, their extensive front yard north of Walburg, Texas filling up with a sea of Texas bluebonnets.   The bluebonnets sprout in many spots, but particularly around an antique hay rake that once belonged to Laura’s great-grandparents, who lived near Lockhart, Texas.    Laura was gracious enough to let me wander around a bit to check out her life-affirming scene.

Wildflower Interlude

After a visit to the World’s Smallest Catholic Church last weekend, I took advantage of the day’s nice weather and enjoyed a bit of one of the many things that make Texas so great, our majestic Spring wildflowers.   Some years, due to drought and/or other factors, their abundance is limited.  This year, however, things are looking nice.   The day took me to Washington County, through the town of Brenham, home of the best ice cream in the world, then up Highway 50 to the very small town of Independence.   Today, Independence is home to Old Baylor Park.   Before Baylor University set down permanent roots in Waco, it was here, from 1845-1886.   On a good flower year, this is a top destination.  I wasn’t disappointed.   Most of these photos are from there.   The last two were taken in Caldwell (home of the Kolache Festival), along Texas Highway 36.    We love our wildflowers.

A Small & Inspiring Church

A few weeks ago, thanks to social media, I heard about something that just cried to be seen.   It seems that Texas, known for all things bigger, also has the smallest  Catholic church in the world!   The church is Saint Martins Catholic Church, on Texas Highway 237 just east of Warrenton.   That’s Fayette County for those who don’t know, home to the  more well-known Painted Churches.   This beautiful little gem was built in 1915 and measures a whopping 12 feet by 16 feet.  Inside, there’s no electricity (at least I didn’t find any on my visit), but window light does a fine job, adding to the mood.  The well-worn  floor is home to 12 wooden pews, enough, I’m told, to hold  20 worshipers.   Mass is usually held once a month.    What I really liked more than anything, however, is what I admire about many Catholic churches:  they keep their doors open.   I worried I’d make the 90-minute drive for nothing, but I got there before sunrise and sure enough, it was open.   That’s a good thing.   If you’re going through Fayette County, Texas, stop by for a visit.   Drive slowly though, or you might miss it!

The Big Event

During a very busy Saturday, I enjoyed spending some time with Southwestern University

students as they took part in “The Big Event.”  a day of service in the Georgetown community.   Students, faculty and staff spread out all over the area, giving of their time and their labor.   In all, groups visited 15 locations.   Among them was Park Place Care Center, where 18-year-old Sarah Matthews visited with 89-year-old Bob Dabney (opening photo) while 18-year-old Aliehs Lee not only listened to some great stories told by 101-year-old Mary Grumbles, but learned how to play dominoes for the first time, courtesy of a very sharp lady.   Others spent time staining fences at the Stonehaven Unit of the Boys & Girls Club of Georgetown.   And a huge group volunteered their day at the Special Olympics.   All this was leading up to the inauguration of Southwestern’s 15 president, Edward Burger (a later post to follow on that event).